Catholic radio host deceitfully cites ark cherubim to justify statue worship

I’ve listened to Catholic talk radio for over four years now, strictly for the purpose of further educating myself on Roman Catholic doctrinal errors and staying abreast of news and trends, and one concern that comes up repeatedly from callers is in regards to Catholicism’s extensive use of statuary and images.

Recently, I was listening to the 7/13/18 podcast of the Catholic talk radio show, “Called to Communion,” featuring moderator, Tom Price, and host, David Anders (photo left). At the 13:05 mark, Jacob from Fort Worth, Texas called in to say he was troubled because a friend of his had left the church due to the Scriptural prohibition against idols in Exodus 20.

“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.” – Exodus 20:4-6.

Anders replied to Jacob that his friend should have continued reading in Exodus because in chapter 37 it states that under God’s command, Bezalel crafted the angelic cherubim figurines covering the mercy seat of the ark of the covenant (photo middle). Anders then states that, “Obviously, whatever God means in Exodus 20 does not preclude the manufacture of religious artwork for use in sacred worship, because the same God that (sic) articulates Exodus chapter 20 and says don’t make any graven images turns around and inspires the Hebrews to make religious artwork for use in their own worship.” Anders goes on to claim that what’s being forbidden in Exodus 20 is “the manufacture of pagan idols in the service of other gods.”

I’ve heard this same exact argument, citing the cherubim figurines to justify Rome’s idolatrous statuary, used by multiple Catholic apologists in the past, but let’s examine the claim objectively. The only person who saw the graven cherubim was the high priest within the Holy of Holies and then only once per year on the Day of Atonement. The high priest did not worship the cherubim. The ark was covered from view as it was carried along with the other articles of the tabernacle from site to site and, of course, its location was later fixed within the Jerusalem temple. The Israelites were never to see the ark and cherubim and incurred God’s wrath when they did (see the comments section of this article). The Israelites were prone to idolatry as we know from the Old Testament, which is why they were not allowed to view the cherubim of the ark. Anders is being disingenuous by citing the cherubim as an example of graven image worship sanctioned by God.

It’s clear from Exodus 20:4-6 that God forbids the worship of any graven image, yet Catholicism employs many statues and images in its churches. People kneel down in front of statues of Jesus, Mary, and the saints and pray to them (photo right). That is worship. Catholics object to these accusations, saying that they aren’t actually praying to the carved statue, but to the person the statue represents. It’s a deceitful argument. Neither did all pagan idolaters believe their graven statues were the actual essence of their false deity, a type of fetishism, but rather they believed their graven statues/representations served as a conduit to the divine (see here for the section on “Did idolaters really worship idols?”). Not to mention, praying to any entity other than God is also idolatry. Nowhere in the entire Bible does a believer pray to anyone other than God.

After the adoption of Christianity by Constantine, pagan expressions of worship entered into the increasingly institutionalized church, including the worship of statues and images.

While Bible Christians are unanimously opposed to statue and icon worship, there is disagreement about the use of depictions of Jesus. Some say we should have nothing to do with such things as films that portray Jesus or with children’s books and Bibles that use illustrations depicting Jesus. Others say those things can be valuable teaching tools and are clearly not intended to be objects of worship as Exodus 20 forbids.

Do Catholics worship idols / practice idolatry?

19 thoughts on “Catholic radio host deceitfully cites ark cherubim to justify statue worship

  1. For the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18
    Nothing that we see with our natural eyes is holy. Nothing. Not even the physical “paper and ink” copies of the Bible.
    There was a time that God made physical things holy by His presence resting on them, such as the Holy of Holies, but that ended when the veil was torn in half upon Jesus’ death.
    We are not to worship anything that can be seen. Period.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thanks, Hope! Very apropos comments! Yes, the days of reverencing the temporal came to an end at the cross of Christ. Thereafter people are to worship God in spirit and the truth of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I’ve been trying to understand this very thing, recently, brother! Thank you for this post. I heard a member of the Greek Orthodox Church argue that what they do is better than the RCC because they have pictures and not statues. It doesn’t seem as though, Biblically, there’s a difference between the two. Seems as though these verses are being twisted, either way, so they can continue having statues or images. I don’t understand why though, what value do the statues really have?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, sister! I’ve read a few books that explain that statuary and icons were so prevalent throughout pagan Rome that there was tremendous pressure to accept them in the increasingly institutionalized church. The argument was that illiterate converts required such props and they’ve continued since then as “aids” to worship. I agree that whether they be statues or paintings, it’s all the same thing. The Wikipedia article below actually has some good info about the gradual acceptance of idols into the early church if you care to scan it.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thanks! The RCC knows it has a problem with its statuary in light of the Old Testament admonitions and must do some dancing to try and get around them. It’s a frequent question on these call in shows.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I’m glad you wrote this post then since that indicates many Catholics must wonder about this nagging problem; if those who listen to Catholic answers and Catholic radio are wondering that reveals it truly is an issue in the minds of honest Catholics. May the Lord use this post!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Thank you! Yes, its statue worship is one of the MANY reasons the RCC kept the Bible out of the hands of the laity for as long as possible.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Images that try to depict the Lord Jesus cannot be justified. It is clearly what is meant in Exodus 20, Tom. Used to teach children they create a problem for children in inconsistency between what is taught and what is practiced.

    You know this is a particular concern for me.

    This was almost a homerun. Lord bless you, brother!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Maria. In writing this post I felt it was important to note at the end, for transparency sake, that there are differing views among evangelicals on using depictions of Jesus. Thanks for weighing in. I understand that you and others feel strongly about this and appreciate your comments. Thank you and Lord bless you too, sister!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. They don’t worship the statue, they just use it as a representation of the one they are praying to, therefore is not worship. Ha! I have heard this so many times. And it always reminds me of the words spoken in Matthew 4:9.
    Great post thank you Tom!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Crissy! Yes, it’s a lot of sophistry. Similar to the argument that they don’t actually worship Mary but only “venerate” her. Thus they think they have their cake (obey Scripture) and eat it too (worship their “mother”).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. One of my work colleagues is a Egyptian Coptic. She believes they are better that Catholics. We have had our discussions. Now I noticed she only speaks to me about Jesus. I pray everyday her eyes will be opened.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I have prayed for this person’s salvation. I may be wrong but from my experience I believe the two thickest chains holding these unsaved religious people are 1) the belief that they are basically good and do not need a Savior and 2) pride in their religious institution. Catholics I talk to habitually flaunt their church’s mandatory rules but are very proud of their membership and will defend the RCC with great passion.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Thank you brother for praying. I agree with your points. Point 2 applies to her more. She doesn’t believe the Bible is the final authority on matters of life and faith, she says the priest is.

        Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s