March 2008

I was born and raised in the Roman Catholic religion being baptized, confirmed and even married by her priestly class. As a “good” Catholic I grew up with statues, pictures and stained glass images of what was said to be Jesus, angels and of course Mary. This was part and parcel of being Catholic and I accepted it as being an acceptable practice before God.

But then the Spirit opened my eyes to the Scriptures whereby I began to learn that such worship of God is not according to knowledge but rather ignorance. An ignorance that Rome learned from the pagans, baptized and then adopted into her syncretized mixture of the holy with the profane. Yet be this as it may, neither Rome nor anyone else can baptize that which is forbidden in God’s word and make it acceptable no matter how erudite they may speak to the contrary.

But this never stopped Rome from having statues and images of the Lord and others she deems worthy for this is a defining tenant of the religion of Rome. Remove the statues, images and icons and the vast majority of Catholics would be lost and either their “faith” would collapse or they would revolt against such spiritual house cleaning.

Not all though, for there are those who like myself who have been delivered from Rome’s grasp and have been set free to worship God in Spirit and truth. Part of that freedom coming from a purging of the leaven of idolatry. A leaven which many in the evangelical, Bible believing camp use to both faithfully preach against, and shun from their presence. But such voices are dwindling as more and more evangelicals and others said to be in the Christian community are capitulating being swayed by Rome’s siren song and the allure of knowing Jesus after the flesh.

One such siren song comes in the form of “The Passion of Christ” by Mel Gibson. A brutal, and what some call pornographic, depiction of the trial, beating and crucifixion of Jesus Christ. My point in writing today is not to review this movie but rather to use it to illustrate a symptom of a much larger disease infecting the Christian church. This being the disease, or more aptly put, sin of idolatry. An idolatry where evangelicals are not only remaining silent against this clear violation of the commands of the LORD, but also are praising and extolling it. Never realizing that what they are praising is sin, and the gospel they believe this movie depicts is not the true gospel but rather Rome’s adulterated, works-based, stations of the cross, sacramental “gospel”. (see “The Passion of Christ”: Mel Gibson’s Vivid Deception for a Biblically sound review of “The Passion of Christ”).

In writing this I know that many in the evangelical camp will protest my words above as they have watched the movie and been “moved” by its powerful imagery and sound tract, they have employed it for outreaches to the lost, and have used it for their Easter devotions as an aid to supposedly better understand what really happened (even though the movie is filled with myriad errors and additions).

And if not the movie than maybe you or a friend has a picture of “Jesus” hanging in you home. Possibly one of the ubiquitous paintings from Thomas Kincaid that so many love to have. Or maybe it is the “famous” image of “Jesus” knocking on the door of the unbeliever’s heart ever waiting for the sinner to open the door and let him in. It could be these, it could be “The Jesus Movie” you or your church employ for evangelism, or any of the myriad other images of “Jesus” that could be added to this list.

So, really, what is the problem of making movies, images, statues, and pictures of Jesus? Is this my opinion vs. your opinion? No, I pray not for I would be the first to tell you to throw out my opinion or that of any person not founded on the rightly divided Scriptures. Below, I will share my beliefs for you to consider. The work of convicting hearts and granting repentance is of the Living God and I rest peacefully at night knowing this.

First, let us turn to the New Testament and see what the apostle Paul wrote concerning the Lord of Glory. Here, Paul wrote that “…henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.” (II Cor 5:16) There was a time when Christ Jesus was known after the flesh, a time when he was a baby, a time when he was held in Mary’s arms, a time when he was on earth in an earthen vessel. But that time is no more and Paul testifies that we do not know him as such any more. Rather we are to see him with spiritual eyes seated in all glory and honor at the Father’s right hand in the heavenly realms.

But not so for Rome and more and more the non-Catholic believers who seek to “…ascend into heaven…to bring Christ down from above” (Rom 10:6) so as to gaze upon him not with spiritual eyes but rather physical. Indeed this is a truth that cannot be denied as Rome always has Jesus under her control in one of four fleshly incarnations. Either he is a helpless little baby in a manger, an infant in Mary’s ever protective arms, hanging naked, humiliated and nailed to their crucifix, or transubstantiated by their priests into their “holy” wafer they call the eucharist.

