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  1. Mainstream Christians do not worship the Essence of God itself (may be because it is too impersonal and impossible to grasp for creature), but as it is eternally manifested in the Trinity.
  2. Even with regard to the Trinity, mainstream Christians worship mainly the second person - Logos - rather than person of God, the father - the source of everything. Example: there are a lot of churches dedicated to Jesus, Mary, saints, but not even one, dedicated to God the Father.
  3. 'Folk Christianity' goes further, practicing worship to local saints, artifacts, practicing old local custom, some of which are from the pre-Christian periods etc.
  4. Can we say that slipping into semi-idolatry starts (and is caused) from not worshiping the Essence of God, or, at least the hypostase of God the Father in Trinity?
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    You can see History of Christianity and Cult of the Saints : religions, and beliefs and rituals are social phenomena; thus, they change over timeand are affected by many factors. Oct 16, 2018 at 7:51
  • The answer would fill a hefty volume, and requires delving into the anthropology, sociology, politics, and psychology of organized religion. I believe the core element in all idolatry (of every variety, not just the Christian) is an OCD addiction to ritual, which is exploited by the State as a means to control the masses. Regarding the Holy Roman Empire, this textbook: amazon.com/Rise-First-Reich-Germany-Century/dp/0471396117 Regarding the politics of religion, the function of ritual, etc. academic.oup.com/socrel/article-abstract/30/1/54/…
    – Bread
    Oct 16, 2018 at 11:05
  • I'd say yes to your question. It could even be argued that the Western Christian form of worship is idolatrous regardless of its object because it objectifies. Worship can take various forms, however, so it is difficult to generalise.
    – user20253
    Oct 16, 2018 at 13:08
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    Religions are sustained usually upon old books, which contain multiple contradictions. If the "principle of explosion" (see Wikipedia) is applied on such texts, absolutely any possibility is valid. That's the reason for which religions are highly incoherent, and religious leaders can obtain any conclusion, usually causing this kind of curiosities. In another comment of mine, which was deleted, I've stated that religions are not defined by logic. Don't try to find logic on it, even war and killing is justified in religions due to the exposed reason.
    – RodolfoAP
    Oct 16, 2018 at 15:32
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    Worship and idolatry are theological notions, and what is or is not idolatry is subject to religious judgment, so the question is better suited for Christianity SE.
    – Conifold
    Oct 17, 2018 at 0:08

4 Answers 4

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In a trial at the house of the high priest in Jerusalem, the gospel of Mark says:

Then the high priest stood up . . . and asked Jesus, . . . ‘Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?’

‘I am,’ said Jesus. ‘And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.’

The high priest tore his clothes. . . . ‘You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?’ They all condemned him as worthy of death.

Mark 14:60-64 NIV

At the last supper, the gospel of John says:

Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us."

Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Don't you believe that I am in the Father and that the Father is in me?"

John 14:8-10a NIV

And in the gospel of Matthew we read that two women had gone to Jesus' tomb, where they were informed that Jesus had resurrected. So...

...the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. "Greetings," he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me."

John 28:8-10 NIV

I think that if there were an error to worshiping Jesus, that the women at John 28 would have heard about it.

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  • How was this ever upvoted? It does not even address the question.
    – armand
    Nov 14, 2021 at 1:07
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You have a good point. It can be plainly argued that Christians worship Christ first and then use theology to argue that that is equivalent to worshiping, what I guess amounts to the Jewish version of God.

However, to then go on to argue that this is tending to idolatry is I feel on shakey ground,

Even though almost every church has a massive idol of Jesus right up there at the front, no-one believes that the idol is more than a statue or symbol. I would contend that it is a necessary requirement for "The worship of Idols" that it is the idol itself which is worshipped and believed to have some supernatural quality, and that this is not the case for Christianity.

Now you could try the weaker arguement of "tending to" but at 2000 odd years its a very slow trend.

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Jesus Christ is ONE Being with a threefold representation....a Divine representation as God, "The Father", a human representative who lived for 33 years around 2000 years ago-(a.k.a. "The Son") and a Spiritual representative often referred to as The "Holy Spirit/Ghost". While the representations and functions were triadically distinguishable, the Being itself was singular. So when the majority of Christians worship Jesus Christ in a Church, they are not worshipping an ordinary man or person, nor are they exclusively worshipping "The Son of God"; they are worshipping God....through the divine personage and earthly representation of Jesus Christ. In a way, (without sounding too trivial), Jesus' role as, "The Son of God", is Ambassadorial-like whereby he is God's representative and messenger speaking on God's behalf.

With regard to the phrase, "Essence of God", Christianity defines God in conciliatory terms, that is to say, identifies God, as a visible and terrestrial representation or manifestation, while also identifying God, as The Spiritual Force-(who may or may not be invisible).

Other monotheistic religions, such as Islam and Judaism, identify and define God, as The Invisible Spiritual Force. There is a line of demarcation which separates the Transcendental from the Terrestrial in both Islam and Judaism....God is God and humankind is humankind. When walking into a Synagogue or a Mosque, you will notice that there are no human or human-like images anywhere; the emphasis is placed on the religious text, prayer and the language of God. The Essence of God, in Islam and Judaism, is Spiritual, Incorporeal, Teleological (as well as Juridical), though not visual. (While there is a Messianic figure with extraordinary powers in both Islam and Judaism, he is viewed as solely human and has no spiritual or angelic genealogy).

