Of all the theologians and church leaders who are cited as being opposed to the use of visual arts in worship, Protestant Reformer John Calvin is perhaps the most famous. The following article describes the cultural context in which Calvin worked and the specific nature of his views on the visual arts in worship, suggesting that Calvin was more concerned with confronting idolatry than with opposing the visual arts in worship.
Reformed worship focuses on the majesty of God’s transcendence and the frailty and sinfulness of humans. Reformed worship captures, proclaims, and enacts the gospel.
Calvin argued that only practices explicitly taught in Scripture could be used in worship. For this reason, churches influenced by Calvin have been less inclined to restore pre-Reformation practices of worship perceived as unbiblical or “Catholic.”
Benjamin Breckinridge (B. B.) Warfield (1851-1921) was a noted Presbyterian theologian, writer, and educator. He was born in Kentucky and studied at Princeton College and the University of Leipzig.
John Knox (c. 1514-1572) was born in Haddington, Scotland and educated at the University of Glasgow. He was originally a Roman Catholic priest. In 1543 he converted to Protestantism due, primarily, to the preaching of the reformer George Wishart.
Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) was an important figure in American church history. He was born in Connecticut to a renowned family of clergymen. He began reading Latin texts at the age of six and could read Greek and Hebrew by 13.
Worship in a “united and a uniting church” properly reflects the rich traditions of the four major denominational streams of the United Church of Christ (Congregational, Christian, Evangelical, and Reformed) and of the many ethnic communities within its membership.
The Reformed Church in America is a semiliturgical church. Its liturgy is a part of its constitution (along with the creeds and the Book of Church Order). New liturgical forms join previously approved ones and together form the total corpus of the liturgy.
The theme of the Word of God incarnate in Christ and witnessed through the Bible is the focus of Presbyterian teaching on worship.
Several historic streams have shaped the worship of the relatively young Reformed denomination known as the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA).