January 2022 A.D.
Crucifix: A Cross with the Body of Jesus
A few of you have brought up questions about the use of a crucifix vs a cross recently, so here are a few comments to consider:
Many reformed Christian church bodies in America are against crosses that display the crucified Lord. They are against crucifixes, usually for three reasons: 1. They think it is a graven image. 2. That a crucifix is a sign of defeat, while an empty cross is a sign of victory. As to say, they pit Easter against Good Friday. 3. Finally, that they do not want to be confused with the Roman Catholic Church.
Well, displaying a crucifix is catholic, small c, in the sense that Christians for centuries have treasured them, including Lutherans. Why? 1. Having a crucifix isn’t the same as having a graven image. We don’t worship crucifixes just like we don’t worship images of empty crosses. 2. A crucifix is a sign of victory and not defeat, and should never be pitted against the resurrection, for they go together. 3. Let’s not confuse throwing out the bathwater of false teachings in the Roman church, with the baby of good practices that are in our heritage as well – liturgy, chanting, crucifixes etc.
These are just a few of my thoughts on the subject of crucifixes. Certainly, displaying a cross or crucifix at church is a matter of Christian freedom and tradition, and not a, “thus says the Lord” issue. With that said, everything is a tradition and has an origin; Lutherans have Lutheran traditions and non-Lutherans have non-Lutheran traditions. Like Paul, we Lutherans preach Christ crucified and so have kept the tradition of displaying crucifixes.
I Corinthians 1 (ESV)
18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach[b] to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
P.S. If you would like to read a longer article on crucifixes or making the sign of the cross, please check out these links.
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