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Should Christians Worship Sacred Images?

God has NEVER wanted people to worship images of any kind.

In the same time that God said “you shall not make any graven images” God authorized the creation of images, for example the Ark of the Covenant with cherubim on it.

But where, in the Holy of Holies, did God dwell? In the *empty space* between the cherubim of the ark. There has never been an image that actually represents God himself, except for idols done in disobedience.

In the New Testament, there is no authority for worshiping images. That should settle it – if people want to do what God wants, rather than do what THEY want.

Aaron made a golden calf – not to represent some other god, but to represent Yahweh. It was meant to be “useful” to them, to focus their minds on the worship of their true God, and yet God detested it because *he didn’t say they could do that.*

If humans can’t worship angels (and they can’t) then they certainly can’t worship images of saints or kings or whatever. No one has seen God at any time, so there’s no possible image to even make of him.

That leaves Jesus, which is likewise not authorized, but also there’s the fact that no one knows what he looks like, so what’s the point of picking a random image, or worse, one we know to be historically inaccurate?

It’s all mind boggling to me, how anyone can attempt to justify something the Bible is so very clear on.

>Christians, however, have matured out of this weakness and are no longer in need of any ban. We now understand the truth that fleshly images are good, if used correctly, because Christ came in the flesh and became the ultimate image of an invisible God.

No scripture naturally.

>Most of Christendom agrees that religious images are acceptable.

The fact that you would even write this as a point in favor is astounding. When have most people ever been right?

>The term “veneration” has also been used to distinguish the kind of honor given to images in high church traditions from the latreia worship that’s directed towards God.

Just because you call it by a different word doesn’t mean it’s actually really different. I’ve seen the way people “venerate” and it’s indistinguishable to me from idolatry. Of course plenty of people call themselves Reverend and Father despite Jesus’ clear prohibition about religious titles. That’s because humans have ALWAYS been able to disobey God while claiming to not be disobeying him with rationalizations.

>Similarly, sacred images represent the real Christ or saint, and thus directing worship towards them is legitimate

Nope. Because *God didn’t say to worship him that way*.

>If Christians are expected to offer proper worship to kings, how much more should we be expected to offer proper worship to saints?

I don’t worship kings. I show them as much honor as God commands me to do, when I come face to face with one. I don’t have a picture of a king in my home to show honor to his image, that’s grotesque. I don’t have pictures of dead “saints” either because *they’re not there to receive the honor* so it’s kind of pointless isn’t it?

>The saints are more regal and worthy of worship than worldly rulers.

No, we’re all sinners, so none of us are worthy of worship.

>John further inferred that if angels could be worshiped then messengers could be worshiped and thus saints could be worshiped.

Even if angels can be worshipped (John was told not to do it) it doesn’t follow that humans can be – angels are of a higher class than humans. The logic is invalid (and unsound).

>Furthermore, there’s a sense in which all Christians can be worshiped because we all contain the Holy Spirit within us.

That’s bizarre. No one should worship me, I can guarantee that.

>The Old Testament was an image, and yet the Old Testament was sacred.

It’s not an image. It’s a collection of writings.

>We can’t say Israel’s temple, sacrifices, and priesthood were never sacred. They were images, but God operated through them and made them sacred. God worked through images to achieve mankind’s salvation.

Sure, but the images didn’t represent God personally, and people didn’t worship them. They treated them with respect because they were set aside for God’s use, but they didn’t *worship them*.

I treat the bread in the Lord’s Supper with respect, because it represents the Lord’s body, but I don’t worship the bread as if it really is Jesus himself.

>We worship the images and belongings of loved ones.

That’s not worship.

>John argued that this kind of worship is categorically the same as the way Christians esteem sacred images and relics.

Some people may idolatrously worship their relatives, but they shouldn’t. People literally pray to pictures of Mary as if she can hear them (she can’t, and the picture can’t). If people do that to their dead relatives, that’s wrong too.

It’s not wrong to hang pictures on your walls, but you’re *not supposed to worship them*.

Again, notice there are not any examples in the New Testament about people worshiping images. Shouldn’t that settle the matter right up front? By the time you get to 730AD, people have long left the idea that the New Testament authority was actually important, which is why all of those arguments don’t even bother looking for scriptural support. They are so transparently a rationalization of a practice already in place because *that’s what the people wanted to do* in contradiction to *what God told them to do*. Everything else is just window dressing.

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Comments

4 Responses

  1. God has NEVER wanted people to worship images of any kind.

    In the same time that God said “you shall not make any graven images” God authorized the creation of images, for example the Ark of the Covenant with cherubim on it.

