Another 2nd Commandment Question: Crosses (stemming from another thread)

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Whitefield

Puritan Board Junior
The building where worship takes place is definitely a circumstance. Worship could not take place without a stated meeting place - a stated meeting place is common to human societies that must meet - thus the building meets the definition of a circumstance. Treated as such, its decor, internal and external, must be subject to the general rules of the Word. If, however, the building is assigned religious significance, if it is conceived of as a "sacred space" it morphs from a circumstance into an element - and then warrant is required for the whole concept of a sacred space, and for the items which are used to establish or maintain or proclaim its sacredness.

But if the building is a convenient location, then the cross is advertising. The steeple says that it is a building used for religious meetings, the cross says that it is Christian religious meetings. So an instrument of torture becomes the logo.

So, cut to the conclusion. Are you saying a cross on a church steeple is a per se sin against God? If you are, what does it violate in Scripture?

So an instrument of torture becomes the logo.

And likewise I could say the instrument of redemption becomes the logo.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
I disagree with your framing of the debate. From my entry into this thread, I asked if a better way to state the question would not be one of warrant.

And your question would have to be split, in any case.

And a logo is a rather trivial thing, it is not?
 

ColdSilverMoon

Puritan Board Senior
I don't know that it's very much better to trivialize an instrument of redemption than to trivialize an instrument of torture.

By this logic God trivialized the instrument of the Fall when the Israelites looked upon the serpent.

It may be trivializing the cross to you, and that's perfectly fine for you to hold that opinion and thus not adorn yourself, your car, or your church with a cross. But your personal distaste does not make it a sin - for you or anyone else.
 

Confessor

Puritan Board Senior
I’m not sure how the Free Church people would argue for its display in a place of worship, considering they are as strict as anyone regarding the RPW. Nor do I know how they clearly distinguish it from the cross. I’d be interested in hearing and will ask the next time I talk with one of their ministers.

Prima facie, I would not judge them to be inconsistent, simply because I doubt they would ever deal loosely with such an issue. That is, if they are so strict with the RPW, and they have a burning bush displayed, they probably have given it a good deal of thought.

But yes, I would appreciate it if you could find out their specific reasoning on the matter.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
Mason, it isn't trivializing something to turn it into the means by which life is obtained in the face of otherwise certain death. Surely you'll agree that this is a pretty dignified role.
 

Whitefield

Puritan Board Junior
I disagree with your framing of the debate. From my entry into this thread, I asked if a better way to state the question would not be one of warrant.

And your question would have to be split, in any case.

And a logo is a rather trivial thing, it is not?

I didn't frame the debate, nor the initial question. I'm simply waiting for someone to explain, from Scripture, how having a cross on the steeple (or anywhere on the exterior of a church) is a sin against God.

And no, a logo which has meaning is not a trivial thing.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
Yes, but you'll notice that I got on with a suggestion to rephrase the original question.

Is the logo's meaning religious?
 

ColdSilverMoon

Puritan Board Senior
Mason, it isn't trivializing something to turn it into the means by which life is obtained in the face of otherwise certain death. Surely you'll agree that this is a pretty dignified role.

No, they received life with faith as the instrument - looking to the serpent was the manifestation of their faith - the symbol, or "logo," so to speak. Our faith in Christ's work on the cross allows us to receive life as well. Thus the cross is a symbol of our faith the same way the serpent was a symbol of the Israelites' faith in that episode. I don't think either is trivial....
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
If they didn't look, they didn't live. The serpent on the pole was a necessary object for their sight. That's dignified, and more than a logo. Further, the construction of serpent was authorized by God (there was warrant for it), but even it was considered Nehushtan when people began to attach a religious significance to it, outside of the situation for which God authorized it.
I'd want something a little stronger than that.
 

ColdSilverMoon

Puritan Board Senior
If they didn't look, they didn't live. The serpent on the pole was a necessary object for their sight. That's dignified, and more than a logo. Further, the construction of serpent was authorized by God (there was warrant for it), but even it was considered Nehushtan when people began to attach a religious significance to it, outside of the situation for which God authorized it.
I'd want something a little stronger than that.

