Thursday, July 31, 2008

Venerating Saints

I have been told that, by definition, worship is not given to saints in the RCC. It was easy, according to the RC apologists, to tell if worship was being given to a saint's relics or not--or even to a saint, or the Mother of God. If there is no sacrifice, no worship is given. That was actually a pretty good argument, because they are not beholden to a prot view of what worship is. No matter how similar the actions looked, or how similar the words sound to worship they could simply point to their doctrine that if one is not sacrificing, one is not worshiping; hence by definition saints are not worshiped.


I recently came across these two verses of Scripture in another discussion forum:

Ephes 5:5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

Col 3:5Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.

While there may be a plausible explanation offered to explain why St. Paul is not really speaking about worship, I don't see it. I think it looks like the fine distinctions used to say that the saints are never worshiped in e.g. venerating bones is beginning to break down. The citations above show what amounts to "non-sacrificial worship", which should be a contradiction in terms, given the typical RC distinction made. The highlighted terms used in the passages cited above are EIDOLOLATRIS and EIDOLOLATREIA respectively, so St. Paul is plainly speaking abut worship, which is latreia. Maybe they could say that proper veneration of the saints is never latreia but proper dulia, but they cannot simply rule idolatry out of court simply because by nature nothing is latreia without a sacrifice. This means a lot more weight is given to what people actually say and do as opposed to a sort of objective yardstick to determine if worship is given.

The distinction seems to a notion one keeps in one's head because St. Paul blatantly called actions without sacrifice worship, and I think he has a lot of authority. And as we all know, it is very easy for us to rationalize what we think we are doing even if we are doing something wrong. That is why the "kinetic" and material parts of worship are important. One could think one has the proper distinction in one's head, but in reality one is actually giving idolatrous worship to something made with hands and is deceived because of what one does. If the definition or worship is more "kinetic" such that it by definition rules out a given set of acts actually being worship, this is not nearly as much of an issue. Absent the "kinetic" bulwark though, traditional prot critiques of e.g. bone venerating have a lot more force. It can be very easy to become an idolater--especially when the actions of adoration of an icon look so similar to worship.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Bible, God's Word

Perhaps we should allow God to speak for himself:

"Is not my word like fire", declares the LORD, "and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces? Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets", declares the LORD, "who steal my words from one another. Behold, I am against the prophets", declares the LORD, "who use their tongues and declare, 'declares the LORD.' Behold, I am against those who prophesy lying dreams", declares the LORD, "and who tell them and lead my people astray by their lies and their recklessness, when I did not send them or charge them. So they do not profit this people at all", declares the LORD. [Jeremiah 23:29-32]

I think we would agree that these are the words of God, and that those prophets and Apostles who speak his word are speaking his word and not the word of another. Also, when they write his word down, it remains his word, just as much as when they spoke his word, and it does not lose its power or effect because it is written and not spoken.

So, it seems elementary that the Bible is the Word of God, so long as one accepts that the Bible is inspired.