In Christianity, the Use of the Crucifux is Idolatry
Please post in the comments if you would like to accept this debate.
Debate Resolution Clarification
The use of "In Christianity" in the resolution is not to reflect on Christian teaching, rather it is used to as "assuming Christianity is true."
This being said, scripture from both the New and Old Testament may be used in this debate. All 73 books of the Bible may be used in this debate.
Overview and Rules
I would like to ask my opponent to post his argument in Round 1, and to state "No round as agreed upon" in the 4th round. Seeing that my opponent is going against the status quo, that is that Christians disagree it is a form of idolatry, my opponent should make the opening argument against that notion.
My opponent will have the BOP in this debate to show that the use of the crucifux during prayer is a form of idolatry since he is arguing against the status quo.
Standard conduct rules apply.
No source points will be rewarded in this debate. This is due to this debate probably being focused on scripture, and I do not want source points to come down to who posted the most scriptural links.
Crucifux - a representation of a cross with a figure of Jesus Christ crucified to it.
Prayer - To speak to God, especially in the form of giving thanks, praise, pardon, help or intercession.
Worship - To deeply revere and give praise to
Idol - Debaters will use the Bible in order to determine what an Idol is and whether or not it applies to the Crucifux.
Idolatry - Debaters will use the Bible in order to determine what Idolatry is and whether or not it applies to the Crucifux.
Definitions (can be amended to fit with intended biblical meanings)
Idol- 1.an object of extreme devotion. 2. a representation or symbol of an object of worship. http://i.word.com...
Idolatry- this would obviously be idol worship.
Those definitions are a good starting point and will grow and change as we examine the words of the bible.
The Bible Speaks for it's Self.
I haven't left myself a terribly long time to write my arguments, but I think my case is pretty straight forward so it shouldn't be necessary.
Exodus 20:4 NIV
"You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form Of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath Or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to Them or worship them for I the LORD your GOD am a jealous GOD"
When this passage was written and many others it seems that the writers of the Bible either had great insight or it was divinely inspired. The crucifix isn't merely a cross it's a cross with the figure of Jesus on it. It's an image in the form of something in heaven "Jesus". So we got the image part down, but what is worship?
Worship means to deeply revere as defined by my opponent. Now the word revere essentially means to have deep respect for. http://i.word.com...
There is no question that Christians have deep respect (revere, worship) the crucifux. If it wasn't revered the image wouldn't be over the alter in so many questions. People are bowing down at an alter with the image of A bloody Jesus on the cross, and remember bowing down is one of those things that Exodus 20:4 told us to watch out for.
In 1973 when the exorcist was released. Christians were outraged when they saw a young girl masturbate herself with a crucifux . For Christians to see an image they so deeply revere desecrated was extremely offensive. http://www.complex.com...
To say the Christians in general don't deeply revere the crucifux would be absurd. I think the fact that Christians revere the crucifux is self evident.
Acts 17:29 NIV
"Therefore since we are God's offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone--an image made by human design and skill."
This is another warning that we shouldn't worship images of God or Jesus. It goes against current church values, but it is idolatry to make an image of Jesus and to show it the deep respect it's shown. This verse pretty much warns against making an image at all.
Does anybody think that the man/demigod whatever he is to you showed deep respect for any image? He revered the word of God and that is all. There. Is a reason why you don't see Jews making graven images to put in their place of worship. They follow the laws of Moses and understand that creating an image of Moses or God and putting it up in a place of prominence in their place of worship is idolatry.
I want to point out another story as well. When Moses went to the mountain too to receive the 10 commandments, he was informed by God that one of his men had made a golden calf as an idol. The Jewish people believed in Yahweh and the golden calf was representative of him, just as the crucifux is a representation of Jesus. God said that the Jews had broken his covenant, by making an image to symbolize him. ( Waaler, Erik, The Shema and the first commandment in First Corinthians: an intertextual approach to Paul"s reading of Deuteronomy, (Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen Zum Neuen Testament 2.Reihe) ISBN 3-16-149833-X p. 95)
Sorry for keeping this so short. I will expand on these points as needed and wish my opponent good luck.
