Friday, March 23, 2018

The Roman Catholic Church On The Second Commandment

  • Defining The Issues:
          -Roman Catholic and Protestant churches have divided the numbering of the Ten Commandments differently. While non-Catholic churches have traditionally listed the second commandment as being a prohibition against worshiping carved images, Rome has omitted this reference and split the last commandment which condemns coveting into two separate, specific prohibitions against lusting after other people's spouses and material possessions. In short, both sides of the debate uphold different renderings of the same Ten Commandments that were originally given by God to Moses on Mount Sinai. This is a cause for concern, considering that Roman Catholics do indeed rely heavily upon religious iconography in their worship. Due to the fact that the ancient Israelites constantly struggled with idolatry, one would think it wise to leave a clear condemnation of worshiping objects in the listing of the Ten Commandments.
  • The Iconoclastic Controversy:
          -"In the early church, the making and veneration of portraits of Christ and the saints were consistently opposed. The use of icons nevertheless steadily gained in popularity, especially in the eastern provinces of the Roman Empire. Toward the end of the 6th century and in the 7th, icons became the object of an officially encouraged cult, often implying a superstitious belief in their animation. Opposition to such practices became particularly strong in Asia Minor. In 726 the Byzantine emperor Leo III took a public stand against the perceived worship of icons, and in 730 their use was officially prohibited. This opened a persecution of icon venerators that was severe in the reign of Leo’s successor, Constantine V (741–775). In 787, however, the empress Irene convoked the seventh ecumenical council at Nicaea at which Iconoclasm was condemned and the use of images was reestablished. The Iconoclasts regained power in 814 after Leo V’s accession, and the use of icons was again forbidden at a council in 815. The second Iconoclast period ended with the death of the emperor Theophilus in 842. In 843 his widow finally restored icon veneration, an event still celebrated in the Eastern Orthodox Church as the Feast of Orthodoxy." (Encyclopedia Britannica, "Iconoclastic Controversy")
  • Roman Catholic Scholar Rachel Bundang Says The Following:
          -"Christianity emerged from Judaism, which itself rejected figurative religious art as being too much like idol worship (see Ex 20:3). But once Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire under Constantine in the 4th century CE, it was not long before Roman practices of portraying and honoring the divine (their gods and emperors) would make their way into Christian practices as well."
  • How Paul Cited The Commandment Against Coveting:
          -"What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” (Romans 7:7)
          -"The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Romans 13:9)
             *Notice that the Apostle Paul, in his quoting of the commandment against coveting, does not split it in half (i.e. coveting a neighbor's wife and coveting a neighbor's goods). The Catholic rendering of the Ten Commandments here is both redundant and suspicious. Their devotion to statues so closely resembles worship.
  • Other Points Of Consideration:
          -While it is true that the numbering of the Ten Commandments is more peripheral in nature, it nevertheless remains a fact that a statue-infested environment where saints are incessantly venerated is not a spiritually safe place to be.
          -Interestingly, Hebrew does not allow for a distinction in the word worship, which in that language would be avad. Thus, the terms latria and dulia in the original Old Testament would be treated as the same form of worship, which of course would rightly belong to God alone. In the Greek Septuagint, the Hebrew avad is rendered as dulia and latria. This proves Roman Catholics wrong when they attempt to defend their veneration of saints. In a religious context, our service belongs to God alone.


  1. Here's an article I wrote about iconography:

  2. Jesse, thank you for addressing this important issue and providing some historical background and the Roman Catholic treatment of the 10 Commandments!