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

Status
Not open for further replies.

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.

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.

The Reformers fully knew the construction and form of the building they were using. By consciously using cruciform buildings, they were tacitly showing that it was a matter of indifference. Nothing forced them to use those buildings. I only brought up the architecture to show that exterior crosses on or of a church obviously were not considered sin by Calvin or the Westminster Assembly.
 

toddpedlar

Iron Dramatist
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.

The Reformers fully knew the construction and form of the building they were using. By consciously using cruciform buildings, they were tacitly showing that it was a matter of indifference. Nothing forced them to use those buildings. I only brought up the architecture to show that exterior crosses on or of a church obviously were not considered sin by Calvin or the Westminster Assembly.

I wasn't meaning to contradict, just to add what might be considered a pertinent fact. Clearly if they thought it a probllem, they might have done something about it.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
Wrapping Up

It seems that it is difficult to ask questions without being taken as arguing for a position. That's an interesting psychological fact, I suppose, but a little off topic. If someone would like to start a thread on that, I am sure it would be interesting.

Throughout the thread I have asked:
What warrant is there for the use of crosses?

Mason is the only one I saw who attempted to provide one, and I don't think that his argument worked. I realize people may not think they need a warrant for it, but that doesn't mean it's illegitimate to ask if there is such warrant. Also, it has been shown that there are situations in which a cross does enter into use in worship (when it is designed to make a space "hallowed"), and in such circumstances the Reformed view would be that warrant is required.

Failing warrant, what value is there in crosses? So far we have gotten that it can function as a logo and hence can identify us as Christians. Of course, its use by papists means that this function is not served with much clarity. I suppose that at some point someone will also commend it as a mnemonic device.

And further, what is the effect of using the cross for decor or personal adornment? I have asked if that trivializes what was a gruesome instrument of torture, and the platform for our Saviour's death. It seems that many people think it doesn't, even though most crosses (as distinguished from crucifixes) are at the very least sanitized.

And that leads into the question of religious symbols. Is there anything in them beyond an analog to corporate branding? Do they say something about God? (Lance seems to say "yes", Mason says "not necessarily".) Are they matters of indifference, or ought we to have warrant for the symbols we employ and our method of employing them?

Finally, to Alan:
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?

That may be what people are asking and waiting for; but what I am asking and waiting for is a positive case. What warrant is there for wearing a cross? What value is there in wearing a cross? Is the cross trivialized by functioning as a logo? Is the manufacture and use of religious symbols a thing best left to individual discretion? If someone wants to convict me of legalism or Pharisaism or twisting the Puritans for asking these questions, please go ahead and make your case. I can hardly wait.
 

RTaron

The Grandpa (Affectionately Called)
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.

Lawrence,
I won't deny our Pharisaical bent but every *do and don't* always has a principle behind it nevertheless. I believe that the arguments from Ruben and others here, are from principle. How could you prove otherwise?
 

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.

Lawrence,
I won't deny our Pharisaical bent but every *do and don't* always has a principle behind it nevertheless. I believe that the arguments from Ruben and others here, are from principle. How could you prove otherwise?


I don't disagree. I list of dos and donts has principles behind it. God gave the Israelites quite a few lists. But, when the people took those lists and made them more important than the principles and/or added their own list in order to erect a fence of protection around the God given code then it became sin. If, however, a principle is not clear a man must be bound by his own conscience and should not seek to bind his upon another. We don't like that. We much prefer lock step consistency; but that is not how the Lord has revealed his will.
 

kevin.carroll

Puritan Board Junior
I think Andrew's original quesiton should be divided. The 2nd Commandment has to do with the worship of God, so a worn cross (which I would not wear anyhow...), how does the Second Commandment touch on it?
 

ColdSilverMoon

Puritan Board Senior
That may be what people are asking and waiting for; but what I am asking and waiting for is a positive case. What warrant is there for wearing a cross? What value is there in wearing a cross? Is the cross trivialized by functioning as a logo? Is the manufacture and use of religious symbols a thing best left to individual discretion? If someone wants to convict me of legalism or Pharisaism or twisting the Puritans for asking these questions, please go ahead and make your case. I can hardly wait.

That is a very good summary of the discussion, Ruben - thank you.

In terms of a positive case, I don't think a strong one can be made in terms of external adornment. However, there is a precedent for God's people, or special groups of God's people, being known by their physical attributes, including those who took the Nazarite vow. One could even consider circumcision a "branding" of sorts, though obviously this isn't a visible sign to most people, and is more sacramental than purely symbolic. Even so, there is at least some implied endorsement of external identifiers of God's people, and certainly nothing that I can find to forbid it. Plus, the serpent episode from the wilderness isn't a great support for crosses, but it is an example of a God-given symbol of faith.

