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.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Idol Worship Transcends Denominational Boundaries

Nashville Christians congregated with fellow worshipers at the unveiling of the graven-image of Rev. Billy Graham in June 2006. Our non-Catholic brethren have begun to see the importance of honoring others with 3-D material representations of a living thing (graven image).
I know these brothers and sisters are not worshiping the image, but if an alien landed in Nashville on that day, do you think they could get the wrong impression? (Especially if they were Bible-Only Aliens from a distant Sola System)

Hey, I love Billy Graham by the way, and admire his walk with Christ and his ministry with an almost perfect track record. I saw him live at the Urbana 1979 Intervarsity Mission Conference. He was a friend to JPII.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your title seems to imply that the people who witnessed the unveiling of the image of Billy Graham REALLY worshipped it. Sorry but I believe that your title is misleading and inappropriate.

May 13, 2007 10:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am LOL at this. Too funny!

May 13, 2007 12:00 PM  
Anonymous Nancy said...

Billy Graham called JPII the greatest Christian witness of the 20th century, for which he was really criticized by some of his evangelical brethern.

Did you read about his two sons fighting over where he and his wife were to be buried (notwithstanding the fact that they are still alive)? It wasn't even funny, just sad. Whatever you think of his theology, he at least deserves to depart this world with some dignity.

May 13, 2007 1:12 PM  
Blogger japhy said...

"Sola System". You crack me up, TJ.

May 13, 2007 3:29 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Anon said:
"Your title seems to imply that the people who witnessed the unveiling of the image of Billy Graham REALLY worshiped it. Sorry but I believe that your title is misleading and inappropriate."

Dear Anon: No need to be sorry. I loved your comment because you made my point exactly! God bless you!!
Isn't it irritating and offensive when people imply something about your faith beliefs that you know are not true?

It is so inappropriate and misleading to insist that Catholics worship statues. The internet is replete with images of Catholics in front of statues implying that they worship them!

Making the implication that Protestants worship the "graven image" of Rev. Graham is equally absurd and offensive. (Even if the picture seems to indicate one of the congregants is raising his hand to the statue.) So the next time you see a photo of a Catholic in front of a statue on an anti-Catholic blog, I hope and pray your are equally offended at the misleading and inappropriate implication that the poster is trying to make.

Welcome to our world.
Catholics don't worship statues and I trust from your comment that Protestants don't either despite what "appears" to be the case from the photo.

May 13, 2007 5:37 PM  
Anonymous Sapientia said...

There is, however, a major metaphysical difference between the perspectives of "Nashville Christians" who witness the Graham statue, and the use of statues in the Catholic church. There is nothing being 'mediated' through the image; there is nothing (for better or for worse) spiritual at all about this image. The default metaphysical position of most of these Nashiville folk is materialism - namely, all you get is what you see. It's a statue - nothing more. I think the reason Catholics are criticized by certain evangelicals for their use of images is the spiritual or metaphysical elements associated with this use. Furthermore, that which is being imaged - a saint for example - is somehow able to mediate grace to the one reflecting upon the image. The saint has somehow taken on a role blasphemous to most evangelical Protestants, namely a mediator between God and man.

May 13, 2007 6:59 PM  
Blogger Joyful Catholics said...

As Mr Burns would say: "Ehhhxcellent!"

Yep, they're getting the 3D point I'd say.

Sola System....gotta be "stealing" that one, TJ! : )


May 14, 2007 7:08 AM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Thanks Susie.
I must confess that Prodigal Daughter came up with the Sola System idea.
What is so neat is that the Sola system is still part of the one larger Universe :)

May 14, 2007 7:28 AM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Thanks Sap for the comment. I think that the mediator verse is mis-used when it is applied to the concept of the communion of saints. If they believe in asking for prayer from others rather than going straight to Jesus for our needs, they are placing a mediator between us and God too.

May 14, 2007 7:38 AM  
Blogger St. Jimbob of the Apokalypse said...

Sapienta, The similarities may be more than iconoclastic protestants may be conscious of. Why build the statue?

To honor a industrious disciple, who brought the word to many?

To remember a faithful christian?

To hold up Billy Graham as an example of christian witness?

