191 L’Engle, 1996, p. 160.
192 David Morgan. Visual Piety: A History and Theory of Popular Religious Images. (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1998), p. 55. This book is based on responses people give regarding the popular artwork of Warner Sallman, and especially, his common picture of Jesus – “Head Of Christ”. Many consider this religious kitsch.
193 Ibid, p. 45.
In light of this phenomenon, it is possible for people to see Christ in the clouds, for example. Morgan says they see what they want to see. People can almost always recognize a Sallman picture as one of Jesus. Is this because they have been conditioned to or because they want to?194 In any case, “…Lutherans, and Protestants generally, find a very important place for images in their religious lives, particularly in their homes.”195 If this is not specifically veneration, it is very similar. It is certainly a religious use of images. Another potential example of veneration for the evangelical context might be the act of preaching. In fact, there are obvious similarities in ideology and terminology between the Orthodox understanding of icon and the Evangelical understanding of preaching. Often, preaching is referred to as opening the word.
This terminology treats preaching like a window, which is exactly the Orthodox picture of the icon. Ironically, preaching is mostly explaining of the word rather than the reading of the word itself. Evangelicals would not call this explanation “the word” yet treat it in a similar way. Again, honor accorded to preaching is strikingly similar to the honor given to icons. Another significant example of possible veneration in the Evangelical context is prayer itself. When Evangelicals pray, they often assume some unique position. This could be simply closing eyes but could also include kneeling, folding of hands and bowing. These are all acts consistent with veneration. In fact, it is impossible to pray without some kind of image, even if it is only imagined – how can one pray with no image? There is always a sense of an image in prayer, whether it is an image of God or something else.
194 Ibid, p. 125.
195 Ibid, p. 152.
It could be argued that if one prays without an image of God (whether physical or not) or at least some sense of the location of God (even if it is inside the one praying), one is participating in idolatry. Certainly, much of historical and contemporary worship practices are metaphorical and image oriented. A final example of veneration in the Evangelical context will be considered. This is the example of music. This veneration can be easily seen in the context of “contemporary” worship. To the uninitiated, the first exposure to contemporary worship practices would definitely appear to be veneration. In many of these contexts, there is only one time during a corporate worship service when people will either shut their eyes, bow, sway, raise hands or perform a number of other physical acts. This is during the participatory music, often identified as “worship” in evangelical churches. In fact, in many of these contexts, the only component of the corporate worship service referred to as worship is the participatory music. Whether it is intentional or not, these are acts of veneration. The music provides the window to the supernatural in the same way that the icon does. The similarities are significant.