So Catholics Worship Statues?

February 28, 2014 | 33 comments

The first commandment says:

I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or 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; you shall not bow down to them or serve them (Ex. 20:2–5).

Well-meaning Evangelicals and Fundamentalists, armed with the above text, often try to use it against Catholics:

How can God make it any clearer than this? We are not to have ‘graven images,’ or statues, yet what do you see in almost every Catholic Church around the world? Statues! This is the definition of idolatry. And please, do not give me any of this nonsense about equating the statues in your churches to carrying a photograph of a loved one in your wallet. In Exodus 20, as well as in Deuteronomy 5:7–8, God specifically says we are not to make statues in the shape of anything in the sky above, the earth below or the waters beneath the earth.

How are we to respond?

Clarifications

The Catholic Church does not believe any statue or image has any power in and of itself. The beauty of statues and icons move us to the contemplation of the Word of God as he is himself or as he works in his saints. And, according to Scripture, as well as the testimony of the centuries, God even uses them at times to impart blessings (e.g., healings) according to his providential plan.

While it can certainly be understood how a superficial reading of the first commandment could lead one to believe we Catholics are in grave error with regard to our use of statues and icons, the key to a proper understanding of the first commandment is found at the very end of that same commandment, in verse 5 of Exodus 20: “You shall not bow down to them or serve [adore] them.”

The Lord did not prohibit statues; he prohibited the adoration of them. If God truly meant that we were not to possess any statues at all, then he would later contradict himself. Just five chapters after this commandment in Exodus 20, God commanded Moses to build the ark of the Covenant, which would contain the presence of God and was to be venerated as the holiest place in all of Israel. Here is what God commanded Moses concerning the statues on it:

And you shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work shall you make them, on the two ends of the mercy seat. Make one cherub on the one end, and one cherub on the other end; of one piece with the mercy seat shall you make the cherubim on its two ends (Ex. 25:18–19).

In Numbers 21:8–9, not only did our Lord order Moses to make another statue in the form of a bronze serpent, he commanded the children of Israel to look to it in order to be healed. The context of the passage is one where Israel had rebelled against God, and a plague of deadly snakes was sent as a just punishment. This statue of a snake had no power of itself—we know from John 3:14 it was merely a type of Christ—but God used this image of a snake as an instrument to effect healing in his people.

Further, in 1 Kings 6, Solomon built a temple for the glory of God, described as follows:

In the inner sanctuary he made two cherubim of olivewood, each ten cubits high. . . . He put the cherubim in the innermost part of the house. . . . He carved all the walls of the house round about with carved figures of cherubim and palm trees, and open flowers, in the inner and outer rooms. . . . For the entrance to the inner sanctuary he made doors of olivewood. . . . He covered the two doors of olivewood with carvings of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers; he overlaid them with gold (1 Kgs. 6:23, 27, 29, 31, 32).

King Solomon ordered the construction of multiple images of things both “in heaven above” (angels) and “in the earth beneath” (palm trees and open flowers). And then, after the completion of the temple, God declared he was pleased with its construction (1 Kgs. 9:3). Didn't God know what King Solomon had done?

It becomes apparent, given the above evidence, that a strictly literal interpretation of Exodus 20:2–5 is erroneous. Otherwise, we would have to conclude that God prohibits something in Exodus 20 that he commands elsewhere.

Guiding Us Home

Why would God use these images of serpents, angels, palm trees, and open flowers? Why didn’t he heal the people directly rather than use a “graven image”? Why didn’t he command Moses and Solomon to build an ark and a temple void of any images at all?

First, God knows what his own commandments mean. He never condemned the use of statues absolutely. Second, God created man as a being who is essentially spiritual and physical. In order to draw us to himself, God uses both spiritual and physical means. He will use statues, the temple, or even creation itself to guide us to our heavenly home.

Psalm 19:1 tells us:

The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.”

Romans 1:20 says:

Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made.

Gazing at a sunset—or a great painting of a sunset—and contemplating the greatness of God through the beauty of his creation is not idolatry. Nor is it idolatrous to look at statues of great saints of old in order to honor them for the great things God has done through them. It is no more idolatrous for us to desire to imitate their holy lives and honor them than it was for St. Paul to exhort the Corinthians to imitate his own holy life (1 Cor. 4:16) and to “esteem very highly” those who were “over [the Thessalonians] in the Lord and admonish [them]” (1 Thess. 5:12–13).

