Last modified on January 23, 2020, at 15:49


Worship is essentially, primarily, the appropriate primacy of attention properly given to whatever is in reality most fundamentally important, Existence, Truth, God; or a fundamental emphasis on, or orientation to, that which a person believes rightly or wrongly to be basically essential to his or her well-being, whatever is held to be of most vital importance above all other considerations in life. Worship involves willing or unwilling sacrifice of time, talent and treasure, variously rooted in fear, addiction, obsession, dedication of purpose, admiration, or love of whatever is the primary focus of attention, of worship, whether or not it is called worship.

Animals dedicate all their energies to survival and existence, their need for food, security, reproduction, and, in the higher forms of life, to satisfaction and pleasure and need for mutual collective group cohesion, even a rudimentary expression of appreciation for whatever or whomever provides these things. But as all-consuming as their passion for these things in life may be, they do not consciously worship with any discernable awareness of appreciation that which is greater than themselves, although in the case of livestock and pets they do respond with a form of affection toward those who directly care for them. Atheism sees human beings as animals.


The word "worship" comes from the Old English weorthscipe, which means the condition of being worthy of honor, respect, or dignity.[1] To worship in this older, larger sense is to ascribe honor, worth, or excellence to someone or something.[2]

Love is worship. To love is to worship, and whatever is loved most is worshiped above all else, and is that focus in one's life for which one will sacrifice all other considerations. This includes willingness to sacrifice religion, philosophy, ethics, ideals, principles, even one's own sworn oath of loyalty (allegiance), duty, to government, nation, people, family, friends, even one's own personal security or safety, for what one loves most.[3] Nothing is more important than what or who one loves, including one's own self.[4]

Worship in its broadest meaning is to ascribe honor, worth, excellence or authority to a person, whether a hero, sage, a magistrate, a ruler, saint, or God, as being worthy of honor, respect, or dignity, even veneration. In the Latin language the varying degrees of intensity of worshipful respect are expressed as the terms dulia, hyperdulia, and latria, this last, latria, being the unconditional adoration due to God alone. Saint Paul in his Epistle to the Romans expressed it this way:

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those that resist will incur judgment.... Pay all of them their dues, taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.
—Romans 13:1-2, 7 (RSVCE)
Saint Peter wrote:
Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to praise those who do right. For it is God's will that by doing right you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. Live as free men, yet without using your freedom as a pretext for evil; but live as servants of God. Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
—1 Peter 2:13-17 (RSVCE).
God commanded, "Honor your father and your mother" [5]. Paul also wrote,
Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ...let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth”. Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Slaves, be obedient to those who are your earthly masters, with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as to Christ; not in the way of eye-service, as men-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that whatever good any one does he will receive the same again from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free. Masters, do the same to them, and forbear threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.[6].
In human society, this is the proper worship of honor and respect according to human dignity (dulia), for God made man, male and female, in the image of God [7].

Worship in religion

The search for the true religion is the search for the kind of worship most pleasing to God, which most profoundly embodies the fullest expression of acknowledgement of the Truth of existence.

In religion worship is the act of performing reverent activities of adoration (Latin, latria) dedicated to God (or other deities, depending on the religion), most often involving formal or informal forms of liturgy, including what are regarded by various religions as the most appropriate bodily positions for reverent worship, movements, gestures, facial expressions, sounds, praise, prayer, devotions, reading from the scriptures, liturgy, and hymns.

According to the Bible, the oldest expression of worship was the reverence toward God by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden before the Fall of man. Knowledge of God was faithfully passed down the generations through the line of Seth to the Great Flood. After the time of Noah the forms of pagan worship developed as deviations from the truth after the confusion of languages at the Tower of Babel and the consequent the spread of mankind.[8]

The forms of worship expressed by Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the Twelve Patriarchs, are set forth in the Book of Genesis. The worship of Judaism is found in the Old Testament with the revelation to Moses in the Torah and the historical books and biblical wisdom literature and the words of the Prophets of Israel.

The teaching and ministry of Jesus Christ opened the deeper meaning of worship of God in the first century of the Christian Era (CE). Evidence of early Christian worship practices and charitable works of mercy in the various assemblies of the church are seen in the books of the New Testament, and the writings of the Apostolic Fathers and the Ante-Nicene Fathers.

Orthodox worship is expressed in the Orthodox Mysteries, Catholic worship in the Eucharist, the Mass. Their liturgical worship of God is never called a church service. A church service is often referred to as a worship service, or just a service. Worship can be done in a basilica, cathedral or shrine, in a group setting such as a church service in a church building or outdoor setting, in a small group setting such as a family, or individually.

