Icons and ecology

To many modern Christians the question of icon-veneration may seem a marginal issue in theology. To St. Theodore [the Studite], it was clear that iconoclasm is a serious error, which alienates its followers from God as much as any other heresy. That is to say, an iconoclast effectively denies God’s incarnation which alone makes human salvation possible. If Christ could not be portrayed both before and after His resurrection, then He was not truly man, humanity was not truly united with God, and no human beings could expect to become “partakers of the divine nature.” A modern namesake of St. Theodore’s provides striking parallels to this attack on iconoclasm. Theodore Roszak criticizes western Christianity for limiting the self-revelation of God to the spoken word (as in Judaism) and the eucharistic gifts (as in iconoclasm). Because God was not seen in any other material objects, world was understood as mere matter. Where there is no “sacramental consciousness,” there is no restraint on scientific analysis and technological exploitation of the cosmos. The desacralized world has become the object of the first true idolatry for those who have lost all awareness of God (pagans always believed that the gods were more than their images). So a good case can be made that the spiritual sickness of the West, which has spread to so much of the world, had its origin not in Christianity per se but in a heretical misunderstanding of the Christian doctrine of icons.

Catharine P. Roth, Introduction to St. Theodore the Studite, On the Holy Icons

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