By Theodore Shoebat
ISIS entered a major Christian church in Iraq, called the St. George Monastery, and destroyed the statues of the Virgin Mary and the Baby Jesus. They also took out the crosses and defaced a beautiful statue of St. George destroying the dragon. They took out one of the crosses from the top of the santurary and replaced it with the black flag of ISIS. They did the same sort of iconoclastic destruction in St. St. Sawa Church in Tel-Jadiya, Syria, which was sacked by ISIS but is now under Assyrian Christian control
Here are the photos:
According to one Mid East report:
ISIS has posted pictures, on its twitter accounts, of its members destroying the St. George Monastery in Mosul. The pictures show ISIS members using sledgehammers to smash crosses and icons, and removing the cross from the dome and replacing it with the black ISIS flag.
Muslims hate Christian icons and images and express this hatred by attacking and destroying them, because they see them idols. They do these sort of sacrileges attacks not only in the Muslim world but in the West as well.
A man in Italy was praying before a statue of the Virgin Mary while holding onto a photo of his deceased wife, when a gang of five Muslim teenagers attacked him and ripped the photo in half. That was not enough for the devilish heretics: they then turned against the statue of the Virgin Mary, broke it in half and then began to urinate on the holy icon.
The fact is is that Islam has within its very nature an innate maliciousness against any Christian statues, and any veneration for the Virgin Mary. This is because Islam is an iconoclast heresy, meaning it hates all Christian images and icons.
Islam is simply a continuation of the heretical controversies that have been taking place since our holy Faith’s commencement.
Islam is a heresy, and not only that, it is an apostate church. In its founding it harloted itself with some of the most major heretical beliefs the Church has ever faced. It is Arianism, for it denies the divinity of Christ; it is Nestorianism, for it denies the Incarnation and rejects that the Word became flesh; it is Pelagianism, for it rejects original sin; and it has a trace of gnosticism, in that it affirms that there was no crucifixion of Jesus, but that people only imagined or thought they saw him crucified. In other words, it is the ultimate whore of a religion.
Now, in regards to the story of the Muslim youths desecrating the statue of the Virgin Mary, we must focus on two heresies that are within Islam’s theological foundation: Nestorianism and Iconoclasm.
Mary is called by both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches theotokos- Mother of God. She was given this title in 451 at the Council of Chalcedon as a response against the Nestorian heresy, founded by the vile Nestorios. Nestorianism in summary falsely said that Jesus was a man who became God upon his conception, and so they claimed that Mary was Christotokos- Mother of Christ.
Nestorianism held that the Baby Jesus could not have been God, since it was, to their heretical minds, impossible that God could ever become a baby.
Nestorius’ most fanatic follower, Anastasius, viciously said that Mary cannot be called Theotokos, or the Mother of God, because there was no way God could be born of a woman:
Let no one call Mary Theotokos: for Mary was but a woman; and it is impossible that God should be born of a woman. (In Socrates, 7.32)
While it is objectively true that Mary is Jesus’ Mother, Chrsitians did not want to emphasize Jesus’ humanity to the detriment of His divinity. Hence, Mary has since been called Mother of God so that His divinity is never forgotten or underemphasized.
Muslims reject the Incarnation, or the idea that God became man. This rejection is the foundation of all their other heretical beliefs, and it would inevitably lead them to utterly refuse to call Mary the Mother of God, because God (in their minds) would never deign to become human and be born of a woman.
Islam’s rejection of Marian veneration is found in the Koran, where Jesus (called Isa) tells Allah that he never told His followers to worship His mother:
And when Allah will say: O Isa son of Mary! did you say to men, Take me and my mother for two gods besides Allah (?) (Koran 5:116)
The verse is accusing Christians of worshiping Christ and His mother, Mary. This is the same accusation many Protestants make against Catholics, that they somehow make Mary a deity after Christ.
This is why we affirm that Muslims must be included in the list of so-called “pre-Reformation Protestants.” These are protestants who existed prior to the Reformation, and who, like Luther and his associates, protested against Catholic doctrines.
Today, these pre-Reformation protestants are frequently listed as: the Donatists, the Hussites, the Cathars, Bogomils, the Waldensians, the Lombards, John Wycliffe (for the heresies of Wycliffe, click here) and a plethora of other groups.
While we agree that these sects were most definitely protestant, we believe that there is one group missing in the list: the Muslims.
The Muslims are emphatically pre-Reformation protestants, and Muhammad most definitely was a pre-Reformation reformer, whose goal was to reform Christianity and restore what he believed was the true religion of Christ.
