Veneration vs idolatry

Schaeffer. You said:

It is possible to understand the meaning of something in another faith and still find that belief or ritual to be “wrong”.

I think it is possible.

But then don’t tell me I am an idolater in my heart then after I correct you. Tell me the “belief or ritual” is wrong. Then we can discuss the specific belief or ritual.

I can’t tell you how many Bible Christians accusing Catholics of idolatry have used Exodus Chapter 20 (to indict Catholics regarding idolatry). Then when asked about Exodus chapter 25, want to change the subject (and not address the fullness of the Scriptural teachings and how and why their accusations are not based on Sacred Scripture). But they (many not all) just keep running around (often parroting their preachers) that Catholics are idolaters.

But the idolatry-accusers, even AFTER correction, continue to assert what we have going on interiorly (when I as a Catholic tell the objectors that is NOT what is going on. I specifically am NOT worshiping statues etc.) is worship.

But even AFTER correction (even after I as a Catholic correct them and inform them I have no “worship” for a statue or anything or anyone other than God), we are told by others (wrongly) what we have going on in our hearts (when I as a Catholic keep telling the objectors that is NOT what is going on in my heart. I specifically am NOT worshiping statues etc.).

So what we have then, is somebody else telling me what is in MY heart (when I know that is NOT what is in my heart).

John Martignoni is a Catholic apologist. Martignoni who sends out free inbox Catholic Apologetics Newsletters (here) that anyone may sign up for, has a pretty good definition of anti-Catholicism.

Here it is (with one minor spelling correction and bold and ul mine) . . .

Anti-Catholic - someone who tells a Catholic what they believe, even if that is not what the Catholic believes, and will not accept any explanation or evidence to the contrary. For example, an anti-Catholic would say to a Catholic, “You worship Mary.” When the Catholic responds that he in fact does not worship Mary, and explains that he honors and loves Mary just as her son Jesus did, and shows them in the Catechism where it says that Mary has a human nature, not a divine one, the anti-Catholic responds, “You do too worship Mary!” In other words, **they wish to impose their understanding of our belief on us, no matter how much their understanding of our belief is shown to be false. **Simply being opposed to Catholic teaching and practice does not make one an anti-Catholic.

I hope this helps.

God bless.


Great post! :thumbsup:

They state they believe the use of statues and relics to be wrong and explain why. According to their definition and understanding of idolatry, which is not limited to worship but to the actual creation and practices of using statues at all, then Catholics DO practice it.

The article does not say Catholics worship statues or try to read anyone’s heart.

It says that according to scripture the use of such images is wrong/idolatry and Catholics use them.

So, are we speaking about THIS article or the never ending issue of whether or not Catholics worship statues or anything else other than God?

I’m not defending anyone lying about Catholicism or it’s practices.

They are stating their stand on the creation and use of statues.

If they are “lying” about your beliefs, than claiming this article is saying Catholics worship statues is likewise lying about theirs.

We are either fair or we are not.

To them idolatry is not limited to worshiping things other than God, it includes the use of statues and images.

Not everything and everyone who finds issue with Catholicism is lying about it, sometimes they are simply disagreeing with it’s teachings and practices. They understand what they mean to Catholics, but they still think it’s wrong.

I have seen Catholics make false statements about other faiths and their beliefs and practices, perhaps out of genuine ignorance, or perhaps out of a wish to malign, as you say, we cannot read the hearts of another.

schaeffer. You said:

The article does not say Catholics worship statues or try to read anyone’s heart.

But I am not addressing merely the article. I am addressing the attitude that the article fosters and that I have dealt with and many others here have dealt with (from an article that gives only part of the story on icons, etc.).

You also said:

They state they believe the use of statues and relics to be wrong and explain why. According to their definition and understanding of idolatry, which is not limited to worship but to the actual creation and practices of using statues at all, then Catholics DO practice it.

And when I (and others) show people who parrot these types of articles why they are wrong . . . FROM SCRIPTURE . . . .when I show them plainly God instructing the Israelites to use statues in the Temple, etc. and therefore their interpretation of . . .

. . . . “the actual creation and practices of using statues at all” . . .

