"STATUES OF SAINTS" GOD ORDAINED OR IDOLATRY?
Both the Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox church have icons and idols that are part of their worship and service.
“From the very earliest days of the church there has been a tradition whereby images of our Lord, His holy mother, and of the saints are displayed in churches for the veneration of the faithful…this practice of placing sacred images in churches so that they can be venerated by the faithful is to be maintained. (Vatican II)
“The images of Christ and the Virgin Mother of God, and of the other saints, are to be had and to be kept, especially in Churches, and due honor and veneration are to be given them.” Council of Trent, 25th sess. (1563).
The Roman Catholic church divides the first two commandments and combines them into one in Ex.20. In doing this they end up dividing another commandment into two so they can still have ten. The commandment of idols and images is intentionally ignored and even protested. “The Christian veneration of images is not contrary to the first commandment which proscribes idols. Indeed, “the honor rendered to an image passes to its prototype.” And whoever venerates an image venerates the person behind it”. (Catechism of the Catholic church)
If one has an image of Mary then it is Mary who is venerated, just as much as an image of Jesus. Nowhere do we see this practice in the New Testament, but we do have many warnings about it. Nowhere does God approve of any type of worship toward objects that are even of Himself, neither the tabernacle which housed His presence, nor the ark which had the tablets, were to be worshipped. Yet these were some of the most sacred objects used toward God. Remember when Moses lifted up the Brazen altar in the wilderness for people to be healed by the bite of the serpents. Later when the Israelites entered the land of Canaan, they brought the bronze serpent with them and turned it into an idol. It was used until King Hezekiah finally destroyed it (2 Kings 18:4). We see that something that was used even by God can be turned into a superstitious idol.
This is why Paul stated that to worship an idol is pagan because behind every idol is a demon.
Paul states in 1 Cor. 12:2, “You know that you were Gentiles, carried away to these dumb idols, however you were led.” He does not give any precedence to the biblical way to use idols for the simple reason there is none.
In Ex.20:4-5 God forbids anyone who follows Him to make images for use in their worship. Within this context they are also not to bow down to them or do any reverence to them. The Hebrew word for worship is to kiss toward or bow down.
Idolatry is described by God as an abomination ( Ezek.16:36), no matter who makes them or is worshipping them . “ Cursed is any man who makes any graven image or molten image it is an abomination to the Lord” (Lev. 26:1, Deut.27:15). While Catholics accept this practice of bowing in front of statues of Mary or saints God does not accept it, He forbids it!
Deut. 4:16... “that you do not become corrupt and make for yourselves an
idol, an image of any shape, whether formed like a man or a woman” (NIV).
The biblical prohibition against having images for religious purposes and bowing down before them (and God’s abhorrence of this pagan practice) is clearly set forth in the second of the Ten Commandments and in numerous other passages of Scripture. For example: “Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image.. to bow down unto it.... Cursed be the man that maketh any graven or molten image, an abomination unto the Lord” (Leviticus 26:1; Deuteronomy 27:15).
In Hebrew the word for Idols is Elim , avodot zerah means foreign worship. The Hebrew word for idolatry means to bow down or genuflect is to worship Tishtacheweh. To bow down or genuflect as an act of worship. (7812 shachah (shaw-khaw’);a primitive root; to depress, i.e. prostrate (especially reflexive, in homage to royalty or God): bow (self) down, crouch, fall down (flat), humbly beseech, do (make) obeisance, do reverence, make to stoop, worship.)
Judaism has always identified genuflecting or burning incense or candles to worship. In the book of Esther we find that this is the reason why Mordacai did not bow to Haman or do what was asked of him. Judges 2:17 says: “And yet they would not hearken unto their judges, but they went a whoring after other gods, and bowed themselves down unto them.” “ The term “bowed themselves down unto them” is a sexual term used of a wife giving herself to her husband. And here God uses it with all this force when he says: Do you not see that you have acted like an adulterous woman bowing down in the sexual position before another man? (Francis Schaeffer p.122 the church at the end of the 20th century)
Revelation 19:10: “And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God.” The Angel tells John that falling to his feet is an act of WORSHIP!
But Vatican II commends images in churches and says they are to be “venerated by the faithful.” However it is those faithful to their church not the Scriptures who bow down, God says not to! In Catholic churches and cathedrals around the world one sees their faithful on their knees in front of images of “saints,” “Jesus, “and more often “Mary.”
In response to Ex.20:4-5 the church says “…to make honor the images of Christ our Lord, of His holy and virginal mother, and of the saints, all of whom were clothed with human nature and appeared in human form is not only NOT FORBIDDEN by this commandment, but has always been deemed a holy practice and a most sure indication of gratitude. This position is confirmed by the monuments of the Apostolic age, the general council of church, and the writings of so many among the fathers, eminent alike for sanctity and learning, all of whom are of one accord upon the subject.” (the Catechism of the Council of Trent p.375-376)
Notice they put the appearance of human men with Christ who is God come in human flesh. These are the same Apostles who wrote the scripture and yet the church ignores this fact and appeals to their council. Yet if we look at the very first counsel found in the scripture the church said the very opposite, both Peter and James along with the apostle Paul
Acts 15:20 “But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollution’s of idols, ..”
