Thursday, March 10, 2011

Calvin - Chapter 11

Well - I did say I was hoping to get back into reading Calvin this year, after it all fell apart last year. I had managed 10 chapters, so now resume with Chapter 11. Follow this link to see all previous posts. I'm happy to see both Cathy and Meredith also seem to be trying again too (although I think they are a little ahead of me)!

Chapter XI: It is Unlawful to Attribute a Visible Form to God, and Generally Whoever Sets Up Idols Revolts Against the True God.

We have good reasons for rejecting images in worship:
  1. The Bible forbids any pictorial representation of God
  2. Every representation of God contradicts his being
  3. Even signs of God's presence (eg. clouds, fire, smoke, dove) given no justification for images - for the restrict our minds to only one aspect.
  4. Images and pictures are contrary to Scripture. Isaiah 44:12-17 clearly shows how at odds it is for one to use some wood for a fire to burn bread and some of the same wood from which to carve a god to pray to.
Calvin then takes some time refuting the Catholic doctrine on this matter. He takes offense at the claim that images are used to teach those who otherwise cannot read and understand the truth for themselves. This, he claims is the church's own fault - for they did not teach them the truths of the gospel.

He touches on the use of art and sculpture as gifts from God, but is clear that they can easily turn into idolatry as well.

This was a very long chapter and I'm not going to go into any more details.

In the end, the point is - God is God and no-one but God can ever comprehend how powerful, majestic and holy He is. Therefore, how could we ever hope to confine him to an image created from our minds?

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