Jesus Is the Reason

It is Jesus Christ himself who gives us the ultimate example of the value of statues and icons. Indeed, Christ, in his humanity, has opened up an entirely new economy of iconography and statuary. Christ becomes for us the ultimate reason for all representations of the angels and saints. Why do we say this? Colossians 1:15 tells us Christ is, “The image (Gr.-icon) of the invisible God.” Christ is the ultimate icon! And what does this icon reveal to us? He reveals God the Father. When Jesus said, “He who has seen me has seen the Father,” in John 14:9, he does not mean that he is the Father. He isn’t. He’s the Son. Hebrews 1:3 tells us Christ “reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature.” That is the essence of what statues and icons are. Just as “the word became flesh” (John 1:14) and revealed the Father to us in a manner beyond the imaginings of men before the advent of Christ, representations of God’s holy angels and saints are also icons of Christ who by their heroic virtue “reflect the glory of God” as well. Just as St. Paul told the Corinthians to hold up his own life as a paradigm when he said, “I urge you, then, be imitators of me,” the Church continues to hold up great men and women of faith as “icons” of the life of Christ lived in fallen human nature aided by grace.

Adoration is as Adoration Does

Many Protestants will claim that, while the Catholic may say he does not adore statues, his actions prove otherwise. Catholics kiss statues, bow down before them, and pray in front of them. According to these same Protestants, that represents the adoration that is due God alone. Peter, when Cornelius bowed down to adore him, ordered him to “stand up; I too am a man” (Acts 10:26). When John bowed down before an angel, the angel told him, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you” (Rev. 19:10). But Catholics have no problem bowing down before what is less—a statue of Peter or John!

Is kissing or kneeling down before a statue the same as adoring it? Not necessarily. Both Peter in Acts 10 and the angel in Revelation 19 rebuked Cornelius and John, respectively, specifically for adoring them as if each was adoring the Lord. The problem was not with the bowing; it was with the adoration. Bowing does not necessarily entail adoration. For example, Jacob bowed to the ground on his knees seven times to his elder brother Esau (Gen. 33:3), Bathsheba bowed to her husband David (1 Kgs. 1:16), and Solomon bowed to his mother Bathsheba (1 Kgs. 2:19). In fact, in Revelation 3:9, John records the words of Jesus:

Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and learn that I have loved you.

Here, John uses the same verb for “bow down” (proskuneo) that he used in Revelation 19:10 for “adoration” when he acknowledged his own error in adoring the angel. Would anyone dare say that Jesus would make someone commit idolatry? Of course not!

I argue that in a sense, Jesus is saying to those who do not know him, "You can either bow down to my people (respect and honor them) now in this life, or I will compel you to do so in the next. It's your choice." But however you interpret Rev. 3:9, it is probably the clearest example in the New Testament of why bowing does not equal adoring (or worshipping).

This may sound shocking to Christians raised in what has become a very cold Western world that has lost, for the most part, a true affective sense. On one side we have a culture that has become so inundated with everthing sexual, we've lost what the ancient people of God did not so much put to words as they did live from the core of their collective being. They knew how to love and respect each other. St. Paul, for example, encouraged Christians to greet one another with a holy kiss (Rom. 16:16; 1 Cor. 16:20; 2 Cor. 13:12; 1 Thess. 5:26).

"Are you kidding me, St. Paul? Get away from me, pal!" 

On the other side, we have a large portion of Protesants who fear any act of reverence directed toward a human or angel will bring the immediate wrath of a "jealous God." How far is this removed from what we saw from Jesus in Rev. 3:9, or from the clergy in Ephesus who we find embracing and kissing Paul after his final discourse to them in Acts 20:37. As the context of these passages make clear, these are acts of affection, not adoration. And, Lord have mercy, they are certainly not representative of anything untoward.

Conclusion

I suppose the message we should send to those outside of the Catholic Church who don't get why we bow down before, kiss, put flowers in front of, etc. statues and icons, is that we Catholics take very seriously the biblical injunctions to praise and honor great members of God’s family (see, for example, Ps. 45:17; Luke 1:48; 1 Thess. 5:12–13; 1 Tim. 5:17; 1 Pet. 5:5–6, etc.). And we do not change our beliefs because either the world, or certain people who name the name of Christ may walk away from them.

We also believe, as Scripture makes very clear, that death does not separate us from the love of Christ (Rom. 8:38), or from his body, which is the Church (Col. 1:24). Our “elders in heaven” (cf. Rev. 5:8) should be honored as much or even more than our greatest members on earth. So having statues honoring God or great saints brings to mind the God we adore and the saints we love and respect. This is a no-brainder for Catholics. To us, having statues is just as natural as—you guessed it—having pictures in our wallets to remind us of the ones we love here on earth. But reminding ourselves of loved ones is a far cry from idolatry.

