HOME   People do good because they are human, not because they are religious! 

Do not give God any credit for the good they do, they did it!

 

IT’S IDOLATRY TO PRAY TO JESUS
 
 
James Dunn - Did the First Christians Worship Jesus? "In no case in the New Testament is there talk of offering cultic worship (latreuein) to Jesus" (page 13). "In earliest Christianity, Christ was never understood as the one to whom sacrifice was offered, even when the imagery of sacrifice was used symbolically for Christian service" (page 56). "The kyrios title is not so much a way of identifying Jesus with God, as a way of distinguishing Jesus from God" (page 110).

"So our central question can indeed be answered negatively, and perhaps it should be. But not if the result is a far less adequate worship of God. For the worship that really constitutes Christianity and forms its distinctive contribution to the dialogue of the religions, is the worship of God as enabled by Jesus, the worship of God as revealed in and through Jesus. Christianity remains a monotheistic faith. The only one to be worshipped is the one God. But how can Christians fail to honor the one through whom it believes the only God has most fully revealed himself, the one through whom the only God has come closest to the condition of humankind? Jesus cannot fail to feature in their worship, their hymns of praise, their petitions to God. But such worship is always, should always be offered to the glory of God the Father. Such worship is always, should always be offered in the recognition that God is all in all, and that the majesty of the Lord Jesus in the end of the day expresses and affirms the majesty of the one God more clearly than anything else in the world" (page 151).
 
Read this site for a Christian refutation of the idea that the Bible holds that Jesus is God http://www.christadelphia.org/wrested1.htm 
 
PREFACE
 
The purpose of this book is to reveal that the doctrine that Jesus is God and should be prayed to or worshipped is a fiction. Jesus was not God and the New Testament does not actually say he is God. When it doesn’t say it and especially since it denies it, we can be confident that Jesus is not God for it is the only source we have that is close to Jesus assuming he lived.
 
The worship of Jesus is idolatry. Idolatry is the worship of what is not God as sacred. To honour alleged God-men like Jesus, statues of saints and relics is idolatry. God is goodness. So if you sense his goodness and worship what you sense that is true worship. Images and relics and the Jesus God of the Catholics are not directly focused on goodness. A man who sits with his wife by the fire and ignores her to focus on her photo is not really honouring her at all. A man who instead of seeing the goodness that is God inside his heart and chooses to focus on some sense object such as Jesus or a communion wafer or a holy statue is rejecting God for sense stimulation. He is not honouring God but only making it look like as if he does. He is not really even honouring true goodness.
 
The non-divinity of Jesus is a wonderful tool for making Christianity collapse and should be employed towards that noble end. It also shows that Christianity has no business looking down its nose at idolatry for it is the biggest offender against God’s ban on idolatry. The Church may argue that if it is wrong about Jesus being God it means well and it is God not Jesus it means to worship for it means to worship Jesus only if he is God. So the error is not in who God is but what God has done or not done. But the Bible rejects this logic for idolaters want their worship of idols to go to the true God if they are wrong and still God says he hates idolatry and rejects the worship of them. The heathen believe that God has broken up into a pile of gods who live in idols and the Church does not say their error is in what God has done and not in what and who God is. St Paul said that the demons take the worship offered to idols. The logic of the Church would imply that if Jesus is not God and you feel more attracted to God by believing that he is then it is best to worship Jesus as God. It would be an argument for idolatry. It would be saying the Bible is wrong to condemn this sin.

The Ebionites and many sects rooted in the first century denied that Jesus was really God. If you read The Early Church, Paul of Samosata who was bishop of Antioch and was appointed in 260 AD (page 114), Origen who died about 254 AD (page 105) and Justin Martyr (page 86) of the mid second century, were major Christian theologians who did not agree that the Bible should be interpreted to mean that Jesus was literally Yahweh God.
 
The Christians fabricate Bible evidence that Jesus is God.
 
A prophecy in Isaiah that isn’t even about Jesus is thought to be predicting Jesus’ divinity in saying he shall be called Mighty God. But it only says he will be called it.
 