"Prayer without ceasing" is the worship of continuous love of God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength (latreia) in seeking to do always what is pleasing to God, and love of your fellow human beings as much as you love yourself including those in authority (dulia).[9] The worship of God includes the necessity of works of mercy toward other persons in need (dulia), thus "keeping faith" with the Lord.[10]

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. [11]

Degrees of Worship: Dulia, Hyperdulia, and Latreia

The word "worship" has undergone a change in meaning in English. This is due primarily to the struggle of the Protestant Reformation in its influential polemic against the doctrines of the Catholic Church, representing an example of what linguists call semantic shift and a consequent narrowing of the modern semantic field of related terms in the 20th and 21st centuries.[12] This is misleading. In the Latin language the varying degrees of intensity of worshipful respect are expressed by the terms, dulia, hyperdulia, and latria, this last, latria, being the unconditional adoration due to God alone.

For many centuries, the term worship simply meant showing respect or honor (Latin, dulia), and an example of this usage survives in contemporary English. British subjects refer to their magistrates as "Your Worship," although Americans would say "Your Honor." This does not mean that British subjects worship their magistrates as gods (in fact, they may even despise a particular magistrate they are addressing), or that Americans give to their magistrates and Supreme Court justices honor due only to God. It means they are giving them the venerable dignity, honor and respect appropriate to their office (dulia "veneration"), not the honor appropriate to God (latreia, also spelled latria, meaning "adoration").

In the traditional Anglican Solemnization of Matrimony ceremony, found in the Book of Common Prayer, when the groom placed the ring on the bride's finger, he said to her: "With this ring I thee wed, with my body I thee worship, and with all my worldly goods I thee endow" (boldface emphasis added). Did he consider his wife a goddess? Was he committing idolatry? No, for he was using the word "worship" in its original sense of "honor" (dulia). This is the meaning of the words in the Book of Common Prayer.

The same goes for a quote from an old (obscure) official Catholic prayerbook entitled All for Jesus!:

"Holiest Virgin, with all my heart I worship thee above all the angels and saints in paradise... I consecrate my soul and all its powers...I worship thee the spouse of the Holy Ghost..." (boldface emphasis added) [13]

This quote does not prove that Catholics offer Mary the divine worship of latreia. Note that the prayer says "I worship (honor) thee above all the angels and saints in paradise" (hyperdulia), not "I worship thee above God" or "equal to God", or "as my God" (latria). Catholics and Orthodox believe it is entirely appropriate that Mary, the mother of Jesus Our Lord and God, should receive a higher honor (hyperdulia) than any other mere creature, such as angels and saints, as God Himself honored her by his messenger Gabriel as "blessed among all women", but never equal to or greater than the supreme honor of unbounded adoration given to the Creator of all (latria), to Jesus who is not a creature but God. As the Catholic Answers tract "Saint Worship?" explains: Catholics understand according to the doctrine they have been taught that all the honor given to Mary (hyperdulia) and the saints (dulia) redounds to the greater honor and praise (latria) of their Creator and Savior, Jesus Christ! "And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified." [14] Those who have actually read in full the more complete explanation of this Roman Catholic doctrine in the book by St. Alphonsus Ligouri, The Glories of Mary, 1852 (available in a variety of formats online), have been surprised at how much it has been quoted out of context, maligned and misrepresented.[15]

To say all in a few words: Almighty God, in order to glorify the mother of the Redeemer, has ordained that her great charity should intercede for all those for whom her divine Son offered and paid the superabundant ransom of his precious blood, in which alone is our salvation, life and resurrection. (italic emphases by the author; boldface emphasis added)
from To the Reader, The Glories of Mary.[16]

Theotokos: Mariolatry

The term Mariolatry is from the Greek Μαρία Maria, "Mary", and λάτρία latria, "worship". Catholicism and Orthodoxy both condemn saint-worship and Mariolatry.[17] They claim that Mary is reverenced by them with hyperdulia as the Theotokos, the chosen God-bearer, not with latria as God.

Many Protestants have been taught that Orthodox and Catholic Christians worship Mary as God or Goddess (latria) apart from or greater than Jesus Christ and above God the Father, and worship (latria) all the other saints as a pantheon of gods, and that they commit idolatry in reverently showing them respect by bowing to them, to their images and pictures and icons, and praying to them for their intercession. The Protestant teaching that this is all pagan idolatry is based on a polemical misrepresentation of the meaning of the word "worship", which has been severely restricted and redefined by Protestant teachers and apologists since the Reformation as being strictly limited in meaning to "adoration" only, as has the word "prayer", which broadly meant simply "petition", but has become restricted by them to connoting solely the worship of God or a god, and the word "intercession" also being strictly limited and restricted by them to mean only "mediation".[18] [19] This semantical shift in meaning has been adduced as proof of the Great Apostasy of Catholicism and Orthodoxy.

