Are statues or images allowed in church?



The question whether statues or images are to be allowed in church buildings,  was one of the main questions of dispute in the time of the Reformation  of the church. The Roman Catholic church defended their standpoint by  teaching that Exodus 20:4-6 should not be regarded as a separate commandment,  but that it must be read in conjunction with verse 3. They say it is a  commandment against idol worship and that as long as a statue is not worshipped,  it is not wrong. They say a statue is only a visible image of a personality  like Jesus, Mary and others.

But, sad to say, this led to idol-worship in  the church of those centuries. In the Eastern church (Eastern Europe)  some people went so far as to place the bread and wine of the Holy communion  first on a statue of Christ to transfer Christ's "power" over to the bread  and wine. Some even scraped some of the paint off statues, and threw it  into the wine.

When the Reformers like Calvin and others opposed  statues in church, especially worshipping them, there arose a heavy dispute  between those who wanted the statues to be in church and those against  it, who said: God is Spirit. He cannot be worshipped by trying to make  a statue or image of Him.

There were no statues or images in the church  during the first centuries of its existence. Paul taught the following:  "Christ is the visible likeness of the invisible God" (Colossians 1:15).

Nevertheless, the church imported or erected  images after the third century AD; Christ on the cross, Mary with the  baby Jesus, etc. They intended it to be for instruction and as ornaments  only.

During the Reformation in the 16th century,  reformers like Calvin and others said: It is wrong. God does not want  his children to be instructed through images. He instructs them through  the Bible and the Holy Spirit the living preaching of the Gospel. That  is why most churches with the Reformed confession do not have images.  They say it distracts the attention away from the Word of God which must  always be in the centre of the divine Services. And because they fear  that it may lead to idol-worship, they do not allow images in church buildings.

It seems that the big questions should not  be: should we have images in Church, but to be images of God in church.  He created mankind in His image. This does not mean that we look like  God -- for He is Spirit -- but that we should show His characteristics:  holiness, justice and love. When people look at you -- do they see something  of your wonderful God in you? If you allow the Holy Spirit to fill and  take control of your life, He will make sure that the fruit of the Spirit  is seen in you (Galatians 5:22). And this is much better than any statue  or painting!

 


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