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

Discussion in 'The Law of God' started by Romans922, May 26, 2009.

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  1. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor

    Kalawine said the following here and thought it needed it's own thread.

    Are you in violation of the 2nd commandment if you wear, make (to wear or for your steeple), enjoying seeing, etc. crosses?
  2. PresbyDane

    PresbyDane Puritanboard Doctor

  3. Theognome

    Theognome Burrito Bill

    To me, this is kinda like the snake in the wilderness- look upon it and live.

  4. Whitefield

    Whitefield Puritan Board Junior

  5. Houston E.

    Houston E. Puritan Board Freshman

    No, unless it becomes an object of worship.
    i.e. it's used to focus upon, envisioning Christ upon it, etc..
  6. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    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?
  7. reformedminister

    reformedminister Puritan Board Sophomore

    Last edited: May 26, 2009
  8. Whitefield

    Whitefield Puritan Board Junior

    Not all Reformed need a warrant to use a religious symbol. The question was "does it violate the 2nd commmandment?"

    And I would not consider a cross on the steeple (the original reference in the parent post) something superficial. As to the "instrument of torture", it is also the "instrument of my redemption."
  9. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor

    Where's Kalawine to describe what he means here?
  10. Joseph Scibbe

    Joseph Scibbe Puritan Board Junior

    I would say no, as long as the cross as wood is not worshiped. I wear a cross concealed on my uniform to daily remind me that I am crucified with Christ.

    Plus, Jesus did say to "take up your cross" so we should all carry one around with us.......
  11. jwithnell

    jwithnell Moderator Staff Member

    I'd hate to get into a legalistic quagmire that it's OK to use a cross here, but not there, and only if it ....

    That said, I am uncomfortable with the symbol, particularly when it is paraded around like it is to be worshiped, used in a superstitious way (think vampire movies), or as a personal decoration.

    One possible use comes in distinguishing something from the non-Christian --for example in military cemeteries it is often used to mark the grave of someone who wants to identify herself as Christian. As we move further away from a Christian populace, it may be useful on buildings too ... I've spent a few fire assignments in Utah, and found myself running my eyes up steeples hoping to see a cross there rather than the pointy tip of a Mormon edifice.
  12. Whitefield

    Whitefield Puritan Board Junior

    And your chaplain wears one unconcealed on his uniform every day.
  13. wturri78

    wturri78 Puritan Board Freshman

    I would agree that the cross has become nothing more than flippant jewelry and in many cases, a total mockery of Christianity. How many "gangsta rappers" or heavy-metalheads (Ozzy, anyone?) do we see going around "singing" about murder and drugs while wearing enormous crosses around their necks, or tattooing them onto their arms and backs?

    Misuse of the symbols by those in "the world" is probably tangential, however.

    The fundamental issue is the use of images in worship...but not just any images, of course. The prohibition against making and bowing down to "graven images" was linked to the worship of false gods...since the true God is invisible, any attempt even to make an image of the true God will become an image of a false God. It obviously flows inseparably from the first commandment--the worship of any other God than the God who created all things and led his people out of the house of bondage at a specific time in real space and real history. Ashera poles, Dagon statues, little metal dudes "that neither hear nor speak," that are either believed to be gods or (more realistically) to represent false gods are not to be made, kept, worshiped or served.

    I would argue that the cross is in no way, shape, or form an image of a false deity. I suppose somebody could worship a wooden cross on a steeple. A converted environmentalist pagan could come into our sanctuary and be led into worshipping the fake tree up near the pulpit because their conscience is weak and they're still not over their old ways. The symbols, artwork, or decorations we have in the context of worship say much about our attitude toward God, as do all the things we don't have in the context of worship. An empty room with a chair still can contain a mountain of symbolism.

    The cross, as a symbol, points us back toward the point when God's wrath and God's mercy met together, the pivotal moment of reconciliation between a holy God and sinful people. I think of that moment when I read about the cross in Scripture, or hear the cross preached in a sermon. I also think of that moment when I see a cross on a wall or a steeple.

