Thursday, April 17, 2008

Is it okay for Lutherans to believe this?

"Psalm 99:5 'Worship His footstool.' His footstool is the earth, and Christ took upon Him earth of earth, because flesh is of earth; and He received flesh of the flesh of Mary. And because He walked here in this very flesh, He also gave this flesh to be eaten by us for salvation. But no one eats that flesh unless he has first worshiped it. Therefore the way has been found how such footstool of the Lord may be worshiped, so that we not only do not sin by worshiping it, but sin by not worshiping."

18 comments:

Chris Jones said...

I sure hope so.

Look at it this way: Do we worship a Person, or a Nature?

If we worship a Nature, then we dare not worship the humanity of the Saviour, because that would be to worship something that is not divine, and so would be idolatry. So we must worship only the divine nature of Jesus, and take care not to worship his human nature.

But if it is a Person -- an hypostasis -- that we worship, then we are free (indeed we are bound) to worship Him in both natures, divine and human, for it is one and the same Person who is the subject of both natures. There are in Christ two natures, divine and human; but there is in Christ no human hypostasis, for the hypostasis of Christ is one and the same with the divine Logos, the second Person of the Trinity.

Surely we may worship the flesh of the Son of God that is given for us to eat, because we are worshiping the Person Whose flesh it is. To do otherwise would be Nestorian.

Peter said...

Ok, I guess I see the point you're aiming at. We worship the man, Christ Jesus. But, are you sure about your translation of the Psalm? My Hebrew's rusty, but "footstool" is preceded by a lamed. So, wouldn't it be "worship 'at' his footstool"? The LXX puts "footstool" in the dative, which, again, is not the (direct) object of the worship.

Ryan said...

Perhaps not the intent, but the phrase 'But no one eats that flesh unless he has first worshiped it.' seems to ignore the possiblility of an unbeliever eating the flesh of Christ in the sacrament. The confessions are very clear that even if an unbeliever receives the convession (albiet to judgement) he still receives the Body and Blood of Christ, even without worshiping it.

As far a worshiping Christ through the elements, I have always understood that the sacrament is only the sacrament when it is actually distributed and consumed. So they certainly cannot be worshiped without being distributed and consumed. It should also be defined what is meant by worship. Many would argue that eating and drinking the sacrament is in itself a form of worship, yet the same people would object to singing and praying to the elements.

Chris Jones said...

Ryan,

I have always understood that the sacrament is only the sacrament when it is actually distributed and consumed.

What is the basis for this? Did Christ say "This is My body only for as long as it takes to distribute and consume it"? I do not remember any such qualifier.

It is one thing to say that distribution and consumption is an integral part of the Mass, and to object to extra-liturgical adoration of the sacrament. It is quite another to set time limits on the Real Presence. We do not consecrate the elements for the purpose of extra-liturgical adoration, but if the elements remain after the Mass, there can be no basis for supposing that the Real Presence does not continue according to the Lord's promise. And thus there can be no objection to worshiping the incarnate Word of God Who is present in those elements.

... people would object to singing and praying to the elements

What is the Agnus Dei, if not both a hymn and a prayer addressed to the second Person of the Trinity, Who (at that point in the Mass) is bodily present upon the altar? Do those who "would object to singing and praying" refrain from singing the Agnus Dei and suggest that we remove it from our service-books?

Father Hollywood said...

Peter:

I think it's Jerome's translation. The Vulgate renders it "adorate scabellum" (accusative) - which is picked up in the accusative also in the Douay ("adore his footstool").

The KJV, however, understands it in the dative ("worship at his footstool"). The RC NJB agrees with the KJV's "at", while the popular American RC NAB translation leans back toward Jerome ("bow down before his footstool.").

The BCP Psalter (which is Coverdale, I believe) takes a similar tack as Jerome: "fall down before his footstool" and Luther seems quite similar: "betet an zu seinem FuBschemel."

The author of the commentary interprets it in the accusative. Is such an interpretation and conclusion consistent with the Lutheran confessions?

Pr. H. R. said...

Amen and Amen. And this is one reason, I think, why we should be glad that Chemnitz and other Lutheran fathers looked down upon the so-called seventh ecumenical council (Nicea II, A+D 787) with its division of latreia, doulia, and hyper-doulia.

