Christianity, one of the three major religion in the world having 2.5 billion adherents across the continents.
Christian faith consider itself as monotheistic and traces its origin to the roots of Judaism. Early Christian formulators have even added the Jewish scripture to their set of holy books and have included Jewish patriarchs as their own.
Though many doctrines were challenged and contested throughout the history for the compatibility with Jewish monotheistic belief, Trinity (i, e. One God in three person) is the most disputed and debated doctrine of all as the very concept is nowhere found in the Jewish bible which Christians have added to their set of holy books.
But in my opinion, There exist an important doctrine held and followed by nearly 75% of the Christians which directly in odd with entire bible but Have been sanctioned against in the very founding commandments of the entire Scripture.
That is Veneration of images and idols, As the practice has got church approval and practiced by all clergy man to lay believers (exception to some protestant and neo protestant movements).
In the below portion of Torah (Exodus), God Commands that:
“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven 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” – Exodus 20:4
“You must not make idols for yourselves or set up a carved image or sacred pillar; you must not place a sculpted stone in your land to bow down to it. For I am the LORD your God’ – Leviticus 26:1
In direct opposite to this above rule from God, we see Christian’s veneration different forms of idols and gold gilded images of different human forms in their day to day worship.
They pray to the person in the image/Idols.
They touch and seek blessings.
They kiss and wipe the feet of those idols
Adorn the churches with them…
Whatever justification Christian theologian gives, the truth is plain polytheistic practices have rooted too deep among the Christians faiths mainly among Wester Latin Catholics and Easter Orthodox.
In antiquity the pictorial representation of Christians figures were called ICONS. Any early church fathers have written variety of treatises in defence of this practice.
In Late 7th century, when Christians first met Muslims and encountered their theology and monotheistic belief, Christians started to search inward for their own doctrine and prepared for defence in theological debates.
Under one such circumstance came a reformation in early 8th century shaking entire Christian empire called Iconoclasm (destruction of images and idols used in Christian worship) in response to constant accusation and charge from Muslims that Christian practices were straight idol worship and polytheism.
In practice, Christians have replaced the Zeus with Jesus and different demi gods of pagans with thousands of saints and hundreds of angels in veneration pulpit.
Number of saints depicted and venerated vary from place to place, each country and region having their own saint unique to them and in ever year, church canonize create new saints to that list.
Such practices have no place in monotheism, where a being (dead or alive) other than one true God is called upon for help in worship.
Theologians may give answer to the challenges on these polytheistic practices and defend them but the truth is Christianity have departed far away from true monotheism of the patriarchs of bible and Jesus’s teaching.
People have adopted ICON veneration rather out of convenience, in medieval period not everyone was literate enough read the scripture and understand the God’s commandments. Church used these paintings, idols and statues to impart biblical stories and morals but that came at heavy cost of leading the believers away from the monotheistic doctrine and root the polytheistic rituals.
New generation Christians had to go back to their scripture, though protestant reformation in its initial stages succeeded against the idol worship and ICON veneration as centuries passed no impact has been noticed in majority of the Christians denomination.
As in Past Greek and Roman religion had pantheon of divine being, Christianity have replaced those pantheons of gods and goddess with saints and archangels. Interesting fact the list of semi dine being is increasing day by day as church make more and more dead people to their list of saints and healers.
Church have decently camouflaged those idols and paintings in the form “Veneration” rather than worship in words. But the substance over rule the form of the practice which is idolatry.