Catholic Idolatry

Mark Horne has a helpful post on why he is not a Roman Catholic. An excerpt:

  1. Idolatry is a huge sin and praying through icons (whether 3d or 2d) is idolatry.  I cannot possibly engage in such a practice, allow anyone in my guardianship to do so, or excuse such a thing, without falling into rank unbelief.
  2. Necromancy is almost as huge a sin and praying to the departed saints is necromancy.  See #1 above.  People raised thinking bigamy is Christian may be true Christians, but people who know better are living in sin and without hope of eternal life unless they repent of such behavior.
  3. The way some Roman Catholic constituencies provide ministry opportunities for defectors from Protestantism is, of course, tempting–but it can hardly count as anything more than thirty pieces of silver if #1 and #2 hold.  If one must be marginalized and impoverished in the Protestant world due to sectarian sins, well, God has called many Christians and their families to far worse martyrdoms.
  4. Claiming unity can be achieved by everyone else joining one’s own denomination is exactly the sect spirit that is so loathsome in many Protestant groups, and it gains no more attractiveness in Rome.

While Mark’s honesty will offend many who justify idolatry by appealing to John of Damascus, we have an opposite example in the Internet Monk’s interview with Bryan Cross, someone who has made that plunge into idolatry. I don’t know why these issues are never raised in these ecumenical interviews. Many Protestants still seem to assume that justification is the core issue between us and Rome, while in fact idolatry is and always has been one of the central concerns of the Reformation, if one that is often ignored today.

3 thoughts on “Catholic Idolatry”

  1. Idolatry is a core issue, but I still hold the main issue is justification.

    “In this epistle, therefore, Paul is concerned to instruct, comfort, and sustain us diligently in a perfect knowledge of this most excellent and Christian righteousness. For if the doctrine of justification is lost, the whole of Christian doctrine is lost. And those in the world who do not teach it are either Jews or Turks or papists or sectarians. For between these two kinds of righteousness, the active righteousness of the Law and the passive righteousness of Christ, there is no middle ground. Therefore he who has strayed away from this Christian righteousness will necessarily relapse into the active righteousness; that is, when he has lost Christ, he must fall into a trust in his own works. (Martin Luther, Luther’s Works – Volume 26: Lectures On Galatians 1535, trans. Jaroslav Pelikan, p. 9.)”

  2. Tell it like it is, Mark! Idolatry and necromancy! Yep, those are good reasons for not becoming a Roman Catholic, or even an Eastern Orthodox.

    Mark would love the mother of a friend of mine. Right in the middle of a friendly get-together at a local pizzeria, when my friend left the table to use the washroom, out of the blue she focuses in on me and says, “It’s just wrong! Having those icons and the way use kiss them and all, it’s just idolatry!”

    I calmly responded, despite the suddenness of her accusation, and said, “You don’t know what you’re saying. It isn’t idolatry any more than you kissing a picture of your beloved mother or child is idolatry. Either one can be idolatry, but neither one has to be. It all depends on what’s in your heart and mind.”

    I kiss the bible, ikons, the hands of priests, the cheeks of my friends, and in general, anything or anyone that I want to show honor, respect and love to.

    God knows who are idolators, and who are His worshippers, because He sees us as we are. There is only one kind of worship that He accepts: in spirit and in truth. Who is to say what this kind of worship looks like from the outside?

    As for praying “through” icons, well, I can only speak for myself. I don’t. I know many Christians who do seem to be praying “through icons” and “to saints” even though I myself do not do these things, and I also know the mechanics (one could call it theology, but it really isn’t that) of ikon veneration and asking the intercessions of the saints, both of which conform to my reading of scripture as acceptable.

    We expend far too much energy nitpicking each other than following Christ’s command to us, “Love one another as I have loved you.” I know why we do it, but doing it at all is just as much a sin as idolatry is. In fact, it’s just another, more lethal because more subtle, form of idolatry.

    Back to basic, brothers! Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One! Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind! This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.

    Who can get us off the hook of following that commandment?

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