A Secular Age: The Calvin Seminar: “Reform”
If anything of salvation is under our control, then God’s sovereignty and grace are compromised. This leads Reformers like Calvin to reject the “localization” of grace in things and rituals, changing the “centre of gravity of the religious life” (79). Taylor consider John Calvin as a case study: in emphasizing the priority of God’s action and grace, Taylor notes, “what he can’t admit is that God could have released something of his saving efficacy out there into the world, at the mercy of human action, because that is the cost of really sanctifying creatures like us which are bodily, social, historical” (79). One can see how this entails a kind of disenchantment: “we reject the sacramentals; all the elements of ‘magic’ in the old religion” (79). If the church no longer has “good” magic, “then all magic must be black” (80): all enchantment must be blasphemous, idolatrous, even demonic (Salem is yet to come). And one the world is de-charged, we are then free to re-order it as seems best (80). In other words, the Reformers’ rejection of sacramentalism is the beginning of naturalism.