- Before the 16th Century, Eastern Christianity suffered an iconoclasm in the years 730-787. Under Emperor Leo III the Isaurian he ordered the removal of the images of Christ in the Chalke Gate and ceremonial entrance to the Great Palace of Constantinople. He replaced them with crosses, some of the people assigned with these were murdered. In 730 AD, Pope Gregory III convened a Synod which condemned iconoclasm and excommunicated their supporters. However, the letter never reached Constantinople and the messengers were arrested in Sicily by Byzantines. Emperor Constantine V convened the Council of Hieria in 754 AD. The 338 bishops assembled concluded, "the unlawful art of painting living creatures blasphemed the fundamental doctrine of our salvation--namely, the Incarnation of Christ, and contradicted the six holy synods. . . . If anyone shall endeavour to represent the forms of the Saints in lifeless pictures with material colours which are of no value (for this notion is vain and introduced by the devil), and does not rather represent their virtues as living images in himself, etc. . . . let him be anathema". This Council claimed to be the legitimate "Seventh Ecumenical Council".
Second Council of Nicaea
In 780, Constantine VI ascended the throne in Constantinople, but being a minor, was managed by his mother Empress Irene. She decided that an ecumenical council needed to be held to address the issue of iconoclasm and directed this request to Pope Hadrian I (772–795) in Rome. He announced his agreement and called the convention on 1 August 786 in the presence of the Emperor and Empress. The initial proceedings were interrupted by the violent entry of iconoclast soldiers faithful to the memory of the prior Emperor Constantine V. This caused the council to be adjourned until a reliable army could be assembled to protect any proceedings. The council was reassembled at Nicaea 24 September 787. During those proceedings the following was adopted:
... we declare that we defend free from any innovations all the written and unwritten ecclesiastical traditions that have been entrusted to us. One of these is the production of representational art; this is quite in harmony with the history of the spread of the gospel, as it provides confirmation that the becoming man of the Word of God was real and not just imaginary, and as it brings us a similar benefit. For, things that mutually illustrate one another undoubtedly possess one another's message. ... we decree with full precision and care that, like the figure of the honoured and life-giving cross, the revered and holy images, whether painted or made of mosaic or of other suitable material, are to be exposed in the holy churches of God, on sacred instruments and vestments, on walls and panels, in houses and by public ways; these are the images of our Lord, God and saviour, Jesus Christ, and of our Lady without blemish, the holy God-bearer, and of the revered angels and of any of the saintly holy men. The more frequently they are seen in representational art, the more are those who see them drawn to remember and long for those who serve as models, and to pay these images the tribute of salutation and respectful veneration. Certainly this is not the full adoration in accordance with our faith, which is properly paid only to the divine nature, but it resembles that given to the figure of the honoured and life-giving cross, and also to the holy books of the gospels and to other sacred cult objects.
- As a consequence of the Protestant Reformation, many Protestants under the leadership of John Calvin and Andreas Karlstadt, the war on images started.
What the Catechism says
Catechism of the Catholic Church
130 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.
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." 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.
1160 Christian iconography expresses in images the same Gospel message that Scripture communicates by words. Image and word illuminate each other:
We declare that we preserve intact all the written and unwritten traditions of the Church which have been entrusted to us. One of these traditions consists in the production of representational artwork, which accords with the history of the preaching of the Gospel. For it confirms that the incarnation of the Word of God was real and not imaginary, and to our benefit as well, for realities that illustrate each other undoubtedly reflect each other's meaning.
2141 The veneration of sacred images is based on the mystery of the Incarnation of the Word of God. It is not contrary to the first commandment.
1161 All the signs in the liturgical celebrations are related to Christ: as are sacred images of the holy Mother of God and of the saints as well. They truly signify Christ, who is glorified in them. They make manifest the "cloud of witnesses" who continue to participate in the salvation of the world and to whom we are united, above all in sacramental celebrations. Through their icons, it is man "in the image of God," finally transfigured "into his likeness," who is revealed to our faith. So too are the angels, who also are recapitulated in Christ:
- Following the divinely inspired teaching of our holy Fathers and the tradition of the Catholic Church (for we know that this tradition comes from the Holy Spirit who dwells in her) we rightly define with full certainty and correctness that, like the figure of the precious and life-giving cross, venerable and holy images of our Lord and God and Savior, Jesus Christ, our inviolate Lady, the holy Mother of God, and the venerated angels, all the saints and the just, whether painted or made of mosaic or another suitable material, are to be exhibited in the holy churches of God, on sacred vessels and vestments, walls and panels, in houses and on streets.
