An idea may appear just and right in the eyes of one person, and completely wrong in the eyes of another. This paper looks at the emic and epic perspective of the roman catholic faith and the symbols they use in worship, such as crucifix and rosary. While the etic perspective deals with an outside observation of another culture or religion, the emic perspective is first hand from the person who has experienced the culture or religion. Whereas Catholics view rosary and crucifix as ways to pray and obtain grace, outsiders view the symbols as idol worship.
From an etic perspective, roman catholic faith is not different from other Christian religions. For example, they pray using the Lord’s prayer, believe in God and Jesus, and worship through songs and prayers to God. However, the Roman Catholics pray to Jesus through Mary the mother of Jesus. This contradicts the bible’s verse that says that Jesus is the only way to the father, and he mediates between humans and God. This also varies from other Christian faith where people pray directly pray to God without asking for Mary’s help. Jesus is divines and the son of God, while Mary was human. From an etic perspective, it does not make much sense to ask Mary and other human saints who died to intercede on people’s behalf.
Additionally, Roman Catholics use symbols as cross and rosary during worship. This may be considered as idol worship considering that one of the Bible’s ten commandments warns people against making any images and worshipping it. According to Molly (2018), the epic perspective is validated through empirical analysis and logic, and thus they are observer-independent. Perkins (2016) expresses his outside opinion of the catholic symbols by arguing that catholic’s beads and rosaries are just items for idol worship since Catholics view them as their God. Thus, from this perspective Catholics can be viewed as idol worshippers who have made an image of God to worship it.
In the emic perspective rosaries and crucifix are meant to help believers. An emic perspective views catholic faith from inside and judges its validity out of experience and practice. Pope Francis, one of the renown leaders in the Roman Catholic, explains its symbols as a remedy for believers’ spiritual ills. The symbols also help catholic believers to think about the mysteries of Mary and Jesus as they pray, and imitate their virtues (Pope Francis 2015). When Catholics combine a rosary with a pure heart, they evoke Mary’s mercy. Through Mary, the mother of Jesus, catholic believers become pleased as God. Moreover, the wording used when praying using a rosary is not created by man, but instead, it is ordained by God. When praying through Mary using the rosary wording, Catholics receive answers to their prayers.
Therefore, from an epic perspective, Roman Catholic faith may be seen as idol worship due to the use of crucifix and rosary while in an emic view these symbols assist in prayers. Although outsiders view the belief in Mary as wrong because Mary was a human, Catholics believe that through Mary, they find favor in Jesus because Mary prays for them. The outsider perspective does not fully comprehend the Catholic faith since they have not experienced and thus they judge it through logic, outside observation, and empirical analysis.
Molloy, M. (2018). Experiencing the World’s Religions: Sixth Edition (7th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Higher Education.
Perkins, R. D. (2016). Without Denomination: A Critique of Church Doctrines. Page Publishing.
Pope Francis. (2015). The Rosary with Pope Francis. Pauline Books & Media.
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