Monday, July 05, 2004

Discussion With a Reformed Protestant (Catholic) on Art, Early Protestantism, & Catholic Corruption (w/ Kevin Johnson)

Kevin replied to my post, Calvin, Calvinism, and Violent Iconoclasm, which was a follow-up of the related paper, The Early Protestant Attitude Towards Art & Strong Iconoclastic Tendency. His blog post was entitled, A Response to Dave Armstrong on Art during the Reformation. I reply to almost all of it below. Kevin's words will be in blue.

* * * * *

Hi Kevin,

Thanks for an (as always) amiable and well-stated expression of your perspective. Your reply gets into broad, general areas that require long discussions in and of themselves, but I will respond to the things that are a bit more specific.

Before I counter-reply, let me note for readers (since you are so keen on context), that the main (immediate) reason I did my last post chronicling Reformed iconoclasm was because it seemed to me that you wanted to shuffle the responsibility for most of that off onto the "Anabaptist" or "radical reformers," rather than (as you call it) the "classical Reformation." Thus, you wrote:
Many times this was the work of the radical wing of the Reformation—the Anabaptists and not classical Protestants.
I think we can safely say now (in light of all the documentation I produced -- if indeed it was even necessary) that this is a significant oversimplification. It is quite clear that iconoclasm was mainstream Reformed thought. I didn't even mention Beza or Bucer, who were both overtly iconoclastic and perhaps (judging by some tidbits of information I gleaned while doing my research) directly involved in riots of that sort.

As far as my present knowledge goes, I view Calvin's role in this as highly analogous to Luther's with regard to the Peasants' Revolt of 1525. He (i.e., Luther) didn't directly call for violence or condone it; yet much of his inflammatory teaching and rhetoric against Rome made such actions arguably inevitable among the less-sophisticated masses. We are responsible for what we say, which is why the apostle James warned, "let not many teach."

I argued this at length in a paper devoted to that topic. So if I were to delve into it in even more depth, studying Calvin himself concerning this matter, I suspect that would be my position as to his responsibility (it is now, as much as I know about it). One need only look at the subsequent development of art, imagery, symbolism, architecture, in Reformed circles to see what effect Calvin's teaching had (as the primary figure in the movement).

Just look at the Puritans, for heaven's sake, who would have banned Shakespeare if they had had their way. Calvin had no use even for organs (again, I thank God -- as a serious amateur musician and classical music devotee -- that Bach was born in Lutheran Germany). So this need not even be argued, or any more time taken up to belabor the obvious.

The main thing I was trying to get across (the idiocy and wrongness of iconoclasm) you agree with, so we need not beat that dead horse. I objected to your argument that this was mostly "radical reformers" doing this stuff, and that a lion's share of the blame must be laid on the Catholic Church's doorstep. That was our disagreement, as I saw it.

I continue to strongly disagree with your contention in that regard, simply because the artistic, visual, and iconic element of spirituality was something the Catholic Church "got right" -- even from a current Protestant perspective. Not one Protestant in a hundred today (I dare say) would try to disparage or tear down Chartres Cathedral. Its beauty, profundity, and sublimity is patently obvious. But Calvin and many of his followers quite likely would have (and in fact, did do this to many beautiful places of worship) take an axe to its altar, statuary, and stained glass. And this was my point.

If Protestants expect Catholics to look honestly at the "skeletons" in their closet, then they need to look at their own. That is, in fact, almost always my reason for presenting this sort of historical material. I want all Christians to be aware of ALL Christian history, whether good or bad, and to honestly face and accept it. The so-called "Protestant Reformation" was not a bunch of super-pious, goody-two-shoes holy men going around restoring the gospel which had been lost. Many Protestant historians, in fact, readily admit that the motivations were even primarily political, not spiritual.

Stealing hundreds of churches and convents and abolishing the worship which had been going on continuously for 1500 years is
not just some harmless, pious "reform." As I said, we all have our skeletons, and it is high time that Protestants better understand the full dynamics of what occurred in the 16th century, and why Catholics were compelled to fight for their most treasured beliefs, practices, and possessions (all of which -- where they differed from Protestants -- would have been annihilated, had Luther, Calvin and more radical "reformers" had their way).

----- sermon mode off. Thank you for listening. :-) -----

The reason my comments are important is because you have lifted the comments of Reformers and scholars of their activities and writings out of the original historical context and did not really address the full reasons behind them doing what they did.

One can only do so much in any given paper. This seems to be the Reformed Catholic mantra lately: always complaining about lack of "historical context." But I think it is an ultimately unrealistic demand. Papers (even most books) are devoted to limited subject matter. I was writing about iconoclasm. In such a treatment, I can't possibly get into every jot and tittle of Catholic corruption, as that is a different subject. Most people today understand (and I assume this) that iconoclasm is both wrong and wrongheaded. That is apparent and self-evident. So I don't really see the need to attach blame for these activities on the Catholic Church, when they were not the ones encouraging iconoclasm at all.

I suppose you could argue that "idolatry had become so bad that who can blame the 'reformers' for getting extreme and smashing all images whatsoever?", etc., etc., but that is, of course, yet another entirely distinct topic to be dealt with. My view would not be nearly as "cynical" or "critical" as yours. Protestants who (like Calvin) are inclined to view the Mass as an abomination and blasphemy, etc., will see things one way and we will differ fundamentally with them. For Calvin, the Mass is an abomination, blasphemy, idolatry, and sacrilege, that robs the very cross of Christ of its power, and makes a mockery of it. For us, it is the most sublime, moving, powerful, life-giving worship possible, short of being in heaven with Jesus, or having met and worshiped Him while He walked the earth. We view it as being present at Calvary; quite the opposite of any kind of idolatry.

In other words, if we want to talk "corruption," Calvin locates it right smack dab in our central act of worship. Thus, the discussion on corruption inevitably becomes one of theology (and historical theology, and development), by the nature of the case. This is precisely why I have been challenging reformed catholics as of late to face up to the implications of historical views concerning the Holy Eucharist (since you want to claim historical continuity with what came before), which (if you want historical -- or liturgical -- context), also includes adoration, the sacrifice of the Mass, and some notion of conversion of the elements into the literal Body and Blood of Christ. There is no middle ground. But reformed catholics are notably, markedly non-committal or of ambiguous mind concerning the sacrifice of the Mass. I asked one such person if he thought it was idolatry and he said "I don't know." What do you think, Kevin? Are you courageous enough to address that crucial question head on? :-)

It's not that what you are saying is illogical or that you've offered an argument that can't be made. It's simply that there is more to interpreting history than placing blame on the initial group of people committing the acts that you have been criticizing.

Again, one can always play the game of multiple causation. Who caused what? As far as I am concerned, iconoclasm offers a classic example of "throwing the baby out with the bathwater." That particular extreme, might, I suppose, be blamed (on some logical plane) on those on the opposing side, but essential blame lies with the one who does it. For example, when more liberal and secular elements of American society succeeded in establishing a strict (blatantly unconstitutional) separation of church and state, including removal of prayer and the Ten Commandments from public schools, was that their fault for being historically-ignorant and dim-witted about the history of church-state interaction for the previous 300 years? Or was it more so or equally the fault of the Christians who perhaps committed some excesses when these things were permitted, alienating Jews or atheists or the occasional Muslim or Hindu?

Clearly the former. This is another baby/bathwater scenario. The fact remains that Calvin's theology (and much of Protestant theology, generally) lends itself to an iconoclasm, or at least a radical minimizing of symbolism and imagery, by its very nature -- being "Word"-based. Protestant altars oftentimes consist of a stand with an open Bible on it, or not even that: just a place for a pastor to place his sermon notes. The Word predominates. It's like the first part of the Catholic Mass without the second. This is why many Reformed Churches didn't even offer communion every Sunday. Obviously, it wasn't considered central to worship if it didn't occur but once a month. The sermon was the overwhelming emphasis.

In my opinion, you have over-simplified the matter especially because even now you still refuse to admit that the corruptions of Rome and her hierarchy had anything at all to do with the later actions of the Reformers and others who did endorse a sort of iconoclasm.

You are the one who has oversimplified, as I think I am demonstrating. I never denied all responsibility of Rome altogether. But in the present case, I am saying that iconoclasm cannot be laid at our door because we never espoused it. It was always a corruption of the East and of Protestantism. Rome never fell into that stupidity. At best, you can claim that we were guilty of rampant idolatry:
1. Catholics worshiped statues.

2. This dishonors Christ and is idolatry.

3. Therefore, it is perfectly right and proper to tear the statues down for the sake of souls and Christian truth.
The fallacy here is obvious. Even you agree that statues are not inevitably and necessarily idolatrous. But this was the reasoning of the Calvinist iconoclasts. Stained glass was wrong. Organs were improper in worship. Altars were idolatrous because the blasphemous sacrifice of the Mass took place on them, and the only altar now (post-Calvary) is in heaven, etc. Even crucifixes and crosses are evil (in many examples I gave yesterday, the mobs went after them, too). So again, the discussion necessarily descends into a discussion of things like:
1) what exactly is idolatry?,

2) Are all images necessarily idolatrous and graven images -- even those of our Lord Jesus, crosses, and crucifixes?,

3) Are the Sacrifice of the Mass and transubstantiation and adoration of the consecrated host all idolatrous by the nature of the case?,

4) Does stained glass and iconography aid or hinder worship?,

5) Is a clapboard, plain white church more conducive to reverence and worship than Chartres Cathedral?
It's all ultimately theological in nature. That's why I say the discussion must deal with all those sorts of issues, because this is what Calvin himself would argue: Catholic worship is by nature and essence blasphemous and idolatrous; therefore it is not wrong to abolish it or destroy the churches which foster and perpetuate it (by the sanctioned governmental authorities, of course, but still destroy them if at all possible).

In other words, you are providing all of us with an anachronistic and overly simplistic look at historical events without really explaining the why of the matter--or at least providing us with any sort of view that is something other than a full presentation of how one Roman Catholic might look at the matter.