Sola scriptura: Bibliolatry, Bible worship

Similar to the charge of Mariolatry, "Mary worship", is the charge of Bibliolatry, "Bible worship", ignorantly leveled against Protestants, in particular Fundamentalists, for whom the Bible itself, infallible, inerrant, and divinely inspired, is the very living Word of God, Spirit-breathed to mankind, in which is discerned and communicated the very Mind of God to the believer who reads its pages.[20]

The term bibliolatry is from the Greek βιβλίον biblion, "a book", and λάτρία latreia, "worship".

Bible believers assert that they do not worship the Bible, but the God of the Bible, who has disclosed in its pages his divine nature, and will, and love for every human soul. The Bible itself is supremely reverenced (hyperdulia) with genuine honor and respect by them as the highest revelation of God to man after the ascension of Jesus to heaven and the death of the last of the Apostles of the Lord, because they have been taught to believe that it alone has all of the supernatural authority of the public divine revelation of God, and contains all that is necessary for the man of God:

All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.[21]
They believe that once the Bible was complete, from Genesis to Revelation, and the Bible was available to be placed in the hands of common Christians to finally read for themselves personally what it says, and be guided by its divine and holy counsel, the institutional hierarchical Church was no longer necessary to pastorally guide the children and disciples of God with any authority outside of the Bible alone.

After rejecting the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, those Protestant leaders who were discerned by their followers and disciples as capable of leading the individual communities of devout and like-minded believers—the pastors and leading counsellors, the collective chief body of the elders of the congregations, assumed to be guided by the Holy Spirit—because of their manifest intelligence, prudential wisdom, and knowledge of the Bible, used as their principal guidance the Five Solas, especially the principle of sola scriptura, the Bible alone, to guide them in guiding souls to salvation by faith alone in the one true God and in Jesus Christ alone as their only personal Lord and Savior, not Mary, not the saints, not the angels. For these the Bible itself is the Word of God and worthy of reverence second only to God Himself because it alone is inspired, and in its pages God speaks directly to man.

In accordance with the technical meaning of the Latin terms of dulia, hyperdulia, and latria, the Pastors and Elders of their churches are regarded as worthy of dulia[22], the Bible alone of all books and all things on earth is regarded as worthy of hyperdulia, and the "Lord of the spirits of all mankind" and "King of the Day of Judgment", Almighty God Himself, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is regarded as alone worthy of latraea, the divine worship of adoration due to God alone and no other in heaven or on earth. Those who charge true Bible believers with "bibliolatry" and with exalting the Bible alone as God above any Church are in error. They do not worship the Bible as God, but the God of the Bible.

All true Christians love the Bible, and deeply reverence it as the divinely inspired Word of God, whether Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran, Baptist, Protestant Evangelical, Fundamentalist, Independent, non-denominational, or individual believer without any particular creed or denominational orientation who believes in God and reads the Bible. Non-Catholic and non-Orthodox Protestant Christians honor and reverence the Bible as the sole rule of faith and practice for the Church as the local Body of Christ, and assert that they worship God alone, by faith alone, through the Spirit alone, according to the Bible alone. See Sola spiritu.

Hero worship

Hero worship commonly refers to disproportionate or excessive admiration for anyone who is regarded as a hero; for example, first responders, law enforcement, military, and sports figures, people who have unexpectedly manifested unusual courage, anyone culturally influential or famous for almost any reason in the public media, any individual who appears to the admirer to embody fascinating, extraordinary, and admirable qualities. The hero worshipper may adopt methods of identifying with the chosen hero, including imitation of clothing, hairstyles, and manners of speech and behavior. Americans have been accused of idealizing "frontier" violence, "larger-than-life" colorful outlaws who defy conventional standards of public morality, who "bend the rules", and of admiring shrewdly clever, intelligent criminal behavior in film and literature. Extremes of imitative hero worship can become obsessions, leading to vigilantism, gratuitous violence, and stalking of famous persons.

The term may refer to the Hero cult in ancient Greece which admired individuals who did extraordinary feats, good, bad, or unexpected, astonishing, and out-of-the-ordinary. Apotheosis is the raising of a person to the level of a deity, deification. The cult of personality almost always involves unrestrained emotional adulation of a public figure, often a preacher or evangelist, a pop culture media star, or a dynamically charismatic political figure, and is always a psychologically potent political weapon used mainly in dictatorships.

