Halloween (Part 2): the Paranormal



Much of Halloween is focused on what some might call the “paranormal,” or supernatural themes, objects, activities, and beings.  So what is the paranormal? Should I be scared? Is it real, or is it all fake and pretend?

Some paranormal “occurrences” are nothing but fraudulent hoaxes.  Yet some paranormal activities are very real and spiritually significant.


1 John 4:1 “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God” (ESV)


Are ghosts real? Can my dead relatives come back to talk to me? What about familiar spirits and spirit guides? Can a place be haunted? Is it wrong to talk to or hunt ghosts? Is it wrong to go to haunted houses?


Any real “ghost” sightings or hauntings are actually disguised demons trying to gain your attention and affection.  They either want you to 1) be afraid of their powers, 2) be self-confident in your abilities, or 3) be distracted from God by being absorbed into whatever experience they are presenting.  Avoid the temptations of these experiences and flee from their evil.


2 Corinthians 11:14 “even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light”


What’s the one sure-fire thing I can do to survive paranormal attacks? (FYI: Don’t miss this!)


Real “paranormal” activities and beings are clearly demonic when they fail to accurately point to Jesus and His biblical truth, love, and righteousness.  The only way to survive such paranormal attacks is by repenting of sin and being born again with saving faith in Jesus Christ.


Christians, if you ever come under paranormal/demonic attack, there is only one strategy for success.  Don’t try to fight these spiritual battles in your own power, seek Jesus and His truth. Repent from sin.  Walk in righteousness.  Renew your mind with His truth (Romans 12:1-3) and “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).


James 4:7–8 “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”


"Study Satan’s tricks, and acquaint yourself with his tactics." William Gurnall

What is evil? What is good? How can I know what is true and what is false? Which is the best book on this topic? Who is the best person to talk to on this topic?


There is a spiritual battle raging around us between the followers of Christ against the unseen spiritual forces of evil (Ephesians 6:12).  Although many authors and books seek to describe this warfare, the best place to start and finish is in the Bible.  If you are a Christian, the Bible is your weapon as a “sword of the Spirit” who is within you.  Don’t go unarmed into battle, cite the Scripture with your lips and with your life.


Ephesians 6:16–17 “In all circumstances take up…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God”

"Do not pretend you want to be led into truth if you will not bother to study the whole Word of God." William Gurnall


What about Ouija boards? Voodoo dolls? Horoscopes? Palm reading? Séances? Mediums? Mystics? Incense? Crystals? New age medicine? Tarot cards? Psychics? Fortune Tellers? Witchcraft? Eastern religious practices (therapies/massages, yoga, reiki)? Trances? Dowsing (water witching or divining)? Hypnosis? Trances?


These are real religious objects and activities that do not honor God.  There is no neutral territory in this universe.  God is actively and patiently showing you His love and truth through the Bible and genuine Christians.  Satan is actively seeking to keep you away from a sincere devotion to God and uses many “new age” and “paranormal” routes to gain your trust, attention, and worship.  Listen to God’s many biblical warnings on these idolatrous and demonic practices.


1 Corinthians 10:21–22 "You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?”


"Every ignorant soul is the willing slave of Satan." William Gurnall


Is it ok to watch paranormal movies and TV shows? Read books and blogs? Is there any harm in Zombies? Pokémon? Cartoon witches? Avatars? Vampires? Werewolves? Should Christians “celebrate” Halloween?


Sometimes we face complicated decisions that are best left up to Christian conscious.  We should study God’s Word, evaluate our motivations, consider the potential impact on our Christian obedience and witness, and prayerfully seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance.  


If a Christian finds peace about participating in Halloween activities, they must use wisdom.  Many faithful Christians have a clear conscience about participating in certain Halloween activities by taking with precautions about their destinations, costumes, and behaviors.  Some believers see Halloween as a wonderful witnessing opportunity in which their neighbors and strangers will visit their homes or community outreach events (Galatians 5:13 and 1 Peter 2:16).

