Ancestor worship, or ancestor reverence, has great influence on Chinese, African, Japanese, and Native American belief systems. Ancestor worship was found in the 7th century BC in Jericho and also in Greek and Roman cultures.
Does the Bible say anything about ancestor worship?
Often, those who practice ancestor worship give prayers and offerings, such as money or fruit, to the spirits of dead relatives who lived good and moral lives. The spirits of such ancestors, it is believed, can affect the present and future circumstances of the living. It is believed that these spirits can act in benevolent or evil ways toward the living. So, the offerings may be for favor or to keep the spirit from harming the adherent. Sometimes, the spirits are thought to act as a mediator between the living and the Creator.
The Bible says there is only one mediator between the living and God—that is Jesus Christ (John 14:6; 1 Timothy 2:5–6; Hebrews 8:6; 9:15; 12:24). The Bible also tells us that after people die they go to heaven or the hell, but do not inhabit this physical world (Luke 16:19–31; 2 Corinthians 5:6; Hebrews 9:27; Revelation 20:11–15).
For those who believe and have put their faith in Him, Jesus Christ acts on their behalf (Acts 26:23; Romans 1:2–5; Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 1:3–4).
We are not to worship anyone or anything else other than the One, True God (Exodus 20:3–6; Matthew 6:24; Mark 12:29–31). The Bible tells us repeatedly not to contact, or attempt to contact, the dead. This is prohibited (Exodus 22:18, Leviticus 19:32; 20:6, 27; Deuteronomy 18:10–11; 1 Samuel 28:3; Jeremiah 27:9–10; Galatians 5:19–21).
John Calvin famously said that our hearts are idol factories, yet God prohibits us from worshipping anyone or anything but Him. Honoring the memory of our forbearers is okay, but worshipping our ancestors or thinking that they can be some sort of mediator between us and God or some sort of god to us is clearly not biblical.
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