protestant aesthetics in regards to the sacraments
Major changes to Protestant ritual occurred over time, especially as divergences in thought occurred between influential Protestant thinkers. Protestants viewed sacraments as providing “spiritual refreshment” rather than salvation, and towards the end of the century, Puritans viewed sacraments as evidence of their own salvation.
Martin Luther pushed back on Catholic insistence that sacraments could help a person get to heaven because he argued that works were not always performed without ulterior motivations, and thus were not spiritually pure enough to propel a person to heaven. It must be faith that contributes to salvation.
ALEC RYRIE, "THE AGE OF REFORMATION: THE TUDOR AND STEWART REALMS 1485-1603," (ABINGDON: ROUTLEDGE, 2009): 84.
Part of how Catholic and Protestant services were distinguished was through the aesthetic portions of their rituals. For example, Elizabeth I’s Book of Common Prayer mandated that all English churches execute the Eucharist using wafers as well as “high tables” rather than altars.
Protestants believed the power of the sacrament occurred in the Word, rather than in any direct, divine presence. Martin Luther, for example, believed that Scripture was sole authority, and that Christ’s death fully satisfied the penalty of sin.
elizabeth i, a case study:
Similarly to Henry VIII, Elizabeth I’s Reformation maintained a lot of the formalities of Catholicism. Although she emphasized national unity, Elizabeth I’s aesthetic preferences caused concerns. She enjoyed ritualistic elements such as candles and music.Most controversially, Elizabeth was reluctant to let go of her crucifix. In October 1559, she had a crucifix in her private chapel which seemed to be a “gross offense” to Reformed Protestants who rejected this “idolatry.” When she debated instituting the same privilege for parish churches, her bishops resisted.
alec ryrie, THE AGE OF REFORMATION: THE TUDOR AND STEWART REALMS 1485-1603 (ABINGDON, UK: ROUTLEDGE, 2017), 186.