They say Jesus said he knows all that God knows when he only said that nobody knows God but the Son and God knows the Son.
 
They say God called Jesus the Kyrios his own name. But God gives divine titles to men in the Old Testament as honorific titles. In Genesis 5, the birth of a man called Mahalalel is mentioned. Mahalalel means the Blessed God.
 
The Prophet Micah predicted a ruler whose activity and origin are from all eternity. This could be a poetic way of saying that this man was special. He more than any other man was the work of God and eternity is sometimes a synonym for God. Christians assume it’s saying the ruler never had an origin and only God has no origin so the ruler is God. But it does say he had an origin.
 
They say that Paul said that though Jesus was in the form of God he didn’t cling to equality with God but became a slave. Jesus was in the likeness of God like a mirror reflecting and taking in the glory of God. He didn’t cling to equality with God. In other words, rather than wanting to be God or equal to God or like God he chose to be a slave. None of this indicates that Jesus was God or entitled to seek equality with God, it only says that he didn’t seek it.
 
The angel in Revelation forbade John from worshipping him but Jesus accepted worship so Christians say that Jesus must be more than an angel and must be God. The angel’s job was to be a messenger of God not to answer prayers and to be worshipped. He doesn’t say he shouldn’t be worshipped but just that now isn’t the time. The angel says worship God only meaning that he was only God’s messenger and it was God who should get all the honour for it was God who was really doing the work. And besides we are never told that Jesus got the worship due to God. Kings were worshipped in a sense. Nothing in the episode defends the Christian belief in a divine Christ.
 
Christians say that when Jesus was worshipped that he never told the worshipper they were wrong. First of all, the gospels make it clear we must worship God only. So they didn’t need to tell us if Jesus did correct these people. Second, Jesus was merely called a good teacher and he told the man off for saying that. Third, we read of people making assumptions and Jesus despairingly not bothering to waste time trying to correct them.
 
Let us now comb the Bible to see if Jesus thought he was God the Son, God almighty. The Gospel of John is dealt with in my book John Gospel Denies Jesus is God. In brief, that gospel says that Jesus was the incarnation of the Word, the message of God and God is his message. But that is not the same as saying that he is God. A saint who is not God can be the incarnation of the love of God even though God is said in Christian belief to be love itself. When Jesus said that before Abraham was I am and I am being the name of God in the Old Testament he didn’t say he meant it in the sense that God meant it. Jesus said that he and the Father are one but that could be a reference to his being the manifestation of the Father for he said he is the image of the Father so that he who sees him sees the Father. He said he wanted his followers to be one in the same way he and the Father are one indicting that he didn’t mean that he was one nature with the Father. Jesus denied he was God when he said his teaching was not his own but the teaching of the Father.
 
Christians say that he means his teaching is not of human origin but divine. He was saying his teaching was not from himself as man but himself as God. So they turn it into a declaration that Jesus was God! But if you mean that you would say that. You would not use cryptic clues like, “my teaching is not my own for it is God’s”. To say my teaching is not mine but God’s is to deny that you are God. Christians have to obscure their doctrine that Jesus was fully human and fully divine and yet one person so that my referred to his personhood which was both human and divine and pretend that he was like a pantomime horse half human and half divine and was referring only to his man side.
 
Nothing in the gospels or New Testament or anywhere in the Bible declares Jesus to have been God.
  
WAS JESUS WORSHIPPED?

Tradition has it that the doctrine that Jesus Christ was and is God has been taught by Christianity from the days when it was born from his mouth. The purpose of this study is to show that this is not true.
 
The Bible sees Christ as the being next to God and the Son of God but not God. Jesus is not a god except maybe in a symbolic or analogical sense.
 