Oh, I must add a fifth image of Rome’s Jesus to this list thanks to the technical medium of film and now computers. This being the far surpassing of these mute and static idols of “Jesus” where technicians can now breathe “life” into the image so that it now walks and talks for all to see and hear.

And what about this image of Jesus; how is he typically depicted? Normally it is with long flowing hair and soft and rounded features that appeals to the eye of carnal man. Yet we can be certain by all accounts that Jesus did not have long hair as the Scriptures reveal, even as nature teaches, that it is a shame for a man to have long hair (I Cor 11:14). I do know that some say Jesus had a Nazarite vow but this could not be so as a study of the vow compared to the Lord’s life reveal. But even if the benefit of the doubt is given to the one who wants a long haired Jesus, the vow was only for a season and then the hair would eventually be shaved off and burned. Ah, but a bald “Jesus” would never sell any paintings or statues so most would never go for that.

Speaking to the soft and rounded features of the effeminate portrayal of “Jesus” found in most images, this may have been typical for a cultured European of the 14th century, but not for a rustic Jew of whom it is written: “he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.” (Isa 53:2) Jesus was not known for his fleshy looks nor did they appeal to man. This is what the Scriptures declare but for most the depicting of a less than handsome “Jesus” would appear to be sacrilege and just would not sell.

In our study, let us not ignore the halos that don the head of “Jesus” and many of the other Roman Catholic “saints”. Halos you will not find in the Scripture but rather are another visible example of Rome’s accretion with paganism. In this case the halos being solar disks adopted from the sun worshiping religion of Egypt where such disks donned the heads of many of the Egyptian gods/goddesses such as Isis . Rome here taking this pagan practice as she has with so many and baptizing it so as to bring the evil along with its heathen participants into her religion amalgamation.

Finally, and most importantly God’s word expressly forbids the making of images which most assuredly includes making one of the Father, his beloved Son or the Spirit (Calvary Chapel take note with your dove). This is the Scriptural definition of idolatry where the LORD says “Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I am the LORD your God.” (Lev 26:1) Here the LORD expressly forbids not only bowing down unto the idols, but also the making or setting up of either them or a graven image. Rome always retorts to these verses and the others found in the Scriptures whereby she says we do not worship the images of Mary or Jesus, but this matters not for we are told to not make one or “rear” (stand) it up.

Paul speaks to this very thing to the pagan Athenians and calls image making ignorant worship which God for a season “winked” at but no more. We read, “Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent.” (Acts 17:29-30) That is, God cannot be graven by art and man’s device which certainly includes Jesus who is God manifest in the flesh. Paul here calling the Athenians to repent of their idolatry and to leave behind this false system of worship.

Repentance from idols being the key not only for pagan Greeks but also for an ex-Roman Catholic like myself, or others of similar background such as those from the Greek Orthodox religion. For me as an ex-Catholic and the countless others like me, our repentance from graven art idolatry and times of ignorance meant forsaking cherished icons from our Catholic faith when we came to faith in Jesus. Statues of Jesus, Mary and the “saints”, crosses, crucifixes, rosaries, pictures, medallions and more were all forsaken as we were convicted by the Holy Spirit and God’s Word (especially the second commandment which Rome conveniently has removed from her Catechism). Here, we departed as it were Sodom and Gomorrah leaving all our idols behind to be burned as we never looked back.

A picture of this repentance commanded by God is seen by those of Ephesus who would have worshiped Dianna (i.e. Isis, Queen of Heaven, Catholic “Mary”). Here, as the apostles preached God’s word the idolaters were convicted by the Spirit and Word and truly repented where the “…many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.” (Acts 19:18-19)

But tragically this happens less and less today because Catholics are seeing their religious practices accepted and proclaimed by evangelicals and their ministries. Thus, when a Catholic or Orthodox person, whom the Holy Spirit might be working with, starts seeing these images, statues and icons accepted in evangelical circles then they will believe it is acceptable for them in their Catholic or Orthodox church/home. And being acceptable in their mind they will never repent from their idolatry and will keep all of their idols now believing that much more that they are worshiping God according to truth.

