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.
Martin Luther, like John Wycliffe, John Huss, and Girolamo Savonarola before him, may be classified as a preacher of “prophetic personality.” For these preachers, preaching was an act of spiritual warfare. Luther’s sermons are polemics against the abuses within the Roman church and the hard-heartedness of many of its priests. Luther also began the tradition of preaching an additional pedagogical sermon. In these catechistic sermons he taught the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, and doctrines of the Reformation. The tradition of featuring both catechetical and homiletical sermons in services became common in some Lutheran (and Reformed) churches, and this practice still continues in some churches today.