I'm not saying the serpent episode proves the cross is an allowable symbol. My point is that the cross is only trivialized as a symbol in your opinion. The serpent was a valid symbol of faith only insomuch as the Israelites viewed it as just that - a mere symbol for their faith, rather than an object of worship. The same is true for the cross - it is a perfectly legitimate symbol for our faith in Christ's work on the cross. In my view, neither symbol is the least bit trivial.

But aside from the triviality issue, there is still the issue of whether or not wearing a cross necklace or having a cross bumper sticker is sinful. So far no one has shown that it is. In terms of the cross on a steeple, I agree with you - it is simply identifying that place as a location for the gathering of God's people. I see nothing wrong with that...
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
But that brings us back around to the same question, Mason. What warrant is there for the use of religious symbols? Obviously we have warrant for baptism and for the Lord's Supper. But use of what other symbol is warranted?
 

ColdSilverMoon

Puritan Board Senior
But that brings us back around to the same question, Mason. What warrant is there for the use of religious symbols? Obviously we have warrant for baptism and for the Lord's Supper. But use of what other symbol is warranted?

Baptism and the Lord's Supper are more than mere symbols.

WCF XXVII-II:

There is, in every sacrament, a spiritual relation, or sacramental union, between the sign and the thing signified: whence it comes to pass, that the names and effects of the one are attributed to the other.

And why does a believer need a Scriptural warrant to wear a cross on a necklace?
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
Does a religious symbol say something about God?

No one said they were mere symbols, Mason. But symbols they are.

What is the point of wearing a cross on a necklace?
 

Brian Withnell

Puritan Board Junior
Wouldn't the question for the Reformed be, what warrant is there for using the cross as a religious symbol?

Subsidiary to that, is it a good idea to turn an instrument of torture into something as superficial as a personal ornament or a bumper sticker?

Not everything is subject to warrant, but only worship. In everything else, we are free if we remain within the bounds of moral law.

I personally do not believe a cross a valuable thing, and just like the snake on the pole, it can become an idol. But I do not believe a person needs warrant to have a cross any more than one would need warrant to wear a hat. It could become a stumbling block to some, and they should not use them. While I tend to think them not worthwhile, I also know that the tabernacle had images of angles woven into the fabric ... not what I would think we would do today, but it was clearly commanded by God (and I believe it is commanded because it is what exists in heaven even now).
 

Spinningplates2

Puritan Board Freshman
What is the point of wearing a cross on a necklace?

I think what people are asking and waiting for is any scriptual restrictions against wearing a cross. The point for most who wear a cross is it's instant identifacation with the place Christ offered himself up as our Sacrifice. That is why Christians like to wear them. Who knows, and who cares why pagans and papist wear crosses.

So a number of people have asked and I will ask with them; are their Bible verse's or creeds that forbid the wearing of a cross?
 

ColdSilverMoon

Puritan Board Senior
Does a religious symbol say something about God?

No one said they were mere symbols, Mason. But symbols they are.

What is the point of wearing a cross on a necklace?

I don't think wearing a cross says anything about God. While I personally don't wear a cross necklace or anything similar, I think most who do simply desire to identify themselves as Christians rather than use them as an act of worship. Or they simply like the way it looks. Either way, if it's not intended as an object of worship I can't find anything sinful about it.
 

Scottish Lass

Puritan Board Doctor
The burning bush is used not as a symbol for God in any of his persons, and has never been used like the cross in processions or something to bow down to. It is more of a heraldic symbol used since 1691 as a symbol for the Church of Scotland and some groups claiming to be a continuation of the CoS (FcoS, FcoSC, FPCoS).

The ARP, too.

However, how is the burning bush used in Exodus if not as a symbol for God?
 

Whitefield

Puritan Board Junior
If one frowns upon a church which has a cross on its exterior, I wonder what one would think about a church built in the form of a cross. I would imagine that to be consistent, if one thinks a cross on the exterior of a church is sinful, one would also think that a church consciously built in the form of a cross would be sinful too.

Calvin's church in Geneva.
stpierre.jpg



The meeting and worship place for the Westminster Assembly.
westminsterabbey.jpg
 

Confessor

Puritan Board Senior
I think we might be making more distinctions here than necessary. Since including a cross in a church (or on a church's exterior) is clearly not positively commanded in Scripture, it would have to be included in a worship service by circumstance.

