Thursday, May 7, 2009

The “worship” of Jesus in the Bible

A “team” member, and frequent poster at the Beggars All blog, who goes by the name “Rhology”, started a new thread two days ago with the title: How Roman Dogma Affects a Defense of the Deity of Christ.

The thread begins with:

One major thrust of any biblical defense of the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ is to point out the places in the New Testament in which He explicitly receives worship.

Rhology then invokes four NT passages, which he believes lends support to his apologia. Three of the four (John 4:35-38; Rev. 19:10, 22:8), in reality, serve to weaken his defense, while the fourth (Rev. 5:11) is open to more than one interpretation.

Though I have previously dealt with the core issues raised by Rhology in his new post (see THIS THREAD), I would now like to expand a bit further on this.

The fundamental ‘problem’ with Rhology’s assertions is the fact that the term proskuneō is used in different senses in the Bible—especially so when one references the LXX (Septuagint). Perhaps the most pertinent verse in the NT is Rev. 3:9 where we read:

Behold, I give of the synagogue of Satan, of them that say they are Jews, and they are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship (proskuneō) before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. (ASV)

Similar instances of the act of “worship” (proskuneō) before the saints of God are found in the OT:

Thus saith Jehovah, The labor of Egypt, and the merchandise of Ethiopia, and the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over unto thee, and they shall be thine: they shall go after thee, in chains they shall come over; and they shall fall down (LXX - proskuneō) unto thee, they shall make supplication unto thee, saying, Surely God is in thee; and there is none else, there is no God. (Is. 45:14 - ASV)

And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers: they shall bow down (LXX - proskuneō) to thee with their faces to the earth, and lick the dust of thy feet; and thou shalt know that I am Jehovah; and they that wait for me shall not be put to shame. (Is. 49:23 - ASV)

And the sons of them that afflicted thee shall come bending unto thee; and all they that despised thee shall bow themselves down (LXX - proskuneō) at the soles of thy feet; and they shall call thee The city of Jehovah, The Zion of the Holy One of Israel. (Is. 60:14 - ASV)

There is also the instance where Moses states that all the servants of Pharaoh will render proskuneō to him:

And all these thy servants shall come down unto me, and bow down (LXX – proskuneō) themselves unto me, saying, Get thee out, and all the people that follow thee: and after that I will go out. And he went out from Pharaoh in hot anger. (Ex. 11:8 - ASV)

As well as the passage Rhology attempts to deflect:

And David said to all the assembly, Now bless Jehovah your God. And all the assembly blessed Jehovah, the God of their fathers, and bowed down (LXX - proskuneō) their heads, and worshipped Jehovah, and the king. (1 Chronicles 29:20 - ASV) [Rhology’s assertion that the above is “not in a religious context”, is just plain silly.]

So, in ending, that Jesus, the long awaited Messianic king, the eschatological “Son of Man”, the great Prince, et al. receives proskuneō should come as no surprise. However, to then deduce that this act denotes an act of worship directed to the one true God, is to jump to a conclusion that has little (any?) Biblical support. Without the regula fidei of the early Church, one is left with little ammunition to support Rhology’s claim that Jesus was worshipped in a full, liturgical sense.


Grace and peace,

David

57 comments:

Nick Norelli said...

You might like to read Larry Hurtado and Richard Bauckham on this subject (if you haven't already). I'd recommend the following:

Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity -- Hurtado

Jesus and the God of Israel: God Crucified and Other Studies on the New Testament's Christology of Divine Identity -- Bauckham.

Rhology said...

Two things:

1) The proskuneo's I cited are clearly in a religious, worshipful context. You seem allergic to the concept of context.

2) You're simply proving my point - your dogma leaves this particular line of argumentation unavailable to you as an RC against a JW.
I was saying no more and no less in that post.

Peace,
Rhology

Nick said...

I have not had a good experience dealing with Rhology, I don't think the arguments he makes more than half the time are fair or accurate, yet James Swan allows them to be posted.

In this case, it's going to be hard to wiggle out of the of the 'bowing' before God and the King, given that bowing before God is always an act of worship in some form. If Rhology wants to ignore that, then he's simply exposed himself to a JW pulling it out on him. Rather than brush off "bowing before God and the King," it's better to deal directly with it. It's the Protestant in this case that is left vulnerable in front of the JW, because the JW is going to pull that out and laugh when you try to brush it off. Those are free points you do not want the JW to score.


None of this hurts the Rev 5:13-14 argument by the way, the burden is on the JW to prove the Lamb is a mere creature, because He is obviously not an ordinary man. The JW in fact says Jesus is Michael the Archangel, which is laughable.

Chris said...

I'm inclined to agree, David. Speaking of evangelicals and tradition, you might be interested in one of my recent posts here, which argues that even Evangelicals' vaunted "personal relationship with Jesus" depends upon an ecclesiastical tradition. I also recently saw a Pentecostal theologian use Newman's idea of doctrinal development to support the "initial evidence" doctrine, which was quite unusual and made me think of you.

Peace,

-Chris

David Waltz said...

Hi Chris,

Thanks much for the link to your post; you wrote:

>>The bottom line I'm getting at is that nobody can exist in a vacuum without a tradition…>>

Me: AMEN! And finally, some Evangelicals are ‘getting it’; for instance, the Baptist Evangelical scholar, D.H. Williams has written/edited 3 very solid books on this:

Retrieving the Tradition and Renewing EvangelicalismEvangelicals and TraditionTradition, Interpretation, and TraditionHope that you (and others) get an opportunity to look into his works…


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

OK Blogger preview lied to me...it showed the books on separate lines with spacing in between!

Bad Blogger !!! [GRIN]

David Waltz said...

