Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 23, 1964

Images And Relics

Bob Franks

In the April 21, 1963 issue of "Operation Understanding," an advertisement appeared to sell the book "Father Smith Instructs Jackson." The ad states that this book is "what the Catholic church teaches officially." On page 80 of the 1946 edition we note the following:

"Mr. Jackson, 'I suppose people conclude that, because Catholics have images and statues in their churches, they worship them?'"

"Father Smith. 'Yes, they sometimes see Catholics kneeling in prayer before a statue, or see out-of-door processions in which a banner or an IMAGE (Emp. mine, BF) of the Blessed Virgin is carried and they hastily conclude that they are image-worshippers. It never occurs to them that one could kneel before a crucifix in prayer and not pray to the crucifix.'" Even "Father" Smith admits these folk make images of Mary. Suppose we admit when one kneels before the image of Mary he does not pray to the image but to God. This does not help their cause at all. God said, "Thou shall not make unto thee any graven image, or likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth" (Ex. 20:4-5). God forbids a graven image to be made, regardless of what it may represent in the religion of the Lord.

If God himself were to appear before us, it would be wrong to make an image of what we saw. That is the reason God did not appear before the Israelites in visible form. "And the Lord spake unto you out of the midst of the fire: ye heard the voice of the words, but saw no similitude: only ye heard a voice....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" (Deu. 4:12, 16). If it was a sin to make an image of God, what makes it right to make one of Mary?

Many relics are preserved and adored. In Rome is the site of "The Church of the Holy Stairs." People climb these stairs on their hands and knees, kissing the top step. By this act, one is promised many blessings in this world and the world to come. These are supposed to be the ones Christ climbed in Pilate's judgment hall. They are preserved as a relic. Any adoration of such relics is foreign to the religion of God and Christ. The Scriptures teach that relics do tend toward idolatry. In Numbers 21, we read of God punishing the disobedient Jews by sending poisonous Serpents to bite them. The people repented and God told Moses to make a serpent of brass and those who looked on it would be healed. The descendants kept this brazen serpent as a relic. About 800 years later Hezekiah, the righteous king, "brake in pieces the brazen serpent that Moses had made; for unto these days the children of Israel did burn incense to it" (2 Kings 18:4). It was a sin to worship and adore relics then; it is also sinful today.

— 109 Parker Drive, Lufkin, Texas