Friday, May 10, 2002

Concerning Icons

I have been asked about the C of E Homily that is so obviously against the use of icons. Here is a note.

In the Homily of the Church of England, On the Peril of Idolatry, which opposes the devotional use of icons as its fears idolatry, there is much dependence upon the "Libri Carolini" (790-792) which were published in 1549.

The Libri Carolini or Caroline Books which were attributed to Charlemagne (thus the title) contained a sophisicated theological and vehement attack upon the 7th Council and its teaching. Thus this council did not achieve acceptance in the Frankish Empire of Charlemagne even though it was accepted in Rome. This fact left its mark upon western reading of the decree of Nicea II of 787. Even Thomas Aquinas does not refer to it in his teaching on icons and images. And it provided strong ammunition to the reformers to reject the use of icons.

High church divines of the 17th century were aware of this use of the Caroline Books but they still chose to say that while the doctrine of Nicea II may be accepted, there is great danger in putting it into practice for to understand the use of icons one really needs to have gone through the theological development seen in the dogma of the previous councils concerning the Trinity & Christology. Ordinary folks do not approach statues and icons with that kind of sophistication ....therefore possible problems!

Thus I stand with the high-church divines and find no theological fault with the teaching on icons but receive it as theological opinion not dogma.

The Revd Dr Peter Toon

No comments: