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Statue Worship



One of the most common accusations against Catholics is that they worship statues, in violation of the commandment to not worship idols. This could not be farther from the truth. Instead, they use the statues as a reminder to pray to these saints. It is very similar to having a picture of a dear friend or relative in one's home. The statues remind us of the saint. They remind us to imitate the life of the person and to pray for their intercession.

Making Statues in the Bible
While it is clear that nothing except God should be worshiped, the Bible does have examples of making images in order to call holy things to mind. “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.” - Exodus 25: 18 – 19. Of course persons must be careful never to worship these images, but God orders them erected so that our minds can be raised to heavenly things more easily. As long as they are used as means to help us worship God, they are acceptable to Him.
Tertullian Okay to Make Statues
In the early church, the authors did not speak much about this subject, but Tertullian has a beautiful explanation of the use of statues.
The brazen serpent and the golden cherubim were not violations of the Second Commandment. Their meaning. Likewise, when forbidding the similitude to be made of all things which are in heaven, and in earth, and in the waters, He declared also the reasons, as being prohibitory of all material exhibition of a latent idolatry. For He adds: "Thou shalt not bow down to them, nor serve them." The form, however, of the brazen serpent which the Lord afterwards commanded Moses to make, afforded no pretext for idolatry, but was meant for the cure of those who were plagued with the fiery serpents? I say nothing of what was figured by this cure. Thus, too, the golden Cherubim and Seraphim were purely an ornament in the figured fashion of the ark; adapted to ornamentation for reasons totally remote from all condition of idolatry, on account of which the making a likeness is prohibited; and they are evidently not at variance with this law of prohibition, because they are not found in that form of similitude, in reference to which the prohibition is given. - Tertullian Against Marcion 2.22
Although it can be a little dense and hard to understand, Tertullian explains that the making of images and statues is not necessarily in violation of the command to adore God alone. Rather, they can be ornaments and decorations which bring beauty and glory to God, if they are used properly. Of course the Israelites made the statue of the golden calf and did adore it, so a person must be careful that they are not adoring statues, but the use of statues can be a great aid to prayer and meditation.


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