For that council, the body of Christ is not worthy of true worship - latreia, which is only offered to God. Nor is the body of Christ held in as low esteem as the saints - which receive veneration, doulia. Rather, the body of Christ (and by extension the body of Mary) receive hyper-doulia.

Pah. This is naught but scholasticism giving Nestorius a foothold and beach head in the church. We worship Christ. God died on Good Friday. Mary is the Mother of God. A man rules the universe. And when I genuflect after each consecration I'm worshiping with latreia.

So bully for Jerome for getting it right so many years before this first of the medieval councils.

+HRC

PS for Ryan: on Receptionism and why it should be rejected please read Dr. Scott Murray's article in Logia 9.3. I can email it in pdf to anyone who wants it: pastorcurtis AT gmail DOT com.

Pr. H. R. said...

So, Fr. Hollywood, in answer to your question: Lutherans would seem to me to be the only ones who can believe Jerome's statement today. For of the communions that acknowledge the bodily and bloodily presence of Christ in the Sacrament, only the Lutherans reject the findings of Nicea II.

Go figure.

+HRC

Chris Jones said...

Pastor Curtis,

Your account of the teaching of Nicaea II is quite wrong.

Nicaea II does make use of the distinction between adoration and veneration (though it uses the terms latreia and proskunesis rather than latreia and doulia to draw this distinction), but the term hyperdouleia does not occur in its decrees. Nor is the Blessed Virgin singled out in its decrees for a higher degree of veneration than any other saint.

Your most egregious error, however, is the assertion that Nicaea II teaches that the body of Christ in the Eucharist is worthy only of "hyperdoulia" and not "latreia." The council taught no such thing. The decrees of the council do not address the subject of the Eucharist at all. Nicaea II did not teach what you claim that it taught, and the Churches which accept Nicaea II as ecumenical (Catholicism and Orthodoxy) do not teach, and never have taught, what you claim that Nicaea II taught.

There is, however, a council which taught a doctrine like the one which you describe. The Iconoclast Council of Hieria (754) condemned the veneration of icons and taught that the only representation of Christ which may properly be venerated is the bread and wine of the Supper. Thus it was not the orthodox Nicaea II, but the heretical Hieria, which ascribed to the sacramental elements veneration only, but not adoration.

Perhaps this is the source of your confusion. If Nicaea II had taught what you say that it taught, it would have been heretical (as was Hieria). Nicaea II did not so teach, and is quite orthodox.

Peter said...

Well, "fall down before his footstool" is a hyperbolic way of saying "fall down before his throne." The latter doesn't mean we are actually worshiping the throne, any more than the former means we are worshiping the footstool. I have no idea how Jerome got there. And, no, I don't think it's a biblical way of speaking.

Peter said...

This ought to make you happy: Here's Ambrose, according to the ACCS: "But they worship not only his Godhead but also his footstool, as it is written: "And worship his footstool, for it is holy." Or if they deny that in Christ the mysteries also of his incarnation are to be worshiped, in which we observe as it were certain express traces of his Godhead and certain ways of the heavenly Word, let them read that even the apostles worshiped him when he rose again in the glory of his flesh. (On the Homily of the Spirit 3.11.75-76).

Looking at the grammar, though, I still think Ambrose and Jerome are wrong. Perhaps, it's due to a mistranslation. I'm not sure. But, certainly, Ambrose argues the way you do. (Not that I think he's right.)

Looking at the context of the psalm, "worshiping at his footstool" seems to be analogous with worshiping in Zion (vs. 1), his holy mountain (vs. 9). Our Lord is on Zion enthroned upon the cherubim (vs. 1). In each case, the psalmist is urging us to worship the Lord where he truly resides. Otherwise, I suppose, we would also worship Mt. Zion. The analagous NT option (I think) would be to worship Nazareth or Bethlehem as the place where our Lord lived. So, I'm not on board with your reading.

But, admittedly, you are not alone in your reading.

Pr. H. R. said...

Chris,

Thanks for the correction - I'll double check what I was remembering from, which is Justo Gonzalez's work, and try to figure out where I got mixed up.

+HRC

Pr. H. R. said...

Chris,

Again, thanks for the correction on Nicea II - I was indeed conflating several things: this ought to teach me to doublecheck before I type!

