Are Christians in danger of committing idolatry by having crucifixes,and pictures of Jesus, statues of Saints and Archangels, praying for those saints and Archangels to intercede for us in God’s presence?


I think you put it well. Christians are “in danger of committing idolatry” when they use crucifixes, pictures of Jesus, statues of saints and so forth. It may not be idolatry to have a picture of a saint or even to focus on that picture when praying to God. It would be idolatry to pray to a statue or to the person that the statue represents. A Christian cannot pray to Moses or to St. Benedict or any other human. This would be blasphemy and idolatry.  We only worship God.  Period.

Those who wear crosses may not be idolatrous. Believe it or not, even using a statue or an image is not NECESSARILY idolatry if it is only used as a vehicle to aid in prayer. It is if we pray “through” a saint or an object that we are being idolatrous, but if we use a picture to help us focus, that is a grey area. It is even more blatant idolatry to pray to a saint or to Mary to ask for something. Mary is not God and she is certainly not able to grant wishes. As long as a person can diligently separate between using a cross or a picture of Jesus to help focus on God rather than praying to or through that image he/she is not sinning.

Having said that, I personally recommend that people simply avoid the statues, pictures, crucifixes and all other physical objects altogether. If nothing else, they are certainly a temptation toward idolatry. Both history and common sense tell us that. But we should be careful about accusingof idolatry those who use objects as aids to worship. We should apply the Golden Rule and not assume that actual idolatry is involved until we know that worship to or through a physical object is happening.    Still…. I would not change my advice which is that it is best not to use such images or objects.

John Oakes

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