I’m slowly working my way through ’The Institutes of the Christian Religion’ by John Calvin at the moment and am expanding my vocabulary in the process. It’s one of those books where it really helps to have a good dictionary (or a device with access to Google!) to hand.
I came across a couple of terms today that I don’t recall hearing before and which I think may be useful to those seeking to understand the way worship operates in the Roman Catholic Church. The terms are latria (pronounced ‘luh-trahy-uh’) and dulia (pronounced ‘doo-lahy-uh’). Latria is adoration due to God alone and dulia is veneration due to those worthy of honour as creatures. The Greek latreia means service or worship and douleia is Greek for servitude.
The distinction between latria and dulia provokes an important question: Is it right to give veneration and honour to creatures? Certainly in Roman Catholicism, veneration is given to certain saints and angels, and Catholics would describe this as dulia. To further complicate matters there is the term ‘hyperdulia’ which refers specifically to adoration of the Virgin Mary.
Most Protestants would only recognise latria as true worship and would argue from Scripture that giving veneration to anyone or anything other than God alone is blasphemous. So I guess it boils down to that all-important question that all Christians must consider – is your ultimate authority in matters of faith the Bible or the teachings of the Catholic Church?