STATUES IN THE CHURCH: IDOLATRY OR VENERATION?

ARTICLE 2131 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church says: "Basing itself on the mystery of the incarnate Word, the seventh ecumenical council at Nicea (787) justified against the iconoclasts the veneration of icons-of Christ, but also of the Mother of God, the angels, and all the saints. By becoming incarnate, the Son of God introduced a new "economy" of images."

To credit Jesus Christ as the One who introduced the introduction of statues into the Christian Church is to accuse the Holy One of Israel of contradicting His commandment.

Exo 20:4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
6 And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

Mary, the angels, and all the saints are creatures who are or have been in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, and God expressly forbids making images of them to bow down to them nor to serve them. There is no way around this, and as we have seen in our previous study of the Mass, it is another council of men who decided to ignore the commandment of the One True God, and make a new law that says it is o.k. to make images of Mary, the angels, and the saints.

Remember that Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for transgressing the Commandment of God in favor of their tradition.

Mat 15:3 But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?

The Truth is that we will all have to give account of our lives to God, and not to men when we die.

So many people are being led into error by tradition of men and vain practices of religion. I would rather believe what God says about statues of Jesus, Mary, the angels and all the saints, than risk suffering in eternal flames of Hell for taking a man-made council's decision above God's commandment.

In an attempt to justify the practice of idolatry in the Catholic church, we see that Article 2130 of the Catechism states:

"Nevertheless, already in the Old Testament, God ordained or permitted the making of images that pointed symbolically toward salvation by the incarnate Word: so it was with the bronze serpent, the ark of the covenant, and the cherubim."

The Israelites did not bow down to the bronze serpent. As a matter of fact, king Hezekiah had the bronze serpent destroyed so that Israel would not give any reverence to it.

As relic-oriented as the Catholic Church is today, I have no doubt that the bronze serpent would have been a very revered (or venerated) item put in a prominent place in the Vatican. Anybody who would be honest would agree that this would probably be so.

2Ki 18:4 He removed the high places, and broke the images, and cut down the groves, and broke in pieces the brazen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan.

Note that this verse doesn't specifically say that the chldren of Israel had worshipped the brazen serpent...they were merely burning incense to it, probably in veneration to it and what it signified as an instrument that was used by God. How often do Catholics burn candles and incense before the statues that they venerate?

The Bronze serpent was an immediate remedy for Israel's redemption from the wrath of God that was being poured out on them. To look at the serpent was to acknowledge their sin before God, and to acknowledge that He is their only source of deliverance.

The ark of the covenant was not an image.

It was a box that contained the Ten Commandments, a little bit of manna, and Aaron's rod. Each one of these items in the ark served to remind the Israelites of their duty before God, and the promises of God.

The Ten Commandments were God's Laws that He had written with His own Hand. How serious is it then, that we ought to obey the One True and Living God?

The Manna was to remind Israel of God's Provision for them since they were His People. Aaron's rod was to remind the people that God ordains Authority, and that those who have been ordained by God need to be followed as they follow the Lord. The Authority, the Provision and the Law of God go hand in hand.

On top of the Ark was a Mercy seat of pure Gold, and two cherubim that overshadowed it. Only God, the Giver of the Law, The Source of our Provision, the One Who ordains the leaders of His people is able to sit on that Mercy seat. He alone is the Righteous Judge, gives Mercy to whom He grants Mercy, and Justice to whom Justice is due. And it is only through the One True and living God and His Mercy that any man can pass by the Cherubim who He placed to guard the Tree of Life.

That type is now seen in Jesus Christ, who went into the Holy of Holies and Who has given only those who overcome through the Blood of the Lamb the right to eat of the tree of Life.

Rev 2:7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

Rev 22:1 And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.
2 In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
3 And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:
4 And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.
5 And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign forever and ever.

Rev 22:14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

Again, the Israelites did not bow down to the ark or to the statues of the cherubim, nor did they serve them. To compare that which God had set in place, to that which the councils of vain religions have decreed is folly.

2132 "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 portrayed in it. The honor paid to sacred images is a "respectful veneration," not the adoration due to God alone: 'Religious worship is not directed to images in themselves, considered as mere things, but under their distinctive aspect as images leading us on to God incarnate. The movement toward the image does not terminate it as image, but tends toward that whose image it is'

Historically, the Catholic church has rearranged the ten commandments, in order to avoid the controversy concerning their idolatrous practices. What is referred here as the first commandment is actually the second commandment. And despite what article 2132 says, the veneration of Christian images is contrary to the second commandment.

Exo 20:4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
6 And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

As we can see, the commandment says that we are not to bow down to an image, or to serve it. Regardless how a person may want to justify their actions, the fact is that if you go to a Catholic church, the chances are real good that you will see devout Catholics bowing down to the statues that are in place there. It doesn't matter if you call it venerating, reverencing or paying homage to a person…the fact of the matter is that they are transgressing the commandment of God by bowing before it.

Furthermore, the statues represent people who have died. And the person that this image represents is dead, and the one who bows before this image is praying to this person who has died. The Bible calls this "Necromancy", and it is an abomination to God.

Deu 18:10 There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch,
11 Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.
12 For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee.
13 Thou shalt be perfect with the LORD thy God.

In recent years, there has been an effort by the Catholic church to draw a distinction between the word "veneration" and "worship", the intention of the Church being to down-play the accusation that it promotes worship of statues, which would amount to idolatry.

In Rahner-Vorgrimler's Theological Dictionary, recognized as a Catholic work by it's Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur (a declaration that the book is considered to be free from doctrinal or moral error), copyright 1965, we read the following entry entitled "Veneration of Images" (italics are mine to bring particular passages to the attention of the reader):

"This veneration is essentially directed to the person represented (to whom alone "absolute worship" may be due). It is therefore a "relative" cult, in no way implying that the image itself deserves to be worshipped. True adoration is due to God alone, (D 302ff); an image deserves only veneration. But the Church's tradition or the history of the image itself (its' origin, its real connexion with the person represented; Cross) may lend such veneration special weight and significance (icons, images associated with pilgrimage),"

In other words, according to this passage, there may be persons to whom absolute worship is due. This could probably include Mary, and the number of saints who are prayed to for various reasons. As the reader reads the latter part of this passage, remember the observation I made earlier of what the Catholic Church's stance would most likely be regarding the brazen serpent! What this statement is saying is that some images deserve more veneration than others, no doubt even bordering on worship.

To sum up what we have learned: The idolatry that is found in the Catholic Church today is a violation of the 2nd Commandment. It is also an abomination to God because of the necromancy that is involved.

ARE CHRISTIANS SUBJECT TO GENERATIONAL CURSES?


 

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