Idols and Icons and Images
and Stuff

Over and again, the Roman Church assures us that she holds the Bible to be the Word of God and, as such, authoritative. One Vatican II document assures us that:

[T]he task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ. Yet this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant. It teaches only what has been handed on to it. At the divine command and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it listens to this devotedly, guards it with dedication and expounds it faithfully. All that it proposes for belief as being divinely revealed is drawn from this single deposit of faith.--Vatican II, Dei Verbum (Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation), promulgated by Pope Paul VI on November 18, 1965

If this were true, why do not RCC dogma, doctrine and practice conform to Scriptural standards?

1 And spake all these words, saying,
2 I [am] the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness [of any thing] that [is] in heaven above, or that [is] in the earth beneath, or that [is] in the water under the earth:
5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God [am] a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth [generation] of them that hate me;
--Exodus 20:1-5

To me, the meaning and intent of these words are crystal clear. We are to worship God alone and should not make for ourselves idols or images of other gods and certainly we are not to worship them. Any worship of manmade objects is hatred of God.  

Does Rome agree? It would appear not. Look to the sacrament of the Eucharist.  

The Catholic Church teaches that the consecrated bread becomes the actual flesh of Christ at that point in the Mass when the priest lifts up the hosts and calls Christ down from Heaven. Then, the priest places the bread on the altar and bows before it. He bows in recognition that the miraculous transformation (transubstantiation) has occurred and that bit of bread on the altar is now the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ. Similarly, every Catholic parishioner who enters his church or passes the center aisle will bow or genuflect, ackowledging the actual presence of Jesus' body in the tabernacle where the reserved (consecrated) hosts are stored. Bowing, in this religious act, is an act of worship. Any priest, any Catholic, who bows down to bread, transubstantiated or not, is involved in idol worship because he is violating the command in Exodus 20:5 not to bow down before an idol (something made by human hands).  

The Roman Catholic Church does not merely ignore the Commandments in Exodus 20:3-5, it actually does precisely what is forbidden millions of times a day.  

On occasion, a consecrated host is placed inside a special device called a monstrance. Then, this "Jesus-as-wafer" is given prominent exposure to the public. There are times when it is carried through neighborhoods or towns in special procession in order that it might be worshipped and adored.

  Do I exaggerate? Check this out:

Adoration of Christ in this sacrament of love must also find expression in various forms of eucharistic devotion: personal prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, Hours of Adoration, periods of exposition--short, prolonged and annual (Forty Hours)--eucharistic benediction, eucharistic processions, eucharistic congresses. . . . The encouragement and the deepening of eucharistic worship are proofs of that authentic renewal which the council set itself as an aim and of which they are the central point . . . I wish briefly to reaffirm the fact that eucharistic worship constitutes the soul of all Christian life . . . Dominicae Cenae (On the Mystery and Worship of the Eucharist),Encyclical Letter, published by Pope John Paul II on February 20, 1980

If anyone says that in the sacred and, holy sacrament of the Eucharist the substance of the bread and wine remains conjointly with the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and denies that wonderful and singular change of the whole substance of the bread into the body and the whole substance of the wine into the blood, the appearances only of bread and wine remaining, which change the Catholic Church most aptly calls transubstantiation,[43] let him be anathema. --Decree Concerning the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist, The Council of Trent, Session XIII, Chapter VIII, Canon 2, October 11, 1551

If anyone says that in the holy sacrament of the Eucharist, Christ, the only begotten Son of God, is not to be adored with the worship of ,[47] also outwardly manifested, and is consequently neither to be venerated with a special festive solemnity, nor to be solemnly borne about in procession according to the laudable and universal rite and custom of holy Church, or is not to be set publicly before the people to be adored and that the adorers thereof are idolaters, let him be anathema. --Ibid., Canon 6

One might argue that the RCC believes that Christ Himself is physically present in the consecrated host and, therefore, Catholics are really worshipping Him. If you hold to this, you could claim that in Eucharistic worship, the Romish faithful are not worshipping a man-made object but, rather, the Lord Himself. Sure. You could say that, but it would not make it true. There is no Scriptural support for believing that Lord Jesus comes down from our Father's side every time a priest commands in order that He might be turned into a cracker. That cracker, or wafer, or bit of bread that Rome worships is the product of someone's kitchen. It is not Jesus Christ of Scripture. It is a created thing and to bow down before it and worship it is idolatry. Pure and simple.

