“Man’s nature, so to speak, is a perpetual factory of idols.”
– John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book I, Ch.11
If Calvin says we are idol factories, then he is saying the same thing as Girard.
A DEFINING characteristic of man is that he makes idols. A lot. All the time. How does he do this exactly? Mimesis – imitative desire.
This all fits and provides wonderful insight and confirmation into the confession of Peter:
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.
-Matthew 16:13-17 (ESV)
Who is Jesus? Here, idol-factory Peter is ready to borrow something from the people around him. John the Baptist. Elijah, Jeremiah, etc. But he doesn’t. He tells the plain truth, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”.
Was Peter really smart to put all the pieces together? Did he know the scriptures really well and figure out all the signs? No. The Pharisees and teachers of the law maybe should have been able to do that, but they had a major mental block.
Is Peter just repeating something Jesus already told him earlier or strongly hinted at? No. This is new stuff. He’s not just spitting back canned answers.
“Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you.” Peter got the right answer, but not by imitating anyone else or fashioning an ideal in the image of his own hopes. He knows it because of the direct intervention by the Father who is in heaven right now. It was a truly original idea.