If you would like to dive deeper into this topic and others related to it, I would recommend you click here.


Tim Staples is Director of Apologetics and Evangelization here at Catholic Answers, but he was not always Catholic. Tim was raised a Southern Baptist. Although he fell away from the faith of his childhood, Tim came back to faith in Christ during his late teen years through the witness of Christian...

Friends In High Places
Catholic Answers Director of Apologetics Tim Staples takes a stand against non-Catholic notions about Catholic devotion to the saints. Referring again and again to Scripture, he shows that only a Catholic understanding of this topic is in line with the Bible.

Comments by Catholic.com Members

#1  Charles Walter - Wilmington, Delaware

As a Protestant pastor I encountered a gentleman who thought having pictures of Jesus, whether in stained glass windows or in Sunday School literature, was a sin against the first commandment. He reasoned that since Jesus was God, then making a picture of him was a sin. He wasn't fanatical about this, probably because he knew he was in the minority, a very small one at that. I had to tell him that since Jesus was also fully human, it was hard to say why we couldn't have pictures of him. I hate to admit that I had missed the point that images are ok, but that the worship of them is not. I think I understand that at a certain level because I never was one to criticize the Catholic Church for having statues -- I actually thought they were great and wished Protestants had them.

February 28, 2014 at 3:47 pm PST
#2  Tim Staples - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Thanks for writing, Charles. I think there are more and more Protestants who agree with you today. I myself have seen a significant decline over the last 26 years since I have been Catholic in the amount of folks who come after us (Catholics) on images and statues. They're still there, but there has been a large decline.
Sometimes it happens because people like yourself simply think things through and come to a common sense answer to the query. But I would also suggest that on a larger scale this is one of the good fruits of the increased communication Protestants and Catholics have had over the decades. The more we continue the dialogue, the more the misunderstandings seem to go away, generally speaking.
Let's let the dialogue continue!

February 28, 2014 at 8:52 pm PST
#3  kenneth winsmann - katy, Texas

Tim Staples,

Have you ever had an opportunity to dialog with a hard core Presbyterian? I know some OPC interlocutors who are still SUPER into finding and destroying anything that could potentially be an idol. Really interesting cats. Old school. I'll be book marking this blog just for them!

March 1, 2014 at 1:41 pm PST
#4  Tim Staples - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Hey Kenneth,

I don't recall specifically an OPC member, but I have been in dialogue with a whole lot of folks who have been hard core on this issue over the years.

March 1, 2014 at 10:29 pm PST
#5  Christopher Travis - Huntsville, Alabama

If any Catholic believes a piece of plaster is God then it is a graven image and that plaster replaces God. However, if that image draws a Catholic into a deeper meditation to God it is not an idol, it is a tool. I have never known any Catholic who thinks a statue is actually God Himself. A statue for a Catholic is no more than a 3D picture, a piece of art that tells a story. Who can read the passion of Christ in Scripture and not conjur up an image of Christ suffering? I see Jesus being scourged, carrying a cross, and hanging on a cross while His Blessed Mother weeps. If God did not want us creating an image to tell a story He wouldn't have given us an imagination, it is not a sin to create an image out of our thoughts, however it is a sin if we try to create God. Take for instance a crucifix, no Catholic believes it is God, and no one was trying to create God, but we do believe it tells the story of what the Word made flesh endured for our sins. It is only an image, the same as we create with our thoughts when we read Scripture. Pictures and statues (3D pictures) will always help us relate to a story much fuller.

March 2, 2014 at 8:12 am PST
#6  Tim Staples - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Great points, Christopher.
One of the many things that attracted me to the Catholic Church is that fact that she is, like her Lord and Savior, both divine and human. She is incarnational. "The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1:14) so that we could "be[hold] his glory as the only begotten of God." Jesus is, as I said in my post, "the image (Gr. - "icon") of the invisible God" (Col. 1:15) so that when we behold him, we behold infinitely more than what meets the eye. The "icon" directs us to infinity.
When I look at a human being, I am beholding an "icon" as well. I am actually seeing only a representation of the total picture. The mystery I am beholding far exceeds my comprehension. But the only way I can engage the other that is standing in front of me is through the "icon" precisely because I am not an angel (pure spirit). In simple terms, we encounter each other analogous to the way we encounter God - through images.
And so it is in our adoration of God. We simply cannot adore our Lord in any other way than how he created us. Ironically, as Protestants, we had passion plays, Christmas plays, sent Christmas cards, even had manger scenes in our places of worship. Images were really all over the place for those who had eyes to see it. But then we would condemn those crazy Catholics for those damnable "images" and "statues" they had in their churches and homes.

