Friday, November 21, 2008

Articuli Fidei on Degrees of Worship

David Waltz has an interesting article up on degrees of worship. He cites two passages from Scripture where actions normally associated with worship of God are directed towards others. The first is 1Chr. 29:20:
And David commanded all the assembly: Bless ye the Lord our God. And all the assembly blessed the Lord the God of their fathers: and they bowed themselves and worshipped God, and then the king.
Here the people of Israel are said to worship God and the king. Now of course they didn't actually worship the king: but that's not the point. The point is that the same word is used with reference to both, and that consequently there is an homage or respect - characterized by prostration or kneeling - that is appropriate not only to God, but even to a king. And the upshot is that it is flatly ridiculous for someone to object that the mere act of a Catholic kneeling before an image of a saint constitutes idolatry. It doesn't.

The second example given by Mr. Waltz is from Rev. 3:9:
Behold, I will bring of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but do lie. Behold, I will make them to come and adore before thy feet. And they shall know that I have loved thee.
"Adore" here is a verb normally associated with worship of God. And of course that's not what the Lord is saying that he is promising: he is not saying that he will make the synagogue of Satan come and worship the Christians of Philadelphia. But rather, there is a prostration and kneeling and homage rightly due even to creatures. And so once again it's simply crazy for some folks to suggest that a mere act - divorced from its intention - constitutes an act of idolatry. It doesn't. It can't.

That's why, on the flipside, the mere external observance of rites and formulas does not amount to genuine worship - so that God says of Israel in Isaiah 1:
To what purpose do you offer me the multitude of your victims, saith the Lord? I am full, I desire not holocausts of rams, and fat of fatlings, and blood of calves, and lambs, and buck goats. When you came to appear before me, who required these things at your hands, that you should walk in my courts?
Offer sacrifice no more in vain: incense is an abomination to me. The new moons, and the sabbaths and other festivals I will not abide, your assemblies are wicked. My soul hateth your new moons, and your solemnities: they are become troublesome to me, I am weary of bearing them.
[Isaiah 1:11-14]

If external observance is inadequate to say that worship is right, then external action is likewise inadequate for us to say that an act is wrong. We have to know the facts. And the one who ignores what we say about our veneration of the saints, preferring to ascribe motives to us of his own choosing, wrongs us.

2 comments:

Paul Hoffer said...

Hi RdP, you wrote:

"If external observance is inadequate to say that worship is right, then external action is likewise inadequate for us to say that an act is wrong. We have to know the facts. And the one who ignores what we say about our veneration of the saints, preferring to ascribe motives to us of his own choosing, wrongs us."

Well said!!!

God bless!

Reginald de Piperno said...

Hi Paul,

Thanks, and the same to you :-)

RdP