Sunday, February 25, 2007

The State of the Case (As I See It)


I keep going back to Matt’s earlier comment that on this narrow issue of “worship” it might be too difficult for either of us to get much traction. That may eventually prove true, but I’m not quite ready to let it drop. You’ve been a valiant adversary, and you have definitely challenged me and forced me to refine my thinking upon some particulars. Be that as it may, I still cannot see how those words and deeds rendered Christ in the fifth chapter of Revelation can constitute anything less than divine worship.

I can’t get past it: the highest angels and heavenly elders fall down before Christ with harps and golden bowls filled with incense (which symbolize the prayers of the saints) and sing songs of his worthiness. Then, joined by all the angels in heaven and every other created thing in the universe, they attribute to him everlasting blessing and honor and glory and dominion. They end by falling down before him and rendering him proskynesis.

As you have pointed out, there have been instances in which particular men and angels have received a lesser kind of proskynesis, one that did not rise to the level of worship. But surely, you have to admit that no one besides Jehovah (be he man or angel) had ever before appropriately received anything approaching the scope or extent of reverential treatment here rendered to Christ. I challenge you to point to a single instance that even begins to compare.

When the Israelites did such things to Jehovah, whether or not they used the name “God” in a particular instance, they were worshiping Jehovah. When the Canaanites did such things to Baal, whether or not they specifically credited him with creation, they were worshiping Baal. When the Romans did such things to Caesar, whether or not they recognized other divine persons to which he was submissive, they were worshiping Caesar.

If, therefore, you’re going to claim that those doing these same things to Christ were not, in fact, worshiping him, your burden of proof is going to be quite heavy. I think you’re going to have to do more than point out that Christ is not here called “God” (for elsewhere he is clearly so called). And I think that you’re going to have to do more than point out that he is not here credited with creation (for elsewhere he is clearly so credited). And I believe that you’re going to have to do more than point out that he was submissive to the will of the Father (because I don’t see how that changes anything).

Simply put, despite what has said thus far, I still cannot see how these activities, which in every other imaginable context would be immediately recognized as worship, are not here to be so considered.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Abortion: The Crux of the Matter

It has always seemed to me that the entire abortion debate hinges exclusively upon the sole point of the personhood of the unborn child. There is really nothing else to argue about.

It appears that Justice Blackmun, the author of Roe v. Wade, agreed.

The appellee and certain amici argue that the fetus is a "person" within the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment. In support of this they outline at length and in detail the well-known facts of fetal development. If this suggestion of personhood is established, the [pro-choice] case, of course, collapses, for the fetus' right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the Amendment.


I've decided to consolidate my three blogs into one- not that there was much to consolidate. Now I only have to feel guilty about falling behind on one blog.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Once More To TJ

Hello TJ, Sorry for the much-delayed response to your last comment. I hope the lapse of time doesn't break up the continuity too badly.

First of all, I believe you’ve slightly mis-characterized my position. My claim is not that the Father and the Son occupy precisely the same position of authority. All trinitarians acknowledge that the Father commands, and the Son willingly submits to those commands. My understanding is that this difference in position between the two of them, has no bearing on the honor to which either is worthy from man. By way of analogy, wives are under the authority of husbands, but are not, therefore, as mothers, entitled to less honor from children than are fathers. Christ's worthiness of worship is in no way limited by his submission to the Father's will.

I believe, furthermore that you’ve missed the force of some of the evidence. It is true that in Rev. 4:1-5:11, the Father and the Son are being rendered "similar" acts. I would point out, first of all, that with respect to some of these words and acts, the Son seems to be receiving (only, of course, in this particular instance) even more glory than the Father. But more importantly, in 5:13-14, both the Father and the Son are rendered the exact same words and the exact same acts at the exact same time. I do not see how, in that particular instance, any distinction can be made between what is done to the Father and what is done to the Son. They are merely compound direct objects of all that is said and done there.

I do acknowledge that there are some distinctions between the earlier instances in which the Father and Son are being honored separately, but I believe you've placed upon them undue significance. First, you've pointed out that the worshipers refer to the Father as God, but the Son only as the Lamb, and that throughout the book of Revelation, Christ refers to the Father as "his God". You believe this shows that Christ is not being worshiped as God. Notice, however, that in 4:8 the worshipers also refer to the Father as Lord but do not so refer to the Son. Would you conclude that Christ is not, therefore, being honored as Lord? We know from scripture that not only is he Lord, but he is the one Lord (I Cor 8:6). Does God have a God?, you ask. I suppose I have no more problem with the one true God having a God than I have with the one true Lord having a Lord (Psalm 110).

Second, you point out that in these passages, the Father’s praise is predicated on creation, but Christ’s on redemption, and claim that, therefore, the Son's honor is limited. If this kind of distinction, however, is probative of a less than absolute worship, then we must conclude that the Father's honor is likewise limited. After all, he is not, in these passages, credited with redemption. In short, I don't see how the different grounds for praising the Son and praising the Father mean that one is being worshiped and the other is not. Differences do not equal limits.

You argue that Christ's glory is lesser, because it is said to have been given to him by the Father. You compare this to the honor that was bestowed upon the ancient kings of Israel.
There is of course, one important distinction here. The glory that Christ received from the Father was his originally-- the Father was not "giving" Christ this glory, but restoring to him the glory he shared with the Father before world began (John 17:5), glory that the Son had voluntarily set aside (Phil. 2).

In general, I have to say that your general definition of worship strikes me as less than adequate. You seem to define it as "that honor which is only appropriately given to God the Father" which definition, of course, begs the very question. Is worship really defined only by the person honored or the deeds which are praised, or are there certain words and acts that are inherently worshipful? If I were to bow down before my neighbor, make a burnt offering to him and praise his name, would it be any less worship if I did so because he had made an excellent cheesecake?

All the host of heaven fall down before the Lamb, they offer him incense (prayers) and sing to him with harps; they declare his worth and attribute to him honor, power, and glory. All creation then declares with one breath, that both he and the Father are worthy of everlasting blessing, honor, glory, and dominion. Any definition of worship that is not satisfied by these elements seems to me to be utterly meaningless.