The Stations of the Cross for Protestant Worship

Discussion in 'Worship' started by dudley, Mar 20, 2010.

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  1. dudley

    dudley Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    A lady in my Presbyterian congregation asked me last Sunday what I thought of the Roman catholic practice of the stations of the cross. I replied that while it depicted Christs journey to the cross, I have left all the popish ceremonies behind me when I became a Reformed Protestant. I went on the internet this evening and discovered there are some Protestant churches now doing the stations of the cross. My Presbyterian church does not and none of hte Protestant churches in my area to my knowledge do. Has any one any knowledge of this? And what are your thoughts on this?

    The CRI Website has a Protestant "version" here:
    The Stations of the Cross for Protestant Worship
  2. au5t1n

    au5t1n Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    It's an attempt to look high church and ritualistic, I suspect. I defer to my good friend Thomas Watson:

    Last edited: Mar 20, 2010
  3. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

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  4. Ruby

    Ruby Puritan Board Junior

    Plus, Roman Catholics at least, progress from one station to the next reciting the rosary.
  5. Rich Koster

    Rich Koster Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    The verse "remember Lot's wife" comes to mind.
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2010
  6. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    The problem with the stations of the cross is not just that it typically uses images, or that it's a tradition with Roman Catholic roots, thought both are valid concerns.

    Beyond that, the traditional stations are not biblical. Several of the stations commemorate events that Catholic tradition holds to but aren't found in the Bible. And even when protestant churches change the stations to line up better with the Bible, the idea of trying to evoke some personal sorrow by meditating on the physical sufferings of Christ is shaky at best. The physical sufferings alone do not convey the atonement. The greater power of the cross is in the spiritual sufferings—the curse, divine judgment, forsakenness, etc.

    By focusing on the physical sufferings, the stations too easily lead us to think that by feeling really sad about the torture Jesus endured we somehow show our appreciation, and probably vindicate ourselves a bit. But meditating on the cross ought to produce not only deep sorrow for sin, but great joy in our redemption and eager, happy obedience. For this to occur, we need to understand the spiritual sufferings.

    I'm not saying the stations haven't been beneficial to some people some times. The Spirit works in spite of all sorts of flawed gimmicks. But if we're looking for an aid to meditation on the cross, we can do better than the stations.
  7. dudley

    dudley Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I completely agree with Jack K

    I totally agree with PURITAN COVENTER also "But the displays of the stations of the Cross are idolatrous. You will see the fundamental flaw here.

    I very much like Austin's comment and the quote from Watson "It's an attempt to look high church and ritualistic, I suspect. I defer to my good friend Thomas Watson:"

    "They who will bring in a tradition, will in time lay aside a command. This the Papists are very guilty of; they bring in altars and crucifixes, and lay aside the second commandment. They bring in oil and cream in baptism, and leave out the cup in the Lord's Supper. They bring in praying for the dead, and lay aside reading the Scriptures intelligibly to the living. Those who will introduce into God's worship that which he has not commanded, will be as ready to blot out that which he has commanded."
    -Thomas Watson, The Godly Man's Picture, p. 36, Puritan Paperbacks, Banner of Truth Trust
    Plus, as Ruby said "Roman Catholics at least, progress from one station to the next reciting the rosary" I agree.

    When I left the rc church and her popish ways and embraced Protestantism I realized it is in Christ's redemption on Calvary we are saved if we place our faith in Him alone.

    The traditional stations are not biblical and as my PB brother Jack said "the physical sufferings alone do not convey the atonement".I am currently reading Helms "Calvin and Atonement" I would prefer this reading I am doing during Lent and as a Protestant I said in an earlier post on what I gave up for lent that I agreed with my PB brother Austin when he said I am giving up Popish ways.
  8. Marrow Man

    Marrow Man Drunk with Powder

    Rich, you remind me of a sign at saw at the local White Castle here in Louisville (large RC population): Fish Sliders during Lent
  9. Rich Koster

    Rich Koster Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Popey Le Pu even stinks up the Castle.......:(
  10. dudley

    dudley Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Popey Le Pu stinks in every possible way. Here on the Puritan Board the members know that she is the 'whore of Babylon" and the papacy and many of her popes an antichrist...however I have found many Protestants in my faith Journey form roman catholic to Reformed Protestant who have grown very soft on the roman church and her pope. I do believe many ex roman catholics like me and Johnbugay know the bondage and lies of popery!