Part of this debate will be using common sense to confer what an idol is and what idolatry is. I will dispute now dispute my opponent’s definition of Idol.
“Idol- 1.an object of extreme devotion. 2. a representation or symbol of an object of worship”
I assume that definition 1 can essentially be changed to “the worship of a graven image.” This better fits Scriptural teaching.
My opponent uses Scripture to back up definition number two, however I will refute this by arguing that a representation or symbol of an object of worship is not an Idol, as long as that object of worship is not a blasphemous god. In other words, a representation or symbol of God himself as long as it is not given worship to, but used as a representation of God is not an Idol. Under this argument we can therefore conclude that the use of the Crucifix is not idolatry.
Misrepresentation of Scripture
Pro has cherry picked two verses out of the Bible to support his argument. This will simply not do. Pro has taken a piece out of an entire picture to try to represent the picture as a whole in order to support his argument. Thus by doing so he has misrepresented what the Bible teaches regarding idols and idolatry.
Exodus 20:4 and Acts 17:29
Pro has misrepresented this verse in order to argue that the making of anything supernatural is idolatry; however this is simply not the case otherwise Scripture contradicts itself. In fact, multiple times in the Bible God commands his people to make statues which would otherwise be regarded as “idols.” For example, in Exodus 25:18-20 God commands his people to make two golden Cherubims (angels). In 1 Chr. 28:18-19 David gave Solomon the plans to make a golden chariot with a Cherubim of spreaded wings to reside on the Ark of the Convenant which was to be done according to the Lord’s plan. Similarly, Ezekiel 41:17-18 describes an ideal temple that was shown to him in a vision which had graven images carved into the walls .
Verses like these beg the question of whether or not there is a religious use for symbols. After all, God commanded these people to create graven images, especially in Holy places (such as the Temple and the Ark of the Covenant). The verses shown were presented in order that we may see that not all graven images are idols. Now I will present scripture to support that graven images also have legitimate religious use.
During one of the plagues in which God sent serpents, God instructed Moses to create a statue of a serpent and place it on a pole. Everyone who was bitten by a serpent, but looked at the serpent statue on the pole would be healed (Num. 21: 8-9 ). What is important here is that the individual who was bitten had to look at the statue in order to be healed, therefore proving that statues could be used ritually, and not just as religious décor.
Now with all of the information gathered, we can conclude that strictly speaking, graven images are not a form of idolatry, particularly when used to worship God or in religious rituals. However, it is when graven images are directly worshipped to, or that graven images are used to worship blasphemous gods that the sin of idolatry is committed. This is supported by numerous Scripture:
Leviticus 19:4 –“ Do not turn to idols or make for yourselves any gods of cast metal: I am the Lord your God.” 
This verse obviously applies to all blasphemous gods, yet makes no mention of the creation of graven images regarding God himself.
Isaiah 45:20 – “Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, you survivors of the nations! They have no knowledge who carry about their wooden idols, and keep on praying to a god that cannot save.” 
This verse is the same as the above verse itself in that idolatry is directed against blasphemous gods.
Micah 5:13 – “And I will cut off your carved images and your pillars from among you, and you shall bow down no more to the work of your hands” 
And the same case as the above two once again.
The Religious Use of the Crucifux
Christians, particularly Catholics, use statues, paintings, and other devices to recall what is being depicted. Pro accuses Christians of deeply revering the Crucifux, but in a sense, this could not be further from the truth. The Crucifux in of itself is not what is being revered. Rather what the Crucifux does is it serves as a reminder that Jesus Christ died for our sins, something extremely important to the Christian faith. To disrespect the Crucifux is not to offend Christians in regards to what has been done to the Crucifux itself, rather to disrespect what the Crucifux represents.
Imagine a girl’s father had died. All she has left of her father was a picture of him. Every night she looks at the picture and emotions of love and the desire to see him again swell inside of her. It is not the picture in of itself that is the target of these emotions, rather it is what the picture represents, her father. If some were to steal that picture from her and burn it then it would be deeply offensive to her, not on the grounds that the photo in of itself was special to her, but that she held dear what that photo represented.
All of this appropriately follows what Scripture teaches. However, it is when these religious images are given worship to, and are not used to help worship what they represent, that idolatry is committed. This situation happened precisely when the snake God told Moses to construct for religious use was given worship to and turned into an Idol (2 Kings 18:4). Originally, when the snake statue was used religiously as God commanded, all was fine, but it was when the Israelites turned against God’s command and began to worship it was idolatry committed.
Is the Image of God Idolatry?
Since Pro implied this, I will respond. Pro essentially argued any image of God is idolatry, and used the golden calf as an example. A better example for what he argues is:
Deuteronomy 4:15-18 – “You saw no form of any kind the day the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire. Therefore watch yourselves very carefully, so that you do not become corrupt and make for yourselves an idol, an image of any shape, whether formed like a man or a woman, 17 or like any animal on earth or any bird that flies in the air, or like any creature that moves along the ground or any fish in the waters below.”
However, this only applied when God had not yet revealed himself to the Israelites. This may have been due to Pagan culture which tempted them to depict God as an aspect of nature such as a Sun or a Cow. However, later God did reveal himself visibly, most famously as Jesus Christ. However, there exist other visible depictions of God such as the burning bush, a dove, or a tongue of flame.
In Matthew 2:11 the Magi approached where Jesus was born, and upon giving Jesus their gifts they bowed down to him and worshipped him. When God made the New Covenant he revealed himself as Jesus Christ. For this reason, it is appropriate in accordance with the Scriptural teaching on Idolatry that we can make representation of God in Jesus Christ which accordingly conforms with the use of the Crucifux.
I have successfully shown that Pro nitpicked scripture to support his argument. I used Scriptural evidence to show its true teaching on idols and idolatry and how the use of the Crucifux conforms to the proper use of graven images as commanded by God.
Over to you Pro.
My opponent's examples don't really support this. Objects that represent God and are given great reverence are idols. My opponent gives some examples to images commanded by God which could be used in worship, and that's fine. These images commanded aren't of God him self. It's not a sin to create the ark of the covenant or to put graven images in a church. However it is a sin to and idolatry to put a graven image into a temple that is an image of God/Jesus Christ.
I think this is made clear when God punishes the Jews for creating an image of a calf meant to represent God.
God is drawing a line and saying this type of graven image is okay (the type use in worship and not representing god), This type isn't okay (the type representing God).
Of the examples my opponent gave of okay graven images is correct. However you won't find any example of God commanding his people to create an image of himself.
Let's remember God punished the Jews for using a golden calf to represent and remind them of God. God has never reversed the ruling that this is idolatry.
Let's look at an example that my opponent gave to show the ruling has been reversed by God.
"In Matthew 2:11 the Magi approached where Jesus was born, and upon giving Jesus their gifts they bowed down to him and worshipped him. When God made the New Covenant he revealed himself as Jesus Christ. For this reason, it is appropriate in accordance with the Scriptural teaching on Idolatry that we can make representation of God in Jesus Christ which accordingly conforms with the use of the Crucifux."
Here the Magi bow down directly to Jesus and not a graven image of Jesus. How this verse would justify creating an image of Jesus is a mystery to me.
We should actually note that God doesn't change his rulings. Once something is a sin, it remains a sin. No ifs, ands or buts.
1 Peter 1:25 NIV
but the word of the Lord endures forever." And this is the word that was preached to you.
Isaiah 40:8 NIV
The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever."
There is about 20 verses scattered throughout the bible that repeat the same thing. God ruled that any image representative of him is an idol. He supported this by punishing the Jews for creating a golden calf meant to represent him. My opponent is correct not all graven images are idolatry. The ones that God commands and other ones used as decorations in temples are fine, so long as they don't represent God. A crucifix is probably not considered an idol an the use of one in the temple and worship is probably okay, but the 2nd you place an image of Jesus on that crucifix and turn it into a crucifux, you've created yourself an idol.
