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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part I: Idolatry Condemned by Baptism. To Make an Idol Is, in Fact, to Worship It.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter VI.—Idolatry Condemned by Baptism. To Make an Idol Is, in Fact, to Worship It.

If no law of God had prohibited idols to be made by us; if no voice of the Holy Spirit uttered general menace no less against the makers than the worshippers of idols; from our sacrament itself we would draw our interpretation that arts of that kind are opposed to the faith. For how have we renounced the devil and his angels, if we make them? What divorce have we declared from them, I say not with whom, but dependent on whom, we live? What discord have we entered into with those to whom we are under obligation for the sake of our maintenance? Can you have denied with the tongue what with the hand you confess? unmake by word what by deed you make? preach one God, you who make so many? preach the true God, you who make false ones? “I make,” says one, “but I worship not;” as if there were some cause for which he dare not worship, besides that for which he ought not also to make,—the offence done to God, namely, in either case.  Nay, you who make, that they may be able to be worshipped, do worship; and you worship, not with the spirit of some worthless perfume, but with your own; nor at the expense of a beast’s soul, but of your own. To them you immolate your ingenuity; to them you make your sweat a libation; to them you kindle the torch of your forethought. More are you to them than a priest, since it is by your means they have a priest; your diligence is their divinity. 199 Do you affirm that you worship not what you make? Ah! but they affirm not so, to whom you slay this fatter, more precious and greater victim, your salvation.


Footnotes

64:199

i.e., Unless you made them, they would not exist, and therefore [would not be regarded as divinities; therefore] your diligence gives them their divinity.


Next: Grief of the Faithful at the Admission of Idol-Makers into the Church; Nay, Even into the Ministry.

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