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)