09 June, 2009

Does God forbid religious images?

I like most Catholics want to laugh when Protestants claim that Catholics worship statues. To a Catholic that is pure nonsense and ignorance. The thing is that we Catholics actually agree with Protestants that idolatry is condemned. However, what Catholics realize and Protestants fail to understand, perhaps because of their hatred for anything Catholic, is that God does not prohibit religious images when used properly. An example is the following:

(Exo 25:1 DRB) And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying:

(Exo 25:18 DRB) Thou shalt make also two cherubims of beaten gold, on the two sides of the oracle.

(Exo 25:19 DRB) Let one cherub be on the one side, and the other on the other.

(Exo 25:20 DRB) Let them cover both sides of the propitiatory, spreading their wings, and covering the oracle, and let them look one towards the other, their faces being turned towards the propitiatory wherewith the ark is to to be covered.

(Exo 26:1 DRB) And thou shalt make the tabernacle in this manner: Thou shalt make ten curtains of fine twisted linen, and violet and purple, and scarlet twice dyed, diversified with embroidery.

Here God is saying that religious images are pleasing.

God speaks of how Aaron’s vestments should be adorned:

(Exo 28:33 DRB) And beneath at the feet of the same tunic, round about, thou shalt make as it were pomegranates, of violet, and purple, and scarlet twice dyed, with little bells set between:

(Exo 28:34 DRB) So that there shall be a golden bell and a pomegranate, and again another golden bell and a pomegranate.

God tells Moses to make a graven image of a snake to cure snakebites and when the people started worshipping it the king destroyed it:

(Num 21:8 DRB) And the Lord said to him: Make a brazen serpent, and set it up for a sign: whosoever being struck shall look on it, shall live.

(Num 21:9 DRB) Moses therefore made a brazen serpent, and set it up for a sign: which when they that were bitten looked upon, they were healed.

(2Ki 18:4 DRB) He destroyed the high places, and broke the statues in pieces, and cut down the groves, and broke the brazen serpent, which Moses had made: for till that time the children of Israel burnt incense to it: and he called its name Nohestan.

Notice what god said concerning the temple:

(1Ki 6:12 DRB) As for this house, which thou art building, if thou wilt walk in my statutes, and execute my judgments, and keep all my commandments, walking in them, I will fulfil my word to thee, which I spoke to David thy father.

(1Ki 6:13 DRB) And I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel, and I will not forsake my people Israel.

(1Ki 6:14 DRB) So Solomon built the house, and finished it.

Solomon’s temple was adorned with graven images and statues:

(1Ki 7:25 DRB) And it stood upon twelve oxen, of which three looked towards the north, and three towards the west, and three towards the south, and three towards the east: and the sea was above upon them, and their hinder parts were all hid within.

(1Ki 7:36 DRB) He engraved also in those plates, which were of brass, and in the corners, cherubims, and lions, and palm trees, in likeness of a man standing, so that they seemed not to be engraven, but added round about.

The Scriptures tell us that Solomon’s wisdom came from God:

(1Ki 3:1 DRB) And the kingdom was established in the hand of Solomon, and he made affinity with Pharao, the king of Egypt: for he took his daughter, and brought her into the city of David: until he had made an end of building his own house, and the house of the Lord, and the wall of Jerusalem round about.

(1Ki 3:2 DRB) But yet the people sacrificed in the high places: for there was no temple built to the name of the Lord until that day.

(1Ki 3:3 DRB) And Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the precepts of David, his father; only he sacrificed in the high places, and burnt incense.

(1Ki 3:4 DRB) He went therefore to Gabaon, to sacrifice there: for that was the great high place: a thousand victims for holocausts, did Solomon offer upon that altar, in Gabaon.

(1Ki 3:5 DRB) And the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night, saying: Ask what thou wilt that I should give thee.

(1Ki 3:6 DRB) And Solomon said: Thou hast shewed great mercy to thy servant David, my father, even as he walked before thee in truth, and justice, and an upright heart with thee: and thou hast kept thy great mercy for him, and hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day.

