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Is it ok for a Christian to venerate Images?

Discussion in 'Religious Debates' started by ThisShouldMakeSense, Jul 28, 2005.

  1. ThisShouldMakeSense

    ThisShouldMakeSense Active Member

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    I believe that venerating an image or a relic is the same as idol worship. The scriptures warn against image worship in the ten commandments for example.
    exodus 20:3 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; 5 you shall not bow down to them nor serve them."
    yet millions of people bow down to images and kiss them etc, feeling that they may be blessed, protected or cured of an illness. I know many say, it's just a visual aid or relative worship, that it goes to the one it represents, but i don't think it does and neither do the scriptures. In the past some have said that the worship given to an image should be the same as the worship of the one it is directed at. ie. worship the cross as much as you worship Jesus...opinions please!
     
  2. michel

    michel Administrator Emeritus
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    Unfortunately, your question is not all that simple; there are two definitions for venerate:- 1 : to regard with reverential respect or with admiring deference
    2 : to honor (as an icon or a relic) with a ritual act of devotion

    Of course, I know your question relates to the second one. I have I cons in my home; they are mainly here for personal satisfaction - Some are very decorative, but they also serve to 'jerk' my memory. Do I venerate them - no. Do I think venerating Icons is a sin - yes; because the bible says so.:)
     
  3. fromthe heart

    fromthe heart Well-Known Member

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    Personally I think not..we are not to make anything in which we would hold more precious than our love and worship of God. HOWEVER, I feel it all comes down to our internal feelings...If the things we have made by the hands of man are so casual that we would not feel pain should this item be stollen away from us I think we have the proper perspective on the meaning of having graven images. IF we would suffer great loss should these thing be all of a sudden gone then our hearts aren't where they should be in the Lord. It is all an internal thing....I do not believe anyone does not have something made by the hands of man...we are all guilty of that part but when we spend our Sunday (or anyday) involved in polishing our man made things because we want them to shine we have it wrong. I've seen folks who will come home from church and spend the rest of the day washing and waxing their cars to just stand back and take pride in the 'things' they have and then will cry and fuss when someone dings their little beauty...this is a type of worshiping in MPO an object. That's just an example...other's hold photos of the ones they love like it's of the utmost importance...if you just stop for a second and THINK of how you'd feel should the items you woke up with this morning be gone when you wake up tomorrow morning and can honestly answer for that then each and everyone of us get the answer to the charge of not making unto us graven images.:)
     
  4. DreamQuickBook

    DreamQuickBook Active Member

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    The Bible is pretty clear that it is not ok. Though, it seems like common practice.
     
  5. Valjean

    Valjean Veteran Member
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    I have to agree with Jocose. The text seems pretty clear, but people have always interpreted scripture to fit current social practices and values.
     
  6. Quiddity

    Quiddity UndertheInfluenceofGiants

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    Wow, it's almost as if they skipped what you said Michel. You sounded pretty clear to me. Perhaps they are stuck on no.2. Oh well.

    ~Victor
     
  7. DreamQuickBook

    DreamQuickBook Active Member

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    The Bible isn't clear about that distinction.
     
  8. Quiddity

    Quiddity UndertheInfluenceofGiants

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    The Bible isn't clear on many things. I believe Michel was only noting how HE and I believe many others actually do when they venerate images. Why make it an issue, if they aren't doing what you think they are?

    ~Victor
     
  9. Sabio

    Sabio Active Member

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    I agree with Jocose and Seyorni on this one. Now that is an accomlishment!

    Sabio
     
  10. Valjean

    Valjean Veteran Member
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    The passage in Exodus could be interpreted as forbidding any images of any kind, much like the Quranic injunction. In traditional mosques there are no depictions of any kind. Have Christians ignored this commandment?
     
  11. DreamQuickBook

    DreamQuickBook Active Member

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    Oh lol. I don't care. I am a total idol worshipper, lol. I'm just saying, that the Bible seems rather skeptical about revering images of any kind, because God is not a symbol, nor is he "in the symbol" (of course, he is, insofar as he is everywhere). As a Christian, the Holy Spirit is inside you and through the holy spirit you are to worship and venerate God and God alone. This was supposedly made possible through the death and resurrection of Christ. Now, one could look at it this way: venerating an object or symbol is a distraction from the purity of God. Maybe not, I don't know how the Christian God thinks. I'm just going by the Bible.
     
  12. Quiddity

    Quiddity UndertheInfluenceofGiants

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    Then why post? Why not show neutrality if that is the case?

    For those interested.
    Well, let’s look at exactly what the Bible says:
    Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them. (Exod. 20:4-5, KJV).

    For those who interpret this verse in a strict hyper-literal sense then things like:
    • Simple wooden crosses
    • A quarter in your pocket with an eagle on it (ancient symbol of the pagan god Jupiter!)
    • A picture of someone who has passed on.
    There are literally hundreds of examples but why aren’t these seen in such a way?

    A very common answer I have come across is that Exodus was to forbid the creation of any sculpture intended for religious purposes. Sounds like a good objection right? Problem is that God himself commands the creation of sculptures for a religious purpose. For example, when God told Moses how to build the Ark of the Covenant, He said,

    Make two cherubim out of hammered gold at the ends of the cover. Make one cherub on one end and the second cherub on the other; make the cherubim of one piece with the cover, at the two ends. The cherubim are to have their wings spread upward, overshadowing the cover with them. The cherubim are to face each other, looking toward the cover. (Exod. 25:18-20).