Islam came to omit several doctrines of the Catholic Church: the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, the Eucharist, the divinity of Christ, the sonship of Christ, Christian iconography, and the veneration to saints, including the Virgin Mary. All of these doctrines the Catholic Church defended and proclaimed, and it was Muhammad who wanted to make a reformation in order to do away with these beliefs and rites. The Protestant Reformation would give birth to many groups that wanted to get rid many of these very beliefs. We see this even today.
When the ISIS Muslims slaughtered twenty-one Christian Copts, they said of the Copts: “They supplicate what they worship and die upon their paganism.” Why would they refer to Coptic Christianity as paganism” Because Muslims perceive Coptic rites, such as bowing before the Holy Cross, as pagan idolatry.
James White, a Calvinist writer, commented on the slaughter of the Copts and these words of ISIS, subtly agreeing with ISIS that Coptic rituals are indeed erroneous and idolatrous, and their venerating for the Cross is what aids ISIS’ view of Christianity, that is, that it is pagan He also agreed that the Christians of Muhammad’s day did indeed venerate the image of the Cross, and that this was “unbiblical,” which would be to the agreement of ISIS:
Muhammad did not understand the cross. He undoubtedly saw inappropriate, unbiblical veneration by the Christians of his day. …True Christians do not “supplicate what they worship and die upon their paganism.” The very words this graphic video displayed while Muslims murdered helpless Copts are based upon their own ignorance and the misrepresentation of Christian faith in Islamic sources, aided and assisted by unbiblical practices and teachings readily present in Roman Catholicism and even Coptic Christianity. We cannot and do not excuse these murderers from engaging in their atrocities simply because they are themselves ignorant or that they have been taught by ignorant men. But we cannot at the same time ignore the fact that false teaching and practice has only aided in the production of the errors of Islam.
Islam was founded as a response against many teachings within the Catholic Church, this is why I call it a protestant sect. And James White just confirmed it, when he says that Catholic “false teaching and practice has only aided in the production of the errors of Islam.” Moreover, White also states that we should not consider the 21 Copts who were beheaded by ISIS as martyrs, saying:
There is one more thing that honesty and truth drives me to address. We grieve for these men, their families, their children, their friends. But we must likewise avoid adopting the position that if ISIS kills you, you are, thereby, granted a free pass to heaven. I do not know these men’s hearts. I would like to think them all true believers, simply because they did not, seemingly, do the easy thing and convert to Islam to escape their gruesome execution. I have met believing, vital Coptic Christians (yes, despite my many criticisms of practices and beliefs, I know of evangelical Copts who have a vital faith, despite the official teachings on certain topics). But let’s remember: ISIS mainly kills Muslims, hence, being killed by ISIS is no guarantee of the next life. We pray that these men were ready to meet their maker, but we cannot simply assume that if you meet your end in a particular horrific fashion that this somehow vitiates the just wrath of God against sin. There is only one way to eternal life: a vital faith relationship with Jesus the Messiah.
To White, and people like him, even though the 21 Copts were beheaded by ISIS because of their Christian faith, and they cried out “a Rabbi Yasou” (O My Lord Jesus!) before being slaughtered, we should not consider them martyrs. This is type of argumentation is quite faulty. White’s own logic can be applied to White himself, since no one knows his heart except God. This type of reasoning is all an attempt to belittle and neutralize the beautiful importance of martyrdom. These Christians died for their belief in Jesus Christ and the Holy Trinity, and they were killed by Unitarian heretics. By this very action alone we know their hearts, and the greatness of their faith. Safely and confidently can these Copts say with St. James: “Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” (James 2:18)
Its amazing how White used the deaths of the 21 Copts as a platform to express anti-Catholic hatred. What he did was totally callous, and reveals the evil hatred many people, including ISIS themselves, have toward Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians.
Islam, just like the Protestant Reformation, rejects and expresses the utmost of hatred for the Catholic teaching of the Eucharist.
The hatred for the Eucharist by Muslims was illustrated by the massacre done in the Middle Ages by the Egytpian and the Kwarizimian Muslims. In 1244 the Khwarizmians and the Egyptians vanquished a Christian army in Gaza, massacring five thousand, including the Master of the Templars and the Archbishop of Tyre. They seized priests and as they stabbed them to death around the altars, they screamed with demonic madness and blasphemy, “let us pour their blood on the place where they poured out wine in commemoration of their crucified God.”
Why such mockery for the sacrament of the wine? This could have only stemmed from a hatred of the Eucharist.