I believe I am doing so now, in far more depth than you have dealt with it (I dare say -- look at all the historical material I produced in my last post -- whereas you provide nothing but your own bald opinions), and at much greater length. I'll discuss this stuff with you till we're both blue in the face, but I need you and your reformed catholic comrades to give straight answers to very important questions. I've been waiting over a week now for replies from both you and Josh, that you promised to give me, concerning Calvin's eucharistic theology (actually, weeks or months in some cases, where discussions end quite prematurely, just as they were possibly getting somewhere). Now we're off on another tangent.

I'm not sure you're willing to deal with all the facts.

Readers can judge that. They see what I write (and ask) and what you write. They see me answering all your questions in depth and you often passing over many of mine. Since you want to insinuate that I am the one unwilling to deal with facts, I must say this.

For example, you quote Kuyper briefly but you miss him crediting Christianity being of "invaluable significance to the development of art" as well as questioning the validity of blaming Calvin or his followers for devaluing art. You can quote Kuyper but you didn't really deal with the full force of what he said.

This gets old. No one deals with every jot and tittle of context of all that they cite. As I have said before, Internet link technology allows readers to go read all the context they wish. I provided that link. That's a lot different from citing books that most readers do not have available. So this is an empty complaint. Furthermore, I included several remarks that let Calvin off the hook (you overlook that entirely). I suspected that I would have to point this out, since the same charges would be made. Here are some of those:
Calvin himself did not support iconoclastic violence, but many of his associates and followers did (further reading: C.M.N. Eire, War Against the Idols [Cambridge, 1986]).

(Paul Corby Finney -- who looks to be a non-Catholic historian)

. . . For all of Calvin’s influence on the Protestant movement, however, he was not its sole opinion-leader, nor can its early history be written exclusively from Genevan sources, no matter how strong a pull they exercise because of their exceptional richness and accessibility. The fact that Calvin and the Genevan-trained ministers denounced or sought to remove pastors whose preaching encouraged unsanctioned iconoclasm demonstrates that some French ministers endorsed removing the ‘idols’ without tarrying for the magistrate.

(Philip Benedict, also, I believe, a non-Catholic)
You want more context? There it is: it was already there. But you overlook it and go on to make the same tired charge. I was being as fair as I could be to Calvin, just as I am with Luther in my papers dealing with him. I give him every benefit of the doubt and judgment of charity that I can. But some historical facts are undesirable and cannot be glossed over, no matter how charitable and unassuming we wish to be. You are quick to admit that early Protestants were not perfect men. Yet whenever one of us Catholics agrees with that and gets specific, then all of a sudden we haven't provided enough "context" and don't want to deal with all the facts.

C'mon. You can do better than that, and I think you know me better than that by now. You are familiar with folks who ignore facts, and they are on your own Protestant side (though not reformed catholics). You know who I am talking about. I need not mention them. The difference between their attitude to history and discussion compared to my own could not be any different than it is.

. . . to the extent that art was devalued during the Reformation or even after those who unjustly devalued it should be blamed.

Good for you. But then why are we having this discussion? Why am I spending 3-4 hours of my time on a would-be holiday to belabor the obvious? I submit that it is because you wished to (or seemed to wish to) place more blame on the Catholic Church than the early Protestants in your first response, and you sought to shift blame away from Calvin and the mainstream Reformed movement onto the radical Protestants. This is not historically-accurate; sorry. I am the one who brought a ton of historical documentation to the table. All you have given thus far are a bunch of claims. But you are not (as far as I know) an historian. I cited folks who are.

But, the historical context is bigger than that and the stakes are higher than merely leveling criticism at those who are immediately responsible.

I need not keep answering this. The discussion of corruption in the Church is one which needs to take place on its own. I have no problem with acknowledging any corruption. As an old pastor of mine used to say: "original sin is, of all Christian doctrines, the most obvious, just by observing human beings." But for the "reformers," much of what they thought was a "corruption" was simply Catholic doctrines that they no longer held.

And to be fair, Dave, I think you are glossing over some of the terribly corrupt behavior of the Church prior to the Reformation by merely labeling it "mostly sexual and power-play stuff". In point of fact the Church was so corrupt that even when popes, such as Adrian VI, tried to reform the Church they miserably failed. In Pope Adrian's case for example the indulgences offered by previous popes were done through payment plans that lasted several years and it was impossible for Adrian to alter such obviously absurd agreements without huge consequences to the Church.

Case in point: indulgences is another huge discussion that is multi-faceted itself. I can tell you, as a Catholic apologist, that not one Protestant in 200 has ever correctly explained back to me what the Catholic Church thinks an indulgence is. I highly doubt that you would be the exception (with all due respect). The first responsibility in any critique is at least accurately understanding and describing the viewpoint we are disagreeing with. That is Argument 0101.

To minimize this sort of corruption is not really dealing with the history of the matter and while it is convenient to criticize Protestants where criticism is due it certainly rings hollow when on the flip side you as a Roman Catholic are seemingly unwilling to face the stark reality and severity of the ecclesiastical corruption of the time.

On what basis do you conclude this? You are obviously unfamiliar with my writing regarding this topic. I have always freely admitted the widespread nature of Catholic corruption prior to Luther. I don't know any Catholic who would not do so. I agree with Karl Adam's view about medieval Catholic corruption. The following is from the first draft of my first book, A Biblical Defense of Catholicism, written in 1991 (um, that is 13 years ago):
Catholics today (more so than formerly) freely admit that the Church in Luther's time sorely needed reforming. The eminent German Catholic theologian Karl Adam, in his book The Roots of the Reformation (translated by Cecily Hastings, New York: Sheed & Ward, 1951 [portion of One and Holy, 1948] ), devotes nearly a third of its space to "weakness in the Church." He states that "the Renaissance Popes seem to have carried out in their own lives that cult of idolatrous humanism, demonic ambition and unrestrained sensuality" (p. 14). He quotes the words of Pope Adrian VI (1522-23), who in turn cited St. Bernard: "Vice has grown so much a matter of course that those who are stained with it are no longer aware of the stink of sin" (p. 20). He is quite frank and descriptive of other abuses:
The majority of this clerical proletariat had neither the intellectual nor the moral capacity to so much as guess the profundity of the questions raised by Luther . . . In this waste of clerical corruption it was impossible for the Spirit of our Lord to penetrate into the people . . .

There was no sacramental impulse towards an interiorizing and deepening of religion. So the attention of the faithful was directed towards externals . . . This hideous simoniacal abuse of indulgences corrupted true piety . . . indulgences were perverted to a blasphemous haggling with God. Night fell on the German Church . . . (pp. 22-26)
The whole of Europe could not have been turned upside down by the Reformation if there wasn't any real significant corruption.

I agree, but this proves no more than saying that Lenin's revolution in Russia improved what came before (and all agree that Czarist Russia was quite corrupt), or that the French Revolution improved the previous state of affairs (and all agree that the French monarchy and aristocracy were corrupt). I agree with Louis Bouyer: he holds that there were many positive, Catholic elements in "Reformation" thought which were praiseworthy and entirely good. But these were already present in catholic tradition (albeit poorly understood in many cases). In other words, the best of what the "Reformers" offered was already Catholic and had to merely be regained or re-emphasized, but the negative elements in Protestantism have been troublesome internally ever since (doctrinal relativism, sectarianism, anti-sacramentalism, anti-sacerdotalism, etc.).

Some day I'd like to see an entry by you and others that details out much of that corruption so that we can get to both sides of the story.

I have no problem with that, but my custom is to cite historians. They do, however, have a bias on both sides, to the extent that they have theological views which color their analysis.

But, back to art. The corruption of the Church is relevant to the Protestants' devaluing of art for several reasons: 1) If we grant your case concerning the nature of the Roman Catholic Church being the Church, then the ones who bear the larger responsibility for what happened during the Reformation are the very leaders in power at the time,

This is fallacious as well. That would be like saying that Arianism is the fault of Nicene Trinitarianism, or that Monophysitism was the fault of Chalcedonian Christology, or that Donatism and Montanism were the fault of those (including Calvin) who taught that the wheat and the tares were both in the Church. There is a sense of secondary cause, but when people do stupid stuff they are ultimately to blame themselves. This is true of all of us individually. We'll all stand before God one day and give account, and God won't settle for any of the customary human blameshifting.

2) You will forgive me for pointing this out I hope but it is no accident that the most corrupt periods of the Church also saw some of the greatest accomplishments in art. We should be asking ourselves why that is the case,

For the same reason that Richard Wagner was a scoundrel, liar, and cheat, but wrote, in my opinion, some of the most magnificent music of all time. This is the nature of the beast. Beauty (like truth) stands on its own, apart from the righteousness of those who create or financially support it.

and 3) Historically speaking, if there had been no corruption (morally or doctrinally), there would have been no Reformation. I don't see how you can deny this.

The Church always needs to be reformed. My argument here is: "what precisely is reform, and what is revolution? At what point is the line crossed?"

This does not deny the culpability of those who unjustly devalued art during the Reformation but it instead points to the fact that something, perhaps many things were wrong in the Church just prior to the Reformation and because the Church failed to correct what was ailing her, the Reformation took shape.

Okay, Kevin, I'll call your "bluff" (since you want to press this): what exactly do you think the Church should have done in order to prevent the excessive and extreme Protestant reaction of iconoclasm? You tell me. Not hire Michelangelo and Raphael? After all, Michelangelo's David is clearly an idol, right? The Pieta is even more so, since it depicts (GASP!) Mary as a goddess-figure. Right?

I do know one thing, Dave. The Church, whether Protestant or Catholic, is full of men. And men are not always doing the right things. And usually from what I see these days (and historically) often they are not interested in doing what is right for whatever reason. I do think that the Protestants, like their Roman brothers, have many things to 'fess up about and change. I do think we need to work harder to remove the shackles of our own almost ethnic prejudices from how we view the Reformation to how we view our Roman Catholic brothers--and certainly in terms of how we view art.

Amen! Thank you for this.

And, I wouldn't be interacting with you if I didn't feel there was some value in what you are saying.

Good, and likewise. I wouldn't spend all this time, either, if I didn't feel that way about your opinions.

The Protestant Church needs the flesh-and-blood reality of the Christian faith that it lost when she separated from her Catholic brothers during the Reformation. We could use a few statues to actually remind us that the Virgin Mary, Joseph, and even the Christ child himself were real.

Not to worry. You still have your statues of Luther and Calvin and John Knox here and there. :-)

We could use more churches that reflect the beauty and glory of the Sistine Chapel or the Cathedral at Chartres--a beauty and glory that as far as I am concerned is simply undeniable. We could use painters and other artists who are able to magnificently tell the stories of the Christian faith in a way that doctrine can't. These are things that, understood properly, could strengthen the Church and specifically strengthen who we are as Protestants.

Magnificently stated. I would, of course, have said exactly the same when I was Protestant. I loved all those things then as you do now. Francis Schaeffer was one person who helped me admire that artistic Christian heritage.

But on the flip side and one point the Reformers made--it is no good to think that these things are useful at all if there is no change of life based on the all-powerful work of the Holy Spirit through Christ our Lord, no purity in doctrine and in living (in fact, quite the opposite), and a reliance on the mere trappings of religion that marked the Church prior to the Reformation.

I agree wholeheartedly. I merely hasten to add that I would say this was the widespread practice; not necessarily the doctrine that the Church held. We were never dogmatically Pelagian or even semi-Pelagian. But in practice, many people certainly were, including even several of the prominent nominalist theologians, who had lost the classic Augustinian, Thomist doctrine of grace, and sola gratia. And as the iconoclasts went too far with regard to imagery, so Luther went too far in his soteriology, in reaction (so we would say), though we certainly understand the dynamics and sincerity of his passion for the doctrine of grace, given all that was going on at the time. Louis Bouyer and Karl Adam both freely and joyfully admit this.

The connection is simple. There needs to be a connection between the outworking of our faith in art and the actual reality of repentance and faith in Christ.

Absolutely! Amen! Preach it, brother!

To the degree that many Reformers eschewed the art of the high middle ages is directly due to the fact that there was the outward appearance of great faith in the Church through her works of art and other external trappings, but all along there was this hypocritical corruption, moral failure, and an overt reliance on what men accomplished for their salvation rather than what Christ accomplished.

To the extent that that was occurring in individuals or being falsely taught by teachers, I agree. But then the proper response is to restore the true doctrine, not invent new ones that were never held (not even by Augustine), and to teach a proper interpretation and use of images (teach about what idolatry is and isn't); not smash the images. In other words, you and I can agree on a lot of the corruption, but disagree somewhat as to the cure, and whether Protestant doctrine was indeed a reform which hearkened back to earlier purity, or a revolution in many respects, which overthrew precedent in an unacceptable way.

In some sense, the men of the Reformation linked those works of art quite rightly with the bedrock hypocrisy of those priests and bishops of the time and rightly so. It is no wonder, from this point of view, why they emphasized a faith quite apart from things such as art. Taking the next logical step and devaluing art was a mistake, in my opinion and certainly some during the Reformation made this mistake more severely than others (the Anabaptists come to mind).

Human beings, unfortunately, tend to go to extremes, in reaction. I've often noted this, in many areas of life, not just theology.

I am thankful we live in a day when such things can be examined again, when art can be valued and used in the Church in a way that pleases Christ and recognizes the gifts and talents He gives his Church through art, and where we can discuss these issues a bit apart from the heated rhetoric of past ages.

Yes; good point. Me, too. I think this is a most helpful discussion for both sides to engage in.

Here is what you will get from me, Dave. Men are men. Christ is God and He is working through His Church to call men to Him. I pray that all would answer His call even if some don't, be they Protestant or Catholic. Yes, Protestants have made mistakes and have sinned and have been hypocritical over the centuries and we lament that on our side as much as we lament the fact that it happens or has happened in Roman Catholicism. It has been given to us today to stand as others historically have stood--before our God and repent when we err as well as obey His commandments through Christ and by His Spirit. We can do no less if we are to be called Christian.

Yes. Again, I agree 100%, and eloquently stated.

. . . The Reformers were men, not gods. They had foibles, they made mistakes, they didn't always do the right things. We have no problems admitting this . . .

Well, sorry; it sure looks like you did in this case, by your unsuccessful attempt to distance Calvin and "classical Protestantism" from the bulk of the iconoclasm which occurred. Let's face it: the Anabaptists never had enough power, pure and simple, to do much more than local damage (and most of them were peaceful and anti-institutional and culturally-withdrawn, anyway). The Protestant power was held by Lutherans, Calvinists, and Anglicans. The Lutherans eschewed iconoclasm. Calvinists accepted it, and so they acted upon their convictions.

The Anglicans and later Puritans also did, in England, and we see the results: all images were banned in churches (in 1550, by law); plays were forbidden, etc. Note that in both cases, it was a resort to force: stealing and plundering and smashing, or gaining political power and quickly making such things unlawful. But so what? This doesn't make it right just because it becomes legal, any more than legal slavery or legal abortion are right.


and to the extent you point out these things, more power to you as long as they are historically accurate.

Hey, that's MUCH more than I have heard from many many of your friends! Good for you. History is what it is . . . an elementary truth. And we can learn from history. I hope we can all agree on that.

But, I hope you will note (and maybe someday you can blog about it) the positive contributions of the Reformers because if anything you must admit that they transformed European and Western society in ways that even they didn't conceive of when they worked to change the Church for the better.

In some ways, yes, absolutely. God works with anyone who sincerely seeks to serve Him. But of course, as a Catholic, you'll understand that I don't think any positive change comes from what I believe to be false doctrine. Whatever good Protestantism does has to come from truth. If it is true, then we already believe it (so I hold in faith, as a good Catholic).

What I have always said about Protestantism is that you guys (and I was one of you for 13 years as a committed evangelical missionary and apologist and pro-life activist) often excel Catholics in practice and in purity of life and morals. The obvious examples are Bible study, and probably prayer as well. I've noted this many many times. Protestants have done tons of good work, whether it be more basic apologetics or cultural transformation (the Schaeffer / Colson wing of "Christ as Lord of all of life") or pro-life activities, or a host of other things. What is true and good is that, whoever does it. I can acknowledge all this wonderful stuff, while maintaining a Catholic critique of doctrines which I feel diverge from Catholicism and historic Christianity.


And though I suppose you may disagree with me here, they did change the Church (and society at large) for the better.

I will simply appeal to the above paragraph. I think individual Protestants (e.g., Wesley, Bonhoeffer, C.S. Lewis, various missionaries, etc.) have and continue to do lots and lots of great things for the Kingdom. Institutionally, however, the record is not so glowing or praiseworthy.

Just think about it...without the Reformation, the Council of Trent would never have happened. :)

That's correct. And without Arianism and Monophysitism, the Councils of Nicea and Chalcedon would never have happened. It is always the corruptions which produce better developments. :-) Do you wish to pursue this analogy? LOL

You do see the Council of Trent as a positive development in Catholicism, don't you? :)

Yep, just as I see ecumenical Protestants like you thankfully reacting against the empty-headed anti-Catholicism of many of your Protestant brethren, and (here's the controversy again) that of Luther and Calvin themselves.

Thanks for the discussion!

In Him,

Dave

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Calvin, Calvinism, and Violent Iconoclasm

My Reformed friend Kevin Johnson responded to my post, The Early Protestant Attitude Towards Art & Strong Iconoclastic Tendency. I counter-replied, and a new mini-discussion was generated. I shall reproduce his remarks (in blue) and my replies below:

One wonders, had there been no cause for reformation in the early sixteenth century, whether or not we would have faced such artistic devastation.

In other words, had the Western Church's hierarchy prior to the Reformation been faithful to the dictates of God's Word both doctrinally and in terms of the living out of the faith—we wouldn't have to talk about the excesses of the Reformation. I'm not sure you should lay the blame at the feet of the Protestant Reformation when clearly we all know that however wrong the Reformation implemented reform, reform was necessary and needed.

If we lay blame anywhere, I think it would be most appropriate to lay blame with THE ecclesiastical leaders that caused the surrounding context of the Reformation to occur in the first place.


Interesting reasoning, Kevin. Perhaps you can elaborate as to your meaning here. I don't get it. You argue as follows:

1. The Church needed reform (particularly its hierarchical leaders).

2. Traditional, crucifixes, stained glass, church architecture, organs, music, and painting and art in general are good things (hidden common assumption). Maybe statues are idols, but all this other stuff is good and wholesome.

3. These were destroyed by the so-called "reformers" because the Church (and/or the people in it) was corrupt.

4. Therefore, the primary blame for such "artistic devastation" and "excesses" lies with the Catholics who believed in these things, rather than the Protestants who destroyed them and who thought that organs and stained glass were idolatrous, etc.


I don't understand this. Can you explain it to me? I don't have the foggiest comprehension of the nature and rationale of #3 or how and why #4 supposedly follows from #1-3. Note, folks, that Kevin refused any blame at all to the "Reformers" for all this artistic philistinism and hostility to beauty and the visual. He thinks the blame should lie with Catholics if anyone is to be blamed.

Following Steve's excellent point above, we could reason, by your logic:

1. Czarist Russia needed reform in 1917 (particularly its governmental leaders).

2. The government and previously broadly Christian-based traditional way of life was destroyed by Lenin and the Communists because the Czar and his minions were corrupt.

3. Therefore, the primary blame for such cultural "devastation" and "excesses" (such as destroying churches and killing Orthodox priests by the thousands) lies with the Orthodox Russians who believed in these things, rather than the Communists who destroyed them and who thought Christianity was the "opiate of the masses," etc.


Thus, Lenin's Communist revolution is ethically and logically justified by the corruptions of the Czarist regime (and indeed this is how he and subsequent Marxists / Communists would justify it, per Marxist ideology). Following your reasoning, this is straightforward logic.