    I could be badly mistaken--and if so I would gratefully appreciate correction, as I certainly do not seek to worship God in an inappropriate way.
  14. Berean

    Berean Puritanboard Commissioner

  15. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    What is your definition of a 'religious symbol'?
  16. Confessor

    Confessor Puritan Board Senior


    While with purported images of God, the dilemma can be stated that you are either worshipping it -- thereby breaking the second commandment -- or not worshipping it -- thereby breaking the third commandment -- such a dilemma does not exist for images such as crosses. For if one does not worship a cross, it is not the case that he's breaking the third commandment, for the cross is not meant to visually depict God Himself.

    So, to qualify my original answer, I say that having a cross is not a violation of the second commandment unless it is an object of worship.
  17. Glenn Ferrell

    Glenn Ferrell Puritan Board Junior

    Although I avoid crosses and don’t want them in a place of worship, they are not in the same category as images of one of the persons of the triune godhead. Outside of public worship, as a designation of something Christian, distinguished from another religion, they might serve a purpose apart from worship. After all, we’re simply talking about intersecting line segments. Thus, I have little objection to the St. Andrews cross of the Scottish, British or Confederate flags. Though one will not find crosses in conservative Scottish churches, one will usually find a burning bush on or above the pulpit.
  18. Confessor

    Confessor Puritan Board Senior

    How is that permissible if a cross isn't?
  19. Kevin

    Kevin Puritan Board Doctor

    In order to understand, you must first hold advanced degrees in theology & church history.:p
  20. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist

    Although 1) the cross as a symbol was never held up as a symbol to be looked upon in order to live and 2) the cross itself is NOT to be looked upon in order to live, even figuratively since the cross-shaped pair of wood beams is meaningless without Christ who IS to be looked unto for life, and 3) the bronze serpent was destroyed when it became an object of worship.
  21. ColdSilverMoon

    ColdSilverMoon Puritan Board Senior

  22. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    Does a religious symbol impinge on worship? What is it speaking about? If a religious symbol is meant to communicate something about our God, then surely we should have God's permission to communicate in that way. If a cross is employed in worship, it falls under the RPW and the Reformed will most definitely need warrant for that.

    I don't know that it's very much better to trivialize an instrument of redemption than to trivialize an instrument of torture.
  23. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    I don't think so. I wear a necklace cross but it's only for decoration. I don't think of THE cross when I wear it.
  24. Whitefield

    Whitefield Puritan Board Junior

    How could it? Its outside and 50 feet up on the steeple. Does the RPW govern what is on the exterior of the building?

    I hope you are not implying that I trivialize either.
  25. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    The building is a circumstance - but if the building is given religious significance it does fall under the RPW. Meaning that one would have to have positive warrant for the use of the cross. Of course, someone could use the cross not for religious significance but as a practical matter - as a question, in fact, of advertising that this is a Christian church.

    Advertising seems like a trivial thing to me. That's why I'm glad that an elder went up in a cherry picker many years ago and sawed the cross off the top of our steeple.
  26. Tripel

    Tripel Puritan Board Senior

    What does it mean for a cross to be "employed" in worship? We have a stained-glass window that has many images on it, one of which is a cross. I wouldn't say it is "employed" in worship any more than the flowers arranged near the pulpit.

    -----Added 5/26/2009 at 06:18:28 EST-----

    Why have a steeple?
  27. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    See my post above.

    A steeple is very costly to remove.
  28. Whitefield

    Whitefield Puritan Board Junior

    The steeple of the church is not used during worship, so it is neither an element or circumstance of worship. And hence needs no positive warrant for its placement on the steeple (or on the exterior wall facing the street).

    As for your congregation to decide to remove the cross from the steeple, that is fully within the proper decision of your congregation; just as it is equally a proper decision for a congregation to choose to have a cross on the steeple.

    The parent-posting stated that to have a cross on the steeple is a sin. In your opinion it is undesirable, but for it to be elevated to a sin against God, something more than "I don't like" has to be presented.
  29. Glenn Ferrell

    Glenn Ferrell Puritan Board Junior

    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 motto, “NEC TAMEN CONSUMEBATUR,” “it was not however consumed,” refers to the people of God, perhaps with the recent persecution of the Covenanters in mind when it first appeared.

    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.
  30. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    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.
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