Acts 21:25 “As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols,.” They do not make a distinction with pagan or Christian idols for the simple reason they all fall in the same category. The whole idea of Christ coming was to restore people to a relationship with himself and deliverer people from vain worship, which was given to idols.
Their own Encyclopedia “The first mention of Crucifixes are in the sixth century” and “The whole tradition of veneration holy images gradually and naturally developed” (Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. VII, p. 667)
This is correct , the church in the beginning never did the things they were delivered from. But like Israel certain practices that were not commanded by God were accepted. Pope Gregory III condemned the use of images in worship. Pope Constantine V, who ruled the church for almost sixty years, condemned the use of images of Christ as heretical because only Christ’s human nature could be depicted. A church council which met near Chalcedon on February 10, 753 (and lasted seven months), condemned the use of images in worship as being “idolatrous and heretical, a temptation to the faith that originated with the devil.” ( Philip E. Hughes, The Church in Crisis: A History of the General Councils, 325-1870, p. 167. ) So much for the idea the unchanging church! The Bible is clear: idolatry is false worship.
Catholics justify themselves saying that they are praying to the spirit behind the statue, not to the statue itself. These statues or icons are of Jesus , Mary or saints and angels, so that makes it okay, right! Wrong ! There is more to this practice than meets the eye! I Cor. 10:19-20 says: “What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.” Paul states that the idol is nothing, just as Psalms 115 said. The true spirit behind every idol is a devil. So the Catholic unknowingly is praying to devils as he prays before an image made by men’s hands!
Ps. 115:1-8 “Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but to Your name give glory, because of Your mercy, because of Your truth. Why should the Gentiles say, “So where is their God?” But our God is in heaven; he does whatever He pleases. Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they do not speak; eyes they have, but they do not see; They have ears, but they do not hear; Noses they have, but they do not smell; They have hands, but they do not handle; feet they have, but they do not walk; nor do they mutter through their throat. Those who make them are like them; so is everyone who trusts in them.”
Ps 135:15-18 The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they do not speak; eyes they have, but they do not see; They have ears, but they do not hear; nor is there any breath in their mouths. Those who make them are like them; so is everyone who trusts in them.”
Those who worship them will become like them, they become blind just as the idol . They are conformed into their image since what they are doing is a spiritual practice. People involved in Idolatry cannot hear the word of God they become like the idol that can’t see or hear.
Paul exhorts the believers 1 Cor. 12:1-2: “ I do not wish you to be ignorant ...somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to dumb idols.”
Ps.97:7: “Confounded be all they that serve graven images, that boast themselves of idols: worship him, all ye gods.”
What of the ark of the covenant or the bronzed serpent? The ark was never worshipped only the presence of God was neither one of these were not objects to worship. The bronzed serpent was used once, and when Israel later used it (a number of times) they were punished.
2 Kings 18:3-4 Hezekiah did right in the sight of the Lord... He broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until then the Israelites had burned incense to it; but he called it Nehushtan (Amplified Bible). The very thing God had Moses make for the people to look upon to be healed, in time became a idol so that it was kept venerated. God used it for a single event but the people kept it as a souvenir.
In Deut.12:3-4 Israel was told to break down their carved images and not to worship this way. They were to be different from the nations around them. The reason is because God is Spirit and their is no image that can help lead one into His presence or help one in a worshipful activity. It actually leads them to the opposite. God knew the heart of man and that we are weak always looking to the outward which destroys faith; true faith is not what one sees but comes from within and toward God, it is inside what one really believes but is also shown by our actions.
Today we see the promotion from the Pope to thank the pagan religions and that we can even learn from them. The very ones that promote idolatry he finds unity with.
God is invisible and has become visible by the man Jesus Christ, a living temple not made with hands. The scripture says he does not dwell in temples made with hands nor does he approve of mans attempt to give him a means to be seen. It is mans fallen nature that leans toward making the invisible visible. When one has a relationship they don’t need the pictures or statues to remind them of who they love. If I see my wife each day I don’t need a picture to look at and pray before to remind me or to help me get closer to her. I need to talk and hear from her personally. Pictures and statues replace this type of relationship. The Bible teaches us that we walk by faith not by sight.
The second tablets of the Ten Commandments God gave Moses after they built a golden cow and danced and enjoyed themselves silly around it. The law states: “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath.... Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them” (Exodus 20:4,5; Deut. 5:8,9). How can the Roman Catholic Church get around this clear prohibition of Scripture ? They don’t ignore it; in some instances the church hides it from the people and openly promotes it in others. They change the meanings by adding traditions. Take for example Mary, she is now prayed to and statues are made given flowers each week. It resembles more of a Hindu shrine than anything Christian.
This not only forbidden in the 10 commandments but its prohibition continues throughout the Bible. In the Bible the word “abomination” is a spiritual term associated with idolatry for those who leave God. God condemned Israel for the “idols of thy abominations” (Ezekiel 16:36). This has not changed God is still a jealous God wanting our heartfelt devotion.
I know that it may not be your intention to participate in idol worship, and you may not even consider it to be idol worship. It doesn’t matter what your opinion or mine or anyone else’s is. What really matters is what God has said about this.
Jonah 2:8 “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.” (NIV)
The real Mary and Jesus are crying over those who follow teachers who claim it is acceptable to bow or worship through an idol to them.