In terms of its value, I would argue that is best left to the individual, so long as they don't view it as an object of worship, or some sort of sacred talisman. If it's simply a reminder to themselves and others that they belong to God (similar to a wedding ring), then I see positive value in that. If it's purely decoration with no religious significance at all, then I have no real problem with that either - the value is purely one of personal taste. Likewise, I think it is only trivialized based on individual perception. I personally don't believe it trivializes an instrument of torture, since crosses are no longer used in a practical sense, and because most people view it positively in terms of Christ's redeeming work rather than negatively in terms of physical torture.

So my position is that there is a soft positive argument for crosses, and no strong argument against them other than personal preference on some level (trivialization, value, etc.).
 

Confessor

Puritan Board Senior
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.

Thank you for responding. This essentially settles question (1) I had above, regarding whether a cross can be included in a church without causing others to idolize; as you noted, it depends on the cross (e.g., its size and perspicuity) and the people (their tendency to idolize).

Would anyone be willing to answer question (2)?
(2) Can a cross in a church (or on a church's exterior) be included by virtue of Christian prudence?

This essentially can be broken into two separate questions, by virtue of the RPW: (A) Can a cross be viewed as a circumstance, rather than an element? (B) If so, can it be included by virtue of Christian prudence?
 

jrdnoland

Puritan Board Freshman
second commandment

Exodus 4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; 5 you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

I just joined this board and have respect for all of you who are honestly and sincerely trying to honor God and to follow His commandments.

Aftr skimming this thread, I was thinking "What is the purpose, the intent of the second commandment?" And does a cross in any way violate the intent of that commandment?

Jesus gave us the Lord's supper to remember Him by, He gave us the Sabbath to spend extra time devoted to Him. If a cross makes us think of Jesus and what He did for us, is it wrong? Again, go back and look at the intent of the second commandment; was it not to keep the people focused on the real God and not on some false god(s) or idols?
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
The unadorned cross is the basic symbol of Christianity; it serves as a reminder that Christ died on one to effect the salvation of the elect. I think it's completely appropriate for crosses to adorn churches and pulpits. I also think it's appropriate for Christians to wear them, as long as they're sincere about it - that is, that they don't wear them just because they "look nice." One must always remember what the symbol means.

Now, all this is as opposed to the Roman Catholic crucifix, which is a cross with an image of Jesus on it. Catholics do tend to use these as objects of worship - kissing them and so on. Crucifixes are objectionable for this reason, and also for the theological reason that they represent the idea that Christ is "killed" over and over again in the Mass. Catholics just won't let Jesus get off the cross.

Again, the unadorned cross serves as a reminder to Christians that Christ died for them. And, the absence of Jesus on the cross is a reminder that His sacrifice is forever finished.

I would have objected mightily to the folks who sawed the cross off their steeple.
 

toddpedlar

Iron Dramatist
Again, go back and look at the intent of the second commandment; was it not to keep the people focused on the real God and not on some false god(s) or idols?

The intent of the SECOND commandment is not to keep the people focused on the real God. That's the intent of the FIRST commandment, which forbids worship of any god but Jehovah. The SECOND commandment regulates God's worship, and, among other things, requires that we not worship Him through the use of images to represent Him. Confusion about this (and a desire to have images in worship) is what led the Roman church to conflate the 1st and 2nd commandment, and necessitated their splitting up of the 10th commandment in two. Images of God are directly condemned (whether they are used for worship or not), and images by which to worship God are also condemned (as the Israelites, who were gathered to worship the true God falsely, through the condemned medium of the golden calves, found out)

The unadorned Cross does not represent God in any way - it *can* be an idol, if it becomes a talisman for prayers, etc. - but it is not necessarily so. Images of Christ, on the other hand, purport to represent God, and therefore ARE condemned.
 

he beholds

Puritan Board Doctor
I very rarely wear a cross, mostly (I will admit this) because I think other Reformed people will "talk." But when I was in a public high school, I was very happy to wear the cross as a symbol for others where my allegiance was. I have an icthus tattoo, also from when I was in high school and I wanted a way to display my allegiance. I know that neither of those things are necessary, but I think they are permissible as symbols. I know now and knew then that Love was to be my symbol of allegiance, but I enjoyed the instant message that was sent by my separating myself with symbols.

I do daily wear triquetra earrings, which I could see someone arguing is more likely to try to represent God than a cross. I do not worship my earrings, my tattoo, or the cross necklace (hidden in my jewelry box for that day when I am not afraid that I'll run into any other Reformed folk;)). I simply use them as a way to show my allegiance, such as another might wear an American flag pin.

Can a church have a cross? I think that a church of Christ should have some identifiable markings on her. Why would we not want "advertise" our allegiance?
 

Grace Alone

Puritan Board Senior
I do wear a cross all the time to publically proclaim my allegiance to Christ. My church also has a simple wooden cross on the wall behind the pulpit. Never in my wildest imagination have I thought that anyone would gaze upon that cross in worship of it. I really think that is a stretch of the imagination.
 

kalawine

Puritan Board Junior
Again, go back and look at the intent of the second commandment; was it not to keep the people focused on the real God and not on some false god(s) or idols?