When God is almighty there cannot be another divine being or a god for a god is a being that is self-sufficient. A being that depends on God to keep it alive and give it what it has is not a god. Nowhere in the Bible does Jesus say he is actually God. If he had we would have to bear in mind that things that were not God were called God. The Devil is called the God of the world (2 Corinthians 4:4) – some translations are clearer and render up something along the lines of “the god adored by this world” – and it is taught that unbelievers who hear of Christianity but remain outside it are blinded to the truth by their devotion to him. Many of the blinded did not believe in Satan so he could not have been God to them except in the following sense: he was God to them in the sense that he kept them at their materialism and irrationality. So the word God was used as a synonym for supernatural supporter as well as for object of adoration. Moses empowered by God’s magic was told by the Lord to be God to Pharaoh (Exodus 7:1). There is nothing blasphemous about saying that a man of God like a prophet of God is God to us for it is true. He is not God but he is God in a sense. God uses him to bring you to God so in a way, God has made him more important than himself. Both Jesus and the Old Testament called anyone who spread God’s message gods. This was blasphemy in Jewish eyes but that was their problem and like most religions they were not totally loyal to their scripture which authorised this alleged impiety. It is stupid to argue that Jesus would not have called himself God in any sense for it was blasphemy in the eyes of the Jews unless he meant it literally. That is not necessarily true.

As we will discover, the Bible opposes the notion that Jesus was God so it is short-sighted to take the Bible literally if it calls him God or attributes exclusively divine attributes to him. The attributes were his in the sense that God left his own powers at Jesus’ disposal.

The gospels speak of people worshipping Jesus (Matthew 9:18) – even when he was a baby (Matthew 2:8). In the originals the word used for worship is the same as that for the adoration of God. So is Jesus God then? No. To worship a baby who knows nothing but who is God would not be worshipping God. You don’t honour the king when he is asleep by genuflecting. The best that could have been done was to adore God for being the baby which of course would be indirectly adoring the baby in the sense that worshipping the baby would be worshipping God for he is God. But Matthew is to be taken as meaning that the baby was worshipped because there is no hint of an indirect sense.

If people worshipped the baby indirectly there is no reason against teaching the following. Jesus was not God but to adore God in him was to indirectly worship him for it was admitting his being the image of God, his closeness to God, and praising Jesus for that intimacy. Matthew told us about baby Jesus being worshipped to show that the worship of Jesus does not mean he was considered to be God.

If the baby was worshipped directly then worship was used in a loose sense. Matthew means honouring by it. There is an element of worship in all praise which entitled him to do this.

The apostles worshipped Jesus (Matthew 14:33) and it is significant that they did not believe that he was God or the Son of God at the time (Matthew 16). The answer to this proof that Jesus was treated like God but not believed to be God is that Matthew was not being chronological. According to this, the worshipping might have happened after the time Matthew has the story that they did not believe that Jesus was God. He has the story that should come after first. But Matthew might have been which satisfies the sceptic for it means that nobody can prove that in saying that Jesus was adored Matthew meant he was treated as God.

Matthew used the word worship loosely. Though it must be used of God only he applies it to every kind of obeisance. The centurion he says worshipped Jesus (Matthew 8) could not have done it religiously because it was impossible for a man in a sinful job to honour God. The centurion was helping Rome to occupy a land that they had no right to have taken over. Plus Matthew believed that Jesus’ credential was the resurrection after the Old Testament prophecies so there was no way he would have wanted us to think that Jesus took worship as God before the big event. That would be like a man accepting the crown without proving that he is the rightful king to be first.

The word worship to us means, “Giving of supreme honour to God”. But Catholics use the word for the inferior religious honour they give to the saints because of their intimacy with their God. Words like that are easily used emptied of their literal meaning. For example, we say a man worships his dear girlfriend though he does not.

Last, but most importantly, Matthew never says that Jesus accepted the worship though he doesn’t say he rejected it either. He hints that Jesus did not like it when he never says that Jesus was God. If Jesus had angrily told the worshippers to stop Matthew wouldn’t have bothered recording it if the people who studied his gospel did not believe that Jesus should be adored exactly as God is adored. He would not have expected people to start turning Jesus into God Almighty. He gave strong clues that Jesus was not divine. This alone would account for him not bothering to do away with everything that makes Jesus look divine. It would have been going out of his way anyway.

In Hebrews 1:6, the author approves a verse calling on the angels to worship Jesus when he was born. But that is only a wish. It is the same as the psalmists calling on the sun and moon to worship God which they did to express the wish that they could do that. The angels would not adore a baby which does not even know what worship is.

