Christian Worship of the Pope is also Human Worship – 6 Sep 11

Religion

I have written a lot about Hinduism and have condemned the worship of humans many times. Friends who grew up in Christian culture told me that they have always learned as Christians not to worship any person and not to worship any statue. For them there is only one God and He does not have any image. This is why, they said, they don’t have God statues or murtis, as they are called here, in their churches. Although I have repeatedly been told that there is a big difference between Hinduism and Christianity, I see a lot of similarities, even in this point.

I cannot know as much about Christianity as I know about Hinduism but I have also heard about Moses who brought the people of Israel out of Egypt as a kind of messenger of God. When the people there started worshipping a cow out of cold, he got angry and God gave them the message that they should not worship any statues. When he himself claimed to have helped the people, God made him aware that he was not the one with the power, that he was not God and should not want people to believe this.

These stories make it very clear that whoever wrote it wanted to have a very different religion than the ones existing in that time, the Roman Gods, the Greek Gods, the Celtic Gods and maybe they had even heard of the Hindu Gods. They did not want statues and did not want to worship any person pretending to be God. In the end however I do not see much difference in between today’s Hinduism and the Christianity that I have seen and heard of.

Both religions have such scriptures, that is anyway the very first thing. Many people believe in them word by word although they are also only stories, nicely told for people to understand the basic rules of religion. And although Christianity says in their Bible that nobody should worship any statue, I again and again see the crucifix, the statue of Jesus, hanging at the cross, blood running down his sides. People stand in front of that statue and pray to it. What is that? Well, it is not a statue of God himself, I am told. It is a statue of God’s son. But it is a statue! Then there is mother Mary with the baby Jesus. She resembles hope, everything good, soft and loving. Isn’t that as though you are praying to the statue of the goddess Parvati, Lakshmi or Saraswati? Where really is the difference? You ask her, you pray to her and you make a wish. Isn’t it the same thing, praying to a statue? This is why it was easy for Christian missionaries in South India to convert people to Christianity. They just change the statue, it does not make much difference! When we were in Kerala earlier this year, we noticed this. If you see the statues there, they look pretty much as the Hindu Gods and Goddesses, colourful, adorned, flowers spread around them. In its basics it is the same.

The main point that I wanted to make though is that Catholic Christians say that they don’t do any human worship but when I talk against human worship, I also consider their main priest like any of our Hindu gurus: the Pope. What do you do if not worship him? Have you ever seen how those masses of people come together to see him and maybe even be touched by him when he comes out to speak the Easter blessing? Or how many people gather to have a look at him when he comes to their town or anywhere close-by? How many of those believers long for just a single touch, just one word or a look of him? It is the same thing again! How can that not be human worship? He even has the attribute of being impeccable. What he says and writes has to be accepted as the truth, just like the words of any guru!

Again, there is really not any big difference in between the religions. I grew up here in India, in Hinduism and that is why I obviously know much more about it than about any other religion. When anybody tells me anything from other religions though, there are always things that strike me as same. So it doesn’t matter which religion, when I talk against human worship, I speak of human worship in any religion and culture. It is always wrong.

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  1. dita

    Dear Swami Ji,simailarly as you do, Marthin Luther noted disadwantages of Catholicism already in 16the century and was initiator of Protestant christian church which does not worship Pope.

    P.s. Any christian doctrine introduces the Holy Spirit (maybe similar with Atman in Hinduism).

  2. Mikaela Dinedo

    That is right, the Lutheran point of view is quite different from the Catholic one, as is I believe the idea that Calvin propagated. The pope does not play a role but you have a personal relation to God. You don’t need to confess to a priest but to God. And there are no saints to pray to. They also don’t have the crossed Jesus in their churches. They have other faults – such as the thought they are the only right church.

  3. Ken Stilwell

    Swami Ji, I was raised in the Catholic tradition (10 years of Catholic School) and I have never worship the Pope. In fact, I believe that worship is for God, not humans…and I think our Bible says the same. My biggest problem with the Catholic church has been how it tries to be the absolute representative of God which in some ways makes me feel as though my own relationship with God is not good enough…and I strongly object to that.

  4. Ramona

    I also believe that the Bible says that but what you can see when the Pope come in any town really looks like worship.I think exactly that point, that you get the feeling you need him or the church to be in touch with God, has made many people turn away from the Catholic Church.

  5. Ken Stilwell

    Ramona – I certainly agree.A relationship with one’s church is not to be confused with one’s relationship with God…and I think many are confused sheep.

  6. Hans-Christian Vom Kolke

    Yes, that is exactly what it is all about. Sometimes, priests with more differentiated views on this topic tell me, that people tend to the church seeking for comfort. So they “give” them the “Mary-cult” to offer an easy solution that those people want. But instead they could show them, that all that is needed to be comforted, is inside of each one of us: love, for yourself, and for others.

  7. Paramesha Mysore

    I agree, people are doing it bz they wanted in that lifestyle,

  8. Deniz

    True that there’s lots of idolatry and worship of people (hagiolatry) in Christianity. It’s also worth noting that Christianity is largely based on a Bronze Age notion of salvation through human sacrifice, or sacrifice of a human being at an altar. However, in reaction against idolatry, religions can go to opposite extremes as in Islam and, out of fear, forbid depictions of human beings in art. A middle and rational ground between these extremes of opinion in my view is to just view religious art as art, and to allow oneself to be inspired by it as art. Good art of any kind can help set a mood or good atmosphere conducive to inspiration. I believe that there should be no restrictions on artistic represenations of inspirational figures, whether the figures are figurative or abstract, but we should never forget that the art objects are art objects and nothing else.

  9. Tricia

    I think that as a Christian these are the most confusing points…things like why does god allow bad things to happen and why the crucifix is worshipped or held to such high esteem…I asked my father this once ( my actual father, I’m not catholic) and as he told me it is that the cross is merely a symbol, a reminder, it isn’t meant to be worshipped and those who worship it are sorely misled.

  10. merlin

    The God of the bible is not same as the other gods. He is the creator of all creations. He is a jealous God. He wants total obedience from his children. God is spirit, so His worshippers must worship Him in truth and spirit. He wants us as we are, broken, in pain, sick, irrespective of our caste, creed, culture. He has a plan for all of us. A plan to live forever with Him in eternity. We only have to believe in Him and His Son Jesus, who came for all us that whosoever believes in Him will have everlasting life. In return, we only have to say,yes. Simple, no rituals, no sacrifice just a truthful heart.

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