(Continued from page 352)Again, Papal Rome proves how essential careful exegesis is to proper Bible-understanding!
Rome's un-Biblical doctrines of Latria, Dulia, and Hyperdulia are another papal invention!
You write: The Hebrew term for worship is 'Shakhah.' It is used within the Bible to refer to the Supreme Reverence given to God and also to the lesser reverence given to humans, Angels, and superiors! The term 'worship' has more than one meaning in English as well. It has multiple usages and is used broadly too. It can refer to civil reverence shown to superiors; it can refer to the condition of being worthy of honor -for example British subjects refer to their magistrates as "Your Worship" whereas in the United States they use the term "Your Honor," the term worship can also refer to the Supreme honor shown to God alone, it can mean veneration and reverence etc.
The term "worship" is used in the same way in the Bible that it is used in English - especially Old English. It could cover both the adoration given to God alone and the honor that is to be shown to certain human beings. In Hebrew, the term for worship is shakhah. It is appropriately used for humans in a large number of passages.
For example, in Genesis 37:7-9 Joseph relates two dreams that God gave him concerning how his family would honor him in coming years. Translated literally the passage states: "'[B]ehold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and lo, my sheaf arose and stood upright; and behold, your sheaves gathered round it, and worshiped [shakhah] my sheaf.' . . . Then he dreamed another dream, and told it to his brothers, and said, 'Behold, I have dreamed another dream; and behold, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were worshiping [shakhah] me.'"
In Genesis 49:2-27, Jacob pronounced a prophetic blessing on his sons, and concerning Judah he stated: "Judah, your brothers shall praise you; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father's sons shall worship [shakhah] you (49:8)." And in Exodus 18:7, Moses honored his father-in-law, Jethro: "Moses went out to meet his father-in-law, and worshiped [shakhah] him and kissed him; and they asked each other of their welfare, and went into the tent." Yet none of these passages were discussing the worship of adoration, the kind of worship given to God. Or else you would have to say Jacob, Moses and all the Patriarchs in the Bible are idolators!
TCE: Thank you for taking the time to copy this from:
The Hebrew: shâchâh is translated according to the context, e.g. to depress, i.e. prostrate (especially reflexive, in homage to royalty or God, bow down, crouch, fall down on the ground, humbly beseech, make obeisance, do reverence, make to stoop, worship).
Therefore, good translations choose the meaning according to the context, i.e.:
Genesis 37:7-9 - for, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves came round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf. And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? Or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words. And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it to his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed yet a dream: and, behold, the sun and the moon and eleven stars made obeisance to me.
Genesis 49:8 - Judah, thee shall thy brethren praise: Thy hand shall be on the neck of thine enemies; Thy father's sons shall bow down before thee.
Exodus 18:7 - And Moses went out to meet his father-in-law, and did obeisance, and kissed him: and they asked each other of their welfare; and they came into the tent.
Every character in these verses knew that they were not before Almighty God and therefore we know they showed reverence (as Joseph's brothers feared - Shalt thou indeed reign over us? - they did not believe he was claiming to be Almighty God; likewise, Jacob said: Thy father's sons shall bow down before thee; and Moses greeted 'his father-in-law, and did obeisance, and kissed him'.
Interestingly, the translation by Tyndale that has been erroneously vilified by Papal Roman Catholics has the correct Old English translation in these verses, using 'stoupe' (stoop, bow down) and the equivalent of obeisance - 'obeysaunce' or ' obaysaunce' - all of which are accurate renderings!
So, far from 'hav[ing] to say Jacob, Moses and all the Patriarchs in the Bible are idolators!', as you propose, we have merely proven how essential careful exegesis is to proper Bible-understanding. If Papal Rome could do this they would not be praying to Mary and worshipping her as if she was part of the god-head and would not have effectively and blasphemously added her to the Triune God. QED.
How does Papal Rome attempt to defend their doctrine of the 'intercession of the saints' against the charge of necromancy?
You write: Christianity differentiates between different types of honor in order to make more clear which is due to God and which is not. Latria is given to God alone, Dulia to the Saints and Angels, and Hyperdulia to the Blessed Virgin Mother of God. Just to give you an example of how this is differentiated: an example of Dulia reverence. Josue 5:13-15 "And when Josue was in the field of the city of Jericho, he lifted up his eyes, and saw a man standing over against him: holding a drawn sword, and he went to him, and said: Art thou one of ours, or of our adversaries? And he answered: No: but I am prince of the host of the Lord, and now I am come. Josue fell on his face to the ground. And worshipping, add [sic]: What saith my lord to his servant?" We see that Josue was Worshipping: Not with divine honour, but with a religious veneration of an inferior kind, suitable to the dignity the Angelic person - Dulia. He venerated St. Michael the Arch-angel. Christians do this with the St. Michael prayer!!! Genesis 18:2-5 "And when he had lifted up his eyes, there appeared to him three men standing near him: and as soon as he saw them he ran to meet them from the door of his tent, and adored down to the ground. And he said: Lord, if I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away from thy servant: But I will fetch a little water, and wash ye your feet, and rest ye under the tree. And I will set a morsel of bread, and strengthen ye your heart, afterwards you shall pass on: for therefore are you come aside to your servant. And they said: Do as thou hast spoken." This is an example of Latria (the honor given to God alone).
TCE: Again we have poor reasoning from a Papal Roman Catholic and a very poor translation - 'adored down to the ground'? This is very poor English and, as our supplied definitions (above) show, there are several preferable phrases that could be used!
In Joshua we read (from a good translation - ASV):
Joshua 5:13-15 - And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man (Hebrew: eesh - an individual or a male person; often used as an adjunct to a more definite term - and in such cases frequently not expressed in translation) over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? And he said, Nay; but as prince (Hebrew: sar, a head person of any rank or class: captain, chief, general, governor, keeper, lord, prince, ruler, steward) of the host [Hebrew: tsâbâ', a mass of persons especially organized for war, i.e. an army; by implication, a campaign, literally or figuratively (specifically, hardship, worship), company, host, service, soldiers, waiting upon, warfare] of YHWH (Hebrew: Yhvh, YHWH, the Lord) am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship (Hebrew: shâchâh), and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant? And the prince of Jehovah's host said unto Joshua, Put off thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy (Hebrew: qôdesh, ko'-desh - a sacred place or thing; a place or thing consecrated, dedicated, hallowed, holiness, holy, sanctuary). And Joshua did so.
Again, the context reveals that Joshua recognised this 'Captain' (also often translated 'prince') as more than an 'angel' for he fell on his face and 'did worship' even before the 'Captain of the Host of YHWH' told him to 'take his shoe off' because this 'place is holy' (kodesh). If God (YHWH) was not there how could this place by 'holy'? The context reveals this to be another Christophany - an appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ in the Old Testament.
So these verses also fail to support your attempt to prove the range of worship/veneration you call Latria, Dulia and Hyperdulia. In fact, despite your attempt to lever in 'Dulia', we can see that Joshua was worshipping and this is proven in the two ways just stated.
