The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Is worshipping Jesus idolatry?

Therefore you agree, the answer to Chad’s question… “So do you think it is proper for us here in 2018 to pray to Jesus?” can indeed be… YES

Maybe it seems like nitpicking but Jesus told us to pray to the Father but sometimes we have a message meant only for Jesus himself so then we can address him. BTW i think it’s OK to worship Jesus.

I’m going to back off at this point, since I’ve flogged this poor dead horse for the past few years. :smiley:

All in all, I don’t see what difference the trin-nontrin arguments actually make.

Well, only in terms of looking at the big picture. It is commonplace for both monotheistic religions of Judaism and Islam to view “orthodox” Christianity as idolatry, but for me, given I was brought up in a branch of it (evangelical), your assertion would be simple hyperbolic overstatement. Is there plenty I no longer view as right about my former evangelicalism, sure, but I can live with the anomalies without needing to go to what I would see as unnecessary extremes in terms of labelling such as idolatrous etc.

So for me there is no cognitive dissonance simply because my worldview is a journey rather than a destination so I view change as discovery not a threat to that which has gone before, i.e., sometimes ‘sacred cows’ ACTUALLY DO need slaughtering, IMO.

And all that to boot… I think DaveB’s quote above is fully plausible.

See, I worry that if Jesus is not God, and I believe that Jesus is, God is angry at me for idolatry. (Likewise, I worry that if Jesus is God, he’ll be mad at me if I do not think he is God).

Ok… so what tangible evidence do you have, i.e., what unpleasant, unhappy or disciplinary experience can you point to in your life that indicates to you that God or Jesus has been mad at you? IOW, what is this belief of yours based on?

Concerning prayer in the Bible:

One prayer and only one is addressed to Jesus. It has already been mentioned.

NO prayer is ever addressed to the Holy Spirit. (Is the Spirit a third divine Person? Or is the Spirit and extension of the Persons of the Father and/or the Son?)

ALL other prayer is addressed to God or to the Father (same thing) alone.

I think this is a good article on the issue. https://www.biblicalunitarian.com/videos/can-we-worship-jesus-christ

Worshiping Jesus is not idolatry, but may denote a misunderstanding of scripture when done as a point of focus when the Father is constantly omitted.

Facts:
1-The Holy Spirit is never worshipped in scripture. Never.
2-The very rare times Jesus is worshipped at the highest level, he is worshipped WITH the Father. Ex. To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be…
3-The normal pattern of the NT is to worship the FATHER in the name of Jesus or because of the works of Jesus.

So when a church is always mentioning Jesus, and everyone always prays and worship Jesus while rarely mentioning the Father, it means they don’t understand scripture or the divine structure.

I’m of the belief that Jesus comes from the Father before all times and existing in the Father before all times. Therefore when you worship Jesus, you are only worshiping an aspect of the divine, but when you worship the Father, you worship the totality of the divine.

In other words, Jesus is totally divine, but not the totality of the divine as opposed to the Father who’s the totality because he’s the only God.

The Athanasian dogma may contribute to the misunderstanding that the Father is part of the “trinity” by focussing on God’s substance, but the jews never saw things that way. For them, the Father IS the only God from which the Son and Spirit come from.

Yes that’s exactly how I see it meaning Jesus is exactly what John called him “The Word of God” an aspect of the divine but not the totality! Great description!

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I tend toward the concept of ‘representational deity’ - Jesus being so clear and uncluttered a representation of God the Father that in worshiping Him we do worship the Father.
(Long post but good: Representational Deity)

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Yes! I see it like that too. When we worship Jesus (the representative), we worship the Father.

But by defining who is Jesus or his representation, I would say he really is fully divine and not just an “external” representative. Basically like Steve7150 says, he IS the Word of God and therefore he is God incarnate.

This way (which I think is the way Tertullian saw it) avoids both the Arianism and Athanasian polarization of the 4th century.