Not that this matters because it's a sin anyway, but that's not an image of Jesus on that cross anyway. The image on the crucifux typically looks like an extremely handsome Italian guy. Jesus however wasn't an extremely handsome Italian guy. He was an extremely handsome Jewish guy. http://stuffwhitepeopledo.blogspot.com...
Depictions of Jesus also typically look eerily like The God Jupiter. It probably has to do with Rome's forced conversion to Christianity. When Rome converted the pagan temples would have an image of Jupiter but the Romans would just write the name Jesus under it. The same thing happened with Isis and the Virgin Mary. A lot of these images, just stuck. Now Christians rarely realize they're depicting Pagan Gods and putting them in their churches and around their neck.
Christians are unknowingly depicting and planting the image of pagan gods in their head when using the crucifux. So even if you don't buy my argument that an image of God being depicted and put in temples is idolatry, than it should still disgust you that they are unwittingly using images of Pagan Gods in their holy places.
Jesus didn't even die on a cross, so using one to depict events in the bible is probably misleading. The word Crux is often translated to cross, but isn't necessarily so, and all the evidence seems to more closely support Jesus being suspended from something like a stump.
Christians are unknowingly honoring the God Osiris and his death on a cross. Whether it's knowingly done or not it's still idolatry. You won't find a commandment that gives a free pass based on ignorance (not meant in derogatory way).
Conclusion- I don't appreciate the accusation of nitpicking. In these debates you're very limited to what verses you can pull from the bible. It seems like every debate, that centers around the bible typically gets one side accusing the other of pulling verses out of context. These debates serve to help us figure out the context, and we need to focus on figuring that out. Other than that I've shown that depictions of God (and my opponent refers to Jesus as God), especially for use in worship is idolatry. When you take into account these images are actually of pagan Gods such as Jupiter or Osiris who is typically depicted on a cross, and you'll see that the crucifux is an idol.
My opponent has conceded that not all graven images are idols which he implied via definition of “idol” and the use of the Scripture he presented in round 1. He also conceded that the use of the Crucifux is not idolatry in that the Crucifux itself is not worshipped. All I must argue is that creating a graven image of God is not idolatry. Remember, Wylted has the BOP so if he cannot argue beyond doubt that a graven image of God is in fact idolatry, I win this debate.
The Point of my Examples
Pro has dismissed my examples as essentially irrelevant, but I beg to differ. I provided the Scripture I provided to show, contrary to what my opponent implied, that the making of graven images is not idolatry as long as they are used to worship God. I then followed this by provided Scripture and reason to conclude that a graven image of God is not idolatry in accordance to the New Covenant in which God revealed himself. My opponent failed to respond to this, but I will provide rebuttals to my opponent’s arguments.
Review of my Arguments
In the previous round, I argued that the reason making graven images of God in the Old Testament could have been considered idolatry was because God had not yet revealed himself to the Jewish people. Because of this, if the Jews were to make a graven image of God they were often influenced by Paganism and depicted their own image of God, not how God was or chose to reveal himself. However, under the new Covenant God revealed himself as Jesus Christ (In addition to other representations), which allowed for the creation of graven images of God since God revealed himself to humanity.
Again, Scripture supports this:
Deuteronomy 4:15-18 – “You saw no form of any kind the day the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire. Therefore watch yourselves very carefully, so that you do not become corrupt and make for yourselves an idol, an image of any shape, whether formed like a man or a woman, or like any animal on earth or any bird that flies in the air, or like any creature that moves along the ground or any fish in the waters below.”
I also used the story of the Magi visiting Jesus to show that Jesus is indeed God and is being worshipped, therefore he is the correct representation of God (unlike the golden calf the Jews used).
When we combine all of this together we know: God did not forbid the creation of religious images if used to worship God. God did forbid the creation of graven images of himself because he had not yet revealed himself. God revealed himself through Jesus Christ. Therefore we can now create graven images of God in order to better worship God.
