Crossed The Tiber

An Evangelical Converts to Catholicism

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I was born into the Catholic faith. At 14, I was "born again" and found Jesus personally but lost His Church. After thirty years as an evangelical protestant, I have come full circle to find that He has been there all the time, in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I wish others to find the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith as I have found.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Do Catholics Worship Statues? (One More Time!)

Catholics are often accused of worshipping statues as idolaters. One of the most circulated images of our late Holy Father John Paul 2 on the internet is not found on Catholic websites but is on anti-Catholic websites! PhatCatholic does an excellent job explaining why it is not idol worship and for the gazillionth time, Catholics don't worship statues and are prohibited by Scripture from worshipping anyone but the Triune God. Let's read what PhatCatholic has to say here:

"... the statue is simply a reminder of the saint whose prayers we are invoking. We are not praying to the statue, we are requesting the prayers of the saint who is represented by it.

The second issue is the posture of kneeling or bowing, and what it means. The bible clearly shows that this posture need not be equated with divine worship, or the worship afforded to God alone. Lot "bowed himself with his face to the earth" before the angels that visited him in Sodom (Gen 19:1). Joseph's brothers "bowed themselves before him with their faces to the ground" when they came to him for food (Gen 42:6). Saul "bowed with his face to the ground, and did obeisance" before Samuel (1 Sam 28:14). Bathsheba "bowed and did obeisance" to King David (1 Kings 1:16), as did Nathan (vs. 23), Ornan (1 Chron 21:21), and even the entire assembly (1 Chron 29:20). David himself bowed down before the temple of the Lord (Psa 138:2). The sons of the prophets at Jericho "bowed to the ground" before Elisha (2 Kings 2:15). King Nebuchadnezzar "fell upon his face, and did homage" to Daniel, and even commanded that an offering and incense be offered up to him! (Dan 2:46). Even Jesus Christ himself will make those of the synagogue of Satan to bow down before the church in Philadelphia (Rev 3:9).

No one would accuse all of these people of idol worship because they assumed a posture of prayer or worship before an object of God's creation. One should not accuse Catholics of doing the same thing. Ultimately, this is a matter of intent. Kneeling or bowing can imply worship, but it need not necessarily, as these scripture passages reveal. It is just as erroneous to assume that a Catholic is worshipping a statue (simply because he is kneeling near it) as it is to assume that Nebuchadnezzer was worshipping Daniel...........and Nebuchadnezzer did so much more!

What these passages also show is that kneeling/bowing can also be an act of respect, or veneration. That is in fact what is going on in all of these passages, and that is what the Catholic does. When a Catholic kisses a crucifix, this is not an act towards the actual metal/wooden cross he is holding. Instead, it is a sign of the love that he has for Jesus and His work on the cross. David knelt before the temple not to worship the actual stone structure but to make an act of humility before the presence of the Lord that the temple represented."

Thanks Phat Catholic for that great explanation.

Hope this helps to dispel another of those circulating internet legends that take on a life of their own.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder...

If Catholics projected the texts of hymns onto the wall behind the pulpit rather than using hymnals, would we be accused of worshiping sheet music?

October 12, 2006 3:51 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Dear Anonymous:
Good point! You are obviously an ex-charismatic!!
I suspect that the answer depends on how one views Catholicism even before the question is asked.
If folks view us as idolators and pagans, than virtually anything a Catholic does or says will be misconstrued as the works/deeds of an idol maker and pagan.
The fact that there has never been a document in 2000 years written by or approved of by the Church that encourages us to worship statues, yet the myth continues proves my next point:
This is going to lead to another blog, but basically anti-Catholicism is the last acceptable prejudice in America and it is not politically incorrect (but rather encouraged by the media) to bash Catholics and promote falsehood about them. Sadly, some of our separated brethren fall into this malignant rhetoric as well.
Actually, if someone walked into a modern charismatic or pentecostal church with a live worship band and saw the worshippers with their hands raised and dancing in the area of the sanctuary in front of the band, what conclusions could be mistakenly drawn? How about after the song is over and the congregation claps? What would an uninitiated person think?
I know these folks' hearts are in the right place and they are exuberantly praising Jesus, not the band, but can't you see how folks could view that?
Thanks for the comment. Makes you think.

October 12, 2006 4:27 PM  
Blogger REM said...

What is up CTT? Luther was pretty reasonable, yet up front, on this:

Here we must admit that we may have images and make images, but we must not worship them, and if they are worshipped, they should be put away and destroyed, just as King Hezekiah broke in pieces the bronze serpent erected by Moses [II Kings 18:4]. And who will be so bold as to say, when he is challenged to give an answer: They worship the images. They will say: Are you the man who dares to accuse us of worshipping them? Do not believe that they will acknowledge it. To be sure, it is true, but we cannot make them admit it. Just look how they acted when I condemned works without faith. They said: Do you believe that we have no faith, or that our works are performed without faith? Then I cannot press them any further, but must put my flute back in my pocket; for if they gain a hair's breadth, they make a hundred miles out of it.

In short, it is not easy to prove a person worshiping a golden calf is actually worshipping that calf or the god it represents, however obvious it might seem. Appearances ARE deceptive, and even though some actions would be more accusatory than others, intentions and heart motives still escape saline eyes. Direct admittance isn't happening in light of questions of observation, or questions of accusation, for that matter. However, it seems equally ridiculous to me to hear someone say those who participate in a worship-like posture (notice I did not say action) in the direction of a symbol of some type are not actually worshipping it. If the heart cannot be seen in order to accuse, how could it be seen in order for approval to be made? By no means am I declaring stalemate, but this scenario seems to forever emerge. It is as unaccusable for all as it as undefendable for all.

October 16, 2006 3:12 PM  
Blogger The Perpetual Malcontent said...

we don't worship statues, but we do worship the consecrated Host. somehow, i expect protestants to be more horrified about Catholics worshipping what appears to be an ordinary piece of bread than worhsipping statues, but rarely do i find them pointing this out. it's always statues, statues, statues...

October 17, 2006 10:39 AM  

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