All the nonsense and ecclesiastical and cultural destruction that occurred during the course of the so-called "Reformation" is justified in the same manner (and you did so, right before our eyes). How do you attempt to deny the relevancy of this analogy (assuming you would want to — which I think is highly likely)?

Perhaps I was unclear or poorly stated my point but you have taken my words far beyond their meaning.

First, those men who were directly responsible for the tearing down or devaluing of art during the Reformation are of course directly responsible for their actions. Many times this was the work of the radical wing of the Reformation—the Anabaptists and not classical Protestants.

Second, I don't believe there is anything inherently evil about statues or other representations in art. Most of them (especially created during those historic times) are quite beautiful and to the extent idolatry existed (or today exists) regarding any of those things it existed because the heart of man is "deceitful above all things". My personal opinion is that such "statue worship" is a misleading caricature of the Catholic view by Protestants and doesn't adequately take into account the full Catholic view on the matter.

That being said, however, both sides bear blame. The historical circumstances that created the Reformation were not just one-sided. That is what I was attempting to say. Yes, those who destroyed or discouraged art and its development particularly in the culture of the liturgy and the Church are culpable but we both recognize the legitimate authority and responsibilities that their superiors had within the hierarchy of the Western Church. The Reformation was birthed out of an environment where clearly those leaders did not do (or even believe) as they should and the Reformation was a response to that corruption.

For any man to deny the corruption of the Church in this regard would be simply astounding however one feels about the way that the Reformation responded to such things. Even certain popes felt a need for reform and tried to the extent possible to make that happen.

But, the reason I brought all this up is because your initial post seemed somewhat anachronistic and did not appear to take into account the full historical context behind the reasons any of the Reformers disparaged images.

Failure to admit some amount of culpability on the part of the Roman Catholic hierarchy of the time makes your argument appear stronger than necessary and I for one would have preferred a more balanced look at the matter.


I'm delighted to hear your view regarding statues.

I still, however, don't see how this responded to my analogy or objection to your logic. It is no reply to a critique of offensive, wrongheaded behavior, to simply try to blame those who were not essentially at fault. Whatever the corruptions of the Catholic clergy and hierarchy at the time (and they were many and great: mostly sexual and power-play stuff), I don't see the relevance to the valuing of art and imagery. If anything (rhetorically-speaking) was good in the corrupt popes of the period, it was their support of art (Raphael and Michelangelo immediately spring to mind).

So I still don't follow your point. The "Catholic corruption must be invoked as the cause for virtually any silliness and kookiness of early Protestantism" argument just doesn't fly, and it is getting old real fast. You must face the glaring faults of early Protestantism, just as we must (and do) face the issue of Catholic corruption. I can't think of a single Catholic I've ever talked to on the subject, who denied that the Catholic Church was widely corrupt in its practices, and in its leadership, in this period.

I know few Protestants, however, who will squarely face the glaring faults and sins and hypocrisies which were equally (if not more so) apparent among early Protestantism. It is the "myth of Protestant origins" again.

As this lovely fictional (quite entertaining) story would have it, the Protestant founders were noble souls of the highest personal integrity who only wanted what was best for Christianity and all and sundry. Things were so bad that we must understand those few things that Catholics like me annoyingly point out (i.e., stuff that goes directly against the propaganda of the Protestant Myth of Origins).

As for Calvin and classical Protestantism not being anti-art, I accept that only insofar as Luther and Melanchthon and early Lutheranism are concerned. They (by and large) got it right. But Calvin? Well, this is much more difficult to establish. In a page, "Reformation and Iconoclasm", the statement is made:

Among the reformers, it was Calvin who adopted the most radical attitude towards religious works and demanded that believers should make no images of any sort of God. The iconoclasts who viciously wrecked art works throughout the northern Netherlands in 1566 and "cleansed" churches from top to bottom justified their actions by reference to Calvin's doctrine. This act of devastation explains why so few paintings from before 1566 have survived in Holland.


Georgia Harkness, in her biography, John Calvin: The Man and His Ethics (New York: Abingdon Press, 1931), observed, summarizing some of Calvin's opinions:

We should despise all crosses and mitres, all the flourishes of this world and the horns of the Pope by which he seeks to exalt himself up to God; and should look upon them as abominations full of rottenness and infection through which Satan, our mortal enemy, seeks to poison us.

(p. 94; summarizing Calvin's Sermon on Galatians 1:8-9, from Opera, I, 326)


Calvin, in his Antidote to the Council of Trent (1547), wrote:

About the year 800 was held a Council of Nice, which both restored Images that had been overthrown under leo and decreed that they were to be worshipped. That Council, because it supports idolatry, the Papists deem holy and lawful . . . But if such interpreters of sacred things are to be listened to . . . the religion of the Egyptians will be preferable to the Christian. To prove from Scripture that churches were properly adorned with images and pictures [in other words, Calvin is denying that this is proper and good], the following passages were adduced . . .

(in John Calvin: Selections From His Writings, edited by John Dillenberger, Garden City, NY: Doubleday Anchor, 1971, 151)


A web page called "Image Breakers and Image Makers in Early Modern Bohemia" offers the following opinion:

The relationship of the Reformation to the visual arts is of course a complicated matter. Lutherans were generally conservative while Calvinists often assumed a more aggressive stance. In the Institutes Calvin concluded that religious images were contrary to Scripture. He did not, however, advocate iconoclasm. According to Calvin it was the role of the magistrate to remove such objects from former Catholic churches in an orderly fashion. The problem arose when local authorities were resistant to these views. In regions such as France and the Low Countries Calvinist adherents found no support from secular rulers and thus took it upon themselves to execute this commission. As a result, there would be waves of violence when mobs ransacked churches and destroyed sacred art.


Calvinist Scotland offers an example:

Scotland has had its own experience of iconoclasm - the breaking of images. During the Reformation in the 16th century, religious imagery and even buildings associated with the Roman Catholic Church were destroyed by Protestants keen to see the vestiges of the old order removed.

In 1559, the authors of The First Book of Discipline, a handbook of Reformation principles, decreed that symbols of "idolatry" should be "removed from the presence of all persons within this Realm". Such symbols included not only crucifixes and statues of the Virgin, . . .

(Neil Cameron, in The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland, 4/3/2001)


Prominent Calvinist Abraham Kuyper (1837 - 1920), even tries to justify iconoclasm in some sense, by absurdly dichotomizing art and spirituality:

And so, arrived at their highest development, both Religion and Art demand an independent existence, and the two stems which at first were intertwined and seemed to belong to the same plant, now appear to spring from a root of their own.

Consequently Calvinism was neither able, nor even permitted, to develop an art-style of its own from its religious principle. To have done this would have been to slide back to a lower level of religious life. On the contrary, its nobler effort must be to release religion and divine worship more and more from its sensual form and to encourage its vigorous spirituality. This it was enabled to do because of the powerful pulse-beat by which at that time the religious life coursed through the arteries of mankind. And the fact that in these days our Calvinistic churches are deemed cold and unhiemish, and a reintroduction of the symbolical in our places of worship is longed for, we owe to the sad reality that the pulse-beat of the religious life in our times is so much fainter than it was in the days of our martyrs.

(Excerpted and abridged from Abraham Kuyper's Lectures on Calvinism, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1987. Used with permission. From: Credenda Agenda, Volume 8, Issue 2: The Puritan Eye; Calvinism and Art)


Paul Corby Finney, professor emeritus of history, University of Missouri-St. Louis, wrote in a very informative article, "The Visual Arts in the Reformed Tradition":

[S]ince in Calvin’s view God is always misrepresented in visual symbols, there must be no pictures and no statues in Reformed places of worship. Pictures designed to encapsulate divinity necessarily diminish God’s honor and transcendence and sovereignty. Worship must be word-centered, because words in Calvin's view are the only fitting vehicles for communicating symbolically God’s spiritual being. It is impossible to capture God’s power and majesty in a visual image, and all attempts to do so deteriorate into magic, superstition, and idolatry. Images in worship destroy the human spirit; they distort God’s spiritual identity; they promote the lie of idolatry.

Calvin was a warrior. He saw himself and his coreligionists continuing the battle that the Israelites had initiated against the Canaanites, those proverbial idolaters. Calvin’s Canaanites were the papists, the Antichrist pope and his priests, along with the Catholic laypeople whom Calvin characterized as mired in the muck of superstition, magic, and idolatry.

Calvin himself did not support iconoclastic violence, but many of his associates and followers did (further reading: C.M.N. Eire, War Against the Idols [Cambridge, 1986]). In Switzerland, in the Rhenish and Netherlandish territories, and in England, sixteenth-century Calvinists defaced, destroyed, and confiscated a great many medieval Catholic works of art, paintings, sculpture, stained-glass windows, ecclesiastical furnishings, and even whole buildings. The iconoclasts’ purpose was to purify Christendom, as we see graphically represented (see Figure 1) [posted above] in an anonymous sixteenth-century print showing on the right virtuous iconoclasts sweeping away papist idols (chalices, candlesticks, patens, statues), while to the left kneeling idolaters worship their papal Antichrist elevated on a monumental stone pagan altar and astride a seven-headed beast. This is a strong visual polemic, designed in part to embolden the righteous in their cause of purification. The multiple episodes of Reformed iconoclasm in the sixteenth-century raise a difficult question, namely the degree to which anti-idolatry violence against property was endemic to the early Reformed tradition.

Calvin’s word-centered reform promoted a religiosity that was strong in the moral, political, and social arenas and relatively weak in cultural expression, arguably at its weakest in painting and sculpture. Calvin himself was not so much hostile as he was indifferent to the visual arts, but the place where his reform program came into open conflict with the visual arts was the worship space, which he felt must be purged of idolatry—an issue of vital concern to Calvin on which he was unwilling to make even the slightest compromises. There would be no religious pictures in Reformed places of worship.