Hi Nick N.,

Thanks for responding to my musings. I have read the Hurtado book you linked to (excellent, and a must read IMHO), as well as his:

One God, One LordAnd:

At the Origins of Christian WorshipAs for Bauckham, I have not read his work that you linked to, but have read his:

God CrucifiedBTW, have you read Stafford’s, Jehovah’s Witnesses Defended ? Greg informed me in an email that he will be addressing some of the issues that Hurtado raised in the upcoming 3rd edition.

[See also HERE.]



Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Now I am getting frustrated; the Blogger preview has lied yet again, and everything I have tried to keep the links separate from the body of my commetns has failed...ARRRGH!!!

David Waltz said...

Hello Nick,

You posted:

>> None of this hurts the Rev 5:13-14 argument by the way, the burden is on the JW to prove the Lamb is a mere creature, because He is obviously not an ordinary man. The JW in fact says Jesus is Michael the Archangel, which is laughable.>>

Me: I need to think this over a bit. As for the identification of Jesus as Michael the Archangel, John Calvin and many Reformed scholars, have done so. Tomorrow, the Lord willing, I will provide the references to back this up. When I get the time, I would like to see if any Catholic scholars have also made the same identification.


Grace and peace,

David

Nick Norelli said...

David: I've not read Stafford's book. I think a year or so ago when I thought about getting it the price was too steep. I have listened to his debate with James White and I wasn't overly impressed (with him or White to be honest), and I've read a couple of articles on his website. But if he plans to address Hurtado in a recent edition of his work then I'll more than likely get it. Thanks for the heads up.

R. E. Aguirre. said...

There is two fatal flaws to the argument as presented by this "Rhology" character.

1. He posits a classic strawman argument by
misrepresenting the Catholic doctrine dulia
and hyper-dulia as for example
offered to Mary by Catholics. Catholics are
"hamstrung" in their presentations because they
erroneously "bow-down to creatures" (with the
implications of offering misguided worship).
But this is nothing more than an ignorant ploy
who will only convince the most unfamiliar
readers.

2. "Rhology" pretends to dash the hopes of
"Romanists" in stating that "Roman Dogma"
(his ridiculous strawman) cannot in itself
(assuming his caricature is correct) defend the
Deity of our Lord from Scripture. Against this
we can state confidently that the (Catholic
Dogma of the Deity of Christ) can be maintained
clearly from the Sacred Scriptures on the one
hand, while being supported by the Regulae
Fidei
, the commentary of the consensus
of the Catholic interpretive tradition, (the
patristic fathers East and West, the great
Councils, etc), which hammered out the highly
nuanced Doctrines surrounding the Person (both
Human and Divine) of Christ Jesus.

How quickly do Protestants forget that these same Patristic Fathers that give us dogmas such as the Deity of Christ, the books of the Old and New Testament - being led by the hand of the Holy Spirit Himself, would have unanimously condemned what we know today as "Protestantism," (this is clear in the condemnation of Lucian at the Synod of Arles and the scathing denouncement of justification by faith sola, as seen in the commentary on Romans by Origen, followed by Augustine, Jerome, Chrysostom, Aquinas, etc).

What would these fellows such as "Rhology" et al turn too, if as Irenaeus conjectured, the Apostles did not leave us anything in writing? How would they defend the Deity of Christ then? Irenaeus answers in the same fashion as modern day Catholics, we would turn to the historic (Catholic) patristic interpretive tradition, or in another name, "Roman Dogma."

_______________________

R. E. Aguirre
Lead Editor.,
Paradoseis Journal

Chris said...

David,

I had the same problem. If you put a period after your link tag, the line break won't be removed.

-Chris

Rhology said...

Nick,

Perhaps you missed my earlier comment. The proskuneo's I cited were specifically in religious, worshipful contexts where the deity of Christ are in question and in evidence. That's the point of citing them. I nowhere claimed they were the only occurrences of proskuneo in the LXX or NT. And if a JW uses the same argument as you are here, I first chuckle b/c I recall that more than a few RCs have used the same arguments as polytheistic cultists, and then I ask them to explain how the context of the other proskuneo passages supports their interp.


RE Aguirre,

I'm afraid you have mistaken me on several of my points.

1. What is ignorant about it? I made no argument (in this post) against such bowing down. RCs bow down to entities who are not God, right? Who's going to argue with that?

2. What about the term "Roman Dogma" is a strawman? Since I don't think there is one unified system of dogma in the Roman Church, I'd be inclined to agree, but I wasn't raising that issue in this post either; I was conceding it for the sake of argument.
You said:
cannot in itself (assuming his caricature is correct) defend the Deity of our Lord from Scripture.I specifically said the opposite. You are allowing your prejudice to blind you. Here are the last 2 sentences from my post:
This is not to say that the RC has no useful or valid arguments against the Watchtower. I'm just pointing out that RC dogma and apologetic practice prevents them from using this argument.Anyway, I would argue that many or even most of the early Fathers would condemn the modern RCC just as much or more as they do modern Protestantism, but I didn't introduce that argument in my post.


And I've been seeing that line break thing occur for about a month now in Blogger. It's very annoying but I don't know what to do to fix it.



Peace,
Rhology

Mike Burgess said...

Nick, I concur with your assessment of interaction with/argumentation from Rhology. I had a reasonably lengthy email exchange with him concerning the PV and betrothal/marriage of the BVM, and every time he was shown to be wrong he either switched gears and ignored it or made ad hominems or something. That said, I think he has done terrific work arguing against scientistic atheists and others on his own site. He's a smart guy, but he comes up with some real non-sequitirs and non-arguments sometimes. This was one of them. Rather than admit that, he wants to blame the Catholics for not getting "context." Ha! (I'll bet he didn't know that Mr. Waltz knows more about JWs than he ever will, either.)

David, nice job on this. Glad the beach-bum is back at it!

-Mike Burgess/syzygus

Jamie Donald said...

I would have to concur with Nick on this one.

In Rhology's own words (link from his most recent Beggar's All entry to the one where he showed that bowing to the king is not worship [at great length]), he said the following.

