Stirred not Shaken

May 4, 2010

Idol Worship

Filed under: Uncategorized — Debs @ 7:50 pm

This is something I still struggle with in the Catholic faith.  Mostly I think because that’s what “I’ve been told”….

I have heard over and over again that “God has forbidden the use of images in worship”… but all I am able to find in His word is His forbidding the worship of statues.  Israel was forbidden to make any depiction of God.  I can understand that given the pagan culture surrounding them.  But then God revealed himself under visible forms as in Daniel 7:9.  I have seen plenty of depictions made of the Father in the form this verse depicts.  The Holy Spirit Himself represents Himself as a dove and tongues of fire…. and I have my entire Protestant life used these visuals as reminders.  Fish, crosses etc., all seem to be acceptable.  I’m not understanding why it is harmful to make representations of God in Christ.  In fact every year at Christmas I put up a nativity scene full of little statues…. is that idolatry?

From everything I have read, the Catholic Church has always condemned idolatry.  I am not seeing where the line is drawn and distinctions are made, with Catholics being idol worshippers because they have different things to remind them of the things of God than Protestants.  Regardless of if it is a stone, a cross, a sticker, a t-shirt, a picture or a statue, if it is not being worshipped,  I don’t see the harm.  I don’t know, I’m still out on this one and am going to do some more reading…..

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10 Comments

  1. Hi Ed, that is one of the articles I read in putting this together. It’s a good one! I don’t think that Catholics pray “TO” saints, as in expecting them to answer prayer. My understanding is that they ask them to pray for us just like we ask people here to pray with us. There is a big difference in the two petitions and I confused them for a long time. Thank you for your looking into this! 🙂

    Comment by Debs — May 6, 2010 @ 7:03 am

  2. Ric,
    From all I can see, burying St. Joseph in your yard to sell a house is pure superstious nonesense. Can’t stand it. Not Catholic, but only Catholics seem to do it. But it is NOT anything religious that I can figure out.

    Comment by Willison — May 5, 2010 @ 9:17 pm

  3. My guess us that because Catholic Churches have statues of saints, who they pray to, some claim this means they are worshipping these “idols”.

    The important thing is the difference between prayer and worship. My understanding is that when a Catholic prays to a saint it is to act on their with God, similar to when a Christian ask another person to pray on behalf of a sick relative.

    I found the following on Catholic.com, “The Communion of Saints”, I can’t claim to completely understand it, but the issues does seem to be the use statues in Catholic churches.

    “Catholics worship statues!” People still make this ridiculous claim. Because Catholics have statues in their churches, goes the accusation, they are violating God’s commandment: “You shall not make for yourself a graven image or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: you shall not bow down to them or serve them” (Ex. 20:4–5); “Alas, this people have sinned a great sin; they have made for themselves gods of gold” (Ex. 32:31).

    It is right to warn people against the sin of idolatry when they are committing it. But calling Catholics idolaters because they have images of Christ and the saints is based on misunderstanding or ignorance of what the Bible says about the purpose and uses (both good and bad) of statues.

    Anti-Catholic writer Loraine Boettner, in his book Roman Catholicism, makes the blanket statement, “God has forbidden the use of images in worship” (281). Yet if people were to “search the scriptures” (cf. John 5:39), they would find the opposite is true. God forbade the worship of statues, but he did not forbid the religious use of statues. Instead, he actually commanded their use in religious contexts!”

    further:

    ” People who oppose religious statuary forget about the many passages where the Lord commands the making of statues. For example: “And you shall make two cherubim of gold [i.e., two gold statues of angels]; of hammered work shall you make them, on the two ends of the mercy seat. Make one cherub on the one end, and one cherub on the other end; of one piece of the mercy seat shall you make the cherubim on its two ends. The cherubim shall spread out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings, their faces one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubim be” (Ex. 25:18–20).

    David gave Solomon the plan “for the altar of incense made of refined gold, and its weight; also his plan for the golden chariot of the cherubim that spread their wings and covered the ark of the covenant of the Lord. All this he made clear by the writing of the hand of the Lord concerning it all, all the work to be done according to the plan” (1 Chr. 28:18–19). David’s plan for the temple, which the biblical author tells us was “by the writing of the hand of the Lord concerning it all,” included statues of angels.

    Similarly Ezekiel 41:17–18 describes graven (carved) images in the idealized temple he was shown in a vision, for he writes, “On the walls round about in the inner room and [on] the nave were carved likenesses of cherubim.”

    The article goes into more detail.

    Comment by edfromct — May 5, 2010 @ 9:06 pm

  4. Papa, thank you for reiterating what I was saying in this post. It is not whether or not it is a pin, statue, purple bird, sticker, fish, t-shirt, picture, cross….. (insert whatever you would like here…. 🙂 They are reminders of who God is, what He has done, and who we are to represent, not idolatry. It is certainly not a Catholic thing… it is the condition and intent of the heart. Actually I have a cowboy kneeling before a cross on my Jeep… been a great witnessing tool…. I have no problem with relics….

    Comment by Debs — May 5, 2010 @ 3:23 pm

  5. Lets see Willison, I have a Cross pin I wear on my sport coat made from nails, No bumper stickers or fishies on my vehicles – but I do have a purple bird hanging from my cool truck mirror! Have no idea what the bird symbolizes. Nope, I don’t have any idols. No statues either.

    I do have a paper weight my daughter made with a picture of Jesus on it as a Fathers Day gift years ago – many years ago. And now as I think about that paper weight I am tears because it symbolizes 2 loves – 1) 1st a Christ who loves me when I screw up and 2) a daughter who loves her daddy very much. It sits on my night stand and I see it every night – have for probably 30 years. It has a very precious place in my heart full of memories.

    Deb has done a good job as Ric says, reminding us and informing us.

    Comment by Indian Lake Papa — May 5, 2010 @ 1:00 pm

  6. Willison, I think it can frequently be simply Catholic condemnation but it is also fueled by confusing images. For example, when a Catholic neighbor buries a statue of Mary upside-down in the front yard, it looks bizarre to the outside observer. They seem to be ascribing supernatural power to an object. Is this example simply a pagan ritual that has crept into the lives of practicing Catholics or is there a reason behind it?

    People dismiss scenes like this as Catholic idol worship. It may not be Catholic or it may not be idol worship. Problem is, it does not take a big leap to draw a wrong conclusion. (Said differently, one does not have to enjoy busting on Catholics to come to the same wrong conclusion.)

    Comment by ric booth — May 5, 2010 @ 9:03 am

  7. Me too Ric… there is so much that is getting deprogrammed right now, it’s hard to know which direction to go… but I’m having a great time… thanks for being here! 🙂

    Comment by Debs — May 5, 2010 @ 8:07 am

  8. I agree. I keep going back to the heart condition. Anything can be an idol if you choose to make it so…. it is definitely not Catholic exclusive by any means. Quite frankly, I like having things around me that cause me to pause, give thanks, and remember exactly what was done because of and for me.

    Comment by Debs — May 5, 2010 @ 8:06 am

  9. Thanks for the series Deb. I am learning a lot about my brothers and sisters who are (or were) practicing Catholics.

    Comment by ric booth — May 5, 2010 @ 7:50 am

  10. It is condemned as idol worship because some people just love to condemn the Catholic Church. Ironically, they often condemn such things while wearing a “WWJD” bracelet, carrying a bronzed nail in their pocket and drive off in a car with a fish outline stuck to the trunk.

    Comment by Willison — May 5, 2010 @ 7:41 am


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