    Some have been critical about my ranting over and over about my conversion from Roman catholic to Reformed Protestant. I wrote Joshua about that and he gave me very good advice which I am trying to follow. I answer to all I write on here as an ex Roman catholic who is now a Reformed Presbyterian Protestant. If one takes note in all my writings on the Internet as well as all the posts I have placed here on the Puritan Board since I joined this site I deliberately say ex Roman catholic not ex catholic. We Presbyterians and Baptists are catholic in that we profess the true Christian faith as founded by Christ and the apostles. John Calvin and the other Reformed leaders restored the corrupted Roman and papist church to its true Gospel foundations before Rome corrupted the gospel with its false traditions and teachings which run contrary to the truth of scripture.

    Charles Spurgeon when writing on Roman Catholicism said"
    "Cursed be the man before the Lord, that riseth up and buildeth this city Jericho." Joshua 6:26
    "Since he was cursed who rebuilt Jericho, much more the man who labours to restore Popery among us. In our fathers' days the gigantic walls of Popery fell by the power of their faith, the perseverance of their efforts, and the blast of their gospel trumpets; and now there are some who would rebuild that accursed system upon its old foundations. O Lord, be please to thwart their unrighteous endeavours, and pull down every stone which they build. It should be a serious business with us to be thoroughly purged of every error which may have a tendency to foster the spirit of Popery, and when we have made a clean sweep at home we should seek in every way to oppose its all too rapid spread abroad in the church and in the world. This last can be done in secret by fervent prayer, and in public by decided testimony. At the end Spurgeon asks………"Reader, what can you do? What will you do?" I decided to give public testimony and decided testimony of the truth I have found in the Reformed Protestant fold. I write extensively on here and all over the internet of my conversion to Protestantism and the Reformed faith. Go to "google" type in conversion stories from roman catholic to protestant and the stories that pop up are just the opposite, protestant to rc! However type in Dudley Davis, Reformed Presbyterian Protestant and my testimonies are all over the internet. I love the PB however and spend most of my time now on the internet here. I am learning so much about what it means to be a Reformed Protestant. I do think this is one of the best Protestant sites on the web. I am elated to be a PB brother!
  11. JoyFullMom

    JoyFullMom Puritan Board Junior

    I appreciate finding this thread today. I came here puzzled after discovering that a PCA church had held a "Stations of the Cross" service. I had no idea that ANY PCA churches took part in that and I wondered if it is common. I don't even know what to think now.
  12. bouletheou

    bouletheou Puritan Board Freshman


    You would be surprised to know what goes on in some of our churches (for now.)
  13. JoyFullMom

    JoyFullMom Puritan Board Junior

    My only knowledge of this up until now has been Roman Catholic or Orthodoxy. Can someone point me in the direction to understand the protestant practice and what is the difference?
  14. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    For the first part of your question - the PCA has been infiltrated by neo-Romans who are leading a good number of poorly trained folks astray. For the second part, there isn't any difference.
  15. jambo

    jambo Puritan Board Senior

    I had never heard of a Protestant version of the Stations of the Cross and completely dismayed by this. However I should not be surprised at a growing acceptance of Catholicism and Catholic practices by those who should know better. A month ago I went into a local Christian bookshop and to my horror discovered prayer beads on sale. They were not rosary beads but they might as well have been as they were basically rosary beads for Protestants. I was most surprised as this shop in the past would have been anti-Rome and anti-ecumenical.

    Getting back to the Stations of the Cross the RC would visit each station (there are 14). At each on Mary's intercession is sought as is the help of the departed. Some points focus on a biblical part of the walk to the cross ie Jesus carries his cross. But others are non biblical ie St Veronica wipes the sweat from his face whilst it also has Jesus stumbling three times. It is interesting that none of the stations refer to any of the things Jesus said from the cross. I would have thought meditating on "Finished!" would have been more profitable. But that is Catholicism all over-its focus on images rather than words. Sadly some Protestants are not that far behind them.

    Dudley's link did not seem to work. Is this the correct link?

    The Cross as a Journey: Stations of the Cross for Protestant Worship
  16. dudley

    dudley Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I would respectfully disagree with you Edward. I am a Calvinist Presbyterian Protestant and I have openly on this board and all over the internet renounced Roman catholicism and all her popish ways including the pope. However it was my desire to find the truth and search for that truth which led me to the Protestant fold and the Reformed faith and is why I am a Presbyterian. I hope you are not inferring that I am some type of a subversive infiltrator by your remark. I can tell you I am not. I am and have stated openly I am now a staunch Reformed Protestant. Being a Protestant however is not a protest against the truth is it a stand for the truth as proclaimed in the Gospel. I do not think we can stand for truth if we have closed minds. it was that fact that my mind was open that I am now an ex Roman catholic who has been thourghly Protestantised.
    The Protestant stations of the cross as I have discovered by research are an attempt to provide a biblical form of worship for Protestants so they can reflect on the path to Calvary and have a better understanding on Christ's redemptive act and be more joyful at his resurrection on Easter Sunday.
    I posed my question initially as a question what some individuals thought about a Protestant biblical based form of following Christ's way to the cross. I expected and would request that comments about the validity of such a practice be based on theology and the WCF or LBC and not an attack on individual people in the PCA who wish to provide some meaningful forms of biblical reflection in a community form of worship. I am not a neo Romanist. I am a Protestant and a Reformed Protestant.
    I will answer Joy Full Moms question here and again state I am an avowed Protestant and I renounce Roman Catholicism and her pope and false teachings. I am open minded for styles of worship that are based on the scriptures. "The Church Reformed and always Reforming" is very Protestant. I left the Roman catholic church for the same reasons the reformers, Luther, Calvin, Zwigli, Knox and many others did. I too saw the Roman catholic church as incapable of reforming herself from within.