If Protestants today are willing to consider the Cathars, who rejected the Crucifixion, and John Wyclife, who believed that God could obey the devil, as pre-Reformation protestants, regardless of how heretical they were, then they must also consider the Muslims, who are just as heretical, and just as spiteful of the Catholic Church, to be pre-Reformation protestants.
Both Protestantism and Islam wish to see the destruction of the Vatican, and both Muslims and many Protestants are iconoclasts.
Muslims do not talk of destroying Calvary Chapel, or Salt Lake City, or Forsquare Church: the only Church they universally ever speak of collectively destroying is the Vatican, or the Roman Catholic Church.
The desire to invade Rome is still throbbing like a beating heart; it is alive and remains vibrant like a torrent within the very soul of the Muslim world. Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the most influential Sunni scholar today, made the prediction in 2002 that the Muslims will soon rise and invade Rome, making references to the declaration of Muhammad himself:
He [Muhammad] answered: “The city of Hirqil [Emperor Heraclius, that is, Constantinople] will be conquered first” … Romiyya is the city called today Rome, the capital of Italy. The city of Hirquil was conquered by the young 23-year old Ottoman [sultan] Muhammad bin Morad, known in history as Mohammad the Conquerer, in 1453 [CE]. The other city, Romiyya, remains, and we hope and believe [that it too will be conquered]. This means that Islam will return to Europe as a conquerer and victor, after being expelled from its twice-once from the South, from Adalusia, and a second time from the East, when it knocked several times on the door of Athens.
Anti-Catholic violence, just as in Islam, was quite intense within Reformation history. The Huguenots, who were French Calvinists, like the Muslims, destroyed churches and private houses. The Huguenots, everywhere they overran, murdered any priest they found. In the province of Dauphiny alone, they slaughtered two hundred and fifty-six priests. (See Belloc, How the Reformation Happened, ch. iv, pp. 164-5; ch. v, p. 187; ch. vi, p. 228)
Now, let us delve into the history of Iconoclasm to fully understand the heresy that fuels Islam to have such violent hatred against Christian images and icons.
THE POWER AND TYRANNY OF ICONOCLASM IN THE BYZANTINE EMPIRE
Iconoclasm was greatly propagated by the 9th century monk, Sabbatios. He maliciously hated the emperor, Leo V (who was surnamed “the Armenian) for his reverence to Christian icons. Sabbatios, with vitriol, said that the emperor was “addicted to idols”, and expressed his spite at how Leo V piously obeyed the patriarch of Constantinople, Tarasios, and viciously called him “taraxios” or “trouble maker.”
After Tarasios passed away, he was replaced by one Nikephoros who began to warn that soon Leo V would begin to enforce iconoclasm and persecute the Church. The quarrelsome monk also had nothing but hatred for the emperor’s wife, Eirene, and scoffingly named her, “panther” and “folly.” He even threatened that the emperor would lose his life if he did not abide by his heresy and throw away all of the Christian icons.
Sabbatios soon had a meeting with one Theodotus Melissenos, a fanatic proponent of iconoclasm, who for a long time kept his heretical sentiments to himself, and was always waiting for the opportunity to vomit them out in public. He told the monk to affirm to the emperor that he must adopt the iconoclasm of the past emperor, Leo the Isaurian — who enforced iconoclasm and persecuted the Orthodox–and destroy all of the icons of the Church:
Tomorrow night the emperor will come to you in ordinary clothing, to ask about the faith and other pressing matters. For your part, you are to remember to threaten him with the imminent loss of his life and his fall from the throne, unless he choose of his own free will to embrace the dogma of the emperor Leo the Isaurian and to cast out the idols… from the the churches of God. Nor must you forget to promise him that, if he adopts the way of life you suggest, he will enjoy a long life and a fortunate reign for many years. (Skylitzes, Byzantine History, 2.2, trans. Wortley)
When Sabbatios, the iconoclast monk, approached the emperor (who was wearing civilian clothing) he told him, as though it was revealed to him by divine inspiration,
What you are doing is not sensible, O emperor, deceiving us with private citizens’ clothes and concealing the emperor hidden within them. Do what you will, the grace of the divine Spirit has not allowed us to be outsmarted by you any longer. (Skylitzes, Byzantine History, 2.2)
When the emperor heard this he was baffled at how the monk could easily identify him regardless of his humble clothing, and thought that he was some sort of holy man, and at that point, the iconoclast obtained their influence, and thus gained the power they were seeking. Leo V made himself ready to obey whatever the monk commanded of him, and so decreed that the sacred icons would be taken down.
The emperor then presented a document, that explained the doctrine of iconoclasm, to the leading citizens of Constantinople, and urged them to sign it. Many signed it willingly, while those who refused were forced to write their names on it. The patriarch Nikephoros, who forewarned of this tyranny beforehand, was now presented with the document, and he, like a good soldier, refused to sign it and utterly reject it’s teachings. He was seized and exiled to Prokonnesos.
A monastic named Theophanes the Confessor, of the monastery of Agros, accompanied Nikephoros with incense and candlelights, alongside many others who did not bow the knee before the idol of iconoclasm, and in his banishment he died as a martyr.
While the patriarch Nikephoros was in exile, he was replaced by Theodotus Melissenos, who took the seat illegitimately and proclaimed the heresy of iconoclasm out in the open. Not only this, but he used his position to execute harsh violence on those who opposed iconoclasm, having people’s feet and hands amputated, and even their private parts cut off, and then the severed parts were to be hung along the main thoroughfare for all to see. (Skylitzes, Byzantine History, 2.2-3) This is the same sort of violence Muslims have been imposing on Christians, who they consider idolaters, for centuries. For in the Koran it reads:
The punishment of anyone who fights against Allah and His apostle and do mischief in the land is to be killed or crucified or to have their hands and feet [amputated] from opposite ends or be banished from the land. (Quran: The table spread)
A man was then chosen to be the iconoclast agent, who would further influence the emperor to advance iconoclasm. In one particular mass there was a reading from the Book of Isaiah when the prophet said:
To whom will ye liken the Lord? Or with what will ye compass him? Was it not the carpenter who made the image, the goldsmith who melted gold and gilded it, and made a likeness of himself
The iconoclast agent then used this verse to justify iconoclasm, and whispered into the ear of the emperor these words:
Give understanding to what is said [here], oh emperor, and do not let the truth elude you. Embrace the pattern of devotion which the prophet proposes to you. (Skylitzes, Byzantine History, 2.4)
With this pernicious influence, which flowed like a sweet potion tainted with venom, the emperor intensified the persecution over those who revered the icons. The people who accepted iconoclasm, lived quiet and peaceful lives and were not bothered, but those who combated the doctrine, and struggled with Satan and his deception, were received with threats and afflictions. (Skylitzes, Byzantine History, 2.4)
THE TYRANNY OF THE ICONOCLAST EMPEROR, THEOPHILOS
What is interesting is that the emperor Michael II was both an iconoclast and a judaizer, and his son, Theophilos, following his father, fanatically subscribed to iconoclasm. Throughout his reign, Theophilos would afflict and persecute Orthodox Christians who revered the icons, never permitting them a moment of peace, or in the words of Skylitzes,
“he relentlessly afflicted the pious and all holy people, allowing them not a moment of calm throughout his reign.” (Skylitzes, Byzantine History, 4.3)
Continuing the persecution of his judaizing father, Theophilos decreed that no paintings of saints could be allowed to have the words “saint” or “holy” on them, since to the tyrant, only God deserved such titles.
With such a measure it was evident that Theophilus did not follow Orthodox theology, for if a Christian who was used by God for many noble and meritorious works could not be called holy, then he should have been angry at God for calling His priests “gods” in the Old Testament:
Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High (Psalm 82:6)
If calling Mary or one of the prophets or apostles “holy” is blasphemy because the title only belongs to God and hence it is idolatry, then by this logic God Himself is an idolater because He called human beings “gods,” (Skylitzes, Byzantine History, 4.10) not in the sense that they were actually divine, but that they were God’s representatives on earth.
Concordantly, saints who are given the title of “holy,” are done so in accordance with the definition of holy, in that they are used by God for a specific purpose.
Theophilos would soon utterly abolish icons and the painting of icons, and all of the Christian images were subsequently, and forcefully, removed, and disturbingly replaced with depictions of animals, wild beasts and birds.
This only was a reflection of the beastly and, really, pagan mindset of the tyrant. Where did the icons go? They were thrown into the local market places where they were defaced and scoffingly, and abominably, desecrated and abused by the godless mobs. These mobs were of the same diabolical spirit as those very Muslim teenagers who desecrated the statue of the Virgin Mary in Italy.
After the forceful removal of the icons, came the forceful removal of the Orthodox. The prisons, instead of being filled with just criminals, were now being flooded with monks, bishops, and laymen who resisted the heretical devils and chose not to reject the holy icons.
