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Continuing his reasoning as to why the use of images in worship to God were to be rejected, Calvin states that for the first five hundred years, when Christianity was flourishing and a purer doctrine thriving, churches were commonly empty of images. “Thus, it was when the purity of the ministry had somewhat degenerated that they were first introduced for the adornment of churches.” (pg. 113)

When the teaching degenerated, man could not help but fall headlong into superstitious rites by setting up symbols and images that represented God. The only symbols, Calvin argued, that we should take on are the living and symbolic ones that the Lord has consecrated by his Word, baptism and the Lord’s Supper. All others forged by human ingenuity should be forsaken.

God has rightly prescribed in His holy Word how he is to be worshipped and right honor rendered to him. Because man is prone to superstition, in his pride and folly, is not content with the prescribed manner and order. The law given by God, is a “bridle that has been imposed upon men, to prevent their sinking into vicious rites.” (pg.117)

He opposes what he calls a “distinction without a difference” in the Roman Catholic distinction of latria and dulia. That is that God alone is to be honored and worshiped but that Mary and dead saints can be venerated and served. To serve and venerate a saint to Calvin was the same as worshipping the saint and that is idolatry.

Lord, break the Dagon of pride in my heart that would cause heedless zeal to turn to any superstitious, pretentious attempt to worship You that is against your prescribed order.