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Do Catholics worship Idols?

Perhaps one of the most argued practice of the Church is the use of images, virtually every Protestant denomination deem this idolatry “Catholics worship idols", so goes the claim, “they are violating the commandment of God" as backup they quickly resort to Exodus 20:4-5 “You shall not make for yourself a graven image or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: you shall not bow down to them or serve them”
Even an Anti-Catholic writer Loraine Boettner has this to say “God has forbidden the use of images in worship” (281). Yet if people were to “search the scriptures” (cf. John 5:39), they would find the opposite is true. God forbade the worship of statues, but he did not forbid the religious use of statues. Instead, he actually commanded their use in religious contexts! (From his book Roman Catholicism). This man stands against everything the Church believes, but cannot deny the fact that images can be used for religious purposes without offending God. That God can and had willed the making of such images as symbols of his presence and action.
WHERE WE DISAGREE

It is important to note that the primary disagreement of Protestant and Catholic teachings on this topic is not so much about practice as some fundamental understanding of concepts. Personally I am of the opinion that the Catholic concept of worship differs greatly to that of the Protestant. The Catholic Church understands worship in the context of community praying through Christ, or Christ praying in the Community. Worship is sacrificial in our understanding. To the Pentecostal, worship is basically any gesture you make, words, songs, etc. to “Any One" so long as you cannot see the Person(s) you address. Whilst this is not the doctrine they directly teach, this is what is at the core of their arguments and beliefs. Because of this they can say that a simple request made to Mary is an act of Worship, simply because “we cannot see her" or in their language “she is dead"! That even saying “Mary, pray for us" is considered an abomination tilting towards idolatry.

A MISUNDERSTANDING OF THE COMMAND

Some Jews once believed that the command of God “Thou shalt not make for yourself any graven image or any likeness of anything that is in the heaven above or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth…" meant that even having a personal portrait would violate this command as well. Since God said we should not represent anything, we should not make any images. However, Protestants today see this interpretation as erroneous; they make images of themselves, family etc. They snap pictures, frame them and hang on their walls. They know “somehow" without another confirmation from the same scriptures that God “cannot" mean they should not make images at all. What God commands is not against making images, but “Worshiping them as gods", and replacing the Unseen God with the images we carve, depending on them and ascribing attributes to them which belong to God alone. Once one does not think an image is Infinite, can directly answer him or hear him, and is the sole object of his prayer (and not someone “behind" the scene), then praying before a religious image is not idolatry just like praying before a tomb with the image of a beloved one departed.

GOD COMMANDS IMAGES TO BE MADE

We say “No making of images" God says “Make these images", below are some few passages where God, not only commands, but also gives description of images to be built for religious purposes:
“And you shall make two cherubim of gold [i.e., two gold statues of angels]; of hammered work shall you make them, on the two ends of the mercy seat. Make one cherub on the one end, and one cherub on the other end; of one piece of the mercy seat shall you make the cherubim on its two ends. The cherubim shall spread out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings, their faces one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubim be” (Ex. 25:18–20).
“For the altar of incense made of refined gold, and its weight; also his plan for the golden chariot of the cherubim that spread their wings and covered the ark of the covenant of the Lord. All this he made clear by the writing of the hand of the Lord concerning it all, all the work to be done according to the plan” (1 Chr. 28:18–19).

“On the walls round about in the inner room and [on] the nave were carved likenesses of cherubim.”
We believe that Images can be used as symbols of God’s presence (As in the Ark) and of his action and power (as in the Bronze Serpent)

During a plague of serpents which was sent upon the Israelites, God commanded Moses to make a statue of a fiery serpent and set it upon a pole, anyone who was bitten by the live serpents and looks upon the statue on the pole shall live.
“So Moses made a bronze serpent, and set it on a pole; and if a serpent bit any man, he would look at the bronze serpent and live” (Num. 21:8–9).
God, through this statue extended his healing to the people of Israel, when they looked, upon this serpent, they survived. This confirms that God has and still uses images to mediate his power; this is why we believe that images can be used for religious purposes.

