Go mbeannai Dia duit.

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Quaker by conviction, mother by default, Celticst through love, Christ follower because I once was lost but now am found...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Today's Think.

God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. John 4:24

One of the things that seems to be coming to my attention more & more at present is the pagan symbolism of so many Christian symbols. Take the poor old Ichthys, which has become popular again as a bumper sticker, as a lapel pin or tie pin & as a broach, declaring proudly, so the wearer thinks, their loyalty to Christ. Nothing could be further from the truth.

This is a symbol affiliated with the very roots of paganism & what it is a symbol of actually makes me cringe. This is a pagan symbol for the womb & vagina so old it dates as far back as the Phoenicians. It has associations with the Hindu god Vishnu & Dagon, the fish~god of the Philistines. The Greeks used it, based on its similarities to the alpha symbol, for the womb.

Think that's bad? It is also associated with Isis [& the *great fish* of the Abyss], Indian Kali [the fish~eyed one], & the Chinese great mother, Kwan~yin, who is portrayed as a fish. If you ever read up on these choice idols your flesh will crawl. In ancient Rome the fish symbol was so revered Christian leaders appropriated it while denying the genitalia meaning of it.

Be that as it may, & there is a perfectly valid argument going around that the Christian use of Ichthys developed independently, I think there is pause for thought for any Christian who desires to please their Lord & Saviour. The second commandment reads: Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. (Exodus 20:4-6)

Are you howling for my blood yet? I think we need to be very, very careful of the symbols & traditions we incorporate into our worship. Most of them are tainted; everything from the cross itself to the Christmas tree, none of which have been blessed by God. Christmas is a man made tradition, not a God ordained one. The symbols Christ left were bread & wine, which were already part of the Passover celebration, & put to a new use by Christ himself.

More & more I am convinced we need to divest ourselves of an accumulation of useless man~made trappings & hear the still small voice of God for God is spirit & wishes us to worship Him in Spirit & in Truth. Not in symbols. Not in empty ritual & old tradition. Spirit & Truth. It is time we discarded the symbols which are stumbling blocks & crutches & grasp hold of of the Living God Himself.

No, I don't expect much of Christianity will either hear me or heed me but I know that my saviour lives ~ not in icons & symbols, not in church spires or mangers under Christmas trees; He is not on the gold cross hanging between two candles. He is seated at the right hand of God the Father & He is coming to judge the quick & the dead. That should give us pause for thought because judgement does not begin with the infidel & the unbeliever. Judgement begins with the household of God.


seekingmyLord said...

Because I would soap box this one, big time, I plan to blog on a related subject about Christmas decorations when I get around to it. For now, I think I will leave it with saying just this:

Symbols can become the focus, so regardless of their origins or similarities to pagan symbols, this is the very reason why symbols should not be used because it takes the focus off my Lord and puts it on a *thing*

On the other hand, I have sought my Lord on this issue before and I believe that He lead me to a place of peace on similar matters. In regards to this particular symbol, man made the symbol, but God made what it symbolized. The problem is not the symbol itself, but what is in the heart of one who uses it. Is it used to glorify God or to diminish Him, to bring attention to the symbol itself or attention to the Lord of All, to identify other believers or to interpose paganism? I believe the use of symbols can be treacherous territory for a number of reasons, but then I also believe that God judges the unseen, heart of the person, rather than the appearance, the symbol, of who that person is.

Jan Lyn said...

We are very like-minded, Ganeida, and it makes me feel a lot less isolated to read this post. I do respect all believers and their practices, as you say, however as God sees the heart--and wants our hearts.

Allison said...

I struggle with the idea of a "graven image." I believe that most Amish orders eschew photographs, and some Protestant demoninations statutes, for that same reason. Having grown up in the Catholic tradition, I find myself questioning the distinction between using a symbol as a representation and actually turning to worship that symbol.

Ganeida said...

Seeking: I look forward to your soapboxing! ☺ And in one way it really doesn't matter. A symbol is just a symbol, as you say. There is often a subtle shift that takes place & when full~blown we find ourselves in a place of sin with no idea of how we got there. Christmas happens to be a very good example imo, because when I was a child it was December before any of the hoo~ha began & most people went to church. The symbols were still pointing to Christ. I no longer feel that is the case & that Christians shouldn't be following blindly after the ways of the world so it is time to stop & reasses our symbols. Just my opinion.

Jan Lyn: Ah yes, but you & I have embraced a tradition that has done away with overt symbols. The things we are most loathe to let go of are usually the things that bind us fastest.

Allison: The Catholic tradition has much beauty in it & a rich use of symbolism but I find it terribly distracting because I am a *visual* & it appeals to my senses. I never feel I've worshipped God because I am so busy oggling something that has caught my eye. Says more about me than about Catholicism & certainly I can see how that use of symbolism carried the good news to an illiterate peoples.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ganeida,
I use the ichthus fish to glorify God and to associate myself as a Christian with Christ. It is my way of saying to the world that I am a Christian. :)


Deb said...

Hi, thanks for popping over today from Sandras. I've seen your picture there often. I've taken a gander through your site today and see you are a women with deep thoughts. It's always a pleasure to meet a fellow Christian and lover of beauty. Blessings to you Ganeida.

Catherine said...

Very interesting. I've not done any research on the Ichthys. I do share your reflections in this post, but will limit my comments. :)

Ganeida said...

Jillian: Yes, today the ichthys is generally recognised as a Christian symbol though I do wonder what any well informed pagan thinks! ☺

MagnificentDebra: Thank you for visiting. Always a pleasure to have visitors ~ especially visitors who leave comments! ☺

alecat: Now, now, alecat, you know you're suppossed to share...;P