The Orthodox were violently seized and banished to the desolate wilderness, left to the cruel dictates of nature, where hunger and thirst reigned. Full of the bodies of martyrs were the mountains and caves, of those holy Christians who chose death rather then compliance with the tyrant.
The emperor Theophilos decreed that the cities block any monks from entering into their premises, and ordered that they be kept at a distance by any means. But these holy men, living the arduous lives of monastics, following their predecessor Elijah, who was driven into the desert by Jezebel, preferred death than apostasy. (Skylitzes, Byzantine History, 4.10)
A group of very zealous monks, some of whom were a part of a monastic order called the Abramites, came before the emperor and, with zeal and blazing strength and dedication, exclaimed that monasticism was no recent invention, but was supported by the sayings of the holy fathers, Irenaeus, Dionysus the Great, and Hierotheos, and that their spiritual lives were there from the time of the ancient days of the Church.
The pious monks declared that Luke, the apostle, carved out an image of the Virgin Mary, and that Christ Himself left us an image of His face imprinted on a piece of linen “without the intervention of hands.” (Skylitzes, Byzantine History, 4.10)
After hearing such a speech, the emperor Theophilos had all of the monks tortured and beaten, and so severe were the blows that they teared extremely deep wounds into their flesh, and their bodies became as the Body of Christ when He was scourged.
The monks were then sent off into the wilderness, bearing their inflictions with all endurance, and exemplifying the greatest form of long-suffering. They kept on walking through the grueling land, until they reached the Church of the Forerunner (John the Baptist). They entered the sacred edifice, and from the suffering of their wounds, they died. (John Skylitzes, Byzantine History, 4.10)
Another monk, whose heart was fortified by tenacious conviction, went right to the emperor’s face and withstood him with chastisement, and quoted to the tyrant the words of St. Paul:
If any man preach unto you any other gospel than that which you received, let him be anathema. (Galatians 1:9)
Theophilos was ignited by rage at this man’s holy recitation, and so he had the monk brutally flogged. But he noticed that this monk’s zeal only increased when he was persecuted, and so he decided that he would beat his intellect.
The emperor chose one of his best theologians, Jannes, to debate the monk. This Jannes, while hating the sacred icons, was addicted to witchcraft, in particular a fashion of sorcery called lecanomancy in which the sorcerer throws precious stone or pieces of gold and silver into a basin filled with water, and then observes the patterns formed once the objects reach the bottom.
The monk broke through the bastion of Jannes’ sophisms and subtle arguments, not only with his own words, but with those of Scripture, and revealed how empty the cunning deceptions of the iconoclasts were. After the debate, the steadfast monk was given another beating, and banished into exile.
He would later take refuge with Iganatios the Great, and after giving several prophecies of future emperors, for it was said that he was blessed with the gift of prophecy, he died. (Skylitzes, Byzantine History, 4.10; 5.3, see footnote 19 by Jean-Claude Chaynet on Lecanomancy)
The emperor Theophilos ordered that all of those who made paintings of Christ, under pain of death, were to spit on the very holy icons they painted.
Amongst the many painters who were arrested was a monk named Lazaros, and he was not planning on acquiescing to the demands of a heretic, and nor was it in his mind to spit upon an image of the One Who died for him. At first the tyrant tried to convince him to obey the order through flattery, but when that did not impact the mind of this monastic warrior, Theophilos, like a Muslim and a true heretic, resorted to violence.
So brutal and severe was the torture afficlted on this man’s body, that it was thought that he was not going to survive. They sent him out, thinking that with such a broken body he would never try to paint an icon of Christ. But soon his wealth recovered, and immediately he began to make a holy icon.
The emperor had him arrested, and the torturer placed burning hot coals on his hands, and so excruciating was the pain, that this poor saint of God lost consciousness and dropped to the floor half-dead. He was near his last breath, but the wife of the emperor took pity on him, and demanded her husband to have the holy monk spared. He was released from prison and placed in the Church of the Forerunner (John the Baptist). (John Skylitzes, Byzantine History, 4.10)
The endurable athlete Lazaros painted an immaculate image of St. John the Baptist in the Church of the Forerunner, and it remained there for a long time, and those who were stricken with infirmities came to touch it and were healed.
The monk Lazaros was a likeness to John the Baptist: he confronted the tyrant, as the pious warrior confronted Herod; he lived in the state of hermitage, and John cried out from the wilderness, attired himself with the humblest clothing of goatskin; he suffered persecution and endured until the end, as the Baptist was thrown into prison for exposing the wickedness of the despot.
