Sunday, February 01, 2009

Sundays with John

This week we walked through Calvin's argument regarding images and why we shouldn't use them. I thought it was fascinating and encouraging, even from the viewpoint of a culture that is saturated with image. Philip Ryken gave a very good, brief overview of the argument here.

My favorite quote about images is the plain truth here:
For just as soon as a visible form has been fashioned for God, his power is also bound to it. Men are so stupid that they fasten God whenever they fashion him; and hence they cannot but adore. And there is no difference whether they simply worship an idol, or God in the idol. It is always idolatry when divine honors are bestowed upon an idol, under whatever pretext this is done. And because is does not please God to be worshiped superstitiously, whatever is conferred upon the idol is snatched away from him.
~Calvin, Institutes, I.11.9

Under the category of "nothing is new under the sun", I loved this bit:
I know that certain rascals bawl out in corners in order to display the keenness of their wit in assailing God's truth. For they ask, Who assures us that the books that we read under the names of Moses and the prophets were written by them? They even dare to question whether there ever was a Moses. Yet if anyone were to call in doubt whether there was ever a Plato, Aristotle or Cicero, who would not say that such folly ought to be chastened with the fist or the The law of moses was wonderfully preserved by heavenly providence rather than by human effort...
Calvin, Institutes, I.8.9

And lastly, Calvin draws a beautiful picture in the section about the inseparability of the word and the Spirit:
Certainly a far different sobriety befits the children of God, bereft of the whole light of truth, so are not unaware that the Word is the instrument by which the Lord dispenses the illumination of his Spirit to believers. For they know no other Spirit than him who dwelt and spoke in the apostles, and by whose oracles they are continually recalled to the hearing of the word.
~Calvin, Institutes, I.9.3

1 comment:

Mrs. Edwards said...

In my most recent study of the Ten Commandments through Bible Study Fellowship a few weeks ago, it struck me that we often gloss over this detail by focusing on the "idolatry" and then either talk about statues and false gods or modern idols of television and the like. Not that those aren't useful applications, but I felt convicted to think more carefully about the images and artwork that represent Christ in various ways, especially in Christian educational materials.

Thanks for sharing this.