Have No False Idols (Commandments Book 7)

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The verse numbers are no help since they were added by Bible scholars many centuries after Christ. Traditionally Catholics consider Deut. Verse 21 is split up into the Ninth and Tenth Commandments - distinguishing the desire lust to commit adultery from the desire greed to steal. This division scheme was advocated by St. Augustine in his writings on Exodus. Traditionally Protestants consider Deut.

The Second Commandment - Do not worship idols

Verse 21 is kept together as the Tenth Commandment. Verse 7 forbids the worship of other gods, while verses forbid the making of graven carved images that would be worshipped as gods, i. Now worshipping statues with divine honor is one way of worshipping other gods. Verse 7 is a general statement of the First Commandment, while verses give a specific case of this Commandment.

Verses present the punishments and rewards that are associated with these Commandments. By combining together Deut.

The Commandments (in Jewish Tradition)

Suspicions are further fueled when Catholic books only present the general form of the Commandment, Deut. Now one must ask the question: "Does God forbid the making of statues, or does He condemn the worship of statues? A separate Commandment based on Deut.

Analysis of the Second Commandment

Now if God simply forbids the making of graven images, then there are problems elsewhere in the Bible. First, in Exodus , God commands Moses to make two statues of angels cherubim for the top of the Ark of the Covenant. Later in Numbers , God commands Moses to make a bronze serpent, so that the people who were bitten by snakes could look upon it and be healed. Now it is true that centuries later King Hezekiah destroyed it; however, this action was done because the people worshipped it as a god 2 Kings In the Gospel, Jesus compared Himself to the bronze serpent John Continuing in the Old Testament, the inner sanctuary of the Temple contained two large statues of angels according to 1 Kings In the following verses, Solomon also had the walls of the Temple decorated with carved images of angels, palm trees and flowers 1 Kings ff.

According to Ezekiel , this new Temple contained graven images of angels and palm trees.


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These passages in the Bible indicate that God does not forbid the making of statues. If God truly condemned the making of graven images in the "Second Commandment", then He must have changed His mind later in the Old Testament. The Catholic Church during the Council of Trent issued a clear statement concerning images and statues.

According to the 25th Session of this General Council:. The images of Christ and of the Virgin Mother of God, and of the saints are to be had and retained particularly in churches, and due honor and veneration are to be given them; not that any divinity or virtue is believed to be in them on account of which they are to be worshipped, or that anything is to be asked of them, or that trust is to be reposed in images, as was of old by the Gentiles, who placed their hopes in idols; but because the honor which is shown them is referred to the prototypes which these images represent; so that we through the images which we kiss The Church does NOT compel her members to kneel or pray before images.

No one is allowed by the Church to pray to images since they have no ears to hear or power to help us.

The Ten Commandments

The Church allows for the veneration of images as long as the honor is directed towards Christ and His saints. On a related issue, some Christians may object to the veneration of images of the saints since they believe that honor should be directed towards God alone and not towards Mary or the saints 1 Tim.

A prohibition against graven images, if read literally, would cause a number of problems for Catholics. Aside from the many statues of various saints as well as of Mary, Catholics also commonly use crucifixes that depict the body of Jesus whereas Protestants typically use an empty cross. Of course, both Catholic and Protestant churches commonly have stained glass windows that depict various religious figures, including Jesus, and they are also arguably violations of this commandment.

Exodus You shall have no other gods before Me.

The most obvious and simplest interpretation is also the most literal: the second commandment prohibits the creation of an image of anything at all, whether divine or mundane. Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the Lord spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire: Lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female, The likeness of any beast that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged fowl that flieth in the air, The likeness of any thing that creepeth on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the waters beneath the earth: And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the Lord thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven.

Only a few denominations, like the Amish and Old Order Mennonites , continue to take the second commandment seriously — so seriously, in fact, that they often refuse to have their photographs taken. Traditional Jewish interpretations of this commandment do include objects like crucifixes as among those prohibited by the Second Commandment. Orthodox Christians criticize the Catholic tradition of statuary in churches.


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  6. Catholics criticize the Orthodox veneration of icons. Some Protestant denominations criticize the stained glass windows used by Catholics and other Protestants.


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    5. One of the earliest debates among Christians over the way this commandment should be interpreted resulted in the Iconoclastic Controversy between the mid-8th century and the mid-9th century in the Byzantine Christian Church over the question of whether Christians should revere icons. The controversy was inaugurated in when Byzantine Emporer Leo III commanded that the image of Christ be taken down from the Chalke gate of the imperial palace.

      After much debate and controversy, the veneration of icons was officially restored and sanctioned during a council meeting in Nicaea in However, conditions were put on their use — for example, they had to be painted flat with no features which stood out.

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      Down through today icons play an important role in the Eastern Orthodox Church , serving as "windows" to heaven. One result of this conflict was that theologians developed a distinction between veneration and reverence proskynesis which was paid to icons and other religious figures, and adoration latreia , which was owed to God alone. Another was bringing the term iconoclasm into currency, now used for any attempt to attack popular figures or icons. Share Flipboard Email.

      Austin Cline, a former regional director for the Council for Secular Humanism, writes and lectures extensively about atheism and agnosticism. Updated February 02, The Second Commandment reads:. Continue Reading. Learn Religions uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. By using Learn Religions, you accept our.



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