However, there are periods of aniconism in Christian history, notably during the controversy of the Byzantine iconoclasm of the 8th century, and following the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century, when Calvinism in particular rejected all images in churches, and this practice continues today in Calvinist churches, fundamentalist Christianity, as well as among other evangelicals.
The Catholic Church has always defended the use of sacred images in churches, shrines, and homes, encouraging their veneration but condemning anyone who would worship them as if they were gods themselves.
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Christianity has not generally practised aniconism, or the avoidance or prohibition of types of images, but has had an active tradition of making and venerating images of God and other religious figures.
Ernst Kitzinger described the mentions of Christian views on Christian images before the mid-6th century as "scattered and spotty", It is a striking fact that when painting and sculpture first began to infiltrate Christian assembly rooms and cemeteries they did so practically unheeded by either opponents of or apologists for Christianity—engaged though these were in passionate disputes over idols and idolatry.
No literary statement from the period prior to the year 300 would make one suspect the existence of any Christian images other than the most laconic and hieroglyphic of symbols.
— and yet from archaeology it is clear that the use of quite complex figurative Christian images was widespread by that date.
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