We must ask ourselves the question: how different were the iconoclasts from the Muslims who have been destroying Christian icons, and still continue to desecrate the icons till this day? There is no different: the antichrist spirit is the same, and the vehement malice against the icons is identical to the jihadis of today.
THEOPHANES AND THEODORE — MARTYRS AGAINST ICONOCLASM
There were brothers very learned in the Scriptures, their names were Theophanes and Theodore, and their eruditeness in the holy Scriptures and the Faith manifested itself as light to the darkness of iconoclasm. The emperor Theophilos was stricken by this light, and he, uttering the vitriol of darkness, said to the the two brothers,
Come on then, you accursed ones, by what sayings of scripture are you persuaded to worship the idols, and to persuade the innocent common people to do likewise? (Skylitzes, Byzantine History, 4.10)
But the two brothers did not fall in fear, or quiver in terror — no — instead they turned to the tyrant, and proclaimed,
Let the mouth be dumb which speaks iniquity against God.
After much struggle and debate, the emperor’s wrath could no longer be concealed, but compelled to be revealed by the light of truth that shined forth from the two saints. In his anger, the tyrant said:
An emperor ought not to be subject to the insults of men like you
He had the two brothers arrested and brought to the inner garden of the Lausiakos where they were heavily beaten with two hundred blows with the heftiest of rods. And then, to further the humiliation of the punishment, he had their foreheads tattooed with these mocking and scolding words:
When all the world went running to that town where the all-holy feet of God the Word once stood t’ensure the safety of the world, in that most pious place these did appear who are an evil vessel of superstitious error.
Which superstitious men, achieving there with impious mind the deeds of unbelief most horrid, were expelled as apostates and exiles.
Thence they fled, sad refugees, unto the capital and seat of government — but did not leave aside their foolishness hence, indicted and condemned, an evil perpetrator of the image, they are banished once again.” (John Skylitzes, Byzantine History, 4.10)
Does this remind us of the mocking which Christ endured? What scoffing, what deriding, and yet, it is the suffering of Christ, seen before our eyes in the person of His children who, being as innocent as doves, piously declare the words of truth without guile, and being as wise as serpents, strike, in the zeal of the Spirit, with the words of Orthodoxy at the vipers.
And after the holy brothers were marked with the lines of the scoffers, they were both executed, and crowned with a martyrs embellishment.
Not so long after, the emperor Theophilos arrested one Michael, a synkellos or episcopal vicar of the Church of the Holy City, and many other hermits and ascetics, and shut them up in prison, with the pernicious hope that by depriving them of their freedoms they would eventually acquiesce to the tyrant’s wicked demands. And for the rest of his life did this despotic sovereign ceaselessly subject them to irremediable afflictions. (John Skylitzes, Byzantine History, 4.10)
SAINT THEODORA AND END OF THE ICONOCLAST REIGN OF TERROR
When the tyrant Theophilos died, his son, Michael III, and his wife, Theodora, reigned. By the suggestion of some Orthodox holy men, she began to closely examine the heresy of iconoclasm that her husband so fanatically subscribed to. So many people within the government followed it, and even most of the senate, and the Church synod (including the patriarch) were iconoclasts. Soon a terrible illness struck the empress’ scholastic, Manuel, and as he lay bed-ridden, surrounded by monks, he said,
And how can this be for me, godly fathers? My mental forces are all gone, my body is wasted away and emaciated. Here I lie, devoid of flesh, a mere skeleton; there is no difference between me and a corpse, except that I am breathing. What hope is there, what reason believe in my recovery and return to my former health?
The monks took up his argument and responded:
With God, all things are possible and there is nothing that is impossible. We proclaim the good news that you will live, provided that you endeavor to extinguish the conflagration the enemies of the icons have ignited when you recover your strength, and that you restore the sacred icons to the status they enjoyed in the time of our forefathers. (Skylitzes, Byzantine History, 5.2)
Manuel told the empress Theodora that she must overthrow iconoclasm and restore Orthodoxy, but she resisted, for she feared the multitude of iconoclasts and their reign of terror. But when Manuel insisted with ardency, she exclaimed:
O magister, my late husband, the emperor, a stickler for precision, never did a thing in all his life without careful examination of the matter. If this practice [of revering icons] were not forbidden in sacred laws, and the holy scriptures, he would not have have expelled it from the church. (Skylitzes, Byzantine History, 5.2)
Manuel wasted no time, he had to restore Orthodoxy and would not allow the fears of a woman to prevent that. He declared to her that if she did not drive out iconoclasm, that both her and her son would die. The threat enabled the empress to commit to her own desires, and that was that the blade of Orthodoxy be unleashed and vanquish the wiles and bastions of heresy that so plagued the empire.
