Why are orthodox christian icons not like idols

Orthodox Christianity 101
By Orthodoxy Christianity 101
March 25, 2024

Orthodox Christian icons have been frequently misconstrued and misrepresented as idols by those who do not share the same faith. Nevertheless, to believers, these sacred icons serve as objects of devotion and profound spiritual significance, rather than being viewed as objects of worship and idolatry.

The word “idol” denotes a counterfeit god or an object that is venerated, while an icon is described as a religious image that often portrays a saint or a sacred event. In Orthodox Christianity, icons function as visual representations of the divine, enabling believers to establish a connection with God through the venerated image of the saint or the sacred event.

It is an incorrect notion that Orthodox Christians worship the icons themselves. Instead, they subscribe to the notion of “iconostasis,” which refers to the separation between the terrestrial and the divine domains. The icons represent a portal to the divine, providing a medium of communication with God.

In contrast, idol worship involves the belief that the idol itself is a deity and possesses divine abilities. However, this is not the case with Orthodox Christian icons, which are only a medium of veneration and devotion, rather than the object of worship.

Orthodox Christian icons also serve as a mechanism to commemorate and honor the lives and deeds of the depicted saints. These saints are viewed as paradigms of how to lead a life in compliance with the teachings of Jesus Christ. The icons act as reminders of their selflessness and devotion to God, and as a source of inspiration for the believers to follow in their footsteps.

Additionally, Orthodox Christian icons are conventionally painted using a specific style and technique known as “iconography.” This technique involves the use of specific colors, postures, and facial expressions to convey the sacredness and spirituality of the subject. The goal is to create a sense of the divine rather than to idolize the image itself.

In conclusion, Orthodox Christian icons differ from idols in that they are not objects of worship. Instead, they serve as a medium of devotion and spiritual connection for believers, and as a means of commemorating and honoring the lives of the saints. They are a sacred element of the Orthodox Christian faith and should be appreciated and comprehended as such.

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