Do people. when in the presence of the statue, think "God, help me be like Billy", or do they think "Billy, I wish I were as faithful as you."

It may be subconscious, but Billy Graham is being made a saint, and now his statue is up. These folks are almost Catholic...

May 14, 2007 7:41 AM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Thanks St. Jimbob. Those questions really help to re-frame the paradigm.

May 14, 2007 8:16 AM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Catholics don't pray to or through the image. Catholics ask for intercession from the person( very much alive in heaven) whom the image represents. The image is inert physically, chemically and spiritually. There can be no prayer through it.

There is a photo of John Paul 2 circulating on the anti-Catholic fundamentalist websites(I've blogged about it before) that show him nodding in veneration to a statue of Mary. We as Catholics know that JP2 a man with two PhD's in religion was well aware that he was not praying to or showing obseiance to "an idol."
The image was simply a reminder of Mary in heaven and he was venerating (honoring her) as Scripture commanded (calling her blessed).
The catechism says this:

"The divine injunction included the prohibition of every representation of God by the hand of man. Deuteronomy explains: "Since you saw no form on the day that the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire, beware lest you act corruptly by making a graven image for yourselves, in the form of any figure. . . . "66 It is the absolutely transcendent God who revealed himself to Israel. "He is the all," but at the same time "he is greater than all his works."67 He is "the author of beauty."68

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.69

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.

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 "

May 14, 2007 6:32 PM  
Blogger MMajor Fan said...

Hi tiber and "Prodigal Daughter" :-)

I'm very fond of the Grahams and actually participate in some of their causes, such as Operation Christmas Child, which is wonderful!

I get your puckish point with the picture, but our Protestant friends can't get the point without one addition important historic fact. Before the reformation most people in the world could not read. They simply had no education, could not read or write, and certainly did not have religious instruction and crusades (I mean the public gatherings type.) They were too busy breaking their backs in the field trying to get some turnips to grow so their children wouldn't starve. The reformation conveniently came along with the printing press and more widespread ability to read "among the masses." Back when the church was one, it was a VITAL part of the transmission of faith to have paintings, stained glass, statues, illustrated Psalters (for the wealthy) and architecture that "told the story" because that was the only means by which so many of the poor and unread were educated in the faith! I know people like to put on the Catholic church that it's all the pomp and idolatry, but they could not be more wrong. Their own Christian ancestors learned their faith by being able to go into a Church whose very art was for instruction to the poor. The statue of Mary was the way to instruct about the Incarnation of Jesus. Parables and saints in their stories are in the window's glass, and painted on plaster to explain who they were and what they did. The stations of the cross are the obvious example. All of the imagery in the Church came about because that was the means to truly be "Catholic" and instruct those who could not read or write, or attend education. I grind my teeth when "experts" don't understand how human beings lived for the first 1500 years after Christ and then try to smack down the Church that provided the art that gave them the very faith that they can now criticize. Grrrr!
LOL. :-)

May 15, 2007 12:31 AM  
Anonymous Runningmom said...

"Sola System"!! LOL!! Thanks for the giggle! ;)

May 15, 2007 8:49 AM  
Anonymous Theo said...

Rhology said in part...
"...there is no biblical problem w/ HAVING images; just praying to/thru them, asking for mediation from them..."

I humbly reply...
Absolutely correct! It's a good thing that Catholics do not do so.

Actually, I think your objection is misplaced. Obviously, it *is* biblical to pray *for* others and to ask others to pray for us. Biblically, Catholics and protestants alike also know that God hears the prayers of the saints and angels in heaven.

The more difficult question for us Catholics to address for our protestant brothers goes something like this:

"How do you know that the saints and angels in heaven witness / hear / understand whatever is happening on Earth?"

After all, one would reason that God is omniscient and omnipresent, but neither the angels nor the saints possess either quality.

In part, because Christians no longer agree on what is Holy Scripture, a satisfactory answer to *that* question is worthy of a blog topic itself (hint, hint); and to think Tiber actually thinks I make his blogging easier! :-)


May 15, 2007 11:07 AM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Thanks for the homework Theo!
The quick answer:
THere exists no chapter and verse that proves "that the saints and angels in heaven witness / hear / understand whatever is happening on Earth"
But it can be derived from Scripture. Still, it's important to keep in mind that the early Church was "practicing" the Communion of saints (asking the saints for intercession) long before the glue on the binding of the New Testament was dry.