Great historical figures

Iconic representatives or exemplars of art, architecture, music, history, literature, medicine, science, philosophy, government and religion are held in awe and great respect, even reverence (dulia), for their achievements, and their contributions to human knowledge and civilization. Many of them because of the phenomenon of hero worship have been raised to the level of the great figures of myth and legend and were eventually praised as gods and goddesses, because of their powerful stature among the ranks of powerful men and women.

Joseph Campbell [23] and Sir James George Frazer [24] have written influential works dealing with the genre of folklore, comparative mythology and comparative religion, in which they established as a reasonable hypothesis that behind every long-established myth and legend, from out of the depths of antiquity, is most probably some dimly discerned basis in actual historical reality.

Among these are the founders and heads of races, peoples, cultures, agriculture, civilizations, nations, ruling dynasties, religions, churches, sects, cults, temples, schools of mysteries, philosophies, engineering and design, mathematics, chemistry, anatomy, navigation, military strategy, geography and historiography.

The Old Testament deuterocanonical Book of Wisdom finds the beginning of idol worship in the seed of hero worship by the people toward the son of an ancient king and the king's grief over his son's death, in chapter 14 verses 12 through 30, inevitably ending finally in corrupt superstitious evil practices of adultery, infanticide, perjury and deceit as its fruit: [25]

12 For the devising of idols was the beginning of spiritual fornication, and the invention of them the corruption of life.
13 For neither were they from the beginning, neither shall they be for ever.
14 For by the vain glory of men they entered into the world, and therefore shall they come shortly to an end.
15 For a father afflicted with untimely mourning, when he hath made an image of his child soon taken away, now honoured him as a god, which was then a dead man, and delivered to those that were under him ceremonies and sacrifices.
16 Thus in process of time an ungodly custom grown strong was kept as a law, and graven images were worshipped by the commandments of kings.
17 Whom men could not honour in presence, because they dwelt far off, they took the counterfeit of his visage from far, and made an express image of a king whom they honoured, to the end that by this their forwardness they might flatter him that was absent, as if he were present.
18 Also the singular diligence of the artificer did help to set forward the ignorant to more superstition.
19 For he, peradventure, willing to please one in authority, forced all his skill to make the resemblance of the best fashion.
20 And so the multitude, allured by the grace of the work, took him now for a god, which a little before was but honoured as a man.
21 And this was an occasion to deceive the world: for men, serving either calamity or tyranny, did ascribe unto stones and stocks the incommunicable name.
22 Moreover, this was not enough for them, that they erred in the knowledge of God: but whereas they lived in the great war of ignorance, those so great plagues called they peace.
23 For whilst they slew their children in sacrifices, or used secret ceremonies, or made revellings of strange rites:
24 They kept neither lives nor marriages any longer undefiled: but either one slew another traitorously, or grieved him by adultery.
25 So that there reigned in all men without exception, blood, manslaughter, theft, and dissimulation, corruption, unfaithfulness, tumults, perjury,
26 Disquieting of good men, forgetfulness of good turns, defiling of souls, changing of kind, disorder in marriages, adultery, and shameless uncleanness.
27 For the worshipping of idols not to be named is the beginning, the cause, and the end, of all evil.
28 For either they are mad when they be merry, or prophesy lies, or live unjustly, or else lightly forswear themselves.
29 For insomuch as their trust is in idols which have no life; though they swear falsely, yet they look not to be hurt.
30 Howbeit, for both causes shall they be justly punished: both because they thought not well of God, giving heed unto idols, and also unjustly swore in deceit, despising holiness.
(Wisdom 14:12-30, King James Version, in the public domain)[26]

People who have been considered deities

Wikipedia has a list of people who have been considered deities. This list does not include any Popes, or the office of the papacy.

Does the Pope claim to be God on Earth?

In 2 Corinthians 5:20 Saint Paul claims that he and the apostles entrusted by God with "the ministry of reconciliation" are ambassadors standing in the place of Jesus Christ, as if God himself was speaking through them. See multiple versions of 2 Corinthians 5:20.

According to the tradition of apostolic succession, and according to the official doctrine of papal primacy, the Bishop of Rome, the Patriarch of the West, the Pope occupies the office of the Apostle Peter as chief ambassador of God, like Saint Paul, "in the place of Christ". This has been denounced by Protestants since Martin Luther as an outrageous blasphemy of the Antichrist of Satan in direct opposition to the clear teaching of the Bible.[27] [28]

