Additional Material on Images of Christ

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Calvin on the Second Commandment

More Calvin Calvin on Images of Christ

Second Helvetic Confession Chapter IV

Heidelberg Catechism on Images of God

Westminster Confession

John Bradford on the Second Commandment

Flavel on the Second Commandment

Ridgeley on the Larger Catechism

Matthew Henry on the Decalogue

Irenaeus – Against Heresies.

Epiphanius, Bishop of Salamis, (ca. AD)

Synod of Constantinople (Hieria, 753 AD):

Rushdoony on the Second Commandment

Calvin Knox Cummings

Lorraine Boettner on Romanism

Williamson on Shorter Catechism:

Murray on Second Commandment (Collected Writings)

Calvin on the Second Commandment

"In the First Commandment, after He had taught who was the true God, He commanded that he alone should be worshipped; and now He defines what is His legitimate worship. Now, since these are two distinct things, we conclude that the commandments are also distinct, in which different things are treated of. The former indeed proceeds in order, viz, that believers are to be contented with one God; but it would not be sufficient for us to be instructed to worship Him alone, unless we also knew the manner in which He would be worshipped. The sum is, that the worship of God must be spiritual, in order that it may correspond with His nature. For although Moses only speaks of idolatry, yet there is no doubt but that by synecdoche, as in all the rest of the law, he condemns all fictitious services which men in their ingenuity have invented."

Comment on Ex. 20:4-6; Deut. 5:8-10.

Harmony of the Last Four Books of Moses

Vol. II, p. 107.

"There is no need of refuting the foolish fancy of some, that all sculptures and pictures are here condemned by Moses, for he had no other object than to rescue God’s glory from all the imaginations which tend to corrupt it…. Some expound the words, ‘Thou shalt not make to thyself a graven image, which thou mayest adore;’ as if it were allowable to make a visible image of God, provided it be not adored; but the expositions which will follow will easilty refute their error. Meanwhile, I do not deny that these things are to be taken connectedly, since superstitious worship is hardly ever separated from the preceding error; for as soon as any one has permitted himself to devise an image of God, he immediately falls into false worship."

Ibid., p. 108.

"The word matzebhah is sometimes used in a good sense; whence it follows, that no other statues are here condemned, except those which are erected as representations of God."

Comment on Ex. 34:17

Ibid., p. 117.

"Whence it appears that this insane lust (of idolatry) is not to be repressed by ordinary means. With the same object he says that they are ‘corrupted, or corrupt themselves,’ who make any similitude of God. Thus Paul also declares that in this way the truth is changed into a lie, (Romans 1:25) and Jeremiah and Habakkuk condemn images for their falsehood (Jeremiah 10:14; Habakkuk 2:18). No wonder, then, that an idol should be called the ‘corruption’ of men, since it adulterates the worship of God; and it is a most just recompense to those who pollute the pure and perfect knowledge of God, that they should be thence infected with a rottenness which consumes their souls."

Comment on Deut. 4:12ff.

Ibid., p. 121.

"For when Jeremiah declares that ‘the stock is a doctrine of vanities,’ (Jeremiah 10:8,) and Habakkuk, ‘that the molten image’ is ‘a teacher of lies,’ the general doctrine to be inferred certainly is, that every thing respecting God which is learned from images is futile and false. If it is objected that the censure of the prophets is directed against those who perverted images to purposes of impious superstition, I admit it to be so; but I add, (what must be obvious to all,) that the prophets utterly condemn what the Papists hold to be an undoubted axiom, viz., that images are substitutes for books."

Calvin’s Institutes [Book I Chapter 11 Section 5]

Hypertext ©1996 Blue Banner. Used by permission.

"Hence, again, it is obvious, that the defenders of images resort to a paltry quibbling evasion, when they pretend that the Jews were forbidden to use them on account of their proneness to superstition; as if a prohibition which the Lord founds on his own eternal essences and the uniform course of nature, could be restricted to a single nation. Besides, when Paul refuted the error of giving a bodily shape to God, he was addressing not Jews, but Athenians."

