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104 Can we really apply the word worship to Mary!!!


Devotion to Mary is often times referred to, by some as Mary worship.  Loraine Boettner, in his attempt to discredit Marian devotions, says: "It Is Important that all understand the difference between the matter of honoring Mary, and the grossly unscriptural practice of worshiping her”  Boettner has written a very anti-Catholic book called  “Roman Catholicism.”  His book is nick-named the Bible of anti-Catholicism because it is the primary source for most of the anti-Catholicism that people are into.   

When the issue of Mary worship is brought up by the detractors of the Catholic Church, Catholics will simply say, we do not worship Mary, but honor her and worship God and this is correct at least in new English usage.   Of course Boettener does not see it this way.   He believes that the Church actually worships Mary as God because the word worship is applied to Mary in some Catholic books.  He quotes from an old book called “The Glories of Mary” in an attempt to prove that the Church gives to Mary the worship due to Jesus.  

Boettner makes this quotation from the “Glories of Mary,” "The Holy Church commands a worship peculiar to Mary" And herein lies the problem. We honor the Saints and worship God in new English.  After all, the Bible says, "You must worship the Lord your God..." (Mt. 4:10).  The quotation from the “Glories of Mary” is very rarely brought up, but when it is presented to a Catholic, who is not familiar with Old English, it confuses them, because they have been taught the word honor for Mary and worship for Jesus.  And so why is the word "worship" applied to Mary in certain books?  The reason is because the word "worship" is used in an archaic sense in these books. Although the word "worship" today in English is usually but not always used for God alone; it was not always that way.  And even today the word WORSHIP is still applied to persons other than God, 1 Ch 29-20. 

“Begin with the word itself. It comes from the Old English weorthscipe, which means the condition of being worthy of honor, respect, or dignity.  To worship in the older, larger sense is to ascribe honor, worth, or excellence to someone, whether a sage, a magistrate, or God. But there are different kinds of worship as there are different kinds of honor.  The highest honor, and thus the highest worship, is given to God alone, while the honor or worship given to living men or to saints in heaven is of a different sort.  Idolatry thus does not simply mean giving worship (in the old sense) to living men or to saints; it means giving them the kind reserved for God” (Catholicism and Fundamentalism, pg 259, Karl Keating, 1988 Ignatius Press, San Francisco California). 

There are people who are surprised when they see the word worship applied to persons other than God, because this is not usually done in new English, but there are exceptions.  For example In the United States, judges are addressed as "Your Honor while British magistrates are referred to as "Your Worship." I don't know of anyone who accuses the British of idolatry because of this custom.  The point is this, honor and worship are synonyms.  They mean the same thing. 

Here is a quote from another old book, and they also use the word worship not only for the Lord but also for the king: "And all the Congregation blessed the Lord the God of their fathers, and bowed down their heads, and worshipped the Lord, AND THE KING [KING DAVID]." I realize that there still may be people who have difficulty with this because most of us are not used to using the word "worship" for anyone other than God. However, if we throw out this old book, we are throwing out the King James Bible because that's where the quote came from (1 Ch 29:20).   

Yes, they worshiped the Lord, but why were they worshiping, King David?  The reason that this Bible uses the word "worship" in relation to David the king is because this is an older English version.  Boettner is critical of the Catholic Church because in old English books the word worship is used in relation to Mary.   I wonder if he would call the word worship applied to King David, a “grossly unscriptural practice.”   Wow, that would mean, Boettner is smarter than his King James Bible.   Why does he even need a Bible? 

And so what are we to say?  Are we saying that we give the saints the same honor or worship as God?  The answer is no.  We honor the saints and we give the greater honor or worship to God.   More precisely, we honor (dulia) the saints; we give a greater honor (hyperdulia) to Mary and the greatest honor (latria) goes to God.   

I was listening to channel 30 here in Milwaukee (very anti-Catholic), and they said the Catholic Church actually does make the distinction between the honoring the Saints, and honoring God. They understood that we give Jesus the greatest honor.   However, they went on to say that ordinary Catholics do not know the technical jargon (dulia, hyperdulia and latria).   And because they didn’t know the technical jargon, they reasoned that Catholics don’t know the difference and therefore are in effect giving the honor, to Mary and the Saints, that was meant for Jesus.   

To their credit, the Baptist station was actually right about some things.   First of all they were right in admitting that the Church actually makes the distinction between the honor given to the Saints with the greatest honor going to Jesus.   They were also right in saying that most Catholics don’t know the technical jargon (dulia, hyperdulia and latria).   However, they were wrong when they concluded that Catholics don’t make the distinction because they don’t know the technical jargon.   What they failed to acknowledge (perhaps in ignorance) is that Catholics were making the distinction without the technical jargon.  Catholics know that we honor the saints; we give a greater honor to Mary with the greatest honor or worship given to Jesus.    

One final point, I would not apply the word worship to the saints in today’s new English, unless you are willing to give the person, you are speaking with, a history lesson in old English.  And you might also have with you an older version of the King James Bible, where the people are WORSHIPING KING DAVID as well as the Lord.