Sunday 24th July 2016

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

Are Statues Idols? The Meaning Of “False Idols”

June 8, 2014 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM

Part 2

“I, the Lord, am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. You shall not have other gods besides me. You shall not carve idols for yourselves in the shape of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth; you shall not bow down before them or worship them. For I the Lord, your God, am a jealous God” (Exodus 20:2-5).
In this classical text, God our Lord begins by reminding the Hebrews who were gathered around Mount Sinai that He, God, had brought them out of the land of Egypt. And He adds a specific trait of that land: It was a place of slavery. But please note: not only physical, social slavery, but also spiritual, because the Hebrews had paganized themselves in Egypt. They were practicing ecumenism with the pagan idolatry of the Egyptians.
When we study the whole context in Scripture, we’ll see that God our Lord wanted Moses to take the Hebrews into the desert for three days, in order to offer proper sacrifices to Him. Yes, three days. Initially, it was not God’s plan to take them away into the Promised Land right away. They were going into the desert to offer sacrifices, to purify themselves, and eventually to go back to Egypt — to purify themselves from paganism and idolatry and eventually to convert the Egyptians. It was not a mere socio-political liberation; it was, first and foremost, a spiritual liberation.
Pharaoh asked Moses why the Hebrews could not offer sacrifice to their God in Egypt, instead of going into the desert. Why the need to go into the desert for three days? Moses replied that the Egyptians would not take it nicely if they saw the Hebrews killing the animals they adored . . . so Moses was going to kill calves (the god Apis of the Egyptians) and as sure as death and taxes, they would object to seeing their petty gods killed by a bunch of slaves. So, for the sake of public safety, it would be more prudent to make the sacrifices far way into the desert, away from the vigilant eyes of the Egyptians (Exodus 8:21-23).
But Pharaoh changed his mind several times, which led him into trouble. Then he suffered the plagues and witnessed the eventual flight of the Hebrews into Sinai. But idolatry was so ingrained among the Hebrews, after centuries of rubbing shoulders with the Egyptians, that they just could not do without a little idol to worship here and there: to be like everybody else in the land was a temptation difficult to resist.
It was comparatively easy for God to take Israel out of Egypt, but it was tough to take Egypt out of Israel. That stiff-necked people simply could not do without idolatry!
So God, after reminding them of their social and spiritual slavery in Egypt, laid down the law: “I, the Lord, am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. You shall not have other gods besides me.”
Let us note that God states that He is their God, and they should not have other gods besides Him. Which other “gods” existed then? Idols. All pagan gods were idols. The Hebrews were forbidden to have other gods — idols — besides the true, spiritual God of Israel.
The King James Version of the Bible reads, “For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the Lord made the heavens.” But the Catholic Douay-Rheims is more precise: “For all the gods of the Gentiles are devils: but the Lord made the heavens” (Psalm 96:5). Therefore, to worship idols meant to worship devils, and very naturally God made an explicit prohibition of it.
And, to make it even clearer and to avoid any shade of confusion, God explicitly mentions the “gods” they were forbidden to have:
“You shall not carve idols for yourselves in the shape of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth; you shall not bow down before them or worship them.”
Here is the clear prohibition: no carved “gods,” in the shape of anything: animals, birds, trees, nothing. They were forbidden both to carve them and to worship them.
It is interesting to remember that it was precisely the Egyptian “god” Apis, the golden calf that the Hebrews had carved to worship. And they paid dearly for it.
So, what did God Our Lord forbid? Idol-making for the purpose of adoration. He did not forbid artistic imagery!
Here are some parallel texts in Scripture, relating to the idolatry of the surrounding cultures — all of them explicitly forbid idol-making for the purpose of adoration, not image-making for the purpose of art or pious reminders of sacred realities:
“Do not make anything to rank with me; neither gods of silver or gold shall you make for yourselves” (Exodus 20:23). No Catholic statue was ever made to rank with God.
“You shall not make for yourselves molten gods” (34:17). No Catholic has ever believed that a statue of the Virgin Mary or St. Jude is a “god.”
“Do not turn aside to idols, do not make molten gods for yourselves. I, the Lord, am your God” (Lev. 19:4). Catholics know perfectly well that a statue is not a molten god.
“Take heed, therefore, lest forgetting the covenant which the Lord, your god, has made with you, you fashion for yourselves against his command an idol in any form whatsoever. For the Lord, your god, is a consuming fire, a jealous God” (Deut. 4:23-24). Notice how God forbids idols of any form whatsoever. This is of utmost importance, as we shall see later.
In Deuteronomy 27 Moses issued 12 curses, to which the people responded, Amen! Here is the first one: “Cursed be the man who makes a carved or molten idol — an abomination to the Lord, the product of a craftsman’s hands — and set it up in secret!” and all the people shall answer, “Amen!” (Deut. 27:15).
Therefore, if statue and idol were one and the same thing, anyone who carved one would be cursed, regardless of what was being depicted.
In the next article, the big surprise: The most sacred place in the world in the Old Testament, the Temple of Solomon, was crowded with statues, all commanded to be made by God Himself!

+    +    +

(Raymond de Souza is director of the Evangelization and Apologetics Office of the Winona Diocese, Minn.; EWTN program host; regional coordinator for Portuguese-speaking countries for Human Life International [HLI], president of the Sacred Heart Institute and a member of the Sovereign, Military, and Hospitaller Order of the Knights of Malta. His web site is: www.RaymonddeSouza.com.)

Share Button

2016 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Cardinal Burke: Islam is ‘fundamentally a form of government’

Cardinal Raymond Burke said in a telephone interview that Islam is “fundamentally a form of government.” Speaking with Religion News Service, the patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta said that “when they (Muslims) become the majority in any…Continue Reading

Nienstedt: misconduct allegations retribution for opposition to gay marriage

In other words, he’s the real victim here. Marino Eccher of the PiPress says, “John Nienstedt, the former archbishop of the Archdiocese of Minneapolis and St. Paul, said accusations of sexual misconduct against him were part of a false smear campaign in response…Continue Reading

5 faith facts on Mike Pence: A ‘born-again, evangelical Catholic’

(RNS) While an official announcement has not yet been made, IndyStar and other media outlets are reporting that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence will be presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s running mate. Pence became governor of the Hoosier State in…Continue Reading

Trump In Tatters As Catholic Voters Shift Their Support To Hillary Clinton

A new Pew poll on religion and the 2016 campaign revealed devastating news for Republicans as Catholic voters have shifted their support to Hillary Clinton. A new Pew poll on religion and the 2016 campaign revealed devastating news for Republicans…Continue Reading

St. Anne Catholic Church prepares for 136th annual novena

There used to be a steady flow of stories, tales of miracle cures. They were covered in the Daily Journal, the Chicago Tribune and other newspapers, in the early 1900s. The Catholic church in St. Anne, a village of 1,239,…Continue Reading

More deception in the war on Card. Sarah

Speaking at a liturgy conference in London, Card. Sarah, clearly not acting in his role as Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, made a personal appeal to priests to say Mass ad orientem and the world is coming down on his head.…Continue Reading

Cardinal Caffarra on Marriage, Family, Amoris Laetitia, & Confusion in the Church

cardc

Editor’s note: the following is an exclusive interview with Cardinal Carlo Caffara, conducted by OnePeterFive’s Dr. Maike Hickson. Cardinal Caffarra is Archbishop emeritus of Bologna and former member of the Pontifical Council for the Family. It was in a letter to Cardinal…Continue Reading

Vatican Liturgy Chief asks all priests and bishops to face east for Mass, faithful to kneel for Communion

LONDON, July 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Speaking at a conference on the liturgy in London yesterday, Cardinal Robert Sarah, the highest authority on the topic in the Catholic Church under Pope Francis, asked all bishops and priests to adopt the…Continue Reading

This priest died in a Korean prison camp. Will the Catholic Church beatify him?

