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William

The Word as a Means of Grace

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Carl R. Trueman

 

The differences over grace between the medieval Catholic Church and the churches of the Reformation are nowhere more obviously apparent than in the architecture of their respective places of worship. To enter one of the great cathedrals of the high Middle Ages, such as that of Cologne, is to enter a space that is focused on and saturated in the sacraments, specifically the Mass. As one enters the building, one’s eyes are drawn to the high altar because the architect knew his theology. He knew that the most important thing that happened in the liturgy was the celebration of the Mass, where Christ literally came down to meet his people in grace. As the bread and wine became the body and blood of the Lord Jesus, Christ was present with his people. Heaven met earth and all eyes should thus be focused on the place where this mystery took place.

 

Enter a Protestant cathedral, say, St. Giles’ in Edinburgh, and one enters a very different world. Not only are the usual elaborate aesthetics of medieval piety missing, one’s eyes are drawn not to any altar but rather to the elevated pulpit. Again, the architect knew his theology well, for the most important thing that happens in a Protestant service is the reading and especially... .

 

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