Thursday, September 06, 2007

Calvin a Marxist or Marx a Calvinist?

John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 4.10.12 - Their [Rome's] Mysteries are Mockeries
"So today not only the untutored crowd but any man who is greatly puffed up with worldly wisdom is marvelously captivated by ceremonial pomp. Indeed, hypocrites and lightheaded women think that nothing more beautiful or better can be imagined. But those who more deeply investigate and, according to the rule of piety, more truly weigh the value of so many and such ceremonies understand first that they are trifles because they have no usefulness; secondly, that they are tricks because they delude the eyes of the spectators with empty pomp. I am speaking of those ceremonies under which the Romanist masters would have it that great mysteries exist; we experience them to be nothing but pure mockeries. And no wonder that their authors have slipped tot he point of deluding themselves and other with trifling follies! For they have partly taken their pattern from the ravings of the Gentiles, partly, like apes, have rashly imitated the ancient rites of the Mosaic law, which apply to us no more than do animal sacrifices and other like things. Obviously, even if there is no other proof, no one in his right mind will hope for anything good from such an ill-patched hodgepodge. And the thing itself plainly shows that most ceremonies have no other use than to benumb the people rather than to teach them."
I knew that Marx couldn't have come up with that whole "religion is the opiate of the masses" thing on his own, and I always suspected that he had help from some Protestant divine. I should have known that it would turn out to be from Calvin!

5 comments:

Heather W. Reichgott said...

wow! fascinating.

D.W. Congdon said...

Fantastic!

So, following Calvin, perhaps our creed should be: "Fellow Protestants, unite!"

Calvin's Manifesto would begin: "A spectre is haunting Europe -- the spectre of Catholicism." :)

Jason said...

It is amazing just how far having eyes for idolatry will get you. Go, Calvin!

millinerd said...

Go Calvin? Yikes guys! Thanks Travis for pointing out Marx's rip-off, but in this case, "Boo Calvin." Have we learned anything from the liturgical movement? Martin Marty explained that the way Mainline Protestantism lost out was because, with Vatican II, "the main enemy that gave life to MP angers, and direction to its arrows, was gone." I hope we don't have to resurrect anti-Catholicism [and anti-Orthodoxy] to regain some Reformation turf.

As to "trifling follies," consult the latest minutes of the Assemblies of Calvin's heirs. Count me with those "lightheaded women" who need liturgy.

I'll see your Calvin and raise you some John of Damascus:

"You perhaps are more exalted and non-material and have risen above the body, so that, being non-fleshly, you can despise everything that present itself to the sight [and senses]. But since I am a human being and occupy a body, I want to deal in a bodily fashion with the things that are holy."

WTM said...

It is all well and good, Matt, to deal with holy things in a bodily fashion. But, let us not forget that while our 'bodily fashion' is at our disposal, those 'holy things' are not. Hence, Calvin's desire - despite his profound appreciation of Baptism and the Lord's Supper, as well as for common worship - to search for a Scriptural basis for how we deal with holy things in a bodily fashion.

Also, this bit of Calvin is not directed against the liturgy of worship per se, but against all the other pomp and ceremonies associated with Rome at the time - much of which has since (rightly) fallen away.

As to your comments about V2, I'm less optimistic about its long-term import for the Roman church than you are (as far as I can tell). Plus, as I've said a few times on this blog, I don't think that the Joint Declaration really gets us anywhere. Which means, as far as I'm concerned, there is no lack of resources for finding some 'Reformation turf'.