German Protestants deplore destruction of images [CC]

In a recent dialogue with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, representatives of the Evangelical Church in Germany-- a federation of Lutheran and other Protestant communities-- …


Why didn’t they say the same thing To Cathlics, whose images were destroyed?

That’s the human race, mate.

We’ll build cities and nations with enormous effort, and then destroy them in war.

We’ll build beautiful churches and artifacts in Constantinople, and the (Catholic) Crusaders will destroy and loot them in the 4th Crusade.

We’ll protest corruption in the church, and destroy millions of lives across Europe, allegedly to clean it up. That’s ignoring all the other wars with death tolls of millions.

We’ll build a fleet of battleships at enormous cost, and then send them to the scrapyard due to the Washington Treaty.

We’ll build warships at a cost of billions of dollars each, and then tow them to the scrapyard 50 years later, or use them for target practice and sink them when they’re too old.

Then 500 years later, we’ll regret what our ancestors did. Meanwhile we’ll do the same things ourselves.

One of the more trivial examples of this sort of mentality is our habit of painting pictures of local wildlife on fences and power poles in the suburbs, after we’ve destroyed their habitat with bulldozers, and killed most of them.

Paint me cynical.

Maybe I missed something… but why is this news? Lutherans have never been iconoclasts. :shrug:

I don’t think Luther himself thought sacred images were inherently wrong, but other early German protestants did. Especially Karlstadt, who was very influential:

It is my understanding that German sacred imagery was destroyed or merely removed from liturgical use when the Protestant princes of Germany destroyed many Catholic churches and monasteries. Martin Luther contributed to this, though he did not say to destroy the images, when he wrote the following requests to the German princes: “The forest chapels and rustic churches must be utterly destroyed, – those, namely, to which the recent pilgrimages have been directed, – Wilsnack, Sternberg, Trier, the Grimmenthal, and now Regensburg and a goodly number of others.” source

He did not say to destroy the images at the sites of pilgrimage, but it is my understanding that that is what happened anyway. And the churches themselves were a form of religious art, and they were destroyed, so that’s a form of iconoclasm too.

As a citizen of the USA I wonder what our Evangelicals will have to say about it–if anything. After all, they definitely are iconoclasts. :slight_smile:

I don’t think most evangelicals are against sacred images. Some Baptists say they are, but I don’t think it’s a majority position even among fundamentalists.

As a former member of the Assemblies of God, who had close ties to Evangelicals of all types, they very much were against images except for a cross or maybe a picture of Jesus, but none of them had statues of any saint–not even of Jesus–because they so feared violating their interpretation of the first two of the Ten Commandments (as they number them).

Karlstadt was decidedly not Lutheran.

I think we need to be careful not to cram “Protestantism” into one basket. Reformed Protestants destroyed images and even entire churches because of their iconoclast views. Lutherans, on the other hand, were never iconoclasts. Luther did advocate the destruction of certain monasteries that did not contribute to public life and made money off of poor, uneducated pilgrims – but that is an entirely separate issue. If the Wikis are conflating these drastically different points, then they are not painting a proper picture of history.

Yes, Reformed Protestants and their princes destroyed Catholic (and Lutheran) churches and sacred art. Yes, Lutherans destroyed some Catholic monasteries. But when Lutherans took over Catholic churches, they did just that – took over. They did not, to my knowledge, ever destroy icons. Heck, Lutherans were even famed for their commissioned artwork!

That’s why this is so perplexing to me. Why report this as “Lutheran and other Protestant communities,” when Lutherans have always had sacred art? Non-news.

Maybe “Lutherans and Catholics win the Iconoclast Debate” would’ve been better. :smiley:

[quote=steido01]That’s why this is so perplexing to me. Why report this as “Lutheran and other Protestant communities,” when Lutherans have always had sacred art? Non-news.

Perhaps the Lutherans merely wanted to add their voice in support of the Evangelicals–to advance ecumenical efforts between all parties? Just a thought. :slight_smile:

It is among fundamentalists.

Non-fundamentalist evangelicals, on the other hand, have become increasingly open to visual arts, especially those in the Wesleyan rather than Reformed stream. When I taught Church History online for Asbury Theological Seminary, I was always surprised by how positively the students responded to John of Damascus.


“Evangelical” is probably a translation of “Evangelisch” which means “Protestant” (especially Lutheran but often also Reformed), not what Americans call “evangelicals.”


Thank you, Ed. :slight_smile: Do you think European Reformed are loosening their iconoclasm to include art work they formerly eschewed? Or are Euro Reformed quite different from their American cousins? For instance, the Assemblies of God in the USA is dead set against imbibing wine and all alcoholic spirits, but the French AoG and others have no such prohibition. Just curious. :tiphat:

Yes, in a German context “Evangelical” typically means Lutheran. Not even remotely in the same camp as American Evangelicals.

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