When you claim 'Josue was Worshipping: Not with divine honour, but with a religious veneration of an inferior kind, suitable to the dignity the Angelic person - Dulia ... He venerated St. Michael the Arch-angel ... Christians do this with the St. Michael prayer!!!' there are four obviously massive flaws in your judgement:
1. Nowhere do the verses say that the 'prince' or 'Captain' was Michael the Archangel;
2. Nowhere does Scripture tell us to call any angel a 'saint' (of any kind!);
3. Nowhere are we instructed to pray to angels;
4. When men threw themselves down before personages definitely described to be angels they were told not to do it:
Revelation 19:9-10 - And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they that are bidden to the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are true words of God. And I fell down before his feet to worship him. And he saith unto me, See thou do it not: I am a fellow-servant with thee and with thy brethren that hold the testimony of Jesus: worship God; for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
Revelation 19:9 contains the fourth of the seven "beatitudes" found in the book (cf. Revelation. 1:3). This invitation to the wedding of the Lamb goes out to the guests, believers from the Old Testament era and the Tribulation. During the eternal state, no distinctions will be made among the people of God; but in the Kingdom Age, differences will still exist as the church reigns with Christ and as Israel enjoys the promised Messianic blessings. John was so overwhelmed by all of this that he fell down to worship the angel who was guiding him, an act that he later repeats:
Revelation 22:8-9 - And I John am he that heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel that showed me these things. And he saith unto me, See thou do it not: I am a fellow-servant with thee and with thy brethren the prophets, and with them that keep the words of this book: worship God.
Of course, worshipping angels is wrong (Colossians. 2:18 - Let no man rob you of your prize by a voluntary humility and worshipping of the angels, dwelling in the things which he hath seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind) and John knew this. We must take into account the tremendous emotional content of John's experience. Like John himself, this angel was only a servant of God (Hebrews 1:14); and we do not worship servants - as Peter proves:
Acts 10:25-26 - And when it came to pass that Peter entered, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. But Peter raised him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man.
The Greek word, here translated 'worshipped', is proskynéo - meaning to kiss, like a dog licking his master's hand, to fawn or crouch, to prostrate oneself in homage, do reverence to, adore, worship. So, in the same way the Hebrew word (shâchâh) is interpreted according to context, we find the Greek equivalent (which is also used in the two Revelation passages just discussed) is interpreted in the same manner.
In a nutshell, the Bible does not tell us that we may pray to, or worship, angels. Both prayer and worship should be offered to God alone because only He is worthy of prayer and worship.
Exodus 20:4-5 - "You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them . . . "
Matthew 4:10 - " ... You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only."
Luke 4:8 - " ... You shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only."
Papal Roman Catholics forget that prayer is a form of worship to God. When we pray, we are asking God to forgive us our sins, to guide us, to help others, etc. When we pray, we sometimes do so in open speech or silent thought. Sometimes we cannot even finds the words or thoughts and just cry out to God:
Romans 8:25-28 - But if we hope for that which we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. And in like manner the Spirit also helpeth our infirmity: for we know not how to pray as we ought; but the Spirit himself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered; and he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that to them that love God all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to his purpose.
It would appear that this is a section of Scripture that is completely alien to Papal Roman Catholics because - if that were not true - we would have to ask why anyone would swap the intercession of the Holy Spirit (the intercession of Spirit to the Son directly to the Father!) for the utterly inferior route they propose - praying to Mary, saints and angels! Do they not know that no one is Greater than the Utterly Infallible Almighty God who is:
Omnipotent (Luke 1v35; Romans 15v19; 1 Corinthians 12v8-11 - He is all powerful and nothing is impossible for Him);
Omniscient (1 Corinthians 2v10-11; Isaiah 40v13,14; 1 John 3:20 - He is all-knowing and understands all languages);
Omnipresent (Psalm 139v7-10 - He is everywhere and hears all prayers).
Why would anyone think that 'saints' and angels are required for Him to hear and understand our prayers? And the Word of God certainly does not say they are involved in intercession and, as we have just proved, only the Triune God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - is involved!
Obviously, millions of people all over the world pray simultaneously in different languages believing that God is able to hear our prayers both spoken and unspoken, in multiple languages, wherever we are, and all at the same time - as Romans 8v25-28 declares! Such abilities belong to God alone and not to any created being - saint or angel - both are creatures who are limited. To pray to angels is to assume they have the same ability as God, but this ability belongs to God the Creator and not the creature. Clearly, God is the only proper object of our prayers.
Nowhere in Scripture is a prayer of anyone on earth actually addressed to anyone but God. In fact, the only prayer in the Bible addressed to a saint was from Hell and, not only did God did not answer it, Abraham delivered the Scriptural answer to 'the rich man':
Luke 16:23-31 - And in Hades he ('the rich man') lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things: but now here he is comforted and thou art in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, that they that would pass from hence to you may not be able, and that none may cross over from thence to us. And he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house; for I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. But Abraham saith, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one go to them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, if one rise from the dead.
Prayer is an act of religious devotion, and therefore only God is the proper object of such devotion (Revelation. 4:11). Prayers are recorded from people on earth through the Bible from Genesis (4:26) to Revelation (22:20), but not one is addressed to a saint, angel, or anyone other than a member of the Triune God. Jesus taught us to pray to "Our Father who art in heaven. . . ." The God of Isaiah the prophet emphatically declared: "Turn to me and be safe, all you ends of the earth, for I am God; there is no other!" (Isaiah 45:22).
The Bible makes it clear that praying to saints or angels is an idolatrous practice, for prayer is a form of worship, and only God should be worshipped (Exodus 20:3). It is idolatrous to pray to mere human beings or to bow down before them or an image of them or any other creature. The first commandment declares:
"You shall not have other gods besides me. You shall not carve idols for yourselves in the shape of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth; you shall not bow down before them or worship them" (Exodus 20:3-5).
Praying to saints, making images of them, or even bowing down to them are violations of this commandment and even inventing supposed distinctions about different kinds of worship will not suffice, since most devotees of Papal Rome do not observe such distinctions in practice. Furthermore, regardless of any distinctions one makes in theory, the Bible forbids the practice of making images and bowing down to them or to any creature - as we proved from the Scriptural example of John bowing down to worship "at the feet of the angel" and being rebuked by the angel who corrected him to 'Worship God'! (Revelation 22:9).
Communicating with the dead is forbidden as witchcraft. The Old Testament condemns all attempts to communicate with the dead along with other condemnations of witchcraft (Deuteronomy 18:10-12; cf. Leviticus 20:6, 27; 1 Samuel 28:5-18; Isaiah 8:19-20). Any person violating this command was to be put to death. In all of Scripture there is not a single divinely approved instance of a righteous person praying to a departed believer - not one. We have the example of disobedient king Saul who sought the death of anointed king David and then, finally, consulted the occult (the witch of Endor - 1 Samuel 28) for information about his battle for his kingdom, because God had rejected him and no longer spoke to him (1 Samuel 28:6). Thus he ended his life still sinning and disobedient and had already been rejected by God (1 Samuel 15:7-26) before he was killed fighting the Philistines (1 Samuel 31 & 2 Samuel 1 - if he had killed himself he was also guilty of self-murder, a final sin against God). Sadly, there is every reason to be sure that Saul is not in heaven. He is the only 'believer' we read about in Scripture being tormented by 'an evil spirit' (1 Samuel 16:14; 18:10; 19:9) when the spirit of the Lord departed from him - a sure sign of his disobedience and occult involvement:
1 Samuel 15:23 - For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as idolatry and iniquity. Because thou hast rejected the word of YHWH, he hath also rejected thee from being king.
