In defence of the Icons

by Bishop Nikolay Velimirovic

ArchangelAs a true and faithful Orthodox believer, you would like to defend your faith from the agents, with the instinct of Judah, who have turned away from the true faith. They say to you that the icons are idols and that bowing to icons is against and in defiance of the Second Commandment of God. It would seem that the true Christianity is nothing more than idol-worship. This is said by the sect which has appeared only a life-time ago.

Ask them, who has removed and destroyed idols on the Balkans? Who has emptied Athens and Rome of forests of idols and idolised statues? Who has toppled Jupiter, Diana, Astarte of Babylon and Isis of Egypt? Who has dragged down Perun from the hill of Kiew and thrown him into the River Dnjeper? Who has cleared idols from Asia Minor, Africa and all Europe? Was it the sect followers or was it the true Church of Christ, who in her bitter battle against idol-worshippers sacrificed thousands of martyrs for the faith in one true God and their names fill our calendar? Their sect has not one martyr for Christ, nor have they destroyed one idol in the world. They do not even possess a Christian calendar. If they wished to make one up, they could not, because they have no saints.

If they are after a fight with the idol worshippers, why are they looking for it on the Balkans, where the pagan idols are confined to museums? If their hearts are burning against idols, why don't they go into deep Asia and Africa or amongst the Red Indians of America, where unfortunately paganism is as strong as it was a thousand years ago? They don't go probably because the life of a missionary there could be quite dangerous.

I have read about Don Quixote, who imagined the windmills belonging to peaceful citizens to be the fortresses of his enemies. He would charge them with the intention of overpowering and occupying them. So too, the sect followers have proclaimed our icons to be idols and are frantically charging them, mainly because they don't feel like going to the jungles of Africa and Asia.

Let there be no doubt in your mind that, as the day is different from the night, so too is the difference between the icons and the idols, idols are the statues of imaginary and non-existent beings, while the icons are the images of saints who have actually lived on earth and who have celebrated Christ and thus made themselves worthy of the Kingdom of God. Over there, fantasy, over here reality. Over there, lies and fallacies, over here truth and nothing but the truth. Idols separate man from God, icons bring man to union with the one true God. With the Second Commandment, the Creator wished to deter man from that which would separate him from Him. That is, God wanted to direct man from demonic lies, fantasy and imaginary falsehoods.

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