Calvin’s Institutes [Book I Chapter 11 Section 2]

Hypertext ©1996 Blue Banner. Used by permission.

"In the Law, accordingly, after God had claimed the glory of divinity for himself alone, when he comes to show what kind of worship he approves and rejects, he immediately adds, ‘Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, or in the water under the earth,’ (Exodus 20: 4). By these words he curbs any licentious attempt we might make to represent him by a visible shape, and briefly enumerates all the forms by which superstition had begun, even long before, to turn his truth into a lie. For we know that the Sun was worshipped by the Persian. As many stars as the foolish nations saw in the sky, so many gods they imagined them to be. Then to the Egyptians, every animal was a figure of God. The Greeks, again, plumed themselves on their superior wisdom in worshipping God under the human form, (Maximum Tyrius Platonic. Serm. 38). But God makes no comparison between images, as if one were more, and another less befitting; he rejects, without exception, all shapes and pictures, and other symbols by which the superstitious imagine they can bring him near to them."

Calvin’s Institutes [Book I Chapter 11 Section 1]

Hypertext ©1996 Blue Banner. Used by permission.

More Calvin Calvin on Images of Christ:

"Now we must remark, that there are two parts in the Commandment – the first forbids the erection of a graven image, or any likeness; the second prohibits the transferring of the worship which God claims for Himself alone, to any of these phantoms or delusive shows. Therefore, to devise any image of God, is in itself impious; because by this corruption His Majesty is adulterated, and He is figured to be other than he is. There is no need of refuting the foolish fancy of some, that all sculptures and pictures are here condemned by Moses, for he had no other object than to rescue God's glory from all the imaginations which tend to corrupt it."

Ibid., p. 108.

"For unbelievers have never been carried away to such an extent of folly as to adore mere statues or pictures; they have always alleged the same pretext which now-a-days is rife in the mouths of Papists, viz., that not the image itself was actually worshipped, but that which it represented."

Ibid., p. 109.

"By these words he curbs any licentious attempt we might make to represent him by a visible shape, and briefly enumerates all the forms by which superstition had begun, even long before, to turn his truth into a lie."

Institutes, I.xi.1

"It is true that the Lord occasionally manifested his presence by certain signs, so that he was said to be seen face to face; but all the signs he ever employed were in apt accordance with the scheme of doctrine, and, at the same time, gave plain intimation of his incomprehensible essence. For the cloud, and smoke, and flame, though they were symbols of heavenly glory, (Deuteronomy 4:11,) curbed men's minds as with a bridle, that they might not attempt to penetrate farther. Therefore, even Moses (to whom, of all men, God manifested himself most familiarly) was not permitted though he prayed for it, to behold that face, but received for answer, that the refulgence was too great for man, (Exodus 33:20.)"


"The Holy Spirit appeared under the form of a dove, but as it instantly vanished, who does not see that in this symbol of a moment, the faithful were admonished to regard the Spirit as invisible, to be contented with his power and grace, and not call for any external figure? God sometimes appeared in the form of a man, but this was in anticipation of the future revelation in Christ, and, therefore, did not give the Jews the least pretext for setting up a symbol of Deity under the human form. "


"It is, moreover, to be observed, that by the mode of expression which is employed, every form of superstition is denounced. Being works of men, they have no authority from God, (Isaiah 2:8, 31:7; Hosea. 14:3; Micah. 5:13;) and, therefore, it must be regarded as a fixed principle, that all modes of worship devised by man are detestable."


"And it is to be observed, that the thing forbidden is likeness, whether sculptured or otherwise. This disposes of the frivolous precaution taken by the Greek Church. They think they do admirably, because they have no sculptured shape of Deity, while none go greater lengths in the licentious use of pictures. The Lord, however, not only forbids any image of himself to be erected by a statuary, but to be formed by any artist whatever, because every such image is sinful and insulting to his majesty."


"This at least I maintain, that when we teach that all human attempts to give a visible shape to God are vanity and lies, we do nothing more than state verbatim what the prophets taught."


"The truth of this latter remark I wish we did not so thoroughly experience. Whosoever, therefore, is desirous of being instructed in the true knowledge of God must apply to some other teacher than images."


