Idolatry is one of the great sins of this generation, according to LDS prophets such as Spencer W. Kimball (for details, see his comments in “Thou Shalt Have No Other Gods Before Me“). Interestingly, Latter-day Saints have been accused of idolatry by a few of our critics. After all, some of our temples have a statue of the Angel Moroni on top. To us, the statue is symbol of angelic proclamation to the world of the Restoration of the Gospel, in possible fulfillment of Rev. 14:6. The idea that we would worship the statue is ridiculous. But, as one commenter has charged, the word of God forbids making graven images, and so by using statues or any other images associated with our temples or churches, we are in clear violation of the word of God.
I’ve run into only a few other Christians that had such strenuous objections to any kind of images being associated with places of worship, mistaking use of an image for idolatry or basic violation of the Ten Commandments.
So are we idolatrous violators of the Second Commandment for having a statue reminding us of an angel proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world with the sound of a trumpet?
Let me pose some hypothetical questions to those few of you with hangups in this area. Would it be better if we replaced our hollow, gold-plated statue of an angel with a solid gold statue having much higher precious metals content? Oh, a step in the wrong direction – just adding to the value and glitz factor, making it all the more appealing to the idolatrous LDS mind.
OK, would it be better if then had two angels on each temple? No? Perhaps twice as bad, eh?
OK, how about if we dress up the proposed solid gold angel duos by adding some flashy wings to make them more supernatural? No improvement, perhaps even worse?
OK, what if we go beyond just using it as a symbol and instead say that our winged golden angels are holy, sacred objects, or part of a complex of sacred objects? What if we put those images in the holiest part of our temple, only to be taken out and paraded to awe the people in religious ceremonies and to work mysterious miracles? What if we say that our angels and associated holy relics are so sacred that to even touch them would bring divine wrath and perhaps even instant death upon the sinner?
Would that be an improvement and gain your approval for valid, biblical use of angelic statues? No? You say it would confirm that we’re a crazed blasphemous idolatrous cult in direct violation of the sacred principles God gave to Moses? Ouch.
Would it make any difference to you if we told you that these deviant practices are OK in our opinion because they were revealed to us from God through a true prophet of God? Not a chance, huh?
Well, would it help if that prophet were Moses? Would it help if Moses were simply carrying instructions from God relative to the sacred Ark of the Covenant, associated with the Tabernacle and later the Temple of Solomon, an Ark that was adorned with two golden cherubim statues as directed in Exodus 37:7-9? Would it help open your mind if you realized that these instructions were given by the same God who earlier gave the same prophet the commandment to not make graven images? Is it possible that the meaning of the Second Commandment was not to forbid religious images and even golden angel statues per se, but to prevent worshipping of idols?
Maybe you’ll argue that the cherubim on the Ark were too small to be a problem, or somehow don’t quality as “graven.” If so, it might help to consider the later construction of Solomon’s Temple in 2 Chronicles 3 and 4. There we read of huge cherubim being constructed with a wingspan of about 20 cubits (about 60 feet), as described in 2 Chronicles 3:11 – dwarfing any LDS statue on or near a temple. And the giant cherubim statues overlooking the smaller statues on the Ark of the Covenants were not enough: the Lord also directed that there be “graved cherubims on the walls” in 2 Chron. 3:6, in addition to cherubim on the curtains (v. 14). And they are specifically called “graved” – surely that can’t be considered as anything but graven images. And the images in the temple weren’t just limited to cherubim, but also included statues of oxen (twelve of them, in fact – see 2 Chron. 4:2-4), not to mention four hundred pomegranates (2 Chron. 4: 13) and a variety of other objects including flowers of pure gold (2 Chron. 4:21). A graven situation, indeed.