Church ornamentation after Constantine

Leithart again posts an excerpt from his reading on the early centuries of the Church, this time concerning how clergy regarded the magnificent churches built after Christianity became accepted:

Virutally no one, even the most severe ascetic, said that the use of gold and silver and marble was inherently wrong.  Jerome did not “blame” people who built churches with marble, large columns with gold capitals, silver doors and jewel-crusted altars: “Everyone must follow his own judgment.”  But he went on to tell his friend Demetrius that his particular calling was to “clothe Christ in the poor, to visit Him in the wick, to feed Him in the hungry, and to shelter Him in the homeless.”

John Chrysostom, a monk who became a bishop, “preached in a cathedral in Constantinople and paraded the city behind silver crosses he had received as a gift from the empress.”

I’m not an advocate of opulence in churches (I agree with the Puritans on this one), but the article that Leithart refers to and the James Jordan quote I referred to in my last post are good reminders that Christians have held very different views on this topic.


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