Jean’s Gospel: The Finger of God

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28 Responses

  1. JoelG says:

    Thank you for these comforting words Jean. What a powerful and merciful God we have. We are fully known to Him, although are knowledge of God is very small. Jesus is really all we need to know about God. Amen.

    “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief’ is the best any of us can do really, but thank God it is enough.”

    – Buechner

  2. Duane Arnold says:

    Nice, Jean

    “History is a story written by the finger of God…”
    C.S. Lewis

  3. em ... again says:

    wonderful and deep – pay attention to the hand … of God … all He needs is one finger to control the universe? thinking, thinking… thank you, Jean

  4. Jean says:

    Thank you Joel, Duane and Em.

    I am intrigued by Michelangelo’s incorporation of the finger of God into his Creation of Adam. It is imaginative and evocative, but we could not say it’s literal per Gen 1-2. I’m not bothered by that, but some might be.

    Following up on prior discussions of books, movies and music, if we take the art form of painting as a medium of Christian art, how much leeway does an artist have to put on plaster or canvas what is written in Scripture? Are the rules different today than they were in past centuries? If so, why?

  5. Michael says:

    Jeans asks some very excellent questions in #4…

  6. JoelG says:

    How much leeway?

    Maybe as long as what is communicated ultimatelyTrue despite some particulars being a bit off?

    Are the rules different? I’m not sure there are any rules now.

  7. Duane Arnold says:

    #4 Jean
    I spent a bit of time in Finland with some Orthodox iconographers and was surprised that while there were set rules for composition and symbols, there was also room for individual artistic expression – hence, we can “recognize” work by Andrei Rublev, for instance. In the west, individual manuscript illuminators, from the Book of Kells on, can also be recognized, but the symbols remained the same. By the time of the Reformation/Renaissance, I think all bets were off. It was the overall power of the piece of art, not its accuracy. A famous example is Michelangelo’s statue of David… he’s not circumcised! Today, there are no rules… (at least none that I know of!)

  8. JoelG says:

    J.I. Packer:

    “Whatever we may think of religious art from a cultural standpoint, we should not look to pictures of God to show us his glory and move us to worship; for his glory is precisely what such pictures can never show us. And this is why God added to the second commandment a reference to himself as “jealous” to avenge himself on those who disobey him: for God’s “jealousy” in the Bible is his zeal to maintain his own glory, which is jeopardized when images are used in worship.”

    Thoughts anyone?

  9. Duane Arnold says:

    The EO concept with icons is veneration, not worship. In this they follow the writings of John of Damascus (On Holy Images). The basic argument is that since the incarnation, we accept that physical things can lead us toward the spiritual in that the incarnation sanctifies the creation as a whole.

  10. Xenia says:

    ^^^ What Duane said.

  11. JoelG says:

    Thank you Duane and Xenia.

  12. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Lutherans are pretty much the same way. We recognize the difference between worship of an image vs the recognition of the image.
    The command is against worship. Right after God gave the command he ordered the craftsmen for the tabernacle and the instruments to carve images.

    At the incarnation God made an image of himself. This is where the Reformed erred in the Reformation by ridding churches of statues, stained glass and anything else – they even tossed decorated pulpits.

  13. Michael says:


    I love Dr. Packer and I understand his position, but MLD has rightly stated that this is where my Reformed brethren jumped the tracks in my opinion.

  14. JoelG says:


    Yes I’m reading “Knowing God” and it’s very helpful and easy to understand for the common man. That chapter is a little confusing, though.

  15. em ... again says:

    one might consider the possibility that, historically, images served a purpose – back in the years prior to the printing press, the years before the common man had access to his own copy of God’s recorded words to us, before the darned Scottish Presbyterians thought that literacy was of use to all of us… before the common man was deemed worthy of his own copy of the Book…
    all that to say that i think Dr. Packer’s point is valid – i would trade all the art work ever created with the hope of showing us God for just one of the times that the majesty and holiness of God was realized by my cluttered mind as i read the Book – study the Book; is that a work of the flesh? hope not…(study to show thyself approved unto God a workman that needs not to be ashamed… rightly dividing the Word of Truth…)

  16. Truth Lover says:

    I know this is off topic, but can anyone tell me about 4Philemon at Emergent Watch. I’m a nice person and post what I believe is the truth (thus my name) but this jerk won’t post ANY OF MY SINCERE comments at his blog! What kind of a so called “discernment blog” does that?!! No one has ever done that to me. What a LITTLE man.

  17. Josh the Baptist says:

    Not sure, but I bet he’s a guy who owns a blog and can run it however he pleases.

    Just a guess.

    I’d get over it.

  18. JoelG says:


    I think Dr. Packer had good intentions in warning us. Perhaps the unintended consequence of this view of the 2nd Commandment is the stale look of modern evangelical churches. I got a kick out of this article:

    When I have visited Catholic churches I am blown away by the beauty of the art and architecture that, IMV, adds to the reverence of God.

  19. Michael says:

    Truth Lover,

    I know he writes nasty articles about me…and I know he’s the one paying for the site, writing for the site, and he has the right to do as he pleases, when he pleases with the site.

    That’s what I know about emergentwatch.

  20. Michael says:


    In St. Pierre’s in Geneva (Calvin’s church) they have excavated under the church…where you will see the heaps of things Calvin ripped out of the church.

    They wanted the focus on the pulpit alone…because that’s where the Word came forth.

    I’m not at all convinced it was wise…

  21. em ... again says:

    while i have never visited the glorious churches and cathedrals of Europe in person, they, like many churches of the previous centuries here in the U.S. make me think of the dedication and skill (and, hopefully, reverence) of the men who created them…
    there is great beauty there and an expression of man’s view of God’s majesty…
    that said, i think that i must line up with Packer in that nothing, absolutely nothing created by man can or should ever rise to level of an expression of who God really is… i say that even tho i do find Jean’s meditation of the ‘finger of God’ very worthwhile

  22. em ... again says:

    p.s. to my comment above @21… Jean’s meditation turns to Scripture for substance, does it not? the glorious “Creation of Adam” would not, of itself, give us the understanding of the symbolism

  23. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    The Tabernacle and Solomon’s Temple were both designed and built to both show and show off the glory and majesty of God.

    Where do we get that this is no longer true?

  24. Truth Lover says:

    Thanks for your insight on Emergent watch Michael and Josh the Baptist. I know I’ve seen his name on here before too. Why are so many ODM’s wack jobs?!! Yet ignorant Christians believe them.

  25. Michael says:

    Truth Lover,

    When you become convinced that your sect and yours alone is the receptacle for “truth” every one else is a liar and an enemy of truth.

    They generally have no knowledge of church history and only a rudimentarily understanding of theology.

    Their faith is in certainty…and thus certainty is the hill they will die on.

  26. Josh the Baptist says:

    Sorry about my snarky remark, Truth Lover. I’ve never heard of that blog. Doesn’t sound like one I want to visit.

  27. Truth Lover says:

    Josh the B. Thanks for that.

  28. JoelG says:

    #20 Michael very interesting.

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