Angels here means pagan gods, and possibly angels mistaken for gods, for the verse is from Psalm 97:7 which says that it is pagan deities. The Psalmist wanted the pagan gods and idols to worship Jesus to accentuate their inferiority and non-divine status. Both Hebrews and the Psalmist are being sarcastic. They can call on idols to adore Jesus as God even though Jesus is not God in sarcasm known that the idols can’t do that for they are dumb.

The Bible acknowledges two kinds of worship, religious and civil. Only God is allowed to receive religious worship. Worship in the Bible means confessing and admitting the higher rank of another and the word comes from bowing down. Civil worship is allowed. It had to be for the Bible teaches that God wants kings to rule. God is not a republican or a democrat which is another reason why the Bible version of him is bad news. Christians say that he made Israel do without kings for a long time. But when we don’t know why for sure we can’t read anything into that. But kings were not needed but still there was a person leading the country, eg, Moses or Joshua, who exercised the same authority as a king. The New Testament even goes as far as to say that Jesus is king. Righteous king or not he is still a king and this gives a divine sanction to the disgusting system of monarchy with all its snobbery and pampering. Civil worship appears in Matthew 18:26 when the servant bows before his master in Jesus’ parable. So when people worshipped Jesus they only gave him civil worship for he claimed to be both Messiah, a political title, and the one who had the right to tell them how to live. Even if he did not claim to be Messiah at this stage he had certainly claimed to have royal blood when the people tried to make him king by force at times.

THE IDOLATRY OF PRAYING TO CHRIST

Jesus Christ spoke about trust in God's power to provide for your wellbeing. But he said something that shows that he hadn't a clue about God looking after his creation. If he didn't know that, he would hardly be the kind of person to rely on to look after your prayers and be prayed to. He said, "Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father keeps feeding them. Are you not worth much more than they?" (Matthew 6:34. The error in this is that birds might not reap but they have to look for food just as we do. Birds not sowing and reaping and still getting food then does not prove what Jesus tried to use it to prove. Also, even if we have to or prefer to regard human persons as more important than animals it does not follow that we should believe we are better. Jesus wants us to believe it. That is bad enough. But it is worse when he wants us to believe it as if he were a speaker for God and knows things others do not. He uses that for us to listen to him and obey him. Just because animals don't have the same bodies as us doesn't mean they are deprived of the knowledge that they exist and sense things just as well as we do. If abortion is killing unborn babies and if we feel we have to allow it or just prefer to allow it we only make things worse by encouraging or asking people to believe the babies are not people. See the point?
The Jehovah’s Witnesses are almost alone in submitting to the Bible in one major doctrine: that Jesus Christ is not to be directly prayed to. They just pray to the Father, Jehovah God.

Jesus said that he did not come to glorify himself but the Father. Dubiously, Christians say he meant that he did not come to get glory just for himself! When Jesus was on earth it was okay for people to ask him for spiritual favours for he could hear and concentrate on their problems but it is not said that he can still do these things. The Bible never says that Jesus approved of the worship he received. You will not see a prayer to Jesus in the Bible. The saints may sing praise to him in Revelation but perhaps he was standing in front them to hear it. Moreover, one could say, “Praise to Moses”, without meaning Moses to hear it. In Heaven, he will hear about it eventually anyway.

The Bible commands prayers to be offered in the name of Jesus. That means in the authority of Jesus. Jesus has saved us or brought us near to God (Hebrews 10:19-22) or done away with the penalties that we had to pay to get back with God (Colossians 2:13, 14). “We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord” means “We ask this because Jesus the Lord has enabled and encouraged us to come to you and ask”. We are instructed by the Bible to pray to the Father in the name of Jesus. That is not praying to Jesus but is asking God to allow himself to hear Jesus praying for you as well as your praying for yourself. Jesus prays that your prayers be heard. He does not take your prayers and offer them to God.

Christians claim that the Psalms directly praise Jesus. But none of the Psalms that Jesus or the New Testament writers said were about him do that. The Psalms that praise the anointed one mean the king of Israel. Every king of Israel was a Christ.

