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In this Biblical Unitarian answer to a question asking after differences in the way that Catholics view Mary vs. how Biblical Unitarians view Jesus there appears the following:

Like Mary in Catholicism with special 'veneration' or devotion, there is an attitude towards Jesus which others might consider 'worship' and inappropriate towards anyone except God, and which is not equal to other humans in heaven.

Catholics insist that the veneration they direct towards Mary is not the same as the worship that belongs to God alone. Of course, for Catholics, God indicates the three persons of the Trinity.

Given the block-quote above my question is: Do Biblical Unitarians worship Jesus or only venerate him in the same sense in which Catholics venerate Mary?

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    Good question. I suspect it is all about the various ways proskuneo is used in scripture. Bowing before a higher ranking human is worship technically
    – Kristopher
    Commented Jan 24, 2023 at 16:37
  • hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/68592/…
    – Kristopher
    Commented Jan 24, 2023 at 16:51
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    Just for clarity here is a Catholic definition of Dulia: "A theological term signifying the honour paid to the saints, while latria means worship given to God alone, and hyperdulia the veneration offered to the Blessed Virgin Mary."
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Jan 24, 2023 at 23:29
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    'He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ hath both the Father and the Son'. But if one does not abide in the doctrine of Christ 'he knoweth not God'. If certain doctrine is not lived in then there is no knowledge of whom God actually is. (And therefore there is no worship of God at all, just worship of the creature. ) This question is about the defining of 'the doctrine of Christ'. Up-voted +1.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jan 26, 2023 at 3:42
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    No, Biblical Unitarians do not worship Jesus Christ. They will admit that Jesus Christ is God's son but He is not divine. Hebrews 1:6 where His Father states "And let all the angels of God worship Him." The word worship in Greek is "proskuneo," and is actual worship. At Luke 4:8, "It is written, you shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only." So, at Hebrews 1:6, Who would God require the angels to worship, a man, creature, a fellow angel? To ask these questions is to answer them. God requires them to worship none but God, this passage proves that the Son of God should be worshipped .
    – Mr. Bond
    Commented Sep 3, 2023 at 16:32

2 Answers 2

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Do Biblical Unitarians worship Jesus or venerate him?

The short answer is no, they do not worship Jesus in the sense as adoring him as God, but merely venerate him as the Son of God in his earthly humanity. Jesus is not Divine according to Biblical Unitarians.

Biblical Unitarians may not worship Jesus, but may venerate him as the Son of God.

There are many articles on the Internet by Biblical Unitarian which get into the definition of worship as respect or honouring Jesus in his humanity. But they carefully avoid placing the meaning of worship to mean the adoration that is reserved to God alone.

The article Can we “worship” Jesus Christ? is a prime example as to what I am getting at. Nowhere in the long post does it even comes close to admitting that Jesus may be adored as God, but more closely he may be respected and honoured or perhaps even venerated because he is the Son of God, but not God.

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Archive has the following to say about Biblical Unitarians in it’s main article on Unitarianism

There are presently a number of small Christian groups calling themselves “biblical unitarians” (or: Christian monotheists or one God believers)to distinguish themselves from late 19th to 21st century Unitarians and Unitarian Universalists. Their arguments draw on early modern unitarian sources, while eschewing some of the idiosyncrasies of Socinus’s theology and most of the extra revisions of the Priestley-derived stream of unitarians. Like late 18th to early 19th century unitarians, they argue at length that trinitarianism has no biblical foundation, and is inconsistent with its clear teachings. They also reject trinitarianism as contradictory or unintelligible, as involving idolatry, and as having been, as it were, illegally imported from Platonic philosophy (Buzzard 2007; Buzzard and Hunting 1999; Graeser et al. 2000; Snedeker 1998). On some issues they draw support from recent biblical scholarship, for example, the point that talk of “generation” and “procession” in the gospel of John doesn’t support later claims about inter-trinitarian relations (Buzzard and Hunting 1999, 306–8). Although this literature points out real tensions within contemporary theology (between text-oriented commentators and systematic theologians) it is widely ignored in academic theology and philosophy, and its adherents are generally excluded from the institutions of mainstream Christianity.

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As a non-Trinitarian, the Biblical answer to this question is easy. It is found in the first chapter of Hebrews.

1God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
2Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
3Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:
4Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.
5For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?
6And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. (Hebrews 1:1-6, KJV)

Depending on how one chooses to interpret this passage, God is either commanding, or permitting, the worship of His Son.

If the Son were already God, it would be no sin to worship him, and there would be no need for this command. But given that God has expressly enjoined upon His subjects the worship of His Son, it is no sin to do so, whether the Son is a created being or not. If the angels of Heaven, who are perfect, worship the Son, so may we who are created even lower than the angels.

Conclusion

Jesus may be freely worshiped by all.

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  • Here is an interesting article on the etymology of proskuneo. abarim-publications.com/DictionaryG/p/p-r-o-s-k-u-n-e-om.html If this word (which is in the imperative mood), indeed, means 'to advance toward to kiss and ultimately fully merge with' rather than some kind of religious activity then Psalm 2 takes on a whole new aspect. Commented Aug 5, 2023 at 13:16
  • @MikeBorden I would agree that "proskuneo" could mean "bow" or "prostrate oneself" etc. and not necessarily "worship." However, there is no escaping the Ten Commandments which spell out the definition of worship as including such actions. "Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them..." (Exodus 20:5, KJV). In fact, the Ten Commandments also do not use the word "worship," and yet no serious Bible student would contest the fact that it goes against the Commandments to worship anyone or anything other than the true God.
    – Biblasia
    Commented Aug 5, 2023 at 14:13
  • " no serious Bible student would contest the fact that it goes against the Commandments to worship anyone or anything other than the true God." And Jesus is to be worshiped so He cannot be other than the true God. Commented Aug 5, 2023 at 18:37
  • @MikeBorden Well, as the Bible indicates, we are given permission to worship Jesus. We are commanded to worship God. Somehow, there seems to be some difference there...and Jesus said that the Father was the only true God.
    – Biblasia
    Commented Aug 5, 2023 at 19:04
  • "true" may not be the very best translation: The adjective αληθινος (alethinos), meaning pertaining to or in pursuit of convention and synchronization: something about which there is no disagreement or about which there will be no disagreement when all that can be unearthed is unearthed. Something that will never fail, never go away and has always been part of the eternal order of creation. Commented Aug 9, 2023 at 12:20

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