"The simple reason why those who had the charge of churches resigned the office of teaching to idols was, because they themselves were dumb. Paul declares, that by the true preaching of the gospel Christ is portrayed and in a manner crucified before our eyes, (Gal. 3:1.) Of what use, then, were the erection in churches of so many crosses of wood and stone, silver and gold, if this doctrine were faithfully and honestly preached, viz., Christ died that he might bear our curse upon the tree, that he might expiate our sins by the sacrifice of his body, wash them in his blood, and, in short, reconcile us to God the Father? From this one doctrine the people would learn more than from a thousand crosses of wood and stone. As for crosses of gold and silver, it may be true that the avaricious give their eyes and minds to them more eagerly than to any heavenly instructor."


"It makes no difference whether they worship the idol simply, or God in the idol; it is always idolatry when divine honors are paid to an idol, be the color what it may. And because God wills not to be worshipped superstitiously whatever is bestowed upon idols is so much robbed from him."


"They say, we do not call them our gods. Nor did either the Jews or Gentiles of old so call them; and yet the prophets never ceased to charge them with their adulteries with wood and stone for the very acts which are daily done by those who would be deemed Christians, namely, for worshipping God carnally in wood and stone."


"For as a murderer or an adulterer will not escape conviction by giving some adventitious name to his crime, so it is absurd for them to expect that the subtle device of a name will exculpate them, if they, in fact, differ in nothing from idolaters whom they themselves are forced to condemn. But so far are they from proving that their case is different, that the source of the whole evil consists in a preposterous rivalship with them, while they with their minds devise, and with their hands execute, symbolical shapes of God."


"First, then, if we attach any weight to the authority of the ancient Church, let us remember, that for five hundred years, during which religion was in a more prosperous condition, and a purer doctrine flourished, Christian churches were completely free from visible representations, (see Preface, and Book 4, c. 9 s. 9.) Hence their first admission as an ornament to churches took place after the purity of the ministry had somewhat degenerated. I will not dispute as to the rationality of the grounds on which the first introduction of them proceeded, but if you compare the two periods, you will find that the latter had greatly declined from the purity of the times when images were unknown."


"And from the fearful infatuation under which the world has hitherto labored, almost to the entire destruction of piety, we know too well from experience that the moment images appear in churches, idolatry has as it were raised its banner; because the folly of manhood cannot moderate itself, but forthwith falls away to superstitious worship. Even were the danger less imminent, still, when I consider the proper end for which churches are erected, it appears to me more unbecoming their sacredness than I well can tell, to admit any other images than those living symbols which the Lord has consecrated by his own word: I mean Baptism and the Lord's Supper, with the other ceremonies. "Ibid.

Second Helvetic Confession Chapter IV:

"And because God is an invisible Spirit, and an incomprehensible Essence, he can not, therefore, by any art or image be expressed. For which cause we fear not, with the Scripture, to term the images of God mere lies.

"We do therefore reject not only the idols of the Gentiles, but also the images of Christians. For although Christ took upon him man's nature, yet he did not therefore take it that he might set forth a pattern for carvers and painters. He denied that he came to destroy the law and the prophets (Matt. 5:17), but images are forbidden in the law and the prophets (Deut. 4:15; Is. 44:9). He denied that his bodily presence would profit the church, but promised that he by his Spirit be present with us forever (John 16:7; 2 Corinthians. 5:5).

"Who would, then, believe that the shadow or picture of his body doth any whit benefit the godly? And seeing that he abideth in us by the Spirit, 'we are therefore the temples of God' (1 Corinthians 3:16); but 'what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?' (2 Corinthians 6:16). And seeing that the blessed spirits and saints in heaven, while they lived here, abhorred all worship done unto themselves (Acts 3:12; and 14:15; Rev. 19:10 and 22:9), and spake against images, who can think it likely that the saints in heaven, and the angels, are delighted with their own images, whereunto men do bow their knees, uncover their heads, and give other such like honor?

