Wednesday, February 24, 2010
The Ministry of Paul and the Worship that Is Due to God Alone
"Now at Lystra there was a man sitting, who could not use his feet. He was crippled from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul speaking. And Paul, looking intently at him and seeing that he had faith to be made well, said in a loud voice, 'Stand upright on your feet.' And he sprang up and began walking.
"And when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in Lycaonian, 'The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!' Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds.
"But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their garments and rushed out into the crowd, crying out, 'Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. In past generations He allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways. Yet He did not leave himself without witness, for He did good by giving you rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.' Even with these words they scarcely restrained the people from offering sacrifice to them."
I find this passage significant, in the face of the worship of saints in the Church of Rome. Of course, they deny that they worship the saints; rather, they call it adoration. Check this article in the Catholic Encyclopedia for their defense. However, this article demonstrates that there has been a lot of inconsistency in Catholic explanations on this issue.
In response to this Romanist defense, Archibald Alexander Hodge (son of the better-known Princeton Professor Charles Hodge) wrote, "The distinction they make between the different degrees of worship due to God and to holy creatures, and between the indirect worship which terminates upon the image or picture and the direct worship which terminates upon the person represented by it, are not their peculiar property, but, as every missionary knows, are common to them with the educated among all idolaters. If the Romanists be not idolaters, the sins forbidden in the First and Second Commandments have never been committed." In other words, just as the Hindu priest would explain that the many-armed idol is not the actual deity, but merely represents him/her, and that the local spirits aren't gods themselves, but rather intermediaries to the gods, the acceptance or rejection of that explanation applies equally to Romanist veneration of images and saints as intermediaries: if one is idolatry, both are; if either is not, then neither are.
I make the same urging as Paul and Barnabas did, whether one is a Pagan or a Catholic crypto-Pagan, turn from dead images to the living God, because He alone can save.