The practice of necromancy and idolatry are evidence that the practitioner is deceived and lacks faith and reveals why God only allowed Saul to be king (as Scripture reveals in 1 Kings 8) because, incredibly, Israel had rejected Him - Almighty God - 'as King over them':
1 Samuel 8:1-7 - And it came to pass, when Samuel was old, that he made his sons judges over Israel. Now the name of his first-born was Joel; and the name of his second, Abijah: they were judges in Beer-sheba. And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted justice. Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah; and they said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations. But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto YHWH. And YHWH said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee; for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected Me, that I should not be King over them.
How does Papal Rome attempt to defend their doctrine of the 'intercession of the saints' against the charge of necromancy?
Despite the fact that Papal Rome recognises that the practice of necromancy offends God (2 Kings 21:6) and led to the destruction of Israel, Papal apologists claim they do not practice necromancy which is, of course, explicitly forbidden by their Church (cf. Catechism, nos. 2115-17). Thus they claim that asking for the prayers of the saints to foster communion in the Family of God and calling it 'the intercession of the saints' is not necromancy for two reasons:
First, necromancers are usually trying to receive information that they do not have, such as what will happen in the future and asking the saints to pray for us is not seeking information and so it is not a form of divination or fortune-telling;
Second, while necromancers also try to bring back and control the souls of dead people, Catholics, on the contrary, believe that those who have died in God's grace are not dead but truly alive, and are able to help us by their prayers (here they quote Scriptures such as Luke 20:37-38, as you do).
Thus Papal Rome argues, if Jesus said death cannot separate the faithful, such as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, from God then, if they are alive to God, they must be alive to us through Him as members of His one body because otherwise, contrary to the writing of the inspired 'Saint Paul', Christ's victory over death was incomplete, and His body is not truly one.
This response to the accusation of necromancy fails as a defence for two reasons. First, it attempts to narrow the focus of the condemnation against contacting the dead (cf. Deuteronomy 18:11) to the practice of divination (Leviticus 19:26). But God forbids communication with the dead regardless of whether it is associated with occult practices and this passage in Deuteronomy separates "divination" from one "who consults the dead" and condemns both:
Deuteronomy 18:10-11 - There shall not be found with thee any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, one that useth divination, one that practiseth augury, or an enchanter, or a sorcerer, or a charmer, or a consulter with a familiar spirit, or a wizard, or a necromancer.
Third, trying to argue that 'asking a deceased believer to intercede on behalf of believers is no different from asking a friend here on earth to pray for us' is an unsubstantiated claim. It is obvious that substantial differences exist, apart from the fact that one is in heaven and the other is on earth, and there is a huge difference between asking an earthly fellow saint to pray for us and praying to an unknown dead saint! When we examine the history of the 'saints' of Papal Rome, such as Jerome, Thomas Aquinas, and Augustine, we can only express our horror that men who held such opinions towards their fellow man could have been held in such high opinion by men outside of Papal Rome. If we learnt that these men were demon possessed it would be no shock to us - especially when we consider the claims made by Papal Rome for such as Padre Pio which prove the occult at work in his life and not gifts from God the Holy Spirit! So finding Papal Roman Catholics praying to such men it would also be unsurprising to learn that they were getting answers to their prayers from demons! Genuine believers we know on earth in the body have senses by which we can know they received our exact message, while those in heaven (or not!) do not and we may have made contact with demonic forces instead (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:8; Philippians 1:23; Revelation 6:9).
You write: The Saints and Angels are used as a conduit to God for He is more apt to listen to the requests of His righteous than of sinners. Christians can invoke the Angels and Saints and address to them the prayers meant for God. They will then take the prayer to Him - as we see in Genesis 18:2-5.
TCE: having just proven the lie of your claim that 'Saints and Angels are used as a conduit to God ' we can also say that Genesis 18v2-5 proves nothing of the kind! Did you actually read it?
Genesis 18:1-5 - And YHWH appeared unto him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; and he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood over against him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself to the earth, and said, My lord, if now I have found favor in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant: let now a little water be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: and I will fetch a morsel of bread, and strengthen ye your heart; after that ye shall pass on: forasmuch as ye are come to your servant. And they said, So do, as thou hast said.
In what way do you think Jesus, appearing to Abraham with two angels, is taking a prayer to Abraham?!
You write: For instance a Christian can invoke St. Michael and then say the Our Father prayer for him to address before God. 3 King [sic] 1: 16-19 (known as 1 kings [sic] 1:16-19 in Protestant apocrypha [sic] "Bethsabee bowed herself, and worshipped the king. And the king said to her: What is thy will? She answered and said: My lord, thou didst swear to thy handmaid by the Lord thy God, saying: Solomon thy son shall reign after me, and he shall sit on my throne. And behold now Adonias reigneth, and thou, my lord the king, knowest nothing of it." We see the glorious mother of King Solomon and Queen Bathsabee - bequeathing upon St. David a veneration known a Dulia.
TCE: good Biblical translations, such as the ASV, translate:
1 Kings 1:16-19 - And Bath-sheba bowed, and did obeisance unto the king. And the king said, What wouldest thou? And she said unto him, My lord, thou swarest by YHWH thy God unto thy handmaid, saying, Assuredly Solomon thy son shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne. And now, behold, Adonijah reigneth; and thou, my lord the king, knowest it not: and he hath slain oxen and fatlings and sheep in abundance, and hath called all the sons of the king, and Abiathar the priest, and Joab the captain of the host; but Solomon thy servant hath he not called.
Apart from the obvious fact that Scripture never instructs believers to pray through any saint or angel to God, we have already pointed out that any Christian foolish enough to try and 'invoke St. Michael ', as Papal Rome teaches, is inviting demons into their lives - or even Satan who can even appear as 'an angel of light' and the 'ministers of Papal Rome' as 'ministers of righteousness':
2 Corinthians 11:14-15 - And no marvel; for even Satan fashioneth himself into an angel of light. It is no great thing therefore if his ministers also fashion themselves as ministers of righteousness, whose end shall be according to their works.
You write: 3 Kings 1: 21-25 (known as 1 kings [sic] 1:21-25 in the Protestant apocrypha [sic] "Otherwise it shall come to pass, when my lord the king sleepeth with his fathers, that I and my son Solomon shall be counted offenders. As she was yet speaking with the king, Nathan the prophet came. And they told the king, saying: Nathan the prophet is here. And when he was come in before the king, and had worshipped, bowing down to the ground, Nathan said: My lord O king, hast thou said: Let Adonias reign after me, and let him sit upon my throne?" We see the great Nathan the Prophet give Dulia veneration to St. King David.
