Is a physical 'cross' an idol? Why/Why Not?

Discussion in 'The Law of God' started by Romans922, Aug 22, 2014.

  1. Yes

    4 vote(s)
    14.3%
  2. No

    9 vote(s)
    32.1%
  3. Other

    15 vote(s)
    53.6%
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  1. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor

    Is a physical 'cross' an idol? STATE - Why/Why Not?
     
  2. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritan Board Doctor

    I voted other. I would have preferred "sometimes," because for some people it really is a sort of object of worship and for others the cross is merely a visible reminder of the sum total of their Faith.
     
  3. Elizabeth

    Elizabeth Puritan Board Sophomore

    I would agree...it depends on who is looking at it and how they are looking at it. I have one, though...around me neck.
     
  4. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    I chose to answer the question by way of comparison.

    I think a "crucifix," a romish invention, is unquestionably an idol. It violates the express language of the moral law. It is either vanity, or gross wickedness; and besides defying God's Word, is an attack on Chalcedonian Christology and its creedal expression.

    In comparison, a "cross" is an abstract symbol. While this symbol--and actually any symbol--is susceptible of being turned into an idol (even an expressly authorized symbol, as in the case of the bronze serpent), symbols serve other purposes. Furthermore, very utilitarian items can be viewed symbolically. Thus, an actual table in the midst of the congregation, or a font, has inherent symbolic qualities.

    It is possible to banish both of those things, or banish a cup or a loaf of bread from the assembly until the precise moment they are called for, and then whisk them away; but to what end? Are we frankly afraid of what "could happen?" Are we so disparaging of the power of proper teaching and other shepherding activity (under the Word and Spirit) that, absent extraordinary efforts, the people will most certainly genuflect to any symbol at hand?

    It's possible for paper, ink, and a leather binding--a Bible--to be "divinized," turned into a fetish or an amulet of sorts. I haven't seen it, but perhaps.... Likewise, for a cross, I haven't seen it, but perhaps....

    Most crosses I've seen used to indicate something specific, are symbolic shorthand, a nonverbal expression for the verbal (adjective) "Christian." "This building is a Christian meetinghouse." "This person thinks of him/herself as a Christian." It isn't always in your face either, or grandstanding. It's usually just helpful information, or a subtle bit of personal identification.

    Anything at all that is distinctively Christian can be, and no doubt has been, treated as or abhorred as an idol. I think we should limit our moral objections to those representations of the Deity, and anything common that is plainly turned into an object of veneration.

    I vote "no."

    :2cents:
     
  5. jambo

    jambo Puritan Board Senior

    It can be. The serpent lifted up in the wilderness prevented people from dying from the plague but centuries later Josiah destroyed it as became an object of idolatry. When we lived in the Irish Republic, a church in a wee village 10 miles up the road, Holycross, had a relic which was claimed to be part of Christ's cross. Thousands used to make pilgrimage every year and that was idolatry (as well as deception) A cross in itself is not idolatrous but whatever is in the mind of the person looking at it could be idolatrous.
     
  6. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    Other - it depends.
     
  7. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    No. A cross could become an idol, as any symbol might, but that doesn't make it inherently an idol. In fact, it can be a good alternative that keeps us away from more likely idols. I sometimes use a cross symbol as a visual cue when I'm teaching about Jesus because I want to avoid the alternative of a picture of Jesus.
     
  8. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Ditto to the right answers; it is not inherently an idol. I can be an idol and it can be used very imprudently, like hung front and center in a sanctuary as a crucifix might be in idolatrous churches.
     
  9. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    It is generally identified as superstition.

    Jeremiah Burroughs, Gospel Worship, 15: "Now when a man shall put a religious respect upon a thing by virtue of his own institution, when he does not have a warrant from God, that is superstition! We must all be willing worshippers, not will-worshippers."
     
  10. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    I voted 'other'. Calvin mentions that men are 'idol factories', hence we should be as prudent as possible lest we fall into sin. Some call it an aid; it could be. My opinion, it would be better not to have one on the building or in the building. I am sure most would agree that the average churchgoer holds the symbol in a higher regard than we should. When the symbol is seen in this light, it has become an idol. If one can remain neutral psychologically, that would be alright. I'm sure most people hold their bible in the same regard. We have to be careful with that as well. When Moses lifted up the golden serpent, Israel began to worship it in error. The same thing happens in our age. We should avoid things that create a propensity for sin.

    *I just noticed that Bruce already covered much of what I have said....
     
  11. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    As a side note, I would be more inclined to wear Tzitzit than a cross around my neck.....
     
  12. Andres

    Andres Puritan Board Doctor

    I voted other because as so many have said already, a cross can be but it is not inherently an idol. This differs from something such as a purported image of Christ, which cannot be viewed properly without sinning. Our pulpit has a cross on the front. We bought it used and, in an ideal world, I'd probably have preferred a plain pulpit, but I received this one as a needed provision for our new church plant. I do think the cross on our pulpit can be viewed without sinning and on the majority of Lord's Days I don't even notice it.
     
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