Friday, May 26, 2017

Visual Exegesis: Full of Eyes' "Members of the Body"

Full of Eyes is a support-based ministry of exegetical art that creates still and moving images intended to point people to the beauty of God in the crucified and risen Son. All art and animations are done by Chris Powers. Powers’ goal is to help people see and savor the faith-strengthening, hope-instilling, love-kindling beauty of God in Christ. And he does this by creating free exegetical art in the form of pictures, animations, and discussion guides. His work is at https://www.patreon.com/fullofeyes, Youtube, and his website fullofeyes.com

Chris' most recent work is below, with his artist's statement below the picture

Members of the Body

1 Corinthians 12:12-13, "For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit were were all baptized into one body--Jews or Greeks, slaves or free--and all were made to drink of one Spirit."
The short explanation:

The bond of the Church's unity is the Holy Spirit who is/creates within each member of the Church a consent to / love for God as He is made known in His Son. This eternally increasing, Spirit-wrought alignment of the heart and mind to the beauty of God in Christ is the holiness of the individual and the unity of the whole.

The long explanation (take from this morning's journal entry):

The Spirit is the principle of union within the Church. Because we were all made to drink from one Spirit, we are all in Christ as one body. Now, the body imagery caught my attention this morning because of this question: What is it that makes the body a unity? What makes someone look at this collection of colors and textures and shapes, of fingers, eyes, toes, bones, veins, muscles, etc.....what makes someone look at this and consider it all one?

I think the answer must be found in the harmony of the parts, or--as Edwards would say--the consent of the various parts to one another.

The many and diverse members of the body are considered one because there is such a high degree of harmonious consent between them all, they agree with one another, not only in form, but in function (this harmonious agreement of the members as the principle of unity is hinted at in 1 Cor. 12:18,24 where Paul mentions the Lord's having arranged and composed the members of the body as He saw fit).

The unity of the body, then, is due to the mutual consent and harmonious agreement of the diverse members. What is glorious about this is that, according to Jonathan Edwards, consent in the observable world is only a shadow or reflection or image of a deeper reality which is consent in the spiritual world, and consent in the spiritual world is simply another way of saying "love." We might then say that a body (or a tree, or a landscape or a car) is a unity because the various members, as it were, "love" one another:

"When one thing sweetly harmonizes with another, as the notes in music, the notes are so conformed and have such proportion one to another that they seem to have respect one to another, as if they loved one another. So the beauty of figures and motions is, when one part has such consonant proportion with the rest as represents a general agreeing and consenting together; which is very much the image of love..."
- Edwards, Essay on the Mind
So, the unity of diverse members of a body is their consent aka, their beauty, aka, their "love" for one another. This, of course, wonderfully agrees with Paul's entire emphasis in 1 Corinthians as a whole and this section more specifically. The Spirit of God is the Love of God for God poured into His people (Romans 5:5) who unites them all into one by the bonds of harmonious consent To the Name of God revealed in the Son (John 17:11,26).

As Christians, our consent is not just--or primarily--to one another, but to God in Christ, and to one another because--in the Spirit--we are all in Christ such that our consent to Christ must also be consent to one another (1 John 4:7-8). The Spirit unites the various members of the people of God into one because He is the living harmony, the living consent, the living beauty, the living mutual love of the people of God, one for another because of their mutual love for the God in His Son.

One awesome implication here is that the Spirit functions in the Church just as He has eternally functioned within the Trinity. Going back to Edwards:

"[God] exerts Himself towards Himself no other way than in infinitely loving and delighting in Himself, in the mutual love of the Father and the Son. This makes the third, the personal Holy Spirit or the holiness of God, which is His infinite beauty, and this is God's infinite consent to being in general."
- Edwards, Essay on the Mind
According to Edwards, the Holy Spirit is the infinite and personal mutual love of the Father and the Son. He is the consent, the harmony, the agreement, the beauty who eternally unites the First and Second persons of the Trinity, and He unites them in the infinite and eternal bond of love. How glorious, then, that this is exactly what it seems the Spirit does in the Church? As He has always been the bond of mutual love between Father and Son, so now He has become the bond of mutual love (the harmony, the consent, the beauty) within the Church.