TCE: again, the Hebrew word is shâchâh and is translated 'bowed' in the ASV! So we see that 'Nathan the Prophet [DID NOT] give Dulia veneration to St. King David.'
You write: Though bowing can be used as a posture in worship, not all bowing is Latria worship. In Japan, people show respect by bowing in greeting (the equivalent of the Western handshake). Similarly, a person can kneel before a king without worshipping him as a god. In the same way, a Chrisitian [sic] who may kneel in front of a statue while praying isn't worshipping the statue or even praying to it, any more than the Protestant who kneels with a "bible" in his hands when praying is worshipping the Bible or praying to it. The act of kneeling does not always mean that the person kneeling is performing an act of Latria worship. Christians kneel in front of a statue of the Virgin Mary to show her respect and honor and to pray for her intercession; they are not kneeling to Latria worship her.
TCE: you are attempting to deflect the truth about Papal Rome encouraging false worship in your poor analogies for if 'a Chrisitian [sic] ... kneel[s] in front of a statue while praying' it is certainly idolatry as clearly defined by Scripture:
Leviticus 26:1 - Ye shall make you no idols (Hebrew: 'elîyl - good for nothing, by analogy vain or vanity; specifically an idol, no value, a thing of nought), neither shall ye rear you up a graven image (Hebrew: matstsêbâ - something stationed, i.e. a column or memorial stone, by analogy, an idol, image, pillar), or a pillar, neither shall ye place any figured stone (Hebrew: maskîyth, a figure carved on stone, the wall, or any object, image - produced from the imagination - which all statues are, picture) in your land, to bow down unto it: for I am YHWH your God.
All the statues and pictures used by Papal Rome to encourage false prayer systems and bowing down before idols are clear examples of idolatry!
And your pathetic attempt to try and excuse your idolatry by joining 'Protestants' to your practices (when you write - 'any more than the Protestant who kneels with a "bible" in his hands when praying is worshipping the Bible or praying to it') fails miserably!
Apart from the fact that you would find it very hard to find a 'Protestant' praying on their knees with a Bible (why do you write "bible" - do Papal Roman Catholics really hold the Word of God in such contempt because it so easily crushes the claims of Papal Rome?) there is a world of difference between a Papal Roman Catholic wilfully kneeling before an idol - and thereby disobeying the Word of God - and a 'Protestant' happening to have the Glorious Word of God on his knee while praying!
Is this really the best you can do to excuse your idolatry?
You write: God commands the Israelites to make two golden statues of angels as part of the lid of the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 25:17-19). That's an image of something from heaven. Then, in 1 Kings 6, God commands that graven images of flowers and palm trees be made, as well as 15-foot tall statues of cherubim. And in Numbers 21, God commands that a bronze serpent be made and uses it to heal the Israelites. It was preserved for 800 years and then destroyed when some began to worship it (2 Kgs 18:4) God allows the religious use of images and statues. When a Christian bows to a statue, he is not Latria worshiping it any more than King Solomon worshiped Bathsheba when he bowed to her in 1 Kings 2:19. In other words, the honor given to images does not detract from the honor that is due to God.
TCE: We are familiar with the excuses of Papal Rome, such as 'Catholics do not worship slivers of wood, carvings of marble, or pieces of bone' and the insistence that 'they do not worship the cross, images, or relics', but only use these physical objects to help them focus their minds and hearts upon Christ and His 'friends, the saints in heaven'. Why then do visitors to the buildings of Papal Rome observe an unrelenting queue of worshippers stroking and kissing such things?
Catholic dogma claims that it is permissible and profitable to venerate the relics of saints and the Council of Trent declared:
"Also the holy bodies of the holy martyrs and of the others who dwell with Christ . . . are to be honored by the faithful." Catholic authority Ludwig Ott wrote that "the reason for the veneration of relics lies in this, that the bodies of the saints were living members of Christ and Temples of the Holy Ghost; that they will again be awakened and glorified and that through them God bestows many benefits on mankind" and "As well as the bodies and their parts, objects which came into physical contact with the saints are also venerated as relics."(Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, p319).
But the Old Testament makes it perfectly clear that God explicitly condemns the veneration of any creature or physical object. It is a violation of the commandments against idolatry and God clearly commanded his people not to make graven images or to bow down to them in an act of religious devotion:
Exodus 20:4-6 - Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image, nor 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. Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them, for I YHWH thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, upon the third and upon the fourth generation of them that hate me, and showing loving-kindness unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.
As Paul was inspired to write, this was the same error of the pagans who "revered and worshipped the creature rather than the creator" (Romans 1:25). Lutheran apostate to Papal Rome, scholar Louis Bouyer, who was seduced into Rome in 1939 by foolishly studying St. Athanasius of Alexandria, affirmed that "it is much more important to agree unreservedly with the Protestants that, if there is one error Christians must guard against more than any other, it is idolatry" (Bouyer, Spirit and Forms of Protestantism, p92).
While Papal Rome attempts fine theological distinctions between supposedly different kinds of veneration or worship the Bible forbids us ever to make or even bow before an image of any creature in an act of religious devotion.
We are well aware that the apologists for Papal Rome use your attempted excuses and try and insist that the prohibition against making images and bowing down to them in religious devotion is not absolute for two reasons:
First, God himself commanded the making of images such as the cherubim in the tabernacle (Exod. 25:18) and the flowered columns in Solomon's temple (1 Kings 7:18-19);
Second, there are many occasions in the Bible where bowing down before a person is not considered idolatry (e.g., Genesis. 19:1; 23:7; 33:3; 2 Sam. 15:5).
Both of these arguments fail, however, to observe significant differences. First, the symbols used in the temple (e.g., cherubim) were divinely appointed symbols, not humanly contrived idols. Second, there was no possibility that the people of Israel would fall down before the cherubim in the most holy place, because they were forbidden to enter the holy place at any time and even the high priest only went in once a year on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16). Further, the prohibition is not against making any carved image for decorative purposes, but of those used in religious worship. In other words, they were not to worship any other God or any image of any god. These cherubim were not given to Israel as images of God but as representations of angels and they were not given to be worshipped or even venerated. And the flowered columns in Solomon's temple were purely ornamental. They were not used for veneration, hence, they were not in violation of the commandment in Exodus 20. Finally, the Exodus 20 prohibition is not against religious art as such, which includes things in heaven (angels) and on earth (humans, animals, etc.). Rather, it was against using any image as an object of religious devotion. This is evident from the fact the people were instructed not to "bow down to them nor serve them" (Exodus 20:5).
The distinction between non-religious use of images and a religious use is important and Scripture (Numbers 21v6-9) makes it clear that it was God who instructed Moses to make a bronze serpent so that those bitten by serpents could look upon it (not worship it!) and be healed. The Hebrew word translated 'when he sees it' is (speaking of the bronze serpent in verse 8) is râ'âh [to see (literally or figuratively), appear, approve, behold, discern, gaze, take heed, look (on, one another, one on another, one upon another, out, up, upon), mark, meet, be near, perceive, present, provide, regard, see, shew (self), spy, stare, view, visions]. In verse 9, in the sentence: 'And Moses made a serpent of brass, and set it upon the standard: and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he looked unto the serpent of brass, he lived' the Hebrew for 'looked unto' is nâbat [to look intently at; to regard with pleasure, favour or care, behold, consider, look (down), regard, have respect, see].
