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Christians need to get over icons and symbols.

Updated on June 1, 2014

He is over there in my home. I like the rendition. But I do not worship the picture.

I think I like this notion, but it is only a picture on a wall, end of story.
I think I like this notion, but it is only a picture on a wall, end of story. | Source

No suggestion that we have these things.

Brothers and sisters I find no words in the bible that suggest that we have idols. Not statues. Not pictures and not Crosses or crèches and not event flags. I understand them to be only of man’s desire and not the desire of God.

And so I suggest that perhaps our current battle regarding removing them is God’s will that they lose their significance in worship and hold only tradition of man significance and perhaps worthy historic significance.

Other than very simple altars and temples I find no evidence that we are to construct “monuments” to God. Indeed I find much to the contrary.

Do not get this writer wrong I have visited many shrines and temples and churches and find the ornate and beautiful ones nearly transcending. I just love a good Nativity scene and simply adore the Madonna and Child and have visited St. Peter’s Basilica twice and adore a big cross on a hill and think cemetery crosses are awesome. The Christs above Rio and Vung Tau are awesome. But that does not change my mind. These are to be cherished but should not cause division in man.

This is the same for days we set aside and now just match a convenient calendar for events that fit into our work week with or without holidays. Passover is exceptional but only for Jews. The rest the special days and monuments are just helpful.

What mountain is a shrine?

Do gray hair men decide where to start a war and where to place a temple?
Do gray hair men decide where to start a war and where to place a temple? | Source

If this sounds revolutionary it is.

And it should sound in common sense. If we were to be trapped by this world and of worldly things why send a Messiah? Why declare that a rich man must sell all he has and give it away? None of this make sense if worldly treasure is to be exalted over no treasure at all.

There is the matter of “shrines” being curtained off in VA hospital places of worship. Clearly the places of worship are meant for all religions and groups and even atheists to go to to seek solace and contemplation and meditation. Here are some quotes of the “players”:

“We are not a politicizing kind of church,” Pastor Riley told me. “But we also believe Christians have constitutional rights. We have a right to voice our opinion. Just because you are a Christian doesn’t mean you lose your First Amendment rights.”

Riley said the decision to turn the formerly Christian chapel into a religiously neutral room is evidence of a bigger problem.

“Christianity, not only globally, but particularly in the United States, is really under attack,” he said. “Christianity is coming under some horrendous conflict from the media and to some degree from our own government.”

Retired Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin of the Family Research Council called the hiding of Christian icons an “assault on the Christian faith.”

In a written statement to the Rapid City Journal Black Hills Health Care System Director Stephen R. DiStasio said “the VA Black Hills is sensitive to each veteran whose care often includes spiritual counseling and access to their religious symbols. … Their [the chapels] key purpose is to provide a designated space for a religious service at the request of the veteran and their family, a space for personal reflection and a space for community services," he said. "This plan necessitates some changes in the appearance of the chapels, but it continues to support our ability to meet the spiritual needs of veterans and others."

(all appropriate copyright belongs to TODD'S AMERICAN DISPATCH, “VA hospital hides Jesus behind curtain” Todd Starnes By Todd Starnes)

Interesting,,,, but enlightening?

Here is a shrine

Human suffering is the only shrine we need. It is monumental
Human suffering is the only shrine we need. It is monumental | Source

"Irreverent"?,,,, you decide.

Some preacher man is pointing to the US Constitution to give us the right to worship and have icons. Shouldn’t he be quoting the Bible? But he cannot. The notion of having little shrines and even non temple places of worship is not suggested or even supported by the bible.

Let us take some fun examples “the sermon on the church of 4th street” “the miracle at the shrine of …..” “the feeding of the five thousand at the statute of Mary” Sorry folks it is the other way around, we build the temples and the shrines where miracles happen. They do not happen where we built a shrine.

So Christ took Peter, James and John up atop a mountain. There they had a face to face with two great Holy men Elijah and Moses, who were long dead of the earth. Jesus was transformed in front of them to an angelic heavenly host. They start in on Jesus about building tabernacles up there to the three holy men. Before they can even get out a full sentence God stops them and says to listen to his son – impliedly not to earthly notions of shrines. The story even ends with them being told not to tell anyone until a much later time.

Clearly there is no great command to worship with idols, even good ones.

So I am not “C”atholic yet I am catholic. The word catholic means like worldly universal. “Global” works pretty well for a translation. The Catholic Church with big “C”s means more like a name of a church. And truly a church that can trace it’s roots to something that connects it all the way to Peter. (it takes some leaps of faith, but hey that is fine by me)

But I did study and in the ordinary taught catechism and in the law studied the canons. And here are the positions on idols.

