Worship vs. Honor; Defining Worship

I was recently accused of worshiping Mary.  This might be the most popular accusation for Protestants to make against Catholics. The Catholic response is that we don’t worship Mary or the other saints, but we do honor them. Most non-Catholics do not understand how we can say this. We sing songs to Mary, and to other saints. We pray to them. We have statues of them in our churches, schools, and homes and often these statues are placed in shrines. Many Catholics place flowers or other gifts at the feet of these statues. We light candles to them. In the Protestant mind, these actions constitute worship, and many of them a particularly pagan style of worship.

The difference between our treatment of Mary and the other saints and our treatment of the Godhead can be understood if you understand how we think of the Eucharist. Catholics believe the bread becomes Jesus’ body and the wine becomes His blood. These are offered to God as a sacrifice, in union with the sacrifice Jesus made of Himself at Calvary. We offer this blood sacrifice to God. I learned recently that there was a heretical group in the days of the early church that did offer their Eucharist to Mary. This heresy was condemned by the Catholic church, because Catholics know that it is wrong to worship Mary. We never, ever offer the Eucharist to anyone other than God. Not Mary. Not other saints. Not angels. Only God.

Of course, Protestants do not believe the Eucharist is really Jesus’ body and blood. Because of this, the highest form of honor they give to God is to sing songs about Him and to Him, pray to Him, preach about Him, give money to promote His church, and participate in a symbolic meal. Even Protestants who believe in some form of the real presence do not believe their meal is a sacrifice being offered to anyone. This is why Protestants, who also do not want to worship Mary or other saints or angels do not sing songs to them, or talk to them/pray to them, etc.

But Protestants are perfectly comfortable singing love songs addressed to their boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse. Does that mean they are worshiping their boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse? We all understand that the lecture about Edgar Allan Poe I listened to in college was not remotely a form of worship. When I take flowers to my grandmother’s grave, I am not worshiping her. The images carved in the side of Mount Rushmore are not idolatrous. Does the man who talks to his dead mother, asking her to put in a good word for him on the other side, worship his mother? Has he crossed the line if he kisses her picture, or if he keeps some trinket of hers next to his heart? Surely we all know these actions do not constitute worship. They are ways of honoring people.

Catholics use these same ways of honoring people to honor Mary and the other saints. We offer our sacrifice to God alone. That is why we can say that we honor Mary and the other saints, but we do not worship them.

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29 Responses to “Worship vs. Honor; Defining Worship”

  1. jesusblogger Says:

    If we look at the word Worship, coming from the old English ‘Worth ship’ meaning to ascribe worth or honour to. Then I would have to say what you described does constitute a form of worship.

    When we look at the Bible we see that when Daniel saw a great angel he fell on his feet before it, and the angel rebuked him and said I am just a servant of God like you.

    The definition of worship is so much broader than who Eucharist is offered to.

  2. Thanks for stopping by jesusblogger. To clarify: I’m saying that a blood sacrifice is always worship (in our modern understanding of the word) and cannot be construed in any other way. Other actions like kneeling before someone or singing a song in praise of someone aren’t necessarily worship. They may be or they may not be, depending on the context and the state of the heart. Since you mention bowing before another, there are other Bible passages that talk of people bowing before others and it is obvious no worship occurred. Genesis 19:1; Genesis 23:7,12; Genesis 27:29; Genesis 33:3, 6,7; etc., etc., etc. (http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/r/rsv/rsv-idx?type=simple&format=Long&q1=bow&restrict=All&size=First+100)

    In the older sense of the word, people have been known to “worship” kings and queens, overlords, judges and anyone in a position of authority. Still today in England judges are addressed, “Your Worship”. This does not mean they are being given the sort of honor that should be reserved for God alone. It is not sinful or wrong in any way to ascribe worth or honor to a human or angel, so long as it is the right sort of worth or honor.

  3. jesusblogger Says:

    I would not use Lot in Sodom as a good example of how to behave (Gen. 19:1), although I agree he is not worshipping, rather greeting as was oriental custom.

    Again, you are right in Gen. 23:7,12 Abraham is not worshipping, but it is a form of respect in greeting – as was oriental custom.

