154 Ibid, p. 72-73.
155 Ouspensky, 1992, p. 278ff.

However, through the redeeming work of Christ, these restrictions of access have been removed. Quenot suggests that this is a misunderstanding. The iconostasis is not a barrier but a window – not to block but to bring light to. This reaffirms the idea of mystery perceived not by human eyes.156 The iconostasis certainly creates a sense of mystery. But does it also create a sense of prohibition? The examples mentioned earlier, of a shorter icon wall that a person could look over seem to better convey the ideas of mystery and accessibility. A theology that so emphasizes the incarnation seems at odds with any sense of barrier between the sanctuary and the believer. Again, the physical is downplayed for the sake of the spiritual. While this is a very important emphasis, especially in a culture rooted in modernity, it seems that it may actually be potentially contradictory in light of the physical incarnation of Christ. Reality exists not only in the spiritual but in the physical as well.

In spite of the questions raised in this section, there is substantial merit to the ideas surrounding the use of icons in worship. Emphases on the mysterious as well as the reality of the spiritual, as opposed to only the physical, are essential to an incarnational relationship with God. At the close of the era of modernity, it seems culture is ripe for an encounter with a theology that emphasizes both the incarnation and transcendence from the material. Post-modernity will continue to hunger for this potentially holistic approach to relationship with the divine.

156 Quenot, 1991, p. 48.

Symbol In Contemporary Evangelical Churches

While there are significant differences between Evangelical Churches and the Orthodox regarding the basic theological assumptions of the use of symbol and art in worship, there are also significant areas of potential overlap and application. These areas of overlap might be more practical than theological but some kind of appropriate use of symbol and sacred art is essential for any church to be effective in postmodernity. Consideration of the theological principles of the Orthodox use of icon is helpful to development of an appropriate use of symbol in evangelicalism at the dawn of the 21st century.

Differences Between Western and Eastern Theological Perspectives

Western Christianity is marked by a cerebral quality. Orthodoxy is marked more by intuition.157 In the Western Church, the focus is on getting meaning from words – from a book. Western educators fear that meaning will be lost if the text is lost. The text is central to meaning.158 For the Orthodox the word is communally celebrated rather than individually encountered. “The Book is the repository of meaning, yet the Book is regarded and treated as if it were itself an image begetting images.” It is image producing – “…transforms dead matter into the reflected image of Jesus Christ.”159

“The American Protestant mind is culturally and literarily disposed to envision the Word in terms of a book, the “text” of creation. The Russian Orthodox mind, through the veil of its own culture, interprets that Word in light of the images that reflect it.