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April 1, 2009

Anglicans Opening Up To The Use Of Icons

There are interesting discussions going on in the Anglican Church regarding the use of icons as a means of experiencing the grace of God and entering into the communion of Saints. Below are posted two articles with different perspectives that deal with this issue in a positive manner.

The first comes from a lecture delivered by Archbishop Rowan Williams at the Royal Academy of Arts Byzantium Lecture delivered on January 16, 2009 titled "Icons and the Practice of Prayer". In this lecture the Archbishop sees icons in their historical context in the age of the Byzantine Empire, and comes to understand the practical use of icons in meditative prayer. Though he lacks a clear knowledge of Orthodox spirituality, especially regarding the issues of the Hesychastic Controversy, and though he oversimplifies the experience of glorification as merely the result of prayerful contemplation, I still consider this piece in the right direction of trying to understand the significance of icons for Orthodox Christians from an Anglican perspective. This lecture can be read here:

The second lecture is by Graham Kings and is titled "Icons: An Evangelical Anglican Perspective". This article deals more with the authors personal journey of how he came to appreciate icons in both public and private worship. Again, I have to commend the author for trying to understand the purpose and function of icons, though he bases his observations more on his own personal experience rather than the historical and patristic foundations of such devotion. What I found interesting about this article is that the author draws parallels between the Orthodox use of icons as visual aids in worship, with the contemporary electronic age in which images play the most significant role. King associates the recent popularity of using icons in worship among non-Orthodox as a product of our reliance on visuals in our culture. This article can be read here: