IMAGE WORSHIP FORBIDDEN BY GOD IN BIBLE?

Many religions use images in worship. They say they do not pray to the images which they add neither see or hear them. They say that when you touch a sacred image as an act of veneration the veneration is not intended for the image but for the person or saint who is depicted. It is presumed that the person depicted really knows about the honour and receives it.
 
The Ten Commandments teach the evil notion that we must be motivated to help others for God's sake and not their own.
 
The first commandment says God is the Lord and there must be no other god worshipped besides him. The commandment does not say there are no other gods. It says only that no other god must be worshipped.
 
The second commandment says that the people must not bow down before images.
 
It is said that this commandment is not a ban on worshipping other gods because the first commandment already dealt with that. 
 
In fact the commandment does not mention worshipping other gods.
 
It is merely saying that images must not be used in the worship of God. It forbids the religious honouring of relics and images. The images, as understood by the commandment, are not worshipped as God but used to help people worship God. The commandment is not merely a ban on idolatry. It does ban idolatry but it also bans the non-idolatrous use of images in religious worship.
 
It is said that the pagans used images to trick their gods into giving them favours. But not all did that. The majority believed that the god freely helped anybody who used an image to worship him. There is no reason to say that the commandment only forbids the use of images when it is hoped to use them to manipulate God or supernatural beings.
 
The commandment talks about not what to worship but how to worship. It condemns the Catholic form of image veneration that honours images not as living beings but as representations of the saints and Jesus. The honour is not given to the image but to the person the image stands for.

There were two angels cast in metal on top of the Ark of the Covenant - some say that contradicts images not being used in worship for the ark was about worship.  This would be proof that there was no way Israel was tempted to honour angels.  It was either Gods or pagan gods.  God was sure that the veneration of angels as servants of God was too ridiculous to countenance.  There could have been an explicit ban that we do not know of.

Is the Bible against using images to help you to worship in the Catholic sense?

The Bible says that we are forbidden to bow down before images of anything in Heaven or earth or to worship them or serve them for God is jealous (Exodus 20:2-6). Anything in Heaven includes himself and the angels and the saints. He did not merely mean, “You shall not make images of other gods”. If he had, we would be finding the word god or gods in it which is vitally important for interpreting the passage right if that is what its import is. God said anything, so even images of the sun or moon were forbidden. The gods of the pagans were not very powerful. They fought with man and they fought with one another and they didn't always use their godlike powers effectively or sensibly. They were more like saints than gods. God refused to tolerate even those who said, "Such and such is a nice god. We can use her like a saint. We can use her as a way of praying to God. When we pray to a saint it is really a way of honouring the presence of God in the saint. It is a way of praying to God who wants to be honoured in his creatures." That is how the Catholic reasons and answers those who say that praying to saints takes away from praying to and honouring God. If we are Catholic and we call our saints gods does it make any difference? Its just a word. We notice too that God forbids the images to be used in worship of beings that do exist in Heaven or earth. How much more will he forbid the images of beings that do not exist! He speaks almost as if he feared the people wanted to use images of saints and angels that were in Heaven!
 
Exodus says first you shall not make the images and then that you shall not bow down before them and serve them. This is significant. The ban on making images is separate from the ban on bowing down before them and serving them. Then do not think he only bans images that are made for serving and bowing down before. He says you shall not make images of other gods. He doesn’t say do not make other gods which he would have said had the Catholic interpretation been right that he didn’t forbid images but only images that were treated as gods. Jews could have adopted pagan idols and images of the sun and moon but imposed a new interpretation on them. They could have used them as symbols of God. This is forbidden too as reading the commandment can show. When that is banned all images to be used in worship are banned.
 
God didn’t say what he meant by bowing down so we should take him to mean just bowing down. Catholics say bowing down meant to give them the worship due only to God. Catholics believe in other types of bowing down in worship such as that before saints. They consider that acceptable. So worship and bowing down are made very vague by them. God didn’t make Catholic distinctions and they should not be read back into the Bible. Bowing down meant any kind of worship or reverence whatsoever. End of.
 
Later we read that God had images of angels put on the Ark of the Covenant. God did not forbid images but only images for worship or religious images.  The images on the ark were images of angels but were not religious images. They were for decoration and not to be given any religious significance just like a picture of Jesus in a Bible printed by anti-image Protestants. And the ark was rarely seen and was kept covered which shows that God considered revealing such images to be dangerous.
 
God told us not to lift up our eyes to the sun and the moon in adoration and did not tell us not to look at them. So when these beautiful things which are treated as idols by many may be looked at it shows that he was not against all images.