Religious context is where you're rendering worshipful actions.Note that he does not restrict this to any form of liturgical assembly, but simply to worshipful actions.There are a few problems with his definition.

1) Since proskuneo translates to worship, he's essentially saying that worship occurs when someone is worshipping. To which I reply, "Duh!" Admittedly, this first critique of Rho's definition might be labeled as a straw man. This is because Rhology acknowledges that proskuneo is a word with two meanings and he does try to separate between the two meanings by using the English "bow" and "worship." However, it is not a straw man critique of his argument because in each case, Rho - not the person performing the action - defines whether it falls on the worship or respect side of the coin.

2. This is a corallary to my first dispute. Catholics specifically state that our action towards the saints is an action of respect (dulia). Therefore, it is not a worshipful action and falls outside of his own definition of what constitutes religious context.

3. In 1 Chron 29, if one is to follow Rhology's logic, we seem to have a confusion of context. The nation renders proskuneo to God. Is this a worshipful action? But the exact same and simultaneous action renders proskuneo to the king. Was the nation sinning in not worshipping (modern English definition) the Lord? Or was the nation sinning because they were worshipping the king just as they were worshipping God? Or was the nation worshipping God in their hearts while rendering honor to the king at the same time and with the same physical act?

Rhology said...

Jamie,

Your comment has almost no bearing on the post itself and so, like David's unfortunately, misses the point entirely and even serves to strengthen the very limited point I was driving at.

Just for my own curiosity's sake, I wasn't able to understand the meaning of this sentence. Could you please rephrase? I thought maybe a "not" was added by mistake...

However, it is not a straw man critique of his argument because in each case, Rho - not the person performing the action - defines whether it falls on the worship or respect side of the coin.I would appreciate that, for my own edification.

Jamie Donald said...

Rhology,

I disagree. I am on point and I do understand your thoughts. To paraphrase, you posit that the RCC uses examples of proskuneo which are (in your opinion) clearly by context cases of rendering honor in order to justify a similar honor to the saints. However, the means by which a faithful Catholic shows this honor to a saint falls under what you call religious context. Since you feel it falls in this context, you say we are confusing the issue and become unable to show a JW that Jesus receives worship as God.

My issue with your very limited point is that it is you who is defining what is and is not a religious context. So if I were to bow to the Japanese Prime Minister, the President, the Pope, before an icon of the Holy Family, before an icon of Mary, or bow my head in prayer before a meal; in each case you are reserving the right to say whether or not this is a worshipful action and therefore within the category of religious context.

Even though I'm the one performing the action in each of the hypotheticals, you don't allow me the lattitude to say whether or not my action is a worshipful action and in a religious context. However, in reality, I get to define what is behind my own actions. I get to choose when I am being respectful and when I am being "worshipful."

So my first critique - that your own definition of religious context - collapses into the circular statement "worship is a worshipful action," is not a strawman. Your attempts (which I believe are sincere) to divide proskuneo into honor/bow/nonreligious and worship/religious context fail because you're the one deciding the context. Not the person performing the act.

Yet your entire point hinges on the ability to show that religious and nonreligious context (however they end up being defined) can be absolutely and completely separated. Once you show that, the next burden is to show that created things never receive proskuneo in the religious context.

But you haven't shown that. Your treatment of 1 Chron 29 is superficial at best. Is God not being worshipped here? If not, then why? If not, then is the celebration of the nation sinful as they believe they are in the presence of God and are not worshipping Him? Since their same action (and remember, you're the one who based the definition of religious context on action) is to the king, then why would the nation not be in a religious context and therefore (sinfully) worshipping the king?

Until you resolve these issues (including allowing the person performing the act to determine whether or not they are worshipping - not just 1 Chron), you have not completely and consistently separated examples of respectful and "worshipful" proskuneo. Until that separation takes place, you cannot demonstrate - by your currently stated criteria - that only God, to include Jesus in the NT, receives proskuneo as worship.

I'm basing this on your definitions as stated. Perhaps if you changed your definition of religious context into something a little more concrete, then you could resolve the problems with your "limited" argument.

For the record, I agree with you that the Bible records no worship (modern English definition) to any created thing - of when it occurs (such as with the golden calf), it is punished.

Rhology said...

Jamie,

Precisely - RCs proskuneo to saints and angels - created entities - in a religious context. JWs proskuneo to (what they believe to be) created entity(ies) - Jesus Christ.


-it is you who is defining what is and is not a religious context. -

Hmmm.
When you ask a saint for intercession, you:
1) bow down
2) before a statue of that person
3) in an alcove of the church
4) light candles
5) pray inaudibly
6) burn incense
7) ask for them to intercede with you for supernatural favor.

That's not religious, eh? Does your priest know you don't consider that religious? I'm serious.



-get to define what is behind my own actions.-

I thought God gets to do that when it comes to worship/non-worship.


-1 Chron 29-

Yes, God is being worshiped.
No, the king is not. How do I know? Perhaps b/c the Israelites were monotheists. Just a guess.

I would like to know, please, if you grant my very limited point I made in the original post, for perspective's sake.


Peace,
Rhology

tap said...

Rho, Jamie Donald has dealt with your argument thoroughly here. Bottom line is your so called "worshipful action" is subjective.

Out of curiousity, Let me ask:
Is/Are each of those 7 things you listed a "worshipful action" or are you claiming a combination of those to be a "worshipful action"?

Nick said...

There are certain discussions where you can only repeat yourself so many times before it just drains your energy and gets people mad at each other.

David Waltz said...

Hi all,

My wife talked me into going shopping with her this morning; I finally made it back home! Anyway, I see that there has been a fair amount of activity in my absence; however, I will be shortly heading out yet again, but this time my choice—the new Star Trek movie!!! So, it seems that my reflections will have to wait until tomorrow.

Everyone embrace charity…

Grace and peace,

David

P.S. Chris, thanks for tech info!

Rhology said...