Catholics merely use these images as helpers for recalling those things or the Person(s) the images depict. The entire being of Man worships God and this includes the imaginative power of man. The images bring to the mind, a shallow representation of an Absolutely Simple Being (in the case of God), an imaginative representation of the Saints and Mary.
We offer Masses to God alone, and we believe this Act, together with other liturgical acts of Adoration to be due to God alone. We believe in the sacrificial worship of God as Supreme Being. Until anyone begins to really adore images either by killing and sacrificing animals to them (as do pagans) or to hold them as sole End and not means to reach to God, then the use of images in the catholic Church isn’t idolatry.

Mere outward actions cannot be absolute basis for judging an action to be of worship. If you say its Bowing, people bow to people (as though the Japanese) or even the Yoruba (in Nigeria), they would prostrate to the ground to greet an elder. This is merely an act of respect rather than adoration. One has to really hold another in highest esteem; they must have to hold these statues or people to be the Source of their existence and their Last End, before those gestures can have an element of worship in them. If not, they are mere gestures signifying respect. Bottom-line, bowing, kneeling etc. can be postures/elements found in worship, but not all bowing, kneeling is worship.
The Catholic Church condemns idolatry

“by worshiping idols and images as God, or believing that they possess any divinity or virtue entitling them to our worship, by praying to, or reposing confidence in them” Catechism of the Council of Trent (374).
“Idolatry is a perversion of man’s innate religious sense. An idolater is someone who ‘transfers his indestructible notion of God to anything other than God’” (CCC 2114).

SUMMARY:

1. If you say making images is wrong, just making them at all: Then God condemns the making of personal portraits and even the Protestants (INCLUDING YOU) are idolaters. But this is not true.
2. If you say making images for religious purpose is wrong: Then God made a mistake asking images to be made, and the Israelites were idolaters for virtually placing their hopes in the God who through the Ark manifests himself.
3. If you say worshiping it is wrong, expecting some help through them: I say this is true, and this is not what the Church does. We expect to recall and gain reply from they whom they represent. We honor the memory of the Saints who inspire us, Mary who speaks before Christ for us, and Christ who is the Sole Mediator between us and the Father.
4. If you say “it’s a lie, you worship them", then I say “You’re a god for judging my innermost intentions" Well done Zeus!
The Church cannot modify her beliefs just because she is accused, she merely, through her ministers and lay apostles, teaches and reteaches what she received from the Apostles. You should know that the veneration of Saints and the use of images began from the earliest times of the Church. If you are well acquainted with Ecclesiastical history, you will know that even the Bones of Peter was safely kept as a relic and was later found buried beneath St Peters Basilica. The early Christians witnessed several miracles wrought by God in the tombs of the Martyrs, and to them, this is confirmation of the present Doctrine of the Communion of Saints. Which I will treat under the title “Do Catholics worship the Saints"

God bless!

By GabrielMary Alimba










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33 comments

  1. Roy karlo arevalo Reply

    We catholics,are not worshipping idols,only giving them an honor through JESUS C HRIST because of their good teachings,good doings as a great follower of our LORD.believe what you believe,we catholics remain strong faith in our relegion.

    1. egw Reply

      Hi,

      Please, can you refer me to a place in the bible, where it is written that you should honour them. Also for reference sake, why are israelites not honouring joshua, moses, elijah etc.

      1. Sharne Reply

        “Honour thy mother & father!” – Mary was given the privilege & honour to be Jesus’ mother! Hence, we acknowledge & honour her teachings…..which is to pray!……

      2. jennings Reply

        Hebrews 13:7

        1. Lea Leger Reply

          @egw. James 5 v16-18 encourages us to ask Holy people for prayers so that we may grow in holiness. Collosians 1 v 3 for we have heard of your faith in Jesus Christ and of the love that you have for all the Saints because of the hope laid up for you in Heaven. Do you understand that verses about of the love of the saints? Is it not honour to you? Love is a deeper meaning than honor. egw, you dont honor them because you cant read honor but u read love instead. You are narrowminded!!!!!!!

        2. Victor Jacob Reply

          Hebrews 13 vs. 7 “Remember your leaders, those who spoke the word of God to you; consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.”