    However, look at Abraham and how much of a profound figure he was. He is the father of the Jews, and yet no where did any Israelite ever make a statue of Abraham and bow to it. Neither did they ever pray to Abraham, neither did any other form of ‘devotion’ which could be mistaken as worship take place.

    Again, Moses the man of God, with whom God spoke face-to-face. When he died God hid his body to prevent any form of worship or idolisation by the people. Why doesn’t the Catholic church follow this example? Instead dead saints relics are stored and revered – the total opposite of what happened to Moses.

    That some magistrates in my country are called ‘Your Worship’ does not mean it is right to give any man such a revered title. I do not think anyone is worshipping them, but still such a title is fitting only for God really.

    You are right that we can honour great mean and women of God, and also that we should respect angels. However, worship belongs to God alone – as you will agree.

    Idolatry, the making of statutes in churches is expressly forbidden in scripture and a lot of Catholic practice is dangerously close to idolatry (if not idolatry).

  4. You might want to check this out…

    This former nun has about seen it all and you can learn by many of her experiences in the Church.

    http://www.catholicconcerns.com/MaryWorship.html

    Once again, the focus MUST REMAIN on Christ, alone.
    When Mary and various saints are getting MORE reverence than Christ, you have a real problem. We are instructed to give no opportunity for the enemy. Though you may be grounded to keep your focus on Christ, others may caused to stumble. Woe unto him (or her) that causes such a one to stumble.

    Buyer Beware!

  5. Lurker,

    Thanks for your comment. I looked at the article you linked and I didn’t see anything to shake my Catholic faith. I saw a lot of misunderstandings and misconstructions, but nothing that adequately refutes the Catholic Church. Perhaps I will have time to devote a post to this, but I can’t answer all the claims from the article in a comment. Suffice it to say that I’m unimpressed.

    I agree with you that it is possible to give more honor to Mary in our hearts than to Christ. Sadly, some people do seem to. Some of us also make idols in our hearts out of our own family members. This fact doesn’t require us to disown our family, but to learn to give them their proper place in our hearts. Similarly we don’t give up having church leaders just because some people are inclined to give them too much authority. Mary is part of our family when we are born into God’s family, just as much as the person sitting on the other end of the pew is. We must neither give her greater honor than Christ, nor disown her, but learn to acknowledge her proper place.

    At root, your argument that talking about Mary MIGHT cause someone ungrounded an idolatry problem is the same argument that drinking alcohol MIGHT cause someone ungrounded a drinking problem.

  6. Perhaps you could make some contact with this former nun who has many years of knowledge and experience, as she was steeped in the Catholic faith.

    MaryAnnCollins@Juno.Com

    I understand you to be a wide-eyed novice in the Church who is still caught up in all its newness without the benefit of testing it out, over time. At the same time, you are not a home grown Catholic. You bring to the table years of Protestantism that, in many ways, allows you to scrutinize and avoid the normal Catholic baggage. You understand things that the common Catholic does not understand and perhaps provides you a certain position of significance, as well as protection. Good for you! However, that does not help the casual, native communicant who knows no better.

    So, why not do yourself justice and contact someone who has been there, done that? It would be like someone who thinks they have found heaven in the Church of Christ. You know better! Yet, they would be wise and fully informed to contact for an honest picture. Not that the Church of Christ is ALL bad; it is not. Not that the Catholic Church is ALL bad; it is not. Once the newness of all this wears off (and it will), you will find that Catholics are just another part of the Body of Christ. They have their pros and cons, just like everybody else. They have no corner, on Christ, Mary, Joseph, Peter, or Paul. They get no special seats, or status, in the Kingdom. Christ is the only Door to the Father and his Kingdom. Once inside, there are no Roman Catholics, Church of Christ, Baptist, or what have you. We leave all our denominational uniforms outside and put on His robes of righteousness. Mary’s robe will look just like yours and she will be no more beautiful than you are. She will bow and worship the Lord, along with all the rest of us. To think of it any differently is mere human fabrication. Thy Kingdom come, on earth, as it is in Heaven. The earthly Church should imitate heaven; not make heaven imitate the earthly Church.