Sweet, I'm going to see it tonight at 10:15. Hope you enjoy it!

R. E. Aguirre. said...

"Rhology" states:

- "What is ignorant about it? I made no argument (in this post) against such bowing down. RCs bow down to entities who are not God, right? Who's going to argue with that?"

I am obviously pointing out your argument on the post at Beggars all blog - where you apparently do not understand the Catholic Dogma on the honoring of Mary and/or the saints but instead, set up a strawman (your misrepresentation of the issue) and attempt to knock it over.

You bring up the often abused point, from over zealous Protestant apologists, that "Roman Dogma is not monolithic." But again you are displaying your poverty in either not correctly understanding Catholic Doctrine or worse, intentionally misrepresenting the issue.

And just when we think you can not be more misinformed in terms of both Catholicism and Patrology you issue this statement:

- "Anyway, I would argue that many or even most of the early Fathers would condemn the modern RCC just as much or more as they do modern Protestantism, but I didn't introduce that argument in my post."

You are correct in stating that you alone would argue this point for no Patristic specialist (from any tradition) would follow such an absurd claim.

And to further drag on this debacle and prove your historical misunderstandings, I challenge you to post a single instance where the patristic (Catholic) Fathers are in a majority consensus, doctrinal agreement more in line with Protestantism than Catholicism. Be sure to cite primary sources, context and a discussion of corpus criticism in regards to the pertinent writer. Be also sure to let us know exactly what variant strand of Protestantism you will be comparing with, since the different denominations within Protestantism are notorious for being in disagreement amongst themselves on doctrinal issues.

_____________

R. E. Aguirre
Lead Editor.,
Paradoseis Journal

David Waltz said...

Hi Rhology,

Before I get to the ‘meat’ of my post, I just want to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the new Star Trek movie—there is no doubt in my mind that it will spark new ‘life’ into the franchise—despite doubters and critics, Star Trek continues to live (long) and prosper!

Now, time for a bit of summation on my part on the core issue(s) you have raised concerning the “worship” of Jesus in the Bible. In your original BA thread you wrote:

>>How does this relate to Rome? Roman dogma specifically endorses and approves the bowing down in a religious context to non-deity entities such as the Blessed Virgin, saints, and angels. Roman apologists contend that the Bible contains examples of people bowing down to other people, and it seems to be perfectly OK.>>

You then go on to affirm (rightly so) that many instances of the act of proskuneō in the LXX do not involve a “religious context”. So far so good—but, with that said, I maintain that two important issues significantly weaken your apologia: first, the vast majority of the instances of proskuneō in the NT are not made in a “religious context” (I can cite numerous commentaries, if necessary, to support this); and second, you seem to be ignoring the possibility that proskuneō to non-deity can rightfully occur in a “religious context”—I (and others) believe that 1 Ch. 29:20 strongly indicates that this is the case. The king of Israel, the high-priest, and the Angel of Jehovah receive proskuneō as representatives of Jehovah, in what sure seems to be a “religious context”.

IMHO, the issue of the use of proskuneō in the Bible is a bit more nuanced and complex than you seem to currently understand it.


Grace and peace,

David

Rhology said...

tap,

-your so called "worshipful action" is subjective.-

And "all that matters is the motive!" isn't? Come now.
It's obvious that these things are done n a religious, worshipful context. Your investment in the conclusion is probably the only thing that keeps you from assenting to the obvious.


RE Aguirre,

What precisely is the strawman I raised?
I leave it to the reader to decide whether this series of posts, which barely scratches the surface, is evidence of the not-monolithic nature of Roman dogma. You seem not even to have read it.


You said:
-You are correct in stating that you alone would argue this point for no Patristic specialist (from any tradition) would follow such an absurd claim. -

Oh, then perhaps you can produce evidence that most of the early fathers held to the infallibility of the Pope, the primacy in authority of the Pope, the assumption of Mary, the immaculate conception, transsubstantiation, the church as the final authoritative interpreter of the Scripture, etc. Those are pretty big deals. Not asking you to do so here, but maybe you could write it up and link to it or something.


-I challenge you to post a single instance where the patristic (Catholic) Fathers are in a majority consensus, doctrinal agreement more in line with Protestantism than Catholicism. -

Sola Scriptura.-since the different denominations within Protestantism are notorious for being in disagreement amongst themselves on doctrinal issues.-

Oh, like Franciscans, Dominicans, Augustinians, Traditionalists, Sedevacantists, Feeneyites, liberals, and moderates in RCC?
You're a cornucopia of red herrings, sir.

Peace,
Rhology

tap said...

Rhology, you should know better than to give us Williams Webster's hack-and-slash book about the Church Fathers, my goodness dude. I'd always thought it was an honest mistake that you took the ECF "quotes" in that book for granted b/c you hadn't bothered reading them in context.

I'm pretty sure its been pointed out to you previously. You can read the ECF's Online on your own in context, and with other writings to get a totallity of the picture, of where they are coming from. Why you keep referring to Williams Webster is beyond me.

Rhology said...

tap,

Oh, I didn't realise there was some good refutation of the Holy Scripture series. What is it? Where?

And obviously I think YOU take the ECFs way out of context. And I've done some reading of them straight up. I'd like to do more.

Rhology said...

Hi David,

Yeah, I liked Star Trek a lot myself. Fun stuff.
"Well, I got some bad news. Starfleet operates in space." I couldn't help but laugh at that.


-the vast majority of the instances of proskuneō in the NT are not made in a “religious context”-

No, I agree. It'd be silly to deny it.


-you seem to be ignoring the possibility that proskuneō to non-deity can rightfully occur in a “religious context”—I (and others) believe that 1 Ch. 29:20 strongly indicates that this is the case.-

I think, to be fair, that this psg could go either way in terms of this dispute. You could say, "See? They're proskuneo-ing before a created entity, before a human." And the JW could say the same thing, interestingly, so you'll have to deal with your own conscience about that.
I could say, "David was a man after God's own heart and would never have accepted similar honor to God's. This bowing down is just like when people in other contexts go into the presence of the king and bow down, to show honor and submission to his authority. David would never allow them to break the 1st 2 commandments."
Point is, it's not a slam-bang for your position. It's telling, however, that this seems to be your strongest point.

