The Herald of Jehovah's Kingdom
The Herald of Jehovah's Kingdom
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Theocratic School

Pagan Origin of Relic Worship
    In addition to what God’s holy Word the Bible says on the matter there are other very good reasons why true Christians should not venerate or worship religious relics. The practice and custom did not originate with Christ or his apostles or with God’s chosen nation of Israel. It is clearly a pagan invention and hence of the Devil, pure and simple, and the Catholic Encyclopedia admits as much. It says that the veneration of relics is “a primitive instinct” and is associated with many other religious systems besides that of Catholicism. It goes on to tell how the ancient Greeks superstitiously worshiped the bones and ashes of their heroes, how the Persians “treated with the deepest veneration” the remains of Zoroaster, and how “relic-worship amongst the Buddhists of every sect is a fact beyond dispute”.

    Other authorities have shown that the ancient Egyptians, Assyrians and Babylonians likewise venerated the relics of their lords and princes. “In the realms of Heathendom the same worship had flourished for ages before Christian saints or martyrs had appeared in the world. . . . From the earliest periods, the system of Buddhism has been propped up by relics, that have wrought miracles at least as well vouched as those wrought by the relics of St. Stephen, or by the ‘Twenty Martyrs’ [mentioned by Augustine].” (Alexander Hislop’s The Two Babylons, pages 177,178) In Kandy, Ceylon, a 400-year-old temple contains what is said to be Buddha’s tooth, “venerated by many millions of people.” (The Ceylon Daily News, April 1, 1950) Into the presence of this relic the British foreign secretary, Ernest Bevin, was brought on January 1, 1950, in the hope it would miraculously cure his ailments.—New York Times, Jan. 16, 1950.

    The heathen idea of attributing magical powers to bones, skulls, teeth and skins is so much older than Christianity, the above Catholic authority chooses to call it “a primitive instinct”. In reality it is nothing more than fetishism, concerning which the Encyclopedia Americana (1942 ed., vol. 11, p. 158) says: “It is the lowest of the unsystematic forms of worship found among uncivilized tribes, and exists especially among the Negroes of Africa, but also among the natives of both Americas, the Polynesians, Australians, and Siberians.” When Catholic Portuguese mariners sailed down the west coast of Africa they could see little difference between the worship of “sacred” bones, skulls and charms by the natives, and their own worship of religious relics and amulets which they called feitiços, and from which we get the name fetish.

    M’Clintock & Strong’s Cyclopœdia (vol. 8, p. 1028) well sums up the whole matter when it says: “There is no doubt that the worship of relics is an absurdity, without the guarantee of Scripture, directly contrary to the practice of the primitive Church, and irreconcilable with common-sense.”