Wichita, Kan., Jul 2, 2016 / 03:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- There’s good news in Kansas: former army chaplain Father Emil J. Kapaun has taken a step closer to possible beatification and sainthood. But for Scott Carter, coordinator for the Father…Continue Reading

The Affirmative Argument for Receiving Communion on the Tongue

A recent post at the site Roman Catholic Man has focused a great deal of attention on the manner in which the faithful receive Communion. As any discussion regarding the Eucharist is a discussion about Our Lord Himself, the importance…Continue Reading

Hillary Clinton: “I Will Always Stand With Planned Parenthood,” It Does “Extraordinary Things”

Earlier this month, pro-abortion presidential candidate Hillary Clinton told activists at a Planned Parenthood abortion business rally that she would “always have your back.” She means it. In an op-ed written to bolster support for America’s biggest abortion business, Hillary…Continue Reading

United Way Sent $3 Million to Planned Parenthood Abortion Biz in 2015

LifeNews has repeatedly chronicled the relationship between dozens of local United Way agencies and the Planned Parenthood abortion business. Last year, on the heels of shocking videos showing the Planned Parenthood abortion business selling the body parts of aborted babies,…Continue Reading

Newsmax

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Enter Comments Below

This Weeks Comments And Letters . . .

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “An Introduction To The Problem Of Euthanasia”

By BRIAN CLOWES Part 2 (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 23 of The Facts of Life, a 150-page treatise on all of the aspects of euthanasia, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + We have covered the definitions of the varieties of…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Bishop Thomas J. Tobin . . . VP Pick, Tim Kaine, a Catholic?

From the Facebook page for Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of the Diocese of Providence. Democratic VP choice, Tim Kaine, has been widely identified as a Roman Catholic. It is also reported that he publicly supports “freedom of choice” for abortion, same-sex marriage, gay adoptions, and the ordination of women as priests. All of these positions are clearly contrary to well-established Catholic teachings; all of them have been opposed by Pope Francis as well. Senator Kaine…Continue Reading

Hillary Clinton Names Pro-Abortion Tim Kaine VP, Says He’s “Catholic” Who “Supports Abortion”

kaine

Abortion activist Hillary Clinton today tapped pro-abortion Virginia Senator Tim Kaine has her vice-presidential running mate. The Virginia politician is on record as trying to have it both ways — saying he is both a “traditional Catholic” and a strong supporter of abortion. Kaine has a pro-abortion record and the potential Clinton running mate is not following anyone. As LifeNews previously reported, Kaine said he is a “strong supporter of Roe v. Wade” despite supposedly…Continue Reading

Macy’s Fires Catholic Employee for Questioning Transgender Policy

FLUSHING, New York, July 21, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Macy’s department store has fired a Catholic employee because he questioned their transgender bathroom policy, even though he says he told his employer he would enforce the policy. Back in May, Javier Chavez, a senior store detective at Macy’s Flushing, New York, location got a phone call about a male accessing the ladies room along with a female. A female customer and her daughter were afraid to enter…Continue Reading

Land O’ Lakes on Steroids

In this bulletin on the Laetare Medal/Vice President Joe Biden episode, we consider its broad significance. As Bishop Kevin Rhoades declared, the University of Notre Dame has given scandal, but there is much more. In publicly spurning the counsel of Notre Dame’s (and his) bishop for the third time, University President Father John Jenkins has further undermined the crucially important relationship between Notre Dame and the Church. More, he rejected the recommendations for honorees from…Continue Reading

GIRM warfare: Experts criticize Vatican’s quick dismissal of Cardinal Sarah’s call for Mass facing East

cardinalsara

July 18, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Recent official statements from the Vatican and United States bishops’ conference on the Catholic Church’s chief liturgist Cardinal Robert Sarah’s call for priests to offer Mass facing the apse have been misleading, Catholic liturgists and experts say. Earlier this month, Sarah spoke at a London conference on sacred liturgy and asked priests and bishops to offer Mass ad orientem — that is, facing the tabernacle with the congregation rather than facing…Continue Reading

A Book Review . . . Readings And Meditations For Praying The Rosary

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY How to Pray the Secret Rosary by Frank M. Rega OFS (CreateSpace, 132 pages, Paperback $11.43, ebook $6.30). Available at amazon.com. This slim paperback from Frank Rega gives guidance on how to pray the rosary when you aren’t necessarily able to pray with rosary beads — if you are doing household…Continue Reading

Who Gave Us Justice Ginsburg?

