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John Calvin on Ritual and Sacrament…

September 2, 2016

“It is certain that all ceremonies are corrupt and harmful unless through them men are led to Christ…

Sacrament, a mirror and symbol: “Indeed, the believer, when he sees the sacraments with his own eyes, does not halt at the physical sight of them, but by those steps (which I have indicated by analogy) rises up in devout contemplation to those lofty mysteries which lie hidden in the sacraments.” (IV, xiv, 5, Calvin, Institutes)

Surely for Calvin the Sacraments are important Sign’s and Seals whereby we as regenerate believers worship God In Christ. Here Calvin and Luther are actually closer and also follow something of Augustine. There is certainly NO baptismal regeneration, or literal change in the bread & wine.

“One may call it a testimony of divine grace toward us, confirmed by an outward sign, with mutual attestation of our piety toward him.” (IV, xiv, 1)

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4 Comments
  1. Yes, I am indeed Low Church on the Sacraments as an Anglican, but that in no way diminishes them or their proper use!

  2. Colin permalink

    Good quote. I relate to Calvin strongly here. And as regards the Eucharist, I feel it is a pity so many equate Real Presence with Transubstantiation or some other form of physical presence. The presence of our Lord is certainly Real to all regenerate who come with a prepared longing and good heart and an expectation of meeting Him. I Cor ch11 tells us as much.

    • Amen Colin! And I myself sense that Augustine was closer here with his statement of the Sacrament being both a real sign & seal! Note, my piece on Luther following Augustine here also. Sadly, far too many Lutheran Churches are ignorant on Luther’s idea of the Real Presence here! Note too, Luther NEVER held to the idea of consubstantiation: that the body and blood of Christ “coexist” with the elements of bread and wine. For him Christ was somehow present of course with the words of institution, but he did not overly press it, save for Christ was present somehow.

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