Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Refuting The Use Of Objects In Worship

  • Introduction:
          -The Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and even some Protestant churches use statues and icons that are part of their worship and services. People who occupy objects for such purposes believe that they help them to remember God, Jesus, Mary, or other important figures in Christianity.
          -Advocates of using images in worship regularly bow down to statues, icons, and images of Christian figures, kissing at the feet of the statues, and praying to them. Some professing Christians will even be rolling in front of them, putting flowers on them, lighting candles before them, carrying statues in procession, and changing the clothing on the statues daily. In  Roman Catholic religious institutions, there are several paintings of Jesus, Mary, Peter, and a myriad of canonized "saints." In short, there is an abundance of religious iconography.
    • Why The Above Actions Are Considered Idolatry:
              -Actions such as kneeling (in religious contexts) and prayer are defined as worship according to Scripture (Exodus 20:5; Isaiah 44:17; 45:20; Matthew 4:9-10; 6:6-14; Acts 10:25-26; 14:13-15; Philippians 2:10; Revelation 4:10; 19:10; 22:8-9). Thus, directing such honor to beings other than God is idolatry. It also seems rather strange that Roman Catholics sing worship psalms to various saints and wear amulets with pictures of Mary on them.  
    • The Case Against The Use Of Statues, Images, And Relics In Worship:
              -God clearly condemned making figures for the purpose of giving religious devotion or honor to beings other than Him (Exodus 20:4-5; Deuteronomy 4:15-24; 2 Chronicles 33:6-7). In fact, the Apostle Paul specifically said that God neither dwells in places by hands nor is served with physical objects (Acts 17:23-25). God said that He would not give His glory to another (Isaiah 42:8). We are to worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24).
    • A Valid Practice In Christianity?:
              -In the New Testament, we are never commanded to use statues in worship and have no examples of such activity being permitted by God. As noted previously, the Apostle Paul clearly affirmed the Old Testament prohibitions on using objects in worship. Idols are a direct threat to our relationship with God and will lead the unrepentant to eternal condemnation in hell (1 Corinthians 10:14; 1 John 5:21; Revelation 21:8). There are also different forms of idolatry (Ephesians 5:5-7). So Beware! The only time we see people bowing before statues in Scripture are the unfaithful and unbelieving.
    • Veneration Verses Worship:
              -When Catholics are accused of worshiping Mary and the saints, they usually respond by saying that they merely "venerate" (honor) them (not "worship"). This claim is elaborated on by dividing this veneration into three distinct categories (using Latin): latria (God alone), hyperdulia (Mary alone), and dulia (saints and angels).
              -First of all, occupying separate labels does not change the essence of what is being done. Moreover, the Bible makes no distinction between "veneration" and "worship." It does not provide any justification for three different "classes" of honor for three separate "heavenly ranks." All religious veneration that we find in Scripture is rightfully directed to God alone. Remember also that God is a jealous God (Exodus 20:5; Deuteronomy 4:24; Nahum 1:2)
    • So What Is Permissible?:
              -It is okay to give honor to whom honor is due (Mark 12:17; Hebrews 13:7). Bowing can also be a custom of respect toward authority (although God has never ordained a statue to be in such a position). It is also not wrong to have pieces of art for decoration and pictures that we cherish. God can indeed use images to communicate divine truths. Furthermore, it is even acceptable to honor Christians from the past by acknowledging their faith and following their moral example (Hebrews 11). But actions such as building statues with the intent of bowing before them and offering prayer or adoration to entities other than God Himself transcends honor. It is idolatry.
    • "It is just an art form like music...":
              -This argument is simply comparing apples to oranges and is deprived of biblical justification. While we are encouraged to worship God by singing psalms of praise (2 Chronicles 5:13; Psalms 150:1-5; Colossians 3:16; Revelation 14:3-4), using images of saints as an aid in worship or parading them in the streets is idolatry.
    • "Don't we keep the photos of people that we love...":
              -It is true that we tend to keep images of people we love and art for enjoyment or ornamentation. But the comparison of an image to Christ to a picture of a friend or relative is deceptive. The statues and painted pictures of Jesus or the apostles are only the imagination of an artist. They are not accurate representations of the actual people who lived. Moreover, a wife would become very frustrated if her husband decided to keep a picture of another woman, kiss it, and call it his spouse! The above objection is irrelevant and fails to address the issue at hand. We are to obey God's commandments regardless of consequences or our emotions.
    • On The Creation Of The Bronze Serpent (Numbers 21:6-9):
              -God commanded Moses to make the Bronze Serpent for a one time purpose (John 3:14-16). However, the Israelites converted it into an object of worship. It ended up getting destroyed by King Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:3-4). There is no scriptural evidence that the Bronze Serpent was ever supposed to be used as an aid in worship.
    • On The Creation Of The Two Cherubs (Exodus 25:18):
              -God commanded the making of two golden cherubs, but the Jews were not called to bow down before them or serve them.
    • On The Creation Of The Ark of the Covenant (Joshua 7:6-7):
              -God ordered the Israelites to make the ark so that He could dwell in their presence and meet with the leaders (Exodus 25:8; 22). But why does the ark have two images of angels (Exodus 25:18-21)? It has them because it is a replica of God's throne in heaven (Isaiah 6:1-2). This is further evidenced by the fact that the ark of the covenant also served as a footstool for the feet of the Lord (1 Chronicles 28:2). Unlike the ark, the images used in Roman Catholic "veneration" supposedly represent saints.

    1 comment:

    1. The correct link for my previous comment is: