Protestant asks about chapter 6 of Baruch
Good evening! Dear Catholic brothers! I, Gilson Rodrigues da Silva, am reading the apocryphal book “BARUCH”, I would like to hear from you the clarification of chapter 06. The question is this: does the Catholic Church practice chapter 06 or not ??? (Gilson)
I hope you had a Holy and Merry Christmas and thank you for asking your question!
From the content of your email, I can see that you are a Protestant and that you are taking the time to read Baruch’s book, from a Catholic or ecumenical Bible. So, maybe you were surprised by the content of Baruch 6, right?
Let me first clarify that, for Catholic Christians (Roman, Eastern and Orthodox), the book of Baruch is not apocryphal, but canonical, so that the Christian Church, since its beginnings, has made use of his.
In any case… Congratulations, as many Protestants discard this and other biblical books a priori, thus losing great treasures of the Word of God! Therefore, I recommend that, after Baruch, also read the other books that were excluded in the 16th / 17th century by Protestants (Tobias, Judite, Ecclesiastical, Wisdom, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees and certain passages from Esther and Daniel).
Well, let’s address your email. Chapter 6 of Baruch corresponds to the so-called “Letter of Jeremiah”. Some handwritten Bibles of the century. IV and V AD. see this chapter as autonomous, so that Baruch (secretary of Jeremiah) would have only 5 first chapters …
Jeremiah’s letter, in turn, corresponds to a warning by this veto-testamentary prophet to his countrymen, who were being taken captive to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar. Babylon, like other peoples of that time, adopted in my religion a myriad of gods, to whom they rendered portentous cults, some even promoting “sacred” prostitution.
Likewise, the temples erected to house these gods had statues built with certain devices (= “trickery”) that allowed them to move and / or emit sounds / words, which caused – with certainty – fear for many superstitious people.
As we shall see, such devices were common at the time, in that region, so that people believed strongly that the statues of the gods were confused with the very divinity they represented.
Now, Jeremiah, as a prophet of the only God, knew that such “divine” statues, created by human hands, depended on fraud … However, knowing the weakness of the Jewish people’s faith (which many, many times allowed themselves to be carried away for pagan cults) ), now taken captive to that nation, spares no criticism of the Babylonian cult; tries to make them see that such idols are nothing.
Evident! As direct fruits of the creation of the only God or of the human intellect, such things were creatures (= created things) and, therefore, they could not be gods !!! Consequently, his supposed powers could be nothing more than fraud and the elected people, now captive, could not be impressed by this; on the contrary, he should maintain faith in his only God, knowing that the time of captivity would be temporary (see verse 2).
In “classic” words for us, what Jeremiah wanted to warn is that those “gods have eyes but do not see, ears and do not hear, hands and do not catch, feet and do not walk; in short, they have bodies, but they have no life ”; therefore, they are inferior to the living creatures of God and cannot be gods … they have no power but those from human fraud … So, what to fear? There is no reason, therefore, to adhere to that religion that idolizes false gods, nor to be impressed by alleged frauds.
We can therefore identify in this chapter the following keywords: GODS – STATUES – IDOLATRY – FEAR.
Then comes your question: “Does the Catholic Church practice chapter 06 or not?”
As can be seen clearly, this is not a well-formulated question …
Do you want to relate chapter 6 of Baruch to the Catholic Church … From what angle? From the angle of the people who receive the warning (= Jews) or the people against whom the warning had its raison d’être (= Babylonians)? Furthermore, what practices of the Catholic Church do you want to refer to ???
However, considering its Protestant background and the constant confusion that Protestants make (or like to do) regarding the images of saints in Catholic temples, I believe that is what you are referring to …
I will therefore be very brief in my presentation, as our website has already published several articles related to this topic, as I will make a point of mentioning below.
Theologically, Baruch chapter 6 (as well as any other biblical passage that makes reference to idols and idolatry) does not apply to the Catholic Church, for several reasons:
1) Jeremiah deals with pagan GODS. The Catholic Church, like the Jews, does not recognize the existence of other gods; there is only the uncreated One God, Creator of the entire universe and of all things visible and invisible.
2) Jeremiah notices that the pagans place their [false] gods IN THE SAME LAND of the one God. It is a horizontal plane, totally incompatible with the existence of a single God. This is impossible to accomplish because OR there is only one God, OR there are several gods. Now, if Jeremiah is monotheistic, there can be no other gods …
3) SAINTS are neither gods nor demigods (just as angels, archangels, cherubs, seraphim, thrones, dominations and powers are also not!). The saints are human creatures who applied Christ’s teachings exemplarily in their earthly lives; a good part of them, due to the unshakeable faith that they had in relation to the Savior, came to give their own lives for the Kingdom of Heaven. for this very reason, they are on a LOWER PLAN to God, a VERTICAL plane of inferiority and not HORIZONTAL of equality as the (false) pagan gods intended.