          Thanks Jennings,
          It got me wondering
          If I am told to remember my leaders in Hebrews,
          Then why can I not put a portrait of the Mother of God?

          We all have statues of politicians, the good and tyrants
          Streets, schools; and even cities can be named after them,
          We live to honour their memory in our minds,
          Why not the Mother of God then?
          Why do they never understand that she is a Mother to us all

          “consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith” everyone should meditate on this…

      3. catstclair12000 Reply

        Show me in the Bible where Jesus said He was basing His church on a Bible or even that a Bible should be written? My Bible says He founded His Church on Peter and that He and the Father would send the Holy Spirit to guide it.
        What makes you think Judaism (Israelites are long gone) does not honor its prophets and leaders?

  2. Alex Reply

    we don’t worship idols ,in our hearts we refer to Lord our God.protestants criticize on the physical side of it but they don’t understand what we undergo in our hearts

  3. Raphael Olaniyi Reply

    Thanks for this wonderful teaching, we Catholics don’t worship idols….. God bless

  4. Jayson njoroge kamande. Reply

    Please quote a single verse where the common bible requires men men to make statues of mary, Jesus, or joseph and use them in our worship.

    1. Obinna Reply

      Jayson, you forget that Veronica whipped Jesus’ face and there was a print of His face on the cloth…do you know what that signifies? Jesus new that generations to come would like to know how He looks….thus that print. Placing their pictures or images where we worship does not really mean that we are worshiping pictures but no doubt it takes us to a realm far beyond those images.

    2. Paul Reply

      Where does it say that you cannot? Old testament is before Mary, Joseph and Jesus.

    3. Evergreen Çézär Reply

      Jayson with due respect pls..i guess u didn’t read properly this apologetic article, if u did am tempted to think it’s a problem of demented acumen!
      Mayb u will have to mention where in the bible u’v been told to take photographs of ourselves or loved ones.
      If u are so bittered with d image of Christ the saviour who saved u or dat of his blessed mother who cooperated with God for d salvific plan, den ure jst getting started!
      Am having a funny feeling dat ure one of dos kingdom halls freaks who don’t believe in d divinity of Christ!

    4. George Reply

      Please quote a single verse from the “Common?” Bible where it says Men should NOT make statues of Mary, Jesus or Joseph and venerate them in Worship?

    5. Jojo Reply

      Kindly read the article properly. All you need is there …

    6. Fce Reply

      MT16:19 what the authoriy of the church ofJesus granted is also approve in heaven, thus, when statues of mary, jesus & joseph is granted by the church authority then no violation to God’s law

    7. Pat Reply

      why do you have a photo of your parents or loved ones? – we don’t worship statues – but – the image allows us to remember and pray for the memory of the saints…….

  5. Kariuki Mbigi Reply

    I am a catholic, and a proud one for that matter.. in my life i have never worshiped any idols, neither do i know any Catholic who does.

  6. marianfk Reply

    when we ask for the proper, natural, so it is offered to us – like me – mid-2009 – and I feel good every day my well being every day

  7. egw Reply

    Please can you refer me to anywhere in the bible, where you have been instructed to make statutes of Mary. Any statute God wanted man to make for reverence, He gave the specifications for it, like the Ark you mentioned, when He described how the cherubims were to be made and in what direction they will be. I strongly believe that the sculpture of mary that is being honoured, has no place in the bible, and it is just a catholic decision. The bible as far as i have read, did not tell us about the end of the life of mary. The bible told us about the end of a lot of people in the bible. Please why are there no highly reverenced statutes for moses, joshua….the ones God used to bring us out of Egypt or even John the baptist, who was the forerunner. I believe that the time and energy used in making and worshipping this statutes, should go into worshipping God alone. As man, are you not even afraid…God said, He is a jealous God. All the glory alone must be to Him, He will not share His glory with anyone.