    My challenge to you is to be willing to be honest about the Church and not be so starry eyed. You seem to be fabricating things in your mind about the Catholic Church that are just not there. There is more symbolism than there is substance. Perhaps you are attempting to manufacture a kind of false-reality in order to escape dealing with more deeper issues, at hand. I do not know, but it seems that way as I read between the lines of your posts.

    You remind me of Maria, in the Sound of Music. She tried to use the Church to escape the realities of life, develop true character, and real maturity. Thankfully, the Reverend Mother kicked her out, so she would have to go live as Christ, in the world, get married, take care of children, be a good wife and mother, etc. That’s REAL sacrifice. That’s where the Father is TRULY honored and loved.

    Maybe I am wrong about all of this, about you, but your writings are glaring, of this. I have seen it enough times. What you portray seems pretty classic.

  7. Lurker,

    Personal attacks will not be allowed here. If you make another one you will be banned.

  8. Princess,

    No personal attacks were intended.

    I simply offered an observation and admitted that I could be wrong, about it.

    If you can honestly confess, before God, that I am totally wrong, then so be it.
    Say so, an move on. No big deal! I learn and/or you learn.

    Isn’t this a forum for an exchange of ideas? Pro or Con?

    Surely, you are open to any, and all, discussion that might include opposition to your present ideas about the Church, which you are a member.

    Again, my purpose was not to offend; only to challenge.

  9. Lurker,
    Refrain from discussing anyone’s emotional or psychological state, or their ulterior motives for believing what you do not, and you’ll be fine.

  10. When Mary and various saints are getting MORE reverence than Christ, you have a real problem.

    LOL! It always amazes me that people spend so much time trying to convince Catholics they’re putting more emphasis on the saints than Christ. It makes me wonder if they’ve ever even seen our WORSHIP, yes WORSHIP of the Eucharist! If there were ever a good case for putting something above Christ (for people who didn’t believe that the Eucharist *IS* Christ), it would be going after our kneeling and bowing and adoration and worship of that “piece of bread.” Anyone who has seen any kind of actual Catholic worship has no leg to stand on when it comes to saying we worship saints above the Eucharist if they actually compare the two! It just shows their complete lack of knowledge and experience with true Catholicism, which gives what they say little to no weight at all!

  11. The earthly Church should imitate heaven; not make heaven imitate the earthly Church.

    Yeah, we Catholics do that already, it’s called the mass.

    Since lurker here is so keen on giving you things to read, I’d suggest he read Scott Hahn’s (a former Presbyterian minister) book, The Lamb’s Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth. Here’s a little taste of it.

    Wow…you poor starry eyed thing, prairie, you’ve just been bamboozled by all the pretty glittery stained glass windows and golden chalices. 😉

    Talk about condescending, my goodness!

  12. Nice blog; I just found it. 🙂 I just wanted to mention that jesusblogger’s quibble about the meaning of “worship” is why I’ve seen many Catholic writers use the ancient Greek terms “latria” for the worship due only to God, and “dulia” for the veneration paid to saints (and “hyperdulia” for Mary, the greatest of the saints). The Greek terms are precise and unchanged through the centuries, avoiding the confusion of the English word.

    Though of course a simpler answer to that first comment is simply that if “worship” means “ascribe worth or honor to”, then God has commanded us to worship our parents. 🙂

  13. jesusblogger Says:

    I understand that as Catholic you see nothing wrong in ‘venerating the saints’. However, if you trace this thought in the Bible you will see no evidence of any homage, veneration being paid to any of the saints. All believers are saints in fact, and no one is more special than anyone else… we are all joint-heirs with Christ and ‘sons of God’.

    In the Old Testament the Jews understood what it was to worship God and God alone. They respected parents, honoured them, but there was no confusion as to worship. They would also make no graven images as the Catholic’s do… in fact I have walked in St Peters and it is full of graven images, resembling the heathen temples.

    I understand that sounds harsh to you. But we are forbidden from making any graven images, parading them, dressing them, honouring them. This is the type of honour that only belongs to God, who is a Spirit – not a graven image.

