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).
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 ö 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!