So the people of Israel were never instructed to worship the bronze serpent and it was their disobedience that led to idolatry - which Papal Rome has mimicked to her eternal disgrace!
Far from supporting the claims of Papal Rome for images and incense, the fact that the children of Israel were burning incense to it resulting in king Hezekiah ('who did that which was right in the eyes of YHWH, according to all that David his father had done' - 2 Kings 18v3-4) destroying it proves that Papal Rome's use of images and incense breaks this commandment blatantly!
For Papal Roman Catholics to try and argue that religiously bowing down before an image is not wrong, because there are many cases in the Bible where such bowing down is approved (e.g., Genesis. 18:2), actually reveals their confusion over two very different contexts. First, the people were not bowing before an image but a person, and they were bowing out of respect, not reverence. As already shown, Scripture condemns even bowing before an angel to worship God (Revelation. 22:8-9). It should also be noted that all the cases of approved bowing before another creature are not religious, but social.
Some contemporary Catholic theologians insist that the biblical prohibitions are only against idolatry, and venerating relics is not the same as worshipping them. The Penny Catechism informs us: "Do we pray to relics or images? We do not pray to relics or images, for they can neither see, nor hear, nor help us" (The Penny Catechism: 370 Fundamental Questions and Answers on the Catholic Faith, reprint (Libertyville, Ill.: Prow Books, 1982, p33). But this response misses the point, for the question is not whether one should pray to an image of Mary (or any other creature) but whether they should pray to the creature at all - with or without the use of an image. It is emphatically true that only God should be the object of prayer but the response of Papal Rome is always of the same nature, just as you prove, and that is to divert the issue. As Scripture proves, no believer should make an image and pray to it and the danger of employing an image in one's prayers (and even pagans do not pray to the image but to the spirit behind it) is obvious because Scripture tells us clearly that there are demonic spirits behind idols (1 Corinthians 10:19-20). Certainly the many supernormal apparitions that are connected with using images and venerating or praying to departed people or angels (as clearly revealed by the history of Papal Rome) should be no surprise since the Bible speaks of demons working deceiving "signs" and "wonders" (2 Thessalonians. 2:9; Revelation. 16:14). Finally, Papal Rome always fails to recognize what God knows, namely, that the idolatrous tendency of the human heart will easily lead it from veneration to adoration, from honouring the relic or image to worshipping it - or the demonic spirit behind it. It is for this reason that God forbade even the veneration of relics.
God knows the idolatrous tendencies of the human heart and knew that even devout Israelites might be tempted to venerate the remains of Moses and therefore buried him in an unknown place (Deuteronomy. 34:5-6) apparently to prevent idolatry that the devil desires to encourage (cf. Jude 9). Jesus also condemned the Pharisees - so it is no surprise to find the modern Pharisees of Papal Rome following the same idolatrous errors.
While some apologists for Papal Rome seek Biblical support for this practice by citing the Pharisees' practice of adorning graves (Matthew 23:29), or claim that the common Christian custom of putting flowers on a loved one's grave is proof that it is acceptable to venerate relics, this is simply fallacious reasoning in trying to use superficial similarities while overlooking crucial differences. First, flowers in memory of a loved one are not the same as venerating them. Second, honouring the dead is far different from praying to them. Third, venerating relics of the dead ignores the Biblical prohibitions against idolatry (Exodus 20:4-5) and the occult (Deuteronomy 18:9-14). Finally, using the practice of the Pharisees as justification ignores the distinction between what the Bible records and what it shows is approved by God - and also totally neglects the fact that Jesus thoroughly condemned the Pharisees for their false practices:
Matthew 23:29-31 (ASV) - Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, and garnish the tombs of the righteous, and say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we should not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye witness to yourselves, that ye are sons of them that murdered the prophets.
Even noted Catholic authority Ludwig Ott admits that "Holy Writ does not mention the veneration of relics." (Ott, Ludwig, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma; Edited by James Canon Bastible and translated by Patrick Lynch. Rockford, Ill.: Tan Books and Publishers, 1960, p319). Other supposed precedents in Scripture, such as the treatment of the body of Joseph (whose bones were not venerated but simply preserved - Exodus 13:19), also refute Papal Roman Catholics who try to use this verse as proof for venerating relics but simply take the incident out of context - as you have done with your supposed 'examples' from Scripture.
In the same manner, the fact that God performed a miracle through contact with Elijah's mantle (2 Kings 2:13-14) does not justify venerating the mantles of the prophets any more than it would justify venerating other physical means that God has used to convey miracles, such as the rod of Moses, the clay Jesus used to heal the blind man, or the hands or handkerchiefs of the apostles used to cure diseases! Neither does the fact that the Old Testament ark of the Covenant was considered sacred and that Uzzah was struck dead for touching it (2 Samuel 6:7) prove that relics of dead saints should be venerated. First, Uzzah was not killed for failing to venerate the ark but for disobeying the law of God that forbade anyone but a priest to touch it (Numbers 4:15). Furthermore, showing respect for the ark, in which the very presence of God and his glory was manifested, is far from venerating the relics of human creatures (and we have already seen how Jesus admonished the Pharisees for this very error - ref. Matthew 23:29ff.). We should recognise that the ark was a divinely appointed symbol, not the mere remains or adornments of men, as well as a special symbol in a unique theocracy, where God personally and visibly (in the cloud of his glory) dwelt among his specially chosen people, Israel. Even after recognising the special place the ark had, they had been given specific instructions not to venerate it (cf. Exod. 20:4-5) but to explicitly obey God's laws with regard to its use.
By the same clear reasoning, the cures achieved by clothes and handkerchiefs from the apostle do not prove that we should venerate such items (Acts 19:12) but only recognise that God gave special "signs of an apostle" (2 Corinthians 12:12).
The apologists of Papal Rome glibly overlook the conspicuous absence in all of the alleged Biblical "precedents" to any act of veneration. Since the apostles clearly reveal how they refused to accept false worship of themselves we can very reasonably assume that they would have also stopped any veneration of their clothing etc.!
Why a 'picture of the mother of God' will also lead to idolatry!
In case anyone should think the following account justifies 'veneration' of relics please read very carefully:
Acts 19:11-16 - And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: insomuch that unto the sick were carried away from his body handkerchiefs or aprons, and the evil spirits went out. But certain also of the strolling Jews, exorcists, took upon them to name over them that had the evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, I adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, a chief priest, who did this. And the evil spirit answered and said unto them, Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are ye? And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and mastered both of them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.
First, note that we do not read, anywhere in the New Testament, that the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ taught that taking 'relics' of any kind to the sick was to be continuously followed by others because of this example which is clearly called 'special [Greek: τυγχáνω tyncháno - to make ready or bring to pass, effecting, special] miracles [Greek: δūναμις dýnamis - specially, miraculous power, wonderful work] by the hands of Paul'!