    There are more examples but I hope this will be sufficient to show that Exodus was not to be taken in a strict hyper-literal sense.

    Maybe it would help to point out that a catholic’s veneration of a statue of Jesus is exactly analogous to a patriotic American veneration of the American flag. We honor (show respect to) the flag, not because of what it is (a piece of cloth), but because of what it represents (America).

    Hope this helps.

    ~Victor
     
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  13. Scott1

    Scott1 Well-Known Member

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    Well said Victor!

    In the Incarnation of Christ his Son, God showed mankind an icon of himself. Paul said, "He is the image (Greek: ikon) of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation."

    Christ is the tangible, divine "icon" of the unseen, infinite God.

    Seems like a pretty good precedent for me.
     
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  14. ThisShouldMakeSense

    ThisShouldMakeSense Active Member

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    I agree with you there!
     
  15. ThisShouldMakeSense

    ThisShouldMakeSense Active Member

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    i agree with you on the point that what exodus was saying was that making an image for religious worship was wrong. and this is backed up by what you say about instructions for the ark. however, as far as the ark goes, it was hidden from public view behind a curtain, and at no time was worship given to the images on it.
    anyway, that was the OT, but what about the NT? Well, early Christians didn't have or use images. In fact, they were accused of being atheists for worshipping without images in their place of worship. The encyclopaedia Britannica said that their enemies accused them, saying that they set up ‘no image or form of any god,’ and they never denied this charge.

    So, if the early Christians never used, honoured or venerated images, where did they come from? Well, eventually, image worship crept in. in fact, as early as the fourth century. The catholic encyclopaedia said that the Christian roman citizens in the east offered gifts, incense, even prayers to the statues of the emperor. It also said that it would be natural for those people who bowed down to these images of Caesar, to go onto give the same signs to the cross, the images of Christ, and the alter.

    They strayed from pure worship and were no longer without spot from the world. They were then Christians by name only, and by being able to bow down to images of rulers, then of course they could bow down and do the same thing to images of Christ.

    For example, Robert Bellarmine, who was a dignitary of the RC church said: 'images of Christ and the saints are to be adored not only in a figurative manner, but quite positively, so that the prayer are directly addresses to them, and not merely as the representatives of the original.'

    So images are definitely used in idol worship.

    So, is it ok, for a Christian to have an image as a visual aid? Well:
    2 Corinthians 5:7 ‘For we walk by faith, not by sight.’

    You see, wouldn't it we wise to be cautious, better safe than sorry, when it comes to owning religious images, bearing in mind how God views images and idols? In many places the images one has may be viewed as images in worship. It would be wise to bear in mind what Deuteronomy 7:25, 26 says ‘You shall burn the carved images of their gods with fire; you shall not covet the silver or gold that is on them, nor take it for yourselves, lest you be snared by it; for it is an abomination to the LORD your God. 26 Nor shall you bring an abomination into your house, lest you be doomed to destruction like it. You shall utterly detest it and utterly abhor it, for it is an accursed thing.’

    And to finish, 1 John 5:21 'Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.'
     
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  16. Quiddity

    Quiddity UndertheInfluenceofGiants

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    Yes we should be cautious. I agree. The Catholic Church has indeed been outspoken about people doing more then just venerating. Which is what Exodus is trying to say. DO NOT WORSHIP....But to say that God dislikes and hates statues that are made of paint and plaster is quite another thing. He hates the WORSHIP. Do we disagree? If catholics do this, then shame on them...This is not Church teaching and if I remember correctly some group of people in the early church did indeed get out of hand with Mary and got close to if not were worshipping her. The Church put a stop to that and battled that heresy.

    The Least
    ~Victor
     
  17. Fluffy

    Fluffy A fool

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    Interpreting the passage in such a way is totally reasonable. However, possession of such items is not commented upon. Just the manufacture and the bowing down and serving of them.

    Additionally, the passage does not touch on symbolism. A wooden cross is not a "likeness" of anything nor is it sculpted and therefore should not be included, in my opinion.
    God condemns many things which he then goes on to commit. Judgement is one of the most uncontroversial of such accusations but cases can be made for lying, murder, war etc as well. This, in my personal view, is just another example of God demonstrating that he is above morality since morality can only apply to humanity (perfectly reasonable in my view when considering the gulf between the divine and the mortal).
     
  18. jorylore

    jorylore Member

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    So many times simple Bible truth is explained away by our "internal feelings". As if what we "feel" is more important than what the Bible says. Yet, what God passed down to us were the ten commandments, not the ten suggestions open to interpretation. So, if the scriptures say that we shouldn't even make graven images of anything in heaven or on earth, than why do we do it? What do personal feelings have to do with it? ;)
     
  19. johnnys4life

    johnnys4life Pro-life Mommy

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    Umm, what about the angel statues in the Old Testament in the temples? Obviously making an image is not ALWAYS a sin, because God commanded it. The people never worshipped the statues, but they were there.
     
  20. jorylore

    jorylore Member

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    You're right. I forgot about the angels in the inner sanctuary of the temple.

    I was only trying to get the point across that personal feeling or indivdual opinion should never cloud over the validity of scripture.
     
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