It seems that the dangers lie more in the potential for evangelicals to focus trivial symbols. Current examples like the WWJD apparel, the “testamint” candies and other very questionable uses of symbol are rampant. Church leaders must develop a thoughtful and discerning approach to the use of symbol in worship. This approach must be rooted in meditation on the scripture, immersion in the historical practices of the church, and personal use of sacred images in devotion. In this way, it is possible to avoid the dangers of either embracing a trivial image or trivializing those that have a rich sacred history. In accordance with Orthodox teaching, these things are not to be approached lightly. Rather, they are to be approached with prayer and submission to the will of God.

199 Ouspensky, 1992, p. 98.

Practical Applications for Evangelical Churches

The use of symbol and image is essential for effective ministry in our increasingly post-modern culture. Therefore, it is crucial that church leaders proactively introduce appropriate images in the context of worship. These are some practical suggestions that might help with this introduction. Of course, the possibilities are myriad. These are only a few.

Teaching on Images

In light of the negative perception about images that has historically plagued evangelicalism, teaching will be an important aspect of their introduction. In light of the fact that post-modern culture is very open to both image and historical ideas, the focus of this teaching should be a combination of church history and theology. Rediscovery of some of the teaching of St. John of Damascus as well as the conclusions of the 7th Ecumenical Council will be helpful for the introduction of icons. The Orthodox emphasis on incarnation is also very important. Evangelicals have historically ignored the world of created things as it relates to worship. Implied in this ignorance has been the error that the divinity of Christ somehow reduced his humanity. The introduction of image and its accompanying theology is an excellent opportunity to reemphasize the essential doctrine of the humanity of Christ.