Monday, January 26, 2009

Panting after Figures of God

Calvin's Institutes

(Scripture references are all original to Calvin)

Book One - the Knowledge of God the Creator
Chapter 11 - It is Unlawful to Attribute a Visible Form to God, and
generally whoever sets up idols revolts against the true God
Sections 1-4 - Scriptural argument for rejecting images in worship
Section 1 - We are forbidden every pictorial representation of God
Scripture always contrasts God with idols.
The world pants after visible figures of God.
God's glory is corrupted whenever any form is attached to him.
The Greeks worshipped gods in human form, appearing better than other pagans.
But God repudiates all forms alike (Ex 20:4).

Section 2 - Every figurative representation of God contradicts His being
God reminds Israel that they saw no form when God spoke to them (Deut 4:12-16).
Any image of God displeases Him as dishonoring His majesty.

Section 3 - Even direct signs of the divine Presence give no justification for images
God did act visibly, with cloud, fire and smoke (Deut 4:11).
But these were all formless, too, keeping us from forming images in our minds.
Moses only saw God's back (Ex 33:11, 20).
The Spirit did not remain as a dove for long (Matt 3:16).
The cherubim were hidden behind the veil and pointed beyond themselves (Ex 25:17-21).
The seraphim covered their faces in God's presence (Isa 6:2).
Even the pagan Juvenal knew Israel had no image of God to worship;
but the papists try to say they did!
Papists also try to say the image superstition was uniquely Jewish, but it is not.

Section 4 - Images and pictures aare contary to Scripture
Ps 135:15 mentions idols of silver and gold so we aren't wowed by the shiny and expensive.
Horace mocks idolatry the same way Isaiah does (44:12-17):
the craftsman decides to make firewood, a stool, or an idol from the same wood.
Idols are fashioned by men, not truly of God
(Isa 2:8; 31:7; 37:19; Hos 14:3; Micah 5:13)
Those who make them will be like them (Ps 115:8).
Pictures no less than sculpted, carved images are forbidden:
they are "an insult to His majesty."

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