It’s probably just something in my psyche; I cannot for the life of me think of the Creator Himself personally becoming flesh and blood. I don’t even like the idea. Of course I’ll keep my fingers crossed if it turns out to be true.:slight_smile: But making Himself known through an actual man - someone like us but without sin, totally committed to the Father and showing us what God is like, doesn’t trouble me.
But I don’t consider it, either way, as a mark of being a Christian or not.

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I long assumed the orthodox Christology that Jesus was God himself personally becoming flesh and blood, and never disliked it. But in my old age, I’m more skeptical, and share Dave’s view. I see N.T. writers as trying to make sense of their profound impression of the man who seemed to so fully display the character of God, and had been divinely validated at Easter. My impression is that their embracing him as an object of worship suggests that they saw such an ‘incarnation’ of deity in him, that they were moving in the direction that church fathers ratified at Chalcedon, etc.

So, given my premise that “God was in Christ” (even uniquely), but that Jesus was not the Deity, and the assumption that idolatry is worshipping anything short of God Himself, worshipping Jesus would qualify as idolatry. But being a non-legalist, as others have suggested, I think we comfortably can see elevating and praising Jesus in worship as a way of worshipping Abba for what he gave us in Christ.

I honestly think that what’s salient and pivotal about Jesus, is not the doctrinal or Trinitarian formulation our intellect affirms about Jesus, but whether we embrace him as the fullest reliable revelation of God,
and what His character and way truly is, and whether we follow him.

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It appears both Dave and myself are somewhere on the same page.

As I understand it… Jesus was God like Adam was God (in His image & likeness) Gen 1:26 cf. Heb 1:3, and like Moses was God (you shall be God) Ex 4:16; 7:1 — there are no diminishing qualifiers ‘as God’ or ‘like God’ in the either the Heb. or Gk. texts. Jesus was ‘God’s Man’ for the hour 1Tim 2:5, and yet as it happened unlike Adam or Moses, God’s perfect man without sin, and thus… “the fullest reliable revelation of God.

It was because of Jesus’ total obedience even unto death that God raised and exulted Him far above all else, declaring Jesus to be… “the Son of God with power—via the resurrectionRom 1:3; thus appointing Jesus both Israel’s Messiah AND the world’s Lord Acts 2:36. It is on this basis that honour and reverence is afforded to Jesus — some call that worship.

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I would say that a clearer understanding of our English word [worship] and it’s application through out Gods word, will help to determine weather worshiping Jesus is idolatry or not. Through out the Hebrew Scriptures, the word [shachah] is commonly used in reference to the act of worship which can be acted out in varying levels. The Hebrew word [shachah] can mean anything from stooping low in reverence to being flat out prostrate in the act of whole hearted worship. It was not uncommon in biblical culture for men of God to [shachah] another human [ie] It is said that Moses [worshiped/ bowed down] to his father in law. Jacob [bowed down] to Esau also Abigail got of her donkey and worshiped David. Would we conclude that these men/ women worshiped other men above The God = Tetragrammaton. One of the clearest instances in the o/t of another receiving [worship/ shachah] as well as The God is at 1 chron 29:20. The assembly bowed down and worshiped [both] God and the king, would we to believe that The King was equal to The God because of this act.

In the n/t the word commonly used as the act of worship is [proskuneo] and is very similar in meaning to the Hebrew word [shachah]. In Rev 3:9 the synagogue of Satan will be brought before Gods faithful And [bow/ proskuneo] at there feet.Are we to believe that the faithful are being worshiped by the wicked in the place of The God. Also at Rev 5 we have a similar account of worship as in 1 chro 29:20, were both The God and the lamb are given [proskuneo] Would we conclude that the lamb is The God himself any more than the King at 1 chronicles 29: 20 was. I would reason that any other act of [proskuneo] Were the son of God is concerned, through out the n/t, is not an act of worshiping the son as The God himself, but rather an act that shows complete reverence to the son for being the very son [of] God [ie] Matt 28;9 and it is for this very reason, I believe Christ never refused [proskuneo] not because he himself was The God.