    1. aymamibrockway Reply

      Please can you refer me to anywhere in the bible, where you have been instructed to have a photo of your family on your desk at work. Any image God wanted man to make for reverence, He gave the specifications for it, like the Ark you mentioned, when He described how the cherubims were to be made and in what direction they will be. I strongly believe that the photo of your family that is being honoured, has no place in the bible, and it is just a personal decision. Please why are there no highly reverenced photos for moses, joshua….the ones God used to bring us out of Egypt or even John the baptist, who was the forerunner. I believe that the time and energy used in making and worshipping this photo, should go into worshipping God alone. As man, are you not even afraid…God said, He is a jealous God. All the glory alone must be to Him, He will not share His glory with anyone, even your family. Repent!

  8. Fce Reply

    Mt16:19Jesus gave absolute biblical authority to his church through St. Peter, that whatever granted by church’s authority shall be approve also in heaven. Thus, images of Mary, Jesus & Joseph if granted by churcrh’s authority, then does not violate God’s law also.

  9. Sergio Penaflor Reply

    As an example, when you want to hit a certain target, you need telescopic sight, or much better, laser-directed targeting device. to direct your target to the bulls eye, and in this case, prayers that should reach God.. When praying with picture or image of Mother Mary and of the Saints, our mind and heart goes beyond the picture or image, as we strongly communicate with God through Jesus. The images and pictures serves as visual aid; and just like what a laser beam do to a target. Sad to say, the narrow-minded protestant, whose heart is inflamed with the hatred to Mother Mary, wont understand this! Because to them, it is just enough to raise the head or the hand to reach Jesus. But are they sure that their prayers will go to Jesus..and to our God?! Remember, that while on earth, we are living and travelling towards the unknown, and any signage and direction are most welcome, just like this valuable images and pictures does to our faith! You must remember that the spirit of the devil is everywhere…and prayers could be hi-hacked, to go to the devil and not to Jesus! But thanks, as Catholics, we are strengthened with the assurance that our prayers has direction, because of the visual aid – images and pictures of Mother Mary, the Saints and Angels!

  10. bartholomew jnr Reply

    I strongly believe those Protestant that says we Catholics worship idols, needs enlightenment! Thanks to this article! If after reading this, someone is still saying we Catholics worship idols, then I am tempted to say that persons head needs to b re examined, to check what he/she has as brain! Or it’s just a case of share hatred for the faith or bias mind.

    1. Lea Leger Reply

      I agree with you..but not only Protestant are narrowminded, most Christian denominations as well….

  11. victor Reply

    As a Roman Catholic my view is –

    We pray physically in front of the images or statues and in our mind we believe that we are praying to our God in heaven. We are not praying to the mere statue which is just clay or cement or soil or some other material..Our mind is speaking not to the idol, but to the God in heaven. Prayer is a speech between humans and God and our heart initiates this divine communication. We are not talking to idols.

    As others, we keep portraits of our departed parents or relatives in order to remember them..the same theory works behind making of idols/images.

  12. Johann Reply

    Protestants who keep on questioning the Catholic beliefs are like hypocrite pharisees who are dependent on what is written in the law, but do not understand the meaning of it. Remember, they are the cause of Jesus’ Death.

    1. zack Reply

      u stading at the image is the manifestaion of whats inyour mind and heart…so u worship image

      1. Lorry Davis Reply

        At the time God said make no images of things in Heaven, we did not know what anyone in Heaven looked like, until Christ came.
        Only a very small percentage of people could read, even into the 19th century (that would be the 1800’s)
        Staues were used as a way to Evangelize, to share the Holy Bible with those who could not read. No differently than statutes of any President, or Governor, or Mayor, or”famous” pastors of the Reformation, or any other staues, even in paper form, such as the posters of rock and heavy metal band members protestant kids keep on their walls. Our kids have pictures of Saints to help them to live their lives dedicated to Jesus Christ. So, go back to worshiping the green paper in your wallet, and stop judging good Christians

