Friday, September 08, 2006

WORSHIP GOD, AND GOD ALONE

"Worship God" - Rev. 22:9; Heb. 1:6
Do Catholics worship only God or do they also worship Mary, the mother of Jesus? During the flak over the singer Madonna's use of Christian symbols in her concerts, a Roman Catholic cardinal whose name is Miloslav Vlk said the following:
"In a few years, nobody will know who the singer Madonna is, but the true Madonna will still be worshiped."
The cardinal's statement caught me a little off guard because I didn't know that Catholics had gone so far as to say that they worship Mary. I thought that they certainly held her up in an elevated position by praying to her and giving devotion to her through their teaching of the immaculate conception (which says that Mary, while still being fully human, was miraculously spared from receiving original sin when conceived by her parents), but this admission by a Catholic cardinal, that Mary is deity, unveils the steadily advancing position being given to Mary by many Catholics. In my discussions with Catholics, the line has been that Mary is Jesus' mother and she still has a special place with Him and, hey, who better than Mary to come before God on your behalf? But this is different.

The Catholic cardinal from Prague said that Mary will be worshiped. And the truth is that Catholics worship Mary now. This teaching and this practice is divisive for those who believe in God. The Bible says to "worship God." I don't mean any disrespect to Mary because her place in God's plan is a place of honor (Lk. 1:28). Mary is not God and people who call themselves christian ought to know better.

10 comments:

  1. Fret not. Catholics still hold that latria is given to the Triune God alone; Catholics still honor Mary because Christ still honors Mary; Catholics still ask Mary to pray for them just as they ask others (both on Earth and in Heaven) to pray for them.

    I don't know in what language Cardinal Vlk made his comments. Perhaps Czech? Let's give him the benefit of the doubt that we have a bad English translation before pressing forward with a rash judgment.

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  2. Hi Pazdziernik,
    OK, could you check on that for me. You could be right that the translation is not worship, but something more akin to honor or revere. About the praying though, I get the part of having others pray for you, but where is it again that we have the dead praying for us? Because the best I can tell is that only Christ, our High Priest, has this privilege (1 Timothy 2:4,5).
    Have a nice day.
    Dan

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  3. The Bible directs us to pray with those who are in heaven:

    "Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, hearkening to the voice of his word! Bless the Lord, all his hosts, his ministers that do his will!" (Psalm 103:20-21)

    "Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens, praise him in the heights! Praise him, all his angels, praise him, all his host!" (Psalm 148:1-2)

    In addition to praying with angels heaven, Revelation 5:8 presents humans in Heaven, not just angels, offering the prayers of those on earth to God:

    "... the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints; .. and they sang a new song ..."

    The "prayers of the saints" are those who are still on earth. I hope this Biblical evidence helps.

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  4. Dear Padziernik,

    The issue was whether we are to pray to Mary, other saints, or to angels.

    Are Psalm passages that call for angelic beings to praise and give thanks to God Biblical support for us to pray to them? I don't see it.

    Is the Revelation 5 passage, which shows the symbolic 24 elders holding the prayers of the saints, the kind of Biblical proof that says we ought to pray to Mary, to other dead saints, or to the 24 elders? I don't see it.

    It does not follow that because angelic beings are servants of God on our behalf that we ought to therefore appeal to them for anything.

    The clearest teaching that we have in Scripture on this matter is in the 1 Timothy 2 passage which I already cited which says that "there is ONE mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus."

    The weight of Biblical evidence is therefore against praying to Mary or anyone, but God through Jesus.

    Thank you.
    Dan

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  5. 1. Revelation 5 is pretty clear that those in heaven offer prayers to God on our behalf. They are OUR prayers, stemming from us. How did they get them? Well, we asked those in heaven to interceed to God on our behalf. Communion among Christians does not end with earthly death. God willed that the Christian community should be built up in love. Where in Scripture do you think that this "communion" with other Christians ends at death?

    2. Jesus Christ, the God-man, is indeed the one mediator between God and man. However, "mediator" can be used in several senses. St. Paul in 1 Timothy uses this in the sense that Christ's sacrifice alone redeemed the world and is unique. Buddah, Mohammed nor anyone else can mediate in this sense.

    "Mediator" can also be used in other senses apart from Jesus' unique sense. Moses was certainly a mediator between God and man. The Prophets were also mediators. You and I are also mediators —in the sense that is not unique to Christ— when we do good deeds for others and present "the face of Christ" to others in our lives and through our actions.

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  6. Dear Padziernik,
    You asked "how did they get our prayers" and you asnwered that we asked them to intercede . . . .
    That last part is the part that you don't have Biblical evidence for. The Bible says we are to ask God, "Our Father" through Jesus Christ, the ONLY mediator between God and man. When you say that the 24 got the prayers because "we asked them", you are guessing. But it is much more accurate to say that those prayers went up to Jesus from the living saints.

    And your explanation on the mediator again misses the point. We aren't talking about whether Buddha or Mohammed can mediate for us. The question is whether we should pray to Mary, other dead saints, or anyone else to mediate for us?

    And yes Moses was a mediator, but he is not anymore. Jesus has taken his place as He has taken the place of every other mediator in heaven.

    The problem I have is not whether we can pray for one another, but whether we should be directing our prayer to Mary. I see nothing in the Bible that says we are to direct our prayers to Mary or Paul or any other dead saint.

    Thank you.
    Discipler

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  7. "But it is much more accurate to say that those prayers went up to Jesus from the living saints."

    Your comment strengthens the position that the saints in heaven are aware of our prayers and interceed on our behalf even when we pray directly to any one of the persons of the Trinity!

    I'm not sure why the idea of having others pray for us is such a problem. Jesus commands us to pray for one another ("Pray for those who persecute you" (Matthew 5:44)). Would you refuse a request to someone who asked you for your prayers? Would you say "I'm not going to pray for you. Pray to God alone."?

    "The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects. Elijah was a man of like nature with ourselves and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth its fruit" (James 5:16–18).

    When I pray, say to St. Jospeh Moscati, I am not putting him IN PLACE OF God. Rather, I ask him to pray to God for my needs as well. In heaven he is more righteous and holy than anyone on earth I could also ask for prayers. He does not have the distractions that come from this life, so I suppose his pray might be more "pure" and effective on my behalf. I have greater confidence in his prayers than say, my neighbor who rarely prays at length.

    Where is Scripture does Jesus limit our prayers to those on earth?

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  8. Dear P,

    Let me deal first with the question you ask at the end: "where in Scripture does Jesus limit our prayers to those on earth?" You concede the point being made because you have to rely on the silence of Scripture: because it doesn't say I can't, then I can. Do you really think God's silence means authorization? I hope not because that is called adding to Scripture. If silence proved your point, then you could justify having dead saints pray for you.

    Now what we can say, without adding to the Word of God, is that we on earth can and should pray for one another. We can both agree on this because the Scripture clearly says so. But you can find no Scripture to support [1] Praying to them, and; [2] They hear your prayer and bring them to God.

    Because I don't find evidence for praying TO dead saints, does not mean, as I have said twice, that we should not have christians pray for us. The passages from Matthew 5 and James 5, which you reference, are not pertinent to this discussion since I have already agreed on this point. But there is a distinction which I see you keep making that we don't pray TO these same people: communicating with them about our needs is not prayer. Prayer is communication to God, not TO the dead or the living saints. We find no support for praying TO Mary and asking her to pray for us. If Mary or the 24 elders are are aware of our prayers offered to God, it doesn't follow that we pray to them. I did not strengthen your argument. No, Padziernik, the main point continues to elude you.

    We have not been talking about what angels or Mary might or might not know, but we are discussing who we are to pray to. The Bible is clear enough that we don't need to debate it.

    If you pray to St. Joseph Mascoti, what evidence do you have that he hears you? Only God can knows if this person is in heaven or hell. For all we know, your prayers are vanishing in thin air. This may sound harsh, but why should you offer prayers to someone you cannot say with certainty that he hears you when you could pray straight to God through Jesus.

    Who is the best person to pray on your behalf? St. Joe or Paul don't have the kind of pull with the Father that Jesus Christ does.

    You are I could be unified if we both spoke only what is supported in Scripture. I don't like having these differences. I wish you could concede at least this point.

    Sincerely,
    Discipler

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  9. If you pray to St. Joseph Mascoti, what evidence do you have that he hears you? Only God can knows if this person is in heaven or hell. For all we know, your prayers are vanishing in thin air. This may sound harsh, but why should you offer prayers to someone you cannot say with certainty that he hears you when you could pray straight to God through Jesus.

    St. Joseph Moscati (1880-1927) was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1987. This was an infallable act by the Holy Father. We have more than a moral certainity that Joseph Moscati is in heaven. We have an absolute certainity. Documented and scientifically-tested miracles attributed to his intercession as part of the rigorous canonization proccess attest to this. Faith tells us we should not doubt in this regard.

    I offered Scriptural support that praying to saints in heaven is a good thing. However, I recognize that salvation does not hinge on praying to saints in heaven. Just like for those on earth we can ask others for prayers and help or not. Christian liberty allows us to choose this path: what is not forbidden is acceptable. I suppose that we understand Christian liberty very differently. "Adding to Scripture"—as you out it— in my estimation would be, well, adding prohibitions that are not found in Scripture. (I would like to see your thoughts on Christian Liberty in another post sometime. An idea for a topic?)

    As an example, Jesus said nothing about killing humans at the embryonic stage. Yet is this permitted according to Christian liberty? No. Because this would be murder which is prohibited by the fifth commandment.

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  10. Dear Padziernik,

    Sir, you did not offer any scriptural support for praying to or through the saints in heaven. The best you can offer are passages that say other people can pray for us; that we can ask other people to pray for us. I have no problem with this. But the clear instruction is that OUR prayers are not directed to these people. Our prayers are directed only to God through Christ. So the scriptural support you offer doesn't pass the test of scripturalness.

    Yes, maybe we should discuss how we determine what is scriptural. An addition to God's word is not only in adding prohibitions, but also in allowing what God has forbidden.

    It's bedtime, I think I will leave with this.

    I wish you well.
    Dan

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