I believe in icons, but I think that using them in the place of sound teaching produces idol worshipers. If we read the words of John Calvin in this light, I think we see the root of the problem in many of our denominations today. No one is actually teaching.
But then we shall also answer that this is not the method of teaching within the sacred precincts believing folk, whom God wills to be instructed there with a far different doctrine than this trash. In the preaching of his Word and sacred mysteries he has bidden that a common doctrine be there set forth for all. But those whose eyes rove about in contemplating idols betray that their minds are not diligently intent upon this doctrine.
Therefore, whom, then, do the papists call uneducated whose ignorance allows them to be taught by images alone? Those, indeed, whom the Lord recognizes as his disciples, cwhom he honors by the revelation of his heavenly philosophy, whom he wills to be instructed in the saving mysteries of his Kingdom. I confess, as the matter stands, that today there are not a few who are unable to do without such “books.” But whence, I pray you, this stupidity if not because they are defrauded of that doctrine which alone was fit to instruct them? Indeed, those in authority in the church turned over to idols the office of teaching for no other reason than that they themselves were mute. cPaul testifies that by the true preaching of the gospel “Christ is depicted before our eyes as crucified” . aWhat purpose did it serve for so many crosses—of wood, stone, silver, and gold—to be erected here and there in churches, if this fact had been duly and faithfully taught: that Christ died on the cross to bear our curse , to expiate our sins by the sacrifice of his body , to wash them by his blood , in short, to reconcile us to God the Father ? From this one fact they could have learned more than from a thousand crosses of wood or stone. For perhaps the covetous fix their minds and eyes more tenaciously upon gold and silver than upon any word of God.