I find myself reading scripture, and having questions that really have me confused. For instance, I never really put that much thought into why I disregard much of the Old Testament laws I’m reading in the Torah, but I have to recognize that sin is sin and I can’t willfully sin as a Christian. So I have to look up doctrines such as supersessionism and dispensationalism. What can I forgo and what must I obey? Fortunately, Wikipedia has articles on these, and I can compare what the different views are.
Turns out that Theologian Thomas Aquinas believed that the Law should be split up into moral laws, ceremonial laws, and judicial laws. Moral precepts are permanent, ceremonial laws (like cleanness and sacrifice rituals) foreshadowed Christ and so were temporary, and judicial laws (like specific punishments for crimes) aren’t binding now that we’re under grace, but that they contained universal principles of justice that reflected natural law. Therefore Aquinas reasoned that if you, as an appointed judge, upheld a judicial law of Moses, you would not sin.
Now, this does chip away from the Decalogue (the Ten Commandments) because observing the Sabbath would be considered a ceremonial law. So that’s why we get all the different positions on the Sabbath, Saturday vs. Sunday, etc. Reading Wikipedia again, I tend toward Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches, which distinguish between the “Sabbath” (Saturday) and the “Lord’s Day” (Sunday), and hold that both continue to play a special role for the faithful. Eastern Christians continue to celebrate Saturday as Sabbath because of its role in the history of salvation: it was on Holy Saturday that Jesus rested in the tomb after Good Friday’s work on the cross.
Another item I find myself rethinking is the role of religious art. Are they idols? I don’t pray to any of the religious objects. I don’t even pray to any saints. I only pray to God, further defined as praying to the Trinity. I pray to Jesus directly, and my groaning prayers such as HELP I would typify as praying to the spirit. So here I go to another Wikipedia article on Byzantine Iconoclasm (a period where religious art was equated with idolatry). I do see two valid points by the opponents of iconoclasm:
Assertion that the biblical commandment forbidding images of God had been superseded by the incarnation of Jesus, who, being the second person of the Trinity, is God incarnate in visible matter. Therefore, they were not depicting the invisible God, but God as He appeared in the flesh. They were able to adduce the issue of the incarnation in their favour, whereas the iconoclasts had used the issue of the incarnation against them. They also pointed to other Old testament evidence: God instructed Moses to make two golden statues of cherubim on the lid of the Ark of the Covenant according to Exodus 25:18–22, and God also told Moses to embroider the curtain which separated the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle tent with cherubim Exodus 26:31.
Further, in their view idols depicted persons without substance or reality while icons depicted real persons. Essentially the argument was “all religious images not of our faith are idols; all images of our faith are icons to be venerated.” This was considered comparable to the Old Testament practice of only offering burnt sacrifices to God, and not to any other gods.
However I agree with Protestants who oppose the veneration of icons. In Protestant churches, veneration (the honor and reverence appropriately due to the excellence of a created person) is sometimes considered to amount to the heresy of idolatry, and the related practice of canonization amounts to the heresy of apotheosis. Protestant theology usually denies that any real distinction between veneration and worship can be made, and claims that the practice of veneration distracts the Christian soul from its true object, the worship of God.
So I don’t adhere to any transubstantiation of sacred art or of relics – I believe that physical objects have no spiritual power. So for instance a bible is not holy because the paper and ink were set apart for sacred purposes. Rather it is the Word of God, the ideas correctly communicated, that are sacrosanct. Similarly a stained glass window depicting a biblical scene in itself is not holy, but the historical scene it portrays is holy and should not be portrayed erroneously.
That’s all my thoughts for now.