  14. I wonder if when protestants walk into someone’s house and see pictures all over someone’s house of their family members, both dead and alive, they think “oohhh, that’s idolatry!” the way they seem to when they walk into our houses of God with pictures of our spiritual family members around us to remind us that they live still (thanks be to God) and we are all part of one big family, God’s family. Because, really, that’s all it is! *shrug*

    The Jews also pay honor to their prophets, the way we do to saints. (And no, neither of us confuse honor with worship of God, that’s the whole point.)

    …honoring the deceased is a tradition that Christians inherited from the Jews. Roy H. Schoeman, a Jewish convert to Catholicism, writes:
    The burial site of the three patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob has been venerated continually by Jews since their deaths about four thousand years ago. As Catholics make pilgrimages to the tombs of “dead” saints (sometimes enclosed in churches) to pray, so do Jews, both in biblical times and still today. . . . Other tombs of Old Testament saints to which Jews go to pray include those of Joseph, Rachel, King David, and the prophets Haggai, Malachi, and Samuel, all of which have been venerated for millennia.

    http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/2006/0610fea3.asp

    We aren’t supposed to *worship* graven images as if they are some kind of deity, and we don’t. But there’s no law against having images to remind us of our spiritual brothers and sisters and their examples. God Himself asked that images of angels and cherubims be made to decorate the Ark of the Covenant. Yes, there were no images of God…until God Himself gave us His Image in the form of Jesus Christ. We are only carrying on what God Himself gave to us, we aren’t replacing it with something else or worshipping a rock or any such thing.

  15. Jesusblogger,
    Again thank you for your comment and for your gentle spirit. Catholics say, “We’re doing one and not the other,” and Protestants reply by claiming the two are the same. The whole point of my post is that it is Protestants who are confusing worship with respect/honor, not Catholics.

  16. Prairieprincess,

    I wish to challenge the premise that dulia and latria can be legitimately distinguished in the way the RCC alleges. To be clear, I understand your position to be that latria is reserved for God, while dulia is not.

    Now if scripture were to bear out a similar distinction between its uses of dulia and latria, that would be one thing. But it appears this is not the case. For example, in Galatians 4:8, Paul says, “Formerly, when you did not know God, you *were enslaved* to those that by nature are not gods.” In this case, the word for enslaved is douleuo. Paul’s condemnation of the Galatians’ former state is precisely their dulia relationship to non-deity. In other words, what made them idolaters was their dulia-service to entities that were not God. They rendered dulia-service to non-God. Paul goes on to characterize this dulia-service as “weak and worthless elementary principles of the world,” which, considering the immediate context of Greek idolatry, might also be called “paganism.”

    All this to say that arguing for an interpretation of dulia as “service” doesn’t seem to get you anywhere at the end of the day.

  17. Stephanie,

    Your illustration of family pictures on the wall doesn’t seem to honestly represent the RCC teaching with regard to dulia and Mary. Not to attribute dishonesty to you, of course, but simply to say that if I were a proponent of this doctrine myself, I think I’d object strongly to your characterization.

    Thomas Aquinas writes, “Since, therefore, the Blessed Virgin is a mere rational creature, the worship of “latria” is not due to her, but only that of “dulia”: but in a higher degree than to other creatures, inasmuch as she is the Mother of God. For this reason we say that not any kind of “dulia” is due to her, but “hyperdulia.”” Is pretty obvious at the face that, not only does Rome regard Mary as due a kind of dulia service/worship, but to a degree surpassing every other rational creature, hence “*hyper*-dulia.”. By definition, there can be no illustrative equivocation here.

    Now when I read this, and I think of all the times I have heard Roman Catholics put a good face on Mariolatry with the “we’re all one happy family” approach, as if kneeling before, lighting candles at, and praying to a statue of Mary were no different than asking your buddy to pray for you, I have to wonder exactly where and why this same disconnect occurs as often as it does.

  18. Charlie,
    First, thank you for your comments and for the irenic spirit which they show. I think a slightly deeper look at the use of dulia in Scripture will show that the problem with the Galatians was not that they offered dulia, but that it was offered to false gods. Galatians 5:13 says that Christians have been called to serve (dulia) each other by love. This statement simply doesn’t match the idea that it is sinful to offer dulia to fellow-creatures. And there are other examples. Dulia is used both positively speaking of honor given both to God and to creatures and negatively speaking of honor given to creatures (http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G1398), while latria is spoken of positively only when given to God and only negatively when given to creatures (http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G3000).