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN “Her mind is shot.” That was the crisp diagnosis of Donald Trump on hearing the opinion of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the possibility he might become president. It all began with an interview the past week when the justice was asked for her thoughts on a Trump presidency. Ginsburg went…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “The Second Time Around: The Future Of Euthanasia In Holland”

By BRIAN CLOWES “There will be casualties” — Australian euthanasia activist Dr. Philip Nitschke. + + + The Final Step: Accepting And Accommodating Evil After decades of struggling with the euthanasia issue, it appears that the government of the Netherlands is in the process of accepting reality. It has given up attempting to place any…Continue Reading

New Film . . . Explores Jerome Lejeune’s Life And Work

By MARY O’NEILL LE RUMEUR “To kill or not to kill; that is the question.” It is August 1969, in San Francisco, and Professor Jerome Lejeune is addressing the annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics. Ten years before, in 1959, he had discovered the genetic cause of Down syndrome, when he saw…Continue Reading

Lawyer Says . . . Not Even Kafka Could Write Something Like Obama’s Bathroom Edict

By DEXTER DUGGAN The Obama administration’s legal assault against sexual reality is something that not even novelist Franz Kafka could have written, an attorney representing the North Carolina legislature told a presentation at the conservative Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. Attorney Kyle Duncan made that comparison as he and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton spoke…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

The Marvel Of The Catholic Church… The Great Catholic Library: The Bible

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 10 “Ignorance of Scriptures is ignorance of Christ,” said St. Jerome, one of the greatest Bible scholars of all times, who translated the whole Bible from Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek into Latin in the fourth century — over one thousand years before Martin Luther preached his heresies in Europe. Luther and his followers down…Continue Reading

Liturgical Diversity And Unity

By DON FIER In considering where the liturgy is celebrated, we saw last week that “the worship ‘in spirit and in truth’ (John 4:24) of the New Covenant is not tied exclusively to any place because Christ is the true temple of God” (Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCCC], n. 244). It is through Him that the…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. I would like to know where St. Patrick is buried. — M.A., Pennsylvania. A. St. Patrick, who died in AD 461, is thought to be buried next to Down Cathedral in Northern Ireland. Once a former Benedictine monastery that was built in 1163, the church now belongs to the Church of Ireland and is known as the Cathedral Church…Continue Reading

Seek What Is Above

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Eighteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR C) Readings: Eccl. 1:2; 2:21-23 Col. 3:1-5, 9-11 Luke 12:13-21 “Vanity of Vanities, all things are vanity!” What a great line and what profound insight Solomon shows in writing these words. Most everything that the world holds up to be of some importance is nothing but vanity. Unfortunately, it is…Continue Reading

From Casuistry To Mercy . . . Toward A New Art Of Pleasing?

By MSGR. MICHEL SCHOOYANS Part 1 (Editor’s Note: Msgr. Michel Schooyans wrote the following essay for LifeSiteNews, which graciously granted reprint permission to The Wanderer. The essay will appear in two parts because of its length; part two will appear in this space in next week’s issue. (John-Henry Westen, editor-in-chief of LifeSiteNews, provided this background information about the essay: (“Msgr.…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. John Cassian

By CAROLE BRESLIN Frequently, the lives of the saints demonstrate that God calls us to go in directions that we would never consider unless it became clear that it is God’s will. St. Francis Xavier went to the Far East, St. Damien died in Hawaii on the opposite side of the world from his native Belgium, and St. John Cassian…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . Saints Louis And Azelie-Marie Guerin Martin

By CAROLE BRESLIN The Lord sends the Church the men and women who are needed to keep her holy in times of trouble. Among these are: St. Francis of Assisi, St. John of the Cross, St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Faustina, and the first married couple ever to be canonized together: Louis and Azelie-Marie (Zelie) Martin. Their feast day is…Continue Reading

COMPLETE 3 PART Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Insights On The State Of The Church In The Aftermath Of The Ordinary Synod On The Family

Cburke3

By DON FIER Part 1 (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, recently traveled from Rome to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., a magnificent place of worship which he founded and dedicated. (His Eminence graciously granted an extensive interview to The Wanderer during which he…Continue Reading