Protestant historian Philip Schaff, in his History of the Christian Church (VIII, ch. 3, § 19. "The Abolition of the Roman Worship. 1524"), describes the Zurich of Zwingli and Bullinger. Note how he casually states that this sort of outlook passed widespread into Calvinism in many areas (and also that this iconoclasm included crosses and crucifixes):

The old order of worship had to be abolished before the new order could be introduced. The destruction was radical, but orderly. It was effected by the co-operation of the preachers and the civil magistracy, with the consent of the people. It began at Pentecost, and was completed June 20, 1524.

In the presence of a deputation from the authorities of Church and State, accompanied by architects, masons and carpenters, the churches of the city were purged of pictures, relics, crucifixes, altars, candles, and all ornaments, the frescoes effaced, and the walls whitewashed, so that nothing remained but the bare building to be filled by a worshiping congregation. The pictures were broken and burnt, some given to those who had a claim, a few preserved as antiquities. The bones of the saints were buried. Even the organs were removed, and the Latin singing of the choir abolished, but fortunately afterwards replaced by congregational singing of psalms and hymns in the vernacular (in Basle as early as 1526, in St. Gall 1527, in Zurich in 1598). "Within thirteen days," says Bullinger, "all the churches of the city were cleared; costly works of painting and sculpture, especially a beautiful table in the Waterchurch, were destroyed. The superstitious lamented; but the true believers rejoiced in it as a great and joyous worship of God."

In the following year the magistracy melted, sold, or gave away the rich treasures of the Great Minster and the Frauenminster, chalices, crucifixes, and crosses of gold and silver, precious relics, clerical robes, tapestry, and other ornaments. In 1533 not a copper's worth was left in the sacristy of the Great Minster. Zwingli justified this vandalism by the practice of a conquering army to spike the guns and to destroy the forts and provisions of the enemy, lest he might be tempted to return.

The same work of destruction took place in the village churches in a less orderly way. Nothing was left but the bare buildings, empty, cold and forbidding.

The Swiss Reformers proceeded on a strict construction of the second commandment as understood by Jews and Moslems. They regarded all kinds of worship paid to images and relics as a species of idolatry . . .

The Swiss iconoclasm passed into the Reformed Churches of France, Holland, Scotland, and North America. In recent times a reaction has taken place, not in favor of image worship, which is dead and gone, but in favor of Christian art; and more respect is paid to the decency and beauty of the house of God and the comfort of worshipers.


Church historian Warren H. Carroll describes the Calvinist iconoclastic riots in the Low Countries in 1566:

[O]n August 20 came the 'Calvinist fury' in Antwerp. Almost all the religious images and paintings in the 42 churches of Antwerp were destroyed without opposition by gangs working through the day and night. The iconoclasm was planned by Calvinist leaders and carried out by young men mostly paid by them or their supporters . . . Monasteries and convents were also despoiled and their libraries burned . . .

The fury spread like wildfire. More than 400 churches, monasteries, and convents in Flanders alone were sacked during the next three or four days. Tabernacles were broken open, Hosts taken out and trampled, and the bones of saints disinterred and dragged through the dirt . . .

In Amsterdam the mayor and the city council attempted to resist the iconoclasts, but were overwhelmed. In Utrecht 'great heaps of art treasures and vestments, including the entire library of the Friars Minor [Franciscans], were put to the torch.' In Delft the iconoclasm was directed by Adrian Menninck, a leading businessman, who went on to direct more of the same at The Hague. (Evidence is strong that the iconoclastic attacks were very well organized and coordinated.) The Count of Culemborg chopped down the altar in his own chapel with an ax, ordered his servants to bring tables into the wrecked church, sat down to dinner there, and fed consecrated Hosts from the ciborium to a parrot sitting on his wrist . . .

. . . the Calvinists had a new opportunity, and they seized it by taking control of the principal cities of Flanders — Antwerp, Ghent and Bruges — in the spring of 1578. On the feast of Corpus Christi in June Calvinists attacked Catholic religious processions in Brussels and Liege, desecrating the Blessed Sacrament, smashing crucifixes and images, and killing many worshippers. On June 10 there was a Calvinist uprising in Utrecht, with more iconoclasm; on June 28 six Catholic religious were burned to death in Ghent.

(The Cleaving of Christendom, vol. 4 of A History of Christendom, Front Royal, VA: Christendom Press, 2000, 323, 380)


Philip Benedict, in his paper, "The Dynamics of Protestant Militancy: France, 1555-1563," states concerning (mostly) Calvinist iconoclasm in France:

Few historians of the Low Countries would deny that that at several critical junctures during the Revolt of the Netherlands the actions of militant Calvinists drove the revolt forward or destabilized the situation just when it appeared that a solution to the religio-political crisis besetting the region might be found. Dutch historiography depicts the Reformed as establishing their privileged position in the Northern Netherlands through a ‘revolutionary Reformation’ in which the Calvinists sought the eradication of Catholic worship, compulsory participation in the rituals of the Reformed Church, and a new moral and legal order, although they ultimately were only able partially to obtain these goals, since they comprised too small a fraction of the total population to impose their will entirely. (1) Belgian historians discern similar goals to the movement and call the period of Reformed dominance in the cities of Flanders and Brabant the time of the ‘Calvinist Republics,’ suggesting a return to the insurrectionary traditions of the medieval commune. (2)

[Notes:

1 Van Gelder, Revolutionnaire Reformatie.
2 Despretz, ‘Gentse calvinistische Republiek’; Decavele (ed.), Rebelse droom; Marnef, Calvinistisch bewind.]

. . . many recent historians have located destabilizing or even revolutionary implications closer to the ideological heart of the Protestant movement. This is especially true of those scholars who have studied Huguenot crowd actions in the wake of Natalie Zemon Davis’s pathbreaking article on the rites of violence. (6) That particularly ambitious and idiosyncratic work within this tradition, Denis Crouzet’s massive canvas of religious violence, identifies a ‘revolutionary radicality’ lurking at the heart of the French Protestant movement because of the rationalizing thrust of Calvin’s theology, and speaks of ‘the French “Volksreformation” … a lost revolution of history’. (7) Janine Garrisson-Estèbe notes impulses within the movement that sought to annihilate the Roman Church in crusade-like fashion so as to leave the kingdom’s rulers no choice but to rally to the new Church. (8) A considerable volume of recent work has reconstructed the scope and character of Huguenot iconoclasm and related this convincingly to core Calvinist beliefs. (9)

[Notes:

6 Davis, ‘Rites’.
7 Crouzet, Guerriers de Dieu, 508-10, 552-3.
8 Garrisson-Estèbe, Protestants du Midi, 161.
9 Sauzet, ‘Iconoclasme’; Benedict, Rouen, 58-62; Crouzet, Guerriers de Dieu, chs. 7-10; Christin, Révolution symbolique, chs. 1-3.]

. . . No work in this tradition has reopened the full dossier of the Protestants’ aims and actions, nor has any explored how and why the effort to establish a new Church order quickly also gave rise to an organized para-military system. Such are the goals of this essay. Informed by an awareness of what the historiography of the Low Countries has shown about the Calvinist movement there, it will attempt to answer the following questions. Just what did those who rallied to this cause in France seek? What steps were they willing to take to achieve their goals? Why did crowd actions, religious violence, and an organized para-military system follow so quickly upon the organization of independent Reformed churches? Did this
agitation stem from the core values of the movement, or is it to be attributed to the symbiosis of the movement with other contemporaneous groups or movements with agendas of their own?

. . . The excellent recent studies of Huguenot iconoclasm have both revealed the basic chronology of French iconoclastic incidents and helped make sense of this once ill understood phenomenon. (49) From the summer of 1561 onward, the isolated attacks on

[Notes:

49 Christin, Révolution symbolique, chs. 1-3, and Crouzet, Guerriers de Dieu, chs. 7-8, both provide detailed treatments of iconoclasm in France and form the basis for this paragraph, except as otherwise noted. Among the many studies devoted to this phenomenon elsewhere in Reformation Europe, Eire, War Against the Idols, provides a particularly compelling account of both crowd iconoclastic activities and the theologians’ critique of the veneration of images.]

Catholic shrines or holy objects that had previously typified French iconoclasm gave way to the systematic purification of many local churches across important stretches of Languedoc, Gascony, and Dauphiné. The same followed in the regions elsewhere in France secured by the Protestants at the outbreak of the First Civil War soon after these areas came under Huguenot control. The very first normative document of the French Reformed churches, the ‘articles politiques’ of the proto-synod held at Poitiers in 1557, warned sternly against knocking over crosses, idols, or churches — a prohibition that was transformed by later provincial synods into interdictions against doing so without magisterial authorization. When the surge of major iconoclastic episodes began to break over France, by far the most common pattern was for the work to be carried out by groups of individual believers, with the ministers and
consistory publicly proclaiming their non-involvement after the event. (50) Christin has nonetheless shown on the basis of judicial investigations that community notables played a leading role in certain incidents, and while no evidence has yet been unearthed of consistorial involvement comparable to that found for many cases of Wonderyear image-breaking in the Netherlands, (51) indications do exist not only that certain French ministers encouraged the iconoclasm, but also that some local authorities sanctioned it, either before or after the fact. A Catholic historian who claimed to have been an eyewitness to key scenes reported that the iconoclasm in Caen in April 1562 followed a meeting before the town’s judicial authorities in which the minister Cousin told the assembled officials ‘that we have suffered too much from this idolatry, and that everything would be toppled’. After his threat was made good, those who carried out the destruction returned with arms to the council chambers and demanded and received payment for their work. (52) Even in the cases where the iconoclasm occurred without magisterial or ministerial sanction, the most persuasive analyses make it clear that the image-breaking is best understood as ritualized action expressive of core Reformed ideals and the psychology of conversion. It was at once a pedagogical demonstration of the pure materiality of the images, a cleansing of the temple in obedience to divine commandments, and an expression of the anger that the newly converted felt about the continuation of the frauds that had once ensnared them. Tracts written after the event in the name of the larger Church community, even while denying that the Church approved the image-breaking, depict it as providential and pleasing to God, thereby suggesting a measure of approval. (53)

[Notes:

50 Remonstrance des habitans de Rouen; Apologie des ministres et anciens de Rouen; Barbot, La Rochelle, II, 171; Romier, Royaume, II, 225-6.
51 Pettegree, ‘Exile Churches’, 86-7; Marnef, Antwerp, 89; Rooze-Stouthamer, Hervorming in Zeeland, 227-8 (I owe this last reference to Guido Marnef).
52 De Bourgueville, Recherches et antiquitez de Normandie, 162, 170. For other instances of ministerial encouragement of iconoclasm: Christin, Révolution symbolique, 115; Crouzet, Guerriers de Dieu, 504-8. For other cases of magisterial sanction: Faurin, ‘Journal’, 9-10; Christin, Révolution symbolique, 102-13.
53 Apologie des ministres et anciens de Rouen; Christin, Révolution symbolique, 100.