  19. Prairie,

    I cheerfully agree with your first point, that Paul’s condemnation of the Galatians’ former action was not the offering of all dulia across the board, but specifically the offering of it to false gods (“those that by nature are not gods”). But I think this leaves us in the same place.

    Now in bringing up Galatians 5:13, you are making the point that dulia service offered man-to-man is sanctioned by Paul. And that is clearly what is going on. But what we have to observe here is that dulia has a very wide range of meaning in scripture. In one place, it can refer to the abomination of pagan idolatry, and elsewhere in the same letter it can refer to the rendering of love between Christians. So what do we do with that?

    The first thing I would suggest is not equivocating one kind of dulia with another. Paul telling us to dulia-serve one another in love (as opposed to walking all over each other with our unbridled freedoms) is not an open door for us to exercise the full range of dulia-relatd activities toward our bretheren. We know for a fact at least that we can’t do the kind of dulia service that Paul had just condemned in 4:8. So what is the range of dulia service that we may offer to men?

    Well, if you were arguing that we are allowed to volunarily curtail our freedoms for our brothers’ sake, then we wouldn’t be having this conversation. But that’s not what you’re arguing for. You seem to have a very specific kind of dulia in mind, and Galatians 5:13 is simply not that kind of dulia at all. My contention is that the kind of dulia you are defending is more closely related to the 4:8 kind. But at the end of the day, the fact that the word dulia *can* be used to describe an okay activity does not by any means settle the question of whether *your* brand of dulia is okay.

  20. Charlie,

    You said “Paul’s condemnation of the Galatians’ former state is precisely their dulia relationship to non-deity.” and I showed that Paul’s condemnation of their former state was not their dulia, but they had called gods those things that were not. False gods do not merit any sort of honor whatsoever. And I cited another passage to show that dulia IS appropriately given to creatures, so long as those creatures are acknowledged as creatures. I’m not equating different kinds of dulia, because I don’t think there are different kinds of dulia. Dulia is one kind of respect/honor and it can be given to either deity or creature. Latrea is a different kind and is rightly given only to deity. Even the Protestant Blue Letter Bible dictionary/lexicon bears this out.

  21. Sarah,

    On the contrary, there ARE different kinds of dulia, and two of them are mentioned in the same letter by Paul to the Galatians. One is mentioned in Galatians 5:13 as you have said, and reads: “do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love SERVE [douleuo] one another;” and the other, in Galatians 4:8, reads: “Formerly, when you did not know God, you WERE ENSLAVED TO [douleuo] those that by nature are not gods.” In both cases the word is dulia, and in both cases it refers to a kind of service (literally, slavery or bondage). Yet, one is good, and the other is not. We ARE to be each others dulai-servants in love, but at the same time we are NOT to offer dulia-service to those that are not gods.

    In context it is not difficult to tell one kind of dulia from another — we know what is meant by serving each other in love as opposed to being selfish, and we also know what is meant by being servants someone or something other than God — and we can tell them apart. But, and here’s one of my main points here, this distinction is NOT born out by simply observing the word used, for in both cases the word is the same. There ARE, in fact, many kinds of dulia, many of which could be offered to men, and not all of them are okay.

    So, I still maintain that you are equating different kinds of dulia, and here’s how: you used the verse describing how we ought to be each others’ love-servants as opposed to being selfish (Galatians 5:13), and applied that to the practice of bowing down and praying to statues of of dead men. But Paul’s nuanced and varied use of the word within a single epistle just does not allow us to paint with that broad a brush, especially when his 4:8 usage is much more closely related to your practice than his 5:13 usage.

  22. Charlie,

    The difference between dulia proffered to idols and that proffered to other creatures is not of action, but of object. Just as the difference between marital sex and adulterous sex is not a difference of action, but a difference of object. Perhaps you think Catholics are giving latria to Mary and mistakenly calling it dulia?

