Dashboard Saints vs. Jesus Fish

I attended a Protestant Evangelical church for several years that had no crosses, and no statues of saints, in or on the building.

This seems to be in keeping with the spirit and letter of the 2nd Commandment, which tells us “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them…” ~ Exodus 20:4-5 (KJV)

Birds, Animals, And Fish

The English word “heaven” is translated from the Hebrew word “shamayim,” and it means not only heaven but the sky. Genesis 2:20 tells us that “Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air [shamayim], and to every beast of the field…”. This gives us a clearer picture of what God was saying in the 2nd Commandment, and I think the New Living Translation does a great job of putting it very succinctly.

Do not make idols of any kind, whether in the shape of birds or animals or fish. ~ Exodus 20:4 (NLT)

Birds, Animals, Fish, And Anyone In Heaven

Furthermore, if we extend the meaning of “shamayim” out to include heaven and not just the sky, we could include anyone who we believe is in heaven. So, we are not to make graven images of birds, animals, fish, or anyone in heaven (including God). Now, if this were a court of law, I could make a compelling case that Exodus 20:4 does not prohibit crosses. Yet so many Protestant Evangelical churches have done away with crosses.

Selective Enforcement Of Scripture

Although Exodus 20:4 does not prohibit graven images of crosses, it does prohibit graven images of birds– and this church certainly had graven images of birds.

Dove - 1

Why is the bird allowed, but not the cross?

Furthermore, the congregants of this church would certainly never put statues of saints on their dashboards because we are not to make graven images of anything in heaven. But look at the verse again. We are also not to make graven images of anything “in the water,” which includes fish!

Jesus Fish - 1

I certainly saw this fish on cars at that church. Why is it wrong to put a graven image on your dashboard, but okay to put one on your trunk? 

Saints and Fish - 1

I see this as a double-standard, hypocrisy, and selective enforcement of Scripture. In my opinion, Protestantism often doesn’t see the plank in its own eye, because it is so busy looking for sawdust in the Catholic eye– truth spoken in love.

The Bible is always proven true.

18 replies »

  1. Thanks again for your insights, sir. As a former Southern Baptist, now converted to the Catholic faith-I have experienced both sides of your observations and drawn an educated opinion that both Protestant & Catholic faiths(i call myself simply a follower of Jesus, by the way) can take extreme perspectives of a simple message from Jesus(Mark 12:30-31),,,,,follow that “simple” message and a worthy & fruitful human life is attainable for our existence(suffering included, i.e.. carrying your cross, etc).
    Blessings to you & family-

  2. Thank you for that observation, S Galloway! I value the perspective you have from your experience as a former Southern Baptist, and current Catholic. I also identify with you calling yourself simply a follower of Jesus, because I am much the same. Blessings to you and your family as well!

  3. You hit the nail on the head. It’s not the graven image. It’s the worship of the image that is the problem. I don’t want to go off on a tangent to discuss relics, rosary beads, palm and other “blessed” items. But I would like your opinion on something that is absolutely taboo in the evangelical church. How do you feel about the crucifix?

    • I like the crucifix. It is hated unanimously by enemies of Christ, which shows us that it has high spiritual target value. For example, the fact that Andres Serrano’s “Piss Christ” (a crucifix submerged in urine and passed off as art) was so zealously defended by Leftists tells me that the crucifix is very good.

  4. Agreed. Paul suffered mightily as a follower of Jesus-you can’t, in my opinion, have only a mountain-top experience as a follower, as some say, hence the Crucifix(which i wear) to remind me if HE did, well, HE did say scripturally, “come follow me”!

  5. The Ten Commandments were the old covenant between God and the children of Israel:
    Exodus 34:28
    28 And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.

    The New Covenant has no such admonition:
    Matthew 22: 36-40
    36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
    37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
    38 This is the first and great commandment.
    39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
    40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

    It’s apparently okay to have such images…

    • But if someone loved God with all their heart, soul, and mind, wouldn’t they obey his commandments? “This is love for God: to obey his commands.” ~ 1 John 5:3

      • Of course they would–the commandments of the New Covenant. The old covenant was rendered obsolete, and adhering to them could mean judgement. To wit:

        Galatians 5:4
        Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

        “The law, in this case, refers to the old covenant…

  6. Is the following verse the New Covenant or the Old Covenant?

    I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will enter into judgment against them concerning my inheritance, my people Israel, for they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land. ~ Joel 3:2.

    • The old covenant (nit the covenant between God and Abraham) consisted of the Ten Commandments and the restrictions of Leviticus.

      • And many of those prohibitions (the Ten Commandments, but not necessarily the restrictions of Leviticus) were reiterated in the New Testament. One who continues to commit murder and adultery is clearly not a participant in the New Covenant. I agree with you that we are not justified by the law. I do eat pork and shell fish (I love bacon and shrimp, in fact I love bacon WRAPPED shrimp). But I also know that if I have no problem breaking any or all of the Ten Commandments, then maybe my name is not so clearly written down as a signatory to the New Covenant. Fair enough?

      • Consider these scriptural references:

        Matthew 22: 36-40
        36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
        37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
        38 This is the first and great commandment.
        39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
        40 On these two commandments hang ALL THE LAW and the prophets.

        Galatians 5:14
        14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

        Galatians 3:23-29
        23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.
        25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

        **The apostles further clarified that the old law did not apply to Gentiles/Christians:

        Acts 15:24-29
        “Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment: It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.”

  7. There are many “Christians” who are going to hell because they believe that loving their Palestinian neighbor includes advocating for a Palestinian state (Joel 3:2). Similarly, there are many “Christians” who are going to hell because they believe that as long as they love their neighbor, they can do anything else that they want. This is not the case.

    Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. ~ 1 Corinthians 6:9-10

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