. . . John Knox is known to have considered the reestablishment of idolatry in places where it had once been abolished even more reprehensible than its sufferance where it had long existed. Many Huguenots evidently agreed. Although the ministers and deputies of the churches gathered at court urged compliance with the edict, the authorities of Castres resisted returning the churches they had seized. Nîmes’ consistory and conseil de ville voted to permit the mass to resume, but angry crowds prevented Catholic clergymen from performing the ritual in two parish churches. In Montpellier the sole attempt to resume saying the mass had to be quickly brought to a close after a howling Protestant crowd gathered outside the church and rock throwing began.

. . . For all of Calvin’s influence on the Protestant movement, however, he was not its sole opinion-leader, nor can its early history be written exclusively from Genevan sources, no matter how strong a pull they exercise because of their exceptional richness and accessibility. The fact that Calvin and the Genevan-trained ministers denounced or sought to remove pastors whose preaching encouraged unsanctioned iconoclasm demonstrates that some French ministers endorsed removing the ‘idols’ without tarrying for the magistrate. A number of churches and ministers, including several pastors of both Paris and Geneva, appear to have been involved in the conspiracy of Amboise even if Calvin kept his distance from it. As many historians have seen in recent years, examining the actions taken by the Protestants in the different corners of France provides the best way of grasping the aspirations and convictions of the full universe of those drawn to the movement. Also of great value are the under-utilized records of the earliest Reformed synods and consistorial assemblies. These enable us to determine which of the actions taken by groups of Protestants in the localities occurred with the probable approval of local Church authorities, which were consistently condemned, and which were taken without prior approval but were subsequently accepted as legitimate by Church bodies within the kingdom.

As already noted, Calvin’s encouragement of the formation of Reformed congregations and his dispatching of ministers to France suggest that he believed it acceptable to defy the laws prohibiting heretical assemblies.


[From the book: Reformation, Revolt and Civil War in France and
the Netherlands 1555-1585
, edited by Philip Benedict, Guido Marnef, Henk van Nierop and Marc Venard, Amsterdam: 1999]


Early Protestantism & the Decline of Education

Martin Luther

In 1522 Luther poured out his ire on the "asinine coarseness of the Thomists," on "the Thomist hogs and donkeys," on the "stupid audacity and thickheadedness of the Thomists."

(Grisar, I, 163; WA, X-2, 188-190, 206)

In my opinion dialectics can only be harmful to theologians . . . In theology . . . all syllogisms should be set aside.

(Janssen, XIV, 123; LL, I, 127; letter to Spalatin, June 29, 1518)


St. Thomas Aquinas, according to Luther, was "a babbler and a chatterer." (Janssen, XIV, 125) Aquinas and St. John Chrysostom were described as "idle prattlers" with the latter receiving additionally the appellation of "ambitious, haughty man" (Janssen,
XIV, 190). One is reminded here of the pagan Greeks who, being unable to understand the intellectual, spiritual and theological brilliance of St. Paul, resort to
derision: "What will this babbler say?" (Acts 17:18). It seems that Luther could only caricature men far more brilliant than himself. Here, as do often, he fought a
"straw man" of his own invention, with mocking and slander (which is his technique against Catholicism in general). Examples of Luther's opinion of other Fathers:

St. Basil was utterly good for nothing . . . Origen he had already placed under the ban; and as for Gregory the Great, the devil had misled him with a childish heresy. St. Augustine also he would not trust, because he . . . had also often erred. St. Jerome: . . . of the faith, and of the true Church and way of life there was not a single word in his writings.

(Janssen, XIV, 190)


Philip Melanchthon, in his letter to Johann Brenz (May 1531), illustrates how the Protestants had departed from patristic precedent:

Avert your eyes from such a regeneration of man and from the Law and look only to the promises and to Christ . . . Augustine is not in agreement with the doctrine of Paul, though he comes nearer to it than do the Schoolmen. I quote Augustine as in entire agreement, although he does not sufficiently explain the righteousness of faith; this I do because of public opinion concerning him.

(Grisar, IV, 459-460)


Grisar, on p. 459, states that:

The letter was written by Melanchthon to Johann Brenz, but it had the entire approval of Luther, who even appended a few words to it. While clearly throwing overboard Augustine, it is nevertheless anxious to retain him.


[The documentation Grisar gives is "end of May, 1531", Luthers Briefwechsel, 9, p. 18. This eleven-volume work was edited by L. Enders: Frankfurt & Stuttgart,
1884-1907; also 12 volumes, edited by G. Kawerau, Leipzig, 1910]

We find in Luther's Table-Talk the following slams against St. Augustine and the Fathers:

Behold what great darkness is in the books of the Fathers concerning faith . . . Augustine wrote nothing to the purpose concerning faith. (DXXVI)

The more I read the books of the Fathers, the more I find myself offended. (DXXX)

Jerome should not be numbered among the teachers of the church, for he was a heretic. (DXXXV)

(edition translated by William Hazlitt, Philadelphia: Lutheran Publication Society, n.d., 286-289)


For further reflections on this aspect of Protestantism's frequent antipathy to the Church Fathers, see: The Ambiguous Relationship of Luther and the Early Protestants to St. Augustine (Dave Armstrong and Edwin Tait).

The Decline of Education and Learning Within (and Because of) Protestantism

Early Protestantism caused:

. . . a decline in . . . learning. Complaints on this score begin to make themselves heard even in the first years after the introduction of the religious innovations; not only from Erasmus and other humanists, but also among the leaders of Protestantism itself, especially from Melanchthon, in whose letters and speeches, from 1522 till his death, laments on the decay of all the fine arts and all learning never cease.

(Janssen, XIV, 235)


Numberless persons . . . speak in the bitterest language of the continuous decay of all high morals and fine culture . . . of the increasing depreciation of classical knowledge and of learning in general.

(Janssen, XIII, 377)


In Germany, the period from about 1450 to the time of Luther, was:

. . . a time when culture penetrated to all classes of society . . . a time of extraordinary activity in art and learning . . . religious knowledge was zealously diffused, and the development of religious life abundantly fostered . . . The universities attained a height of excellence and distinction undreamt of . . .

(Janssen, II, 287)


Protestantism would, unwittingly or not, undermine all this. Referring to Melanchthon, Janssen states:

His efforts for the revival of liberal culture in Wittenberg were completely shipwrecked. In his private letters he had no hesitation in attributing to the Wittenberg theologians the responsibility of the contempt of learning.

(Janssen, III, 357; BR, I, 575, 604, 613, 679, 683, 695, 726, 894)


Melanchthon himself, according to a standard Protestant reference, "was far more humanistic than . . . most of the Reformers. He cared for learning as such . . ."
(Cross, 898). This "moderate" testified mournfully:

The schools in Germany are deserted . . . among the people learning is universally hated, and even the princes . . . are filled with contempt and hatred for study.

(Janssen, XIII, 328-329; BR, I, 756; letter to Arnold Burenius in 1542)


In Germany learning has become an object of contempt.

(Janssen, XIII,328; letter to King Henry VIII in 1535)


The first widely-used philosophy text among Protestants was Metaphysics, by the Spanish Jesuit Suarez, published in 1605. (Janssen, XIV, 130)

The Melanchthonian Henry Moller, professor at Wittenberg, actually complained in 1569 of the:

. . . general decline of philosophical studies . . . How many ministers . . . are there at present in Germany who are not completely ignorant of these sciences? . . . The coarse, uneducated books scattered broadcast among the people in which philosophy is slandered and distorted, . . . can have no other result than the complete downfall of learning, the inroad of barbarism into the Church.

(Janssen, XIV, 132-133; Dollinger, II, 496)


The Christian humanists of Germany and northern Europe, men of letters and advocates of reading, appreciation of past learning, and education, turned against the Protestants, by and large:

The intolerant dogmatism of the Reformers, their violence of speech, their sectarian fragmentation and animosities, their destruction of religious art, their
predestinarian theology, their indifference to secular learning . . . all these shared in alienating the humanists from the Reformation.

(Durant, 425)


Erasmus' Critique of Protestant Anti-Intellectualism

Luther has covered us and good learning with hatred . . . The Church is overburdened with abuse of authority and . . . man-made decrees for the purpose of gain . . . but often an imprudent attempt at a cure makes things worse. What a mass of hatred Luther is bringing down on good learning and Christendom!

(Phillips, 171; in 1521)

I greatly wonder . . . what god has stirred up the heart of Luther, in so far as he assails with such license of pen the Roman pontiff, all the universities, philosophy, and the mendicant orders.

(Erasmus, 152; letter to Jodocus Jonas, May 10, 1521)

Wherever Lutheranism prevails, learning and liberal culture go to the ground.

(Janssen, III, 355; letter to Pirkheimer)

The study of tongues and the love of fine literature is everywhere growing cold. Luther has heaped insufferable odium on it.

(Grisar, VI, 32)


Regarding the downfall of the schools of Nuremberg, Erasmus wrote:

All this laziness came in with the new Evangel.

(Grisar, VI, 32)


Luther responded in his own inimitable fashion:

I hate Erasmus! . . . I hate him from the bottom of my heart . . . I consider Erasmus to be the greatest enemy Christ has had these thousand years past.

