Institutes Study: Book 1, Chapters 10-12

Week 4 Study Questions

1. For what purpose did God reveal Himself in the Bible?

To supplement the manifestation of his majesty and works in creation with a knowledge that leads to worship and obedience.

2. Why is God displeased with any image made to represent Him?

Calvin describes man’s attempts to assign an image to God as corrupting his glory by “an impious lie”, “insulting his majesty.”  God alone is fit to witness himself and he considers visible shapes as rebellion against him.

3. How does Calvin answer the argument of the Papists that “images are the books of the unlearned”?

Calvin answers that “the doctrine common to all should there be set forth by the preaching of the word, and the administration of the sacraments—a doctrine to which little heed can be given by those whose eyes are carried to and fro gazing at idols.  And who are the unlearned, whose rudeness admits of being taught by images only?”

“From this”, Calvin adds, “people would learn more than from a thousand crosses of wood and stone.”

He also muses that “brothels exhibit their inmates more chastely and modestly dressed than churches do images.”

4. How does Calvin answer the idolater’s objection that they do not worship the image, but worship God through the image?

Calvin says, “It makes no difference whether they worship the idol simply, or God in the idol; it is always idolatry when divine honors are paid to an idol, be the color what it may.  And because God wills not to be worshiped superstitiously, whatever is bestowed upon idols is so much robbed of him”

5. To what imagery for use in worship does Calvin point to as having been consecrated by God’s word?

The living symbols of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

6. How does Calvin answer the Papists objection that they do not worship Mary and the saints but merely do them service while reserving worship for God alone?

Calvin takes the Papists to task by showing the folly of the language they use to defend their practice.  He dissects the uses of douleia (service) and latreia (worship) but ultimately affirms that the issue is not with the words but the object that they apply to.

“But since the question relates not to the word, but the thing, how can they be allowed to sport at will with a matter of the highest moment?  But not to insist on this, the utmost they will obtain by their distinction is, that they give worship to God and service to other.”

“…But no man doubts that to serve is something higher than to worship.  For it were often a hard thing to serve him whom you would not refuse to reverence.”

Calvin then exposes their practice directly to the rebuke of Scripture quoting Matthew 4:10, “It is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.”  He notes that all Satan desired was obeisance.  Likewise he uses the example of John being rebuked by the angel for falling to his knees in the Book of Revelation (19:10, 22:8-9).

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