. . . . is incorrect, they insist on changing the subject and not answering what has now become MY objection to their theological traditions.

Then worse, they (some of them) go off and keep asserting that I am an idolater while ignoring the issue and not addressing what is taught in Sacred Scripture.

And I am saying this type of response is not one that seeks truth, but rather seeks to bash the Catholic Church (if persisted in).

I actually went through this whole routine with an E-Free minister who was trying to assert this stuff.

He was NOT anti-Catholic (as he was amenable to correction).

He was propagating an anti-Catholic video around the community that was teaching just this thing (and other errors).

When we sat down (at my home) and went through the video and the point-by-point errors he said he would throw the video out and cease from making such (false) assertions (now that he knew they were false). He actually gave me the video (at my request) and I use it to help other Catholics see the anti-Catholic shenanigans out there.

My E-Free minister friend doesn’t have to believe the way I believe (I cannot force the Catholic faith on anyone–that is going to have to be a great grace). But I DO expect him to not wrongly assert what I believe, then when corrected, persist in his (false) assertions. Fortunately for my E-Free minister friend, he did NOT persist in these erroneous charges.

I expect the same from other Bible Christians. Many have not risen above their anti-Catholic bigotry.

you said (bold mine):

Not everything and everyone who finds issue with Catholicism is lying about it . . .

Please go back and re-read my prior post and the conditions I placed. I never said “everything” or “everyone” in that sense. I put strict conditions on it.

I totally understand your frustration.

I’m glad you had the opportunity to sit down and clear things up with that minister, THAT is the kind of awesome dialogue I like to hear about.

It’s all to rare when people get discussing matters of faith and ritual.

The article makes the claim that the Catholic church deleted the second commandment to not create any graven images because they had to in order to allow these graven images in their worship.

Of course, the command to not make graven images IS in the Catholic bible, but is not in the typical Catholic 10 commandments that summarize the commands. This is what starts the misunderstanding.

Meanwhile the protestants simply have a commandant to not make any graven images.

But Catholics absorb the commandment to not make any graven image with the first commandment, to not have other God’s before me, because that is the correct meaning.

Otherwise, the protestants have a commandment that stands alone, to not make ANY graven (carved) images period. But this contradicts God himself who specifically demands that various statues be carved. The context of the commandment to not make graven images refers to for example the Jews constructing a statue of the golden calf and worshiping it as was common practice in the pre-monotheistic pagan world.

Sorry, but the article propagates an erroneous interpretation of the commandments that needs to be corrected. And, it falsely accuses Catholics of editing scripture which they do not do.


In point of fact, they are written quite similarly in all Christian Bibles and in the original Jewish scriptures. The difference is in how we decide to divide them into individual commands.

The summarized Catholic Ten Commandments combine One God with the prohibition of idolatry, while the Protestant Bible divides them. The Catholic Ten Commandments divides coveting into a man’s things and a man’s wife while the Protestant summary combines them.

Perhaps God only gave us nine commandments? Perhaps he gave us eleven? Remember that when the original texts were written there were not even chapters and verses in the bible but contiguous texts much like we would write an essay, letter or book today. The summation of Jewish commandments actually combines both God with idolatry and coveting property with coveting wife and adds the verse prior to the commandments “I am the Lord thy God who brought you out of Egypt” as the first of the list of ten. The fact is, the scripture itself (Exodus 20:2-17) and (Duteronomy 5:6-21) is exactly the same in all three versions all containing sixteen verses. Are there really sixteen commandments? Nowhere in the bible does it specify the exact number of commandments. We just decided that ten was a nice round number.

It is not a matter of how many and how organized, but rather the intent of the entire writing which has come to be known as the Ten Commandments. We need to follow all the rules God set down for us.

It is clear that in the first (or second) commandment, God warns us not to worship craven images of false gods. In the context of the time, all gentile or pagan gods were represented by statues or idols and worshiped directly through those craven images. The idea of a God with no face was new and revolutionary at the time. People had a difficult time with a God who did not exist in solid form.

Many Protestant denominations have taken this to mean that no icons, statues or any other depiction of an image should exist in their churches. And some of these buildings are quite stark as a result. I find this to be an interesting irony when viewing some of the stained glass windows depicting bible scenes adorn many of them.

But let’s take it a step further. After God delivered the commandments to Moses, he gave very specific instructions to the Israelites to build a box to carry them around in that without doubt, uncontested by ancient or modern scholars included the creation of golden statues of cherubim to adorn and guard the box. Later, (or maybe it was before) he guided them to make a bronze serpent to erect in the middle of the camp to heal snake bites.

So why, if it was illegal, heretical or downright disobedient did God demand that the Israelites disobey his own law and create statues?

Could it be that creating an image was NOT what the command was about? The command is about worshiping any other god above the one true God. Now days, this includes money, pornography, sex, and a plethora of gods that we create for ourselves.

How you break it down within the scriptures is irrelevant. The command is still there in all bibles and many anti Catholic Protestants will conveniently point out that we omitted the idolatry clause when in fact it is very much alive and well within our Bibles, our Church and our hearts.

To quote the article at directly, let us “…pray that the Holy Spirit will draw them [anti Catholics] and that they will respond to the Spirit’s leading. Their eyes and hearts are blinded by the false teaching they are continually hearing, and, until they begin to seek the truth, we must leave it in God’s capable hands. As we pray, we must keep loving them and trust that God will prepare the soil of their hearts (Luke 8:11-15). Never give up hope; the Holy Spirit does miracles every day.”

Mary, Mother of God, pray for us all…
In the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

Michael Hager

Not sure I get what you’re saying.

that last statement is not saying veneration is worship, it says it’s idolatry.


But to be fair they are not saying Catholics worship anything other than God.

Here’s the quote from the OP:

" They [Catholics] have been cleverly taught to believe that they do not worship these idols; they simply “venerate” them. The problem is that “veneration” still gives honor and reverence to something and/or someone other than God; therefore, veneration is idolatry.

Sorry sir, but it seem to me, that’s EXACTLY what they were saying.

Veneration still gives honor to someone/thing OTHER THAN GOD. Therefore veneration = idolatry.”

Doesn’t seem to me that you’re ‘being fair’–seems like you’re attempting to defend this on an unsubstantiated basis.

It couldn’t be clearer. It is accusing Catholics of idolatry, plain and simple.

Perhaps I misunderstood your post; but I don’t think we’re misunderstanding the quote form the OP.

I’m not sure if we should equate the commandment to honor our father and mother with venerating/praying to saints. Honoring means respecting them, protecting them and loving them. I don’t think it means kneeling before them, praying to them for help when they’re alive (or after they’re dead). Wouldn’t that be ancestor worship? (Not to be cruel, but how do we all know our parents are in heaven? Can they intercede for us if they’re in purgatory?). It’s one thing to have stain glass pictures and statues to remind (inspire) us of our beloved Saints/ heroes. It’s another to get on our knees to pray in front of the statue or to the people represented by the statue (if for no other reason than it looks to others like we’re praying to the statues.)
When Noah, Abraham, Isaiah and Moses died, or when John the Baptist and Stephen were martyred, did people pray to them and ask them to intercede for us? How soon after Paul and Peter were executed did we start asking them to intercede for us? We know we have Jesus as our advocate before the Father. Why would we need some other advocate to act on our behalf? Is God going to say no to Jesus, but yes to relatives/ friends on our behalf? (If we say that the more people praying on our behalf the better, then is prayer to God a popularity contest?) Jesus (and other saints) told us to pray constantly. But they told us to pray to God the Father, (in Jesus’ name) not to each other (or deceased saints).


Ok, so I think the bolded betrays the flaw in your reasoning.

Idolatry is not limited to worshiping things other than God…”

The logical flaw here, is that the universe you are trying to carve worship out of, is greater than, and in fact, contains/includes idolatry.

IOW, idolatry fits within the scope of ‘worshiping things other than God’. It’s a species of the same family.

It’s like saying–"…hey, to be fair, it’s not like they called you a snake; they only said you were like a viper".

Or “…hey, to be fair, it’s not like they called you a swine; they only said you were a wart hog

The thing that makes idolatry a sin, is the part that entails worshiping someone/thing other than God.