Catechism of St. Pius X
"15 Q: What else does the First Commandment forbid?
A: The First Commandment also forbids all dealings with the devil, and all association with anti-Christian sects.
20 Q: May we also honor the sacred images of Jesus Christ and of the Saints?A: Yes, because the honor we give the sacred images of Jesus Christ and of the Saints is referred to their very persons.
21 Q: May the relics of the Saints be honored?
A: Yes, we should honor the relics of the Saints, because their bodies were living members of Jesus Christ and temples of the Holy Ghost, and will rise gloriously to eternal life.
22 Q: What is the difference between the honor we give to God and the honor we give to the Saints?
A: Between the honor we give to God and the honor we give to the Saints there is this difference, that we adore God because of his infinite excellence, whereas we do not adore the Saints, but honor and venerate them as God's friends and our intercessors with Him. The honor we give to God is called Latria, that is, the worship of adoration; the honor we give to the Saints is called Dulia, that is, the veneration of the servants of God; while the special honor we give to the Blessed Virgin is called Hyperdulia, that is, a special veneration of the Mother of God.
341. Q. Does the First Commandment forbid the making of images?
A. The First Commandment does forbid the making of images if they are made to be adored as gods, but it does not forbid the making of them to put us in mind of Jesus Christ, His Blessed Mother, and the saints.Protestants and others say that Catholics break the First Commandment by having images in their churches, because the First Commandment says: "Thou shalt not make graven images or the likeness of anything upon the earth," etc. Now, if that is exactly what the Commandment means, then they break it also, because they make the images of generals, statesmen, writers, etc., and place them in their parks. They also take photographs of their relatives and friends and hang them on the walls of their homes. They do this, they say, and we believe them, to show their respect and veneration for the persons represented, and not to worship their images. Now we do no more. We simply place in our churches the images of saints to show our respect and veneration for the persons they represent, and not to worship the images themselves. So if we break the First Commandment, they who make any picture or statue break it also. Can our accusers not see that they and every citizen do the very thing for which they reproach us? On Decoration Day they place flowers around the statue of Washington and other great men. Does anyone believe that they are trying to honor the piece of metal or stone, or that the metal or stone statue knows that it is being honored? Certainly not. They do so to honor Washington or whomsoever the statue represents; and for the same reason Catholics place flowers and lights around the statues and images of saints. Every child knows that the wood in the statue might as well have been a pillar in the Church, and that its selection for a statue was merely accidental, and hence he knows that the statue cannot hear or see him, and so he prays not to the statue but to the person it represents. Again if you can offer a person insult by dishonoring his image, may we not honor him by treating it with respect? What greater insult, for instance, could be offered to your deceased father and yourself than to burn him in effigy, or contemptuously trample his picture under foot in your presence? Thus they who treat the images of Christ or His saints with disrespect dishonor Christ and His saints.Again we may learn our religion by our sight as well as by our hearing, and may be led by these visible objects to a knowledge of the invisible things they represent. Let us take an example. A poor ignorant man enters a Catholic church, and sees hanging there a picture of St. Vincent de Paul. He can learn the life of the saint from that picture almost as well as if he read it in a book. He sees the saint dressed in a cassock, and that tells him St. Vincent was a priest. He sees him surrounded by little ragged children and holding some of them in his arms; that tells him the saint took care of poor children and orphans, and founded homes and asylums for them. He sees on the saint's table a human skull, and that tells him St. Vincent frequently meditated upon death and what follows it. He sees beside the skull a little lash or whip, and that tells him the saint was a man who practiced penance and mortification. Thus you have another reason why the true Church is very properly called Catholic; because its teaching suits all classes of persons. The ignorant can know what it teaches as well as the learned; for if they cannot read they can listen to its priests, watch its ceremonies, and study its pictures, by all of which it teaches. The Protestant