March 2, 2014 at 5:29 pm PST
#7  Joel Lawwell - Avon Lake, Ohio

Excellent work Tim! It is a blessing to have this resource now available to us on the Internet. I enjoy reading your work and listening to you on the radio.

March 3, 2014 at 3:10 pm PST
#8  Christopher Travis - Huntsville, Alabama

Tim, thank you for reminding me that representations of Christ not only come in inanimate forms but also in live animate forms as well. A couple of really good examples of this are the movies "The Passion of Christ" and most recently, "Son of God." I have not seen "Son of God" yet, but I have seen "The Passion of Christ." These movies would not be possible without creating images of Christ in the art form of actors. Protestants know these actors are not Christ, just as we Catholics know neither are any statues. Both are art forms and both tell a story, one is animate while the other is inanimate. Now who can watch "The Passion of Christ" and not shed a tear from being drawn into the sufferings and death of our Lord? This movie brought a many of folks to Jesus for the first time, and for millions of people, Catholic and Protestant alike, who already knew Christ, it triggered repentance and a deeper relationship to our Savior, Jesus Christ. Hmmm, what do you know? Images really do work as a great tool to bring people closer to God!!! These artists have a God given talent, and they use their talent to glorify God and to build upon the Kingdom of God, they are not out to replace God. Amen!

March 4, 2014 at 5:22 am PST
#9  Curtis Steinhour - Snohomish, Washington

I understand that the statue of Jesus in not a graven image, but the Catholic and maybe other religions pray to others in stead of God or Jesus. I was told that they do this, because they want the saint or whom ever they are praying to intercede for them with God. Why don't they just to the main person, God, and not use an intermediary?

March 6, 2014 at 11:47 am PST
#10  Christopher Travis - Huntsville, Alabama

You are correct Curtis, we do pray to others, but you must understand we do not worship others. Pray means to communicate for a Catholic, the word is not just reserved for worship only. Now, if you were to say the word worship, the Catholic Church is very clear on this, worship is alone reserved for God only. We do not believe saints (those who have made it to heaven) or angels are dead or are in some kind of spiritual prison. The prayers of the rightous are more powerful, how much more rightous can you get than to be made perfect when you go to heaven?

Have you read Revelation 5:8? "And when it took the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell before the Lamb, having each a harp and golden bowls full of incenses, which are the prayers of the saints."

Well, one thing is for sure, you can live like a saint on earth, but you cant actually be one until you go to heaven. If you are already in heaven there would be no need for prayer, unless of course it is for us. God would have no reason to make this Scripture up if it were not true. You can also read 2 Kings chapter 2, that is where the prophet Elijah took his sons Elisha's request to Heaven with him. God granted Elijah's prayer for his son. God granted Elijahs intercession request for his son.

We simply do not believe we are cut off the vine when we die, we more believe we move up the vine because there can be no doubt we would be closer to God in heaven. We are in communion with the angels and saints, not in competition, they are family and no distance can seperate what God has joined.

And yes, we do, and can go staright to God, but God loves us to also love and pray for one another. Remember how Jeus instructed St. Peter to pray for the other apostles, to make them stronger? Jesus could have easily made the other apostles stronger without St. Peter's prayers. God desires us to be one, not seperate, He want's us to pray for one another here on earth and as the book of Revelation tells us, in Heaven also!!!

Catholics can not be wrong on this because there have been millions of miracles and intercessions granted through the saints and angels, I my self, more than I can ***** in the last three years since I came back to the Church!!!

March 6, 2014 at 1:05 pm PST
#11  Christopher Travis - Huntsville, Alabama

Tim, is there a way I can send you the story of my "reversion," my journey back to the faith after 25 years? I think you will find it very interesting and far from ordinary.

March 6, 2014 at 1:13 pm PST
#12  Tim Staples - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Christopher,

Send it to the office here at 2020 Gillespie Way, El Cajon, CA, 92020 attention: Tim Staples.

March 6, 2014 at 2:56 pm PST
#13  Christopher Travis - Huntsville, Alabama

Will do! And thank you for defending the true gospel of Christ and the Church Our Lord Jesus Christ founded. You are very good at it and a true gift to the Church.