And the thing that makes that argument face plant, as always, is that veneration of X, does not = worship of X, in lieu of God, above God, in place of God, or even to the detraction of God.

Veneration of persons (i.e. Saints), and things (e.g. relics, holy places, such as in the Holy Land, or statues), which themselves lead to God, by way of example (in the case of Saints), or by way of memorial, or reference, demarcating significant events in the redemption narrative (e.g. places in the Holy Land…), or through symbolism (e.g. statues, paintings, stained glass windows…), do not therefore detract from God, because, as I said, they lead us to God–are therefore are not idolatry, by definition, and not worship, by definition, since all are engaged in, incidentally, and part and parcel to, the worship of God.

This is all rather elementary, if you understand the nature of good and evil, and sin, vis a vis God.

God=the ultimate good; the light and love of the world

Good/virtuous in this world–that which leads us to God;

Sin: the turning away from God.

Bad/evil: that which leads us away from God, away from the light, to reject love (and therefore, by definition, and by default, to sin).

Bottom line: the embarrassingly simplistic apologetic contained in the OP, reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the Faith, and of good vs. evil–born of rejection of the third dimension of the Bible–it’s history. The lives, experiences, the passing of time, the real world circumstances through which the Faith came into being, and persevered…

The Bible is a wonderful thing; but it is not the end unto itself (like the Sabbath–made more Man, not Man for it). It contains the Salvation Narrative, the story of God vis a vis Man, and Man vis a vis God.

But God and Man, are ‘the thing’; not the written account of their relationship vis a vis one another.

Protestants have this habbit of measuring Catholicism (in particular, but really, everything) in a vacuum, against the literal–or rather, their literal interpretation of–the Word of God, without gauging it against the backdrop against which it organically grew, through history, with the guidance and under the protection of, the Holy Spirit.

This is a classic case in point. Take one little snippet of the Bible out of context, apply it literally and universally, in a vacuum and out of context, and they issue their indictment.

A grand jury might indict…but no jury would ever convict, upon proper review and deliberation of the evidence.

That’d be a strange argument if true, since God commands us to honor our father and mother. By that logic, we’d be obligated to commit the very idolatry we’re obligated to avoid. Since avoiding logical contradiction is a necessary requirement for a coherent system of thought, it’s clear that they are thinking in terms that frustrate rational thought.

People who accuse Catholics and even Eastern Christians of idolatry have forgotten that the Church had gone through this some 1300 years ago with the Icon controversy. The 7th Ecumenical Council had decided that people who accused the Church as committing idolatry were wrong. Since we have gone through this and have acceptable teachings in this matter the Protestants must give way to these teachings as well. Their accusations of Catholics and Orthodox will only confuse Catholics and Orthodox who do not know of the official teachings from the 7th Ecumenical Council. St. John of Damascus the great orator of these teachings said if we deny the use of Icons (or any other matter that helps us to think of the Lord) we are denying the Incarnation. He (Jesus) who was immaterial became material for us so it is rightful to depict Him on images or statues or paintings. This is the official teaching of the Church and Catholics and Orthodox need to know it so they will not be disturbed from whatever others who say otherwise. Just remind them of the official teaching from the 7th Ecumenical Council that has settled this once and for all time.

I appreciate your attempt to seek peace and welcome all efforts to bring Christians together, but this website is almost expressly written to be anti-catholic. Nearly every topic that the site addresses spends the volume of its text attempting to demonstrate of Catholics are wrong, and how ‘they’ are right. By it’s very nature, this site seeks to place itself at the top of the heap and push Catholics to the bottom so to speak. To say that this site approaches Catholics without vitriol or contempt when they expend so much energy towards ‘proving’ the Catholic teachings as being against God is a gross misunderstanding of their mission.

I have personally reached out to the staff of this site on a number of different occasions on a variety of the topics that they address. When I cite verses and point out what the Catholic Church actually teaches, and how it really applies to our faith…I have been ignored and brushed aside and even called a fool…hardly things that anyone could call charitable or done in kindness.

I am an amateur apologist, so I am learning as I go about how to approach others in love, charity and kindness myself, so I have forgiven this website and it’s staff. And I pray for them regularly. May we all seek and find the wholeness of Truth!

Peace in Christ

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