Worship and Veneration

In Aaron Segal & Samuel Lebens (eds.), The Philosophy of Worship: Divine and Human Aspects. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (forthcoming)
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Various strands of religious thought distinguish veneration from worship. According to these traditions, believers ought to worship God alone. To worship anything else, they say, is idolatry. And yet many of these same believers also claim to venerate—but not worship—saints, angels, images, relics, tombs, and even each other. But what's the difference? Tim Bayne and Yujin Nagasawa (2006: 302) are correct that “it seems to be extremely difficult to distinguish veneration from worship.” Many have argued throughout history that veneration collapses into worship and that those who venerate saints or icons are guilty of idolatry. In this essay, we distinguish worship from veneration in two stages. First, we give a formal account of their difference. Drawing from St. John of Damascus (c. 675-749 AD), we argue that worship is a determinate of the determinable veneration. Second, we give more substantive accounts of both that explain their differences and similarities. Drawing again from St John, we argue that acts of veneration and worship signify subordination. Their difference, however, lies in the fact that worship alone requires absolute subordination.



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Author Profiles

Brandon Warmke
Bowling Green State University
Craig Warmke
Northern Illinois University

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References found in this work

Vagueness.Timothy Williamson - 1995 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 46 (4):589-601.
The Coherence of Theism (revised edition).Richard Swinburne - 1977 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
Forgiveness: A Philosophical Exploration.Charles L. Griswold - 2007 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Forgiveness.Joram Graf Haber - 1991 - Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
The grounds of worship.Tim Bayne & Yujin Nagasawa - 2006 - Religious Studies 42 (3):299-313.

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