Friday, February 5, 2010

Stand Up! Soli Deo Gloria!

So as I was preparing my cup of Kona Blend this morning, I figured that we would be moving on from idol worship since a new chapter was starting.  Instead, Calvin denounced saint worship in a way that was rather tactful for him.  I was rather surprised.

Calvin asserts, " often as Scripture asserts that there is one God, it is not contending over the bare name, but also prescribing that nothing belonging to his divinity is to be transferred to another.  From this it is also clear in what respect pure religion differs from superstition."  So anything that should be performed for God, should be performed for God alone.  We should not begin to start worshiping anyone but God.  We should pray to God alone because He is the only one deserving of our prayers, and also the only one who can hear them.

Acts 10:25 is briefly mentioned by Calvin.  This is a passage where Cornelius bowed before Peter. "As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. But Peter made him get up. 'Stand up,' he said, 'I am only a man myself'" (Acts 10:25-26 NIV).  Peter knew that no one should be bowing to him because only God should be worshiped.  But 2000 years later, Peter is known as Saint Peter and people pray to him.  If he could hear these prayers and respond, I am convinced that he would tell people to "Stand up, I am only a man myself.  Pray to God alone."

Even when John in Revelation bowed before an angel, the angel rebuked him. "At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, 'Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy'" (Revelation 19:10 NIV).  Calvin writes, "But because any reverential act that has been joined with religion cannot but savor of something divine, he could not have 'knelt' to the angel without detracting from God's glory."  Once again, doing anything reserved to be performed for God alone towards one who is not God, is an insult to God and must be avoided.

The false distinction between latria and dulia was made in chapter 11.  He talks more about that in chapter 12, even stating that if anything servitude was even more offensive when directed at a false god (or saint in this case) than was worship.  "Thus it would be unequal dealing to assign to the saints what is greater and leave to God what is lesser."

Worship is reserved for God.  Period.  End of subject.  We must not take away from God's glory and place it upon any other - living or dead, being or idol, image or statue. 

Johann Sebastian Bach remembered this when he wrote his sacred cantatas.  At the end of each one, he signed them "S.D.G."  Were these the initials of someone close to him?  No.  S.D.G. stood for Soli Deo Gloria which is Latin for "to the glory of God alone."  He was not writing these works for his own honor and glory, but for God's.

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