religion, on the contrary, is not adapted to the needs of every class, for it teaches that all must find their doctrines in the Bible, and understand them according to their lights, giving their own interpretation to the passages of the sacred text; and thus we come to have a variety of Protestant denominations, all claiming the Bible for their guide, though following different paths. If every Protestant has the right to take his own meaning out of the Holy Scripture, what right have Protestant ministers to preach the meaning they have found, and compel others to accept it? The Bible alone is not sufficient. It must be explained by the Church that teaches us also the traditions that have come down to us from the Apostles. If the Bible alone were the rule of our faith, what would become of all those who could not read the Bible? What would become of those who lived before the Apostles wrote the New Testament? for they did not write in the first years of their ministry, neither did they commit to writing all the truths they taught, because Our Lord did not command them to write, but to preach; and He Himself never wrote any of His doctrines. Again Catholics are accused of superstition for keeping the relics of saints. Yet when General Grant died and was buried in New York, many citizens of every denomination, anxious to have a relic of the great man they loved and admired, secured, even at a cost, small pieces of wood from his house, of cloth from his funeral car, a few leaves or a little sand from his tomb. Now, if it was not superstition to keep these relics, why should it be superstition to keep the relics of the saints?Even God Himself honored the relics of saints, for He has often performed or granted miracles through their use. We read in the Bible (4 Kings 13:21) -- and it is the word of God -- that once some persons who were burying a dead man, seeing their enemies coming upon them, hastily cast the body into a tomb and fled. It was the tomb of the holy prophet Eliseus, and when the dead body touched the bones of this great servant of God, the dead man came to life and stood erect. Here is at least one miracle that God performed through the relics of a saint.God does not forbid the mere making of images, but only the making of them as gods. He gave the Commandments to Moses and afterwards told him to make images; namely, angels of gold for the temple. (Ex. 25:18). Now, God does not change His mind or contradict Himself as men do. Whatever He does is done forever. Therefore if He commanded Moses by the First Commandment not to make any images, He could not tell him later to make some. It is not the mere making, therefore, that God forbids, but the adoring. What He insists upon is: "You shall not adore or serve the images you make." This is very clear if we consider the history of the Israelites, to whom God first gave the law. They were the only nation in the whole world that knew and worshipped the true God, and often, as I told you, they fell into idolatry and really worshipped images. When Moses delayed on the mountain with God, and they thought he was not coming back, they made a golden calf and adored it as a god. (Ex. 32).The Israelites fell into idolatry chiefly by associating with persons not of the true religion. Let us learn from their sins never to run the risk of weakening or losing our faith by making bosom friends and steady companions of those not of the true religion or of no religion at all. You are not, however, to treat any person with contempt or to despise anyone, but to look upon all as the children of God, and pray for those not of the true religion, that they may be converted and saved.
342. Q. Is it right to show respect to the pictures and images of Christ and His saints?
A. It is right to show respect to the pictures and images of Christ and His saints, because they are the representations and memorials of them.
343. Q. Is it allowed to pray to the crucifix or to the images and relics of the saints?
A. It is not allowed to pray to the crucifix or images and relics of the saints, for they have no life, nor power to help us, nor sense to hear us.
344. Q. Why do we pray before the crucifix and the images and relics of the saints?
A. We pray before the crucifix and the images and relics of the saints because they enliven our devotion by exciting pious affections and desires, and by reminding us of Christ and of the saints, that we may imitate their virtues.
Catechism of Trent
The Above Words Do Not Forbid All Images
Let no one think that this Commandment entirely forbids the arts of painting, engraving or sculpture. The Scriptures inform us that God Himself commanded to be made images of Cherubim, and also the brazen serpent. The interpretation, therefore, at which we must arrive, is that images are prohibited only inasmuch as they are used as deities to receive adoration, and so to injure the true worship of God.