    But where, in the Holy of Holies, did God dwell? In the *empty space* between the cherubim of the ark. There has never been an image that actually represents God himself, except for idols done in disobedience.

    In the New Testament, there is no authority for worshiping images. That should settle it – if people want to do what God wants, rather than do what THEY want.

    Aaron made a golden calf – not to represent some other god, but to represent Yahweh. It was meant to be “useful” to them, to focus their minds on the worship of their true God, and yet God detested it because *he didn’t say they could do that.*

    If humans can’t worship angels (and they can’t) then they certainly can’t worship images of saints or kings or whatever. No one has seen God at any time, so there’s no possible image to even make of him.

    That leaves Jesus, which is likewise not authorized, but also there’s the fact that no one knows what he looks like, so what’s the point of picking a random image, or worse, one we know to be historically inaccurate?

    It’s all mind boggling to me, how anyone can attempt to justify something the Bible is so very clear on.

    >Christians, however, have matured out of this weakness and are no longer in need of any ban. We now understand the truth that fleshly images are good, if used correctly, because Christ came in the flesh and became the ultimate image of an invisible God.

    No scripture naturally.

    >Most of Christendom agrees that religious images are acceptable.

    The fact that you would even write this as a point in favor is astounding. When have most people ever been right?

    >The term “veneration” has also been used to distinguish the kind of honor given to images in high church traditions from the latreia worship that’s directed towards God.

    Just because you call it by a different word doesn’t mean it’s actually really different. I’ve seen the way people “venerate” and it’s indistinguishable to me from idolatry. Of course plenty of people call themselves Reverend and Father despite Jesus’ clear prohibition about religious titles. That’s because humans have ALWAYS been able to disobey God while claiming to not be disobeying him with rationalizations.

    >Similarly, sacred images represent the real Christ or saint, and thus directing worship towards them is legitimate

    Nope. Because *God didn’t say to worship him that way*.

    >If Christians are expected to offer proper worship to kings, how much more should we be expected to offer proper worship to saints?

    I don’t worship kings. I show them as much honor as God commands me to do, when I come face to face with one. I don’t have a picture of a king in my home to show honor to his image, that’s grotesque. I don’t have pictures of dead “saints” either because *they’re not there to receive the honor* so it’s kind of pointless isn’t it?

    >The saints are more regal and worthy of worship than worldly rulers.

    No, we’re all sinners, so none of us are worthy of worship.

    >John further inferred that if angels could be worshiped then messengers could be worshiped and thus saints could be worshiped.

    Even if angels can be worshipped (John was told not to do it) it doesn’t follow that humans can be – angels are of a higher class than humans. The logic is invalid (and unsound).

    >Furthermore, there’s a sense in which all Christians can be worshiped because we all contain the Holy Spirit within us.

    That’s bizarre. No one should worship me, I can guarantee that.

    >The Old Testament was an image, and yet the Old Testament was sacred.

    It’s not an image. It’s a collection of writings.

    >We can’t say Israel’s temple, sacrifices, and priesthood were never sacred. They were images, but God operated through them and made them sacred. God worked through images to achieve mankind’s salvation.

    Sure, but the images didn’t represent God personally, and people didn’t worship them. They treated them with respect because they were set aside for God’s use, but they didn’t *worship them*.

    I treat the bread in the Lord’s Supper with respect, because it represents the Lord’s body, but I don’t worship the bread as if it really is Jesus himself.

    >We worship the images and belongings of loved ones.

    That’s not worship.

    >John argued that this kind of worship is categorically the same as the way Christians esteem sacred images and relics.

    Some people may idolatrously worship their relatives, but they shouldn’t. People literally pray to pictures of Mary as if she can hear them (she can’t, and the picture can’t). If people do that to their dead relatives, that’s wrong too.

    It’s not wrong to hang pictures on your walls, but you’re *not supposed to worship them*.

    Again, notice there are not any examples in the New Testament about people worshiping images. Shouldn’t that settle the matter right up front? By the time you get to 730AD, people have long left the idea that the New Testament authority was actually important, which is why all of those arguments don’t even bother looking for scriptural support. They are so transparently a rationalization of a practice already in place because *that’s what the people wanted to do* in contradiction to *what God told them to do*. Everything else is just window dressing.

  2. Interesting read. Thank you for posting. There are many things that we accept as doctrine without considering the biblical and historical roots. From my understanding of scripture and human nature i would not endorse the use of images but this article has helped me have a better understanding as to why some advocate it.

  3. From the original ten commandments (most of which are carried over into the NT, of course), we can see that God wanted us to have no other Gods OR graven images before him, so no, Christians should not do that.

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