On these points, Calvin was both profoundly right and profoundly mistaken. He was correct because he had identified an important motif of late medieval Catholicism; there truly was a reversion to Old Covenant structures and a kind of Galatianism at work…
On the other hand, Calvin was fatally wrong in suggesting that this Galatianism was found wherever there is an emphasis on ritual per se. Calvin notwithstanding, the redemptive-historical move that the New Testament announces is not from ritual to non-ritual, from an Old Covenant economy of signs to a New Covenant economy beyond signs. The movement instead is from rituals and signs of distance and exclusion (the temple veil, cutting the flesh, sacrificial smoke ascending to heaven, laws of cleanliness) to signs and rituals of inclusion and incorporation (the rent veil, the common baptismal bath, the common meal).
Rituals are as essential to the New Covenant order as to the Old; they are simply different rituals.
-Peter Leithart, Against Christianity, 80.
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