March 6, 2014 at 4:15 pm PST
#14  Greg Herwaldt - South Elgin, Illinois

To those who have said we can pray to others, I was wondering if you could explain 1Timothy 2:5 It says For there is One God and One (MEDIATOR) between God and Men the Man Christ Jesus ??? What I don't see is Timothy talking about more than one as a Mediator. JESUS in the book of John 14:6 talking to his Disciples says I am the (Way) the (Truth) and the ( Life). Then Jesus says something that backs up what Timothy says and IT'S very profound. JESUS SAYS NO ONE COMES TO GOD THE FATHER (Except through Me) He is saying through (HIM) No one Except (HIM). Also read Hebrews 7:25 and the book of Romans 8:26-27. I was told by my brother one time what's real important is we have a big God and yet we pray little prayers. We need to pray big prayers to a awesome God and as Jesus said in John 14:6 He IS The (WAY)

March 12, 2014 at 4:09 pm PST
#15  Tim Staples - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Greg,
You answer your own question. You said, "We need to pray big prayers to a[n] awesome God..." Why? Why would we intercede if Jesus "ever liveth to make intercession for us at the right hand of God" (cf. Heb. 7:24-25)? Or better yet, why would I ask you to pray for me, when I can ask Jesus to intercede for me?
The trut is, mediator and intercessor are synonyms. The reason why "the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much" (James 5:16), is because of the fact that the "righteous man" is in Jesus Christ, our one mediator. We mediate in Christ and Christ mediates through us, his body.
Eph. 1:22-23 tells us that the Church is "the body of Christ, the fullness of him who fills all in all." The Church is Christ in the world. That is why Christ would say to Saul of Tarsus, in Acts 22:7, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" when he was persecuting Christians. If you persecute Christ's body, you persecute Christ.
When members of Christ mediate/intercede for each other, it is Christ mediating/interceding in and through them, so there is not contradiction between I Tim. 2:5 (Christ is our one mediator/intercessor) and I Tim. 2:1, where St. Paul says all Christians are called to intercede.
When we pray to saints, we both honor them as the great men and women that they are, and we ask for their intercession. That is entirely biblical. After all, they are in heaven with Jesus who "ever lives to make intercession" for us (Heb. 7:24-25). Do we really think the saints in heaven are just going to sit around and watch Jesus intercede, or are they going to join in and do what Jesus does? According to Rev. 5:8, they are doing what Jesus (and the angels, I might add, from Rev. 8:2-5) does. They are praying for us.

March 14, 2014 at 5:06 am PST
#16  Greg Herwaldt - South Elgin, Illinois

Tim, thanks for your insight But in 1Timothy 2:5 God is making it very clear that Jesus mediates on our behalf. I can understand what you mean if you asked for me or anyone to pray for you. But I as being raised in the Catholic Church always thought it was strange that we have God the Father God the Son and the Holy Spirit and we are praying to someone other than God. If I am praying FOR You I go right to Jesus on your Behalf not someone who is not God ??? This is the way I see you pray let's say for me you pick a Saint he or she you give them my prayer they GO to Jesus then JESUS goes to his Father for my request. I THINK that's what your saying so Tim it almost looks like That Jesus can't hear all of them so does he need Help ??? Timothy saying only one way no other and in Hebrews 7:24-25 Here he is talking Saving those Who come to Him and though Him who want to Be (Saved as He and only He can Intercede on OUR Behalf) THAT was the whole purpose of his Death on the Cross He took Our Place to (Cover) Our Sins, He intercede on our Behalf. In the Book of James 5:16 You have to read the verses above and below what's the writer trying to talk about it has nothing to do with praying to Saints at all ???? Also in Ephesians 1:22-23 Who's Paul talking to and is it for us or the people of that time and I still don't see that Paul is talking about praying to Saints ??? Then in Act's 22:7 Paul was near Damascus suddenly a bright light from Heaven flashed around Him and fell to the ground and heard a voice say to Him Saul ,Saul why do you persecuted me. Paul didn't even know it was Jesus that he was talking To, again what does this have to do with Praying to Saints ???? The last one is the Ones from the book of ( Revelation) The Book is A Revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave To John Of What Must Take Place in The FUTURE It Has NOTHING to DO ( With THE Present Day) In Verse 3 Of CHAPTER One Blessed is the one who reads the words of this Prophecy, and Blessed are those who hear it and take it to Heart what is written in it, Because The Time Is Near. This is a Vision given by God for WHAT is YET TO COME !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

March 14, 2014 at 5:04 pm PST
#17  Christopher Travis - Huntsville, Alabama

Greg, so that we may understand your argument can you please tell us what you mean by "praying to the saints." Are you implying that prayer and worship are the same? My other protestant friends also can not make a distinction between the two words, to them they are one and the same, but to us Catholics there is a distinction between the two. I guess what I would like to know is if you think Catholics are worshiping saints instead of God? Or are you trying to say intercessions through others do not exist?

