"This is the generation of the great LEVIATHAN, or rather, to speak more reverently of that mortal god, to which we own under the immortal God, our peace and defense." -Thomas Hobbes: Leviathan
The following is taken from the blog Proto-Protestantism where in this post the author discusses a lot of issues to do with the nativity, Christmas, etc, including this rather intriguing reversing of a traditional argument against iconoclasm.
…One of these arguments is now commonly embraced by Evangelicals, that is to accuse those who would oppose pictures or depictions of Christ of being guilty of the heresy of Nestorianism.
Now it can be argued that the 5th century Constantinopolitan Patriarch Nestorius never really taught this, nevertheless the Nestorian position can be summed as this:
Christ has two Natures, human and divine, and the Incarnation is also comprised oftwo Persons, human and divine.
The Orthodox position has always been:
Christ has two Natures, human and divine, and they both reside in one Person.
The argument has long been that there is but One Christ, who is miraculously both human and divine.
Nestorians have said that by combining the two Persons into one, he is neither properly speaking human or divine.
Nestorians also argued the Persons must be separate or else what will you say? That God died on the Cross? Can God die?
So they would in some way separate his humanity and his divinity. They are not quite unified in the person of Christ.
There were other errors in the early church, some that were more serious in that they denied His humanity, or His divinity…or made him into a tertium quid, a third something that was neither fully man or fully God…
A Protestant pro-image argument often is framed thus:
While we would reject the depiction of God the Father, by rejecting the depiction of Christ you are separating his humanity from his Divinity and are thus guilty of Nestorianism. You can’t separate the natures, and therefore since Christ is Fully Man, we can depict him.
Did you catch that?
Since Christ was human, He is exempt from the prohibitions of the 2nd Commandment. By insisting that He shouldn’t be depicted, you must be breaking apart the Incarnate fusing of the Divine and Human.
…I wish to flip this on its head.
By depicting Jesus, they are separating His Divinity. You can’t picture just Christ’s humanity. If you think so, then you are in fact a Nestorian (as we defined it above.)
They go together. He is the Theanthropos, the God-Man. God Incarnate, the Icon (Image) of the Father.
So, when you see a painting of Christ….is it Him?
If it’s not depicting His Divinity…then it’s not Christ.
If if is depicting His Divinity (for the sake of argument)…then it’s at the very least a violation of the Second Commandment, if not taking His name in vain and outright blasphemy.
His Divinity of course, cannot be depicted…and so the picture is not Christ….and thus it is a lie.
This is why during the Reformation in Holland and Scotland, newly Reformed Christians were ripping down and smashing statues and destroying images of Christ. I’m not saying they were right to reverence the buildings and want to purge the ‘solemn’ places….but that’s what motivated them. They viewed these things as idols…false gods, or false representations of the True God….and thus false gods.
I think what this argument at most proves is not exactly his conclusion, that is, that no pictures or images of Christ or his saints are allowed to be made, but that the question of images have to be decided on other grounds other than that of one’s Christology, e.g. questions of representation of divinity, use of representation, etc, more of a discussion of what the second commandment means rather than a debate about Christological implications.