What about other created things? Things like statues and icons and pictures? What does the Holy Bible say about them? There is a wonderful passage in Isaiah that is well worth studying:

Who hath formed a god, or molten a graven image [that] is profitable for nothing? Behold, all his fellows shall be ashamed: and the workmen, they [are] of men: let them all be gathered together, let them stand up; [yet] they shall fear, [and] they shall be ashamed together. The smith with the tongs both worketh in the coals, and fashioneth it with hammers, and worketh it with the strength of his arms: yea, he is hungry, and his strength faileth: he drinketh no water, and is faint. The carpenter stretcheth out [his] rule; he marketh it out with a line; he fitteth it with planes, and he marketh it out with the compass, and maketh it after the figure of a man, according to the beauty of a man; that it may remain in the house. He heweth him down cedars, and taketh the cypress and the oak, which he strengtheneth for himself among the trees of the forest: he planteth an ash, and the rain doth nourish [it]. Then shall it be for a man to burn: for he will take thereof, and warm himself; yea, he kindleth [it], and baketh bread; yea, he maketh a god, and worshippeth [it]; he maketh it a graven image, and falleth down thereto. He burneth part thereof in the fire; with part thereof he eateth flesh; he roasteth roast, and is satisfied: yea, he warmeth [himself], and saith, Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire: And the residue thereof he maketh a god, [even] his graven image: he falleth down unto it, and worshippeth [it], and prayeth unto it, and saith, Deliver me; for thou [art] my god. They have not known nor understood: for he hath shut their eyes, that they cannot see; [and] their hearts, that they cannot understand. And none considereth in his heart, neither [is there] knowledge nor understanding to say, I have burned part of it in the fire; yea, also I have baked bread upon the coals thereof; I have roasted flesh, and eaten [it]: and shall I make the residue thereof an abomination? shall I fall down to the stock of a tree?--Isaiah 44:10-19

Do the statues, images and icons of the Roman Church speak to the Catholic faithful? In the cold of winter, can one see the little puffs of condensed vapor that would indicate they are breathing? Do their painted eyes see the Catholic faithful on their knees before them? Do their sculpted ears hear the prayers and petitions of those who come to them in times of need?  

The idols of the heathen are silver and gold, the work of men's hands. They have mouths, but they speak not; eyes have they, but they see not; They have ears, but they hear not; neither is there any breath in their mouths. They that make them are like unto them: so is every one that trusteth in them.--Psa. 135:15-18

  The Romish Church appears to teach conformity to Scripture. At least, in the New Catechism, it gives lip service to God's Commandment when it declares:

2112 The first commandment condemns polytheism. It requires man neither to believe in, nor to venerate, other divinities than the one true God. Scripture constantly recalls this rejection of "idols, [of] silver and gold, the work of men's hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see." These empty idols make their worshippers empty: "Those who make them are like them; so are all who trust in them."[42] God, however, is the "living God" who gives life and intervenes in history.

  2113 Idolatry not only refers to false pagan worship. It remains a constant temptation to faith. Idolatry consists in divinizing what is not God. Man commits idolatry whenever he honors and reveres a creature in place of God, whether this be gods or demons (for example, satanism), power, pleasure, race, ancestors, the state, money, etc. Jesus says, "You cannot serve God and mammon." Many martyrs died for not adoring "the Beast" refusing even to simulate such worship. Idolatry rejects the unique Lordship of God; it is therefore incompatible with communion with God.