    Protestant Devotion and the Stations of the Cross
    Historically, Protestants have tended to reject the practices associated with the Stations of the Cross, largely because they were associated with indulgences. In the late medieval ages, a certain amount of spiritual merit, a sort of get-out-of-sin-free card, was associated with these acts of piety. However, as the Catholic tradition has itself changed, modern Protestants are not so much concerned with fighting the practice.

    In increasing numbers, even evangelical Protestants are rediscovering the value of liturgically shaped communal and personal devotional practices. As a result, there has been an increasing interest from Protestants in the Stations of the Cross, especially as part of a Good Friday service of worship. Some churches combine the Stations of the Cross with a Tenebrae service, a Service of Darkness that climaxes the Services of Holy Week before Easter Sunday.

    Many Protestants prefer to use only eight Stations of the Cross, since those are the main events recorded in the Gospel accounts about Jesus’ journey.

    Station 1: Pilate Condemns Jesus to Die
    Station 2: Jesus Accepts His Cross
    Station 3: Simon Helps Carry the Cross
    Station 4: Jesus Speaks to the Women
    Station 5: Jesus Is Stripped of His Garments
    Station 6: Jesus Is Nailed to the Cross
    Station 7: Jesus Cares for His Mother
    Station 8: Jesus Dies on the Cross

    The traditional Roman catholic fourteen stations include some events without a biblical basis, which Protestants do not agree with or feel comfortable with as a form of worship.

    The following are the 14 RC stations

    1. Christ condemned to death;
    2. the cross is laid upon him;
    3. His first fall;
    4. He meets His Blessed Mother;
    5. Simon of Cyrene is made to bear the cross;
    6. Christ's face is wiped by Veronica;
    7. His second fall;
    8. He meets the women of Jerusalem;
    9. His third fall;
    10. He is stripped of His garments;
    11. His crucifixion;
    12. His death on the cross;
    13. His body is taken down from the cross; and
    14. He is laid in the tomb.

    However, some Protestants use an expanded form of the Stations to maintain the traditional fourteen stations but still include only events with a biblical basis. This usually requires beginning the Stations with Jesus' prayer in Gethsemane.

    1. Jesus Prays Alone
    2. Jesus is Arrested
    3. The Sanhedrin Tries Jesus
    4. Pilate Tries Jesus
    5. Pilate Condemns Jesus to Die
    6. Jesus Wears the Crown of Thorns
    7. Jesus Carries His Cross
    8. Simon Helps Carry the Cross
    9. Jesus Speaks to the Women
    10. Jesus Is Nailed to the Cross
    11. Criminals Speak to Jesus
    12. Jesus Cares for His Mother
    13. Jesus Dies on the Cross
    14. Jesus is Laid in the Tomb

    The traditional Protestant argument presents the problem that the stations of the cross uses images which are idolatrous. I will concur I understand that as a very valid concern. I expressed that to my friends in NYC who are Presbyterians and whose Presbyterian congregation do celebrate the Protestant stations of the cross. The stations they have are biblical based and they do not use images as is so on the rcc and they use banners to depict the stations reading. the following is an example of the first 2 stations as practiced in some Protestant churches in NYC as well as some Presbyterian congregations there.

    Station 1: Pilate Condemns Jesus to Die

    Now Jesus stood before the governor; and the governor asked him, "Are you the King of the Jews?" Jesus said, "You say so." But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he did not answer. Then Pilate said to him, "Do you not hear how many accusations they make against you?" But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed. . . . So when Pilate saw that he could do nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took some water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, "I am innocent of this man's blood; see to it yourselves." . . . and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified. (Matt 27:11-14, 24, 26b)

    Jesus, I wish you would speak! I wish you would proclaim who you are. I wish you would confront the disbelief of the crowds and the arrogant cowardice of the powers that be. Surely someone will speak up for you! Where are the lepers who were healed? Where are the blind who can now see? Where are all the people who ate the bread and fish on the hillside? Where are those who followed you so easily when they thought you would become King of the Jews? Yet no one speaks. No voice in the crowd comes to your defense. You stand alone.

