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5.   The first attacks.

       The first attacks against the making of images came from the Jews, probably Christian converts, but who carried with them the misinterpreted Old Testament prohibition.

       The present day attack on images has its origin, however, in the 8th century with Emperor Leo, the "Isaurian of Constantinople" (717-741) who needed gold, silver and precious stones to finance his planned invasion of Italy. Seeing that these precious metals and stones were easily available in religious images, he had them all confiscated, decreeing that the making of religious images was  against the orthodox religion. He conveniently burned the wooden images but melted the metal ones into coins with his image; just like Henry VIII who conveniently used his desire for a mistress to break away from Rome. Both kings looked for learned men to rationalize their vices. No learned men would do so. . .precisely because they were learned. 

       Emperor Leo burned his learned theologians in their library; Henry beheaded Thomas More.

       So the two kings employed their "bottom of the barrel" theologians. Leo's theologians picked up the Jewish erroneous interpretation of God's Old Testament prohibition. Understandably so, for if they had chosen the right interpretation, they would have been burned alive too.

       Poor Leo, did you not see that the fact you had so many images confiscated shows that these images had been in those churches long before you were born, being honored by Christians? Long before your heresy?

       During Leo's persecution, Stephen, a monk, went to Leo and presented a coin bearing the imperial image; "Sire, whose image is this?" "It is mine." Then the monk threw the coin down and trampled it. The emperor had him seized and condemned to a painful death. The monk's last words were: " If I am punished for dishonoring the image of the emperor, what punishment is in store for those who dishonor the image of Christ and His saints?"

       See, Leo, you  yourself believed that honor given to the image is honor due to the prototype. You knew the truth; but you needed the funds more.

       Leo's heresy did not survive the onslaught of the holy and learned men of the Church. So it disappeared for a while until the 16th century where it found fertile ground in the errors of Protestantism. Their main argument, just like the Jews and Leo's, was based on the same misinterpreted Old Testament prohibition.

       The confusion and  misinterpretation of God's Old Testament command was partly caused by the word used: PROSKINESIS, which described everything from adoration to veneration to mere friendship. Even in English, the words, adoration, worship and veneration mean the same thing.

       So St. John of Damascus used LATREIA for absolute worship of God and PROSKINESIS for the veneration given to saints, relics and images.

       Today, we have this heresy in a more alarming and hideous state. For, as they set aside all images, they go further, like praying directly to God (thus removing the saints and the Blessed Mother); next is confessing directly to God (dispensing with confessors and priests); next will be receiving Christ in spirit (putting aside the Holy Eucharist).







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