As the Trinity is one through the eternal and infinite love of Father for Son in the Spirit, so too the Church is one through this same love of God for God now dwelling within them as the personal Holy Spirit. The consent, then, of the various members of the Church to the Son by the Spirit is primary, and must necessarily give rise to consent of the various members of the Church to one another (1 John 4:19-21).

7 comments:

  1. Well..., I suppose you and others might disagree with me, and I might be wrong, but these images look too much "New Age" for me. There simply is something wrong here. Sorry, but that is what I see in it. The image above just makes all kinds of red flags spring up for me. I thought we were not supposed to represent God with any kind of imagery.

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    1. Hi Dennis,

      Thanks for commenting but I'd love it if you can be a bit more specific. '"Something is wrong here" and "red flags spring up" doesn't really edify nor teach as to the issue you think you may be seeing. Have you gone to Chris' website fullofeyes.com and viewed his work? That would be fair. At that place also, Chris has a statement about images of God and the second commandment. After you view it and can formulate a little more specific objection, come back and with scripture let us know your thoughts. I'd love to have a more specific conversation.

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  2. I thank you for your response, which is quite fair and correct. You are right in that I must support what I say with scripture. I have no intent to be divisive or argumentative. I watched some of Chris's videos on You Tube. On his website, I viewed numerous images. Some seemed okay, others did not. My overall response to his images and videos remains negative. It will take me awhile to put together a scripturally based argument in support of my position. For now, may I say that the Bible makes it clear that God is Holy, Holy, Holy (repeated 3 times). The Holiness of God is far beyond anything any human being can possibly understand. "The Holiness of God" by R.C Sproul is an excellent source for digging deeper. I have a very personal and deep reverence for the Holiness and purity of God, His beloved Son, Jesus the Christ (Who is God) and the Holy Spirit (Who is also God). The Bible says no man has seen God at any time and God is Spirit (not having any definable "body" or any kind of discernible physical attribute). My response is negative to any imagery made to represent God the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit because for me it goes against His Holiness, the level of which we cannot possibly fathom. We cannot know it and we do not know it. We will someday, but not here on this earth in these mortal bodies which still contain the fallen nature. Images always say something, always. The problem is that any particular image will mean different things to different people. The image itself does not change but the response that various people have to it will be different. It is these variances, at least in part, why I feel we cannot ever, in any way, even dare to represent God with imagery of any kind. To do so runs the risk of different people, who view the image, forming up different and most likely false and unscriptural concepts of God and Who and What He is. This is my personal response to these images. I showed the image to my wife and asked "What is your immediate response to this image. She said "bad." I showed the image to two other close Christian friends and asked them for their immediate response. Both of them immediately replied "Satanic." I did not "coach" them in anyway at all. I will continue to work on this.

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  3. I was unable to find Chris's statement about images of God and the 2nd commandment.

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  4. Hi Dennis,

    Thank you for kindly responding and seeking to clarify for us on your position. I really appreciate that you looked for his statement on the second commandment. I'll look for it too. It is in his book "Visual Exegesis, Vol. 1" in 5 appendices. But that doesn't help us online!

    God is holy and beyond our understanding, but Jesus did appear in human form and became the image of God for 33 years on earth, seen by all. Col 1:15.

    I went back and forth on the second commandment issue a lot, and still do a little. However after much research into it and watching Chris' work over a period of years, I have become satisfied by Chris' interpretation. I also watched RC Sproul on the issue and came to some clarity also. It's why I feel comfortable presenting Chris' work. But I totally understand your statement regarding God's holiness and I agree.

    That said, while we should be concerned with God's holiness we should also be concerned with truth and beauty, more below.