May 15, 2007 12:08 PM  
Blogger Arthur said...

I love this piece and have been sending it around. Thanks for the insight.

May 17, 2007 9:11 AM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

thanks Arthur!
I just hope it can re-frame the perspective in a way that our non- Catholic brothers can see the absurdity of the accusations we face on a regular basis.

May 17, 2007 4:42 PM  
Blogger Pilgrimsarbour said...

Making the implication that Protestants worship the "graven image" of Rev. Graham is equally absurd and offensive. (Even if the picture seems to indicate one of the congregants is raising his hand to the statue.)

That's a good point, TJ. And nice try making the guy shading his eyes from the sun out to be a statue worshipper. LOL!

May 18, 2007 11:33 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Thanks PA!

May 18, 2007 11:37 PM  
Blogger REM said...

I would never be comfortable admitting that all Protestants never worship images. I am not sure why you get cozy admitting all RCs never worship images. Do you really believe that no RC through the course of history has not worshiped an image just because a Pope said it doesn't happen and it shouldn’t ever be done? At a minimum, it should bother any RC to participate in a form of worship that is an eyelash different from pagans bowing before a fetish, minus the outward object being tweaked, which, so I am told, causes an inward desire to become pure. At best, you should be cautious of something with a propensity to quickly devolve that your attention in this matter needs to hover around ignorance toward avoidance, rather than exploration toward acceptance. The mere involvement of icons and images is an off ramp at best for any church. Have a good weekend, man. REM

May 24, 2007 4:06 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Should the Jewish Temple have had bare walls and the ark of the covenant been a plain wooden box?
Would you suggest that the images and icons that adorned the Temple were an "off ramp" and Judaism would have been better off without them too?
Catholics are not dualists and seen no danger in incorporating material items for spiritual purposes as did the Jews, the forerunners of the Christian Church

May 24, 2007 6:05 PM  
Blogger REM said...

Normally, I don't answer questions when someone purposefully avoids mine, but, I will in hopes that you will go back and give my question a more complete answer. Here goes:

1. No. Those were direct commands of God to adorn the temple. However, I see no reason to engage in this further if you will not recognize the difference between a statue and some decent woodworking. If there is not going to be any difference between the explicit and the detailed, why should either of us bother?

2. No. But I hardly think you will sacrafice a dove this weekend or perform a wave offering of grain if you are seeking to be perfect in how you emulate the OT Temple, a shadow of things to come. I recognize there are some connections between OT Temple NT church, but please don't pick and choose what you think should stay from an older and inferior covenant.

Now, since we are discussing it, I am not entirely sure how to apply the second commandment, but it is there for a purpose. I am neither an RC or an Zwinglite on this matter. However, please remember that you will have the burden of explaining that you are not a dualist each and every time you pray before an image (but not to it, again I am told). Again, I am told it is impossible to worship that image alone. The involvement of icons and images really is a practice that RCs and Protestants aught to give the boot to. There, I said it. Now, back to my question:

Do you really believe that no RC through the course of history has not worshiped an image just because a Pope said it doesn't happen and it shouldn’t ever be done?

Enjoy Memorial Day!

May 25, 2007 1:01 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

"Do you really believe that no RC through the course of history has not worshiped an image just because a Pope said it doesn't happen and it shouldn’t ever be done?"

Considering that Catholics have had the greatest number of adherents of all the major religions for almost 2000 years, a realistic answer, is, yes, possibly, there exists the remote possibility that some Catholics in disobedience to Christ may have worshiped an image.
I find it hard to imagine though, quite frankly, given the strong admonitions throughout the history of the Church regarding idol worship, and the necessity of never attributing spiritual or supernatural power to a mere object that a Catholic has ever worshipped an image.

May 25, 2007 4:37 PM  
Blogger phatcatholic said...

Great post, bro ;)

January 25, 2008 12:23 PM  

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