Blogging the Institutes–1.12.2–No Real Distinction between Service and Worship

“Blogging the Institutes” is my on-going attempt to paraphrase John Calvin’s work, the Institutes of the Christian Religion. You can find out more about the series in the Introduction. For all the posts in this series, check out the Master List

No Real Distinction between Service and Worship

Catholics invented the distinct between dulia (service) and latria (worship) to permit worship to be given to angels and dead men. It’s clear that the worship given to saints is no different than the worship of God in Catholic theology. Their worship is given without distinction. Only when pressed do they try to draw the distinction between these two words so as to preserve the worship of God. According to them, since God is given latria they are in the clear from charges of idolatry.

My argument isn’t about words, however. It’s about objects of worship. We can’t let them off the hook. The only thing they can accomplish by pressing this distinction is by saying that they give worship (latria) to God and service (dulia) to others. Latria in Greek means “worship” in Latin. Doulia means “service,” but sometimes in Scripture it is used indiscriminately. Even if we grant the distinction, what is meant by these words? It’s harder to serve something than to worship it! You can revere someone but not serve them. Therefore, it’s a pointless distinction when you end up assigning the greater action to the saints and the lesser to God. They might reply, “But, several of the church father upheld this distinction!” What does that matter if such a distinction is pointless?

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