Question for those of the Christian faith...

the recent stories in the news here in NYC of the defacing of church statues brought up some questions… though i am not in any way condoning what was done, i find it horrible and disgusting that someone harm in any shape or form something that another holds sacred in any way, for that matter, i dislike anyone harming any one or anything that will knowingly cause pain or discomfort in others…
that said…
Why do those who follow Jesus, (i say that becuase i’m assuming there are others that worship Jesus that are not Christian) have statues and figurines that they bow or kneel to, when in the OT it prohibits the worship of idols? And also, concerning Jesus being the son of God, is it right to “worship” him? Doesn’t that make God jealous?

I hope i don’t sound like a moron, let me know if i do, i’m curious is all.

The OT prohibits the worship of false idols, not idols in general. Interestingly, it also allows the worship of other gods, so long as you don’t worship them before God. That is, in theory you could worship Vishnu or Zeus or Ra as long as you didn’t say they were better than the Hebrew god. I don’t see many Christians promulgating that belief though.

Actually some interesting questions.

It could be argued that the adoption of saints and the other holy figures such as the Virgin Mary made the transition to Christianity more palatable to many of the pagan ploytheists of Roman and Medieval Europe. for instance I understand many equated the Virgin Mary with Isis, who was still be worshipped in Rome at the time of Constantine (to whom we all owe Christianity’s big rise, for better or worse).

In terms of is it “ok” to “worship” Jesus, I think technically (according to the Catholic church)people are to follow the teaching of Jesus but whorship god. I could be wrong on this last point.

Needless to say the Church (Catholic or otherwise) has always tried to adapt to fulfill its best interests. Thus there may be inconsistencies in many teachings.

Jesus IS God.

He’s also the Son of God, which I admit sounds a bit confusing. But it’s perfectly appropriate to worship Jesus, because He is God.

So, too, the Holy Spirit is God.

Wait a second, I hear you cry! What about “I am the LORD your God, you shall not have strange gods before me.”

They are all manifestations of the same entity. For example, I wear shorts and a T-shirt to cut the lawn, and drink beer while I’m doing it, and I don’t shave on Saturday until it’s done.

Monday I wear a suit, and a tie, and am clean shaven, and don’t drink beer during the staff meeting. I look quite different. But I’m the same guy.

So, too, is God the same guy as Jesus, even though He “looks different”.

As we’ve explained in other threads, of course, it is inappropriate to worship the Virgin Mary, or any other saint, or to pray to statues of any kind. But Catholics, and Christians in general, do not do this. Catholics venerate Mary, and we pray for her to intercede on our behalf with God, in the same way I might ask you, on behalf of a sick friend, to “keep him in your prayers”. No Christian prays to a statue, but many might pray to God in front of a particular statue of Jesus, using the image of the statue to fix their mind on the true object of their worship. Many might pray for a particular saint to intercede on their behalf while in front of a statue of that saint, for the same reason.

Hope this helps!

  • Rick

It is OK to worship Jesus because He himself is divine, not just a normal person. Saints are not worshiped, but venerated. Veneration, IIRC, is a form of respect and admiration for the saint’s good works. Some people pray to saints as a kind of intermediary between them and God, although I myself prefer to skip the middleman :). It’s OK to make statues, pictures, etc, of Jesus because He became human and had/has a human body. To make a picture of God (the Father) would be idolatry, because God has never taken a physical form.

Greg Charles, I don’t think you have it quite right there. I don’t think that’s the meaning of “before” intended by the Bible. I don’t think its the “before” as in “he crossed the finish line before me”, but more the “he laid gifts before the altar”.

When Jesus returns, don’t you think He’d be a little freaked by all his followers wearing crosses, the instrument upon which he was murdered?

Even worse, the Catholics put a little figure of Him on their crosses with wounds and everything.

Well, at the risk of creating a post of record length (and before this gets shunted to GD), let me try to answer this. Just as an introduction, I am an ordained Southern Baptist minister (though not of the fundamentalist persuasion). Let’s begin with your first statement.

Probably not. “Worship” of Jesus would imply acceptance of the claims that Jesus made for himself, and that, in turn, makes one a Christian.

Those who “bow or kneel” would, if asked, say that they are not worshipping the statue or figurine – it is a “visual aid” to help in worship. With respect to the prohibition of worshipping idols, the OT does indeed inveigh against the practice (which is why Protestant churches are less likely to have statues or figurines than Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox churches). This was done to draw a distinction between the Hebrews and the nations around them, and it became a very important part of Judaism (and remains so). But because those who bow to the statues or figurines aren’t actually worshipping them, then the problem is avoided.

With this question you hit upon the doctrine of the Trinity, one of the most difficult aspects of Christian faith. God is both Three and One – so worship done to Jesus as “son of God” is also worship of “God, the Son”. There’s no way to explain this, it is a matter of belief. Suffice it to say that God doesn’t get jealous when prayers are offered to Jesus (or to the Holy Spirit, the third member of the Trinity).

Well, if you hold to orthodox Trinitarian theology, God has taken physical form – the form of Jesus.