Catholic apologists argue that the widespread belief that Popes claim to be God on Earth is based on a strategy of defamation using misrepresentation and quoting out of context, as part of an ongoing campaign of polemical arguments against the Catholic Church. A famous list of "proof texts" current since the late 19th and early 20 centuries has been reproduced in full and in part in print and online. The sources of the quotations have been carefully researched and debunked as either misquotes, distortions, or entirely fictitious fabrications from sources that never existed.[29] Catholic apologists claim that those who do not know the facts but believe the list to be true and promote it as being truthful are not necessarily liars but are involved in spreading a falsehood based on specious reasoning, cherry-picking and confirmation bias, and possibly invincible ignorance.[30]

The Saints of the Lord as admirable Heroes of the Faith

A kind of hero-worship of reverence and great respect (dulia) is accorded the great names of the Bible: [31] Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Deborah, Samson, Samuel, David, Solomon, Elijah, Elisha, Hezekiah, Josiah, Judith, Esther, Job, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Michael, Gabriel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Judas Maccabeus, John the Baptizer, Peter, Paul, James, and John. The Orthodox Church celebrates the names of Old Testament saints along with New Testament saints as persons worthy of great reverence and veneration (dulia) as the honored servants of God.[32] Mary the Theotokos is accorded the honor of hyperdulia above all other saints and angels. Jesus is worshiped with latria as God the Son of the Father, equal in dignity to Him and the Holy Spirit, as One God, the Blessed Trinity.

While the Old and New Testaments of the Bible also praise the faithful believers of the individual congregations of Israel and of the body of Christ as the saints of the Lord, the canonized saints, both men and women, especially the martyrs, are the heroes of the Christian faith, worthy of reverent respect and admiration (dulia). They stand as the "standard", the "canon" of the measure of the man of God,[33] who surround the faithful saints on earth as a "cloud of witnesses".[34] Those Christians past and present who have done and even now are doing splendidly admirable works of good[35], especially to the poor and sick, to orphans and widows, to the violently persecuted, those Christians who defend the right, who protect the defenseless, and support just legislation on behalf of human life and dignity and freedom of conscience and of worship, are worthy of admiration and sincere imitation, who cause many to give thanks and praise to the one true God (latria).

The Catholic and Orthodox "cult of the saints", properly understood, is promoted by both of them as a Christian form of hero-worship (dulia), setting before the eyes of the faithful edifying examples of God-given faith, hope, charity and virtue to be ardently admired and sincerely imitated (dulia), inciting them, the faithful, to lift their hearts and minds to God (latria) and to the practice of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.[36] Some of them have worked miracles, seen visions and dreamed dreams, and uttered true prophecies.[37] The faithful are encouraged by Catholic and Orthodox leaders to join in their prayers together with them, with the saints, to honor them as those whom God honors (dulia), to ask for their assistance by their prayers of intercession to God who alone (latria) is the source of all grace and salvation, and who, as his Friends whom he has appointed as his own authorized ambassadors and patrons and ministers of virtue,[38] [39] are spiritual shepherds of the Church and encouragers and protectors together with the pastors on earth, the shepherds of the whole congregation of the faithful.[40]

In the Bible, God Himself honors dulia those who honor Him latria[41] and exalts the humble. The LORD says through his prophet Samuel, "Those who honor me [latria] I will honor [dulia]."[42] Jesus says, "if any one serves me [latria], the Father will honor him (her) [dulia]." [43] For this reason, Catholic and Orthodox Christians believe that to honor those whom God has honored pleases and honors Him as part of His worship and glory, and to dishonor them sorrows, offends and dishonors Him as a form of blasphemy and sacrilege.

Bowing and kneeling: Worship?

According to the Bible, the act of bowing and kneeling in reverential respect is a way to show the worship of dulia in giving "honor to whom honor is due". Only the fallacy of analogy falsely equates all bowing and kneeling of dulia with the properly exclusive worship of latria due to God alone, and falsely condemns any and all bowing and kneeling to others as proof of committing the fatally demonic Satanic sin of idolatry. Saint Peter's command to τόν βασιλέα τιμάτε "Honor the emperor" (dulia) [44] is not the same as commanding τόν βασιλέα προσκυνούντας "Adore the emperor" (latria) [45] The Jewish and Christian scriptures demonstrate clearly that according to God the Holy Spirit, bowing and kneeling is not strictly limited in meaning to the unique worship of latria due to God alone, but is approved by the Lord as showing the appropriate worship of dulia, as seen in the following Bible passages (King James Version) in which "obeisance" means "fall down flat, prostrate, worship": [46]