Secondly, we see the example of the sons of Sceva (a chief priest of the Jews) using the name of Jesus in exorcism but being badly beaten by the possessed man. What does this show us clearly? We do not read, anywhere in the Bible, that genuine Spirit-filled disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ get beaten up by the demon-possessed. But we do read that the heroes of Papal Rome - such as 'Padre Pio' - suffer severe injuries from supposed attacks by Satan and demons - as well as the matter of Pio's 'stigmata' wounds - faked or resulting from demonic activity?! Why would God protect His disciples in New Testament times but not in the days following the rule of the Emperor Constantine over the 'Church of Rome'? But, as we have repeatedly shown, the church Constantine founded has almost nothing in common with the ekklesia founded on Christ the Rock (1 Corinthians 10v4).
So, in the example you quoted, you forget that God commanded every detail of the construction of Exodus 25:22:
And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy-seat, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.
In Exodus (24:12-18), God called Moses to go even higher so that He might give him the tables of stone on which He had written the Ten Commandments and Moses remained on the mount with God for fortunately days and fortunately nights (see Matthew 4:1-2) and, during that time, God gave him the plans for the tabernacle and the priesthood. God designed the plan (Exodus 25:9, 40; 26:30) for, whenever God does a work He has a plan for that work, whether it's building the tabernacle or the temple (1 Chron. 28:11-12, 18-19), a local ekklesia (Phil. 2:12-13), or the individual Christian life and ministry (Ephesians. 2:10). God warned Moses to make everything according to the pattern revealed to him on the mount (Exodus 25:40; Hebrews 8:5). The earthly tabernacle was a copy of the heavenly tabernacle where our Lord now ministers to - and for - His people (Hebrews 8:1-5; 9:1). The Book of Revelation mentions a brazen altar (Revelation. 6:9-11), an altar of incense (Revelation. 8:3-5), a throne (Revelation. 4:2), elders/priests (Revelation. 4:4-5), lamps (Revelation. 4:5), a "sea" (Revelation. 4:6), and cherubim (Revelation. 4:6-7), all of which parallel the main furnishings of the earthly tabernacle.
It is a basic principle of ministry that we follow the pattern given from heaven, not the pattern of this world:
Romans 12:2 (NASB) - 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Papal Rome has absolutely no authority for their proven henotheism which is seen to be widespread in the idols they have installed all over 'the Vatican' (see later) and in the regularity with which they are seen, from the popes down through the masses, bowing before - and even kissing - these images!
There are clearly a large number of figures (images), both of living beings like cherubim and lions and plants such as palm trees, flowers, and pomegranates carved, woven, or engraved into the decoration of both the tabernacle and the temple and described in many places in the Old Testament, e.g. Exodus 25:10-22 & 33-36; 26:1-31; 28:33-34; 39:14-15; Leviticus 19:4; 26:1; Deuteronomy 5:7-9; 1 Kings 6:18, 23-32; 7:18-36; 2 Chronicles 3:5,10-13; Isaiah 44:9-11; Ezekiel 41:18-20, etc. - and these are obviously not an abomination to Almighty God!
Many people will jump to the conclusion that the making of carved images, especially likenesses of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth, must be forbidden by the commandment in Exodus 20:4?
But, as is so often the case, simply reading the verses following this one in Exodus will totally clarify why God commanded it:
Exodus 20:5-6 (NASB) - 5 "You shall not worship them (idols you have made!) or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
The word for "carved image" in Exodus 20:4 is the Hebrew word פֶּסֶל peçel - pronounced: peh'-sel - meaning an idol, carved (graven) image which comes from the root פָּסַל pâçal - pronounced: paw-sal' - meaning: to carve, whether wood or stone:--grave, hew. While it does refer to a cut, hewed, or carved image, the word peçel is never used in a 'positive sense', being used thirty-one times in Scripture, and every time it is used to speak of an idol! In the case of the Hebrew root, pâçal, which occurs six times, five times it is used in a positive sense. The word peçel is never used of the cherubim, or any of the other images that appeared in the tabernacle or the temple - or for the making of 'the serpent of brass' made by Moses (Numbers 21:8-9). The words for 'make', 'made', 'carving', 'engraving', and so forth used for the figures in the temple and the 'serpent of brass' are never this word. The word peçel is used synonymously for the construction of an idol ('graven image'), as is shown from the references above.
Also notice that the commandment against making 'graven images' was absolutely and distinctly set in the context of worshipping idols! So, when such images as the cherubim were commanded to be constructed, the order from God obviously does not conflict with this command not to bow down to graven images! And, of course, there was also no chance that the people of Israel would fall down before the cherubim in the most holy place, since they were forbidden to go in the holy place at any time and even the high priest entered only once a year on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16).
The prohibition was also not against making any carved image for decorative purposes, but of those used in religious worship, and they were told clearly not to worship any other 'god' or any image of any 'god'. These cherubim were also not given to Israel as images of God, but they were angels and also not given to be worshipped, thus there is no way in which the command to make them violated the commandment in Exodus 20!
It is also obvious that the commandment in Exodus 20 is not against religious art as such, which includes things in heaven (angels) and on earth (humans or animals) but, rather, it was against using any image as an idol! That idolatry was the reason for this clear commandment is evident from the fact they were instructed not to 'bow down to them nor serve them' (Exodus 20:5).
So we see a clear distinction between the non-religious use of images, the religious use of images, and the idolatrous use of images. We can also see that even language about God in the Bible contains images for, while God is both a Shepherd and a Father, each of these is fittingly qualified. Almighty God is not just any 'father' - He is our Heavenly Father! Likewise, Jesus is not just any 'shepherd', but 'The Good Shepherd' who gave His life for His sheep (John 10:11) - and the Jews recognised immediately that, in claiming this title, Jesus was claiming to be Almighty God for Israel had long recognised their God as 'their Shepherd' (Genesis 49:24 (NASB) - But his bow remained firm, And his arms were agile, From the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob - From there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel; cf. Psalm 80:1)!
Obviously no finite image can be appropriately applied to the infinite Almighty God without qualification - for to do so would be idolatry. All idols are idols whether they are in the mind or made of earthly materials!
And Papal Roman Catholics believe this is not idolatry?!
You write: After all, if one member of the body is honored, the others should share in its joy (1 Corinthians 12:26). If someone enters your house, he should expect to find a picture of your mother. So, when someone walks into a Catholic Church - the household of God - he should not be surprised to find a picture of the mother of God, along with the rest of the heavenly family!
In giving the Israelites a beautiful temple strewn with images (1 Kgs 6), God acknowledged the reason why he gave us our senses: to use them to worship him in spirit and truth.
Early in Church history the Catholic Church of the Old Testament was forbidden to make pictures of God because He had not revealed Himself to them in visible form. Had the Israelites made images of God, they might have been tempted to worship them, much as the pagans around them worshiped images. God later revealed himself under visible forms. One instance is found in Daniel 7:9-10: "As I looked, thrones were placed and one that was ancient of days took his seat; his raiment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames, its wheels were burning fire." The Holy Spirit revealed himself under two visible forms--that of a dove, at the baptism of Jesus (Matthew 3:16, Mark 1:10, Luke 3:22, John 1:32) and as tongues of fire, on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). Most notably, God the Son visibly revealed himself in the Incarnation: "[A]nd going into the house they [the magi] saw the child with Mary his mother" (Matthew 2:11). Since God has revealed himself in the above forms, he can now be depicted under these forms.