Good point, AWB. No doubt he’d be pissed.

But I still don’t get the whole Jesus is God thing. Wasn’t God around before Jesus’ birth? If that is so, how can they be the same person? Did God manifest himself as Mary’s son?

thanx earendel1, Bricker, Avalon,
i definitley do not intend for this to become a GD thread, just filling in the gaps of my knowledge.

in reference to the statues again,

wisecracks about the paper aside…
doesn’t this quote, and what earendel1 & Bricker said about them not actually being worshiped, and with what avalon said about the Roman influence… doesn’t that sound like a cop out so to speak?
isn’t one still bowing/kneeling before an idol?

and Bricker thanx for the mowing the lawn analogy, makes sense to me, though i’d imagine the big guy could be amused… :slight_smile:

The reason you don’t “get it” is because it is not something that can be explained; it has to be believed. One can use analogous language to try and give clues as to what the Trinity is all about (one of the classic examples is the individual who is child, spouse and parent all at the same time). What makes it harder is that the Bible never uses the word “Trinity” – the doctrine developed over time (though based on scripture). And as if that weren’t bad enough, try understanding how Jesus can be “fully God and fully man” (in the words of the creed). These are matters of faith, not logic.

That certainly is one way to look at it, and there have been those Christian groups through the ages who have done exactly that – the “iconoclastic” movement, for one. And as I indicated previously, one of the results of the Protestant Reformation was the removal of statues from the churches (along with the veneration of saints, the Virgin Mary, etc.).

The doctrine the trinity is very difficult to understand. It may help for you to read “The Three Faces of Eve”. While it is not about God, specifically, it does discuss an individual who also exhibited three distinct personalities.

Spent Easter morning in my in-laws’ Lutheran church. Later, over dinner, caused a bit of an ruckus with two questions. First, I asked my sister-in-law to explain the holy spirit. Even if you want to say Jesus was more than a really sharp man, I just didn’t see any reason for the holy Ghost. She was unable to provide more than a comic book answer.

Second, I asked why her God needs to be worshipped. I could imagine a really nifty God who says all of the moral teachings in the Bible, but says, instead of spending $$ on a big church, vestments, etc., and hanging around worshipping me, show it instead. Go out and do good deeds to worship me, instead of singing some songs followed by a snack.

Yeah, I know I shouldn’t have asked, but I really was curious (and I was a little ticked at myself for wasting an hour and a half listening to a sermon that had nothing to do with living my life.) I also figured she would not mind the questions, because she earlier told me she did not believe Jesus was God, and her hubby did not believe in heaven. (I didn’t inform them that in case they didn’t realizze it, those are 2 kinda key points in being Christian. And what particular brand of heretic are you?) Oh, and she was really ticked that I was overheard by her 13 yr old son. Wouldn’t want the kiddies to know there are folks who think differently than you about important topics, would ya?

I applaud the efforts of the believers on this board to explain (not defend) their beliefs. It is very difficult for someone who strongly believes that there is no God to understand why, if someone wishes to believe in a God, they choose to believe in a particular God with such a convoluted story.

Bricker, you’re stating the doctrine of modalism, which is considered a heresy by the Catholic Church (as I understand it, that is–IANARC, that is, I Am Not A Roman Catholic). The three are one, but that’s it.

To Christians (adult convert to Catholicism, myself), the death and resurrection of Christ are absolutely central to the faith. One might believe that Jesus was a great teacher and moral philosopher, or even a prophet (as Muslims do), but that isn’t enough to be a Christian as almost all Christians would understand it.

The central belief of Christianity is that Christ died for our sins–without his death, no salvation. So commemorating that death for our sakes is the whole point.

On the issue of images, it’s been well said by other posters that Christians do not worship images: images serve as aids to faith but are not worshipped in and of themselves. God himself commanded the making of images for religious purposes–take the figures on the ark of the covenant, for example.

Quoth soulsling:

I’m no Theologian, but unless I’m mistaken, you can think of Catholics’ use of statues, or any religious image, analagous to Americans’ use of the American Flag. When Americans pledge their allegience, is it really supposed to be for the flag or for the country? Clearly, at least to me, the flag is a symbol, a reminder of what the Americans are truly upholding: The United States itself. A country is a little harder to visualize than a piece of cloth, so you use something for people to focus on. Sure, if someone goes and defaces their statues, religious people are going to be soured, just as a government would be if you defaced their flag. But that doesn’t mean that they see the statues as a god any more than a flag is seen as a country.

Actually the Commandment is:KJV Gen20:4 “Thou shalt not make unto thee any 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”… Ie, you can’t make them either. This was brought out in my thread on the 10C in GD, that Christians do NOT follow several of the Commandments. However, Christians are exempt from OT Law, after JC died for us.

I C. all great answers. except that the flag represents more then just a symbol of our country, and honoring it by standing up and putting a hand on our chest is not kneeling or bowing.
and as Daniel pointed out… KJV Gen20:4, the graven image bit. So it seems according to Daniel the answer to my question is that when Jesus died, all those who followed him became exempt from OT law?