About Craig: I’m a former Amerian Bapitst turned Agnostic turned Lutheran. I have a Master of Divinity from Lutheran Theological Southeran Seminary in Columbia, SC and am currently working on a Master of Sacred Theology degree. I’m a Diaconal Minister candidate for the ELCA. My work is mainly done in social ministry/justice. In the past, I have worked with homeless individuals. In some respects, I’m considered evangelical catholic, while in others, I’m considered progressive or liberal. I often find myself agreeing with the differing views on issues. Part of my journey is to figure out where I fall in these two views.
I’m married to my wonderful wife, McKenzie. And I’m the proud father of two cats, Chestnut (named after Mary Chestnut, not the actual nut) and Pecan (named after the actual nut…it’s me being funny), and a dog, Brigid (named after St. Brigid of Kildare).
I love football and am a huge Steelers fan. I am also a hockey fan and can be seen supporting the Avalanche or Penguins.
You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anyone who visits my apartment will notice right away that I like icons. All told, I have twelve icons. My list includes:
- St. Patrick of Ireland
- St. Brigid of Kildare
- St. Michael
- St. Gabriel
- Sts. Michael and Gabriel (2)
- Holy Innocents
- St. Stephen
- Noah and the Flood
- Jesus after the crucifixiation
- Some random Hungarian Saint
To some, this may come as a shock. Many think that icons are only found in the Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox traditions. That is not the case. Some Protestant denominations also use icons. In fact, my seminary proudly displays an icon right next to the lecturn.
Before I get accused of idolatry here, let me just state, I do not pray to the icon. I do not pray to the Saint pictured in the icon. I do use icons as tools of prayer, which is what they are meant to be.
When I look at an icon of St. Stephen I am reminded of his martyrdom for proclaiming the Gospel. (I have an icon of St. Stephen because I am a candidate for diaconal ministry and St. Stephen was a Deacon.) Some icons, like the one of Noah and the Flood, tell a story.
The use and role of icons has been called into question before. The 7th and 8th century saw the Iconoclast controversy. In 726, the Byzantine Emperor Leo III issued an edict that outlawed the use of icons. In 730, the use of icons was formally condemned by Pope Gregory III.
The controversy did not end there. In 780, Empress Irene called for an ecumenical council to discuss the use of icons. The Second Council of Niceae was called in 786 by Pope Hadrain. In 787, the Second Council of Niceae overturned the degrees of Emperor Leo and Pope Gregory, restoring the use of icons to the church.
The issue over icons and art would arise again during the Reformation. in particular, Andreas Karlstadt, Huldrych Zwingli and John Calvin all opposed icons and encouraged their removial from the church. Martin Luther originally agreed with the other reformers, but along the way, he changed his mind about the use of icons and their role within the church.
I think it is time that this controversy, which has in fact been resolved, be put to rest once and for all.
Any other Protestant that states the use of icons is adoltry should take a look around their own sanctuary and think real hard about what is there. Is there some form of religious art? Maybe stained glass windows? How about a cross? If you do not like icons, then remove all the stained glass depicting the Gospel narrative. Remove the cross from your sanctuary. Why? Because these are in fact, icons.