Unsettled Christianity

Gloria Dei homo vivens – St Irenaeus
November 5th, 2014 by Joel Watts

St. John Damascene on… “if you’re using part of Christianity, use the rest or dump it all” #holyimages

Generic Parchment Quote

Ironically enough, one of the greatest medieval Christian theologians lived under a Caliphate. What have we done with our freedom?

Is not the blessed table matter which gives us the Bread of Life? Are not the gold and silver matter, out of which crosses and altar-plate and chalices are made? And before all these things, is not the body and blood of our Lord matter? Either do away with the veneration and worship due to all these things, or submit to the tradition of the Church in the worship of images, honouring God and His friends, and following in this the grace of the Holy Spirit.

John Damascene, On Holy Images (trans. Mary H. Allies; London: Thomas Baker, 1898), 16–17.

Maybe he didn’t really say the headline, although I would argue that it is a strong paraphrase.

For me, I’m not ready to take that hardline. I suspect it would be tempered by the iconoclastic controversy, wherein Christians who venerated the Bread and Wine fought to destroy the ancient icons. I mean, there is a bit of a hypocrisy there, right?

There some often times something of a hypocrisy in our religious affections. We proclaim love, but to what extent? Does all really mean all? Do we have the freedom to think but still remain orthodox?


And where do we get the authority to stop people from practicing Christianity how they see fit?


Joel Watts
Watts holds a MA in Theological Studies from United Theological Seminary. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians, as well as seeking an MA in Clinical Mental Health at Adams State University. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

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