They Forbid Idols And Representations Of The Deity
As far as this Commandment is concerned, it is clear that there are two chief ways in which God's majesty can be seriously outraged. The first way is by worshipping idols and images as God, or believing that they possess any divinity or virtue entitling them to our worship, by praying to, or reposing confidence in them, as the Gentiles did, who placed their hopes in idols, and whose idolatry the Scriptures frequently condemn. The other way is by attempting to form a representation of the Deity, as if He were visible to mortal eyes, or could be reproduced by colours or figures. Who, says Damascene, can represent God, invisible, as He is, incorporeal, uncircumscribed by limits, and incapable of being reproduced under any shape. This subject is treated more at large in the second Council of Nice. Rightly, then, did the Apostles say (of the Gentiles): They changed the glory of the incorruptible God into a likeness of birds, and of four footed beasts, and of creeping things; for they worshipped all these things as God, seeing that they made the images of these things to represent Him. Hence the Israelites, when they exclaimed before the image of the calf: These are thy gods, Israel, that have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, are denounced as idolaters, because they changed their glory into the likeness of a calf that eateth grass.When, therefore, the Lord had forbidden the worship of strange gods, He also forbade the making of an image of the Deity from brass or other materials, in order thus utterly to do away with idolatry. It is this that Isaias declares when he asks: To whom then have you likened God, or what image will you make for hill? That this is the meaning of the prohibition contained in the Commandment is proved, not only from the writings of the holy Fathers, who, as may be seen in the seventh General Council, give to it this interpretation: but is also clearly declared in these words of Deuteronomy, by which Moses sought to withdraw the people from the worship of idols: You saw not, he says, any similitude in the day that the Lord spoke to you in Horeb, from the midst of the fire. These words this wisest of legislators spoke, lest through error of any sort, they should make an image of the Deity, and transfer to any thing created, the honour due to God.
They Do Not Forbid Representations Of The Divine Persons And Angels
To represent the Persons of the Holy Trinity by certain forms under which they appeared in the Old and New Testaments no one should deem contrary to religion or the law of God. For who can be so ignorant as to believe that such forms are representations of the Deity? forms, as the pastor should teach, which only express some attribute or action ascribed to God. Thus when from the description of Daniel God is painted as the Ancient of days, seated on a throne, with the books opened before hint, the eternity of God is represented and also the infinite wisdom, by which He sees and judges all the thoughts and actions of men.'Angels, also, are represented under human form and with wings to give us to understand that they are actuated by benevolent feelings towards mankind, and are always prepared to execute the Lord's commands; for they are all ministering spirits, sent to minister for them who shall receive the inheritance of salvation.What attributes of the Holy Ghost are represented under the forms of a dove, and of tongues of fire, in the Gospel and in the Acts of the Apostles, is a matter too well known to require lengthy explanation.
They Do Not Forbid Images Of Christ And The Saints
But to make and honour the images of Christ our Lord, of His holy and virginal Mother, and of the Saints, all of whom were clothed with human nature and appeared in human form, is not only not forbidden by this Commandment, but has always been deemed a holy practice and a most sure indication of gratitude. This position is confirmed by the monuments of the Apostolic age, the General Councils of the Church, and the writings of so many among the Fathers, eminent alike for sanctity and learning, all of whom are of one accord upon the subject.
Usefulness Of Sacred Images
But the pastor should not content himself with showing that it is lawful to have images in churches, and to pay them honour and respect, since this respect is referred to their prototypes. He should also show that the uninterrupted observance of this practice down to the present day has been attended with great advantage to the faithful, as may be seen in the work of Damascene on images, and in the seventh General Council, the second of Nice.But as the enemy of mankind, by his wiles and deceits, seeks to pervert even the most holy institutions, should the faithful happen at all to offend in this particular, the pastor, in accordance with the decree of the Council of Trent's should use every exertion in his power to correct such an abuse, and, if necessary, explain the decree itself to the people.He will also inform the unlettered and those who may be ignorant of the use of images, that they are intended to instruct in the history of the Old and New Testaments, and to revive from time to time their memory; that thus, moved by the contemplation of heavenly things, we may be the more ardently inflamed to adore and love God Himself. He should, also, point out that the images of the Saints are placed in churches, not only to be honoured, but also that they may admonish us by their examples to imitate their lives and virtues."I am the Lord thy God, mighty, jealous, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, to the third and fourth generation of them that hate me, and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments."In this concluding clause of this Commandment two things occur which demand careful exposition. The first is, that while, on account of the enormous guilt incurred by the violation of the first Commandment, and the propensity of man towards its violation, the punishment is properly indicated in this place, it is also attached to all the other Commandments.Every law enforces its observance by rewards and punishments; and hence the frequent and numerous promises of God in Sacred Scripture. To omit those that we meet almost on every page of the Old Testament, it is written in the Gospel: If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments; and again: He that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; and also: Every tree that doth not yield good fruit shall be cut down and cast into the fire; Whosoever is angry with his brother shall be guilty of the judgment; If you will not forgive men, neither will your Father forgive you your offences.