“Common sense tells us that, since God has revealed himself in various images, most especially in the incarnate Jesus Christ, it’s not wrong for us to use images of these forms to deepen our knowledge and love of God. That’s why God revealed himself in these visible forms, and that’s why statues and pictures are made of them. “ 
Eternality of God’s Word
My opponent attempts to argue that God’s word is final, and therefore the creation of a graven image of God is, and always will be idolatry. Pro states, “God ruled that any image representative of him is an idol.” However, this is utterly false. God specifically mentions in Deuteronomy 4 why he had forbidden graven images of Himself, and that was because he had not yet revealed himself to the Jews and the the Jews could easily fall to Pagan Culture. However, there is certainly no finality in this. This is because God offered a circumstance (that is if God did reveal himself), in which his rule would no longer apply because then the Jews would not be victims to Pagan Culture but rather be able to create a proper graven image of God.
The Crucifux and Pagan Culture?
Pro starts stumbling into non-topicality at this point by equating the Crucifux and depictions of Jesus with Pagan gods in order to desperately prove the use of the Crucifux to be an act of idolatry. It is overall irrelevant how the crucifix has been influenced. It is irrelevant what Jesus looked like and whether or not he was actually crucified on a cross. What is relevant is that God revealed himself through Jesus Christ, and as long as we depict Jesus Christ as Jesus Christ regardless of how this depiction has been influenced, then no sin of idolatry has been committed. In other words, God revealed himself as Jesus Christ, and it is therefore okay to create a graven image of Jesus Christ (regardless of how this image has been influenced culturally) in order to better worship God.
In fact, Pro’s entire argument is a slippery slope. How far does it go? If Jesus shares the same facial features as some roman gods then so what? If Jesus is not that roman god nor is he worshipped as so nor are they connected in anyway then it is just completely irrelevant. It is irrelevant how Jesus was influenced, because if we create the depiction of the man Jesus, the Son of God, to be used to worship God as God intended, then no offense has been given. Also, Wylted’s statement that Christians are “depicting Pagan Gods and putting them around their necks” is complete balderdash. How Jesus looked may have been influenced by Pagan culture, but this does not change who Jesus was and what he did nor does it change what the Crucifux represents, nor is the statement even accurate. Cultures all around the world have influenced how Jesus looks. Pro’s own source states that Jesus has been depicted all sorts of ways and has been influenced by every sort of culture.
Pro is going to extremes to go as far to claim that Christians are actually worshipping the god Osiris, which is blatantly false. I can’t stress it enough, that being influenced by does not equate to being. Nor is the image of Christ being influenced by culture a form of idolatry at all.
Pro has dropped everything and has chosen to exclusively argue that depiction of God are idolatry, but seems to ignore or not understand the point I had made in the previous round. I was forced to reiterate myself in addition to providing new rebuttals. In addition to this argument my opponent desperately attempts to argue that since the crucifix was influenced by culture it is therefore idolatrous. He even goes as far as to equate the depicted Jesus to Pagan gods. I argued that influence is overall irrelevant to the topic at hand is not idolatry.
Over to you.
We agree on most things, as far as biblical interpretation is concerned. So the real argument is whether God changed his mind concerning using his image to remind yourself of him or to be used in religious ceremony. I'll give some analysis of how we differ there and discuss how arguments should be weighed.
"In the previous round, I argued that the reason making graven images of God in the Old Testament could have been considered idolatry was because God had not yet revealed himself to the Jewish people. Because of this, if the Jews were to make a graven image of God they were often influenced by Paganism and depicted their own image of God, not how God was or chose to reveal himself. However, under the new Covenant God revealed himself as Jesus Christ (In addition to other representations), which allowed for the creation of graven images of God since God revealed himself to humanity."
My opponent argues that the Jews weren't allowed to depict images of God because it was influenced by Paganism. Now take a look at this.
". It is overall irrelevant how the crucifix has been influenced. It is irrelevant what Jesus looked like and whether or not he was actually crucified on a cross."
This is all from Con's round 3 arguments. What is it con? Does God consider it idolatry to be depicted as a result of Pagan influences or doesn't he.