And fine, I'm sure the issue is complex, but did my post attempt to present an in-depth analysis of every occurrence of proskuneo in the Bible? No. I was going after ONE SPECIFIC argument. And all y'alls' arguments have served to bolster my point. I'm not irritated; I'm actually happy that you agree!

Peace,
Rhology

Jamie Donald said...

Jamie,

Precisely - RCs proskuneo to saints and angels - created entities - in a religious context. JWs proskuneo to (what they believe to be) created entity(ies) - Jesus Christ.


-it is you who is defining what is and is not a religious context. -

Hmmm.
When you ask a saint for intercession, you:
1) bow down
2) before a statue of that person
3) in an alcove of the church
4) light candles
5) pray inaudibly
6) burn incense
7) ask for them to intercede with you for supernatural favor.

That's not religious, eh? Does your priest know you don't consider that religious? I'm serious.



-get to define what is behind my own actions.-

I thought God gets to do that when it comes to worship/non-worship.


-1 Chron 29-

Yes, God is being worshiped.
No, the king is not. How do I know? Perhaps b/c the Israelites were monotheists. Just a guess.

I would like to know, please, if you grant my very limited point I made in the original post, for perspective's sake.


Peace,
Rhology

Rhology,

Thank you for the interaction. My apologies for delaying in my answer to you. I had to return from a work trip, see Star Trek (twice!), and take care of several other things.

First, I must ask, is your laundry-list of seven items a new definition for religious context and a move away from the very subjective worshipful actions, or is it really just a gripe against Catholic treatment of the saints? I cannot tell for certain because other replies you have given have included such diverse topics as infallibility rather than staying on the very limited discussion about proskuneo. Since these answers are to other people, you may (or may not) be keeping your response to me in the limited sense. However, I have no means to tell for certain and request your clarification.

If it is the former, then I welcome the attempt to provide objective, rather than subjective, measure. However, if it is the latter, then you are straying from your own very limited argument - something you have request we not do. I am proceding as if it is the former.

Using a reasonable man approach to your seven items, I would agree that 1 Chron 29 falls within a religious context. But 1 Chron 29 has the nation bowing before the king within this context. It does not record two separate actions; one where the nation worships God and a second one where they honor the king. Merely one action is recorded. Your reply to me that the Israelites rendered the correct form of proskuneo to God and king - specifically worship and honor respectively - in the same worshipful action was cursory at best. You asserted that the proper form was rendered because the Israelites were monotheistic. But this short answer ignores the fact that these people were descendants of a monotheistic society who also crafted and worshipped a golden calf. There is nothing to stop them from (entering a state of sin) and actually worshipping the king as well - just as their ancestors (sinfully) worshipped the golden calf.

However, that same cursory answer you gave implies an attempt to look into the hearts of the worshippers. This is exactly the Catholic point. Worship is something that is from the internal and as long as you focus on the external, you risk mistaking one form for the other. In fact, in your short answer, you take the generally monotheistic society (I say generally, because we have examples where the nation failed) and extrapolate that to an internal disposition of the heart of the Israelites. Then you conclude proper rendering of proskuneo based on this assumed internal disposition.

As a Catholic, I agree that worship is something which comes from within and also think that you are too focused on the externals. Your own answer to our host, David Walz, where you state that King David being a Godly man would never have accepted worship, so therefore 1 Chron 29 must be demonstrating the act of proskuneo in this case was one of honor. But again, you are looking toward's King David's internal disposition, not the external. I find your answer to David Walz rather interesting. Because in your answer to me, you stated that this particular act was worship of God.

You seem to be playing both sided of the proskuneo coin here. This is why I'm not buying into your religious context argument. While I think it's important to show that Jesus does receive worship - as God, the Son, not a created person - I do not see that your religious context test demonstrates this. Your own answers to 1 Chron 29 demonstrate the ambiguity of your test where the proskuneo must be simultaneously both inside of and outside of a religious context in order to support the answers and conclusions you've given.

So it is not only the Catholic who would encounter a difficulty using your particular application here. Anyone who is astute enough to follow your answers and who has some knowledge of Scripture can point out your own inconsistencies here and deprive you of this argument as well.

In His Name,
Jamie

Rhology said...

Hi Jamie,

-is your laundry-list of seven items a new definition for religious context and a move away from the very subjective worshipful actions-

I really don't think it's that complicated. Not to psychoanalyse too much, but the meaning and thrust are obvious. Why not just answer it honestly and in a straightfwd manner?


-replies you have given have included such diverse topics as infallibility-

Well, I have trouble deciding whether to be a meanie and refuse to answer other challenges. You'll note that 'tis not I who introduce these various topics.
I am more than happy to stay on this very limited topic. That was, after all, the point of my post. And to be honest, all y'alls' protestations have served to strengthen my argument - an RC cannot use this argument against the JW position.


- It does not record two separate actions-

First of all, I note that we are straying from my specific point in the post. I don't have a problem with that, I just wanted to point it out since you brought said straying up.

2nd, I don't see why anyone should grant that, though. Please see my above comment along these lines; it's no slam-dunk for the Roman position.
You may argue that the motivation and intent are what differentiates between the latria given to God here and the dulia given to the king. OK, fair enough, with the qualifications I mentioned above. However, this is not a similar context to what is performed in quite a number of Roman practices. You're not bowing before a king but rather before dead people and angels who have no earthly authority over you. Nowhere do these Israelites perform other specifically religious practices that Romanists do, such as those in my 'laundry list'. Nowhere did the Israelites speak inaudibly to the king and expect him to hear. Their bowing down is easily accted-for by the idea of normal submissive homage before an earthly authority at the time, etc.

