By Theodore Shoebat
Muslim terrorists in the Philippines, who have an affinity with ISIS, entered a Catholic Church, ripped apart a poster of Pope France, destroyed a giant Crucifix and shattered the Catholic icons. Why? Because these terrorists believe that Catholic iconography is pagan idolatry. Here is the video of this iconoclast crime?
This is just another proof that Islam is an iconoclast anti-Catholic religion; Islam is a protestant religion, for Muhammad founded his cult to destroy Catholic doctrine. This is why Islam hates Catholic icons.
Theodore the Studite, who lived and worked laboriously to combat heresy in the 8th century, an early time in Islam’s history.
In his book, On the Holy Icons, Theodore the Studite combated the Iconoclasts, a group of heretics who rejected the Catholic Church’s reverence for Christian icons as idolatry. Although Islam is not mentioned in this book, it most definitely reflects the Orthodox beliefs of Christians in the early days of Islam, in this case the veneration of icons and the Holy Eucharist, and it as well contends with heresies that both Muslims and those like White would agree with, such as the shunning of icons of saints and angels, and the rejection of the Eucharist as the literal body and blood of Jesus.
The Iconoclasts saw the Eucharist as only a symbolic image and memorial of Christ, isolating the passage, “Do this in remembrance of me,” and thus did not believe that it was the actual body and blood of Jesus. Theodore the Studite confronted this assertion:
“We grant,” the heretics say, “that Christ may be represented, but only according to the holy words which we have received from God Himself; for He said, ‘Do this in remembrance of me,’ obviously implying that He cannot be represented otherwise than by being remembered. Only this image is true and this act of depiction sacred.” It is sufficient for your refutation that you are clearly contradicting yourself, when you admit that Christ is circumscribed, although previously you denied this. But since it is not right to leave any of your propositions unchallenged, let us proceed to their refutation one by one.
What do you say about these very things to which the priest refers in holy words and hymns? Are they an image or truth? If they are an image, what absurdity! You go from one blasphemy to blasphemy, like those who step into some sort of mud, and in trying to get across fall with both feet into something even more slippery. For you have chosen to fall into atheism in order to keep your argument consistent. But if they are the truth — as indeed they really are, for we confess that the faithful receive the very body and blood of Christ, according to the voice of God — why do you talk nonsense as if the sacraments of the truth were mere symbols?”
In another part of the same book, Theodore the Studite gives quite a fascinating explanation as to the purpose of venerating Christian icons, something both Muslims, and Mr. White, reject:
So whether in an image, or in the Gospel, or in the cross, or in any other consecrated object, God is evidently worshipped “in spirit and in truth,” as the materials are exalted by the raising of the mind toward God. The mind does not remain with the materials, because it does not trust in them: that is the error of the idolaters. Through the materials, rather, the mind ascends toward the prototypes: this is the faith of the orthodox.
Later in the book Theodore the Studite exclaims with great force that the tradition of icons of Christ, and even the Theotokos, or Mary the Mother of God, goes all the way back to the Apostles, and that those who reject this tradition are heretics:
For evidence, moreover, that we have received from the apostles themselves and have preserved up to the present time the tradition of erecting the icon of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Theotokos [the Mother of God], and of any of the saints — raise your eyes, look around, and see everywhere under heaven, throughout the sacred edifices and the holy monuments in them, these images depicted and necessarily venerated in the places where they are depicted. Even if there were no dogmatic reason nor voices of inspired fathers to uphold both the erection and the veneration of icons, the prevailing ancient tradition would be sufficient for confirmation of the truth. Who can presume to oppose this tradition? By his opposition he falls away far from God and the sheepfold of Christ, because he thinks like the Manicheans and the Valentinians, who babbled heretically that God had dwelt among those on earth in appearance and fantasy.
And this leads us to our next ancient theologian, who lived close to the time of Islam’s advent, Theodore Abu Qurrah, an 8th century Melkite bishop who superintended the church in Harran, at Mesopotamia, and who was one of the first to organize a theological defense for Orthodoxy against the heresies of Islam.
Theodore believed that Islam, alongside other heresies, were enemies of the Roman Catholic Church, which he esteemed as being founded by Christ, and as “the seat of St. Peter”. He stresses in his book, Discerning the True Church, that the authentic Church is the Catholic Church, that Apostolic succession must be upheld, and that the only Orthodox Church Councils were the ones commenced by Rome, and that all heretics are against the Roman Church:
You should understand that the head of the apostles was St. Peter, he to whom Christ said, “You are the rock; and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not overcome it.” [Matthew 16:18] After his resurrection, he also said to him three times, while on the shore of the sea of Tiberias, “Simon, do you love me? Feed my lambs, rams, and ewes.” [John 21:15-17] In another passage, he said to him, “Simon, Satan will ask to sift you like wheat, and I prayed that you not lose your faith; but you, at that time, have compassion on your brethren and strengthen them.” Do you not see that St. Peter is the foundation of the church, selected to shepherd it, that those who believe in his faith will never lose their faith, and that he was ordered to have compassion on his brethren and to strengthen them?