The intent of the SECOND commandment is not to keep the people focused on the real God. That's the intent of the FIRST commandment, which forbids worship of any god but Jehovah. The SECOND commandment regulates God's worship, and, among other things, requires that we not worship Him through the use of images to represent Him. Confusion about this (and a desire to have images in worship) is what led the Roman church to conflate the 1st and 2nd commandment, and necessitated their splitting up of the 10th commandment in two. Images of God are directly condemned (whether they are used for worship or not), and images by which to worship God are also condemned (as the Israelites, who were gathered to worship the true God falsely, through the condemned medium of the golden calves, found out)

The unadorned Cross does not represent God in any way - it *can* be an idol, if it becomes a talisman for prayers, etc. - but it is not necessarily so. Images of Christ, on the other hand, purport to represent God, and therefore ARE condemned.

Whew! What have I done? :lol: I didn't mean to stir up such a controversy! For what it's worth I have been going through this all day in my mind and I think I need to renege on my previous position. (My apologies to those of you who were looking forward to a good fight :)) And I was hasty in our previous thread when I said that it was a sin to put a cross on a steeple.

I'm quoting Todd's post here because I believe this is how I would answer the question since I've thought through the subject anew. I believe that Todd has consistently had the best perspective on the subject during these conversations. I would however like to say that I am still uncomfortable with crosses and other images that seem to "link" people to their faith. And it should be pointed out that there are many people who do have very unhealthy associations with such things. (I know a lady who collects "angels." It's almost spooky going over to her house.) And as reformed as we may be, it isn't impossible to see a Church turn to the veneration of crosses as such as happened with the RCC and the Eastern Orthodox long ago.
 
Last edited:

jrdnoland

Puritan Board Freshman
Again, go back and look at the intent of the second commandment; was it not to keep the people focused on the real God and not on some false god(s) or idols?

The intent of the SECOND commandment is not to keep the people focused on the real God. That's the intent of the FIRST commandment, which forbids worship of any god but Jehovah. The SECOND commandment regulates God's worship, and, among other things, requires that we not worship Him through the use of images to represent Him. Confusion about this (and a desire to have images in worship) is what led the Roman church to conflate the 1st and 2nd commandment, and necessitated their splitting up of the 10th commandment in two. Images of God are directly condemned (whether they are used for worship or not), and images by which to worship God are also condemned (as the Israelites, who were gathered to worship the true God falsely, through the condemned medium of the golden calves, found out)

The unadorned Cross does not represent God in any way - it *can* be an idol, if it becomes a talisman for prayers, etc. - but it is not necessarily so. Images of Christ, on the other hand, purport to represent God, and therefore ARE condemned.


Sorry, I thought that was what I said. It was to have the people focused (in worship) on the real God and not on some false god represented by idols. I think we are saying the same thing, perhaps I did not explain myself clearly enough.
 

toddpedlar

Iron Dramatist
I do wear a cross all the time to publically proclaim my allegiance to Christ. My church also has a simple wooden cross on the wall behind the pulpit. Never in my wildest imagination have I thought that anyone would gaze upon that cross in worship of it. I really think that is a stretch of the imagination.


It's no stretch, Janis, but reality, hard though it may be to believe. I know people who spend their time praying, the whole time facing towards the cross and even some with their eyes open, locked on it. I know those who take Communion and make a point of looking up at the cross as they take it. Of course I cannot read thoughts, but I do know what I've seen them do, and it has, at least apparently, spiritual significance to them as they're undertaking those acts.

I never meant to imply that they were worshipping the piece of wood - but they ARE worshipping with it as a focal point, as a means by which they are worshipping God. It's an idol, just as much as was the golden calf. I could be wrong, but I don't *think* these to whom I'm referring are the only two people in the world who do this or have ever done it.
 

shackleton

Puritan Board Junior
When did the cross become a religious symbol? I do not imagine it was while they were still crucifying people on it.
 

Nate

Puritan Board Junior
Like many others here, I'm not convinced that the unadorned cross represents God in any way.

What I can relate to you is the curious take of the dutch reformed community that I grew up in on this issue: Members caught wearing a cross necklace or earrings were often reprimanded and cautioned that they were on the slippery road to Rome.

And yet, almost every dutch reformed church that I have been to has been absolutely dripping with crosses (on the steeple, behind the pulpit, carved into the pulpit, on both ends of every pew, on each window, on top of the baptismal font, on the sign at the driveway entrance). This seeming double standard actually led to an interesting effect - many students in the high school I attended would slip on a cross necklace on weekends as a sort of rebellion against the parents/school/church "rules" on this issue.
 

Kevin

Puritan Board Doctor
When did the cross become a religious symbol? I do not imagine it was while they were still crucifying people on it.

Within one generation of the ascension of Christ. Cross markings have been found that date to the 1st century in sites used by christians. Within 100 years it was probably (almost certainly) a universal sybol for followers of "the Way".
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top