Don’t argue that the Psalms did not address Jesus for he did not exist then for you can communicate with a person who does not exist yet by leaving a note for them.

Facing the mob who would kill him, Stephen asked Jesus to forgive his persecutors and to receive his spirit. This does not prove that prayer to Jesus is allowed because Stephen could see Jesus then. Jesus could hear him for he gave him his attention. Asking Jesus to forgive is the same as asking God to do it if the two are one in will and purpose. And if Stephen had being praying to Jesus, the Book of Acts does not express any approbation for that.

The New Testament never states that Jesus knows what is in our hearts or that he can hear prayers or understand the prayers of a million people at one time. The gospel says that Jesus knew what was in the hearts of his enemies. But he did not need any supernatural help to discern that. God can make it possible for Jesus but we are given no reason why he would do it. The Bible says Jesus knows a lot of things that are happening but that is far from knowing all. When Jesus said that the angels and the saints rejoice when a sinner repents he did not say that they all did it or that they all knew. If God announced it to them then his words don’t show that they rejoice when every sinner repents but only when every sinner they are told about repents. You can’t say if the angels know all then Jesus knows more. The doctrine that the saints can think only of God (Matthew 22:37) implies that God tells them what has happened. They only know what they are told. When you say that the country celebrated the end of a war you do not mean that all were happy about it or aware of it. We need to be clear on this because Christians would say that when the angels know what happens inside people Jesus would know more.

The New Testament says that Jesus dwells in those who are his real disciples. But Jesus dwelling in a person does not mean that he knows what the person is thinking. He could dwell in us knowing nothing about us while the Father applies the power Jesus uses to change us. Jesus said that God dwells everywhere even in the worst sinner. But the indwelling promised to believers means God dwelling in a person to change them and it is a relationship. If Jesus dwells in us this way it does not mean that he is everywhere like God. Would the Bible be teaching that Jesus would be God if he lived in us only when God needs to live in us if he is not? No for the Bible raves about tons of stupid miracles.

If Jesus is not God it is wrong to pray to him.

Prayer to the Holy Spirit is never authorised in the Bible either. The Spirit was regarded as very important in the Church which indicates that if prayer to the Holy Spirit were on we would be reading about it.

The Radio Bible Class booklet, Do Christians Believe in Three Gods? states that it is likely that we are not allowed to address Jesus or the Holy Spirit but only God the Father when we pray (page 28). Then the booklet contradicts itself and asserts that since Jesus and the Spirit are God it can’t matter which person of the Holy Trinity you turn to. To turn to one is to turn to all for they are one being and there is no jealously among them.

Reason forbids the notion of people praying to anyone besides God if God is perfectly good and wise. Praying to saints and whatever implies that you want them to pray to God for you.

Their prayer either influences God to do what you will or it does not.

If prayer influences God then he is not perfectly good. He would not wait until he is asked to do good to do it.

And if praying to Jesus increases your chance of being heard then God does not want to give you what you ask and is only doing it because he intercedes. What God wants is good and what he does not want is bad so this is saying he does evil to please Jesus! It makes Jesus the real God and God just a part-time slave.

If prayer through Jesus makes no difference then it is sinful because it is a waste. It is offensive to petition a man when you should be directing your thoughts to God. Prayer is for filling your mind with God. Unless prayer to Jesus infers that Jesus is superior to God for you are trying to go against God for Jesus’ sake.

Suppose Jesus is God the Son. He has a human nature which is called Jesus Christ and he has a divine nature which we call God the Son. To pray to Jesus would not be as good as praying to the divine nature. It is like praying to the toe instead of to the head. The Deity side is the most important side. Even if Jesus is God he should not be addressed in prayer. If that is so then the saints are even less entitled to our prayers. To honour the Deity is to honour his human nature but that does not meant we should go straight to that human person. It means there is no need to go straight to that man at all. What is unnecessary is irrational and sinful.

The prohibition against praying to Jesus does not prove that he is not God. But if we are told to pray to him it might suggest that he was God.
 