In the Bible God commanded statues to be created. The Ark of the Covenant, the cherubim, and the bronze serpent. These are not idols since they weren't revered to be equal with God or even as a deity, a god.
"And 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." -Exodus 25:18-19
"In the Most Holy Place he made a pair of sculptured cherubim and overlaid them with gold." -2 Chronicles 3:10
"In the inner sanctuary he made a pair of Cherubim of olive wood, each ten cubits high." -1 Kings 6:23
Many of the ignorant Protestants compare the images of Jesus, Mary, and the Saints to the Golden Calf. They compare it to the calf because they accuse Catholics of idolatry. I have doubts that they don't understand the meaning of the word idolatry. The calf was worshiped as a god or a deity. In the Bible we see that Aaron declared the calf's divinity and the calf was not viewed as a mere representation, but viewed as a god.
Idolatry -is a pejorative term for the worship of an idol, a physical object such as a cult image, as a god, or practices believed to verge on worship
"He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. then they said, "These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt." -Exodus 32:4
"At Horeb they made a calf and worshiped an idol cast from metal." -Psalm 106:19
The First Commandment
“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. “You shall have no other gods before Me.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; 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, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments." -Exodus 20:2-6
Another favorite attack on Catholics is what they believe as a "cover up". They accuse Catholics of covering up the Protestant's Second Commandment. However, the Protestant's Second Commandment is incorporated in the First Commandment. Would the words "You shall not worship them...The Lord your God, am a jealous God..." be fitting to the First Commandment that declared the Oneness of God and the ban of worship of other gods. God understood that by making idols the people will worship it as a god. God even punished the Israelites by giving the Ark to the enemy of Israel, this was done to show that the Ark cannot be used as a lucky charm.
Example of Idolatry
In order to condemn someone for idolatry, we need to examine the motives. The one we can easily condemn of idolatry is the Hindus. They confess that idols are to be worshiped as a god or should get equal worship. They believe that the statue is more than a representation, but in the image the deity lives inside.
"equated with a deity and the object of worship is the deity whose power is inside the image"
"Hinduism grants equal status to all forms of worship,"
In Tibetan Buddhist, when an image is consecrated, the spirit of the deity is invoked. They consecrate the image so that the spirit inhabits the statue, thus making the statue the deity itself and not only a representation.
Becoming the Buddha: The Ritual of Image Consecration in Thailand, by Donald K. Swearer. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004.
"Chapter 6, ‘Empowering the image’, contains two more translations, which describe the biography, qualities and knowledge of the Buddha, and how these are seen to be infused into the image during the consecration ceremony. This is the main point of the ceremony. Through the agency of the monks, the image becomes the Buddha (152–153, 162–164)."