Peace,
Rhology

Anonymous said...

Rhology,

It seems to me that whenever anyone tries to show you or anyone else of the Reformed persuasion who uses this argument (did it originate with James White and then come down to you from James Swan and TurretinFan?) a verse where this word is used you all seem to get to define what constitutes "a religious context," but, to me it seems... a bit more than arbitrary???

How does one falsify your argument? By proving a case of the word being used in a context that YOU deem as a religious one?

That seems rather difficult...

Blessings,
BC

Rhology said...

And "motivation and intent" aren't subjective and arbitrary?
(I'd add it's ad hoc.)

What about my list is unclear to you?

Anonymous said...

Rhology,

Looking more closely at your last comment on this subject... I am a bit confused...

You wrote:
"Their bowing down is easily accted-for by the idea of normal submissive homage before an earthly authority at the time, etc."Was there a "separation of church and state" in ancient Israel? The bow to God was a in a religious context, but the bow to the king was a secular one? Was the Monarchy in ancient Israel of "earthly authority" (read: appointment) or was there heavenly authority involved there?

Does speaking inaudibly and expecting a being to hear you mean that you are worshiping that being by definition or do you need to define for us, again, what religious context means again (as it relates to whispering)?

Blessings,
BC

Anonymous said...

Rhology,

As to you list...

When you ask a saint for intercession, you:
1) bow down
2) before a statue of that person
3) in an alcove of the church
4) light candles
5) pray inaudibly
6) burn incense
7) ask for them to intercede with you for supernatural favor.

So if I don't physically 'bow down' before any statue or likeness of the person inside any parish... if I don't light any candles... if I pray out loud... if I don't burn any incense... then what... is the fact that the person has no pulse the real problem? Can I assume that your contention that asking a being to co-intercede with you who doesn't have a pulse is 'worship?'

Blessings,
BC

Rhology said...

No, but there's a separation of God and king, to be sure.

Speaking inaudibly could apply to whispering out of earshot or inside-your-mind 'talking'. God can read our minds and therefore hear a silent prayer. Can a living person? No. Can a dead person? You say yes, w/o biblical foundation. No prayer in Scr is EVER directed towards any other entity than God, and several warnings are issued against such contact with the dead. My list is common sense and is manifestly the practice of Romanists in their communication with the dead. That's the point.


-Can I assume that your contention that asking a being to co-intercede with you who doesn't have a pulse is 'worship?'-

That's not the claim.
Further, why try to break these things up? You know as well as I do that the list is the general Roman practice, not just one or two. Either defend your position or don't.

Peace,
Rhology

Anonymous said...

Rhology,

What position am I to defend specifically? That the use of the word proskuneō in whatever verses you deem as having a "religious context" does *not* constitute worship only due to God (meaning the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit)? Is that how you want to define the "Roman" position for me?

And as far as using your argument against the Jehovah's Witnesses goes... I would prefer not to use any argument that I don't see as reasonable.

I find your "either defend your position or don't" bit to be rather odd (funny?), in a way... since you have now told me what my position is... and how it is not biblical (because of your definition of 'religious context') maybe you should just tell me what to conclude as well? It seems that's the only option that I have left since you have done all of the defining for me...

Blessings,
BC

Anonymous said...

Rhology,

Another question... is it going beyond Scripture to assert that one should render proskuneō to the Holy Spirit? If so... should we refrain from doing so (assuming, of course, that we do)?

Blessings,
BC

Rhology said...

Scr teaches that the Holy Spirit is God, so...

Anonymous said...

Rhology,

You didn't really answer my question in the context of your argument though, did you? I might have missed something, I guess...

Your post entitled, "How Roman Dogma Affects a Defense of the Deity of Christ," starts out by saying, "One major thrust of any biblical defense of the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ is to point out the places in the New Testament in which He explicitly receives worship." The word proskuneo and how it's used of Christ in the passages you choose seems to be a pretty important point for you in your defense in the Deity of Christ being 'proved' from the Bible, etc.

Can you show this to be the case for the Holy Spirit (re: proskuneo)? If not... is the deity of the Holy Spirit lacking in it's defense from the Bible without the aforementioned "major thrust?"

Another thing... After having (seemingly) attributed some manner of "not seeing" things clearly to the folks at Catholic Answers in their comments on the JWs and the subject of their interpretation/translation of proskuneō in the NWT, you conclude your post on the over at Beggars All by saying, "This is not to say that the RC has no useful or valid arguments against the Watchtower. I'm just pointing out that RC dogma and apologetic practice prevents them from using this argument."I don't see your argument as all that reasonable to begin with... so I am not sure why any "Roman" apologist would WANT to use it against the JWs (or anyone else for that matter). The CA folks were merely pointing out what seemed to be an inconsistency in how the JWs have interpreted/translated the concept behind proskuneō into English over the course of the editions of the NWT... so far as I can tell.

Blessings,
BC

Jamie Donald said...

First, I would like to apologize for misspelling David Waltz' name in my previous comment. I'd love to say it was just a typo, but I did it a few times. My apologies!

Rhology,

Greetings. I fear that the point you think I'm making is not the same point I wish to convey. I shall endeavor to be as clear as I possibly can.

I did not respond to your seven questions, or what I called a "laundry list," because I am not engaging in this discussion in order to defend the Catholic practice of prayers to the saints. It seemed to me that your topic is one specific argument to utilize when witnessing to JWs, and defending the Catholic position on the saints is decidedly off topic. I am paying attention to your requests to stay on topic and am doing my best to comply with that.

You did not correct my previous paraphrase of your argument. Since it was not corrected, I assumed that I was stating your position accurately. However, perhaps I missed a nuance which you thought I had adequately understood. In order to ensure that I am reading you correctly, let me again outline what I believe your argument to be.