    You stand before Pilate, the power of Rome. Weakness stands before strength. And yet, Pilate, the ruthless enforcer for the Empire is not really in control here. He cannot make you confess. He cannot quiet the crowds. For all his power, he cannot find the courage to do what is right. So he does what is safe. He yields to the crowds for the sake of order. Courage and strength do not always sit on thrones or judgment seats. Power is not always in the hands of Empires.

    I have been alone. I have been falsely accused, and no one has spoken for me. I have been treated unfairly by those who could have used their power for better purposes. I can understand some of your feelings as you stand silently before Pilate and watch him proclaim his own innocence as he condemns an innocent man.

    But perhaps I have treated others unfairly as well. Perhaps I have not spoken up for others when they needed a voice. There are those around me who have been treated unjustly. Have I always had the courage to come to their defense? There are those around me who feel alone and abandoned. Have I always been there for them? O Lord, forgive me for not always being who I should be.

    I find it easy to condemn the moral cowardice of Pilate. Have I ever given in to pressure from others to take the easy path rather than the right path? Have I ever chosen the easy path over the right path?

    Jesus, I see in your silence the quiet strength that reveals a peace and a resolve. O Lord, help me deal with the unfairness of life without becoming critical of others. Help me to be sensitive to the pain and feelings of others. Give me the courage to do what is right without being swayed by the demands of others.

    Song or Music
    [A short time of silence]

    Station 2: Jesus Accepts His Cross

    Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor's headquarters, and they gathered the whole cohort around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head. They put a reed in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!" They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him. (Matthew 27:27-31)

    Carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. (John 19:17)

    Jesus, I cringe at the pain of the thorns. But I am wounded far more deeply at the humiliation and degradation you suffer, that the very thing you came to offer us as a gift becomes a source of ridicule. The crowds thought of a King in terms of power. But you came to be the kind of King who shepherds his people, who takes responsibility for their well being, whose principles are faithfulness, justice, and righteousness (Isa 11:3-4). And yet, the people are not ready for that kind of King.

    I would like to think that I am ready to follow you who offer a Kingdom of peace and love for one another. But am I? Am I willing to yield my ideas of what the Kingdom should look like for the role of a servant? Am I really so willing to give up my human preoccupation with power and control and accept a different kind of crown than I was expecting?

    I see you accept the Cross in the midst of such mockery. You could have refused. What more could they have done to you? Yet you begin this journey, knowing full well where it will lead. I hear no words of complaint, no protestations of innocence, no cursing the injustice. And yet I am so prone to complain and whine about the most trivial things. Sometimes the things I face in my life are more than trivial. Sometimes the troubles of life bear down on me. But I so easily fall into self-pity. I too often assume that I am the only one who bears a cross, or that my cross is larger and heavier than any others.

    But I am not alone in that. People all around me bear far more than I must bear. You accepted your cross without self-pity.

    O Lord, forgive me for forgetting that in my weakness I am driven to trust on you, and that in that trust my weakness becomes your strength. Forgive my attitudes of self-pity that make me more repulsive than loving. I do not ask for crosses to bear. But when they come, give me the strength to bear them as one who follows your example.

    Song or Music
    [A short time of silence]

    In answer to Jambo's question the correct link is "The Cross as a Journey: Stations of the Cross for Protestant Worship"
  17. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    If I had been directing a comment to you, or your comments, rest assured that I would have addressed it to you. I may sometimes be appropriately accused of being undiplomatic in my comments, but if I take a swat at you, you won't have to speculate if I am so doing.

    There is only one good reason why a protestant would try to come up with a substitute 14 stations of the cross - Use of 14 stations is the Roman tradition (If one would disagree with this, I would ask him or her to show me a scriptural mandate for using 14 stations of the cross in worship). (Eight stations is an attempt to remove the more offensive elements - but I still don't see it within the RPW). Now, whether a person is misguided but well meaning, or trying to subvert the Reformed truths, will probably have to be determined from other statements and actions.

    But I'll stand by my statement that there are those in the PCA who would lead us in the direction of Rome.
  18. Kevin

    Kevin Puritan Board Doctor

    the local Anglican church (very evangelical) do it. They walk the downtown streets, & pause to read the scripture & pray. It is a very powerful witness. It literally is the talk of the town, with photos in the local paper & people stopping on the sidewalk to listen in.
  19. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    Indeed, if someone does wish to do 'the stations of the cross' some of the congregations of the Anglican communion would be a great place for them.
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