March 15, 2014 at 6:55 am PST
#18  Tim Staples - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Greg,
You missed the point. When you said, "If I am praying FOR You I go right to Jesus on your Behalf not someone who is not God ??? This is the way I see you pray let's say for me you pick a Saint he or she you give them my prayer they GO to Jesus then JESUS goes to his Father for my request. I THINK that's what your saying so Tim it almost looks like That Jesus can't hear all of them so does he need Help ???"
The saints in heaven who pray for us "go right to Jesus on [our] behalf" just as you do. Your objection makes no sense. The real question is: Why would I ask you to intercede for me when Jesus "ever lives to make intercession" for me in heaven. Isn't it a waste of time to ask you when I could be spending that same time asking Jesus to intercede for me?
The answer is no, it is not a waste of time because Jesus wants us to intercede for each other and effect healing in each other's lives. We can only do it because we are in Christ, but it is Christ who wills us to intercede for each other in Him.
And when you said I am saying "Jesus can't hear all of [the prayers] so he needs our help," you are way off the mark of what the Catholic Church and the Scriptures are saying.
Consider the angels. Scripture says they are "messenger spirits sent by God to the heirs of salvation." Does God send them because he needs help? He couldn't get the job done without them? Of course not! God simply loves to use the rational creatures he has made to minister to one another. He empowers them, but they then do the work.
The same can be said of our intercession. We don't intercede because Jesus' intercession "is not good enough." We intercede because it is Christ's intercession that empowers us to intercede in accord with the will of Christ.

March 15, 2014 at 11:01 am PST
#19  Greg Herwaldt - South Elgin, Illinois

Thanks Christopher for your questions I don't look at this as a argument, I look at it as a spiritual debate. I am sorry if there are others who look at it differently as something other than that. I hope to learn from you as I hope you will learn from me. The point on praying to Saints is very Clear in different Bible verses that it's to Jesus Christ Only No One Else !!!!! The Verse I like First is taken from the book of John 14:6 Jesus answered, I am the (Way) and the (Truth) and the (Life). Then Christopher he answers your question with what Jesus says next and think about what he says. JESUS says No One Comes To ( WHO) THE FATHER Except Through (Me) Jesus. The very person's that some Catholics Pray to, Jesus is telling them the ONLY Way is THROUGH Me ( Jesus). We pray to Him as He intercedes on Our behalf OnLy!!!!!!!! That's what 1Timothy 2:5 says I find it very interesting it says Only One MEDIATOR between God The Father it's The Man Christ Jesus Only. It's the same in John 14:6 Only One Way Through Jesus !!!!!!!! Pray Vs Worship!!! Praying is presenting your needs or others and talking to God Through Jesus and Worship is Praising God and spending time to focus on all that he has done and given us and his attributes to lift up our gratitude for all were given. His desire for us is to live it out every day in public and private to be a example not just on Sunday's !!!! Do Catholics worship Saints Yes IF you are putting your focus and trust and praying to someone other than God !!!!! Last thing Intercession through others ??? If you ask me to pray for you I am taking your request on Your Behalf to Jesus who goes TO The Father. When you go to a Saint the Saint still has to go to Jesus and Jesus goes to the Father, But the Bible is very clear,Very Clear of the one who Goes to God The Father And it Can Only Be Jesus Unless the Bible has LIES.

March 15, 2014 at 1:05 pm PST
#20  Tim Staples - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Greg,
You are more Catholic than you know. We agree that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life, no man comes to the Father except through him as John 14:6. The reason why we can pray to saints is that Jesus has chosen from all eternity to use members of his body to communicate his life and love to other members of the body of Christ. As St. Paul says it in I Cor. 3:5, we are all "servants through whom [others] believe." God uses the prayers of the saints in heaven just as he uses our prayers now. Praying for one another does not negate Christ being the one mediator between God and men.
And yes, "when [we] go to a saint, the saint still has to go to Jesus and Jesus goes to the Father," as you said. That is precisely what we are saying. And we do this because this is the revealed will of God for us. All of us are called to be "co-laborers with God" as St. Paul says in I Cor. 3:9. And this includes more than just sharing the faith with people. We are co-laborers with God in our prayers, intercessions, etc., never taking away from Christ's intercession, but establishing that intercession so that we can say with St. Paul in Gal. 2:20, "It is no longer [us], but Christ in us..."

