1. Welcome to Religious Forums, a friendly forum to discuss all religions in a friendly surrounding.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Our modern chat room. No add-ons or extensions required, just login and start chatting!
    • Access to private conversations with other members.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

The Cross as a religious symbol

Discussion in 'Interfaith Discussion' started by KL53HL, Jul 14, 2004.

  1. KL53HL

    KL53HL New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2004
    Messages:
    4
    Ratings:
    +0
    Why is Christianity the only religion to use as its main representative symbol, a torture instrument, ie. The Cross?

    What is the message conveyed to the rest of humanity (including other Christians), by the use of this torture instrument?
     
  2. Linus

    Linus Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2004
    Messages:
    1,211
    Ratings:
    +132
    I think chrstians commonly use a cross to represent our religion because Jesus was crucified. Jesus is one of the main figures of christianity so what He did on that cross was important to us. I dont think that when you see a cross mounted on a building or hanging from a chain around someone's neck, It's not supposed to symbolize torture. I think what it is supposed to symbolize is Jesus' crucifixion on a cross for the sins of others.

    any other thoughts?
     
  3. Green Gaia

    Green Gaia Veteran Member

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2004
    Messages:
    19,775
    Ratings:
    +1,920
    Moving this to Religious Discussion...
     
  4. Green Gaia

    Green Gaia Veteran Member

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2004
    Messages:
    19,775
    Ratings:
    +1,920
    The symbolism of the Christian cross has always puzzled me as well, so I can't really give you any insight to why they use it other than a cross is what they believe Jesus died on.

    I know this is not what you asked about, but religious symbolism is a very interesting topic. I would like to share the symbol of Unitarian Universalists, the flaming chalice.

    The History of the Flaming Chalice
    Adapted from the pamphlet "The Flaming Chalice" by Daniel D. Hotchkiss.

    At the opening of Unitarian Universalist worship services, many congregations light a flame inside a chalice. This flaming chalice has become a well-known symbol of our denomination. It unites our members in worship and symbolizes the spirit of our work.

    The chalice and the flame were brought together as a Unitarian symbol by an Austrian artist, Hans Deutsch, in 1941. Living in Paris during the 1930's Deutsch drew critical cartoons of Adolf Hitler. When the Nazis invaded Paris in 1940, he abandoned all he had and fled to the South of France, then to Spain, and finally, with an altered passport, into Portugal.

    There, he met the Reverend Charles Joy, executive director of the Unitarian Service Committee (USC). The Service Committee was new, founded in Boston to assist Eastern Europeans, among them Unitarians as well as Jews, who needed to escape Nazi persecution. From his Lisbon headquarters, Joy oversaw a secret network of couriers and agents.

    Charles Joy felt that this new, unknown organisation needed some visual image to represent Unitarianism to the world, especially when dealing with government agencies abroad.

    Deutsch was most impressed and soon was working for the USC. He later wrote to Joy:

    "There is something that urges me to tell you... how much I admire your utter self denial [and] readiness to serve, to sacrifice all, your time, your health, your well being, to help, help, help.

    "I am not what you may actually call a believer. But if your kind of life is the profession of your faith---as it is, I feel sure---then religion, ceasing to be magic and mysticism, becomes confession to practical philosophy and---what is more- --to active, really useful social work. And this religion--- with or without a heading---is one to which even a `godless' fellow like myself can say wholeheartedly, Yes!"
    The USC was an unknown organization in 1941. This was a special handicap in the cloak-and-dagger world, where establishing trust quickly across barriers of language, nationality, and faith could mean life instead of death. Disguises, signs and countersigns, and midnight runs across guarded borders were the means of freedom in those days. Joy asked Deutsch to create a symbol for their papers "to make them look official, to give dignity and importance to them, and at the same time to symbolize the spirit of our work.... When a document may keep a man out of jail, give him standing with governments and police, it is important that it look important."

    Thus, Hans Deutsch made his lasting contribution to the USC and, as it turned out, to Unitarian Universalism. With pencil and ink he drew a chalice with a flame. It was, Joy wrote his board in Boston, "a chalice with a flame, the kind of chalice which the Greeks and Romans put on their altars. The holy oil burning in it is a symbol of helpfulness and sacrifice.... This was in the mind of the artist. The fact, however, that it remotely suggests a cross was not in his mind, but to me this also has its merit. We do not limit our work to Christians. Indeed, at the present moment, our work is nine-tenths for the Jews, yet we do stem from the Christian tradition, and the cross does symbolize Christianity and its central theme of sacrificial love."

    The flaming chalice design was made into a seal for papers and a badge for agents moving refugees to freedom. In time it became a symbol of Unitarian Universalism all around the world.

    The story of Hans Deutsch reminds us that the symbol of a flaming chalice stood in the beginning for a life of service. When Deutsch designed the flaming chalice, he had never seen a Unitarian or Universalist church or heard a sermon. What he had seen was faith in action—people who were willing to risk all for others in a time of urgent need.

    Today, the flaming chalice is the official symbol of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee and the Unitarian Universalist Association. Officially or unofficially, it functions as a logo for hundreds of congregations. A version of the symbol was adopted by the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches in Britain. It has since been used by Unitarian churches in other parts of the world. Perhaps most importantly, it has become a focal point for worship. No one meaning or interpretation is official. The flaming chalice, like our faith, stands open to receive new truths that pass the tests of reason, justice, and compassion.

    Source: Unitarian Universalist Association and the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches
     
  5. Ronald

    Ronald Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2004
    Messages:
    1,392
    Ratings:
    +51
    Read up on the Emporer Constantine, he dreamed it up, or saw it in a dream.
    It is much older than Christianity! A Pagan religious symbol, wasn't a sign of torture then, Christianity changed it into the crucifix. Just one more of the awful symbols of Idol worship that was brought into the Roman Church.
     
  6. anders

    anders Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2004
    Messages:
    1,748
    Ratings:
    +167
    There are two very different crosses that are used. In churches, you often see them with Jesus nailed to them. That version is, in my interpretation, supposed to remind Christians that God, finding no other way to correct the errors he made in the creation, sacrificed his only son to help believers. The other one is the empty cross, which is a symbol for the resurrection of Jesus, showing that he is God and isn't bound by natural laws applicable to ordinary mortals..
     
  7. Ronald

    Ronald Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2004
    Messages:
    1,392
    Ratings:
    +51

    I hate to point out that God knew the end from the beginning and the Lamb of God was from the beginning the atonement for sin!!!!!
     
  8. anders

    anders Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2004
    Messages:
    1,748
    Ratings:
    +167
    There must be another thread somewhere to discuss why God didn't make everything right from the beginning, so that no human sacrifices would have been necessary.
     
  9. Ronald

    Ronald Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2004
    Messages:
    1,392
    Ratings:
    +51
    Ooy vey! "If I were God I'da done things different!" I really don't think God is looking for advisors! One day, if you are ELECTED, you will see it from his point of view. Until then, accept that The Father Knows Best!
     
  10. Scott1

    Scott1 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2004
    Messages:
    8,303
    Ratings:
    +953
    Hi all! Some teaching on the subject from my "neck of the woods" 8)

    1235 The sign of the cross, on the threshold of the celebration, marks with the imprint of Christ the one who is going to belong to him and signifies the grace of the redemption Christ won for us by his cross.

    571 The Paschal mystery of Christ's cross and Resurrection stands at the center of the Good News that the apostles, and the Church following them, are to proclaim to the world. God's saving plan was accomplished "once for all" by the redemptive death of his Son Jesus Christ.

    618 The cross is the unique sacrifice of Christ, the "one mediator between God and men". But because in his incarnate divine person he has in some way united himself to every man, "the possibility of being made partners, in a way known to God, in the paschal mystery" is offered to all men. He calls his disciples to "take up [their] cross and follow [him]", for "Christ also suffered for [us], leaving [us] an example so that [we] should follow in his steps." In fact Jesus desires to associate with his redeeming sacrifice those who were to be its first beneficiaries. This is achieved supremely in the case of his mother, who was associated more intimately than any other person in the mystery of his redemptive suffering.

    Apart from the cross there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven.

    1741 Liberation and salvation. By his glorious Cross Christ has won salvation for all men. He redeemed them from the sin that held them in bondage. "For freedom Christ has set us free." In him we have communion with the "truth that makes us free." The Holy Spirit has been given to us and, as the Apostle teaches, "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." Already we glory in the "liberty of the children of God."

    Peace,
    Scott
     
  11. Master Vigil

    Master Vigil Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2004
    Messages:
    5,746
    Ratings:
    +607
    "Ooy vey! "If I were God I'da done things different!" I really don't think God is looking for advisors! One day, if you are ELECTED, you will see it from his point of view. Until then, accept that The Father Knows Best!"

    Don't get so upset. What if god didn't exist? Then we are the only advisors we got. Let people think for themselves. And do you realize you are doing the exact same thing by believing you know what god knows as well? How do you know the father knows best? How do you know there is a father? How do you know god wouldn't of done things different? How do you know? How do you know? How do you know?

    No more debating. Just realize that you are just as a victim to your selfishness as anyone else is.
     
  12. Ronald

    Ronald Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2004
    Messages:
    1,392
    Ratings:
    +51
    What if there were no roses, no trees, no caring mothers, no grandmothers, no sun, no water, no joy? What if?
    What if the forces of evil were all we have, murder, mayhem, theft,rape and robbery? Just what if?
    Glory to God, He is and we are, Blessed be he who created all things. Praise God.
    Forgive him he does not know what he does.
     
  13. dan

    dan Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2004
    Messages:
    1,464
    Ratings:
    +96
    The cross has been used by many different civilizations before Christianity - or rather - Catholicism adopted it. There were four different methods of crucifiction practiced by the Romans; they employed four different crosses. They are: the crux simplex (a vertical pole), the crux commissa (an upper-case T), the crux immissa (the traditional cross), and the crux decussata (an X). The Jehovah's Witnesses interpret the lack of information regarding the kind of cross used to mean the crux simplex was used, but the evidence points to the immissa. Regardless, the instrument of our Lord's death is in no way invaluable to our worship of Him.

    The original church (before Constantine) utilized the symbol of a fish in designating and directing people to their secret meetings. The cross was instituted hundreds of years later by Constantine. It is indicative of the lugubrious worship of the Catholics and their penchant for the enigmatic and esoteric.

    Christ, however, does not wish us to focus on His death, for His death is subservient to His resurrection, the greater miracle. The cross represents the misdirected worship so often afforded the Savior. His life is infinitely more important than His death (the Atoenment is not found in His death, but in the shedding of His blood beforehand), and our worship should reflect an understanding of this.

    Some say the cross is to keep His sacrifice in the forefront of our minds, but this is fallacy. The Sabbath is the designated reminder of the resurrection, and the sacraments of bread and water are the reminders of His sacrifice.

    If the cross brings you peace or makes you feel closer to the Lord then, by all means, use it, but know that the Lord would rather you find joy in His life rather than pain in His death.
     
  14. Scott1

    Scott1 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2004
    Messages:
    8,303
    Ratings:
    +953
    dan,

    Great post! I would like to comment on a few things though.......

    Many (most) protestant faiths have a Cross displayed in their respective churches......... the crucifix, with Christ on the Cross is mainly a Roman Catholic symbolism. Many Eastern Rite churches do not display the crucifix prominantly in worship.

    Interesting.... do you have some reference to back this up?

    How do you know that?
    1 Corinthians 2:2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
    Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
    1 Corinthians 1:23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;

    From the Catechism:
    638 "We bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, this day he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus." The Resurrection of Jesus is the crowning truth of our faith in Christ, a faith believed and lived as the central truth by the first Christian community; handed on as fundamental by Tradition; established by the documents of the New Testament; and preached as an essential part of the Paschal mystery along with the cross:

    Christ is risen from the dead!
    Dying, he conquered death;
    To the dead, he has given life.


    Well, I would say they are a bit more than a reminder.....
    1323 "At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of his Body and Blood. This he did in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages until he should come again, and so to entrust to his beloved Spouse, the Church, a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a Paschal banquet 'in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us.'"

    Peace,
    Scott
     
  15. LeaderNotFollower

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2004
    Messages:
    66
    Ratings:
    +1
    In an ancient history class I took a while back in college, I read somewhere that there was evidence that Jesus was actually crucified on dan's discription of a crux decussata, or a cross in the shape of a letter X. Could it be that the church has been using the wrong symbol for all these centuries? I which I could remember where I read this, but unfortunatly, I don't always remember everything said in class.

    Just from the point of view of a non-christian, I always found the cross pretty depressing. Why wouldn't you want to remember your savior in a positive light?
     
  16. Scott1

    Scott1 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2004
    Messages:
    8,303
    Ratings:
    +953
    Hi all!

    Just wanted to post a note about this topic from "my pal" Karl:

    "CROSS vs. CRUCIFIX

    Fundamentalists and Evangelicals say that the Catholic crucifix freezes salvation history at Good Friday. Their bare cross, on the other hand, takes that history all the way through Easter. The absence of a corpus symbolizes the risen Christ.

    No, it doesn't. All it can mean is that Christ is not on the cross. But where is he? Moldering away in the tomb? That's what the skeptic would say, and he'd have a point.

    If you want a symbol for the Resurrection, it can't be either the crucifix or the bare cross. It must be the empty tomb. I have never seen a church feature a representation of the tomb on its steeple.

    Yes, both the crucifix and bare cross "point" toward the Resurrection, but they do not artistically show it. The crucifix shows Good Friday. The bare cross shows--what? The situation on Palm Sunday, as the Romans tidied up Golgotha in anticipation of whoever would be sent their way next? One could argue that way.

    The bare cross, as an artistic symbol, is vague. The crucifix, pointing to a narrow sliver of time, is closer to a snapshot. This is why the crucifix is more appropriate for Mass: Mass is the re-presentation of Calvary, so why not show that moment on the cross?"


    Peace,
    Scott
     
  17. anders

    anders Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2004
    Messages:
    1,748
    Ratings:
    +167
    The cross was an important symbol from the beginnings of Christianity. "Whosoever will come ‎after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me" (Mk 8:34). Paul uses the ‎cross as a symbol for salvation through JesusÂ’ death.‎

    Constantine is said to have seen the cross in a vision before capturing Rome in 312. Following ‎that, he used the cross on his war banner, and had sculptured crosses on the outside of the ‎churches which he built.‎

    I always found the empty cross a more attractive symbol, showing that Christ has risen and won over Death. Nowadays, the cross with Jesus nailed onto it gives me no positive thoughts of any aspect of the Christian God.
     
  18. Master Vigil

    Master Vigil Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2004
    Messages:
    5,746
    Ratings:
    +607
    Ronald: "What if there were no roses, no trees, no caring mothers, no grandmothers, no sun, no water, no joy? What if?
    What if the forces of evil were all we have, murder, mayhem, theft,rape and robbery? Just what if?
    Glory to God, He is and we are, Blessed be he who created all things. Praise God.
    Forgive him he does not know what he does."

    Just because there are roses, trees, caring mothers, grandmothers, sun, water, joy, etc... Does not prove the validity of the bible, or the existence of the christian god. Get off your high horse and realize that not everyone sees the way you see. Not everyone cares about what you care about. Not everyone thinks the way you think. Every thought and spirituality has validity, no one is perfect, no one is perfectly wrong. It is not up to outside forces to make up our minds, it is up to the individual to make up their own. This is why there is no proof for the christian god, the only proof is within the believers. But there is also proof against it within science and logic. And this proof is not hidden within individuals, it is shared by many. I commend your faith, but I hope you have discipline enough to follow your own heart, not a book.
     
  19. dan

    dan Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2004
    Messages:
    1,464
    Ratings:
    +96
    Yes, you would.

    The problem people have with accepting the decussata is the fact that the Bible says a sign was nailed right above His head. The decussata doesn't have any space available for the nailing of a sign, neither does the "T" cross.

    I would think another structure could possibly be present behind the cross in order to stabalize it, but it seems that wasn't very common back then. Everyone seems to think their crosses stood alone. Oh, well.
     
  20. LCMS Sprecher

    LCMS Sprecher Member

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2004
    Messages:
    211
    Ratings:
    +1
    The cross is the most fitting symbol for Christianity because it was on that instrument of torture and death that Christ won salvation for all people. With Christ's death, that symbol of death and law became a symbol of God's grace and love for us and it should be viewed as such.
     
Loading...