  2114 Human life finds its unity in the adoration of the one God. The commandment to worship the Lord alone integrates man and saves him from an endless disintegration. 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.

  2129 The divine injunction included the prohibition of every representation of God by the hand of man. Deuteronomy explains: "Since you saw no form on the day that the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire, beware lest you act corruptly by making a graven image for yourselves, in the form of any figure...." It is the absolutely transcendent God who revealed himself to Israel. "He is the all," but at the same time "he is greater than all his works." He is "the author of beauty.--Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Ed., (C) 1994/1997 Unnited States Catholic Conference, Inc

  What does Rome teach next? The Catechism goes on to provide a few excuses for creating and worshipping or venerating images:

  2130 Nevertheless, already in the Old Testament, God ordained or permitted the making of images that pointed symbolically toward salvation by the incarnate Word: so it was with the bronze serpent, the ark of the covenant, and the cherubim.

  2131 Basing itself on the mystery of the incarnate Word, the seventh ecumenical council at Nicaea justified against the iconoclasts the veneration of icons - of Christ, but also of the Mother of God, the angels, and all the saints. By becoming incarnate, the Son of God introduced a new "economy" of images.

  2132 The Christian veneration of images is not contrary to the first commandment which proscribes idols. Indeed, "the honor rendered to an image passes to its prototype," and "whoever venerates an image venerates the person portrayed in it." The honor paid to sacred images is a "respectful veneration," not the adoration due to God alone: Religious worship is not directed to images in themselves, considered as mere things, but under their distinctive aspect as images leading us on to God incarnate. The movement toward the image does not terminate in it as image, but tends toward that whose image it is. --Ibid.

  Rome also teaches

  "... that by means of the images which we kiss and before which we uncover the head and prostate ourselves, we adore Christ and venerate the saints whose likeness they bear .... great profit is derived from all holy images, not only because the people are thereby reminded of the benefits and gifts bestowed on them by Christ, but also because through the saints the miracles of God and salutary examples are set before the eyes of the faithful, so that they may give God thanks for those things, may fashion their own and conduct in imitation of the saints and be moved to adore and love God and cultivate piety. But if anyone should teach or maintain anything contrary to these decrees, let him be anathema.--De Invocatione Sanctorum (On The Invocation, Veneration, And Relics Of Saints, And On Sacred Images), The Council of Trent, Session 25, December 4, 1563

The practice of placing sacred images in churches so that they [the images] be venerated by the faithful is to be maintained.--Austin Flannery, O. P., Ed., Vatican Council II, The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents Sacrosanctum Concillium (The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy), ; Costello Publishing Co., 1981, (C) 1975 Harry J. Costello and Reverend Austin Flannery, p.35

From the very earliest days of the Church there has been a tradition whereby images of our Lord, his holy Mother, and of saints are displayed in churches for the veneration of the faithful.--Austin Flannery, O. P., Ed., Vatican Council II, The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents General Instruction on the Roman Missal ; Costello Publishing Co., 1981, (C) 1975 Harry J. Costello and Reverend Austin Flannery, pp. 193-94

  My Random House Dictionary defines idolatry thusly:

  i·dol·a·try n. 1. Worship of idols.
2. Blind or excessive devotion to something.

Rome says it does not worship or venerate or pray to the statues, icons, images and other man-made representations of the Lord God or the dead saints -- that the faithful merely use these creations to focus their attention on or direct their words to the person or dead person the created thing represents. Rome says this is not idolatry.

that in images there is no divinity or virtue on account of which they are to be worshipped, that no petitions can be addressed to them, and that no trust is to be placed in them. . . that the honour which is given to them is referred to the objects (prototypa) which they represent, so that through the images which we kiss, and before which we uncover our heads and kneel, we adore Christ and venerate the Saints whose likenesses they are-De Invocatione Sanctorum, Op. cit.

  To that, I respond: If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck. Rome might argue eternally that Catholicism does not worship, venerate nor adore man-made things, but in practice she surely does.

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