She provided her full support in the ousting of iconoclasm, and summoned a meeting with the fathers of the synod and members of the senate, so that the iconoclasts and those who revered the icons could debate. After much fierce and zealous arguing, it was obvious as to who took the victory: the Orthodox.
After the debate, many of the monks, bishops, and senators who subscribed to iconoclasm threw away their heresy and adopted Orthodoxy, while those who remained within the heretical movement, were exiled. The wicked patriarch, who was responsible for the persecutions against the Orthodox, was ousted out of his seat and banished.
Once he was gone, he was replaced by the godly Methodios, on whose body one could still see the marks from the beatings he received from the iconoclasts.
As for Jannes, the theologian chosen by Theophilos to debate with sophisms against the Orthodox, he was shut up in a monastery, and in the monastery were icons of Jesus Christ, Mary His mother, and Michael the Archangel.
Jannes said that such icons are devoid of sight, and so he ordered his personal deacon to tear out the eyes of the sacred images. The empress Theodora heard of this, she was ignited by godly zeal and ordered that his eyes be removed. But a number of Orthodox holy men interceded for him, and begged the empress to show mercy, and so instead he was punished with 200 lashes. (Skylitzes, Byzantine History, 5.2-3)
Orthodoxy was restored, Lazaros painted a beautiful image of Christ. He was invited by the very empress, Theodora, who rescued him, and she asked him to pardon her husband, and to intercede for him. To this Lazaros replied:
O empress, God is not so unjust as to forget our love and our labour on his behalf, while holding in higher honour the hatred and the presumptuous folly of that man. (John Skylitzes, Byzantine History, 4.10)
But the iconoclast, led by their leader Jannes, never ceased in their onslaught against the Orthodox. They still raged against the icons, and devised all sorts of slanders and false accusations to frame the Orthodox patriarch Methodios with the attempt to reestablish iconoclasm.
MICHAEL III AND THE REIGN OF ICONOCLAST TERROR
The emperor Michael III hated with great intensity the noble life of monasticism, and did not allow the monks to conduct their assemblies where men gathered together to conquer the passionate flames of violent desires.
They took a woman and payed her with much gold to denounce Methodios before the empress, and say that he had licentious relations with her. This accusation brought much fear to the Orthodox, seeing that they could become but a laughing stock before the heretical mobs.
Methodios was brought before a tribunal, amidst a crowd of iconoclasts who laughed and mocked him with scathing insults. Methodios ignored the mob, and in the presence of everyone, took off his garments and exposed his private parts to all, and he revealed that his genitals were atrophied by some infirmity that made him utterly incapable of copulating. The mob of heretics shut their mouths, and the Orthodox rejoiced. (Skylitzes, Byzantine History, 5.4)
The false accusers were about to be arrested and punished for false testimony, but Methodios, emulating Christ, expressed mercy for his enemies, and affirmed that their only punishment should be that every year they come to the Church of the All-pure Mother of God at Blachernae, and hear the anathemas against iconoclasm. This was done by the slanderers for the rest of their lives. (Skylitzes, Byzantine History, 5.4)
CONSTANTINE V AND HIS ISLAMIC PARALLELS
While many go against Constantine the Great, nobody reveals the evils of Constantine V. He shared beliefs akin to Nestorianism, an influence to Muhammad. He also was an iconoclast, or somebody who disdained the monastic life and despised any icons or paintings of Christ or Mary — since they saw this as idolatry. Islam embraces this doctrine whole heartedly. Like Muhammad, Constantine V “was deceived by wizardry, licentiousness,” and “summoning demons”. He would also be involved in making sacrifices of urine and dung, (Chron. Theophan. Annus Mundi 6232) a form of divination which Muhammad partook in, as we read in one Hadith.