I still think there are good reasons why traditional Lutherans have viewed that council unfavorably, but that's another topic.

One thing I was mixing up with Nicea II were the comments of Aquinas on whether the body of Christ receives latria and why. (But I'm still hunting for a specific quote, I think in Gonzalez, about how hyperdulia fits in here. Maybe I'm just misremembering that as well, but I have this line almost word for word in my head - know the feeling? I'll keep looking. . . )

As you'll see below, it's very interesting. Thomas says the Body of Christ receives both latria and dulia for different reasons - so it's still not quite a straight forward "yes."

At any rate, here's Aquinas:
P.III Q.25
Article 2. Whether Christ's humanity should be adored with the adoration of "latria"?

Objection 1. It would seem that Christ's soul should not be adored with the adoration of "latria." For on the words of Psalm 98:5, "Adore His foot-stool for it is holy," a gloss says: "The flesh assumed by the Word of God is rightly adored by us: for no one partakes spiritually of His flesh unless he first adore it; but not indeed with the adoration called 'latria,' which is due to the Creator alone." Now the flesh is part of the humanity. Therefore Christ's humanity is not to be adored with the adoration of "latria."

Objection 2. Further, the worship of "latria" is not to be given to any creature: since for this reason were the Gentiles reproved, that they "worshiped and served the creature," as it is written (Romans 1:25). But Christ's humanity is a creature. Therefore it should not be adored with the adoration of "latria."

Objection 3. Further, the adoration of "latria" is due to God in recognition of His supreme dominion, according to Deuteronomy 6:13: "Thou shalt adore [Vulgate: 'fear'; cf. Matthew 4:10] the Lord thy God, and shalt serve Him only." But Christ as man is less than the Father. Therefore His humanity is not to be adored with the adoration of "latria."

On the contrary, Damascene says (De Fide Orth. iv, 3): "On account of the incarnation of the Divine Word, we adore the flesh of Christ not for its own sake, but because the Word of God is united thereto in person." And on Psalm 98:5, "Adore His foot-stool," a gloss says: "He who adores the body of Christ, regards not the earth, but rather Him whose foot-stool it is, in Whose honor he adores the foot-stool." But the incarnate Word is adored with the adoration of "latria." Therefore also His body or His humanity.

I answer that, As stated above (Article 1) adoration is due to the subsisting hypostasis: yet the reason for honoring may be something non-subsistent, on account of which the person, in whom it is, is honored. And so the adoration of Christ's humanity may be understood in two ways. First, so that the humanity is the thing adored: and thus to adore the flesh of Christ is nothing else than to adore the incarnate Word of God: just as to adore a King's robe is nothing else than to adore a robed King. And in this sense the adoration of Christ's humanity is the adoration of "latria." Secondly, the adoration of Christ's humanity may be taken as given by reason of its being perfected with every gift of grace. And so in this sense the adoration of Christ's humanity is the adoration not of "latria" but of "dulia." So that one and the same Person of Christ is adored with "latria" on account of His Divinity, and with "dulia" on account of His perfect humanity.

Nor is this unfitting. For the honor of "latria" is due to God the Father Himself on account of His Godhead; and the honor of "dulia" on account of the dominion by which He rules over creatures. Wherefore on Psalm 7:1, "O Lord my God, in Thee have I hoped," a gloss says: "Lord of all by power, to Whom 'dulia' is due: God of all by creation, to Whom 'latria' is due."

Reply to Objection 1. That gloss is not to be understood as though the flesh of Christ were adored separately from its Godhead: for this could happen only, if there were one hypostasis of God, and another of man. But since, as Damascene says (De Fide Orth. iv, 3): "If by a subtle distinction you divide what is seen from what is understood, it cannot be adored because it is a creature"--that is, with adoration of "latria." And then thus understood as distinct from the Word of God, it should be adored with the adoration of "dulia"; not any kind of "dulia," such as is given to other creatures, but with a certain higher adoration, which is called "hyperdulia."

Hence appear the answers to the second and third objections. Because the adoration of "latria" is not given to Christ's humanity in respect of itself; but in respect of the Godhead to which it is united, by reason of which Christ is not less than the Father.

Pr. H. R. said...

