Summary: The Role of Veneration to God, angels, men, and the dead. A Biblical study of veneration of worship.
The Role of Veneration
I propose a resolution to you the reader on the role of veneration in the Church. The veneration of saints and holy people of the Church should be permitted.
Now to define what I mean. Veneration is defined as respect, honor, giving what is due, etc. It can be expressed through imitation, bowing, kneeling, falling to the ground, a simple nod etc. Saints are those who have died and are in heaven; in another sense saints are those that are the Christian elect mentioned by Paul when he greets his congregations. In case there is a dispute in these terms I also include holy men, or men who have done great works or expressed powerful faith that would deem recognition. So these definitions include holy men that have died and are still living today. The church being the entire Christian community for the Bible is supposed to be guiding force for all churches and denominations. When I say “should” I mean that an action be taken that is not available today, and when I mean “permit” it is understood that religious leaders encourage or at very least allow the proposed behavior to take place.
The criteria for deciding this issue should not be with the famous writings of people in the past or even in the present. Nor should the criteria be in philosophy but in scripture, the Bible. For the Bible is the source in which all denominations can agree is an infallible work, where is traditions and outside writings are different and suspect in the denominations. Clearing your mind of all outside influences let us proceed to look through the Bible and its context concerning this issue.
I begin by proposing veneration to angels and I use an example in Matthew.
Matthew 18:10 Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.
This is the reason to venerate angels for their union and dignity for they see the face of God. I back up my reasoning with several examples in scripture where such veneration occurs.
In Genesis 19:1And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground;
Now Lot did not worship the angels but showed them veneration in bowing before them with his face towards the ground. If he had instead worshipped, the angels would have surely rebuked him, but in any case Lot was favored by God because he had great faith.
Joshua 5:14 And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant?
The captain being an angel of the Lord, Joshua bows before the figure. Now there may be doubt that perhaps the captain of the host of the Lord is indeed God Himself so I will provide another example.
Tobiah and Tobit fell to the ground in veneration to the angel Raphael in the book Tobit. If you have that book you will find it in Tobit 12:16.
In fairness for those who don’t have this book I have another example.
Daniel 8:16 And I heard a man’s voice between the banks of Ulai, which called, and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision. 17 So he came near where I stood: and when he came, I was afraid, and fell upon my face: but he said unto me, Understand, O son of man: for at the time of the end shall be the vision.
But even angels venerate as Gabriel does in Luke 1:28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
But human beings are capable of venerating other human beings. In this example Joseph is an Egyptian governor which commands respect.
Gen. 42:6 And Joseph was the governor over the land, and he it was that sold to all the people of the land: and Joseph’s brethren came, and bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth.
You shall honor the priests, pastors, and ministers of the Lord.
Exodus 28: 2 And thou shalt make holy garments for Aaron thy brother for glory and for beauty.
You shall honor elderly not only in respect but in caring for them.
Lev. 19:32 Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the LORD.