(Daniel-Rops, 77; Table-Talk)


Zwingli, who, like Luther, had once admired Erasmus, also split from him:

When I admonished Zwingli in a friendly way he wrote back disdainfully:

What you know is of no use to us; what we know is not for you.


As if he had been caught up like Paul to the third heaven and learnt some mystery which was hidden to us earthly creatures!

(Phillips, 195)


SOURCES

WA = Weimar Ausgabe edition of Luther's Works (Werke) in German, 1883. "Br." = correspondence.

BR = Bretschneider, editor, Corpus Reformation, Halle, 1846.

LL = Luther's Letters (German), edited by M. De Wette, Berlin: 1828

Cross, F.L. & E.A. Livingstone, editors, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2nd ed., 1983.

Daniel-Rops, Henri, The Protestant Reformation, vol. 2, translated by Audrey Butler, Garden City, NY: Doubleday Image, 1961.

Dollinger, Johann, The Reformation, Regensburg, 1848.

Durant, Will, The Reformation, (volume 6 of 10-volume The Story of Civilization, 1967), New York: Simon & Schuster, 1957.

Erasmus, Desiderius, Christian Humanism and the Reformation, (selections from Erasmus), edited and translated by John C. Olin, New York: Harper & Row, 1965 (orig. 1515-34).

Grisar, Hartmann, Luther, translated by E.M. Lamond, ed. Luigi Cappadelta, 6 volumes, London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., 1917.

Janssen, Johannes, History of the German People From the Close of the Middle Ages, 16 volumess, translated by A.M. Christie, St. Louis: B. Herder, 1910 (orig. 1891).

Phillips, Margaret, Erasmus and the Northern Renaissance, New York: Collier Books, 1965.

Friday, July 02, 2004

The Early Protestant Attitude Towards Art & Strong Iconoclastic Tendency

Summary

Since the middle of the 16th century religious art had come entirely to an end in all the Protestant parts of Germany . . . Nothing but sectarian narrowness could deny that German . . . art stood higher before the Reformation than after it. For nearly two centuries architecture, sculpture, and painting produced nothing more in Germany that could be compared with the creations . . . immediately before . . . the Schism in the Church.

(Janssen, XI, 50-51)

Hans Holbein the younger, one of the greatest painters of all ages, was obliged to undertake house painters' work, and to paint Coats of arms. in order to make a living . . . In consequence of being thrown out of work he saw himself compelled to migrate to England . . . 'The art of painting,' Albert Durer complains in a pamphlet addressed to Wilibald Pirkheimer, 'is greatly despised among us Germans nowadays by many people, and they say it tends to produce idolatry.'

(Janssen, IV, 165)


A popular history of art summarizes the Protestant Revolt's detrimental influence:

In the northern countries, in Germany, Holland and England, artists were confronted with a much more real crisis . . . whether painting could and should continue at all. The great crisis was brought about by the Reformation. Many Protestants objected to pictures or statues of saints in churches and regarded them as a sign of Popish idolatry . . .

We can witness the effect of this crisis in the career of the greatest German painter of this generation . . . Hans Holbein the Younger (1497-1543) . . . In 1526 he left Switzerland for England . . . 'The arts here are freezing,' Erasmus wrote commending the painter to his friends . . . When Holbein had left the German-speaking countries painting there began to decline to a frightening extent, and when Holbein died the arts were in a similar plight in England. In fact, the only branch of painting there that survived the Reformation was that of portrait painting which Holbein had so firmly established . . .

There was only one Protestant country in Europe where art fully survived the crisis of the Reformation - that was the Netherlands . . . Artists . . . specialized in all those types of subject-matter to which the Protestant Church could raise no objections . . . [e.g., still-lifes]

The more the Protestants preached against outward show in the churches, the more eager did the Roman Church become to enlist the power of the artist. Thus the Reformation . . . also had an indirect effect on the development of Baroque.

(E. H. Gombrich, The Story of Art, London: Phaidon, Revised 11th edition, 1966, 274, 277, 279, 326)


Preserved Smith provides an interesting insight:

Even when the Reformation was not consciously opposed to art, it shoved it aside as a distraction from the real business of life. Thus it has come about in Protestant lands that the public regards art as either a 'business' or an 'education.'

(Smith, 215)


In deciding what was "pure" Calvin and his legatees made themselves silly:

Reformed churches would not permit organs . . . It filled the church with ornamental and non-Scriptural sound . . . an instrument of the elaboration and clutter which their cleansing stream of simplicity was washing away . . . In Calvinist countries, except Holland . . . they preferred to have no organs . . . There is a story of the organist of . . . Zurich weeping as he watched the axes smashing his great organ . . . All the English organs were sold or demolished again in 1644 . . .

(Chadwick, 438-439)


Fortunately for the history of music, Bach was a Lutheran instead of a Calvinist!

Another Puritan, Dr. Reynolds of Oxford, was the scourge of Elizabethan theatre which . . . he wished to ban completely. The Puritans forced the theatres to move from . . . London to Southwark. If they had triumphed nationally, many of the greatest works of English literature would never have been written . . . Shakespeare, Jonson and Webster, no doubt, would have turned to other professions.

(Paul Johnson, A History of the English People, New York: Harper & Row, Revised edition, 1985, 162)


In Calvin's Geneva,

[T]he theater was denounced from the pulpit . . . attendance on plays was forbidden.

(Huizinga, 171-172)


The Book of Discipline in Scotland forbade attendance at theaters. Calvin thoroughly disapproved of them, and even Luther considered them 'fool's work' and at times dangerous.

(Smith, 44)


Martin Luther: A Curious Mix

Luther himself was moderate in this regard:

I do not hold that the Gospel should destroy all the arts, as certain superstitious folk believe . . . The law of Moses forbade only the image of God.

(Durant, 820)

On the other hand, however, Luther was most eager to trivialize and vulgarize art in commending ridiculous caricatures of Catholics as donkeys, etc.:

Wherever one goes one sees . . . caricatures of priests and monks" so that "one now experiences a feeling of disgust on seeing or hearing of a clerical person.

(Janssen, XI, 56; LL, II, 674; Luther's letter to Archbishop Albert of Mayence, June 2, 1525)


In 1526 Luther called on his disciples to:

. . . assail the . . . idolaters of the Roman Antichrist by means of painting. Cursed is he who remains idle in this matter, while he knows that he can do God a service.

(Janssen, XI, 56)


This is typical of Luther's unfortunate habit of disagreeing by means of slander, obscenity and mockery, rather than by reasonable discourse.

Protestant Iconoclasm (Are Artistic Images Idolatrous?)

The early Protestant antipathy towards art was most graphically displayed in their iconoclasm with regard to "images" in churches, which they considered idolatrous:

Reformers less human than Luther, less cautious than Calvin, preferred to outlaw religious painting and sculpture altogether, and to clear their churches of all ornament; 'truth' banished beauty as an infidel. In England, Scotland, Switzerland, and northern Germany the destruction was wholesale and indiscriminate; in France the Huguenots melted down the . . . shrines, and other vessels found in the churches . . . The demolition was brutal and barbarous.

(Durant, 821)


Amongst the preachers of the new religious opinions there were multitudes who, like Wickliffe of old, denounced all arts and sciences as devil's traps. Zwingli and his followers designated Christian art, within the churches at any rate, as a snare of the devil . . . They assumed a hostile attitude towards Christian art in general . . . Zwingli would not even tolerate the pictures of Christ. The Helvetian confession of faith, drawn up by Bullinger, rejected images of Christ as though they were pagan idols . . . In the Basle Church Regulations of the year 1529, introduced by Oecolampadius, it is said: God has 'cursed all those who make images.' William Farel went so far as to denounce the making of pictures and images as a sin against nature . . . Calvin called the setting-up of pictures and images in churches a . . . 'miserable folly which had been the destruction of all piety on earth;' it was also iniquitous to give representations of events from sacred history. Theodore Beza directed his fury especially against pictures of the Crucifixion, which he 'abominated.' He wished that 'the Christian magistracy would reduce all pictures to powder.'

(Janssen, XI, 28-29)


Martin Bucer presided over iconoclastic riots in, for example, Augsburg in 1537. (Grisar, VI, 277) Speaking of Calvin's predilection for bare churches, historian
Philip Hughes observes:

Whatever finds no mention in the Scriptures must be cast out. Crucifixes and images go, and all decorations . . . along with altars.

(Hughes, 229)


The churches . . . were stripped of their ornaments, statues and pictures were destroyed, and even crosses -- 'the insignia of papal deviltry' were condemned.

(Daniel-Rops, 153; Articles on Ecclesiastical Discipline, 1536 -- with William Farel)


Calvin raves:

It would be . . . ridiculous . . . to fancy that we render God more worthy service in ornamenting our temples and in employing organs and toys of that sort. While the people are thus distracted by external things the worship of God is profaned.

(Smith, 215)


Even stained glass and colored walls suffered the "reformers'" wrath:

The church must be light, the walls must be white, and stained glass was believed by most Protestants to be unfitting and distracting in worship.

(Chadwick, 440)


In England:

On February 21, 1548, the King's Council would order that all images be taken out of the Churches . . . A clean sweep was made of the churches in London; the frescoes were covered over with a heavy coat of white, the walls adorned with selected texts from Scripture.

(Daniel-Rops, 198)


Erasmus' Eyewitness Account of the Rape of a Church

This iconoclastic riot took place in Oecolampadius' Basle, Switzerland, on February 9, 1528, in which there was,

. . . a general attack on the churches, the crowd surging in to smash the images and break the stained glass. Erasmus described it graphically in a letter to his friend Pirckheimer; he must have watched sadly from the windows of his house as the mob wreaked its will on . . . inanimate objects . . .

Not a statue has been left, in the churches . . . or in the monasteries; all the frescoes have been whitewashed over. Everything which would burn has been set on fire, everything else hacked into little pieces. Neither value nor artistry prevailed to save anything.

