This morning I noted Erik Raymond’s blog entry on relics here (Hi Erik!). There are few things more repulsive to the life-long Protestant than relics, and nothing more creepy than entering an old style traditionalist Roman Catholic church filled with skeletons and bones and the like. The relic trade continues to this day, despite how often modern Roman Catholics try to sanitize this glaring example of gross superstition and unbiblical idolatry. To be honest, just allowing modern Rome’s representatives to “spin” the pictures of people bowing in front of corpses and skulls and femurs, lighting candles and fingering their rosaries, is normally enough refutation in and of itself for any semi-literate reader of Holy Scripture. The few texts they cobble together have to be so grossly isolated, so completely removed from any meaningful biblical context, so as to provide automatic refutation upon the most basic contemplation. It only took a moment or two with Google to pull up the images found here.
Modern Rome, and its apologists, is truly an enigma. On the one hand you have the liberalism found throughout the scholarship of Rome. Inclusivism at best, universalism at worst, is the watchword of the day. On the other hand you still have the worst of medieval superstition in many lands, and Rome’s apologists have the gall to try to stick all of this under one grand banner of “Mother Rome.” The relic trade was well worthy of Erasmus’ scorn half a millennium ago, when he rightly noted that one could build an entire ship out of all of the “genuine fragments of the cross.” Bottles of Mary’s milk and feathers of the Angel Gabriel were a dime a dozen then, and were just as much of a fraud as they are today. But what is worse is that the theology that gave rise to this gross superstition remains in Rome today. Ask the faithful flocking to Fatima or Lourdes or any of the other of a thousand shrines today. Ask the people on their knees praying to dead bones. And then be reminded: Rome remains as much of an opponent to the gospel of grace as she has ever been.
2 Timothy 1:8-14