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Roman Catholicism
"Just Another Expression of Christianity"?

Saints and Images

Edited and expanded extracts from the book by Dusty Peterson & Elizabeth McDonald,
Alpha - the Unofficial Guide: World, (2003), Part Two, Chapter 6


Roman Catholicism: Index of Articles


 

While Mary receives special 'veneration', Roman Catholicism also encourages the revering of other historical 'saints' and the observance of 'Saints days'.  But when Scripture refers to 'saints' it means every one of the Lord's true followers, not just a few deceased ones:

"Unto the church of God ... to them that are sanctified [i.e. made saintly] in Christ Jesus, called to be saints..." (1 Corinthians 1:2).   See also Romans 1:7).

The epistles are addressed to living saints:

"...unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia" (2 Corinthians 1:1).

"...to the saints which are at Ephesus..." (Ephesians 1:1)  See also 2 Corinthians 13:13, Philippians 1:1 & 4:21-22, Colossians 1:2, Hebrews 13:24.

Although we should emulate the faithful men and women of God from past centuries, Rome's reverence goes well beyond that - into idolatry.  Many of Rome's saints can be traced back to pagan heroes and heathen 'gods' and have simply been adopted by Rome in a 'Christian' guise.  Although this may have been done to draw pagans into the Roman Catholic Church, it now means that believers are honouring idols.  (And, of course, men should be drawn into the Church not by its similarity to the world but by its dissimilarity.  Scripture commands us to "Be not conformed to this world" (Romans 12:2), and far from encouraging us to bring pagan things into the Church,  and the Lord blesses those who purge all such things out:

"And they brought forth the images out of the house of Baal, and burned them. And they broke down the image of Baal, and broke down the house of Baal, ... Thus Jehu destroyed Baal out of Israel. ... And the LORD said unto Jehu, ... thou hast done well in executing that which is right in mine eyes..." (2 Kings 10:26-30).

"And Jehoiada made a covenant between the LORD and the king and the people, that they should be the LORD'S people; between the king also and the people. And all the people of the land went into the house of Baal, and brake it down; his altars and his images brake they in pieces thoroughly, ... And all the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was in quiet:..." (2 Kings 11:17-20).

"Hezekiah ... did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father did. He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brazen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: ... He trusted in the LORD God of Israel; ... he clave to the LORD, and departed not from following him, but kept his commandments,..." (2 Kings 18:1-6).

"Moreover the workers with familiar spirits, and the wizards, and the images, and the idols, and all the abominations that were spied in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, did Josiah put away, ... he ... turned to the LORD with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might..." (2 Kings 23:24-25).

Charles Chiniquy, a Catholic priest for many years, reveals the practices of that vast institution in his famous book Fifty Years in the Church of Rome.  He had this to say of Rome's saints and the images that have been made of them:

"Were not our prayers to the Virgin and to the saints repeated, almost in the same words, by the [pagan] worshippers who prostrated themselves before the images of their gods, just as we repeated them every day before the images which adorn our churches?...

"We knew by history the year in which the magnificent temple consecrated to all the gods, bearing the name of Pantheon, had been built at Rome.  We were acquainted with the names of several of the sculptors who had carved the statues of the gods in that heathen temple, at whose feet the idolators bowed respectfully, and words cannot express the shame we felt on learning that the Roman Catholics of our day, under the very eyes and with the same sanction of the Pope, still prostrated themselves before the SAME IDOLS, in the SAME TEMPLE, and to obtain the SAME FAVOURS ... but instead of calling this statue Jupiter, we call it Peter; and instead of calling that Minerva or Venus, we call it St. Mary" [1].

Though Rome works hard to downplay the nature of her practices regarding statues of Mary and other departed 'saints', Scripture is very clear:

"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 water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them" (Exodus 20:4,5a).

"Thou shalt have none other gods before me. Thou shalt not make 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 waters beneath the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me" (Deuteronomy 5:7-9).

"Turn ye not unto idols, nor make to yourselves molten gods: I am the LORD your God" (Leviticus 19:4).

"They ... were mingled among the heathen, and learned their works.  And they served their idols: which were a snare unto them... Thus they were defiled with their own works, ... Therefore was the wrath of the LORD kindled" (Psalm 106:34-40).

"Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen" (1 John 5:21).

 
 
 

Endnotes

[1]  Charles Chiniquy, Fifty Years in the Church of Rome, (Protestant Truth Society, undated edn.), pp48-49, non-bold emphases in original.

 

Elizabeth McDonald
January 2013

 

 

 

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