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Ancestor Worship
(470 words)

1. The phrase “ancestor worship” comes from an era when Europeans ruled over foreign cultures and religions. The Spaniards spoke of it as the culto de los antepasados. Missionaries deplored it as a sin against the first commandment (Decalogue). The term is still in vogue, perhaps because Europeans accuse others of the sin and can feel that they are above reproach. But people of those other cultures—including the Christians among them—feel misunderstood and insulted by the term.

Such misunderstandings grow out of mistaken comparisons. Thus the Polynesian Maoris speak of a…

Cite this page
Greschat, Hans-Jürgen, “Ancestor Worship”, in: Encyclopedia of Christianity Online. Consulted online on 17 August 2022 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2211-2685_eco_A272>
First published online: 2011
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004169678, 20080512

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