Friday, May 29, 2009

A distinction between "bowing down" and "worshipping"

"Suppose, however, that the One who says, 'You shall not make for yourself a graven image or any likeness, and the rest' (Ex. 20:4) implies that there is a difference between 'You shall not bow down to them' and 'You shall not worship them.' Then perhaps the person who really believes in idols worships them; but the one who does not believe but pretends to worship them through cowardice, which he calls an accommodating temper, so that he may seem to be religious like most other people does not worship idols but only bows down to them." (Origen, An Exhortation to Martyrdom)

Compare these thoughts with II Kings 5. In the narrative of Naaman the Syrian, when he was cleansed of leprosy, Naaman confesses to Elisha: "Thy servant will henceforth offer neither burnt offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto the LORD. In this thing the LORD pardon thy servant, that when my master goeth into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leaneth on my hand, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon: when I bow down myself in the house of Rimmon, the LORD pardon thy servant in this thing."

In other words, Naaman knows that he will bow down in the house of the false god; he will not worship there.

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