A. The Scripture uses the word "proskuneo" in many places. This word may be properly translated into modern English as "worship" or into some form of respect which falls short of worship.

B. You would like to focus on the times when "proskuneo" is properly translated into "worship." While acknowledging the Scripture has many verses which utilize the "respectful" form of proskuneo, these verses have little to no bearing on this specific argument and you are not going to discuss them due to their irrelevance to the issue at hand.

C. When "proskuneo" is translated as "worship" in the Scriptures, the context by which to judge it is a religious context.

D. Therefore, showing a JW that proskuneo is rendered to Jesus in a religious context backs the JW into a figurative corner where he must admit that the correct translation is "worship" (due to God alone), proving the divinity of Christ.

E. However, because the Catholic claims that "respectful" proskuneo can be rendered to a creature (a created being), and because the Catholic does this in a "religious context," the Catholic loses the ability to use point D against a JW. In effect, the Catholic says that religious context (alone) does not determine whether or not proskuneo is worship or respect. This gives the JW an escape clause so to speak.

If this is not an accurate outline of your argument, please correct it so that I have the opportunity to understand you fully.

In your original article at Beggars All, you brought up 1 Chron 29:20 as a potential Catholic argument against your position. You then stated why you felt it was an ineffectual verse to use against you. Since you brought it up, I do not understand how you can claim that my interaction with you on this specific verse, and why I feel your dismissal of it is incorrect, would be classified as "straying from [your] specific point." Your original post included John 9:35-38 as being favorable to your argument. If I were to enter into an analysis on these verses, would that be "straying" as well?

In my most recent interaction with your argument, I kept my thoughts on 1 Chron 29:20 focused on trying to determine "religious context." Since religious context seems to be integral to your argument, trying to determine what is and what is not religious context should be considered on topic.

So here is what I'm left with.

Rhology, 5 May 2009: Another prooftext Roman apologists use is 1 Chronicles 29:20 .... Protestants respond in numerous ways, one of which is to remind the Romanist that these occurrences are not in a religious context. To greet someone or to show honor to the king is clearly not worship.Ok, it's not religious context. We're only seeing honor to the king.

Rhology, 8 May 2009: -1 Chron 29- Yes, God is being worshiped.
No, the king is not. How do I know? Perhaps b/c the Israelites were monotheists. Just a guess.
Um, OK. So it is religious context and this proskuneo is worship.

Since Scripture does not record two separate acts of proskuneo, one respectful and outside of religious context, the other worshipful and inside of religious context; you are left with three choices concerning this single act of proskuneo; 1) the Israelites sinned and worshipped the King (but you claim they didn't do this), 2) the israelites were not worshipping God (but you claim they were), or 3) the religious context test cannot be assumed to be valid in and of itself. That is to say, the religious context test has ambiguities and requires something additional in order to determine when proskuneo is worship and when it is respect or honor.

Thus, I continue to disagree with your argument points C, D and E as outlined above. The ambiguity precludes "C." With "C" precluded, "D" is no longer a definite. I will agree with you that "E" is true - Catholics cannot use your religious context test to convice a JW that proskuneo, as worship is rendered to Jesus. However, it's really a moot point. The ambiguity in your own argument prevents you from applying the same test. So neither of us can apply the religious context test as you've stated it.

In His Name,
Jamie

Rhology said...

BC,

-is the deity of the Holy Spirit lacking in it's defense from the Bible without the aforementioned "major thrust?"
-

I don't think anyone would argue that the biblical case for the deity of the HS is as attested in terms of quantity as the case for the deity of Christ.
Also, the HS isn't really seen in the Bible. He is a very behind-the-scenes agent and thus isn't seen receiving worship like the Father and Son are seen.



Jamie,

I'll give you this - you've made me think. I had to switch off Catholic Answers Live yesterday, the better to think thru your comment here.

The laundry list was not brought up in the original post. I reiterated it in response to off-topic Romanist challenges about whether it's OK to talk to dead people. So I'm happy to leave it aside here.

A - yes.
B - specifically, I'd like to focus on those 4 psgs I cited. Otherwise, yes.
C - to be clear, I'd say "When 'proskuneo' is translated as 'worship' in the Scriptures, the context by which to judge whether that is a correct translation is a religious context." That's a point of clarification, b/c I wasn't sure you and I were on the same page here.
D - yes.
E - well, b/c the Romanist claims that it's OK to proksuneo non-divine beings in a religious context. That's important b/c God has set aside such actions for Himself in the Scr. And it helps us understand what is happening in the Revelation psgs I cited. What is happening there? Who is being worshiped? Why does the angel tell John not to do that to him but instead to worship God?

Look, you make a decent point about the ambiguities, I'll give you that. In addition, ISTM that this might even be a strike against the usage of the John 9 psg against the JW position. However, I'd argue that the ambiguities are NOT present in the context of Roman practices (not intent, remember, though given the way that the majority of worldwide Romanists act towards Mary and the cult of the saints, hiding behind intent is highly questionable) towards the dead.


Peace,
Rhology

Anonymous said...

Rhology,

So your answer to my question (re: proskuneō, the Holy Spirit, and defense of deity) is yes. The defense of deity in this case is, indeed, lacking this "major thrust." Thanks.

You would say that it is *not* "ok" to "talk to dead people," correct?

Would the Apostles have been guilty of this horrid "Roman" sin had they prayed to Jesus between his crucifixion and His resurrection?

I mean, unless you are a Nestorian, you would have to say yes, would you not?

I realize that it's hypothetical, and, of course, I don't think the Bible's condemnation of "conjuring" the dead much hurts the CathOdox case/practice here, but... I had to ask.

Blessings,
BC

Jamie Donald said...

Rhology,

Thank you for the compliment.

I believe that we are on the same page when it comes to "C." And I concede that Catholics render proskuneo in a "religious context." I think I can make this concession while maintaining my objection to the current subjectivity of what constitutes "religious context." As you recall, I did grant that "E" is true. I just don't find it to be particularly significant.

