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Images as “Books”


Writing against images of God, Calvin addresses the Roman Catholic assertion that “images are the books of the uneducated.” This is a lame excuse, says Calvin, when used by those who are to blame for said ignorance by withholding the Word from the masses.

image

But whence, I pray you, this stupidity if not because they are defrauded of that doctrine which alone was fit to instruct them? indeed, those in authority in the church turned over to idols the office of teaching for no other reason than that they themselves were mute. Paul testifies that by the true preaching of the gospel “Christ is depicted before our eyes as crucified” [Gal. 3:1 p.]. What purpose did it serve for so many crosses—of wood, stone, silver, and gold—to be erected here and there in churches, if this fact had been duly and faithfully taught: that Christ died on the cross to bear our curse [Gal. 3:13], to expiate our sins by the sacrifice of his body [Heb. 10:10], to wash them by his blood [Rev. 1:5], in short, to reconcile us to God the Father [Rom. 5:10]? From this one fact they could have learned more than from a thousand crosses of wood or stone.

—John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (Westminster John Knox Press, 1960), 1.11.7.



Posted 2018·02·07 by David Kjos
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Posted in: Institutes of the Christian Religion · John Calvin · Papism · Sola Scriptura

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