"Chapter 7, ‘The body of the Buddha: popular Buddhism and Buddhalogical theory’, is noteworthy for suggesting that, during the ceremony, the image is seen to be infused with the dhammakāya or Dhamma-body. Such notions are usu- ally thought to be prominent in non-Theravāda forms of Buddhism, but Swearer makes important observations that suggest that ideas to do with the bodies of the Buddha are used in Theravāda Buddhism.2 The point is that, during the cer- emony, the image is regarded as becoming the dhammakāya, and this theoretical underpinning adds much to Swearer’s arguments as a whole. By being a surrogate of the Buddha, the Buddha image is the dhammakāya itself: the embodiment of the teachings. Image consecration is given an important, and perhaps essential emphasis in this understanding: one is not venerating the Buddha as a personality (in theory), but the Dhamma as the real nature of things. By seeing the Buddha, or his image, which are the same thing according to these rituals, one has a glimpse of the way things really are. In this one sees an interesting echo of the Sutta pas- sage, ‘who sees me sees the Dhamma’ (SN III 120)."
Now that they have confessed of idolatry, we move on to why Catholics have images to represent God and His saints.
What do idols represent according to Scripture?
Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.” -1 Corinthians 8:4, English Standard Version (©2001)
It is very clear that idols represents nothing, non-existent beings. To say that Catholic images are idols, is saying that they represent non-existent beings.
"Keep therefore your souls carefully. You saw not any similitude in the day that the Lord God spoke to you in Horeb from the midst of the fire:" -Deuteronomy 4:15
Deuteronomy shows why there was no representations in the time of the Old Covenant. No one has ever seen God, but this all changed during the Incarnation of Christ. The Early Church understood idolatry and the place representations had. In Catacombs, there were symbols and representations of Christ. God was invisible to humanity before Christ. In the Bible Christ is God and an image of the invisible God. Because of the Incarnation of the Word, we had seen God. By His Incarnation He had fulfilled this.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." -John 1:1
"Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen." -Romans 9:5
"Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped," -Philippians 2:6
"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation." -Colossians 1:15
St. John of Damascus maintains that depicting the invisible God is indeed wrong, but he argues that the incarnation, where "the Word became flesh" (John 1:14), indicates that the invisible God became visible, and as a result it is permissible to depict Jesus Christ. He argues: "When He who is bodiless and without form... existing in the form of God, empties Himself and takes the form of a servant in substance and in stature and is found in a body of flesh, then you draw His image..."
He defends external acts of honour towards icons, arguing that there are "different kinds of worship" and that the honour shown to icons differs entirely from the adoration of God. He continues by citing Old Testament examples of forms of "honour": "Jacob bowed to the ground before Esau, his brother, and also before the tip of his son Joseph's staff (Genesis 33:3). He bowed down, but did not adore. Joshua, the Son of Nun, and Daniel bowed in veneration before an angel of God (Joshua 5:14) but they did not adore him. For adoration is one thing, and that which is offered in order to honour something of great excellence is another". He cites St. Basil who asserts, "the honour given to the image is transferred to its prototype". St. John argues therefore that venerating an image of Christ does not terminate at the image itself - the material of the image is not the object of worship - rather it goes beyond the image, to the prototype.
The offering of veneration in the form of latria (the veneration due God) is doctrinally forbidden by the Orthodox Church; however veneration of religious pictures or Icons in the form of dulia is not only allowed but obligatory. Some outside observers find it difficult to distinguish these two levels of veneration in practice, but the distinction is maintained and taught by believers in many of the hymns and prayers that are sung and prayed throughout the liturgical year.
- Images are mere representations in Catholicism. Prayers are never directed to them as the Baltimore Catechism says. Images are not given Latria or Adoration, which is given to God alone, but given simply respect, honor, and veneration (Dulia). An image is never taught to be the person represented in it, unlike Buddhism who sees the statue of the Buddha as being the Buddha himself. Many people who condemns Catholicism of idolatry only base their accusation on sight and not with intentions. If we use such judgement, then murder should only be murder, no First, Second, or Third degrees. This just shows that intentions is very important in condemning idolatry. When we see people praying and kneeling before images, we right away assume that these practices are directed to the image, yet their intentions says the opposite. No Catholic needs a sign reminding them that images are not to be worshipped, because this law is in their heart. It is already tattooed in their hearts that such images are never to be worshipped or given Latria. If our condemnation is in our actions, the Jews too are to be condemned. For the Jews knelt and processed in front of the Ark and other people. In fact, during the siege of Jericho, the Jews carried the Ark of the Covenant in procession around the city.
