Veneration of Icons in Churches Formally Accepted

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The Iconoclastic Controversy ends when Constantinople formally accepts the veneration of icons in churches and worship services.

The Iconoclastic Controversy occurred between the mid-8th century and the mid-9th century in the Byzantine Christian Church over the question of whether or not Christians should be allowed to revere icons. Most unsophisticated believers tended to revere icons (thus they were called iconodules). Many political and religious leaders wanted to smash the icons because they believed that venerating icons was a form of idolatry (they were called iconoclasts).

The conflict between iconodules and iconoclasts was became a public problem in 726 when Byzantine Emperor Leo III commanded that the image of Christ be taken down from the Chalke gate of the imperial palace.

Eventually a council meeting in Nicaea in 787 restored and sanctioned the veneration of icons. However, the council put conditions on the use of icons: they had to be painted flat with no features that stand out. Down through today that is precisely the sort of icons we see in the Eastern Orthodox Church and they continue to play an important role, acting as "windows" to heaven.

One result of this Iconoclastic Controversy was that theologians developed a technical distinction between the veneration or reverence (proskynesis) which is paid to icons and other religious figures, and adoration (latreia), which is owed to God alone. Another result is creating the term iconoclasm, now used for any attempt to attack popular figures or icons (outside of the strict religious sense of the word).

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