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 the idols in procession, and changing the clothing on the statues daily. In 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 bowing 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.
  • 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; Leviticus 26:1; 2 Chronicles 33:6-7; Isaiah 40:17-25). In fact, the Apostle Paul specifically said that God neither dwells in places by hands nor is served with objects (Acts 7:48-49; 17:23-25; 17:29). God said that He would not give His glory to another (Isaiah 42:8). Going against His will will provoke Him to anger. We are to worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24).
  • The Foolishness Of Making All These Statues:
         -Nobody knows what God, Jesus, Mary, the apostles, and their closest associates looked like. There is no need for people to construct figures of honorable individuals when we cannot accurately identify their appearance. 
         -According to Scripture, people who worship idols (such as carved images) are just as dumb as the statues themselves (Psalm 115:1-8; 135:15-18). They can clearly see their idolatrous actions and hear the truth, but they just don't get it (just like the unbelieving Jews who openly saw Jesus' miracles and remained in disbelief)! People defend such unbiblical practices because they have been deceived by the evil one (1 Corinthians 10:19-20). If you ask a person to remove a statue of Mary or Jesus from their presence, then he or she will literally throw tantrums! The same would be true if a picture of a saint fell and broke. Obviously, folks who are affected by this form of apostasy believe that the person is somehow present in the object. This is indeed worship and thus idolatry!
  • Illogical Logic:
         -Why is it not idolatry to offer the same prayer, adoration, and honor to a bull, Bible, or a soldier, but it is not idolatry when such is offered to Mary and the saints?
  • Are There Any Boundaries To All This "Saintly Honor"?:
         -How far can "veneration" go before it reaches idolatry? Who is going to set forth specific boundaries so that people can know for certain that they are not giving a saint too much honor? Nobody really has. It seems as if the idol worshipers are reshaping the rules and redefining the limits to justify themselves.
  • 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. As seen previously, the Apostle Paul clearly reinstated the Old Testament prohibitions on using objects in worship. Idols pose danger to our relationship with God and can therefore lead us to eternal condemnation in flames (1 Corinthians 10:14; 1 John 5:21; Revelation 21:8). There are also different forms of idolatry (Ephesians 5:5-7). So Beware!
  • Veneration Vs. 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 the veneration into three distinct categories (in Latin): latria (God alone), hyperdulia (Mary alone), and dulia (saints and angels).
             +Occupying a separate label does not change the essence of what is being done.
             +The Bible makes no distinction between "veneration" and "worship". Neither does it provide any justification for three different "classes" of honor for three separate "heavenly ranks".
             +This objection is weak because the words "veneration" and "worship" are oftentimes used synonymously for each other in the same contexts.
             +Veneration gives religious devotion to someone/something other than God and is therefore idolatry. Remember, 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). It is also fine to have pieces of art (for decoration) and pictures of family members. 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, offering prayers to, and adoring is beyond honor. It is worship (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 objects as an aid in worship is disobedience to God's will.
  • "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/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 the consequences or our emotions.
  • "Didn't God permit the creation of some idols in the Old Testament?":
                +Bronze Serpent (Numbers 21:6-9):
                    -God commanded Moses to make the Bronze Serpent for a one time purpose (John 3:14-16), but 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.
                +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. Do the Catholics have any commands from God to make any statues? If so, then where is the proof or documentation for their claims? 
                +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.