Skip to comments.Essays for Lent: Statues and Holy Pictures
Posted on 03/28/2012 9:19:23 PM PDT by Salvation
Statues and Holy Pictures
by Sebastian R. Fama
Objections to the making and veneration of holy pictures and statues are based on faulty interpretations of Scripture. Those who are opposed to such practices traditionally appeal to Exodus 20:3-5: "You shall not have other Gods besides me. You shall not carve idols for yourselves in the shape of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth. You shall not bow down before them or worship them."
God is not prohibiting the making of pictures and statues, but the deifying and worshipping of them. Note the first and last lines of the passage. Also consider what we find in Exodus 36:8 concerning the tabernacle curtains: "The various experts who were executing the work made the dwelling with its ten sheets woven of fine linen twined, having cherubim embroidered on them." And Exodus 37:7, concerning the Ark of the Covenant: "Two cherubim of beaten gold were made for the two ends of the mercy seat "
In 1 Kings we read some of what was in Solomon's Temple: "In the sanctuary were two cherubim, each ten cubits high, made of olive wood" (6:23). "This rested on twelve oxen" (7:25). Finally, "On the panels between the frames there were lions, oxen and cherubim" (7:29).
Why did God ask that images be made for His Temple and the Ark of the Covenant? Do you suppose that He didn't understand His own commandment? Except for one late period, we see that not even the Old Testament Jews understood Exodus 20 to be an absolute prohibition on images. When we consider all that the Scriptures tell us, we can see that the views of that one period were an extreme and unnecessary attempt to obey a commandment. We see this same sort of thing happening in Matthew 12:10, when Jesus is accused of violating the Law because he healed on the Sabbath. The spirit of the Law was abandoned for the letter of the Law.
Pictures and statues of saints are valued in the same way that pictures of friends and family are. They are not idols, but visible reminders of what they represent. For idolatry to exist, a person must worship something or think of it as if it were God. A man who kisses a picture of his wife and children is not practicing idolatry. He is merely expressing love for his family. The same applies to pictures and statues of saints. Idolatry is an interior disposition. It is wrong to judge interior motives by what we think we see.
The lives of the saints are inspirational. Their images remind us of their testimony, which can encourage us in our own walk with God. In the early Church, when 99% of the people couldn't read and there were no readily available texts, statues, pictures and stained glass windows were the common man's Bible.
If Exodus 20 were to be taken in the strictest sense, just think what it would mean. Not only could you not have images of saints, but also no pictures of friends or family, no statues of George Washington, no paintings of Martin Luther, and no picture Bibles or dolls for children. After all, if the Bible strictly prohibits the making of images, then you can't do it for any reason.
The idea that the early Christians refrained from making images is a myth that has been refuted by archaeology. There are a number of examples that remain from the first centuries. The Catacombs were covered with paintings of the saints. One notable example of a sacred object being venerated in the early Church can be found in the city of Herculaneum. Herculaneum and Pompeii were destroyed by an eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in the year 79. Herculaneum was totally buried and was only uncovered in modern times. In one of the houses archeologists found a kneeler that was placed in front of what was once a cross or crucifix. Eusebius talks of color portraits of Peter, Paul and Jesus that remained to his own time (325 AD). He also mentions a statue of Jesus and the woman cured of a hemorrhage (Mark 5:25-34). He relates that the statue was in front of the woman's home (The History of the Church 7:18). Now if such practices are wrong but were common in the first century, why is there no condemnation of them in the New Testament? Certainly such a blasphemy would not have been overlooked.
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Idol worship has a strong and demonic draw so therefore, mercifully, The LORD warned clearly and strongly against it. The ancient Israelites were guilty of bowing down to idols, but thought they could also worship Almighty God. They learned the hard way that The LORD, though patient, eventually rained down His wrath upon idol worshipers.
Psalms 115:4 Their idols [are] silver and gold, the work of men's hands.
Psa 115:5 They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not:
Psa 115:6They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not:
Psa 115:7 They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat.
Psa 115:8 They that make them are like unto them; [so is] every one that trusteth in them.
Psa 115:9 O Israel, trust thou in the LORD: he [is] their help and their shield.
Deuteronomy 4:15 Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day [that] the LORD spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire:
Deu 4:16 Lest ye corrupt [yourselves], and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female,
Deu 4:17 The likeness of any beast that [is] on the earth, the likeness of any winged fowl that flieth in the air,
Deu 4:18 The likeness of any thing that creepeth on the ground, the likeness of any fish that [is] in the waters beneath the earth:
Deu 4:19 And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, [even] all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the LORD thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven......
Deu 4:24 For the LORD thy God [is] a consuming fire, [even] a jealous God.
LOL! We don’t pray to a statue!
I don’t know where you are getting this information, but it is truly wrong.
Our prayers go to God, to Jesus, to the Holy Spirit, to the Communion of Saints (their souls are alive) in heaven.
An icon or statue merely reminds us of that person or saint, just like the wedding picture that johngrace posted.
Do you pray to your wedding picture? Of course not! But it brings back memories, and reminds you to thank God for your marriage and family, doesn’t it? Same thing with religious pictures.
They aren’t worshipped or prayed to.
Is your wedding picture an idol if it reminds you to thank God for your marriage and family?
Please, where do you get these unfounded ideas?
It wasnt the bowing before idols that was Israels problem, but actually sacrificing to Baal and other gods, expecting to gain favor with him.
“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds. Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of His Majesty on high; Being made so much better than His angels, as He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.” (Hebrews 1:1-4)
“For unto which of the angels said He at any time, Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee? And again, I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son? And again, when He bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, He saith, And let all the angels of God worship Him.” (Hebrews 1:5-6)
“And of the angels He saith, Who maketh His angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire. But unto the Son He saith, Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the septre of Thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows.” (Hebrews 1:7-9)
“And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of Thine hands: They shall perish; but Thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doeth a garment; And as a vesture shalt Thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but Thou art the same, and Thy years shall not fail. But to which of the angels said He at any time, Sit on My right hand, until I make Thine enenies Thy footstool? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” (Hebrews 1:10-14)
“Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every trangression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard Him;
God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to His own will?” (Hebrews 2:1-4)
“For unto the angels hath He not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak. But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? or the Son of man, that Thou madeth him a little lower than the angels; Thou crownedst Him with glory and honour, and didst set Him over the works of Thy hands.: Thou hast put all things in subjection under Him, He left nothing that is not under Him. But now we see not yet all things put under Him.” (Hebrews 2:5-8)
“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the Angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became Him, for whom are all things, in bringing amny sons into glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” (Hebrews 2:9-10)
“How can any sane person justify bowing down and praying to a statue?”
None of us prays to a statue.
Good analysis, Salvation. But sadly we can only pray for such people because eyes blinded by hatred and bigotry apparently can not read and process logical explanations such as yours and those in the article.
We must pray for those who hate the Catholic Church.
God is not prohibiting the making of pictures and statues
Well he certainly is...Right there in black and white...How could any person who can read deny such a thing???
God says don't make them...And if someone else makes them, do not bow down to them...God says don't do it...Period...
I don't believe you...You guys bury these talismen in your yards to get a good price for your piece of real estate...
You hang them on your mirrors to protect you while you are driving...
That is seriously religious but it has nothing to do with God or Christianity...
Well sure it was...That's why God prohibited it...Building and bowing to those idols is sacrificing to other gods...It's the same as planting one of those gods on your dashboard to protect you and your vehicle from crashing...
Dang. People find just one little goat head under the St. Christopher I “planted” on my dash, and they never let me forget it....
with Anu Garg
pharisaical, also pharisaic
adjective: Characterized by hypocritical self-righteousness; putting emphasis on strict observance of rituals unrelated to the spirit or meaning of the ceremony.
After the Pharisees, a Jewish sect during 1st century BCE - 1st century CE, whose members were noted for strict observance of rites and rituals. The word is derived via Latin and Greek from Aramaic prishayya, plural of prish
I must feel sorry for all of you. If you were to go to Jerusalem and walk the route that Jesus walked (yes, there are pictures there too.) you would say that walking that steep hill to Mount Calvary would be idolatrous.
Furthest thing from the truth, for you would be walking in Jesus’ footsteps while you pray.
Would you do it? Or would you call that idolatry? Those pictures would remind you of the pain suffered by our Lord as he died for our sins.
aruanan is right that the psychotic “interpretation” to mean ‘make no pictures of people’ is so insane as to even be embraced by muslims