March 16, 2014 at 6:43 am PST
#21  Greg Herwaldt - South Elgin, Illinois

Tim, Thanks for your comments on 1Corinthians 3:5 my encouragement is to always read who the writer is talking to and what the writer is trying to communicate this is on Divisions in the Church. I try always to read the (Heading) in my Bible it gives you a preview of what the writer will be talking about. I use a study Bible it has headings it has Jesus words in red plus study notes and verses to back up what the verse is talking about. Start with verse one and read on it's about Divisions in the Church. The same with 1Corinthians 3:9 read on after you start with the beginning of chapter 3 read what Paul is talking about??? In Galatians 2:20 The heading is Paul Opposes Peter as you read on to the end of chapter 2 you see what those verses are talking about. We both can go back and forth on praying to Saints but I still don't SEE yet or understand where praying to a Saint is Biblical and Verses I given are very Clear that there is only one way. JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF said it with his own words to the some of the very Saints you pray to, like Peter or James, John. He Jesus said I am the (WAY) the (TRUTH) and the (Life) Then I LOVE what he says next No One Comes To The Father Except Through ME. Why do you pray to a Saint when you Have Direct access Through Jesus as the Bible says it doesn't say to anyone else ???????

March 16, 2014 at 9:28 am PST
#22  Christopher Travis - Huntsville, Alabama

Greg, I do not look at is as an argument either, not in the sense of two people angry at each other. My use of the word is as in a court case or a debate where two people make their case (an argument) to determine the truth.

I think you answered my question that you do believe prayer and worship are the same. They are not in the eyes of a Catholic. We know the difference and we fully acknowledge that there is only one God, there is no other way to have our prayers answered. On the other hand there are many different ways to have those prayers delivered to God!!! We do not ever worship saints or angels, but we do ask them for their assistance because they are family to us.

I lost my father a couple years ago, I still talk to him, I do not believe he is dead, through my faith in Christ I believe him to be more alive than I. Am I sinning or worshiping my father? No I am not! I know he is not God nor can he take the place of Christ, that to me is a no brainer. I guess what I am trying to say is that we are in communion with the saints and angels, not separated. They are not dead are they? Didn't Christ defeat death? If Christ defeated death, and He did, then how can they be dead? I was under the understanding that salvation mean eternal LIFE, not death!!! So how can talking to (praying, not worshiping) saints be talking to the dead? There are no dead saints, there can be no such thing, there is nothing dead in heaven!!!

I will leave you with these words from the Gospel of St. John...
"Jesus told her, "I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"

I DO BELIEVE THIS!!!!! We are not talking to the dead, but to those WHO WILL NEVER DIE!!!!!!!

March 16, 2014 at 11:12 am PST
#23  John Doherty - Waukesha, Wisconsin

Some children who were raised as Born Again Christians ask me if I worshipped stones. I asked them if they paid homage to cloth. I have seen many "cloth worshipers" standing at attention while the god cloth was raised on a pole. The cloth happened to be the flag of their country. They got the point.

March 31, 2014 at 3:09 pm PST
#24  Tim Staples - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Greg,
In response to your #21:
Yes, I Cor. 3 is teaching about divisions in the Church. But in the process, St. Paul answers some of your questions. For example, you say Jesus is "the way, the truth, and the life, and no man comes to the Father except through [him]." We agree. But what you are missing is what St. Paul says in I Cor. 3:5: "What is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed." God uses members of his body, the Church, to bring people to faith.
It is in that context that St. Paul would say we are "co-laborers with God" in I Cor. 3:9.
In Galatians 2:20, St. Paul describes the principle that underlies the fact that members of the Body of Christ can mediate graces for one another, and "save souls," as St. Paul talks about in I Cor. 9:22; I Tim. 4:16; Romans 11:14; I Cor. 7:16, and as St. James talks about in James 5:19-20. We can do this because it is "Christ living in us" (cf. Gal. 2:20). So, just because the heading in your Bible says something (that is not part of Scripture, by the way. Some man put those "headings" in your Bible), does not mean you should ignore everything else the word of God says.
So just because Jesus is the way, that does not mean that we don't need the body of Christ. St. Paul says we need the other members of the Body of Christ in I Cor. 12:21. That includes the saints in heaven. They are just as much members of the body of Christ as anyone else.
You ask "why to you pray to a Saint when you Have Direct access Through Jesus as the Bible says..." The answer is because Jesus wills us to pray for one another IN HIM.

April 1, 2014 at 7:40 am PST
#25  Stevie Davis - Queen Creek, Arizona

I looked up 3 or 4 verses posted toward the beginning and didn't see anything in them about statues. One did mention 'honor'. Lots of ways to show honor for someone without bowing or having statues of them around.

and toward the end re: praying to the saints and praying for one another.