The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man's salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men.[12] Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word:[13] and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed. [14]
(WCF 1.6)

At this point there are basically two questions: (1) Does having a cross in a worship service necessarily incite anyone to idolatry (thereby violating the moral law) -- or, at least, is it likely that a cross in a worship service will incite anyone to idolatry? (2) Can a cross in a church (or on a church's exterior) be included by virtue of Christian prudence?

Also, keep in mind that crosses can have varying degrees of perspicuity. A fifteen-foot cross that sits behind the pulpit will be judged significantly differently than a somewhat small cross engraved on the church's door.

This also prompts the question whether a cross can be included in anything outside of a worship service, which would essentially have the same answer as (1) above.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
Can we say something about our religious affiliation without implying something about our God?

Neither Calvin nor the Westminster Divines were architects. They found the churches, they didn't construct them.
 

Whitefield

Puritan Board Junior
Can we say something about our religious affiliation without implying something about our God?

Neither Calvin nor the Westminster Divines were architects. They found the churches, they didn't construct them.

And they didn't have to preach, worship, or meet in those buildings if they thought they were sinful places to gather. I don't remember Calvin or the Assembly complaining. And isn't it ironic that the body held responsible for such a clear confession which clarified the RPW, did not say a word about meeting and worshipping inside a cross.
 

Whitefield

Puritan Board Junior
Is that your only answer to the question?

It answers the question of the thread, I think. If you have a tangential question, maybe you should start another thread to deal with that question.

Can we say something about our religious affiliation without implying something about our God?

Well, my religious affiliation is all about God, implied or explicated.
 

Kevin

Puritan Board Doctor
Is that your only answer to the question?

I dunno, but it is a good one. The reformed world today is filled with people that argue "such & such" is THE REFORMED VIEW, and yet the reformers neither knew nor practiced what is being asserted.

Some today use the RPW to ban things that those who DEFINED the position, did practice & allow,... It seems to me that you can not maintain the assertion in the face of historical evidence to the contrary.
 
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Jimmy the Greek

Puritan Board Senior
It seems that nothing attracts interest on the PB more than a thread that seeks to add to a list of do's and don'ts, or what is allowed and what is not. :think:
 

LawrenceU

Puritan Board Doctor
It seems that nothing attracts interest on the PB more than a thread that seeks to add to a list of do's and don'ts, or what is allowed and what is not. :think:

Yep, I think it speaks to the Pharisaical bent in all of us. We desire lists of approved / disapproved activities rather than principles that must be applied.
 

toddpedlar

Iron Dramatist
I think we might be making more distinctions here than necessary. Since including a cross in a church (or on a church's exterior) is clearly not positively commanded in Scripture, it would have to be included in a worship service by circumstance.

The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man's salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men.[12] Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word:[13] and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed. [14]
(WCF 1.6)

At this point there are basically two questions: (1) Does having a cross in a worship service necessarily incite anyone to idolatry (thereby violating the moral law) -- or, at least, is it likely that a cross in a worship service will incite anyone to idolatry?

A cross in the sanctuary CAN (won't claim it's likely) be a focal point for a person in his prayers, or at the time of taking the Lord's Supper as the crucifixion is remembered (I know personally of instances of this) and thereby IS a stumbling block and a means of people's idolatry. Whether this fact is sufficient warrant for folks to declare crosses in the sanctuary (or crosses in general) out-of-bounds will depend on whether you think the possibility of stumbling some of the flock is a problem.
 

toddpedlar

Iron Dramatist
Can we say something about our religious affiliation without implying something about our God?

Neither Calvin nor the Westminster Divines were architects. They found the churches, they didn't construct them.

And they didn't have to preach, worship, or meet in those buildings if they thought they were sinful places to gather. I don't remember Calvin or the Assembly complaining. And isn't it ironic that the body held responsible for such a clear confession which clarified the RPW, did not say a word about meeting and worshipping inside a cross.

Ironic or not, it should be noted that those places of worship were simply following the usual Papist form of building churches in the shape of a cross. The construction of each of those churches was prior to the Reformation, so it's not as though they were built in the cross shape by those who held Reformational views.
 
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