"But that men might be instructed in religion, and put in mind of heavenly things and of their own salvation, the Lord commanded to preach the Gospel (Mark 16:15) – not to paint and instruct the laity by pictures; he also instituted sacraments, but he nowhere appointed images.

"Furthermore, in every place which way soever we turn our eyes, we may see the lively and true creatures of God, which if they be marked, as is meet, they do much more effectually move the beholder than all the images of vain, unmovable, rotten, and dead pictures of all men whatsoever; of which the prophet spake truly, 'they have eyes, and see not,' etc. (Psa. 115:5).

"Therefore we approve the judgment of Lactantius, an ancient writer, who says, 'Undoubtedly there is no religion where there is a picture.' And we affirm that the blessed bishop Epiphanius did well, who, finding on the church-doors a veil, that had painted on it the picture, as it might be, of Christ or some saint or other, he cut and took it away; for that, contrary to the authority of Scriptures, he had seen the picture of a man to hang in the Church of Christ: and therefore he charged that from henceforth no such veils, which were contrary to religion, should be hung up in the Church of Christ, but that rather such scruple should be taken away which was unworthy of the Church of Christ and all faithful people. Moreover, we approve this sentence of St. Augustine, 'Let not the worship of men's works be a religion unto us; for the workmen themselves that make such things are better, whom yet we ought not to worship' (De Vera Religione, Cap. 55)."

Heidelberg Catechism on Images of God:

Q.96: "What does God require in the second commandment?"

Answer: "The we in nowise make any image of God, nor worship him in any other way than he has commanded in his Word."

Q.97: "Must we, then, not make any images at all?"

Answer: "God may not and can not be imaged in any way; as for creatures, though they may indeed be imaged, yet God forbids the making or keeping any likeness of them, either to worship them, or by them to serve himself."

Q.98: "But may not pictures be tolerated in churches as books for the laity?"

Answer: "No; for we should not be wiser than God, who will not have his people taught by dumb idols, but by the lively preaching of the Word."

Westminster Confession:

I:6. The Sufficiency of Scripture

The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man's salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men [a; b; c]. Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the word [d; e]; and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the word, which are always to be observed [f; g, h].

XX:2. Definition of Liberty of Conscience

God alone is lord of the conscience [a; b], and hath left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are in any thing contrary to his word, or beside it, in matters of faith or worship [c; d; e; f; g; h]. So that to believe such doctrines, or to obey such commandments out of conscience, is to betray true liberty of conscience [i; j; k; l; m]: and the requiring of an implicit faith, and an absolute and blind obedience, is to destroy liberty of conscience, and reason also [n; o; p; q; r; s; t; u; v].

XXI:1. Acceptable Worship Defined

The light of nature sheweth that there is a God, who hath lordship and sovereignty over all; is good, and doeth good unto all; and is therefore to be feared, loved, praised, called upon, trusted in, and served, with all the heart, and with all the soul, and with all the might [a; b; c; d; e; f; g; h; i; j]. But the acceptable way of worshipping the true God is instituted by himself, and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be worshipped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in the holy Scripture [k; l; m; n; o; p; q].

Answer (WLC 109) What are the sins forbidden in the second commandment?

The sins forbidden in the second commandment are, all devising[a], counseling[b], commanding[c; d], using[e; f], and anywise approving, any religious worship not instituted by God himself[g]; tolerating a false religion[h; i; j; k; l; m; n]; the making any representation of God, of all or of any of the three persons, either inwardly in our mind, or outwardly in any kind of image or likeness of any creature whatsoever[o; p; q]; all worshiping of it[r; s], or God in it or by it[t]; the making of any representation of feigned deities[u], and all worship of them, or service belonging to them[v; w]; all superstitious devices[x; y], corrupting the worship of God[z; aa], adding to it, or taking from it[bb], whether invented and taken up of ourselves[cc], or received by tradition from others[dd], though under the title of antiquity[ee], custom[ff], devotion[gg; hh], good intent, or any other pretense whatsoever[ii; jj]; simony[jj]; sacrilege[kk; ll]; all neglect[mm], contempt[nn; oo; pp], hindering[qq], and opposing the worship and ordinances which God has appointed[rr; ss].