As for Christ’s words, “I prayed for you, that you not lose your faith; but you, have compassion on your brethren, at that time, and and strengthen them,” we do not think that he meant St. Peter himself [and the apostles themselves]. Rather, he meant nothing other than the holders of the seat of St. Peter, that is, Rome, [and the holders of the seats of the apostles]. Just as when he said to the apostles, “I am with you always, until the end of the age,” he did not mean just the apostles themselves, but also those who would be in charge of their seats and their flocks; in the same way, when he spoke his last words to St. Peter, “Have compassion, at that time, and strengthen your brethren; and your faith will not be lost,’ he meant by this nothing but other than the holders of his seat. Yet another indication of this is the fact that among the apostles it was St. Peter alone who lost his faith and denied Christ, which Christ may have allowed to happen to Peter so as to teach us that it was not Peter that he meant by these words. Moreover, we know of no apostle who fell and needed St. Peter to strengthen him. If someone says that Christ meant by these words only St. Peter himself [and the apostles themselves], this person causes the church to lack someone to strengthen it after the death of St. Peter. How could this happen, especially when we see all the sifting of the church that came from Satan after the apostles’ death? All of this indicates that Christ did not mean [them] by these words. Indeed, everyone knows that the heretics attacked the church only after the death of the apostles — Paul of Samosata, Arius, Macedonius, Eunomius, Sabellius, Apollinaris, Origen, and others. If he meant by these words in the gospel only St. Peter [and the apostles themselves], then after [them] the church would have been deprived of comfort and would have had no one to deliver her from those heretics, whose heresies are truly “the gates of hell,” which Christ said would not overcome the church.
Theodore later recounts that when the major heretics, Arius, the one who rejected Christ’s divinity; Macedonius, the one who who rejected the Holy Spirit’s divinity; Nestorius, the one who rejected the full divinity of Christ, and Eutychius, the one who affirmed that Christ’s divinity consumed His humanity, taught and spread their heresies like diseases that consume the flesh, it was the Church of Rome that commanded that Church Councils be conveyed to settle the theological conflicts and vanquish heresy. As Theodore recounts:
Do you not know that when Arius arose, by command of none other than the bishop of Rome, a council was summoned against him. The holy council anathematized Arius and his heresy, and the church accepted this council and rejected Arius, even as in earlier times the church of Antioch had accepted the letter of the apostles and rejected the heretics instructing it to be circumcised and keep the law. When Macedonius arose and said certain things about the Holy Spirit, again, by command of the bishop of Rome, a council was summoned against him at Constantinople. This holy council anathematized him, and the church accepted this council, even as it had accepted the first council, and expelled Macedonius, even as it had expelled Arius. …When Nestorius arose and said certain things of Christ, the church disclaimed his words and, as was their customs, referred him to the holy council. By command of the bishop of Rome, a council against him was summoned at Ephesus. This holy council expelled him and declared his teachings false, and the holy church accepted that council, expelled Nestorius, and rejected his teachings. …When Eutyches and Dioscurus [a supporter of Eutyches] arose and said certain things about Christ, the church disclaimed their words and holy fathers arose to argue against them. Nonetheless, the church accepted the opinion neither of those two nor of those who were arguing against them. Rather, as was their custom, they referred the two to the holy council. By command of the bishop of Rome, the fourth council was summoned against them at Chalcedon. It anathematized them and declared their teachings false, and the church accepted the words of this council, even as it had accepted the first three councils, expelling Eutyches and Dioscorus and rejecting their teachings.”
Both of these statements indicate the catholicity of Theodore Abu Qurrah. His view of Rome as the protector of Orthodoxy, and the bastion against heretics, can only be one subscribed by a Catholic. Would a Reformed Baptist ever say such a thing? He esteems Rome as the protector against heresies, one of which was Islam, for Theodore debated a Muslim over the Catholic doctrine of the Eucharist, and such a debate further evidences Islam’s protest against the Catholic Church’s doctrine, even that of the Eucharist. In the theological dispute the Muslim told Theodore his objection of the teaching that the Eucharist is the body of Christ, and that it can forgive sins (a very Catholic precept):
Bishop, why do you priests delude the Christians? Given two pieces of bread baked from the same flour, one of you allow to be eaten as common food; the other you distribute in little pieces to the people, calling it “the body of Christ” and affirming that it can forgive the sins of those who partake of it. Do you mock yourselves or those over whom you have charge?”
Now, those like Calvinist James White and his ilk would not hesitate to agree with the Muslim, and utterly reject what Theodore Abu Qurrah told the Muslim in the end of the debate:
The priest puts the bread and wine on the holy altar; and when he prays the sacred Eucharistic prayer, the Holy Spirit descends on the gifts placed there. Through the fire of his divinity, he transforms the bread and wine into Christ’s body and blood, no less than the liver transforms food into the body of a person. Or don’t you concede, my friend, that the Holy Spirit can do what the liver can do?
Sounds like transubstantiation. Whatever word you wish to use for it, this theological description coming from Abu Qurrah would be wholly rejected by White and his kind, and accepted by both Orthodox and Catholic.
Mr. White, again I must ask you, was Theodore Abu Qurrah wrong? Was he teaching false doctrine? And this is the main question I have for you: Who was right in this debate, the Muslim, or Theodore Abu Qurrah?
White would be supporting the opinion of the Muslim while berating the statement of Theodore. The conversation further vindicates our main affirmation: Islam came to protest the teachings of the Catholic Church.