Now, Contending for the Faith. In this regular feature, Dave and Tom respond to questions from listeners and readers of The Berean Call. Here’s this week’s question: “Dear Dave and Tom, What do you think of statuary of saints in churches? I know that has been a part of the Roman Catholic Church at least since the Middle Ages. But they can also be found in Lutheran and Episcopal churches. The famous St. Thomas Episcopal Church on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan features a bronze statue appropriately titled “Our Lady of Fifth Avenue.” Don’t all of these churches do these things in disobedience to the Ten Commandments? Or does that only apply to the Old Testament and the Jews?”
Tom: Dave, you know, growing up Roman Catholic, the Ten Commandments that I remember posted on the wall of the school that I went to didn’t have the Second Commandment in it, that we’re not to make graven images.
Dave: Right. They divided the Tenth Commandment into two.
Tom: Right, which begins “Thou shalt not covet…”
Tom: So, what about this? Is it a problem? Is it really Old Testament stuff that we’re not to worry about?
Dave: First of all, Tom it talked about statues of “saints.” Now that is an unbiblical concept, because what they mean by saints, someone special. In fact, in the Catholic Church, you have to get voted in. You have to do some miracle or something and the Congress of Cardinals checks it out, the pope checks it out, then you’re canonized…
Tom: It’s a process…
Dave: It’s a whole process of becoming a “saint.” But the Bible, the epistles, for example, are written to the saints—to the saints of Corinth, to the saints at Ephesus. A saint is a person who has come to know Christ as his Savior—put his faith in Christ. He’s been sanctified because he’sborn again of the Holy Spirit, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, led by the Spirit of God: “As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God,” Romans 8 tells us. If you’re not led by the Spirit of God, you’re not a child of God. And if you are led by the Spirit of God, you are a saint—sanctified, set apart, by God for His use to live a holy life.
So, we have a wrong concept to begin with. They set up special people as “saints” for special purposes.
Tom: And the practice is that we can—that is, Catholics—can communicate with these entities who are dead! So now we’re introducing necromancy here—communication with the dead, no matter how you try and weasel your way out of it, that’s the reality.
Dave: And the purpose is that they have a little more clout, that they can—not just pray to God, because this is how it is rationalized: “Well, you ask your uncle or your aunt, or you ask some friend, you ask the elders of the church to pray for you. Why can’t you ask St. Thomas, or St. John, or whoever?
Tom: St. Anthony will find things for you—at least that’s what I thought growing up as a Catholic.
Dave: But he’s been discredited now. St. Christopher has been discredited. Or maybe they’re still praying—what was the prayer, Tom? “St. Anthony, St. Anthony, please come around. There’s something that’s lost that’s got to be found.” So you’re expecting these so-called saints—they’ve been elevated to a special position that’s not biblical. They’re not higher than anyone else. And now, because of that false idea, you think they can do special things. And so you begin to put your trust—people have their…well, you would know as a Catholic…their favorite saint. And they’re praying to the saints to do something for them. Why don’t they come to God? It’s like—you know, I don’t want to offend Catholics out there, but I know, I’ve talked to friends who are Catholic. I say, “Why do you go to Mary?”
“Well, if you want something from someone, you go to his mother, and then she’ll put in a good word for you.”
And I say, “Wait a minute! If you’re my friend, and you want something from me, instead of coming to me you go to my mother to put in a good word for me, what does that say about our relationship? Why don’t you come directly to me?”
Even more so with Christ! Who died for our sins? Who loves us so much that He was willing to come from Heaven, become a man, suffer, be brutalized, crucified, to pay the penalty for our sins? Who could love us more than that? He proved His love. The Bible says He demonstrated His love, and God demonstrated His love, in giving His Son. Why not go to Him? Mary didn’t die for our sins. These saints have not done anything. They don’t have any special power. Jesus gave us the pattern of prayer. He said, “After this manner [it’s not a prayer by rote, but after this manner] pray ye: Our Father, who art in heaven…” And then later on, as we’ve been studying in John’s gospel, He says, “Now heretofore you haven’t come to the Father in my name, but I’m going to go away. I’m going to pay the penalty for your sins, I’m going to go away. I will be your Advocate at the Father’s right hand after My resurrection, my ascension, and you—from now on—are to pray in My name. And whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give it to you.”
And we talked about that: What does it mean to ask in His name, and so forth? Then, Tom, why do we go to someone else? And ask them to do something for us when God is our heavenly Father, and Christ is the One who has opened the door and we come in His name. Now you know that the Catholic Catechism, the new catechism, as well as Vatican II and so forth, speaks of—refers to Mary—says that “she has always been known as the Mother of God, to whom [I’m quoting it verbatim] the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs.”
Now, if faithful Catholics fly to Mary in their dangers and needs, it means that she must be more sympathetic, more loving, even more effective and more powerful than God. She must be able to hear all the prayers of all the Catholics in all the languages, and she must be able to reach out and meet all of their needs. She would have to be God to do that.
Tom, let’s get back to God. Let’s get back to His Word. Let’s get back to Jesus Christ. That’s all I’m appealing for.
Tom: And, Dave, there’s no way you can get around it. This is pure idolatry. It’s an abomination before God. Those are the facts, and check them out biblically if you’re having trouble with what we’re saying.