What's with Steeples?

by: Wayne Schatzle


       Recently I saw a photo layout of church steeples. They were very majestic works of art. Some years ago I wondered about the origins of these strange yet beautiful structures. What I found was quite surprising. First of all there is no question they are indeed religious symbols. The bible does not mention them by the name, steeples, but rather they are called: Asherah, groves (a forest with all the trees carved in the shape of obelisks), high places where they were markers for pagan worship. They were in fact phallus symbols. Egypt was noted for the many obelisks, most notably Cleopatra's needle which presently stands in Saint Peter's square in the Vatican. The United States boasts the Washington monument, a tribute to the FATHER of our country (you may make your own connection). The ancient city of Petra, popularized in the Indiana Jones' movie, The Last Crusade, contains the best preserved example of a "high place" as mentioned in the Bible. The steeples grace the entrance of the pagan temple much like a Christian church does today!

       As we tour various towns we can immediately tell where the churches are by these great markers looming on the roofs of most churches. We have all come to accept the design. I have even seen a catalog where one can buy them ready made to install one the roof of the church. But if the church is for the worship of God- we should take note of the various scriptures where God revealed what He thinks of gracing our places of worship with them.

       Shockingly- God mixes no words that He absolutely HATES them. He instructed His people destroy the groves, high places, and asherah. How they found their way into the worship of the Eternal, Creator God is a mystery to me. It is not universally accepted as valid to place them on buildings. Some denominations will not put them on. Some know the dubious origins but to appease members who want them they will place a small one up.

       Gods says our ways are not His ways. We are encouraged to draw near to Him and He will draw near to us. We must bend our will to His ways. He will accept us but on His terms only. Walking in the Spirit means giving up our ways and learning what He wants.

       This may seem like a small issue and we may assume God doesn't care. But let's remember God NEVER changes- that is something we can count on, and we know for sure He hated them back then, so we know He still hates them. Yes, it is yet another minor point of difference between God and man, but as we read the bible we are forever finding things where we differ, in fact the God we worship today bears no resemblance to the God of the bible. Isn't it time we started to rectify the differences between us? After all, He is God and I trust He knows the best way after all.

       I do appreciate the feedback from my article concerning steeples even if it was negative towards my views, the real shame is when one is not interested enough to care what things are important to our loving Creator. I would like to share some additional thoughts on the subject that I should have made clearer in the past. It is correct that it is a weak link from the groves, high places and asherah mentioned in the bible to the steeples we are familiar with today. The fact remains the high places remaining today have similar design incorporating steeple shaped objects at the entrance where pagans worshipped an invisible god in the heavens. And we also know God hated it and instructed Israel to utterly destroy them! Why would anyone feel comfortable employing that SAME design toward the worship of our God whom never changes? Does not God warn His people not to copy the customs of the heathen nations (Deut.12)? God made it clear when Moses returned from Mt Sinai with the Law and the people made a golden calf, a calf not to some pagan god ,but to the One that delivered them from Egypt! They were worshipping the true God with the customs of the land they had lived in. Did God accept their worship? Not hardly, He had the idol ground up and made them consumed it (Ex 32:8). Mr. Langenbrunner made the point that Christian use could somehow "sanitize" pagan practices, which I could find no bible example of. If that be the case, could we take the most infamous symbol of the 20th century, the flag of Nazi Germany, and incorporate it into a banner for Christ? No? Ok, we could say the twisted cross represents Christ's broken body and breaking the power of death over man, the white field is His pure sinless life, the red is His shed blood for us and the stripes are the ones He received for our healing.

       I don't think anyone would accept it but it proves a point that men can excuse any action we do. Get this point- man cannot make anything Holy. God makes things holy and man can choose either to accept it or not. God thundered "to obey is better than sacrifice". This was said to Saul as he brought back booty from war that God said to destroy. I see similar disobedience when a church will take a obelisk, that God says to destroy, and erect it in front of a cathedral in His honor.

       God makes His will known in the pages of the bible which is slowly being replaced by the thoughts of mere men on position of authority in various churches. Recently, I saw a story of a major denomination that elected to power a man "the polar opposite of a biblically orthodox leader". Is this where we are headed as the church of God of today? Are we now content to follow a man instead of God? My message is always the same, prove what you believe from the Bible and hold fast to that which is true. Our society today is littered with the remnants of bygone pagan cultures, we can choose to follow them or God's way, as He revealed in the Bible. Remember God did not reveal His wishes to the Canaanites, Philistines, Assyrian or any other pagan nation- but only to the line of Abraham, and what we need to know is written for us in the Bible. The choice is up to us as individuals to follow what ever path we want to, but only one path leads to everlasting life.

Written by Wayne Schatzle,
director, Freedom Biblical Information Center
P.O. Box 1806, West Chester OH 45071