TCE: Apart from the fact that 'the Catholic Church of the Old Testament' is another figment of your imagination, we are familiar with Papal Roman Catholic claims using comparisons with family pictures, as you have done - 'we do not worship wife or children in the picture, but merely honour them'. Papal Roman Catholics claim to know Exodus 20:12 ("Honour your father and your mother") and claim that honouring is all they are doing, for no one thinks these pictures are objects of worship. But what does the history of such images and relics in the history of the Bible reveal - disastrous idolatry?!
And, when you refer to our senses being given so we could 'use them to worship him in spirit and truth', you forget that the Israelites went from following God's clear instruction using their eyes and mind:
Numbers 21:8-9 (NASB) - 8 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a standard; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he will live." 9 And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived
to blatant idolatry:
2 Kings 18:4 (NASB) - 4 He removed the high places and broke down the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherah. He also broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the sons of Israel burned incense to it; and it was called Nehushtan.
Man cannot trust his senses when he has lost the truth (John 4:24 (NASB) - "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth") and burns incense instead of looking to His God!
Papal Roman Catholics have argued that, in the Old Testament, this commandment forbade any representation of God who is absolutely transcendent. They even admit that, in the Byzantine Empire, the 'Iconoclastic heresy' held that all images (statues, paintings, mosaics) of saints and of Jesus must be destroyed because they were being worshipped. But then they try and argue that the Christian veneration of sacred images is justified by the incarnation of the Son of God (as taught by the Second Council of Nicea in 787AD) because such veneration is founded on the mystery of the Son of God made man, in whom the transcendent God is made visible. This does not mean the adoration of an image, but rather the veneration of the one who is represented in it: for example, Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Angels and the Saints. [quoting #446, Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church]
When Papal Roman Catholics advise us to quote from 'the Catechism' they seem utterly oblivious to the discoveries that will result - such as the way in which Papal Rome has mimicked the 'scribes and priests' who were so thoroughly rebuked by the Lord Jesus Christ! This can be seen by reading the full 'CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH' and noting the way in which the obvious definition of idolatry is deliberately blurred by genuine verbosity, e.g.:
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 (787) 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.
[TCE: Even while claiming that the Council of Nicaea (787 AD) 'justified against the iconoclasts the veneration of icons' and the old custom of permitting artistic representations was allowed again, these Papal Roman Catholics claim this had been approved since 'the first century' - while failing to supply any historical facts to support the claim!].
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."70 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.71
Really?! If we point out that veneration has more than one meaning, e.g.:
great respect; reverence (e.g. "the traditional veneration of saints");
synonyms: reverence, respect, worship, adoration, homage, exaltation, adulation, glorification, extolment, idolization, devotion; honour, esteem, regard, high regard, praise; respectfulness, worshipfulness, obeisance, submission, deference, awe; laudation, magnification
we can see that this is no more than another failed smokescreen!
See earlier sentence: 'This does not mean the adoration of an image, but rather the veneration of the one who is represented in it: for example, Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Angels and the Saints. [quoting #446, Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church]'
Our previous reply refutes all of these claims and, as we explained, false comparisons with a picture of our earthly mothers with the unknown image of God the Father, God the Son, or the Holy Spirit is no argument at all! Claiming 'Since God has revealed himself in the above forms, he can now be depicted under these forms' is obvious foolishness, for you need to find verses in scripture where God clearly states that this is so - and there simply aren't any!
You write: Keep in mind that Protestants have pictures of Jesus in Bible story books, that they depict the Holy Spirit as a dove, and that they depict the Father as an old man sitting on a throne. They do all these without the least temptation to worship these images as God.
TCE: Since we are not 'Protestants', we are not concerned about images used by their denominations in story books for children. Nonetheless, even they do not widely display images at all in public or in their 'churches' but, more importantly, do not bow down to - or kiss - any images as Papal Rome clearly does (as pictures of popes setting the example proves!), and are therefore not found guilty of the idolatry exhibited by your cult!
It is clearly dangerous to create any images for, as we have already explained, it is far from true that there is not 'the least temptation to worship these images as God'! The Holy Spirit appeared in Scripture as a dove to Jesus:
Matthew 3:16 - And Jesus when he was baptized, went up straightway from the water: and lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon him. (cf. Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22)
but John also witnessed this:
John 1:32-34 - And John bare witness, saying, I have beheld the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven; and it abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize in water, he said unto me, Upon whomsoever thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and abiding upon him, the same is he that baptizeth in the Holy Spirit. And I have seen, and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.
Still there is no admonition to believers to make images of this occurrence. And the description of God from:
Daniel 7:9 - I beheld till thrones were placed, and one that was ancient of days did sit: his raiment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames, and the wheels thereof burning fire.
Revelation 1:14 - And his head and his hair were white as white wool, white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;
still makes it foolish to make any kind of image of Scriptural descriptions.
How do Papal Roman Catholics fail to recognise the lesson to be learned from this clear evidence:
Acts 19:23-29 - And about that time there arose no small stir concerning the Way. For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Diana, brought no little business unto the craftsmen; whom he gathered together, with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this business we have our wealth. And ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they are no gods, that are made with hands: and not only is there danger that this our trade come into disrepute; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana be made of no account, and that she should even be deposed from her magnificence whom all Asia and the world worshippeth. And when they heard this they were filled with wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesus. And the city was filled with the confusion: and they rushed with one accord into the theatre, having seized Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul's companions in travel.
Paul the Jewish believer risked his life warning pagans about their false deities and relics and also knew perfectly well all the Old Testament warnings about idolatry. Yet Papal Rome ignores all these Scriptural lessons and indulges in the same pagan errors, and more, with foolish indulgences, scapulars, relics and images!
Besides all of this we do not forget the totally damning evidence that Papal Rome imported pagan images into Vatican Rome in a clear admission of Papal henotheism - (see 'Click Here to Search This Site' on the Home Page)
Aptly, the Vatican is a treasure trove of pagan images revealing the basis of Roman Catholicism. The Word of God warns: Learn not the way of the heathen (Jeremiah 10:2), but Rome has ignored this throughout her history and there is no greater evidence of this than the Vatican itself:
The massive obelisk in the centre of St. Peter's Piazza is a pagan object from Egypt;
The Vatican Library contains large paintings of various pagan gods and goddesses, such as Isis and Mercury and Minerva;
The Cathedra Petri ('Chair of Peter') contains wood-carvings that represent the labours of Hercules;
Near the main altar of St. Peter's is a bronze statue of 'Peter' sitting in a chair - but the statue was originally the pagan god Jupiter which was taken from the Pantheon in Rome, when it was still a pagan temple, and moved into St. Peter's Basilica and re-named Peter!
Jupiter was one of the chief gods of ancient Rome and he was called the 'pater' (father), or Jove, in Latin and there are extant statues of this false god which are similar to the one now impersonating Peter including one with a single foot made of silver and a constant stream of pilgrims can be observed passing by and superstitiously touching or even kissing it!