Answer (WSC 51) What is forbidden in the second commandment?

The second commandment forbiddeth the worshipping of God by images [a; b], or any other way not appointed in his word [c].

John Bradford on the Second Commandment

". . .in no point I should follow in worshipping thee the device or intent of any man, saint, angel, or spirit; but should take all such as idolatry and image-service, be it never so glorious. And why? Forsooth, because thou wouldest I should worship thee as thou has appointed by thy word; for if service be acceptable, it must needs be according to the will of him to whom it is done, and not of him which doeth it. . . .

"So that the meaning of this precept [the second commandment - RB] is, that as in the first I should have none other gods but thee, so I should have no worship of thee but such as thou appointest. Hereby therefore I see great cause of thankfulness for this commandment, in that thou wouldest have mine outward service, and that after thy appointment, lest I should busy my brain how best to serve thee."

Flavel on the Second Commandment

What is the sin especially forbidden in the second commandment?

The sin here forbidden, is the corruption of God's worship, by making any similitude of any person in the Godhead, and performing divine worship before it, or to it; Exodus. 32:8. 'They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, these be thy gods O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.' Deut. 4:15,16 'Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves (for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the Lord spake unto you in Horeb, out of the midst of the fire) lest ye corrupt yourselves and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female.'

What is the second sin forbidden in this commandment?

The second sin against this commandment is will-worship, consisting in the addition of man's inventions to the worship of God, as a part thereof; Matthew 15:9. 'But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.' Col. 2:20-23. 'Whereof if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances (touch not, taste not, handle not, which all are to perish with the using) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will-worship and humility, and neglecting of the body, not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.'

What is the first instruction from the second commandment?

That it is an heinous sin to neglect the worship of God in that manner he hath appoint us to worship him, as in prayer; Jeremiah 10:25. 'Pour out thy fury upon the heathen that know thee not, and upon the families that call not on thy name.' Hearing the word; Proverbs. 28:9. 'He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be an abomination.'

Ridgeley on the Larger Catechism:

"The first commandment respects the object of worship; the second, the manner in which it is to be performed…; the latter obliges us to worship God, in such a way as he has prescribed, in opposition to that which takes its rise from our own invention." II. pp. 328-335.

Matthew Henry on the Decalogue:

"The first commandment concerns the object of our worship, Jehovah, and him only (v3). . . The second commandment concerns the ordinances of worship, or the way in which God will be worshipped, which it is fit that he himself should have the appointing of." I:358-59.

"It is certain that it [second commandment - RB] forbids making any image of God (for to whom can we liken him? Is. Xl.18, 15), or the image of any creature for a religious use. It is called the changing of the truth of God into a lie (Romans. 1.25), for an image is a teacher of lies; it insinuates to us that God has a body, whereas he is an infinite spirit, Hab. 2.18. It also forbids us to make images of God in our fancies, as if he were a man as we are. Our religious worship must be governed by the power of faith, not by the power of imagination." I:359.

Irenaeus – Against Heresies I.xxv.6 (ca. 182-188 AD): Concerning the erros of Carpocrates and the Gnostics.

"They style themselves Gnostics. They also possess images, some of them painted, and others formed from different kinds of material; while they maintain that a likeness of Christ was made by Pilate at that time when Jesus lived among them. They crown those images, and set them up along with the images of the philosophers of the world; that is to say, with the images of Pythagoras, and Plato, and Aristotle and the rest. They also have modes of honoring these images, after the same manner of the Gentiles."

NB: Irenaeus regarded the possession of images to be a Gnostic peculiarity.

Epiphanius, Bishop of Salamis, (ca. AD)

"Moreover, I have heard that certain persons have this grievance against me: When I accompanied you to the holy place called Bethel, there to join you in celebrating the collect, after the use of the Church, I came to a villa called Anablatha, and, as I was passing, saw a lamp burning there. Asking what place it was, and learning it to be a church, I went in to pray, and found there a curtain hanging on the doors of said church, dyed and embroidered. It bore an image either of Christ or of one of the saints; I do not rightly remember whose the image was. Seeing this, and being loath that an image of a man should be hung up in Christ's church contrary to the teaching of Scriptures, I tore it asunder and advised the custodians of the place to use it as a winding sheet for some poor person.