Bowing and kneeling before sacred objects

Pagans bow and kneel before their own sacred representations and images of their gods and goddesses to offer them the worship of latria in exchange for their supernatural protection and help. Many of them have been taught that the very spirit being of the represented god or goddess comes to inhabit the representative image of itself, either permanently, from the moment it is completed and worshiped as the very image of that god or goddess, and continues to inhabit it as long as it exists intact, or only at those times when the god or goddess is being honored with worship, coming and going for worship and sacrifice. They believe that the idol itself is actually alive and is the living god or goddess it represents. Therefore, whatever is done to the idol is done to that god or goddess. Many of them have been worshiped by means of unnatural sexual perversions. Many of them have been worshiped with human sacrifices of flesh and of blood poured out on their altars.[47]

The Bible teaches that these gods are no gods. They cannot even help themselves. Judges 6:25-32; Psalms 115:3-8; 135:15-18; Baruch 6:4-73

For Christians there is only one God.[48]

Images of the saints

Christians who kneel and bow before representations of Mary and the saints, those persons whom God created for His glory [49] and glorified [50] maintain that these representations are no more than representations, worthy of respect for what and who they represent and symbolize, and dedicated to God.[51] They are called "sacramentals", blessed by prayer as helps to devotional spirituality toward the worship of God.[52]

According to what they have been taught, all honor and reverence shown to the representations and symbols of the saints of the Lord detracts in no way from the worship and honor of God who has honored them for their honor of Him [53], and is referred by the unseen intention of the heart to the person of the saint who honors God and is in heaven praying and worshiping with the adoration of latria before Him.

"Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh upon the heart"[54]

They say that they are not superstitiously worshiping the images themselves for their own sake as sacred objects (idols) to be stupidly and unthinkingly worshiped with the adoration of latria, icons and mosaics and frescoes and paintings and glass windows and statues and "holy cards". The crucifix was shown to the Galatians by Paul to stimulate their reverence for Christ.[55] And they have been taught to show devout reverence to the bodily remains of great saints who died for their testimony to Jesus.[56] They offer the analogy of a man or woman or child looking at a picture of their loved one. They do not love the piece of card stock on which it is printed for itself alone, they do not love the electronic device displaying the image as if it is alive, they love the person represented by these things. Yet they also treat with respect the picture they have because of their affection for what it represents, and are saddened if the picture is destroyed, damaged or lost. And there are people who go to a cemetery and sit or kneel next to the memorial marker and talk to their departed loved one as if they were able to hear them, even if only as a symbolic act of love, and yet are not guilty of committing idolatry with the memorial marker.

Some Catholic apologists go so far as to point out as an illustration the fact that if Protestants kneel down in their bedrooms to pray to God, they are not praying toward the object that happens to be in front of them as they pray, even if it is a Bible held in the hands, a cross on the wall, a picture of Jesus, and they would strongly object if someone accused them of committing idolatry by the very act of kneeling down to pray with bowed head in front of anything at all, which might happen to be the bedpost [57], a chair, table, desk, telephone, including the carpet on the floor, the window, the ceiling or the wall of the room. This is regarded by most observers, including Catholics, as a ridiculously offensive analogy, since most of these things are not examples of the problematic issue of direct representations of saints and angels in human form, and Protestants do not bow to them. (See Mockery.)

Avoiding the appearance of evil in worship: Iconoclasm

Protestants have been taught to "avoid every appearance of evil" [58]. This includes the appearance of idolatry. They respond that whether idolatry is intended in the heart or not, idolatry is in fact being committed. The very act of bowing and kneeling before images and representations of God, of any one of the Persons of the Holy Trinity, of Jesus, Mary and the saints—and what many people regard as the "ghoulish" and "loathsome" veneration of bits and pieces and parts (relics) of the dead bodies (corpses) of the saints as sacred remnants of the temple of the Holy Spirit and parts of the body of Christ [59] —the very act of bowing and kneeling is ipso facto of itself, by the very fact of the action itself, seen by them as proof of an undeniably clear cut act of idolatry and a superstitious worship of the dead,[60] which God condemns and abhors as an abomination, whether or not they admit it. This has been the motivation for all the various, recurring campaigns of iconoclasm throughout history, which was condemned as heretical by the Seventh Ecumenical Council.

Catholics respond to the charge of idolatry with the words of Jesus in the Gospel: "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment" John 7:24 (KJV). They say that since they do not intend to commit idolatry, therefore they don't. They claim they have been wrongly judged.[61] [62]

Sabbatarianism: Seventh Day Worship and the Antichrist

For the majority of Christians the traditional day of worship since the time of the Apostles has been primarily Sunday, often called The Lord's Day.[63] Catholics and Orthodox "offer up worship" [64] every day of the week, and in larger urban communities sometimes multiple times of the day.

According to sabbatarians, Sunday as the day of worship was instituted by the Devil, and a mark of the Antichrist, and is an infallible evidence of false pagan worship abhorrently offensive to God. The majority of sabbatarians have been taught that those who worship on Sunday are thus clearly marked as disciples of the Antichrist, and followers of Satan, doomed to hell, because they have broken the divine covenant of God, committing apostasy.

Ellen G. White, held to be an esteemed prophetess of God by the Seventh-day Adventist Church, is seen by many as representative of this view in her writings, in placing the primary blame for this apostasy on the Pope of Rome and the emperor Constantine. According to many historians and scholars, her own history is demonstrably disreputable, and her detractors represent her as being dishonest and unreliable, and a falsifier of historical facts.[65] Moreover, attempts to keep the ordinances and commandments of the law, the covenant given to Moses and the people of God on Mount Sinai have been seen by many Christian apologists, as misguided, and as condemned by the New Testament.

Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
—Galatians 5:4 (KJV)
You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen from grace.
—Galatians 5:4 (RSVCE) [66]

According to the majority of Christian historians and scholars, and the consistent evidence of apostolic tradition, Sunday worship goes all the way back to the time of the apostles, in their reverence for the first day of the week as the day Jesus rose triumphant over death, as evidenced in the writings of the Apostolic Fathers and the Anti-Nicene Fathers since the early 2nd century, the evidence of unbroken Orthodox tradition, and the consistent witness of the pastors and leaders of the church in the line of apostolic succession.[67]

See also




Dynamic equivalence


Historical-critical method (Higher criticism)

Other gods

Philosophical naturalism

Satan worship

Essay:Status Worship

Worship system

Debate: Why does God care if we worship Him or not? Is it His ego?

Essay:Traditional vs. Contemporary Worship




Corporal and spiritual works of mercy







Invincible ignorance

''The Two Babylons''

