Continuing the conversation from Wearing or displaying a cross…
Grateful to find this post from last year, as this week I am struggling to understand the issue regarding the image of God. I’m reading Deuteronomy and I am not sure how to interpret the commands regarding idolatry.
Some background about me: I was raised Catholic but never embraced christianity as a child or young adult. I was very accustomed to statues, crucifixes, and catholic art in my school, church, home, etc. While I never considered these images God, I did see everyone around me using the images to pray and to worship. Born again, I now consider myself a non-denominational christian.
Regarding the ten commandments, I understand that some church traditions or historical texts combine the commands of …
1 - "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me "
2 - “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image”
…and some separate them as the first two of the ten commandments. The distinction seems important. I’ve read [R.C. Sproul Jr’s article] (https://tabletalkmagazine.com/contributor/rc-sproul-jr/) on this distinction and his ideas seem related to this conversation about “Wearing or displaying a cross”.
Sproul claims, “We break the second commandment when we seek to worship the true God through images, including images we construct in our own minds…The second commandment commands that we worship God as He is, and that we do so as He has commanded.”
Though Sproul is a much more studied theologian than I am, his interpretation is troubling to me. If he’s right, are most contemporary churches breaking the second commandment every time they sing worship songs with an image projected on a church screen? Should we avoid imagining any physical image of Jesus while we pray or when we worship? Is it wrong to create metaphoric images of God in writing (like CS Lewis) if we write in prayer or in worship? Are statues carved with God in mind the same abomination as Aaron’s golden calf?
Maybe my misunderstanding has to do with definitions. When we talk about worshipping false idols or worshiping God with “carved images” what, precisely, constitutes worship? In Deuteronomy 5:9 I see several words mentioned: bow / serve / worship. What is the modern translation of these ideas, and how can we know if we are practicing worship in a way that is not pleasing to God?