"So Joshua son of Nun called the priests and said to them, “Take up the ark of the covenant of the Lord and have seven priests carry trumpets in front of it.” And he ordered the army, “Advance! March around the city, with an armed guard going ahead of the ark of the Lord.” -Joshua 6:6-7
"The seven priests carrying the seven trumpets went forward, marching before the ark of the Lord and blowing the trumpets. The armed men went ahead of them and the rear guard followed the ark of the Lord, while the trumpets kept sounding." -Joshua 6:13
Kneeling is not Latria
- Many people believe that when we Catholics kneel in front or before an image, we are giving the image Latria, worship or adoration. They believe that kneeling is equivalent to Latria. However, scripture does not say so. In fact, many verses shows examples of kneeling.
- Then these would also be worship,
And he went out to meet his kinsman, and worshipped and kissed him: and they saluted one another with words of peace. And when he was come into the tent, (Exodus 18:7)
"When Joseph came home, they presented to him the gifts they had brought into the house, and they bowed down before him to the ground." (Genesis 43:26)
"He himself went on ahead and bowed down to the ground seven times as he approached his brother." (Genesis 33:3)
They replied, "Your servant our father is still alive and well." And they bowed low to pay him honor. (Genesis 43:28)
All the royal officials at the king's gate knelt down and paid honor to Haman, for the king had commanded this concerning him. But Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor. (Esther 3:2)
Bathsheba bowed low and knelt before the king. "What is it you want?" the king asked. (1 Kings 1:16)
So the king sent a third captain with his fifty men. This third captain went up and fell on his knees before Elijah. "Man of God," he begged, "please have respect for my life and the lives of these fifty men, your servants! (2 Kings 1:13)
Then David went out of the cave and called out to Saul, "My lord the king!" When Saul looked behind him, David bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground. ( 1 Samuel 24:8)
"What does he look like?" he asked. "An old man wearing a robe is coming up," she said. Then Saul knew it was Samuel, and he bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground. (1 Samuel 28:14)
"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: What saith my lord to his servant?" (Joshua 5:14)
Often, people who believe that kneeling is equivalent to worship quote from Matthew 4:9 and Revelation 19:10. Those verses in fact shows kneeling, the act itself, but also the intention of the kneeler. Let's see the verse and judge for ourselves.
Latria (latreia-λατρεία) is sacrificial in character, and may be offered only to God. In classical Greek originally meant "the state of a hired servant" (Aesch., "Prom.", 966), and so service generally. It is used especially for Divine service (Plato, "Apol.", 23 B). In short, it means Divine Worship (British English) and Adoration, more accurate. Latria is given to God alone and no other. The word "idolatry" (eidololatria-εἰδωλολατρία) has the word λατρεύειν latreuein (-latry), "to worship" or "adore."
Original Word: λατρεία, ας, ἡ
Part of Speech: Noun
Phonetic Spelling: (lat-ri'-ah)
Short Definition: service, worship
Definition: service rendered to God, perhaps simply: worship, divine worship (2), service (2), service of worship (1).
Where is it in the Bible?
kai edothē autō exousia kai panta ta ethnē tēs gēs kata genē kai pasa doxa autō latreuousa kai ē exousia autou exousia aiōnios ētis ou mē arthē kai ē basileia autou ētis ou mē phtharē (Daniel 7:14)
kai nun israēl ti kurios o theos sou aiteitai para sou ang' ē phobeisthai kurion ton theon sou poreuesthai en pasais tais odois autou kai agapan auton kai latreuein kuriō tō theō sou eξ olēs tēs kardias sou kai eξ olēs tēs psuchēs sou (Deuteronomy 10:12)
tote legei autō o iēsous upage satana gegraptai gar kurion ton theon sou proskunēseis kai autō monō latreuseis (Matthew 4:10)
kai to ethnos ō ean douleusousin krinō egō o theos eipen kai meta tauta exeleusontai kai latreusousin moi en tō topō toutō (Acts 7:7)
ean de eiselthēte eis tēn gēn ēn an dō kurios umin kathoti elalēsen phulaξesthe tēn latreian tautēn (Exodus 12:25)