  23. Prairie,

    It may be that some Catholics offer latria to men and call it dulia, but that’s not where my comments were focused. What I am focusing on is the fact that there is a kind of dulia that is appropriate to be offered to men (Galatians 5:13), and there is another kind of dulia that is only appropriate to be offered to God (Galatians 4:8).

    Now you say the difference between dulia proffered to idols and dulia proffered to other creatures is a difference of object, not a difference of action. Do you mean by this that there is only one kind of dulia, only one expression or action that’s called dulia? If so, does this mean that Paul in Galatians 5:13 commands the Galatians to perform the exact same action toward non-god creatures that he just condemned them for performing to non-god creatures over in 4:8?

    4:8 — “It’s idolatrous to show dulia to non-god creatures.”
    5:13 — “It’s good to show dulia to non-god creatures.”

    This just doesn’t seem to work. Regardless of the differences of object, there are undeniable differences of action in scripture between good and bad man-ward dulia.

    But even if we say that there are no differences in action, that there is only one manifestation of man-ward dulia (which I believe you have done), and we select Galatians 5:13 as the example of that one manifestation of dulia (which you have done), then here’s what we would be forced to conclude: The dulia that scripture authorizes all Christians to proffer to men is an expression of unselfish love which surrenders certain liberties for the good of other, living, Christian brethren.

    But there is no Roman vs Reformed controversy over whether we can dulia our brethren by deferring our preferences for the sake of peace. The controversy is over bowing down to statues of dead people, praying to them, asking for their intercession, lighting candles to their figures, etc. So either what Rome does is not dulia, or else there are differences in action between various kinds of dulia; some good, and some bad.

  24. “Do you mean by this that there is only one kind of dulia, only one expression or action that’s called dulia? If so, does this mean that Paul in Galatians 5:13 commands the Galatians to perform the exact same action toward non-god creatures that he just condemned them for performing to non-god creatures over in 4:8?”

    Yes. The apparent contradiction is resolved not in creating ex nihilo distinctions in supposed types of dulia, but in recognizing that it is improper to have ANY relationship with demonic creatures who claim to be divine.

    “…there are undeniable differences of action in scripture between good and bad man-ward dulia.”

    Prove it.

    Galatinas 5:13 is ONE example, not THE example, therefore I don’t think the definition of dulia can be restricted to “an expression of unselfish love which surrenders certain liberties for the good of other, living, Christian brethren.” Look at the list of the uses of dulia in the link I provided.

  25. One technical point first. Galatians 4:8 says nothing of relationships to demons specifically, only that dulia was offered to those that were not gods. (Similarly, in Romans 1:25, Paul speaks against those who worship the creature rather than the Creator, although a different word for worship is used there). For one to argue that it would have been okay to offer Galatians 4:8 type dulia to any other non-god (creature) besides demons is indeed a case of special pleading.

    But even if we grant your contention that there is only one kind of dulia, and that the only distinction to be made is one of object not kind, then here’s the problem that I think Rome still has: the aggregate picture of approved man-ward dulia in scripture is nothing like what Rome argues the dulia/latria distinction to justify. Looking beyond just Galatians 5:13 and taking into consideration all of the verses in the link you provided, there just is no correspondence between what scripture calls man-ward dulia and what Roman Catholics do to Mary, saints, etc. Which would mean, ironically, that Rome needs for there to be distinctions in kind in order to make room for what she does.

  26. Stephanie,

    Your illustration of family pictures on the wall doesn’t seem to honestly represent the RCC teaching with regard to dulia and Mary. Not to attribute dishonesty to you, of course, but simply to say that if I were a proponent of this doctrine myself, I think I’d object strongly to your characterization.

    I’m curious…how so? What would be wrong with it in your view, were you a proponent of honoring the communion of saints?

    Thomas Aquinas writes, “Since, therefore, the Blessed Virgin is a mere rational creature, the worship of “latria” is not due to her, but only that of “dulia”: but in a higher degree than to other creatures, inasmuch as she is the Mother of God. For this reason we say that not any kind of “dulia” is due to her, but “hyperdulia.”” Is pretty obvious at the face that, not only does Rome regard Mary as due a kind of dulia service/worship, but to a degree surpassing every other rational creature, hence “*hyper*-dulia.”. By definition, there can be no illustrative equivocation here.

