When we speak of iconoclasm in Christianity, we think of the 8th century condemnation of icons and their veneration, its being made heretical at the seventh Ecumenical Council and the eventual Triumph of Orthodoxy.
But what does that have to do with our current living arrangements in the 21st century?
To a certain degree, the answer could simply be: nothing. But if we ruminate on what the icon is, the image and likeness of the God-man, then the reality becomes clearer. Because of the Incarnation, we can venerate the icons of our beloved saints, who are the image of Christ. And just as they are the image of our Lord, so, too are we; for we are called to become saints. Let me reiterate that all of mankind, through our very existence, are icons.
Our actions towards one another are a direct result of our belief in the Incarnation. Too many times we forget that we are the image of God. This is evident in our gossip, back talking, name calling, envy, gloating, slander, our pride, and manifests itself in numerous other passions as well. And when this happens, we become the epitome of iconoclasts. We deny the very existence of the Incarnation in our lives.
Remember, that icons are open books to God. As taught by the Church in the seventh Ecumenical Council, icons are necessary and essential because they protect the doctrine of the Incarnation to its fullest. When we venerate an icon, the honor and love we are showing, passes directly to the person depicted in the icon, be it the Theotokos, a saint, or Christ, Himself. And when we honour one another, that too is honouring the icon of Christ.
Jared Hall is a convert to Orthodoxy and a struggling sinner. He is married to a wonderful, natural-minded, woman and together with their two toddler boys, they are trying to make sense of this world. For this reason he chose St Brendan as his patron. He is a blue collar libertarian and passionate about birth rights, raising backyard chickens, a good scotch, and great conversations. You can follow him on Facebook and Instagram.