1 Corinthians 10:23–24 “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.”


What if I am just a “normal Christian”? Does this subject really affect me? Am I safe from all of this paranormal and demonic stuff?  How can I prepare for future...Spiritual Attacks? Mental Attacks? Physical Attacks? Marriage Attacks? Parenting Attacks? Workplace Attacks? Church Attacks? How can I live with ongoing struggles and suffering? What if Satan doesn’t leave me alone?

The lessons of Halloween carry over throughout the year.  Everyday we all face spiritual battles where “we do not wrestle with flesh and blood” (Ephesians 6:10-20).  We must daily prepare as we go into spiritual battle.  As we mature in our faith, our perspective and passions may change or grow regarding the details of Halloween.  May we seek to use our Christian freedom in ways that honor Jesus and share His light with a dark and dying world.  May we live with joy in our salvation and move forward with bold courage against Satan and his demons!


Luke 10:17 “The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!’”


Want a free resource about spiritual warfare in the early church?  To find summaries of some of Neil Anderson’s most important works? To pick up a Bible reading plan for 2023? Then please visit www.spiritualwarfare.blog/free-books for some of my free e-books and writings.

Halloween (Part 1): The Silly and The Serious


What goes through your mind when you think of Halloween? Costumes, tricks, treats, haunted houses, decorations, parties, or movies?


Halloween is full of all sorts of activities that many people enjoy and celebrate.  It has become a highly commercialized holiday that is given a lot of attention and resources.  The practices surrounding Halloween should cause Christians to ask important spiritual questions.


Here are some frequently asked questions we should consider…


Is demonic possession real? What can a demon do to me? Can the devil or a demon make me do something I don’t want to do? 


Yes, demonic possession is real.  Demons can tempt, attack, and live within humans.  Satan already controls everyone who is not born again with Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.  While not every unbeliever is possessed by a demon, demonically-possessed humans sometimes evidence (manifest) the presence of demons in supernaturally scary ways.


2 Corinthians 4:4 “the god of this world [Satan] has blinded the minds of the unbelievers”


Can a Christian be possessed by a demon? “Demonized”? “Have” a Demon? 


No. If someone truly repents from sin, treasures Jesus more than anyone or anything, and trusts in Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, then they are saved and in-dwelt by God’s Holy Spirit (Romans 8:1-11, 1 Corinthians 3:16).  A genuine believer cannot be possessed or controlled by a demon since Jesus is in them through the Holy Spirit.  Believers can be tempted and deceived by demonic spirits and influences. Christians have personal responsibility for their actions, inactions, and beliefs and accordingly must “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).


2 Corinthians 13:5 “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!”

Can a Christian be harassed by a demon? Oppressed? Attacked?

Yes. As one example, we know that the apostle Paul was attacked and harassed by a demon.  We do not always know the specifics of why demons attack true believers. We do know that if we dependently seek God in these seasons of attack, He will strengthen and grow us (2 Corinthians 12:9-10, 1 John 4:4).


2 Corinthians 12:7 “a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger [angel] of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.”


Can someone be a Christian and their life not demonstrate real change? 


No.  True believers always evidence a changed life through the fruit of God’s Holy Spirit (Matthew 13:19-23, Galatians 5:16-24, 1 John).  Genuine Christians are not perfect but will manifest a decreasing pattern of sin and an increasing pattern of righteousness.  May you be able to look backwards and see God’s progressive work on your life and look forward to how He will continue to mature you as you seek Him in spirit and truth.


1 Peter 5:8 “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”


As you see scary or silly Halloween costumes, decorations, and advertisements may you be reminded that this is not simply a pretend subject.  Our spiritual state matters.  Satan and his demons are on the prowl, seeking to deceive and destroy us.  If you are not yet a Christian, why would you wait another day to receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior? 


If you are a Christian, have confidence that God is with you and in you.  Do not fear.  Put on the full armor of God daily and be like Paul, seeking to “boldly proclaim the mystery of the gospel” everywhere you go. (Ephesians 6:10-20)


1 John 4:4 “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”


Want a free resource about spiritual warfare in the early church?  To find summaries of some of Neil Anderson’s most important works? To pick up a Bible reading plan for 2023? Then please visit www.spiritualwarfare.blog/free-books for some of my free e-books and writings.

How Can Marriages Be Annulled? What Does the Bible Say about Catholic Divorce and Remarriage?

  

CAN MARRIAGES BE ANNULLED?
WHAT ABOUT REMARRIAGE?


The Catholic Blog - Helping people find answers to the most common questions about Catholicism with answers from the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Bible. (www.catholic.blog )


“Can marriages be annulled?” - Important Passages of The Catechism of the Catholic Church to Consider:

  • “The Church, after an examination of the situation by the competent ecclesiastical tribunal can declare the nullity of a marriage, i.e., that the marriage never existed.  In this case the contracting parties are free to marry, provided the natural obligations of a previous union are discharged.” (CCC 1629)
  • “A case of marriage with disparity of cult (between a Catholic and a non-baptized person) requires even greater circumspection” (1633)
  • “In the case of disparity of cult an express dispensation from this impediment is required for the validity of the marriage. (1635)
  • “the remarriage of persons divorced from a living, lawful spouse contravenes the plan and law of God as taught by Christ.  They are not separated from the Church, but they cannot receive Eucharistic communion.” (CCC 1665)
  • [Encouragement to divorce if your wife does not obey you] Sirach 25:35-36 “If she walk not at thy hand, she will confound thee in the sight of thy enemies. 36 Cut her off from thy flesh, lest she always abuse thee.”


“Can marriages be annulled?” - Important Scriptures to Consider:

  • Mark 10:7–9 ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, [8] and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. [9] What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (ESV)
  • Romans 7:2–3 “For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. [3] Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.” (ESV)
  • 1 Corinthians 7:39 “A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.” (ESV)
  • SEE: “What Does the Bible Say about Divorce and Remarriage?” www.trustworthyword.com/what-does-the-bible-say-about-divorce-and-remarriage


“Can marriages be annulled?” - Important Questions to Consider:

  • Is the concept of “annulment” (that a “marriage never existed”) a biblical concept? If so, where?
  • How does that differ with Romans 7:2 and 1 Corinthians 7:39 saying that only death ends a marriage?
  • Does the Bible ever distinguish between marriages inside or outside the church?
  • Is it right to provide an avenue of allow marriage to a non-believer when the Bible prohibits it clearly (1 Corinthians 7:39)?
  • Is not withholding Eucharistic communion withholding forgiveness? 
  • Why would Sirach 25:35-36 encourage divorce in such a sweeping manner?  Does the Bible encourage it or permit it on rare occasions?


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Who Goes to Purgatory? Will I Go to Purgatory? Do Indulgences Help Us?

  



WILL I GO TO PURGATORY?


The Catholic Blog - Helping people find answers to the most common questions about Catholicism with answers from the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Bible. (www.catholic.blog )


“Will I go to purgatory?” - Important Passages of The Catechism of the Catholic Church to Consider:

  • “Woe on those who will die in mortal sin!” (CCC 1014)
  • “Grave sin deprives us of communion with God and therefore makes us incapable of eternal life” (CCC 1472)
  • “every sin, even venial, entails an unhealthy attachment to creatures, which must be purified here on earth, or after death in a state called Purgatory” (CCC 1472)
  • “this purification frees one from what is called the ‘temporal punishment’ of sin” (CCC 1472)
  • “A conversion which proceeds from a fervent charity can attain the complete purification of the sinner in such a way that no punishment would remain” (CCC 1472)
  • “Each man receives his eternal retribution in his immortal soul at the very moment of his death, in a particular judgment that refers his life to Christ: either entrance into the blessedness of heaven - through purification or immediately, or immediate and everlasting damnation. ‘At the evening of life we shall be judged on our love.” (CCC 1022)  
  • “the souls of all the saints…and other faithful who died after receiving Christ’s holy Baptism (provided they were not in need of purification when they died, … or, if they then did need or will need some purification, when they have been purified after death, …)…will be in heaven” (CCC 1023)
  • “All who died in God’s grace and friendship, but  are still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven” (CCC 1030)
  • “The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned” (CCC 1031)
  • The Church formulated their doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence [1439] and Trent [1563].  The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire.” (CCC 1031)
  • “for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire” (CCC 1031)
  • “we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come” (CCC 1031)
  • “From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God” (CCC 1032) 
  • “The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead” (CCC 1032)
  • “Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them” (CCC 1032)


DO INDULGENCES HELP US?


“Do indulgences help us?” - Important Passages of The Catechism of the Catholic Church to Consider:

  • “An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions throughout the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints” (CCC 1471)
  • “relatives who must see to it that the sick receive at the proper time the sacraments that prepare them to meet the living God” (CCC 2299)
  • “An indulgence…removes either part or all of the temporal punishment due to sin.  The faithful can gain indulgences for themselves or apply them to the dead.” (CCC 1471)
  • “every sin, even venial, entails an unhealthy attachment to creates, which must be purified either here on earth, or after death, in the state called Purgatory” (CCC 1472)
  • “a perennial link of charity exists between the faithful who have already reached their heavenly home, those who are expiating their sins in purgatory, and those who are still pilgrims on earth.  Between theme there is, too, and abundant exchange of good things.’  In this wonderful exchange the holiness of one profits others, well beyond the harm that the sin of one could cause others.  Thus recourse to the communion of saints lets the contrite sinner be more promptly and efficaciously purified for the punishments for sin” (CCC 1475)
  • “This treasury includes as well the prayers and good works of the Blessed Virgin Mary” (CCC 1477)
  • “In this treasury too, are the prayers and good works of all the saints” (CCC 1477)
  • “In this way they attained their own salvation and at the same time cooperated in saving their brothers” (CCC 1477)
  • “Since the faithful departed now being purified are also members of the same communion of saints, one way we can help them is to obtain indulgences for them so that the temporal punishments for their sins may be remitted” (CCC 1479)
  • “Through indulgences the faithful can obtain the remission of temporal punishment resulting from sin for themselves and also for the souls in Purgatory” (CCC 1498)
  • 2 Maccabbees 12:43, "And making a gathering, he sent twelve thousand drachms of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection.”


“Will I go to purgatory? Do indulgences help us?” - Important Scriptures to Consider:

  • 1 John 2:2 “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” (ESV)
  • Romans 5:8 “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
  • 1 Corinthians 13:15 “If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.” (ESV)
  • 1 Peter 1:7 “so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (ESV)
  • Hebrews 7:27 “He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself.” (ESV)
  • 2 Corinthians 5:6-8 “So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” (ESV)
  • Philippians 1:21 “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (ESV)
  • Philippians 1:23 “My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.”
  • Job 1:5 "And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and consecrate them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, ‘It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually.’” (ESV)
  • Luke 23:43 “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (ESV)
  • Deuteronomy 4:2 “You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you.” (ESV)
  • Romans 8:1–2 "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. [2] For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” (ESV)
  • 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (ESV)
  • Colossians 2:13–14 "And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, [14] by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” (ESV)


“Will I go to purgatory? Do indulgences help us?” - Important Questions to consider:

  • Were Job’s sons alive or dead when made offerings for them (Job 1:5)?
  • Does 1 Corinthians 13:14-15 speak about people being burned up or their works being burned up to evidence their quality/genuineness?  Does it talk about the person being burned or escaping from the fire or being cleansed by the fire?
  • If the Bible speaks so much about Heaven and Hell, why did it take the Catholic Church 1400+ years to approve a statement on Purgatory?
    • “The Church formulated their doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence [1439 A.D.] and Trent [1563 A.D.].” (CCC 1031)
  • What were the motives of the Catholic doctrine of Purgatory?  How were they connected with indulgences and money/fundraising?  Why were Martin Luther and other reformers so much against this abuse of power and manipulative tactics?
  • Why does the Bible have so many warnings about adding to it?  What is the danger? What is the offense?  How has the Catholic Church offended God in the invention of purgatory?
  • Where is the concept of indulgences in the Bible?
  • What does Romans 8:1-2 mean?  What does 1 John 1:9 mean?
  • If our debt has been fully paid (Colossians 2:13–14), why is there a need for Purgatory or Indulgences?
  • SEE: “What Does the Bible Say About Heaven?” www.trustworthyword.com/what-does-the-bible-say-about-heaven 
  • SEE: “What Does the Bible Say About Hell?” www.trustworthyword.com/what-does-the-bible-say-about-hell


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Why Do Catholics Talk to the Dead? Is it OK to Pray to Mary, the Saints, & Angels?

  

SHOULD WE PRAY 
TO MARY AND SAINTS?


The Catholic Blog - Helping people find answers to the most common questions about Catholicism with answers from the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Bible. (www.catholic.blog )


Merriam-Webster’s Definitions:

Necromancy - the practice of talking to the spirits of dead people

Medium - a person through whom other persons try to communicate with the spirits of the dead


“Should we pray to Mary and Saints?” - Important Passages of The Catechism of the Catholic Church to Consider:

  • We can pray with and to her.  The prayer of the Church is sustained by the prayer of Mary” (CCC 2679)
  • “prayer unites us in the Church with the Mother of Jesus” (CCC 2673)
  • “the Churches developed their prayers to the holy Mother of God” (CCC 2675)
  • “in countless hymns and antiphons expressing this prayer…entrusts the supplications and praises of the children of God to the Mother of Jesus” (CCC 2675)
  • “we can entrust all our cares and petitions to her: she prays for us” (CCCC 2677)
  • “by entrusting ourselves to her prayer we abandon ourselves to the will of God together with her” (CCC 2677)
  • “Medieval piety in the West developed the prayer of the rosary” (CCC 2678)
  • “Mary is the perfect Orans (pray-er)” (CCC 2679)
  • “The witnesses…especially those whom the Church recognizes as saints…constantly care for those whom have left on the earth.  Their intercession is their most exalted service to God’s plan.  We can and should ask them to intercede for us and for the whole world.” (CCC 2683)
  • “it is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins’ she offers suffrages for them” (CCC 958)
  • “prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God” (CCC 2559)
  • Where is confessing to God?
  • “In prayer, the pilgrim Church is associated with that of the saints, whose intercession she asks” (CCC 2692)
  • “it is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins’ she offers suffrages for them” (CCC 958)
  • “The Church encourages us to prepare ourselves for the house of death. … to ask the Mother of God to intercede for us ‘at the hour of our death’ in the Hail Mary; and to entrust ourselves to St. Joseph, the patron of a happy death” (CCC 1014)
  • “This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture: ‘Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from sin.” (CCC 1032)
  • “The Christian funeral…aims at expressing efficacious communion with the deceased” (CCC 1684)
  • “The Church…asks [to the Father] to purify his child of his sins and their consequences and to admit him to the Paschal fullness of the table of the Kingdom. … by communicating the Body of Christ…by praying for him and with him.” (CCC)
  • “saints…constantly care for those whom they have left on earth…their intercession is their most exalted service to God’s plan.  We can and should ask them to intercede for us and for the whole world.” (CCC 2683)
  • “the Church…sustains the hope of believers by proposing the saints to them as models and intercessors” (CCC 828)


“Should we pray to Mary and Saints?” - Important Scriptures to Consider:

  • Deuteronomy 18:10–12 “There shall not be found among you…a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD. And because of these abominations the LORD your God is driving them out before you." (ESV)
  • Leviticus 19:31 “Do not turn to mediums or necromancers; do not seek them out, and so make yourselves unclean by them: I am the LORD your God.” (ESV)
  • Isaiah 8:19 "And when they say to you, ‘Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,” should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living?’” (ESV)
  • 1 Samuel 28:15 “Then Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” Saul answered, “I am in great distress, for the Philistines are warring against me, and God has turned away from me and answers me no more, either by prophets or by dreams. Therefore I have summoned you to tell me what I shall do.” (ESV)
  • 1 Chronicles 10:13–14 "So Saul died for his breach of faith. He broke faith with the LORD in that he did not keep the command of the LORD, and also [14] He did not seek guidance from the LORD. Therefore the LORD put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse." (ESV)
  • 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.” (ESV)
  • Hebrews 7:27 "He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself.” (ESV)
  • James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” (ESV)
  • Romans 8:26–27 “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. [27] And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” (ESV)
  • Romans 8:34 “Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.” (ESV)


IS IT OK TO PRAY TO ANGELS?


“Is it ok to pray to angels?” - Important Passages of The Catechism of the Catholic Church to Consider:

  • “the Church…invokes their [the angels] assistance in the funeral…’May the angels lead you into Paradise…she celebrates the memory of certain angels more particularly ? (St. Michael, St. Gabriel, St. Raphael, and the guardian angels’” (CCC 335)
  • “Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life” (CCC 336)
  • The Church venerates the angels who help her on her earthly pilgrimage and protect every human being.” (CCC 352)


“Is it ok to pray to angels?” - Important Scriptures to Consider:

  • NOTE: The Bible does not mention Raphael or particular “guardian” angels assigned to each believe nor does it support praying to them for assistance as prayer is an act of worship and angels refuse worship.
  • Why does the book of Tobit give so much attention to angels compared with every other book of the Bible?  Does that concern you about its trustworthiness?  Should it?
  • Revelation 22:8–9 “I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, [9] but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.” (ESV)
  • Colossians 2:16–19 “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. [17] These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. [18] Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, [19] and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.” (ESV)
  • Hebrews 13:5 "he has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” (ESV)
  • Romans 1:22–25 “Claiming to be wise, they became fools, [23] and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. [24] Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, [25] because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” (ESV)


“Should we pray to Mary, Saints, or Angels?” - Important Questions to Consider:

  • Where does the Bible describe or prescribe praying to Mary, Saints, or Angels?
  • Why would we talk to angels when we have the Spirit of God within us, to whom we can speak at anytime?  Is not the God the Holy Spirit more powerful than angels?  
  • Is it not insulting to ignore the Holy Spirit (whose job is to intercede for us) and instead speak to created beings rather than the Creator?
  • Where does the Bible say that every believer have an individual angel assigned to them?
  • How is praying to unseen spiritual beings not a form of worship?
  • Where does the Bible describe the dead as praying for the living?
  • Is talking to the dead (Mary and Saints) in prayer any different than necromancy?  Why or why not?
  • Why does God give so many warnings about necromancy and mediums like in Isaiah 8:19?
  • Why was Saul’s sin “that he did not seek guidance from the Lord” directly so serious? (1 Chronicles 10:13–14)
  • When was prayer to Mary, the saints, and angels invented by the Catholic Church?  Why?


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Are Images of Jesus, Mary, Saints, or Angels Helpful or Harmful? Do Relics & Rosaries have Power?

 



 ARE IMAGES AND STATUES OF JESUS, SAINTS, ANGELS, OR MARY HELPFUL OR HARMFUL?

DO RELICS AND ROSARIES HAVE SPIRITUAL POWER?


The Catholic Blog - Helping people find answers to the most common questions about Catholicism with answers from the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Bible. (www.catholic.blog )


Merriam-Webster’s Definitions to Consider: How similar are these terms?

Icon - “an object of uncritical devotion; a religious image usually painted on a small wooden panel”

Idol - “an object of extreme devotion; a greatly loved or admired person; a picture or object that is worshipped as a god”


“Are Catholic images helpful or harmful? Do relics and rosaries have power?” - Important Passages of The Catechism of the Catholic Church to Consider:

  • “in the Old Testament, God ordained or permitted the making of images that pointed symbolically toward salvation by the incarnate Word; so it was with the bronze serpent, the ark of the covenant, and the cherubim” (CCC 2129)
  • “the Christian veneration of images is not contrary to the first commandment which proscribes idols. … ‘whoever venerates an image venerates the person portrayed in it.’ The honor paid to the sacred image is a ‘respectful veneration,’ not the adoration due to God alone” (CCC 2132)
  • “The veneration of sacred images is based on the mystery of the Incarnation of the Word of God.  It is not contrary to the first commandment.” (CCC 2141)
  • “Previously God, who has neither a body nor a face, absolutely could not be represented by an image.  But now that he has made himself visible in the flesh and has lived with men, I can make an image of what I have seen of God … and contemplate the glory of the Lord, his face unveiled” (CCC 1159)
  • “sacred images of the holy Mother of God and of the saints…truly signify Christ, who is glorifies in them…they make manifest the ‘cloud of witnesses’ who continue to participate in the salvation of the world and to whom we are united…so too are the angels” (CCC 1161)
  • “‘Following the divinely inspired teachings of our holy Fathers and the tradition of the Catholic Church (for we know that this tradition comes from the Holy Spirit who dwells in her)…holy images of our Lord and God and Savior, Jesus Christ, our inviolate Lady, the holy Mother of God, and the venerated angels, all the saints and the just, whether painted or made of mosaic or another suitable material, are to be exhibited in the holy churches of God, on sacred vessels and vestments, walls and panels, in houses and on streets” (CCC 1161)


Merriam-Webster’s Definitions to Consider:

Amulet - a small object worn to protect the person wearing it against bad things (such as illness, bad luck, etc.)

Charm - something worn about the person to ward off evil or ensure good fortune

Fetish - an object of irrational reverence or obsessive devotion



“Are Catholic images helpful or harmful? Do relics and rosaries have power?” - Important Passages of The Catechism of the Catholic Church to Consider:

  • Medieval piety in the West developed the prayer of the rosary” (CCC 2678)
  • “Christian prayer tries above all to meditate on the mysteries of Christ, as in lector divine or the rosary” (CCC 2708)
  • “The liturgical feasts dedicated to the Mother of God and Marian prayer, such as the rosary, an ‘epitome of the whole Gospel,’ express this devotion to the Virgin Mary.” (CCC 971)
  • sacramentals…prepare us to receive grace and dispose us to cooperate with it” (CCC 1670)
  • “from the Paschal mystery of the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ…all sacraments and sacramentals draw their power.  There is scarcely any proper use of material things which cannot be thus directed toward the sanctification of men and the praise of God” (CCC 1670) 
  • “among sacramentals, blessings (of persons, meals, objects, and places) come first” (CCC 1671)


“Are Catholic images helpful or harmful? Do relics and rosaries have power?” - Important Scriptures to Consider:

  • 2 Kings 18:4–6 And he broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the people of Israel had made offerings to it (it was called Nehushtan). [5] He trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel, so that there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those who were before him. [6] For he held fast to the LORD. He did not depart from following him, but kept the commandments that the LORD commanded Moses.” (ESV)
  • Jeremiah 3:16–17 “And when you have multiplied and been fruitful in the land, in those days, declares the LORD, they shall no more say, “The ark of the covenant of the LORD.” It shall not come to mind or be remembered or missed; it shall not be made again. [17] At that time Jerusalem shall be called the throne of the LORD, and all nations shall gather to it, to the presence of the LORD in Jerusalem, and they shall no more stubbornly follow their own evil heart.” (ESV)
  • Revelation 11:19 “Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple.”
  • Exodus 20:4–5 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. [5] You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me" (ESV)
    • Why does the Catholic Church combine the 2nd & 1st commandment into just the “first” commandment & then split out the 10th commandment into two? (CCC 2051)
  • Deuteronomy 5:8–10 “‘You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. [9] You shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, [10] but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.” (ESV)
  • Leviticus 26:1  “You shall not make idols for yourselves or erect an image or pillar, and you shall not set up a figured stone in your land to bow down to it, for I am the LORD your God.” (ESV)
  • Deuteronomy 4:16–19 “beware lest you act corruptly by making a carved image for yourselves, in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female, [17] the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the air, [18] the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water under the earth. [19] And beware lest you raise your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away and bow down to them and serve them, things that the LORD your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven.” (ESV)
  • 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” (ESV)
  • Psalm 97:7 "All worshipers of images are put to shame, who make their boast in worthless idols; worship him, all you gods!” (ESV)
  • Ezekiel 7:20 “His beautiful ornament they used for pride, and they made their abominable images and their detestable things of it. Therefore I make it an unclean thing to them.” (ESV)
  • Habakkuk 2:18–20 “What profit is an idol when its maker has shaped it, a metal image, a teacher of lies? For its maker trusts in his own creation when he makes speechless idols! [19] Woe to him who says to a wooden thing, Awake; to a silent stone, Arise! Can this teach?Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in it. [20] But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.” (ESV)
  • Isaiah 2:8 "Their land is filled with idols; they bow down to the work of their hands, to what their own fingers have made.” (ESV)
  • Acts 17:29 “Being then God's offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man.” (ESV)
  • Colossians 2:18 “Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind” (ESV)
  • Revelation 13:14 “and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived.” (ESV)
  • Revelation 22:8–9 “I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, [9] but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.” (ESV)
  • Romans 1:22–25 “Claiming to be wise, they became fools, [23] and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. [24] Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, [25] because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. (ESV)
  • Ezekiel 13:20–21 “Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I am against your magic bands with which you hunt the souls like birds, and I will tear them from your arms, and I will let the souls whom you hunt go free, the souls like birds. [21] Your veils also I will tear off and deliver my people out of your hand, and they shall be no more in your hand as prey, and you shall know that I am the LORD. (ESV)
  • Psalm 20:7 “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.” (ESV)
  • Acts 5:15 “so that they even carried out the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them.” (ESV)
  • Acts 19:11–12 “And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, [12] so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them.” (ESV)
  • Acts 19:19 “And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver.” (ESV)
  • Mark 5:28 “For she said, ‘If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.’” (ESV)
  • Mark 5:34 “And he said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.’” (ESV)

“Are Catholic images helpful or harmful? Do relics and rosaries have power?” - Questions to Consider:

  • If objects from the Old Testament such as the bronze serpent, the ark of the covenant, and the cherubim were so important for our faith, why do we not have them today?
  • Why did King Hezekiah destroy the bronze serpent in 2 Kings 18:4?  How does verses 5 & 6 describe King Hezekiah?
  • Why is the ark of the covenant now in Heaven and not on earth? (Revelation 11:19)
  • What does Acts 19:19 teach us about dangers that can be found in objects?  When should we get rid of or destroy objects?  Why is trust the critical issue?
  • Why did the early church father Eusebius warn against amulets being dangerous?  When can an object like a rosary, relic, statue, or image become more like an amulet in our hearts?
  • Why did people use objects as idols in the Bible?  What were they trying to gain?  What were they trying to get rid of?  When can an object become an idol in our hearts today?
  • Why are we warned about putting our trust in objects like horses and chariots (military might) for protection from evil?
  • In Acts 5:15-16 was the healing from the proximity to Peter, or from the faith in the Spirit of the Living God that caused them to draw near to Jesus within Peter?
  • Did the woman’s proximity to Jesus heal her?  Did the woman’s touching of Jesus heal her?  Or was it her faith?  Objects and proximity to objects are not needed.  Faith in Jesus is what is needed.
  • In John 5:1–11 at the Pool of Bethesda Jesus does not choose to heal everyone.  Why not?
  • Why doesn’t Jesus, Peter, or Paul require an offering in return for the healing that came?  Is it wrong for the Church to collect offerings in conjunction with healings? 
  • SEE: “What Does the Bible Say about Idols?” www.trustworthyword.com/idols



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