Specifically, in the Aquinas above, it's this passage that has me wondering if Thomas doesn't take away with the left hand what he gives with the right:

"First, so that the humanity is the thing adored: and thus to adore the flesh of Christ is nothing else than to adore the incarnate Word of God: just as to adore a King's robe is nothing else than to adore a robed King. And in this sense the adoration of Christ's humanity is the adoration of "latria." Secondly, the adoration of Christ's humanity may be taken as given by reason of its being perfected with every gift of grace. And so in this sense the adoration of Christ's humanity is the adoration not of "latria" but of "dulia.""

Adoring the flesh of Christ is nothing more than adoring the robe of a robed king? Hmmm...

+HRC

Father Hollywood said...

Peter:

I'm not saying it's *my* reading. I agree with your exegesis of the text. I don't know why Jerome renders it into the accusative either. I'm also puzzled (though not being a doctor or scholar, I feel unqualified to gainsay St. Jerome).

But I suppose the conclusion drawn by the theologian I'm quoting ("a man many of you Lutherans admire") can be made even without his exegesis of the Psalm.

When the thread dies down, I'll reveal the source (hint: it's not Joel Osteen).

Peter said...

I see what "A" is getting at when he speaks of adoring the flesh of Christ. With Thomas, he says that there is no God apart from the man Jesus. To despise the earthly things then is to despise God himself. To cling to Christ's flesh is to cling to Christ, who is the only access to the Father. I just wish he wouldn't have used such an awkward passage to make his point.

Chris Jones said...

Pastor Curtis,

I've never been a big Aquinas fan, and what you've quoted doesn't change that. It seems to me that Aquinas is being over-subtle here. He is certainly making finer distinctions than the decrees of Nicaea II ever did.

This whole chain of reasoning starts off badly because the initial question is put very badly. Aquinas asks whether Christ's humanity should be adored with the adoration of "latria". But "humanity" is a Nature, not a Person. Hearkening back to my first comment on this thread, we do not adore a Nature (human or divine), but a Person, Who is both human and divine. The very question that Aquinas asks begins by dividing (notionally, at least) the divinity from the humanity in Christ, before asking whether the sort of worship we should offer is different between the two. Thus the question itself is Nestorianizing.

There is a telling difference between Aquinas and St John of Damascus, whom he quotes but does not really follow. Aquinas says that the adoration of "latria" is not given to Christ's humanity in respect of itself, but in respect of the Godhead to which it is united. So for Aquinas the basis of latria is the nature of the one worshiped: the human nature is not worthy of latria on its own account, but by virtue of the divine nature to which it is united. But St John says we adore the flesh of Christ not for its own sake, but because the Word of God is united thereto in person. So for St John the basis of latria is the person Who is worshiped, not the nature abstracted from the person. For the nature cannot be abstracted from the person, so even to ask whether "humanity" considered by itself ought to be worshiped makes no sense.

The answer to Aquinas's original question is that the only-begotten Son and immortal Word of God is to be adored with latria in both natures on account of His divine Personhood. Because the question is not "What do we worship?" but "Whom do we worship?".

Father Hollywood said...

The quote comes from St. Augustine of Hippo (and can be found in NPNF series I, 8:485).

It is cited in the "Catalogue of Testimonies" - which is included in several editions of the Book of Concord. I quoted the translation from the Triglotta, p. 1127.

It is not found in either the Tappert or the "Kip Winger" edition (though it is included in the latter's companion volume called Sources and Contexts, p. 232). It is cited in the McCain (p. 663 in the First Edition).

Of course, we don't subscribe to the Catalogue of Testimonies, but being that it is an appendix to the Book of Concord written by two of the authors of the Formula of Concord, it would seem that the burden of proof lies with those who differ with Augustine here (including receptionists, those who condemn adoration of the body and blood of Christ prior to consuming the elements, as well as a professor at Concordia Portland who claims the Muslims mischaracterize Christianity when they claim that we worship a man and thus we should change our creeds and liturgy to correct this "problem").

"Venite adoremus, Dominum!"

Father Hollywood said...

Postscript:

I have an Eastern Orthodox translation of the Septuagint Psalter (from the Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Boston, 1987). They render Ps 99:5 (which is Psalm 98 in the LXX) this way:

"Exalt ye the Lord our God, and worship the footstool of His feet; for He is holy."

I wonder if there are variant readings of the LXX?