    I could say my Mom has pre-eminence among all the family, lol. 😉 I’m not understanding where the problem is, I guess?

    Now when I read this, and I think of all the times I have heard Roman Catholics put a good face on Mariolatry with the “we’re all one happy family” approach, as if kneeling before, lighting candles at, and praying to a statue of Mary were no different than asking your buddy to pray for you, I have to wonder exactly where and why this same disconnect occurs as often as it does.

    The whole point of my illustration was precisely to emphasize the fact that we don’t pray TO statues. We ask other people to pray for us, and we use tangible, visible aids to help us remember them and think of them. The family pictures in a house illustration was to make clear that the fact that we use visual aids alone does not mean we worship the people we have visual aids of, any more than a person keeping visual aids of their deceased family members (or people having statues of past presidents and heros) means they worship those people in an idolatrous way.

    The whole dulia/hyperdulia/latria issue is another matter altogether. My illustration was in direct response to a post above which, as is typical, offers Catholic visual aids as proof of idolatrous worship. I believe the family picture illustration is therefore a valid one. We don’t worship statues or images or pray to objects any more than people keeping pictures of deceased family members do.

    I must be missing your point, I’m sorry! I would like to try to understand though, perhaps you can help me?

    Thanks!

  27. “…the practice of bowing down and praying to statues of of dead men.”

    “The controversy is over bowing down to statues of dead people, praying to them, asking for their intercession, lighting candles to their figures, etc.”

    Ah, and this is the kind of thing I was trying to illustrate…we do not pray TO statues, or bow TO statues as an entity in and of themselves, or light candles TO statues, or ask for the intercession of statues, etc etc. We use images and statues as visual aids…but we are actually talking TO real people in Heaven, honoring their lives as good examples of Christians we would do well to imitate, and asking their prayers.

    the aggregate picture of approved man-ward dulia in scripture is nothing like what Rome argues the dulia/latria distinction to justify. Looking beyond just Galatians 5:13 and taking into consideration all of the verses in the link you provided, there just is no correspondence between what scripture calls man-ward dulia and what Roman Catholics do to Mary, saints, etc.

    First I’d say, not being sola scriptura proponents, we don’t claim to “justify” every action by appealing to scripture, nor do we claim that everything we do will be explicitly mentioned in scripture. What we do claim is nothing we do is contrary to scripture…and as Prairie has explained, with our understanding of the verses mentioned, in our eyes there is no contradiction.

    Now, looking at the previous quotes which seem to indicate a misunderstanding of our use of visual aids, it’s no wonder you’d say there is no correspondance between what man-ward dulia in scripture is, and what dulia to saints is among Catholics. But I’d suggest that the problem here arises, not from our actual treatment of the saints (which is, essentially, honor), but from a misunderstanding of our treatment of the saints, or more specifically statues of the saints, lol. In other words, considering some of your comments, I’m not convinced you completely understand the Catholic practice of dulia/hyperdulia well enough to be able to make the judgement call about whether it is or is not consistent with the biblical dulia, especially seeing as this is something so internal, so dependent upon intent, which is not accessible from the outside looking in.

    I’m certainly open to being proven wrong, though! 🙂

  28. Charlie,

    In Ephesians 6:7 servants are told to give their service (dulia) to their masters as if they were giving it to God. They are being told to give to men the same “type” of dulia they would give God.

    I would be interested to see any scholarly consensus among Greek geeks (sorry – I couldn’t resist) on different types of dulia – a google search didn’t turn up much.

    Beyond that, however, I think the point Stephanie made is a good one – intent is an important factor in what actions mean. Bowing is not necessarily an action of worship. Neither is giving gifts. Nor is asking for favors. Which was one of the points of my original post.

  29. Interestingly, I think a lot of the disagreement here is coming from two different approaches to understanding Church Teaching. Charles seems to be trying to refute Church teaching from a “sola scriptura” position, but that neglects the practice and sacred teaching of the Church since the early days (and even back to Jewish tradition before the Church was established). That is frequently the impassable state of discussion between Catholics and Non-Catholic Christians. Maybe it is just me, but I feel like unless that is resolved first, we can’t get to the heart of the issues.

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