Friday, July 29, 2011

Facebook Apologetics: Veneration vs. Worship, Pt. 4

Right after "Alexa" posted (see Part 3), "Terry" chimed in with questions related to the action of bowing down to a created thing that I addressed in Part 2. Here is my response to him. See also Part 1.

  • I think the point of bowing down needs to be discussed more as well. You gave only examples of the action being done which doesnt mean it was accepted or condoned. I can give examples of them having more than one wife in the bible because the bible records it. We have other examples of people bowing down and yet they are rebuked. Why is it they are rebuked when they are just trying to honor or bring reverance? Also I think the more revelant issue w catholicism is the doctrine of saved by faith and works. Can u expound nick on it true?

Terry, the difference is, these acts of bowing towards a creature or created thing are presented in the Bible as very natural actions and there is no hint of condemnation. Yet, if we take Joseph and Kenneth at their word, then every single one of the people mentioned in those passages should be charged with idolatry for the simple fact that they are bowing towards someone or something. The point was to show the extremity and absurdity of their position.

The INTENT for the posture makes all the difference. When the act of bowing was condemned, it was because the intent of the person was wrong, not because the simple act of bowing should be everywhere and always condemned as gross idolatry.

On a separate but related note, we need to be precise about the posture we are talking about here. If you are talking about a bend at the waist, Catholics don't do that in front of an image of a saint. If you are talking about the more extreme act of "bowing down with your face to the ground," where one is sitting on his heals with his head touching the floor, we don't do that either. All I've ever known or seen is a simple, kneeling posture, perhaps with hands folded, which is the basic posture of prayer.

Yet, I think the passages I have cited still apply. Assuming a posture of prayer before a created thing -- whether that posture be kneeling, or bowing or prostrating or whatever -- need not necessarily be equated with idol worship. The key is the intent, and I already explained in my response to Alexa what the Catholic intention is.

Pax Christi,

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