As far as "B" goes, I find myself wondering about the desire to limit the discussion to those four specific Scripture passages. I believe that being able to compare and contrast other similar uses of proskuneo can shed light on the four passages you have selected. Obviously, a slave giving hommage to his master would be outside of your desired context and deserving of no more than a cursory response. And I would hope that we're all bright enough to understand the thrust you are making and try to interact with that point (in this case the religious context). But I'm also seasoned enough to know that won't always happen.

I would note that it is the analysis of a similar usage which has you rethinking whether or not John 9 would be useful when speaking to a JW. So while I understand your desire to limit discussion to these four passages, I would have some reservations doing so.

With that said, I think we've both gone about as far as we can go in discussing this "very limited" point. I hope that I have stayed on topic well enough, and will reiterate that any excursions from the topic on my part were either unintentional, or poor explanation of my thoughts. I believe that any work done to demonstrate the divinity of Jesus Christ is a profitable work and I commend you for undertaking it. I also thank you for helping me to think through a few things myself.

In His Name,
Jamie

Rhology said...

BC,

The talking to dead ppl isn't analogous to praying to Jesus. Jesus is God, after all. Yes, He's man, and He's also God.

Let me illustrate.
You would say that it is *not* "ok" to "worship people," correct?

Would the Apostles have been guilty of this horrid sin had they worshiped Jesus between his birth and His resurrection?

I mean, unless you are a Nestorian, you would have to say yes, would you not?



Jamie,

Fair enough. It's very possible you've exposed my point to a significant dilution. I'll have to noodle it further, but whether it's wrong is far from obvious to me at this time. And I appreciate the discussion as well!


Peace,
Rhology

Anonymous said...

Rhology,

I see what you're saying, thanks.

I don't think it's wrong to talk to dead people. I still don't think asking the saints in heaven for intercession is tantamount to "conjuring" the dead.

As far as "prayer" and "worship" goes... I guess these things are matters of degree... I don't think "prayer" *has* to be an act of worship nor do I think that you've shown that "proskuneō" is due only to God in a way that affects the "Roman" position, as it is you and others like you who are defining what counts and what doesn't count as "religious context." The Bible doesn't define for us what "religious context" is... so I am not sure why I should take your word for it... it honestly doesn't make sense to me.

If I get to define all of the terms my way... I can probably win any argument I want to.

Blessings,
BC

Rhology said...

BC,

I know that he's none too popular around here, but I'd recommend you take a listen to James White's debate with Patrick Madrid about icons. That will help clarify what I mean.

Peace,
Rhology

Anonymous said...

Rhology,

Sorry for posting again so quickly... I just reread my post and decided that I wasn't as clear as I wanted to be (re: prayer and worship being matters of degree).

What I mean to say is this... I don't think it's wrong to "pray" to dead people. I don't think you should "pray" (or "talk to") dead people in the same way that you talk to God... these things simply aren't the same thing to me...

I would say the same for "worship" if by worship you have the word "proskuneō" in mind. I simply think it's a matter of degree...

You seem to think it's wrong to speak to any "dead people," not I. You are also the one who thinks it sinful to express "proskuneō" to any being that is not God (in what you get to define as a "religious context").... and that's where we seem to be getting caught up.

At any rate... I wanted to say that.

Blessings,
BC

Mike Burgess said...

Rhology said, "I don't think anyone would argue that the biblical case for the deity of the HS is as attested in terms of quantity as the case for the deity of Christ.
Also, the HS isn't really seen in the Bible. He is a very behind-the-scenes agent and thus isn't seen receiving worship like the Father and Son are seen."

But if you follow the Regulative Principle of Worship (as I believe you do, correct me if I'm wrong), then why do you worship the Holy Spirit?

Rhology said...

Mike,

I don't, actually. I'm a Calvinist Southern Baptist.

But I worship the HS b/c He's God.

Mike Burgess said...

So, then, He is fully attested in Scripture as one of the Persons of the Holy Trinity? (I've met Baptists who say it's not clear, just so you know.)

And if you then adhere to the normative principle of worship, how do you reconcile that with your Calvinism?

Chris said...

David,

Are you the commenter who just recently got banned at Triablogue and all his comments deleted?

Rhology said...

Mike,

I'd say yes, He is sufficiently attested in Scr as a mbr of the Trinity. Just not as fully as either Father or Son.

I'm new to "full" Calvinism, actually, so I don't know if I can give a strong answer to your other question. The case for the regulative principle, as I understand it, has never seemed particularly strong, actually. You might say that the Calvinist parts of my theology are more soteriological than anything else; I don't see some great need to take everything any one person said (unless He be Christ) as my own, absent a good argument.
Does that make sense?

Peace,
Rhology

David Waltz said...

Hi Chris,

A different David was banned—Steve and his ‘gang’ have not banned the Beachbum…


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Hi Rhology,

Great discussion going on here—I sincerely appreciate the level of charity that has been taking place. I have a new thread to put up on Calvin and Michael the archangel (plus the “Angel of Jehovah”), but am going to wait until Monday to post it due to the continued interest in this thread.

A bit earlier you wrote:

>> I know that he's none too popular around here, but I'd recommend you take a listen to James White's debate with Patrick Madrid about icons.>>

Have you read THIS THREAD ???


Grace and peace,

David

Rhology said...

And thank you for hosting.
No, I hadn't seen that thread. It's quite fair of you.
And I think my interest in this thread might be waning. ;-)

Mike Burgess said...

Yes, it makes sense. I would recommend reading Pastor Steve Schlissel's series on the regulative principle, I imagine you would find it very interesting. Also, G.I. Williamson from the staunch RPW side is worth a read.
The issue of RPW vs. DPW is crucial, for Protestants and Catholics.
As a friend once said, Catholics have an RPW, too. It's just that it takes into account all of God's word, not just the part he inscripturated.

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