It is very important to notice that the majority of the attacks on idolatry in the Bible never speak in terms of an image taking the place of God who is shut out entirely. Most scholars agree that it is most plausible that when Israel adored the golden calf that it was regarded an image of Yahweh that represented him but was not Yahweh or indwelt by him in any significant sense. They had seen too much of their God and his power and owed him too much to dare abandon him altogether. Even Aaron had a large part to play in setting up the worship of the calf and he told them that it was the God who delivered them from Egypt meaning it was the one that did all the miracles and was meant to picture the true God. The severity with which God treated Israel for their sin shows that he regards this as an intolerable sin. If God could not stomach an image of himself then how could he stomach the image of a saint which would be worse? If they thought the calf was a god below God then God was still supreme and the ultimate focus of worship but perhaps they wanted to approach him through other gods and believe that these gods were his subjects for there is no reason to think they thought that evil gods could be worshippable so they would have considered them to be nice gods for Yahweh was good. This automatically condemns Catholic saint-worship for the gods would, like the saints, have no power of their own but just have God’s power meaning God was still in control of everything. Israel was adoring God by using the calf to represent him the same way that Catholics use statues of the Sacred Heart to adore Jesus. God’s reaction to their calf worship proves that Catholic worship is not Christian.
 
Dave Armstrong states that the Israelites asked Aaron to make them gods and they knew you cannot make a God like God. The worship of the calf was about them wanting to control what they worship and so it was not a mere representation of God. The people bowed before what they said were the gods who brought them up out of Egypt. Psalm 106:19,21 states that they forgot God at that point. But we must remember that the people were trying to turn the worship of the God who saved them from Egypt into the worship of statues and divide him up into many gods. They were not merely inventing gods but trying to use the rescue from Egypt as proof that these gods were real.

God said that no image of God should be made and explained that that was why nobody was ever shown a likeness when he appeared. This indicates that they were most likely to create idols based on him rather than actually adore other Gods.

God was supposed to be everywhere and so to honour an image that he is inside for he is there is condemned. How much worse would it be to honour a saint’s image when the saint is in Heaven and not in a statue? How much worse it would be to honour an image of God as representing him ignoring the fact that he is present inside the image. The Catholic Church then practices the form of idolatry that offends the Bible God the most.

It would be worse to honour a statue of a saint which is also to honour the saint than it would be to honour a statue of God for the latter activity is closer to approaching God.

Images of God and by implication of the rest are banned in Deuteronomy 4:15, 16 by Moses God’s mouthpiece. He does not say if he forbids the notion of statues becoming God, being tabernacles of God or simply things that represent God which are used to help you worship him. This lack of specification is important for it proves that he was opposed to all three approaches. The Catholic practice is idolatry for God states that he ignores worship that is given to him through a statue. He makes it idolatry by not accepting it.

Catholics say that it is easy to forget that God was complaining about worshipping the statues as statues.

It is certain that nobody would worship an image just because it is an image so it is simplistic to think that it is this that is forbidden. The condemnation was written against real concerns.

To honour the statue believing that God is inside it would not be idolatry as long as you focused on God, who is everywhere, being within it and used the image to help you be conscious of that. (The Hebrews honoured God in nature and in themselves.) But when God rejected this worship it implies he would reject the theory: “It is God that is meant to be worshipped therefore he would accept it. The error is not in who the worship is given or why to but in how it is given.”

If the statue was thought to have become God what then? Some would say that then they would not be honouring the image but the person of God that has taken the image’s place. But if God is not the statue then you are practicing extreme idolatry unless these people think that intending the worship for God is enough for God to get it which would be tantamount to denying that idolatry is possible.

The nearest one can get to adoring the statue as a statue is by treating it as that through which the god is honoured. To teach that the statue houses the god or the god is turned into the statue is further away from worshipping the statue as a statue than the theory that it is simply a representation of the god is. Worshipping the representation is so close to worshipping nothing that it might be called worshipping the statue for it is as close as you can get to adoring a piece of metal or wood or stone. That must be what is being condemned in Deuteronomy.

But those who use images in worship believing that the worship pleases God are indeed honouring the image. They are treating it well even if it is not for its own sake. The ban on idolatry forbids the Catholic practice of venerating images.

When the Bible never authorises image worship before Isaiah 42:8 which has God saying that he will not give his glory to anybody else or his praise to graven images the verse can only be taken literally. It means that God will not allow images to be used in the worship of himself. To honour a statue of Jesus is to give it some of the glory that God gets. Take the ban literally. That is the principle of proper interpretation. These images would be used to worship God with so he is saying he will not be worshipped through them.

Idolatry would not exist if sincere worship of an image went to God because it was meant for him or would be if the person knew any better. Condemning idolatry is saying that sincerity is not enough with God. This alone condemns Catholicism for having a Word of God and a Man-God that make this mistake.

If there is no problem with images, why is it that the Church can't venerate statues of Jesus with an erection? Even old people with no libido wouldn't be allowed to do it. If the Church really believes sex is good and that Jesus as a man would have had involuntary erections then there should be no problem with old people venerating the statues!