Christian Cyclopedia

About the Cyclopedia


In broad sense, an image is any representation of men, animals, plants, etc. (pictures, statues, paintings, photographs, mosaics). In religious context “image” gen. refers to representations of Christ or of saints. Improper use (i. e. worship) of images is forbidden Ex 20:4–5. But the Bible nowhere forbids proper use of images, i. e. as reminders of Christ and saints, and so as aesthetic aids to devotion.

Paintings in the catacombs* at Rome dating back to the 2d c. include some of the earliest Christian images still extant. Later both pictures and statues began to play an integral part in Christian art and devotion. As a result of the 8th–9th c. Iconoclastic* Controversy, the E Ch. has restricted its use of images to icons.* The W Ch. has not restricted the forms that an image may take. Luth. reformers retained proper use of images. See also Reformation, Lutheran, 8.

Many Luth. and RC chs., esp. in Eur., are rich in statues, paintings, and other forms of religious art. Luths. have retained use of the crucifix*; many sectarian chs. use only the simple cross* or no cross at all. Luth. Confessions condemn abuse of images (Ap XXI 34–39). EFP

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

Internet Version Produced by
The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod

Original Editions ©Copyright 1954, 1975, 2000
Concordia Publishing House
All rights reserved.

Content Reproduced with Permission

Stay Connected! Join the LCMS Network:

Contact Us Online
(Staff Switchboard)
(Church Info Center)
1333 S Kirkwood Rd
Saint Louis, MO 63122-7226 | Directions


Featured Publication

The Lutheran Witness

LCMS Communications

Interpreting the contemporary world from a Lutheran Christian perspective.
Visit TLW Online