(1Ki 3:7 DRB) And now, O Lord God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David, my father: and I am but a child, and know not how to go out and come in;

(1Ki 3:8 DRB) And thy servant is in the midst of the people which thou hast chosen, an immense people, which cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude.

(1Ki 3:9 DRB) Give therefore to thy servant an understanding heart, to judge thy people, and discern between good and evil. For who shall be able to judge this people, thy people, which is so numerous?

(1Ki 3:10 DRB) And the word was pleasing to the Lord, that Solomon had asked such a thing.

(1Ki 3:11 DRB) And the Lord said to Solomon: Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life nor riches, nor the lives of thy enemies, but hast asked for thyself wisdom to discern jndgment;

(1Ki 3:12 DRB) Behold I have done for thee according to thy words, and have given thee a wise and understanding heart, in so much that there hath been no one like thee before thee, nor shall arise after thee.

(1Ki 3:13 DRB) Yea, and the things also which thou didst not ask, I have given thee; to wit, riches and glory: so that no one hath been like thee among the kings in all days heretofore.

(1Ki 3:14 DRB) And if thou wilt walk in my ways, and keep my precepts and my commandments, as thy father walked, I will lengthen thy days.

(1Ki 3:15 DRB) And Solomon awaked, and perceived that it was a dream: and when he was come to Jerusalem, he stood before the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and offered holocausts, and sacrificed victims of peace offerings, and made a great feast for all his servants.

(1Ki 3:16 DRB) Then there came two women that were harlots, to the king, and stood before him.

(1Ki 3:17 DRB) And one of them said: I beseech thee, my lord, I and this woman dwelt in one house, and I was delivered of a child with her in the chamber.

(1Ki 3:18 DRB) And the third day after I was delivered, she also was delivered; and we were together, and no other person with us in the house; only we two.

(1Ki 3:19 DRB) And this woman's child died in the night: for in her sleep she overlaid him.

(1Ki 3:20 DRB) And rising in the dead time of the night, she took my child from my side, while I, thy handmaid, was asleep, and laid it in her bosom: and laid her dead child in my bosom.

(1Ki 3:21 DRB) And when I arose in the morning, to give my child suck, behold it was dead: but considering him more diligently, when it was clear day, I found that it was not mine which I bore.

(1Ki 3:22 DRB) And the other woman answered: It is not so as thou sayst, but thy child is dead, and mine is alive. On the contrary, she said; Thou liest: for my child liveth, and thy child is dead. And in this manner they strove before the king.

(1Ki 3:23 DRB) Then said the king: The one saith, My child is alive, and thy child is dead. And the other answereth: Nay; but thy child is dead, and mine liveth.

(1Ki 3:24 DRB) The king therefore said: Bring me a sword. And when they had brought a sword before the king,

(1Ki 3:25 DRB) Divide, said he, the living child in two, and give half to the one and half to the other.

(1Ki 3:26 DRB) But the woman, whose child was alive, said to the king; (for her bowels were moved upon her child) I beseech thee, my lord, give her the child alive, and do not kill it. But the other said: Let it be neither mine nor thine; but divide it.

(1Ki 3:27 DRB) The king answered, and said: Give the living child to this woman, and let it not be killed; for she is the mother thereof.

(1Ki 3:28 DRB) And all Israel heard the judgment which the king had judged, and they feared the king, seeing that the wisdom of God was in him to do judgment.

God was not displeased by what Solomon had done:

(1Ki 9:3 DRB) And the Lord said to him: I have heard thy prayer and thy supplication, which thou hast made before me: I have sanctified this house, which thou hast built, to put my name there for ever; and my eyes, and my heart, shall be there always.

The question to those of you who condemn Catholic practices in regards to images is why with the evidence that images can please God when they order our minds towards God you condemn them when God is pleased. After all Christ Himself is called the image (eikon) of the invisible God:

(Col 1:15 DRB) Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:

In Christ
Fr. Joseph

1 comment:

  1. I wanted to point out that at some points you seemed to put Protestants into one big group... but I assure you not ALL Protestants hate Catholics. It's usually only the radicals. Which could be said the same for Catholics, only the radicals really hate Protestants.