Q and A: Is Worship Of Jesus Idolatry?



Question of the week: is worshiping Jesus akin to pagan idolatry since he was truly a 
 man? -- Richard





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I wouldn't necessarily be idol worship. While it's true that Jesus was truly a man, it is also true that Jesus was God. The Bible teaches that Jesus is God in various places. 

For example, as the prologue to John's gospel opens "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind." - (John 1:1-5) Here, we see powerful (and I'd say overwhelming) evidence of Christ's deity. John says that The Word existed "in the beginning" with God (echoing Genesis 1:1). It says that He existed alongside of God and that He was God Himself. This sounds like Trinitarian theology to me as Jesus is not only God Himself (i.e "The Word was God") but He is a distinct person from The Father (i.e "The Word was with God"). Jesus was with The Father before the universe was created, but He is in His God Himself, and John makes that very clear. This passage goes on to say that Jesus created the entire universe and all it contains; all matter, energy, space and time. He says that nothing came into existence except that which The Word created. This is interesting because The Old Testament ascribes this activity of creation to God (Genesis 1, Isaiah 37:16, Jeremiah 32:17, etc.). In fact, Old Testament passages don't just say that God created the universe, but that God was alone in creating the universe. Passages such as Isaiah 44:24 which say that God stretched out the heavens and spread out the earth alone (i.e by Himself) and Psalm 96:5 implies that only the God of Israel created the universe while no other supposed god had any part in the heavens' creation. This would seem to show the Jehova's Witness' argument that The Word was merely "a" god to be wrong, for if it were right, there would be a contradiction in The Bible. If The Word IS God Himself, then no contradiction exists.

In addition to this, we have Colossians 1:15-17Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation. for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can't see--such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.” Colossians 1, like John 1, tells us that Jesus created everything, however, we're also told that Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. Now, this passage doesn't say that Christ was made in God's image as some who deny the deity of Christ have tried to argue, it instead says that Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God. In other words, Paul is essentially saying here that if God had a body {{and he did}}, this is what He would look like. Paul says that Christ is supreme over all creation and that He holds creation together. That sounds a lot like God to me. 

Over in Hebrews 1, you have an equally powerful affirmation that Jesus is God. This chapter of The Bible absolutely demolishes the Jehova’s Witnesses’ claim that Jesus is the arch angel St. Michael. The entire chapter is a powerful pro-deity argument. It can be read in its entirety by clicking here.

When you read Hebrews 1, you see that Jesus is “greater than the angels” and that God never said to any angel “you are my Son”. In verse 6, God says “And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, 'Let all God’s angels worship him.'” If Jesus isn’t God, then God The Father could not legitimately say “Hey, angels! Come over here and worship my son!” I mean, could you imagine God commanding anyone to worship you or me? It’s unthinkable that God should say about any human or angel “Worship him”, and yet that's what Hebrews says God said about Jesus. He commanded the angels to worship His son. If Jesus were not God, then God would, in this passage, be commanding his angels to commit idolatry, since God said "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" (Exodus 20:3) and yet He commands someone to worship Jesus in Hebrews 1:6. This could only NOT be idolatry if Jesus were God; one in essence with the Father. In verse 8, God says to Jesus "Your throne O God will endure forever and ever." God is outright calling Jesus God! He's calling somebody else God! If Jesus were a completely separate entity from God, then God would be blaspheming Himself, which seems absurd. Jesus must be God or else The Father would be uttering a blasphemous statement in Hebrews 1:8. In verse 10, the Father says to His son "In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands."  God the Father calls Jesus Lord and credits Him with creating the Earth.


I could go on and on with the biblical evidence for Christ's deity, such as when Jesus said "I and the Father are one" (John 10:30), when He said "Before Abraham was born, I Am" (John 8:58) which was Him claiming the name of God that He revealed to Moses in Exodus 3:14 and applying it to Himself, and the implicit divine implications of His claims to be The Son Of Man, The Son Of God, and The Messiah. But enough has been said in this blog post to show that Jesus is indeed God. For those who want to dig deeper into the biblical evidence for Christ's deity, check out the articles "The Self Understanding Of Jesus", "5 Objections To Jesus Being God Refuted" and "Does The Bible Teach That God Is A Trinity?" 

Anyway, given the fact that Jesus is God, it cannot be idolatry to worship Him. It would only be idolatry if Jesus were not God, as heretics like the Mormons and Jehova's Witnesses try to argue. If Jesus were merely a man, or if He were an angel, or something else, then it would be idolatry since we would be depriving God of the worship He deserves. We would "worshiping the creature, instead of the Creator -- who is forever praised. Amen!" (Romans 1:25) But since Jesus isn't a creature, but the Creator, it isn't idolatry. True, He became a human being (John 1:14, Philippians 2:5-8), but He never stopped Being God. The incarnation, as many theologians like to put it, was the addition of humanity rather than the subtraction of deity.