"Sacred images in our churches and homes are intended to awaken and nourish our faith in the mystery of Christ. ………Through the icon of Christ and his works of salvation, it is he whom we adore. Through sacred salvation, it is he whom we adore. Through sacred images of the holy Mother of God, of the angels and of the saints, we venerate the persons represented." Catechism, pg. 307, #1192

"The practice of displaying sacred images in the churches for the veneration of the faithful is to remain in force ..." Code of Canon Law, Can. 1188

"Following the divinely inspired teaching of our holy Fathers and the tradition of the Catholic Church (for we know that this tradition comes from the Holy Spirit who dwells in her) we rightly define with full certainty and correctness that, like the figure of the precious and life-giving cross, venerable and holy images of our Lord and God and Savior, Jesus Christ, our inviolate Lady, the holy Mother of God, and the venerated angels, all the saints and the just, whether painted or made of mosaic or another suitable material, are to be exhibited in the holy churches of God, on sacred vessels and vestments, walls and panels, in houses and on streets." Catechism, pg. 300, #1161

As Scholars we miss two concepts here. There is no reference to scripture and there is no setting forth of when the traditions began. This creates much suspicion as to wealth.

I am not free lest I be free of man. I am known by what I stand for and I stand for love.

This is not out of thin cloth but real in testament.

Scripture teaches:

"Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above,or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God..." Exodus 20:4, 5

"Neither shalt thou set thee up any image; which the LORD thy God hateth." Deuteronomy 16:22

Exodus 20:4, 5, 23

Deuteronomy 5:7-9; 4:15-19, 23, 24, 28; 6:14; 7:16; 8:19

Leviticus 26:1 "Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither

rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone

in your land, to bow down unto it: for I am the LORD your God."

Go ahead and call me crazy but that is pretty straightforward. But it is applied into an old testament. So I conclude that it is about a state of degree. Put them up for fun and adoration. But take them down if they cause strife.

Oh I reckon.

I think I am a sinner. And I think these icons and shrines sin not. So I cannot judge them. But even us sinners have opinions.


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    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      A wise decision Ms. Clark thank you for visiting and leaving a note.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 

      4 years ago from North Texas

      Money would seem to be the primary idol in this world. I would say more but I try to stay away from politics and religion on this site. Very good subject and worthy of much thought.

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Joe, If an icon helps someone, I am all for it. If it causes division we should worry about that notion.

    • joedolphin88 profile image


      4 years ago from north miami FL

      You really are speaking from a powerful place. Icons help some people but I understand your view.

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Yes they do. And I think that is good. And I would hope then with that faith the icon looses any intrinsic value.

    • MG Singh profile image

      MG Singh 

      4 years ago from Singapore

      Very contentious topic. Sometimes icons etc reinforce a faith

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      I think the idols are worthy of focus to help us meditate and find stillness. But that and fun are their limits it seems.

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 

      4 years ago from Philippines

      As a little girl my daughter used to ask me why the Catholic churches are always so beautiful (compared to our church). I told her, it's not how beautiful the church is, but your personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Still, I appreciate Cathedrals for the art and the culture that they represent, but I can't see myself praying with all of this distracting stuff all around. Well, to each his own. As a child and a former Catholic, the statues provided points of reference for my prayers, but not anymore.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 

      4 years ago from California

      Not a fan of icons. Big fan of relationship. But if a person wants an idol in this country they have the right. It doesn't have to be a picture of a saint to be an idol. Footfall and cars are big idols in this country and they are coming under attack too.

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Marlene I love my icons. Wood carvings and things made of rough iron are my favorites, Stain glass is so cool. I just love renditions of the last supper (wish I were there, sad, but the love must have been awesome)

      But they must remain just for fun and enjoyment.

      ps. some might be good investments also ;-) I have an 1800's Gutenberg knock off and a carving of Buddha that are called priceless.

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 

      4 years ago from USA

      I use to attend a church that was against all things symbolic. No stained glass windows, no pictures, no crosses... nothing. They were against it because they didn't want to be responsible for people worshipping images. I always felt like I was sinning extra hard whenever I was seen wearing a cross around my neck. The cross is symbolic, yes, but I don't worship my necklaces. I just enjoy wearing jewelry and that's that. I think my head is in the right place.

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Now that one I like very much!! We must remember not to take any of this stuff to seriously. Thanks Bill.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      When we were kids, the Catholic Church used to have saint trading cards. LOL We used to get them if we were good in school, and we would trade them like they were Babe Ruth cards. :) Oh how times have changed.

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      You just said it perfectly thank you much Dora

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      4 years ago from The Caribbean

      We may be fighting to keep a poster of Jesus on the wall, although our lifestyle crucifies Him. Sure, we need to get over the icons and symbols and install God in our hearts. Great message!


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