The question to the reader, whether Catholic or evangelical, is what are you going to do with this information? Will you be like those of Ephesus who confessed their deeds and brought their idols to be burned, or will you kick against the pricks and hold on to these images and idols? I know it will not be easy for many but the command of Jesus for those who want to be his disciples is for them to take up their cross daily and follow him. They are to die to the flesh and those things, religious and secular, that are violation of his clear commands. Commands that even a child in most instances can understand but those that a theologian can twist so cunningly that not even a scholar can understand.

Specifically to the non-Catholic or evangelical, whether Baptist, Presbyterian, non-Denomination, Calvary Chapel or other, will you purge out this leaven from your life? Will you destroy “The Passion of Christ” books, devotionals, DVDs and other paraphernalia that depict “Jesus” in such a grotesque and sinful manner. And if you do (bless God!), are you willing to climb out of your foxhole and charge to the front lines to boldly speak against this growing idolatry in the church? This being your church and those of your friends and relatives. Will you be willing to “stand in the gap” and confront your pastor who is promoting “The Passion of Christ”, using “The Jesus Movie”, or employing some other form of un-Scriptural idolatrous imagery for evangelism? Will you speak in love to your brother or sister who has a picture of “Jesus” hanging on their wall or who speaks glowingly about “The Passion of Christ” or some other movie that depicts “Jesus” in the flesh?

I hope and pray you will and that when you speak, you speak in love and not condemnation because not everyone has knowledge of these things and we are to esteem others better than ourselves where it is written that “…the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will´┐Ż” (II Tim 2:24-26)

The 2nd District Court of Appeals in California has spoken loud and clear as to how the ungodly view the parent’s right to raise and teach their children. Here, Justice H. Walter Croskey wrote in a February 28 opinion that “Parents do not have a constitutional right to home school their children.” This is the view of fascism, communism and all “isms” that hate God and believe the state owns the children. A world view that impacts not only Christians but any parent of any religions/non-religious beliefs who desires to raise their children and teach them per their belief system and not the state’s.

This being so as the state of California wants to mandate that parents either get sanctioned and accredited by the state to teach, or they send their children to the government run institutions. Institutions that are infested with crime, sex, drugs, alcohol, violence, and all other sorts of sordid activities engaged in by a festering mass of hormonally charged and morally adrift youth. And, if a parent chooses to not comply with this draconian ruling, criminal changes may be filed.

Think of it, a parent charged with being a criminal because they want to teach their own child! A child given unto them by God above yet the state says, no, sorry, not your child because it is us alone, the supreme elitists who know what is best for your offspring and society at large. What vile arrogance. One only need look at the state-run schools to see how abysmally these self-professed “experts” are doing in creating their Orwellian plutocracy.

In terms of statistics it is estimated that 166,000 students are home schooled in California. The rub though is that in order to home school California requires parents be accredited. Here, the number complying or not complying with this regulation is unknown. Also, accreditation requirements vary across the state. One example is where a five-year preliminary teaching credential requires the parent earn a bachelor degree from an a accredited college or university. All of this entailing their completing and passing multiple examinations.

In the past California has graciously granted parents the right to home school their children if they establish themselves as a small private school, file the necessary paperwork and either hire a credentialed tutor, or enroll their child in an independent study program run by an state-sanctioned school while teaching the child at home. The net-net being that the state does not want any child out from under their control so as to indoctrinate them to the party line. A party line which includes homosexuality, condoms, evolution, athism and a host of other doctrines contrary to natural law and God’s word.

This party line can be summed up beautifully by quoting from Croskey who wrote that “A primary purpose of the educational system is to train school children in good citizenship, patriotism and loyalty to the state and the nation as a means of protecting the public welfare.” (Emphasis added) And you thought it was all about reading, writing and arithmetic. Sorry, it isn’t but rather it is about raising up a generation of lemmings drugged on Ritalin who will not question anyone or anybody that is sanctioned by the state. Lemmings that will nod yes and amen to everything the state says regardless of whether it goes against their conscience, natural law or the Scriptures.

Is this America where freedom of thought was always prized and welcomed or Nazi Germany where the government raised up a generation of Hitler youth that gave unquestioned allegiance to the state? Youth who also were trained in government schools in good citizenship, patriotism and loyalty to the state and nation so as to protect the public welfare. The problem is that there were millions who fell outside of the “public welfare” but were instead counted as dross to be burned in the pyres of the myriad gas chambers.