This is something very important to understand. Con essentially defeats his own argument. He says God being depicted before the time of Jesus Christ was idolatry because of Pagan influences, but when I show modern depictions of Jesus are in fact inspired by images of Pagan God's. Even the cross it's self is a pagan symbol, because Jesus was more likely to have died on a type of stump. My opponent basically says "well it's the thought that counts".
However he's wrong. If God thought it idolatry to be depicted, because of Pagan influences before the time of Jesus than he certainly would still find it to be idolatry to depict Osiris on a cross slap the name Jesus on it use it to adorn their body or in religious ceremony.
Conclusion- My opponent has basically defeated his own arguments. I thank Crypto for this debate. Vote Pro
1. Jews were punished for creating an image meant to represent God.
2. The crucifux is a pagan image in Christian clothing. (A wolf in Sheep's clothing)
Wylted has essentially strawmanned my argument, overgeneralizing it and finding “contradictions” where there are none. The issue is complex, but not as much as Wylted makes it out to be.
This debate does not come down to whether or not God changed his mind in terms of whether or not graven images of Himself are idols or not. We already know they are not in accordance with the scripture and arguments presented which Wylted did not contest. What this debate comes down to, as Wylted argued, is whether the depiction Jesus created by culture is an idol or not.
The Purpose of Graven Images
As argued previously, the reason God commanded the use of graven images was to use for religious worship. The reason God punished the Jews for creating the golden calf to represent god was not just because God had not revealed himself and it was therefore and idol. It was because since God had not revealed himself to the Jews, there was no link of worship between the golden calf and God. There was no relation. They were worshipping a golden calf, not God.
So when God revealed himself as Jesus Christ, when we use a depiction of Jesus, whether it is accurate or not, it still serves as link to God since we are using a depiction of God as revealed to humanity to worship God. God made it clear in Deuteronomy 4 that the reason images of God were forbidden was because he had not yet revealed himself, and therefore not only were Jews prone to being influenced by Pagan culture, but they were absolute subjects to Pagan culture since they had no idea how God was to be depicted.
The same does not apply to the Crucifux, because we now do know how God is to be depicted, which is as Jesus Christ. Even though how Jesus looks was influenced by cultures all around the world, our depiction of God was never subject to complete pagan images as the Jews were and was therefore still a legitimate depiction of God as God revealed himself. I argue that the specifications of how Jesus was to look was irrelevant, because as the Gospels have made clear that what mattered was that Jesus was fully God and fully man. Since God depicted himself as a man, then it is certainly relevant that depictions of Jesus are that of a man. We don’t need to get every eyelash and mole correct as long as we are depicting God as God revealed Himself.
The use of the Crucifux is a legitimate practice because it represents God as God revealed himself, and used for legitimate worship of God. The reason the golden calf was an idol was because it represented god as God had not revealed himself, was therefore completely subject to human whims and possessed no link to God.
Over-Generalizations in Pro’s Argument
Statements such as, “modern depictions of Jesus are in fact inspired by images of Pagan God's” and a plethora of other statements my opponent presented only serve to misrepresent the Crucifux as it truly is. Pro acts as if the Crucifux is a 100% completely copied and influenced image of a pagan god and that humans are therefore worshipping that pagan god. This is an utter misrepresentation of reality. I will repeat myself as I did last round. The Crucifux has been influenced and depicted differently by every sort of culture all around the world since the life of Jesus. This is not paganism of any sort, this is cultural influence. Even though there may have been some pagan influences (which I already argued to be irrelevant), most depiction of Jesus are only the result of culture. Pro argued, and continued to argue that Jesus was/is a flat out depiction of a pagan god, which is utterly false. Influenced by, does not equal is.
Why I win
As Wylted had the full Burden of Proof in this debate, it was his job to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the Crucifux is an idol. With the final argument being very slippery and without any objective evidence or particularly convincing arguments, I win this debate by default since Wylted failed to provide arguments that beyond doubt the Crucifux is an idol.
Thank you Wylted for participating in this debate. I hope you benefited from it.
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