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  #1  
Old 02-16-2007, 12:17 PM
gigi gigi is online now
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Lutheran/Protestant churches--statues?

So I'm watching Men in Trees last night, where the former prostitute meets a new guy and is on a study date with him. He suggests going somewhere quieter, which turns out to be a small church. I feel perfectly at home looking at it; it has a large cross with the close to life-size corpus on it, a statue of the Sacred Heart. Of course I'm Roman Catholic. So the guy says that he is the Lutheran minister there.

Am I mistaken or don't many Protestant churches usually not use statues or paintings of Christ? Please let me know about Lutherans and others.
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  #2  
Old 02-16-2007, 12:26 PM
Eureka Eureka is online now
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My background is United Methodist--though I've been in other varieties of churches.

In my experience, Protestant churches do not have crosses with bodies on them--no crucifixes. Crosses, yes, but they're empty--or maybe decorated with a crown of thorns, or a purple cloth during Lent.

Statues? Not likely. I won't say it's impossible, but seems unlikely.

Paintings? might depend on where in the church it was located.

Still, I'd say the most likely form of artistic representation of Jesus to be found in a typical Protestant church would be stained glass. Stained glass images of Jesus are common, but hardly universal. (Stained glass without a picture of Jesus is even more common, but still not universal).
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Old 02-16-2007, 12:51 PM
JohnM JohnM is offline
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While crucifixes and statues are not found in most Protestant churches, Lutheran and Anglican churches are an exception. Some may be little different from a Methodist or Presbyterian church, while others may be as ornate as a Roman Catholic church, including crucifxes, elaborate altars and statues of saints. In Anglicanism this difference is often expressed in the terms High Church and Low Church, and I've heard the same terms used informally to describe Lutheran congregations.

To greatly simplify a very complexe topic, the reason for the difference lies in the origins of these churches during the Reformation; both churches began as attempts to reform some of the theology of the Roman Catholic church while keeping many of the practices intact. The later stages of the Reformation (such as John Calvin and the Anabaptists) saw things such as emphasis on the saints, crucifixes, etc. as papist trappings that should be tossed out to return the church to its roots.
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Old 02-16-2007, 12:57 PM
StuffLikeThatThere StuffLikeThatThere is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gigi
Am I mistaken or don't many Protestant churches usually not use statues or paintings of Christ? Please let me know about Lutherans and others.
I've been in a fair amount of Protestant churches in the Midwest, and never seen a statue in them. However, the Anglican church that my brother attends in Canada has a statue or two.

An anecdote for you: my experience with Roman Catholicism is somewhat limited. Years, ago, I was in my friend's wedding, and was attending the rehearsal at the church, when I rounded a corner in what I thought was an empty area (everyone else was in the sanctuary). I nearly wet my pants when I ran into a person. Sort of. It was a life-size statue of some saint. Once I could breathe again, I was greatly amused. So now, religious statuary tends to give me a horrible case of the giggles, which is probably not the intended reaction. Whoops.
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  #5  
Old 02-16-2007, 01:16 PM
wolfman wolfman is online now
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I grew up Missouri Synod Lutheran, (the very conservative side of Lutheranism these days) and it was a point driven home that we do [i]NOT[i] wear the crucifix. Only the unadorned cross was acceptable for us , unless you wanted to go to hell with the papists.
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Old 02-16-2007, 01:24 PM
JohnM JohnM is offline
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One of the things I simplified in my explanation above was leaving out the Reformation Iconoclasts. Both the Lutheran and Anglican churches went through periods of image destruction as well as image creation (e.g., the Oxford movement in England.) That's why it is nearly impossible to make a blanket statement about the presence/absence of images in those churches.
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Old 02-16-2007, 10:18 PM
Harmonious Discord Harmonious Discord is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wolfman
I grew up Missouri Synod Lutheran, (the very conservative side of Lutheranism these days) and it was a point driven home that we do [i]NOT[i] wear the crucifix. Only the unadorned cross was acceptable for us , unless you wanted to go to hell with the papists.
The ministers up here didn't say anything against wearing a crucifix.
It's the Luthern Missouri Synod.

The older Luthern churchs are very ornate, and were mostly built by German imigrants. They have a statue of Christ being crucified. Any other statue is a false God and thus verbotten. The exception being a nativity scene, which is not set up in the church, so technicaly it's not a false idol in the house of God. The ones built in the 80's and later are simple and use abstract designs in the windows and alters. Many times they have a cross without Jesus on it.

Last edited by Harmonious Discord; 02-16-2007 at 10:19 PM..
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  #8  
Old 02-16-2007, 10:21 PM
Sattua Sattua is online now
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The Lutheran church in which I was baptized most definitely has a large crucifix hanging in it.