The question to those parents who value their children and their right to raise and teach them per their belief system is what are you going to do about this? This question applies to those of all belief systems where everyone should think long and hard about why they keep their child or children in a system that disdains the parent’s rights as to how they raise them.

And to those who are Christian the alarm is sounding louder then it ever has for you to wake up from your slumber if you still believe that the government run schools are looking out for the Christ-centric welfare of your children. They are not nor are the majority of legislators, educators or judges. Just look at what these institutes teach with a critical eye and measure it up against the Scriptures and see how opposed it is to the things of God. Look at the values your child brings home from school, the foul words they learn and spew back to you, the sexual practices they are engaging in, the drugs/alcohol they may well be dabbling in, the “pack” of troubled individuals they run with. I know as I have been there and have experienced it from within where the irony is that I attended religious educational institutions (Roman Catholic). Here, my friends and I freely engaged in these sinful behaviors and more without our parents around to rightfully stop such wickedness. But that is another story.

Truly it is time to wake up and I hope you are seeing that things will not change from within for the better as government run schools will continue to wax worse and worse. Just do a little research as to what is taught today in these schools verses that taught say 25 years ago and I’m sure you will be shocked.

My view from God’s word and I pray some godly wisdom is for you and your family to work with all of your might to either remove your child from the public school system and teach them yourself, to send them to a God-fearing, sound Christian school (realizing they are a dying breed) or to move out of the state to a more family friendly state. Easy? No, most certainly not but God never said it would be and the health and spiritual well being of your child/children is at stake. Some practical advice I would share is:

  • Find a local homeschooling group in your area. Meet with them and get to know them even if you think you cannot home school due to financial reasons, lack of a supportive spouse, or you feel you are unqualified to teach. Speak to them, if they are Christians, pray with them and seek godly counsel from those who have been in the battle longer than you have.
  • Bring this up with the elders at your local church and put the goad to them to address this issue with more than rhetoric, sermonizing or worse yet silence. Get them to address the issue head-on with prayer, study, preaching against this tyranny and practical, constructive help to be given to parents who want to home school but are struggling to see how they can. Talk to them specifically about having funds provided to the people in the church instead of the building, the new carpet, the “holiday” decorations, the sound system, the coffee shop, the book store, etc. This I recognize is novel in most 501c-3 churches today but if you study the Scriptures it is to the people and their needs where the money of the church is supposed to go to and not some unnecessary megalith.
  • If your church will not support you in this God-ordained endeavor with practical and even financial help, then shake the dust off your feet and seek out those with like values who meet house-to-house in home churches. These groups typically are very home-school focused. See for some churches and/or search the web for home church sites. Don’t neglect sound doctrine though when looking for a church if you go this route.
  • Reach out to other national homeschooling groups to network with.
  • Set aside time with some brethren, even if only one or two to start with, to pray, fast, read the Scriptures and humbly seek the Lord’s face. Pray for guidance, wisdom and a work of God to reverse this situation or to direct your steps and those of your family. Also repent where you have been in sin as the Spirit convicts you.
  • Make a point of having more family time together. Bible studies, prayer, meals, outings, etc. Work to bond your family closer this year than last year. Skip the movies, turn off the TV, DVD players, iPods and computers/Internet, cut way back on after school activities that keep your children away from you for more and more hours and even on weekends and work diligently to strengthen your family to bond closer with your children. Children whom the enemy is doing everything in his power to steal, destroy and kill them both physically and more importantly spiritually.
  • Fathers – turn off ESPN, put away your golf clubs, stop being a slave to your job and a ghost to your family, repent of your selfishness and start being a Godly man and lead your family as Christ leads the church. You are responsible for your children and it will be you that the Lord holds accountable for their education and upbringing or lack thereof. Stop pawning it off on the state and step up to the plate and play ball where you take responsibility for your children and life to serve your wife and them instead of yourself.

In closing those who live in other states should take this as a shot across the bow from the opposing forces. The question is whether you will hear it or continue to slumber thinking that such a thing will never happen in your state. It will where my advice to you is the same given to those in CA. Get your kids OUT of the government sponsored schools and “…bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” (Eph 6:4) Do whatever it takes while you still can!

I close with the Word of the Lord sent unto Israel but just as applicable for us today. “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” (Deut 6:4-7)