One woman consumed some of Muhammad’s urine and he told her, “You will never complain of a stomach ache.” He did not order any of them to wash their mouths out nor did he forbid them to do it again. One woman consumed some of Muhammad’s urine and he told her, “You will never complain of a stomach ache.” He did not order any of them to wash their mouths out nor did he forbid them to do it again. (See Walid and Theodore Shoebat, For God or For Tyranny)
Like Muslims, Constantine V would kill those who went against his heretical doctrine. (See Chron. Theophan. Annus Mundi 6256) Those who criticized the emperor’s apostasy would suffer the same fate as those who question Muhammad’s creed in Sharia code: death. The monk Andrew was whipped to death in the arena for accusing Constantine V of impiety. (Chron. Theophan. Annus Mundi 6253)
There was also the situation with the monk Stephen who, for praising the monastic life over the evils of politics, was bounded at his feet with a cord, and dragged to death on the street; his body was then torn to pieces and thrown into a pit. (Theophan. Chron. Annus Mundi 6257) Such a method of killing for the sake of heresy closely resembles what is done in the Muslims world today against Christians.
Constantine V ordered that one patriarch, also named Constantine, be beaten until he could no longer walk. He was made to sit down within a church–now a heretical sancturary–where he was told all of his “crimes”, he was then condemned and called “Skotipsis”, which means “Of darkened vision.” On the following day there was a horse race, and the persecuted patriarch was to be a part of the savage spectacle. He was spat on, his beard, head, and eyebrows were shaven, and he was made to put on silk and a sleeveless garment.
He was forced to mount on a donkey backwards and ride to the arena where he was beheaded. (Chron. Theophan. Annus Mundi 6259) The impious emperor savagely and sadistically killed many others. He had one Peter seized, dragged through the streets and then buried alive. He bound others in bags from which they could not escape, and thrown into the sea to drown. Anyone who was found to be living as a monk or with zealous orthodoxy was killed in such ways. (Chron. Theophan. Annus Mundi 6259)
Both Muhammad and Constantine V affirmed with fervent conviction that Mary was not the mother of God, and Protestants today would agree with them, saying that we should simply call her the mother of Christ. Now, while there is nothing wrong with calling her the mother of Christ, there is a danger in affirming that we must never address her as the Mother of God. To affirm this implies that Christ is somehow different, or even less significant, than the Father, or that Christ was not divine when He was born.
We do not agree that the source of God was Mary, but we do certainly believe that she brought forth Christ, God in the flesh, and that in this regard she indeed is the Mother of God. Christ said “I and my Father are one.” (John 10:30) This means that Jesus is God, and Mary is the Mother of God. Protestants have no problem in calling God the Father of Christ, and we know that they are not referring to Christ as not eternal or as being created. So then where is the issue if we call Mary the Mother of God? It was not adopted by paganism, as the subscribers to Hislop say, but to combat Arianism and Nestorianism.
There is a story which reveals the reason why the ancient church addressed Mary as so. One day the emperor Constantine V asked the patriarch of Rome, “But why would it harm us if we were to call the Mother of God ‘the mother of Christ’?” The patriarch embraced his question and replied, “Have mercy, lord, that title should not have crossed your mind. Do you not see that Nestorios was declared infamous and was anathematized by the entire church?” (Chron. Theophan. Annus Mundi 6255) To call Mary the mother of God, thus, is to prevent the sheep from going astray to the wolf of unitarianism. Not only was it a response against Nestorius, but the heretic Arias as well.
THE DESPOTISM OF LEO III AND THE ICONOCLASM OF ISLAM
Another iconoclast king, Leo III, ordered for all the statues of martyrs to be effaced, and when the Pope of Rome heard of this, he ordered the Christians to refuse to pay taxes to the empire. (Theophilus of Edessa’s Chronicle, section 2, p.225)
Iconoclasm was, and still is, exemplified by Muslims. The Muslims, under the Ottoman empire, were famous for stabbing church icons. One Italian poet wrote with sadness on “the outrage done to God … the crucifixes and the images of the saints, of God, of the Madonna and the Holy Sacrament,” by the Muslims, who took joy in stabbing, burning, and firing arrows upon Christian icons. (See Moczar, Islam at the Gates, ch. vii, p. 147)
Mary has always been regarded by the Catholics and Orthodox as a spiritual mother who directs nothing towards herself, but all towards her Son, Jesus. To attack a statue of Mary is, in this sense, no different than as Pope Francis said, attacking another person’s mother to his face.
If anybody — Muslim or non-Muslim — makes even an indirect statement criticizing Muhammad, there are worldwide, violent protests and demands for apologies.
The Muslims just smashed an urinated on an image of the Spiritual mother of over a billion Christians, and there is deafening silence.
We are less concerned about what the Muslims did, because that behavior should be expected of them. What bothers me is the silence from the Christians. If we cannot defend the honor of our own mother, will we even defend ourselves when the Muslims begin attacking us?
Iconoclasm was adopted by Islam. Look into the mirror, and make sure that you yourself have not adopted it as well.