Recently a Muslim friend asked me about the statutes in the Church whether Christians worship statues. In other words: Are Christians idol worshipers? We had a very helpful religious conversation around the topic. I would like to share with you…
Christians are monotheists. They affirm without ambiguity that worship is due to God alone. In his or her worship of God, a Christian adores the one living God. This worship includes three principal acts: namely adoration (or the recognition of God’s infinite perfection), prayer or the asking for divine help, and sacrifice or the offering of something precious to God.
Christians also venerate angels and saints. Veneration like adoration has three principal forms. In venerating angels and saints; first, Christians honor the sanctity of the angels and saints; second, they pray to angels and saints to intercede before the divine Majesty; thirdly, Christians imitate saints and angels love for and service of God.
The statues one finds in the churches and chapels are symbolic form of the saints and angels. The purpose of keeping statues in the places of veneration is to recall the person whom the statue represents in order to inspire greater piety.
In history we meet a heresy termed as Iconoclasm (Etym. Greek eikon, image + Klaein, to break) that rejected the use of religious images as superstition. Saints John of Damascene and Theodore were the staunch defenders of sacred images. They emphasized that these images may be lawfully displayed and venerated. They made it clear that the respect shown the sacred images were really given to the person they represent.