I do understand that there are also verses that seem to contradict the above [ie] Acts 10:25-26. + Rev 19:10. I don’t believe they necessarily have to cause contradiction.For example in peters case with Cornelius -Cornelius obviously perceived in his heart that Peter was worthy of reverence, but peter in his own heart didn’t think it appropriate, Peter didn’t scold him for idolatry, he just merely says I am but a man just like you. This is no more than Peter expressing the attitude, that Christ taught him to have in his heart. Peter was there to serve and not be served, the exact same attitude as Christ displayed in the act of feet washing…Maybe this Is the reason why Peter and Paul encouraged the church to greet each other with a holy kiss, [ie] treating every one with in the body as equal without distinction. I’m sure peter and Paul wasn’t promoting endless needles kissing out of duty., it would seem that it was upon greeting after a long absence.

Concerning the act of Angel worship
We seem to have two conflicting occurrences. We have Gen 19:1 were lot
[sachah / bowed down before ] two angels without correction, and Rev 19: 10, 22: 8-9. Were Jhon falls down to [ proskuneo /
Worship] the angel and is told not to do this, he is to worship God and only God.
In my assumption and it is only an assumption, maybe Lots act of worship was out of reverence / respect for Gods messengers and Jhon’s act was in complete contrast to Lots by over stepping the mark, as i understand [sahacha and proskuneo] to have varying degrees of application.

What’s more important to understand is what Christ the son of God taught us.The son of God said he himself has a God and Father. Jhon 17:20 The son says his father and God is the [only] true God. Jhon 17:3 And we are [commanded] to love the sons father and God, who also is our father and God with all our might, above and beyond all else that is to be loved. Which includes ones ultimate heart felt worship above all else that is worshiped Mark 12:29 + Matt 4:10.

Conclusion.
There are other accounts through out Gods word we’re persons of God are bowing down to beings other than The God [ie] Gen 23:7, 42:6… This act was also a custom especially when higher beings of authority were present. It would seem to be that there are acts of worship that The God allows with in his perimeters Hebrews 1:6. And acts that are out side of that perimeter Exa 20:3…Seeing the son is king and The son of the most high [ie] royalty, he has been [given] all power and authority and rule, yes every knee will bow and confess that Christ is Lord [BUT] it is [all] to the glory of his God and father Philip 2:10. We are to honour/ value the son, as we honour/ value the father. But worship that’s above [all] else, is only reserved for The God=Tetragrammaton.

Worshiping the son as “THE” God, in my opinion is in direct disobedience, to what he himself taught us. In my opinion the worship of the son as “THE” God himself would amount to idolatry.

Now I am not saying there isn’t good rebuttels to my views,of course there is. This is Just my opinion and one I will be personally accountable for just like we all will.

Peace.

qaz…sorry for sending my post to you personally, I just meant to post it in general. I’m new to the forum and all fingers and thumbs a t m :woozy_face:

B66 - thanks for your comments, and for thinking your position through.
I’m a non-trin but certainly don’t think being ‘right’ on the trinity is a make-or-break thing as to Christian fellowship etc. The concept of ‘representative deity’ fits my thinking pretty well. I had a thread about it here:

Yes Dave I would whole heartedly agree with Christ not being deity but representing deity. I believe Christ made this perfectly clear When at Jhon 10:30-36 he corrects the Jews way of thinking by referring to psalm 82:6.I believe Christ’s correction here is greatly overlooked and missunderstood by many. Thanks again for your reply and links.

I am a non-trinitarian. No, I do not think it idolatry to worship Jesus, since He is the only-begotten God (John 1:18 in the earliest manuscripts). When we beget a son, our son is human like ourselves. When God begets a Son, His Son is divine like Himself (and therefore worthy of worship).

No, I do not think the trinity is idolatry—just an incorrect concept of God
.

God tells the angels to worship the Son (Hebrews 1:6). God will make sure that every knee will bow and confess Jesus as Lord to his own glory. So any problem in worshipping Jesus is philosophical and manmade. Philosophy is probably what made the jehovas witnesses organisation instruct its subjects to not worship the son ever since 1953 :roll_eyes: