Patrick Madrid tells the story of being invited to publicly debate a very anti-Catholic Protestant on the subject of images in worship.

Patrick won the flip and was first up to bat. He began by saying, “My opponent will try to tell you that the Catholic use of images in worship is at worst, idolatry, and at least, meaningless.” He then pulled a large, beautiful crucifix from beneath the podium. “This is a crucifix. Through this image we Catholics follow the example of St Paul and preach Christ crucified. Furthermore, we believe that some images, through long focus of prayer and veneration, soak up some of that holiness, and we revere them more than others. We love these reminders of Our Lord’s death and we venerate these physical things, not for themselves, but because they are vehicles of God’s love and grace in our lives.”

He then put the image on the floor and said, “However, if this image really is an idol, or at least just a worthless carving, I would like to invite my opponent to come forward and act on what he believes. If it is a terrible graven image–if it is an idol, then I invite him to spit on this image and trample it under his feet. If it is an idol, then this is the right thing to do. If it is no more than a meaningless image, then it won’t matter if he does spit on it and trample it under his feet. Sir, will you be the first? Then I will invite everyone in the audience to do the same.”

No one came forward.