(Phillips, 197)


Thus we leave our present subject, with images of crazed mobs dashing through sublimely beautiful churches, with a foaming-at-the-mouth, self-righteous fury, slashing to bits handcarved crucifixes representing our Lord's death on our behalf, on grounds that all such works of art were idolatrous. Erasmus, fearing that "the reign of the Pharisees will be followed by that of the pagans" (Phillips, 198), left Basle on April 13th, 1528 to escape the encroaching philistinism, despite the pleas of his friend Oecolampadius. Luckily, for our sakes, the later Protestants softened their hatred of art, but many signs of a lack of appreciation for beauty, imagination, and aesthetics remain, for all who care to look.

SOURCES (P = Protestant)

Chadwick, Owen (P), The Reformation, New York: Penguin, revised edition, 1972.

Daniel-Rops, Henri, The Protestant Reformation, vol. 2, translated by Audrey Butler, Garden City, NY: Doubleday Image, 1961.

Durant, Will [Non-Catholic secularist], The Reformation, (volume 6 of 10-volume The Story of Civilization, 1967), New York: Simon & Schuster, 1957.

Hughes, Philip, A Popular History of the Reformation, Garden City, NY: Doubleday Image, 1957.

Huizinga, Johan (P), Erasmus and the Age of Reformation, tr. F. Hopman, New York: Harper & Bros., 1957 (orig. 1924).

Janssen, Johannes, History of the German People From the Close of the Middle Ages, 16 volumess, translated by A.M. Christie, St. Louis: B. Herder, 1910 (orig. 1891).

Phillips, Margaret (P?), Erasmus and the Northern Renaissance, New York: Collier Books, 1965.

Smith, Preserved [Non-Catholic secularist], The Social Background of the Reformation, New York: Collier Books, 1962 (2nd part of author's The Age of the Reformation, New York: 1920).

Monday, June 28, 2004

Further Challenge to "Reformed Catholics": Calvin's and Patristic Eucharistic Theology

Originally posted at the Reformed Catholicism site, on an appropriate thread: "Some Quotes from Calvin on the Eucharist, II," posted by Josh G.
===============================================================================

I await an adequate response to two lengthy posts I wrote about this very topic (Calvin and the Eucharist). Both Josh and Alastair have noted how they have debated the issue with a "Roman Catholic". That was me! I don't feel that those discussions were anywhere near concluded, or that I received responses to many of my "hard questions" about Calvin's view (it was prematurely concluded), but in any event, I think it was a successful discussion in terms of increasing understanding and maintaining amiable relations. I do appreciate that.

Josh keeps maintaining that Calvin's view is in harmony with previous catholic tradition. This I vigorously deny, and agree with my friend Dave Brown's comments as well. This has not been established, and was the contention towards which I directly aimed my two recent papers. The "battle for Church history" has scarcely even been waged by reformed catholics, let alone won.

I again challenge you (in a friendly manner) to back up your contentions by responding to my material (and Dave Brown's). If you claim that you can synthesize Calvin's view with previous Christian doctrine throughout the Middle Ages and back to the Fathers, then by all means do it. It has not been done thus far.

Josh made the claim that Calvin's views "are actually in great continuity with those of the historic, pre-Reformation Catholic Church!" This is simply not true, as I believe I have already demonstrated, with copious patristic and Calvin quotations and analyses by noted Protestant Church historians such as Schaff and Kelly. That cannot simply be dismissed (as some have tried to do) as "out of context proof-texting." Sorry; you guys need to make your argument from substance, when dealing with a serious critique (which remains ecumenical and respectful).

Josh also wrote [in the comments]:

Yes, Calvin categorically rejected the theory of the Mass that was popular in his time: that it was a propitiatory sacrifice in addition to Christ's work on the Cross. But that view wasn't what the early Church meant by the Eucharist, as I demonstrated above.


This is (with all due respect) historical revisionism. It is ludicrous to claim that the Fathers did not accept the Sacrifice of the Mass (I pass by the misrepresentation that it is an "addition" to the Cross rather than a time-transcending re-presentation of same). I have recently challenged reformed catholics to tell me if they would worship with a Catholic at a Mass and consider it just another Christian service. This is crucial, in my mind, because if you claim to have organic continuity with patristic-era and medieval Christians (which you do, by definition, and your very title), then you would have to accept the Sacrifice of the Mass as fully Christian and able to be held in good conscience without Calvin's charge of "blasphemy, idolatry, sacrilege," etc.

This is what the Fathers believed too, if we must make such a broad generalization (as Josh has been doing). Philip Schaff wrote about the patristic period:

In general, this period, . . . was already very strongly inclined toward the doctrine of transubstantiation, and toward the Greek and Roman sacrifice of the mass, which are inseparable in so far as a real sacrifice requires the real presence of the victim . . .

The realistic and mystic view is represented by several fathers and the early liturgies, whose testimony we shall further cite below. They speak in enthusiastic and extravagant terms of the sacrament and sacrifice of the altar. They teach a real presence of the body and blood of Christ, which is included in the very idea of a real sacrifice, and they see in the mystical union of it with the sensible elements a sort of repetition of the incarnation of the Logos. With the act of consecration a change accordingly takes place in the elements, . . ."

(History of the Christian Church, vol. 3, A.D. 311-600, rev. 5th ed., Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, rep. 1974, orig. 1910, 492-495)


Schaff continues in his next section:

The Catholic church, both Greek and Latin, sees in the Eucharist not only a sacramentum, in which God communicates a grace to believers, but at the same time, and in fact mainly, a sacrificium, in which believers really offer to God that which is represented by the sensible elements. For this view also the church fathers laid the foundation, and it must be conceded they stand in general far more on the Greek and Roman Catholic than on the Protestant side of this question."

(§ 96. "The Sacrifice of the Eucharist")


The Fathers believed (generally-speaking), not only in a conversionist view highly akin to transubstantiation, but also in the propitiatory Sacrifice of the Mass and adoration of the consecrated host. In other words, Calvin, on his view, would have to condemn them as vigorously (assuredly including good ole patron saint of Calvinism, St. Augustine) as he condemned his despised current-day "papists." That's why your historical view cannot hold water.

Likewise, another Protestant reference source:

It was also widely held from the first that the Eucharist is in some sense a sacrifice, though here again definition was gradual . . . In early post-NT times the constant repudiation of carnal sacrifice and emphasis on life and prayer at Christian worship did not hinder the Eucharist from being described as a sacrifice from the first . . . From early times the Eucharistic offering was called a sacrifice in virtue of its immediate relation to the sacrifice of Christ.

(F.L. Cross and E.A. Livingstone, editors, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, Oxford Univ. Press, 2nd ed., 1983, pp. 476, 1221)


And Jaroslav Pelikan (Lutheran at the time of this writing):

By the date of the Didache [anywhere from about 60 to 160, depending on the scholar]. . . the application of the term 'sacrifice' to the Eucharist seems to have been quite natural, together with the identification of the Christian Eucharist as the 'pure offering' commanded in Malachi 1:11 . . .

The Christian liturgies were already using similar language about the offering of the prayers, the gifts, and the lives of the worshipers, and probably also about the offering of the sacrifice of the Mass, so that the sacrificial interpretation of the death of Christ never lacked a liturgical frame of reference . . .

(The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600), Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1971, 146-147)


These sorts of observations need to be answered, not just "preached at." If I am wrong in my analysis of Church history and what Fathers believed, then so are they, and these men are not (Roman) Catholics, they are Protestants, and very highly regarded as historians. If it comes to a choice in an opinion about the history of doctrine, between Josh and Alastair and Kevin Johnson and Joel Garver (much as I personally like all these guys and enjoy dialoguing with them) and Pelikan, Schaff, J.N.D. Kelly, and The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, I will choose the latter, thank you.

Now, if anyone cares to still reply to my two papers, here they are:

John Calvin and St. Cyril of Jerusalem: Comparative Eucharistic Theology

This was posted on June 14th. I received a "short response" by Kevin Johnson on 6-15-04 with the statement, "Hopefully I will have more time to respond in full later." I hope he (or someone else) will do so. Joel Garver posted a moderately long, but quite general response on 6-15-04. I fully responded to it in the next paper below (as I did to Kevin's remarks thus far):

Reply to Joel Garver and Kevin Johnson on Calvin's Eucharistic Theology Compared to St. Cyril of Jerusalem's and the Fathers (Generally-Speaking)

I posted this on 6-19-04, and have received no response to it from any "Reformed Catholic."

Not to belabor the point, but it seems to me that if your school of thought feels that it can better back up its contentions from Church history than a "Romanist" like myself or an Eastern Catholic like Dave Brown, then it should by all means do so. What are you waiting for? Your argument (it seems obvious) must be made with the necessary historical substantiation. If you directly clash with the likes of Schaff and Pelikan (not exactly flaming "Romanists"), then that is more than enough to give me pause with regard to disputed historical questions.

Alastair wrote, contra "ct" [in the comments section]:

When historical evidence is brought forward to counteract your claims you just assert them all the louder regardless. You are not very good at rationally engaging with the answers that are brought forward.


Well yes. I don't say you guys aren't very good at engaging arguments, but I still await that full engagement of my material, too, which is why I posted this here, since I have received only minimal response at my blog and no response to my further counter-replies.

[I further note in passing that an Eastern Catholic is not a "Roman Catholic" so that it is actually a slight and somewhat of an insult to make out that all Catholics who accept the papacy are "Roman Catholic" -- precisely why I use simply "Catholic" just as you use "Reformed" -- these words have become titles, just as "Reformed Judaism," etc., are]

To end a heavy comment on a light note, Josh wrote: "If RC Sproul's a Romanist, then I'm a hottentot."

Yes, and if Schaff and Pelikan are Romanists, I am a red-headed, green-eyed Rastafarian . . .

Thanks for your time, and I continue to commend y'all for many worthwhile emphases, such as, e.g., great critiques of solo Scriptura [solO, not solA] that we observed in this very thread; also your attempt to incorporate the history of Christianity into your worldview. That's great; it is only various specific claims that you make with regard to that history that I dispute.

In Him,

Dave