Scripture does not instruct us to revere, worship, or use for healing, any 'relics' of Jesus or 'saints'!
The San Marcello al Corso church in Rome contains a purportedly miraculous, almost life-sized crucifix in its own chapel and you can view a photo of John Paul II bowing beside it. It is carried through the streets of Rome in procession during special occasions, as it was at the start of the Vatican II Council in the 1960s. A prayer that is supposed to be prayed before the 'miraculous crucifix' ends with the heretical words: 'And you, Mary, Mother and Virgin of Sorrows, hear my plea, intercede for me with your divine Son so that I will receive the graces necessary for today and always'. San Marcello al Corso also has a chapel dedicated to 'Our Lady of Graces', a blasphemous exaltation of Mary to the place of God, who alone is 'the God of all grace' (1 Peter 5:10). God alone is 'able to make all grace abound toward you' (2 Corinthians 9:8) and the fact that grace is extended from Jesus Christ is irrefutable evidence that He is God - as these Scriptures testify: Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:3; Galatians 1:3; Philippians 1:2; Ephesians 1:2; Colossians 1:2; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; Philemon 1:3
At the Council of Trent (1545-1563) one hundred and twenty-five anathemas were hurled against Bible-believing Christians by the Cult of Papal Rome, including the following at the 'Twenty-fifth session, on the invocation, veneration, and relics of saints, and on sacred images':
'The holy council commands all bishops and others who hold the office of teaching and have charge of the cura animarum, that in accordance with the usage of the Catholic and Apostolic Church, received from the primitive times of the Christian religion, and with the unanimous teaching of the holy Fathers and the decrees of sacred councils, they above all instruct the faithful diligently in matters relating to intercession and invocation of the saints, the veneration of relics, and the legitimate use of images, teaching them that the saints who reign together with Christ offer up their prayers to God for men, that it is good and beneficial suppliantly to invoke them and to have recourse to their prayers, assistance and support in order to obtain favors from God through His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who alone is our redeemer and savior; and that they think impiously who deny that the saints who enjoy eternal happiness in heaven are to be invoked, or who assert that they do not pray for men, or that our invocation of them to pray for each of us individually is idolatry, or that it is opposed to the word of God and inconsistent with the honor of the one mediator of God and men, Jesus Christ, or that it is foolish to pray vocally or mentally to those who reign in heaven'.
As with so many other heretical inventions of Papal Rome, the strongest doctrinal statements were made at Trent when the 'Protestant Reformation' put her under more pressure than she had ever suffered before. While the small, Bible-believing groups, such as the Waldensians and Hussites, were resisting Rome it was easy for her to use her overwhelming forces to try and exterminate them without bothering to make doctrinal statements - but now those days were coming to an end!
You write: Keep in mind what the Church says about relics. It doesn't say there is some magical power in them. There is nothing in the relic itself, whether a bone of the apostle Peter or water from Lourdes, that has any curative ability. The Church just says that relics may be the occasion of God's miracles, and in this the Church follows Scripture. The use of the bones of Elisha brought a dead man to life: "So Elisha died, and they buried him. Now bands of Moabites used to invade the land in the spring of the year. And as a man was being buried, lo, a marauding band was seen and the man was cast into the grave of Elisha; and as soon as the man touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood on his feet" (2 Kgs. 13:20-21). This is an unequivocal biblical example of a miracle being performed by God through contact with the relics of a saint! Similar are the cases of the woman cured of a hemorrhage [sic] by touching the hem of Christ's cloak (Matthew 9:20-22) and the sick who were healed when Peter's shadow passed over them (Acts 5:14-16). "And God did extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that handkerchiefs or aprons were carried away from his body to the sick, and diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them" (Acts 19:11-12). If these aren't examples of the use of relics, what are? In the case of Elisha, a Lazarus-like return from the dead was brought about through the prophet's bones. In the New Testament cases, physical things (the cloak, the shadow, handkerchiefs and aprons) were used to effect cures. There is a perfect congruity between present-day Catholic practice and ancient practice. If you reject all Catholic relics today as frauds, you should also reject these biblical accounts as frauds.
TCE: Thank you for taking the time to cut and paste this from:
Again, we have already refuted your basic premise and your claim to 'Keep in mind what the Church says about relics. It doesn't say there is some magical power in them' forgets the clear evidence from Papal Rome and other false religions (e.g. Hinduism) that Satan and demons impersonate the Christian godhead - as Paul warned:
2 Corinthians 11:14 - And no marvel; for even Satan fashioneth himself into an angel of light.
Deuteronomy 32:16-17 - They moved him to jealousy with strange gods; With abominations provoked they him to anger. They sacrificed unto demons, which were no God, To gods that they knew not, To new gods that came up of late, Which your fathers dreaded not.
1 Corinthians 10:19-22 - What say I then? that a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have communion with demons. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of demons: ye cannot partake of the table of the Lord, and of the table of demons. Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?
Revelation 9:20-21 - And the rest of mankind, who were not killed with these plagues, repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and the idols of gold, and of silver, and of brass, and of stone, and of wood; which can neither see, nor hear, nor walk: and they repented not of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.
The many demonic gods that Papal Rome has installed all around the Vatican and in her churches speaks clearly of the sins described by the inspired apostle John in this verse from Revelation.
What does the evidence of a corpse falling on the bones of Elisha and immediately coming back to life prove? It shows that the prophet did not perform his miracles by any powers of his own, but by the power of God who chose to honour His servant uniquely by making even his bones the instrument of another miracle after his death! This is the first and the last account of a true miracle performed by the bones of a dead man and a whole system of 'miraculous' working relics has been founded by Papal Rome on one wonderful occurrence. If God intended His people to use His Sovereign act to start such a system of healing we would certainly have read about other examples from the times of the Kings - but we do not, and therefore logically conclude that this is simply another Papal scam!
We also do not forget how, on April 8, 1871, Count Harry von Arnim-Suckow reported to the imperial chancellor, Prince Otto von Bismarck, of Pius IX s attempt to work a miracle. "As Pius was passing by the church of Trinita dei Monti, the pope bade a cripple who was lying in front of the church: 'Rise up and walk!' But the experiment failed." The historian Ferdinand Gregorovius had previously noted in his diary on June 17, 1870: "The pope recently got the urge to try out his infallibility.... While out on a walk he called to a paralytic: 'Get up and walk'. The poor devil gave it a try and collapsed, which put God's vice-regent very much out of sorts. The anecdote has already been mentioned in the newspapers. I really believe that he's insane."
If a supposed living link by 'Apostolic Succession' failed to perform a miracle, why should anyone believe the relics of Rome are conduits? As we have proven - they are no more than more fakery.
Writing 'If you reject all Catholic relics today as frauds, you should also reject these biblical accounts as frauds' is the height of ignorance - rather like refusing to accept the use of money because you know that counterfeit money is in circulation. The true Christian follows the Scriptural admonition to check everything out - to 'prove ALL things':
1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 - Quench not the Spirit; despise not prophesyings; prove all things; hold fast that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.
(Continued on page 354)