Image and Word in the Theology of John Calvin


Image and Word in the Theology of John Calvin

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In his groundbreaking new study of the Swiss reformer, Randall C. Zachman reveals and analyzes John Calvin s understanding of image and word both comprehensively and chronologically, with attention to the way that each theme develops in Calvin s theology.

Most scholars allege that John Calvin (1509-1564) insisted on the essential invisibility of God in order to deny that God could be represented in any kind of visible image. This claim formed one of his foundational arguments against the display of man-made images in worship. Given the transcendence of God, Calvin rejected the human attempt to create signs and symbols of God s presence on earth, especially the statues, images, and paintings present in Roman Catholic churches.

Zachman argues, in contrast, that although Calvin rejects the use of what he calls “dead images” in worship, he does so to focus our attention on the “living images of God” in which the invisible God becomes somewhat visible. Calvin insists that these