178 Limouris, [Pheidas] 1990, p. 20.
179 Limouris, [Kretschmar]1990, p. 84.

For example, “The parables fulfill for us the function of icons, by putting forward the efficacy of what they mean, as if it were accessible to sight and to touch, as well as even of those things that may be contemplated invisibly in subtle conceptions.”180 A healthy understanding of symbol helps us consider the mystery of meaning that is beyond the obvious and physical. In this sense, symbols can “…participate in the reality they convey.”181 We “…see the image itself as an emblem of Incarnation.”182 It provides us with the possibility of participating in the redemption of created things, the sanctification of matter. “It (the icon) is a sanctification of materiality, meant to remind us of its Prototype…” The prototype is the image of the invisible God.183

It may be fair to suggest that in real life, it is impossible not to have symbol. In the context of evangelicalism, it is important to remember that words themselves are symbols. Language is bound to images. “The meaning of words is necessarily invested with the images that those words suggest.”184 In this way, the distinction between word and image is somewhat artificial in that all words are symbolic. In fact, in some cases, the priority of words has caused evangelicals to miss the point behind the words, which is the images the words represent. In the same way, there has been some inappropriate separation between the logos (word) and the bible (words). These are inseparable. The church has maintained symbols from its inception. For example, a symbol of the church (early and contemporary) is the church building. Generally, the gathering place of the body of Christ is treated in a different way from other buildings, no matter how common it is. This indicates symbolic power. The communion table represents symbol.

180 Giakalis, [Mansi 12, 1067B] 1994, p. 55.
181 Ugolnik, 1989, p. 45.
182 Ibid.
183 Ugolnik, 1989, p. 45.
184 Ibid, p. 46.

Certainly, we believe the Eucharist should at least be respected, no matter how evangelical (and anti-symbol) we think we are.

A healthy understanding of symbol must contain an appropriate sense of accountability between material reality and spiritual reality. Because evangelicalism is rooted in the enlightenment and subsequent modernity there is often a profound sense of the lack of continuity between the material and the spiritual. Orthodox doctrine is helpful in this light. “… it is endemic to Orthodoxy itself, precisely because “enlightenment” encloses the single, inquiring mind within an isolated, interpreting self separated not only from a creator but from the social framework of other minds.”185 An evangelical post enlightenment understanding of symbol must account for this compartmentalization. Lack of proper theology regarding matter has allowed westerners (and evangelicals in particular) to largely remove accountability in this area. Rather, the relationship between man and matter is seen as autonomous (matter and spirituality are unrelated). North American evangelicals are, for the most part, blind to this fact. This is reflected in treatment of creation as well as in practices of worship. However, this approach is no longer acceptable. For example, the absence of beauty from our contemporary churches has created a hunger for a deeper spirituality and we are experiencing a revival of religious art and icon painting.186