The Reformation was About…

Peter Leithart has a post up today about the centrality of idolatry to the Reformation. I strongly concur with what he says, and I think his point is largely lost in modern Protestant polemics. The emphasis usually is placed on justification, when idolatry was every bit as large a concern, and I believe that you see more drift on idolatry in Anglican circles than on other issues. As Leithart says:

In short, throughout the Reformation, idolatry was the problem; high sacramentalism allied to a high Christology was the solution.

That, to put it mildly, is not how the Reformation is characterized in textbooks and pulpits, but this double concern with theological and practical idolatry were as much at the heart of the Swiss Reformation as of the Lutheran, and Calvin’s resolution of these issues was the same as Luther’s.  Interwoven with his satiric attack on the idolatrous veneration of relics, for instance, was Calvin’s insistence that relics were spiritually destructive because they pointed sinners away from those designated sites where Christ had promised to make Himself available — in the water, where the word is opened, at the table, in the fellowship of saints.

1 thought on “The Reformation was About…”

  1. Instead of having anything to do with relics, we can erect memorials, which are more intelligible a tool than relics can ever be. From what does a man learn more, the Martyrs’ Memorial in Oxford or a finger bone of St Mary Magdalen?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.