Friday, June 09, 2006
Are Western Christians Iconodules? Part II
John Calvin in the Institutes of the Christian Religion Bk. 1, chp. 11 refutes the use of sacred images without making reference to the main patristic argument put forward for their defense by St. John Damascene. He shows no awareness of the argument from the incarnation of the divine image of God the Father (Colossians 1:15). Does this reflect the absence of such an argument in the published Romanist controversial literature of the time? Calvin attacks specifically the pedagogical rational for the use of sacred images. If such a powerful critic of late medieval Catholicism leaves out a refutation of the principle patristic argument for the sacred image, is it reasonable to assume that a theology of images of this type did not exist in the Western tradition up to that time? Or more generally, was the christological foundation for iconography even a part of Western consciousness up to the time of the Reformation?