Calvin_Institutes_640x160

The papists used an argument that the need for images to represent God and his work were necessary because pictures are the books of the uneducated. Calvin argued that this was ridiculous in light of the testimony of Scripture and that “there would be no ‘uneducated’ at all if the church had done its duty.” (pg.107) These so called ‘teachers’ that were in authority in the church turned to idols to represent God, His glory and His work because they were ineffectual, powerless and ‘mute’.

Paul himself testifies that by the true preaching of the gospel “Christ is depicted before our eyes as crucified (Gal. 3:1)”. What purpose does it serve to have so many crosses fashioned of wood, silver and gold when the image of the cross does not teach what Scripture does concerning it, that Jesus bore our sins, suffered the wrath of God in our place, to expiate our sins by the sacrifice of his body and the shedding of his blood, to reconcile us to God. A thousand crosses fashioned could never learn those truths apart from the instruction of Scripture.

Calvin says that “man’s nature, is a perpetual factory of idols.” (pg. 108) Man’s prideful mind and audacity, dares to imagine a god according to its own capacity; … and conceives an unreality and an empty appearance as God… the mind begets an idol; the hand gives it birth.” (pg.108)

God forbids the fashioning of images that represent his glory and likeness because he is not to be worshipped superstitiously. When man fashions something as a visible form for God, he binds his power to it and can’t help but turn to it in prayer and worship. That, no matter the intention, is always idolatry. To make an image as a representation of God is to deface His glory and Scripture clearly forbids it.

Lord, keep us from defacing Your glory when our hearts seek to turn to something else which You already have made provision for through the work of Your Son Jesus.