Great Apostasy

Five Solas

Cafeteria Christianity

King James Only


  1. worship, n. - Etymology Online (
  2. See Deification.
  3. Those who are most helpless and innocent need the most protective and nurturing love, and can be loved for their own sake, or for love of God. See Hostage. Some individuals are willing to sacrifice everything they love most to set a hostage free. Compare John 15:13, also Corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
  4. A consuming vice or virtue is the focus all one's attention and energies. A person can be completely consumed with love of God and neighbor, or consumed with a love of evil and wickedness. A "cause" can animate a person's focus of dedicated devotion as a means to achieve a greater end. A whole life can be dedicated to purity and goodness or to hatred and corruption, as in dedication to political power and greed or to a militant cause to destroy whatever and whoever one hates more than anything else, a perverse love of hating and destruction, a worship of violence rooted in pathological malice and enmity. For example, hate crimes and terrorism. See 1 Peter 5:8.
  5. Exodus 20:12
  6. Ephesians 5:21-22, 5:33–6:9
  7. Genesis 1:26-27
  8. See Which are the Oldest Religions in the World? (
  9. Mark 12:28-34; 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22; [1].
  10. Matthew 25:31-46 1 John 3:17-18.
  11. Ephesians 2:8-10 (KJV)
  12. See the following articles:
  13. Devotions to Our Blessed Lady, All for Jesus: Approved Devotions and Prayers for Church and Home, p 283. Imprimatur: John Cardinal McCloskey, Archbishop of NY, Mar 13, 1884.
  14. Romans 8:30 (RSVCE)
  15. See for example, Catholic Answers Forum - Glories of Mary (
  16. The Glories of Mary, Translated from the Italian of St. Alphonsus Ligouri, Founder of the Congregation of the Holy Redeemer, 1882, copyright 1888 by P. J. Kennedy & Sons, 44 Barclay Street, New York. pdf—full text
    See also Google Books link to The Glories of Mary providing immediate access to any part of the work from the table of contents page. (
  17. Compare the following articles:
  18. Compare 1 Timothy 2:1-6.
  19. See Five Solas.
  20. See the following:
  21. 2 Timothy 3:16.
  22. The title "Reverend" is itself a title of dulia, respect. In the older terminology of academia a professional theologian was a Divine, whence the title of Doctor of Divinity; a group of theologians and professors of religion were called Divines of the universities and academies. The King James Bible originally titled the last book of the New Testament The Revelation of S. John the Divine.
    See especially Lesson 9: Understanding Biblical Authority (Titus 2:15) article by retired pastor Stephen J. Cole - From the series Titus (
  23. Joseph Campbell, author of works on comparative mythology, including The Masks of God; The Hero With a Thousand Faces; The Power of Myth. See online biography and list of works at Joseph Campbell - Good Reads (
  24. Sir James George Frazer, The Golden Bough: A Study in Comparative Religion 1890. See online biography and list of works at James George Frazer - The Gifford Lectures (
  25. See full context Wisdom 12–15; also Isaiah 17:8; 44:9-20; Romans 1:18-32.
  26. King James Apocrypha
  27. Martin Luther's Views on the Antichrist, Dennis Pettibone, Southern Adventist University. Journal of the Adventist Theological Society, 18/1 (Spring 2007): 81–100. ( pdf
  28. Against the Execrable Bull of the Antichrist (excerpt) Martin Luther's Reply to the Papal Bull of Leo X. Source: Roland H. Bainton, Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther (Hendrickson Classic, 1950)(pp. 153-155) (
  29. See also ''The Two Babylons'' by Alexander Hislop, and Foxe's Book of Martyrs.
  30. See the following articles:
  31. For example Sirach 44–50.
  32. Names categorized as Orthodox saints (
  33. Ephesians 4:11-16
  34. Hebrews 11:1–12:13
  35. John 14:12-14
  36. Ephesians 2:9-10
  37. Acts 2:17-19
  38. Genesis 22:15-18; Exodus 33:11; 2 Chronicles 20:7; Wisdom 7:27-28; Isaiah 41:8; John 14:12-24; 15:9-17; 17:6-26; James 2:23; 4:4.
  39. 2 Corinthians 5:20; Romans 14:8-9; Matthew 22:32; Exodus 3:6
  40. Genesis 20:7, 17; Exodus 3:6; Job 42:7-10; Isaiah 14:9-20; 2 Maccabees 15:12-16; Matthew 22:32; Luke 16:22-31; Acts 20:28; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-15; Hebrews 12:1, 22-24; 13:7, 17; 2 Peter 1:12-15; Revelation 6:9-11; 8:3-4.
  41. 1 Samuel 2:6-10; 1 Peter 5:6
  42. 1 Samuel 2:30e
  43. John 12:26
  44. ton basilea timate 2 Peter 2:17 (interlinear)
  45. Strong's number 4352 προσκυνέω proskuneo "kiss, fawn, crouch to, (literally or figuratively)prostrate oneself in homage (do reverence to, adore):— worship" (as God).
  46. Strong's number 7812 ש֪ח֪ה shachah; to depress, prostrate (in homage to royalty or God):—bow down, crouch, fall down (flat), humbly beseech, do (make) obeisance, do reverence, worship.
  47. Romans 1:18-32; parallel Wisdom 12–13
  48. 1 Corinthians 8; 10:14-33.
  49. Isaiah 43:7
  50. Romans 8:30
  51. See the following articles:
  52. Catholic Sacramentals: Statues "It is right to warn people against the sin of idolatry when they are committing it. But calling Catholics idolaters because they have images of Christ and the saints is based on misunderstanding or ignorance of what the Bible says about the purpose and uses (both good and bad) of statues." ( The approved use of religious images commanded by God in the Bible, and at the same time the prohibition of worshiping them as gods.
  53. "detracts in no way from the worship and honor of God". See Honoring God's Work, by V. Rev. Fr. Dimitry Cozby, St. Anthony the Great Orthodox Church, San Antonio, TX - Orthodox Research Institute (
  54. From 1 Samuel 16:7.
  55. See multiple versions of Galatians 3:1
  56. Revelation 6:9; 12:11.
  57. "Praying to the bedpost". An analogy used to illustrate the importance of the intention of the heart, in the fictional dialogue of a priest answering objections by a Protestant, in the catechetical book Father Smith Instructs Jackson, published by Our Sunday Visitor, copyright 1913, 1963, 1975, 1981, chapter "Prayer" pp. 257-262. ISBN 0-87973-864-2.
  58. 1 Thessalonians 5:22
  59. 1 Corinthians 6:19 and [12:27
  60. The Bible condemns the worship of the dead. Deuteronomy 18:9-13; 2 Kings 21:6; 23:24; 1 Chronicles 10:13-14; Isaiah 8:19; 29:4; Luke 16:31. See the following articles:
    See How is praying to the saints not necromancy? (
    Protestant polemic against Catholicism represents Catholic and Orthodox devotion to the saints as evidence of the syncretistic cultivation of pagan idolatry.
    See the article Praying to Dead Saints ( See also Great Apostasy.
  61. See Revelation 22:11; 1 Peter 2:11-17; Romans 14:1–15:13
  62. See the following articles:
  63. "the traditional day of worship since the time of the Apostles"—Scriptural Basis ( reader may need to scroll down to heading "Scriptural Basis".
  64. Romans 15:16
  65. See the following articles:
  66. See interlinear text of Galatians 5:4.
    Compare multiple versions of Galatians 5:4
  67. Early Church Fathers: Worship on Sabbath or Sunday (