The Disciples of Christ church my grandmother went to has one also; some big deal about a guy fresh out of the German prison camps posing for the sculpture of Christ.
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Old 02-17-2007, 12:12 AM
dangermom dangermom is offline
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The cathedral of Copenhagen, Vor Frue Kirke, has quite a few statues of Christ and the 12 Apostles. It's Lutheran.
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  #10  
Old 02-17-2007, 12:20 AM
Polycarp Polycarp is offline
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High Church Anglicans and Lutherans will in fact use statuary, though in my experience it's nowhere near as common as in the older Catholic churches. (In passing, Orthodox will not use 3-dimensional images such as statuary, but will use 2-dimensional ikons.)

A mordant description I encountered a few years ago is unfair, inaccurate, and mildly offensive, but close enough to the truth to still be funny as hell: "Missouri Synod Lutherans = High Church Fundamentalists"
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  #11  
Old 02-17-2007, 06:21 AM
Harmonious Discord Harmonious Discord is offline
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The two branches of Lutherns only have one major difference in their interpretation of scripture. In communion you eat Christ's body and blood, or you symbolicly eat Christ's body and blood. We don't need to go into how far out there the explanation of the ministers can be. I added this little bit to show how easily religions splinter on one basic interpretation. This also goes for the statues issue, but it's not a major enough difference that the Luthern churchs under each synod split further over statues.
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  #12  
Old 02-17-2007, 07:44 AM
capybara capybara is offline
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Luther was not against images, just against inappropriate use of them, and he defends the use of art in his writings. The iconoclastic activities in early Lutheranism weren't led by Luther but mostly by a firebrand named Andreas Karlstadt while Luther was underground and Phil Melanchton was sort of failing to keep everything calm.
(teaching a class on this right now). The Calvinists in those days were the big iconoclasts (in the Antwerp-1566 sort of wholesale destruction way).
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Old 02-17-2007, 08:04 AM
Harmonious Discord Harmonious Discord is offline
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I didn't mean to imply that the two synods were also split over iconic statues. I just meant that each individual congregation has minor variations on what is acceptable.

Last edited by Harmonious Discord; 02-17-2007 at 08:08 AM..
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  #14  
Old 02-17-2007, 02:27 PM
wolfman wolfman is online now
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Interesting. Although in My childhood we went through a lot of pastors. From old and ultra-conservative, to young hip(at least for missouri Synod) But the old Pastor for my catechism was dead-set against the adorned cross.

Although in My childhood we went through a lot of pastors. They all had different ideas, some almost radically different. As a Church full of old German immigrants there was really only one requirement. His Theological beliefs, or teaching and Preaching style were unimportant. But If you didn't end the service on time, and have everybody who wanted to be out the door and in their cars by 5 after, your ass was gone, and they were making a call to the seminary.
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  #15  
Old 02-17-2007, 03:41 PM
Grimpen Grimpen is offline
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I'm a Lutheran pastor (not Missouri Synod). In my experience, Lutheran congregations vary widely in their use of art, statues, and the crucifix.
I've served congregations where the main symbol was a cross on the altar, without corpus. I've also worshipped in Lutheran congregations where the central focus was a crucifix with corpus.
Several congregations I've served have had as visual focus a statue of Christ (usually with arms reached out in blessing) placed near the altar. Most have had a painting over the altar; I've seen Resurrection scenes, Christ and Mary Magdalene, Good Shepherd, Christ in Gethsemane...
I'd be inclined to say that in most cases the biggest difference in the way statues or paintings are used is not any difference in theological commitment but more likely in the national background of the immigrant communities from which these congregations spring, or the piety which has been most common in their history.
(On another note: I can't confirm that the Lutheran communities differ regarding Communion. To the best of my knowledge, both the Missouri Synod and other communities -- such as my own -- teach the real presence of Christ in the Sacrament.)
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  #16  
Old 02-19-2007, 09:51 AM
gigi gigi is online now
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Thank you everyone for the information. Consider ignorance fought; I won't make any general assumptions about denominations going forward.
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  #17  
Old 02-19-2007, 10:48 AM
nashiitashii nashiitashii is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wolfman
I grew up Missouri Synod Lutheran, (the very conservative side of Lutheranism these days) and it was a point driven home that we do [i]NOT[i] wear the crucifix. Only the unadorned cross was acceptable for us , unless you wanted to go to hell with the papists.
I also grew up Missouri Synod Lutheran, and went to this school, which was tied to the church I went to. We had a giant hardwood cross with no adornment in the church (the thing had to have been at least 20 feet tall-- scary when you consider that they moved it for Easter!), and the only other statue or reference to Jesus was a life-size statue of Jesus as a carpenter. Very simple, and in the narthex (front sanctuary area), so it didn't take away from the solemnity and simplicity of the wood and brick structure of the church itself. There wasn't much mention made of crucifixes, and whatever leanings towards unadorned crosses were made in a subtle manner, i.e. only giving them out as gifts for congregants/newly confirmed congregants.

I'd generally say, however, that, although varied, many Protestant churches lean away from the decorative nature of Catholic and Orthodox churches. They may have a few depictions or many of religious themes, but it's entirely dependent upon the individual church and the time period in which it was built.
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