Saints or Jesus icons are idols even though they are only representations?

Looks at this link:

One meaning says this:
a representation or symbol of an object of worship; broadly : a false god (This is kinder)

an image of a deity other than God.
the deity itself.

But being born from a Catholic family, I know saint and angel icons are not idols, since we don’t consider them gods, but we ask them to help us pray. We admire them as heroes but not as gods. Jesus, I wonder how to explain it, is it okay because he’s the real god. I can’t understand the monstrance, as I understand it, it’s a container of a sacramental bread, that can be used as a representation of Jesus since his presence is on the sacramental bread therefore, still Jesus, it’s okay to pray in front of it.

How much did I get right?

If you worship a thing, it is your idol - your god. There is a difference between having a representation or image as a focus to remind you of a who or what and having that same thing as the object of worship in and of itself.

The Hebrew people in the desert, while Moses was being given the Ten Commandments, come to mind. They grew impatient and made a golden calf. They did not say the golden calf was a representation of a god, but rather that this thing they themselves had made was a god.

When we make a statue of a saint, we don’t believe that statue is the saint, but rather it is an object of art to inspire us, to remind us of the saint and serves as a focus when we ask that saint for their assistance (intercession).

Similarly, when we make the likeness of Jesus on the crucifix (or anywhere else), we don’t believe that thing is actually Jesus, but only an object of art to remind us who and what Jesus is. We don’t worship the crucifix, we worship what is reminds us of - the second person of the trinity as one in essence and being with the Godhead.

The monstrance is a thing. You could think of it as a throne to allow the Blessed Sacrament to be made easier to view by the faithful. It is not a container for “sacramental bread” but rather a throne for the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ, made present through the miracle of the consecration during the Mass. When we pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance, we are not praying to or in front of “sacred bread” but rather we are praying to Jesus who is present, right there in front of us in the monstrance, in Bethlehem. (Beth-lehem is Hebrew for “house of bread”)

Catholics have statues of saints and angels not to revere these statues but to remind them of who they represent. This is no more worship than the attention people have for pictures of family members in their homes, which also are meant to remind them of who they represent.
You are right in what you say. Catholics, as you do, know that they don’t worship such religious images.

The Israelites did not have an absolute proscription for images. God himself instructed the Israelites to carve two cherubim on the ark of the covenant, and for Moses to craft a serpent. The Temple veil appears to have been decorated with images of the “heavens.” In responding to the iconoclasts, John of Damascus speaks of this commandment as being for a people who at the time were weak and easily seduced to worshipping false gods. God was also invisible, incomprehensible, unimaginable, and basically not able to be depicted. To John of Damascus, the Incarnation changed things. What was before unimaginable had taken human form and walked among us. This wasn’t just a man, but God moving among his people. God had himself fashioned his own image for us. The invisible became visible, the people devoutly monotheistic, and so images are appropriate. The Incarnation was a turning point. In addition to that, John of Damascus also clearly distinguishes between the honor and veneration we give to people (and cites a number of scriptural examples) and the veneration and adoration given to God. He also makes clear that veneration of God’s works and saints is not honoring the saints just for themselves but itself points back to God as its source, and so is appropriate. Veneration given to saints honors God, and is therefore appropriate. We sin only if we venerate saints and such as if they were God.

I always like the analogy to pictures we have of family members in a home. Well said.

SD, Relax, I got this…:smiley:
Iconoclasm: Or: Catholics Worship Graven Images NOT

In my opinion, this is no different than any pagan idol/statue worship, they did not actually believe the statue/idol itself was their ‘god’, it represented their God. I cannot think of any pagan group that believes the statue/idol IS the ACTUAL deity.

There had to be a good reason why Jesus told us to have no graven images of heaven or below…right? I dont remember anything being said this was exempt as long as you recognized the idol/ statue was representative.

The issue was definitively settled when iconoclasm was condemned.

The reason we can depict God as Jesus is because he took on human flesh & made himself visible.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that the prohibition against idolatry is a prohibition against worshipping false gods, not a prohibition against the depiction of anything as some radical protestants claim. If they had been consistent, they wouldn’t have any representation of anything at all; no photos, no art, no nothing.
God himself commands the construction of an Ark of the Covenant with golden Cherubim on it, draperies with angels & a brass serpent which the people adored.

Taken all of the biblical data, the church fathers have concluded that icons & statues of Christ & the Saints are permitted & are worthy of veneration.

However, among some, like the eastern orthodox, there are some who consider it prohibited to depict God the Father as He is unbegotten, unproceeding & never took visible form.

Well, look at this, God is allowed to use evil if some good can come from it, yet we are not permitted to do this, so him instructing the ark be made with icons on it, does not mean, its OK for us to do the same.

Then you’d be wrong on both what scripture says and what the church teaches (which I have laid out in my link above).

Just a couple of examples of idols would be Bel in the book of Daniel and The Cult of Moloch

There is a huge difference between Catholic veneration and statuary and anything pagan.

You are ill informed…

to the OP, what you might find helpful is that in the early Church, Bibles and printing presses were not readily available. The telling about Jesus used much more speaking (oral) and pictures/symbols. The stain glass window images were important as a means to tell about the life of Jesus in the case of no Bibles.

Let’s face it, if a stranger (who knows nothing about Christianity) walks into a Church and sees a large crucifix above an altar, they get a real fast teaching of what Christianity is about. :slight_smile:

Ever drive your car down the highway and getting worried because almost out of gas? If you see one of those “gas pump” icons on the sign for next exit, aren’t you happy? It’s just a symbol - no different from a word of text. After all, text including the Bible, is made up symbols. The letter “T” is a symbol (related to the cross actually). The letter “e” is a symbol. The Bible is simply a book made up of many of these little symbols that have meaning when combined. That’s all it is - no one worships the word “cross” in the Bible any more than they worship the larger visible “cross” symbol on a Church wall.


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