Christianity, while also emphasizing the importance of religious text, prayer, Christ's savior-like status and the language of God-(though tends to deemphasize the juridical nature of God), adds another dimension into its House of worship....sacred imagery. For the Christians, Churches are sacred spaces that encourage and welcome a more intimate and visualized relationship-(either statuary or iconographic) with Jesus, as The Son of God. Yet, at the same time, Christianity acknowledges "the mystery of faith" or the mystical nature of God/(The Father/Jesus).

It is this complex duality that has been and is still, the Spiritual and Teleological definition of the Christian God or...."The Essence of God".

(Note: The sentence, "So when the majority of Christians worship Jesus Christ in a Church", also refers to a small number of Christian sects who are not traditionally Trinitarian).

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Conifold is right, this belongs on the Christianity SE, but anyway, the OP is filled with so many misrepresentations that I feel compelled to address them.

Mainstream Christians do not worship the Essence of God itself (may be because it is too impersonal and impossible to grasp for creature), but as it is eternally manifested in the Trinity.

This is totally false. First off, in Orthodox theology, a distinction is drawn between the essence and energies of God. The Trinity is a fact about the essence of God. So if the Orthodox worship the Trinity, they worship the essence of God. The Orthodox communions number in the hundreds of millions. And the Catholic Church has never definitively rejected every form of an essence-energies distinction. More than that, though...

Even with regard to the Trinity, mainstream Christians worship mainly the second person - Logos - rather than person of God, the father - the source of everything. Example: there are a lot of churches dedicated to Jesus, Mary, saints, but not even one, dedicated to God the Father.

Since the Father is one of the persons of the Trinity, worshiping the Trinity means worshiping the Father. Any church "dedicated" to the Trinity is ipso facto dedicated to the Father. You would object that none are dedicated to the Father "alone," but at any rate, dedicating a church to someone is not a form of worship such that this failure (which I seriously doubt) to dedicate a church to the Father specifically, implies a deficiency of ambient worship of the Father, in the hearts of those who dedicate churches to this or that person. No. The Father is worshiped regardless of whether there is or isn't such an ecclesial dedication in place. That's not the purpose of this dedication.

'Folk Christianity' goes further, practicing worship to local saints, artifacts, practicing old local custom, some of which are from the pre-Christian periods etc. Can we say that slipping into semi-idolatry starts (and is caused) from not worshiping the Essence of God, or, at least the hypostase of God the Father in Trinity?

Idolatry is worshiping the creature instead of the Creator. Since the Son and the Spirit are the Uncreated Creator, worshiping Them is not idolatry. Moreover, there are Christian denominations that hold the Father to be genuinely greater than the Son and the Spirit, e.g. the LDS or the Jehovah's Witnesses. Granted, for the LDS, the Father is not absolutely uncreated after all, but He is still otherwise the one ultimate Creator (of us).

On top of all that, Mary, for example, is not an object of latria/adoration (the technical concept of worship in Catholic theology) but hyperdulia, and then the other saints are objects of just dulia. And sometimes Mary is interpreted as a "quasi-Incarnation" of the Third Person of the Trinity. (You might say: Nestorianism is not true of Christ, but it is true of Mary...) If you read Dante's Paradiso, you get a very good look at what these assertions actually come down to. At the end, one of the most peculiar things that is said is:

Across the circle from Peter, behold Anna.

She feels such bliss in looking at her daughter

she does not move her eyes to sing, “Hosanna!”

Something about the mother-daughter relationship, here, allows it to be true that Anna does not need to "physically" look upwards (into the apex of the Empyrean) to undergo the beatific vision: she has this vision even by fixing her "physical" eyes upon Mary. But this seems to be the only case where this is allowed. Because otherwise, when Dante looks up into the finality of the Eternal Light, Mary's intercession assists him (as he has been assisted many times before, by others, to bear witness to greater and greater heavenly glory), but she is not an object of Dante's beatific vision in itself.

AFAIK, the official Catholic position is that when one has the beatific vision, it is instantly complete. For Dante, though:

and not because that Living Radiance bore

more than one semblance, for It is unchanging

and is forever as it was before;

rather, as I grew worthier to see,

the more I looked, the more unchanging semblance

appeared to change with every change in me.

So first, he seems to see the "energies" of God, Its power to create the universe and order the universe's goodness. But then he passes into contemplation of the essence of the Trinity itself. Dante reliably portrays the ascent through the tenfold heavens as caught up with revelatory answers to various theological mysteries. At this point, then, the only mystery yet unresolved for him, but which can be resolved (there are mysteries that cannot be understood, even were God to will it), is the enigma of the Incarnation. So yes, at the ultimate heart of Dante's transcendent witness, there is a focus on the Second Person of the Trinity as such. But again, there is nothing idolatrous about this. For it is explicitly stated that by no created power of his own mind, can Dante answer this question (of the logical intelligibility of the Incarnation), but only by a final act of grace on the part of the Creator.

Seeing "semi-idolatry" in such things as Catholic Mariology is tantamount to unfair religious fanaticism. Making up a category of iniquity to accuse "mainstream Christianity" of, is rather invidious, even Satanic (for he is ever the slanderous accuser of the saints). You don't have to share the exact theory of latria-vs.-dulia, of course. You can reasonably see the veneration of the saints as trifling; but wicked? By no means.

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  • So, downvoting this reply is not justified, by the way (whoever downvoted it...). Nov 14, 2021 at 8:46

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