After years of analyzing the teachings of Jesus, I am saddened by how much of what churches are teaching and doing appear to be contrary to these teachings of Jesus. After almost two thousand years of making assumptions and inventing doctrines, churches have subtly changed, over time, the teachings of Jesus into something different from what is presented in the Scriptures.
The following are some examples, from my book, Beware of Hypocrisy.
A graven image is a statue of anything that is in heaven or earth, including Jesus, Mary, the saints, angles, cherubs, demons, animals, dragons, etc.
What Scripture Says about Graven Images
“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God.” (Exod 20:4–5 KJV)
How Churches Regard Graven Images
With numerous verses throughout the Bible instructing us not to make graven images, it is inconceivable why many churches are obsessed with filling their buildings and museums with statues of Jesus, Mary, the saints, and, even more incredibly, dragons, demons, devils, and all kinds of creatures.
Furthermore, some churches even have prayer stations consisting of a statue of Mary or a saint surrounded by candles, with a kneeling pew in front of it. Congregants are encouraged to put money into the collection slot, light a candle, kneel before the statue and pray.
Even though many churches fill their buildings with statues and images, it should be noted that some churches purposefully keep their places of worship free from statues and images because of the Second Commandment.
CHURCHES AND MONEY
What Jesus Says About the Love of Money
“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matt 19:24)
“You cannot serve God and mammon [money/ wealth].” (Matt 6:24; Luke 16:13)
What Churches Teach and Do Regarding Money
Many Christian churches have opulent buildings, retreats and headquarters, as well as residences for their clergy. For instance, a German bishop spent $43 million to remodel his luxurious residence, and 10 of the top U.S. Catholic Church leaders live in residences worth more than $1 million.
Entry to the Vatican museums and Sistine Chapel costs over 16 euros (about $18 USD). With more than four million visitors per year, the Church receives well over $72 million USD yearly to display their gallery of graven images.
Scripture warns us that loving money and chasing after wealth gets in the way of our relationship with God. We are instructed to put God first in our lives and he will take care of our physical needs. “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need” (Matt 6:33 NLT). If God has blessed us with wealth, it is not for us to hoard it or to live extravagantly, but to use wisely to care for our families, widows, orphans and the poor.
Jesus’s Instruction on Prayer
Nowhere in the Bible does Jesus say to pray to Mary, the angles, or the saints. In Matthew 6:9, Jesus instructs us to pray to God using the Lord’s Prayer. The act of petitioning anyone except God and Jesus through prayer, including Mary or the saints, is against Scripture.
The Catholic Church’s Instruction on Prayer
It is the official position of the Church that Catholics do not pray to the saints or Mary; instead, they can ask the saints or Mary to pray for them. But, in practice, many Catholics do not know this distinction and simply pray to Mary and the saints. Regardless of whether Catholics are praying to Mary and the saints or asking them to pray for them, both practices are against Scripture.
In First Timothy it is written, “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (2:5). Since Jesus is the one and only mediator, Mary and the saints cannot mediate for us. Therefore, praying to or petitioning Mary and the saints violates the first commandment: “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exod 20:3).
Rob Waligurski was raised in Illinois. He received his Bachelor of Science in physics from the University of Illinois in Champaign/Urbana, and his Master of Science in mechanical engineering from the University of Southern California. He continued his education at the University of Southern California, receiving an EME and a PhD in mechanical engineering.