The Bible does not teach that we must pray to Jesus but tells us to pray in Jesus' name which is different. When it doesn't tell us to pray to Jesus can you imagine it tolerating the thought that we may pray to saints?
 
Conclusion
 
Christianity has no authority from its Bible to make a God of Jesus or to treat him as someone to pray to. In this the Jehovah’s Witnesses who prohibit such prayers are correct.
 
BOOKS CONSULTED

A CALL TO HERESY, Robert Van de Weyer, Lamp Press, London, 1989
ALLEGED DISCREPANCIES OF THE BIBLE, John W Haley, Whitaker House, Pennsylvania, undated
ASKING THEM QUESTIONS, Various, Oxford University Press, London, 1936
CHRIST IS GOD, Rev JP Arendzen DD, Augustine Publishing Company, Devon, 1987
CHRIST OUR LIGHT, J Buys SJ Geoffrey Chapman and Gill & Son, London-Melbourne, Dublin 1966
CHRISTIANITY FOR THE TOUGH-MINDED Ed John Warwick Montgomery, Bethany Fellowship Inc, Minneapolis, 1973
DID JESUS CHRIST REALLY COME DOWN FROM HEAVEN? Alan Hayward, Christadelphian ALS, Birmingham
DO CHRISTIANS BELIEVE IN THREE GODS? Radio Bible Class, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1992
EVIDENCE THAT DEMANDS A VERDICT, Vol 1, Josh McDowell, Alpha, Scripture Press Foundation, Bucks, 1995
FOUR GREAT HERESIES, John R Rice, Sword of the Lord, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, 1975
GOD AND THE HUMAN CONDITION, F J Sheed, Sheed & Ward, London 1967
HANDBOOK OF CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS, Peter Kreeft & Ronald Tacelli, Monarch, East Sussex, 1994
HONEST TO GOD, John AT Robinson, SCM Press, London, 1963
JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES John Wijngaards, Catholic Truth Society, London, 1998
JESUS GOD THE SON OR SON OF GOD? Fred Pearce Christadelphian Publishing Office, Birmingham
MERE CHRISTIANITY, CS Lewis, Fontana, Glasgow, 1975
MIRACLES, CS Lewis, Fontana, London, 1960
PRIESTLAND’S PROGRESS, Gerald Priestland, BBC, London, 1981
SCIENCE AND THE BIBLE, Henry Morris, Moody Press, Bucks, 1988
SET MY EXILES FREE, John Power, Logos Books, MH Gill & Son Ltd, Dublin, 1967
SOME MODERN FAITHS, Maurice C Burrell and J Stafford Wright, Intervarsity Press, Leicestershire, 1988
THE CASE FOR CHRIST, Lee Strobel, HarperCollins and Zondervan, Michigan, 1998
THE EARLY CHURCH, Henry Chadwick, Pelican, Middlesex, 1987
THE GODHEAD EXPLAINED, Christadelphian Press, Beverley, South Australia
THE METAPHOR OF GOD INCARNATE, John Hick, SCM Press, London, 1993
THE MYTH OF GOD INCARNATE, John Hick ed., SCM Press, London, 1977
THE NEW CULTS, Walter Martin, Vision House, Santa Ana, California, 1980
THE SPIRIT OF GOD, John Bedson, Lightstand Burbank CA 1984
THE UNAUTHORISED VERSION, Robin Lane Fox, Penguin Books, Middlesex, 1992
UNDERSTANDING THE CULTS, Josh McDowell and Don Stewart, Campus Crusade for Christ, San Bernardino, 1983
UNITARIAN CHRISTIANITY AND OTHER ESSAYS, William Ellery Channing, The Bobs-Merrill Company Inc, Kansas, 1957
YOU CAN LIVE FOREVER IN PARADISE ON EARTH, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, New York, 1982
 
THE WWW
 
http://www.christadelphia.org/wrested1.htm  
 
http://www.kevinquick.com/kkministries/books/reasoning/nwt.html,
Kevin Quick discusses the Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that the Bible never says that Jesus is God

www.gospelassemblyfree.com/facts/fathersonwayne.htm
Father and/or Son by H Wayne Hamburger