4) The SAINTS do not have their own power beyond that of prayer. Thus, just as their prayers were useful for all of us when they lived in this world, they become much more useful after receiving the true life from the Most High God, crown of his holiness on earth.
5) The images of the saints have nothing to do with the images of the pagan gods. Pagan gods cannot be represented artistically, not because they forbade their representation – as the Lord commanded in Exodus – but because they simply do not exist. Now, it is impossible to represent what does not exist. It is more or less like compelling someone NOT to GIVE something … Just as you cannot NOT GIVE your Bible to anyone, it is also impossible to represent the non-existent!
6) The saints, on the other hand, can be represented artistically, either in a two-dimensional form (photos, paintings, drawings) or in a three-dimensional form (images, statues), simply because somewhere in TIME and SPACE they existed physically. Therefore, there is no denying that, unlike non-existent gods, it is possible that the physical and personal characteristics of the saints can be perceived and documented by other people with whom they have lived.
7) The images (statues) of the saints – contrary to what the pagans believed about the statues of their gods – do not contain in themselves the spirits, the souls, the lives of whom they respectively represent. Therefore, NO POWER can be attributed to them; and even when EXTRAORDINARILY someone attributes some power to him (eg, healing), this is always done in a RELATIVE (not absolute) way, so that it can be ABSOLUTELY stated that the result came from God, in response to the faith of that certain believer. Therefore, it can be said that the image was a mere instrument, just as the Bible states that even the handkerchiefs and other cloths touched by Paul cured the sick (see Acts 19:12).
8) Because of all this, it is clear that the images of the saints, unlike the statues of pagan gods, do not bring fear to the People of God. On the contrary, they help the believer to turn even more to God, to recognize his omnipotence and love, to mirror the example of life of these servants of God, who clearly show how it is fully possible for human beings to follow Christ (remember: Christ is truly God AND truly man; he has two natures), even though he needs to walk all his earthly life with a cross on his back. They sound like an incentive to the faithful: “We made it, we are before God! Why would you, human beings like us, as fragile as us, also fail? So go ahead, with the grace of God! ”
9) And because they are not gods, but saints, friends and faithful witnesses of God, we do not worship “latria” (= worship). Latria is taxable only to God. We tax to the saints “dulia” (= veneration), that is, our admiration and respect as brothers in the faith that we are (since death does not separate us from them, as it marks their true birth to eternal life!).
10) The “dulia” is not a cult of camouflaged “latria”. As you are a Protestant, you will be able to differentiate this by the following example, which will be very dear to you: what kind of tribute do you pay to your Bible which, as we know and accept, is the inspired Word of God? Worship or Veneration ??? The Bible may be the Word of God, but it is not God. It is an instrument of God, but it is not God … Therefore, it can be venerated, but not worshiped … And because it is venerated, it can be open and exposed in the most visible place of your home; therefore, you will never throw it on the floor, nor will you step on it; therefore, you will kiss her when you find a passage that “touches” you in the heart… It is you exercising “dulia” for an instrument of God…
11) Having no power of his own and not receiving the worship service for himself, it turns out that the images of saints are not idols, just as the Bible is not an idol either (although I have heard many evangelicals ensure that they have been cured of one disease or another by simply touching the Bible! Were these Protestants worshiping the Bible or taxing it with absolute power?).
Therefore, the keywords pointed out by the Letter of Jeremiah (Baruc 6), that is, GODS – STATUES – IDOLATRY – FEAR are opposed, in the Catholic Church, the words SAINTS – IMAGES – VENERATION – RESPECT, which are not attacked by Jeremiah , nor by the New Testament – quite the contrary!
Noting that the Catholic Church clearly teaches that there is only one God, in three Persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – to whom all adoration and glory falls, now and forever, it is easily noticed that there is no incompatibility with the doctrine of saints, images and veneration, which are fully compatible with the infinite glory, mercy and justice of God.
Therefore, it is not surprising that Baruch 6 is present in the Catholic Bible. By the way, if you want to read something similar, perhaps even more interesting, which was also CUT from your Protestant Bible, I recommend that you read the Story of Bel in Daniel 14, which also takes place in Babylon; there you will find an example of a statue that (fraudulently) drank and ate every day, to whom Emperor Ciro worshiped latria.
Finally, aiming at your spiritual growth, I recommend reading some articles on our website:
You can find many other articles using our search tool, available at https://www.veritatis.com.br/forms/search, and entering some keywords such as Images, Veneration, Santos etc.
Another good source of research, if you are interested, is the book “The Prohibition of Making Idols – Exegetical Study of Exodus 20.1-6 and Deuteronomy 5.5-10”, by Cleodon Amaral de Lima, editor Rideel. The author is a former Protestant who was ordained a priest.
May God bless and enlighten you!