  13. catstclair12000 Reply

    Of all the most ridiculous lies that uninformed people tell about Catholics is the notion of idol worship. The very folks you can find in Washington, D.C., gawking at the statues of the American heroes, Jefferson and Lincoln, cannot imagine having a statue of a religious hero in a church. Dr. M. L. King deserves a huge statue in his honor, but Jesus Christ does not?
    “Oh, I have seen them praying at them! Idol worship!” I have seen Orthodox Jews praying at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. Anyone think they are worshiping a wall? “Hail, O Thou Almighty Wall! Grant my prayers!”
    I mean really! And then they want to see it in the Bible. Any idea as to how much older the Church that Jesus Christ founded and then sent the Holy Spirit to guide it is? Show me where in the Bible Jesus said that a Bible should be written or that churches should be based on a Bible or any other book.
    It is only Protestant churches that were founded by men who turned against the Church Christ founded that claim to be Bible based. They did not exist until the 1500 and 1600’s. They had to be based on something.
    They certainly cannot claim to be founded by Jesus Christ; and they don’t even agree with each other. There are over 10,000 Protestant churches just in the United States. Anyone with a Bible can found his own church and claim to be right as they have no magisterium. They ignore John’s gospel, chapter 6, and John 20:21-23, so they don’t even truly believe in the Bible.
    You don’t need to argue about a Bible. Just take a history class and decide if you follow Jesus Christ or Henry VIII, Martin Luther, John Knox, or one of the myriad of other founders of Protestant churches. I know Who I follow.

  14. Lorry Davis Reply

    Today’s focus is soley on those made of plaster, cement, ceramic, iron or marble.
    What of all those other idols?
    What others you may be asking?
    Anything that keeps you away from giving True Worship to our Father-
    Jobs, working on Sunday
    Sports, that keeps us from Sunday Worship
    Partying to much, to late Saturday night, to get out of bed on time for Church
    Company coming over later, no time to go to Church
    Have to much to do with kids to go to Church
    Fish are biting
    I’m on vacation
    Need I say more?
    God decided for us how He wants us to Worship Him, anytime you decide how YOU are going to do that, YOU turn God into what YOU want Him to be, not what or Who He is.
    That is the truest form of idolatry!

  15. jose Reply

    perhaps religious images that rather depict loving actions such as in prayer or family love (or remind people about the lives of people having a worthy relationship with God) – could encourage believers to do the same (such as praying or affection among parents and children, and doing charitable acts as inspired by saints) and remind us the good deeds (and important events) involving the persons depicted by the religious images…however, veneration of such religious images could already involve much on faith (merely to believe) than love (the action required to fulfill the essence of the image) when religious images are supposed to be an inspiration of idealism on being more loving, hopefully than actually believing the religious images (or objects) could provide power, answer prayers, perform miracles, etc. …when the loving spirit of the believer would rather bring union to the essence depicted in the image that would enkindle the love and faith (and power for those who believe in God) to see a more deeper meaning among the images that could apply to people’s ordinary lives (and personal issues and family issues to be resolved)…

    and as mentioned in the bible, “abide by faith, hope and love; but the greatest of these is love” (1corinthians13:13 new testament bible)…thus, love for God depicted rather in providing the basic human needs of all people for family welfare (i.e. food, water, housing/shelter, etc.) and community activities (even in ordinary life) beyond rituals and prayers) must be exalted more for the religious authorities and religious members of the church for these truly and actually depict family love (as love for God) – that God has shown to humanity in freely giving all resources to all humanity for free wherein heaven is depicted as a place without money, business, and infrastructure – but a condition among people that is filled with the love of freely giving of blessings and sharing of resources…and charitably extending this family love to non-members of the church would strengthen more this love for God as “God’s Love” – the heavenly charity for the needy as exemplified by Our Lord Jesus Christ in the bible…

    because people are living beings (and God is also alive and living in heaven – for the religious believers) and in life that God and humans become one spirit when humans represent God through the beauty of family love (through good deeds within the family, friends, workplace, communities, and all people in humanity) – more important than the production of religious buildings, institutions, schools, and things that are merely of material existence to increase faith (and wealth)…when the efficiency of the church is rather judged in the Holy Spirit of Love – when all people (of billions of people in humanity) will already have faith in one another to love, care, and help one another even beyond one’s culture, family, friends, school, community, work, nationality, and religion…and when people are given more importance (than material things) that God is alive in the hearts of the believers of the truth…

    1. virgilio Reply

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