    I would not agree that his images are satanic. Perhaps, though some of them are satanic looking, I can assure you that they are not from a place of sin and hell. I am comfortable with Chris' theological underpinnings, his seminary experience, and his elders who tutor and guide him. I've read all 6 of his blog posts about his endeavors and philosophy and doctrinal stances, here: http://www.fullofeyes.com/about/

    Some of the images do look satanic because Chris visualizes doctrinal concepts and he deals a lot with doctrines of sin, bondage, hell, satan and our own depravity and unholiness. I myself am uncomfortable with some of those images, but mainly on the basis that they reflect *myself*, not because they are biblically errant or disrespectful to the Savior, IMO.

    I am very familiar with RC Sproul's works on the holiness of God. He certainly is an authority and has produced many wonderful and edifying works on the subject! His concerns are threefold, as he will tell you- holiness, truth, and beauty. He is equally concerned with the beautiful as much as he is with truth and holiness, and to that end, has produced works speaking to the issue of images and art in worship. One of those is here: http://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/images-worship/

    in which he concludes:

    "Evangelicals can legitimately differ on this issue, but we stand with the continental Reformed for several reasons. First, the law of Moses prohibiting images also commands them to be constructed in the tabernacle (25:17–22). This tells us the second commandment more addresses the worship of images than their existence. Secondly, among the first believers filled with the Holy Spirit were the artists who built the tabernacle (31:1–11). Visual beauty is thus blessed by the Lord for use in worship. Finally, lovely artwork can help us sanctify the time and space of our corporate gatherings. The priestly garments were made with gold, blue, purple, and scarlet dyes (28:6), all costly colors in the ancient world. Including these materials conveyed a deep sense of God’s worth to ancient Israel."

    "The Lord is invisible (1 Tim. 1:17), and so the divine image cannot be pictured. Yet Scripture allows for images that depict the humanity of Jesus as well as pictures of redemptive events and themes in our churches. These can be idolatrously abused, but the solution is not the disuse of images. Instead, the answer is the right use of beautiful art that bears witness to the loveliness of Christ." --end Sproul

    I personally believe Chris respects the nuanced distinction and that he presents art that bears witness to the loveliness of Christ. His work is solidly Christcentric. I do admire his work greatly. I understand, though, if you don't. Thank you for the conversation!!


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  5. I would like to clarify a few things. As I dug into Chris's work, I never thought even once that he is producing anything Satanic. I believe Chris's heart is right and so is yours. A response of "Satanic" or "New Age" was my immediate response to the image in this article. This particular image reminds me of "The Phoenix." So, I had a negative response to it. Three others I showed it to had the same negative response. My response does not mean it really is bad. Others may have a favorable response to it. To me, however, that can be problem. As I said before, images always say something, but they may say something very different to different people. If the image is associated with God, it may then cause misconceptions of God in the mind. I know I may be overly sensitive to all of this but I can't help it. I suppose I will always have a negative response to images associated with God the Father, Jesus or the Holy Spirit. It is because of the very intense reverence I hold for Him in my heart and mind. I love God as a son loves his Father. He has been so good, generous and so very kind to me all of my life. He has always been immeasurably faithful to me, even when I was terrible and unfaithful to Him. To me, imagery associated with God is denigrating to Him. I am not saying that this is actually true in all cases. It is my personal response to the imagery. I am unable to do anything else with it. I take Scripture (KJV- only) word for word literally. Anything that even appears to be out of line with Scripture gets "tossed" by me. I am not saying I am always right. I make my own share of errors. I did a 21 year military career. I never got a tattoo because of Leviticus 19:28. I've been called "nuts" on that one but I will not back down.

    I am 70 years old. I came to Christ late in life. It was very difficult for me, at times seemingly impossible, mostly due to my unbelief because of ignorance of Scripture. Through all of it, the Lord was long suffering and gentle and kind to me. I look at Him with concepts of Infinity, i.e., infinitely Holy, infinitely good, etc. Because of this, I just can't deal with images of this type.

    I apologize for my "rambling" but I hope I have managed to convey why this type of imagery is troublesome to me. You said "Evangelicals can legitimately differ on this issue..." Thank you for saying that. I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree.

    Please keep up with what you do. Your writings are excellent. I have followed your website for some time now, just never said anything. Thank you.

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    1. Thank you so much for stopping by and for sharing. Bless you Dennis.

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