Are images necessary in congregations?

. . . two questions are here resolved. The first is, whether images be necessary in the congregations of the people of God? Answer. There are Christian images and pictures, and they are very necessary. And these images are sermons of Christ and the right administration of the sacraments. For in them Christ is described and painted out unto us. As for the painted and carved images of the papists, we utterly detest them as idols. They allege that they are laymen's books, but Habakkuk says, "they are doctors of lies" (Hab. 2:18). And where the lively preaching of the word is, there is no need of them. And therefore images were not established in churches in these West parts till after seven hundred years. As long as the church had golden teachers, there were no wooden images; but when golden teachers did degenerate and become wooden teachers, then came both golden and wooden images. It is further said, why may we not paint Christ in our churches with colors, as with words in sermons? Answer. The one the Lord allows, namely, the description of Christ in speech. But the carving or painting of images in churches, and that for religious use, He condemns (Ex. 20:4–6).

—William Perkins, ‘Commentary on Galatians’


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