"They, however, murmured, and said that if I made up my mind to tear it, it was only fair that I should give them another curtain in its place. As soon as I heard this, I promised that I would give one, and said that I would send it at once. Since then there has been some little delay, due to the fact that I have been seeking a curtain of the best quality to give them instead of the former one, and thought it right to send to Cyprus for one. I have now sent the best I could find, and I beg that you will order the Presbyter of the place to take the curtain which I have sent from the hands of the Reader, and that you will afterwards give directions that curtains of the other sort – opposed as they are to our religion – shall not be hung up in any church of Christ."

Synod of Constantinople (Hieria, 753 AD):

"When, however, they are blamed for undertaking to depict the divine nature of Christ, which should not be depicted, they take refuge in the excuse: We represent only the flesh of Christ which we have seen and handled. But that is a Nestorian error. For it should be considered that that flesh was also the flesh of God the Word, without any separation, perfectly assumed by the divine nature and made wholly divine. How could it now be separated and represented apart? So is it with the human soul of Christ which mediates between the Godhead of the Son and the dullness of the flesh. As the human flesh is at the same time flesh of God the Word, so is the human soul also soul of God the Word, and both at the same time, the soul being deified as well as the body, and the Godhead remained undivided even in the separation of the soul from the body in his voluntary passion. For where the soul of Christ is, there is also his Godhead; and where the body of Christ is, there too is his Godhead. If then in his passion the divinity remained inseparable from these, how do the fools venture to separate the flesh from the Godhead, and represent it by itself as the image of a mere man? They fall into the abyss of impiety, since they separate the flesh from the Godhead, and represent it by itself as the image of a mere man? They fall into the abyss of impiety, since they separate the flesh from the Godhead, ascribe to it a subsistence of its own, a personality of its own, which they depict, and thus introduce a fourth person into the Trinity. Moreover, they represent as not being made divine, that which has been made divine by being assumed into the Godhead.

"Whoever, then, makes an image of Christ either depicts the Godhead which cannot be depicted, and mingles in with the manhood (like the Monophysites), or he represents the body of Christ as not made divine and separate and as a person apart, like the Nestorians.

"The only admissible figure of the humanity of Christ, however, is bread and wine in the holy Supper. This and no other form, this and no other type, has he chosen to represent his incarnation…"

Quoted in John Leith, Creeds of the Churches.

Rushdoony on the Second Commandment

"Thus in analyzing the second commandment, we must say, first, that the literal use of idols and images in worship is strictly forbidden. Leviticus 26:1-2 makes this very clear. . . ." [Inst. p.63]

The law does not forbid artwork in general, but the unauthorized use of images is forbidden. "They cannot be 'helps' to worship; man needs no aid to worship other than God's provision. Thus idolatry is generally banned by the first commandment, whereas the second law-word prohibits it more specifically with reference to worship. Man can only approach God on God's terms; there can be no mediation between God and man except that which is ordered by God." Ibid. p.65.

"Wherever man begins by establishing his own approach to God, he ends up by establishing his own will, his own lusts, and finally himself as God." Ibid.

"The second commandment prohibits graven images in worship; it requires the destruction of all such forms of worship: 'Thou shalt not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do after their works: but thou shalt utterly overthrow them, and quite break down their images' (Ex. 23:24). In Deuteronomy 12:1-14, the contrast is drawn clearly: obedience means on the one hand destroying all places of idolatrous worship, and, on the other hand, bringing offerings to God in the prescribed manner and to the prescribed place. The commandment to destroy idolatrous places and images is restated in Deuteronomy 7:5; 16:21, 22; Numbers 33:52; Ex. 34:13, 14." Ibid., p.92
Calvin Knox Cummings on the Second Commandment:

"(Exodus 20:4-6) – How to Worship. This commandment tells us how we are to worship God. We are to worship God using only those specific aspects of worship commanded in his Word. We are not to worship God through things made with man's hands, including images, crucifixes, altars or any other ways not prescribed in Scripture. This commandment also forbids unscriptural imaginings and concepts of God. Any likeness of God made with either our hands or with our minds will be a false and insulting representation. History teaches that the next step is to attach reverence to this likeness and to start worshipping the image in the place of God."

Lorraine Boettner on Romanism

"Closely akin to the use of images is that of pictures of Christ. And these, we are sorry to say, are often found in Protestant as well as Roman Catholic churches. But nowhere in the Bible, in either the Old or New Testament, is there a description of Christ's physical features. No picture of Him was painted during His earthly ministry. The church had no pictures of Him during the first four centuries. The so-called pictures of Christ, like those of Mary and the saints, are merely the product of the artist's imagination. That is why there are so many different ones. It is simply an untruth to say that any one of them is a picture of Christ. All that we know about His physical features is that He was of Jewish nationality. Yet He more often is represented as having light features, even as an Aryan with golden hair. How would you like it if someone who had never seen you and who knew nothing at all about your physical features, resorted to his imagination and, drawing on the features of his own nationality, painted a picture and told everyone that it was a picture of you? Such a picture would be fraudulent. Certainly you would resent it. And certainly Christ must resent all these counterfeit pictures of him. He was the truth; and we can be sure that He would not approve of any form of false teaching. No picture can do justice to His personality, for He was not only human but divine. And no picture can portray His deity. All such pictures are therefore fatally defective. Like the grave of Moses, the physical features of Christ were intended to be kept beyond the reach of idolatry. For most people the so-called pictures of Christ are not an aid to worship, but rather a hindrance, and for many they present a temptation to that very idolatry against which the Scriptures warn so clearly."

Roman Catholicism, p. 284.

Williamson on Shorter Catechism:

"No, God has not given us a long list of every possible thing he would forbid in His worship. If God had done that, the Bible would be so big no one could read it all. What God has done is to give us a simple principle. And by this principle we know that what He commands is sufficient, and that what He does not command is therefore forbidden." Pp. 22-23.

Murray on Second Commandment (Collected Writings)

"The question is really that of 'Spiritual worship,' worship authorized by the Holy Spirit, constrained by the Holy Spirit, offered in the Holy Spirit. And so we must ask: Where does the Holy Spirit give us direction respecting that which he approves and leads us to render?

"The answer is: only in the Scripture as the Word which he has inspired. This simply means that for all the modes and elements of worship there must be authorization from the Word of God.

"The Reformed principle is that the acceptable way of worshipping God is instituted by himself, and so limited by his revealed will that he may not be worshipped in any other way than that prescribed in the Holy Scripture, that what is not commanded is forbidden. This is in contrast with the view that what is not forbidden is permitted." Collected Writings, I.167-68.

"The person who adopts a creed and subscribes to it is never justified in doing so merely on the authority of the Church or simply because it is the creed of the Church to which he belongs. Creedal adoption or subscription must always proceed from the conviction that the creed is in accord with Scripture and declares its truth. The person adopting can never pass on the responsibility for such personal and individual conviction to the Church and its official action. The moment acceptance is conceded on the basis that it is the interpretation and formulation of the Church rather than on the basis of consonance with Scripture, in that moment the church is accorded the place of God and the authority of the Church is substituted for the authority of God's word. The gravity of such a spiritual catastrophe cannot be measured. For in principle the idolatry perpetrated by Rome has been conceded and the basis laid for the gross impieties and tyrannies that have followed the career of the Romish church. We need to guard jealously the position so eloquently expressed in the Westminster Confession: 'God alone is Lord of the conscience, and hath left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men, which are in anything contrary to his word; or beside it, if matters of faith or worship. So that, to believe such doctrines, or to obey such commands, out of conscience, is to betray true liberty of conscience; and the requiring of an implicit faith, and an absolute and blind obedience is to destroy liberty of conscience and reason also' (XX.2). So, also, I.6, 'The whole counsel of God…or traditions of men.'" Ibid., IV.272-73.