If we were to pray to Mary or the saints wouldn't it be in the Bible? Is it anywhere? Not the verse about praying together either - that's entirely different.

And I always have some Catholic say it's the same as when I ask a friend to also pray for a cause. No it isn't. I don't pray to my friend to pray for whatever need I have. I just flat out ask them.

April 21, 2014 at 9:44 pm PST
#26  Christopher Travis - Huntsville, Alabama

One good way to show honor for someone who is faithful to God is described well in 2 Kings 2:15.

The guild prophets in Jericho, who were on the other side, saw him and said,"The spirit of Ellijah rests on Elisha." They went to meet him, bowing to the ground before him.

Showing honor to someone else doesn't take away from who God is, it gives glory to God that we acknowledge what God can do through certain individuals.

April 22, 2014 at 5:39 am PST
#27  Stevie Davis - Queen Creek, Arizona

that might have been the custom them.
how often is bowing in relationship to the Lord in the Bible vs others?

do you (or know anyone) who bows to someone in life to show respect or honor? your boss? parents? minister/priest? a spouse?

I don't know anyone who does or would - except maybe some Catholics when it gets up to someone higher up than a priest (Bishop maybe) or a statue of Mary - or even Joseph.

April 22, 2014 at 4:21 pm PST
#28  Christopher Travis - Huntsville, Alabama

Of course that was a long time ago, the Word of God does not go out of style, it remains for eternity. What do you think, that God changed His mind? Did He give us a bad example? Don't be so worried about it, it is Ok, really, but thank you for your concern.

April 22, 2014 at 5:04 pm PST
#29  Kevin Nelson - Wylie, Texas

I am non-denominational. I accept that having images is not a big deal...my first Bibles all had images in them. However:

If someone took my Bible and defiled it in some way (left to your imagination), it would be sacrilege in the sense that their intent is specifically to defile what the book stands for. However, when my Bible gets old and worn out and the pages fall out, I throw it away and buy a new one, and this is not sacrilege, IMHO, because it's just an object and I'm not being disrespectful to God in this act. In the same way, my key consideration as to whether these are idols or just images is: can you throw them away? If you can throw the images of the saints, etc., in the trash (not in a way that would be considered defilement), then I would concur that it's not an idol...but if the object itself is above being discarded, then it has gone beyond merely an image or representation and has become idolized.

Based on what was written above, it would seem that we might be on the same page. However, my wife's step-mom (Catholic) has some old coasters that have images of saints on them...they are old and worn out. She feels that she can't throw them away because that would be sacrilege. To me, this then goes beyond being merely images and seems awfully close to idolizing the images.

So, my question, then, is whether this is merely her misunderstanding and that the Catholic church would say to throw the coasters away because they are just images...or does the Catholic church treat (and teach others to treat) images of the saints and Jesus, etc., with that kind of sacred mentality?

June 3, 2014 at 3:06 pm PST
#30  Christopher Travis - Huntsville, Alabama

Kevin, as I tell many...relax. Your wife's step mom is acting out of love and charity, a virtue that is sorely lacking in this world. The easiest way to explain this, is that we Catholics view saints as our family, we are very close and there is a connection that goes far beyond human understanding. If I have images of my great grandparents, or anyone else in my family, would I throw those images away? Certainly not! We honor, love and cherish them. God did not say love Him alone, He said to love one another the way He loves us. So if our actions are out of love, we are glorifying God's wishes. We can judge others actions but not intentions, and it seems your wife's step mom is acting out of love. In a world so messed up and lacking reverence you should thank her for her courage and act of respect. God bless and hope that helps.

June 4, 2014 at 8:36 pm PST
#31  john vargas - diliman, cebu city, Cebu

Sir. Tim Staples,
Can i use this post to enlighten other people about the
1st commandment?.. A lot of people specialy other religion
Here in philippines keeps saying that catholics are sinner,
Because they worship statue and graven images..
And by the way, im going to translate it in "tagalog" so
A lot of people can undetstand what this truly means..
I will always place this website as it's source and your name
as the one who wrote it.. This will be a lot of help...
Thank you in advance for your response..

July 29, 2014 at 10:03 am PST
#32  Tim Staples - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Hey John,
You have my permission as long as you fulfill your end of the bargain as stated. Let me know how it goes.

July 30, 2014 at 5:21 pm PST
#33  john vargas - diliman, cebu city, Cebu

Sure sir..
Thanks a lot..
:D

August 4, 2014 at 8:15 pm PST

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