Is It Biblical
by Ernesto Florendo
One of the issues that have divided Catholics and Protestants concerns the use of images in worship, termed in Catholic circles as the veneration of images. To Protestants, this is plain and simple idolatry which is condemned by God in Scripture, notably by the second item of the Decalogue or the Ten Commandments. The Catholic Church, on the other hand, teaches that such veneration is part of a new economy of images that is now permitted by God in view of the truth of the Incarnation of Christ. According to Catholic theology, icons of Christ (as well as of Mary, the angels, and all the Saints) do not violate the intent of the first commandment.
A Question of Numbers
The reader might have noticed that Catholics and Protestants number the ten items of the Decalogue differently. To Catholics, Exodus 20:4-6 is part of the first commandment and is basically an expansion of its meaning. To complete the ten commandments, Exodus 20:17 is split into two: "You shall not covet your neighbor's house." [IX] and "You shall not covet your neighbor's wife." [X] In contrast, Protestants have traditionally understood Exodus 20: 4-6 as the second commandment and the prohibition of covetousness as the tenth commandment. There is no need to discuss the merits of either approach here, except to mention that in Catholic summaries of the Decalogue, Exodus 20:4-6 very often is missing.
In this article, I employ the traditional Protestant method of numbering the Ten Commandments. Having made this clarification, let us now look at the first two commandments.
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