I was watching a video called "Cathedral" in which the building a Gothic Cathedral was explained architecturally this morning. The video did a imitation historical context in which the church being built (Which was one of the many Notre Dame's) was the proud home of the veil the blessed Virgin wore. The veil like all relics had mystical powers, in this case healing. I suddenly remembered how superstitious Catholicism really was/is. A friend of mine who is from Mexico upon finding that I was a Christian asked "So do you believe in saints and virgins?" I really was dumbfounded, when I tell people I am a Christian I don't generally get this kind of follow up question, I am more ready for the "You believe that Bible stuff! HA!" My response to my friends question was "Yeah, I suppose" (I was thinking: There exists persons who are saints...True. And there exists persons who are virgins...true.)
Of course what he really meant was in reference to the multiple Latin American appearances of "Mary", and maybe by "saints" he meant these mystical beings we pray to in order to help us out of jams. Anyway, I guess in light of the video I realized afresh just how bizarre Catholicism really is. I think one of the best example of this is the relics.
Why inanimate body parts from dead Christians became prized tokens really is beyond me, I mean who wants a dead guys' head sitting behind the altar? Well I guess when you begin to superstitiously attribute every good fortune that besets you to your kissing St.Clifford's back hair you begin to be dependant on these things to some degree. I really vary in my reaction to all of this from laughing my head off to being grieved that people have been so duped into idolatry.
That's really what this is, idolatry. When we don't look to God alone for deliverance we are idolaters. Whether it be looking to St.John the Baptists camel hair briefs or looking to our bank accounts to make our problems go away we are guilty the sin of idolatry. So Protestants, don't think that we are free from the deceitfulness of superstitious idolatry...
Anyway, what I was wondering is "What happened to the relics?" I occasionally listen to the local Catholic channel and I honestly heard last week that there such and such relics on their way to a Milwaukee diocese. I really thought that all this relic junk died out after the reformation, with the exception of a few possibly authentic relics (I prefer artifacts) I thought this was pretty much given up on. I guess not. One would hope that these things would be once and for all laid to rest and no longer treated as go betweens between man and God, but it seems the natural man likes his magic "sacred" items.
So the relics are still popular among the Catholics it seems, I just don't understand how you can't see this as idolatry. This really is a manageable God though, and I think that's why these things have such appeal to people. We can control God through these magical objects and make Him bless us whether the issue is health, finances, or purgatory, these magic objects cover all the areas and insure blessing on those that reverence (shudder) these objects. These seem akin to the Charismatic junk on the Protestant end of the spectrum, prosperity hankies, Benny Hinn's anointing oil etc. These are all forms of superstition, and attempts to manage God through objects.
So the point I want to close on is not a pick on the Catholics and their creepy superstition (I mean come on face it, it's kinda creepy to want to go kiss that "Mary Magedalene" skull in that manikin head!). I want to give us all a general warning to beware trying to manage God. Whether by inanimate object idolatry, or by theological idolatry. Both acknowledge God but rob Him of His power.
"Thus, although they are forced to acknowledge that there is some God they however, rob Him of His glory by denying His power.[...] In this way the vain pretext which many employ to clothe their superstition is overthrown. They deem it enough that they have some kind of zeal for religion, how preposterous soever it may be, not observing that true religion must be conformable to the will of God as its unerring standard; that He can never deny Himself, and is no spectre or phantom, to be metamorphosed at each individual's caprice."
That is a stinging indictment on idolatry of all kinds. Whether attributing power to dead men's bones, or treating God as a relativistic/pluralistic truth. The "God's different for everyone" Liberal theology is a form of idolatry...
"It is easy to see how superstition , with its false glosses, mocks God, while it tries to please Him. Usually fastening merely on things on which He has declared He sets no value, it either contemptuously overlooks, or even undisguisedly rejects, the things which He expressly enjoins, or in which we are assure that He takes pleasure. Those, therefore, who set up fictitious worship, merely worship and adore their own delirious fancies; indeed, they would never dare so to trifle with God, had they not previously fashioned Him after their own childish conceits." (Institutes of the Christian Religion)
God is only acceptable to the idolater if he can manage Him. Whether through magic objects or by shaving off attributes, only then is God palatable.