Crucifix versus Cross

Discussion in 'Theology and Doctrine' started by Scottish Monk, Nov 20, 2012.

  1. Scottish Monk

    Scottish Monk Well-Known Member

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    What are some views regarding the display of
    (a) crucifix (a cross with the body of Christ, referred to as a corpus)
    versus
    (b) plain cross (no corpus)?
     
  2. Toma

    Toma Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I've heard the argument that the Crucifix is wrong because it focuses on the singular past event of The Sacrifice which is over now. It is no longer offered again and again, for it is replaced by the Resurrection. The Kingdom of God is come, and the plain Cross should remain, by this logic, as a mere sign of what was done for us. The corpus is bloody, brutal, and deadly, but the austere instrument itself retains its symbolic nature.

    We find almost no crucifixes in the first 5 centuries of Christian art. They're always showing Christ alive and risen.
     
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  3. mark1

    mark1 Active Member

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    I think that there are two aspects, public/liturgical and private.

    The resurrection/empty cross emphasizes Christ's resurrection. I prefer the US Roman Catholic (unacceptable) cross with Jesus rising from the cross. Jesus crucified of course emphasizes and points us to Calvary. The Protestant opposition has always been that this suggests that we are re-sacrificing Jesus at each Eucharist. So, for many, a crucifix in a church is not a good pastoral reminder.

    As far as for private worship and for private wearing, the issue is much different. Romans are taught that carrying or wearing an empty cross is a reminder of who we belong to, the living Jesus. At home, clearly both are reasonable; there are no pastoral issues.

    In the end, I feel that something is missing in a plain, empty cross in a church, although I wear an empty wooden cross.

     
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  4. Toma

    Toma Well-Known Member Anglican

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    mark1, I don't think the "plain cross' is the only sort of cross one may use in opposition to a crucifix.

    A gem-bearing, ornate cross can symbolise the resurrection even better than a simple cross. It shows us that the instrument of death has become the flowering rose of beauty and new life. The crucifix is just death.

    Look at the old altar cross of St. Stephen Walbrook in London, a Wren church:

    [​IMG]
     
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  5. Aaytch Barton

    Aaytch Barton Active Member

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    There was a time in Anglican history (the era of Edward VI) when neither crosses nor crucifixes were easily found. Personally, I think the only legitimate purpose of either is to draw our attention AWAY from the worldly things and idols such as might otherwise grab our attention. As for drawing one's attention TO the risen Jesus (cross) or the crucified Jesus (crucifix), both representations are true at least to a degree, so why should anyone care which is better or worse?

    In any case, the use of symbols and images for communicating the Gospel is far less effective than Holy Writ. What could possibly be the point of them in an age of printed Scripture in the native tongue, universal literacy and "Common Prayer"? Possibly their point is to communicate a dumbed-down representation of the Gospel, one made with human hands rather than the Gospel itself which is made by NO human hands. Why would the Church want to do such a thing... hiding God's Word behind images, icons and symbols so that the people should not otherwise "read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest" it in its written form?

    In the typical parish of Edward VI's time, there were no images. Instead, one would find 4 plaques with WRITTEN text (similar to Consular's photo above but without the other images). These were the things upon which Anglicans were asked to contemplate:

    • The Lord's Prayer
    • First Table of the Law
    • Second Table of the Law
    • Apostles' Creed (not Scripture specifically but yet faithfully attesting to it)
     
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  6. Scottish Knight

    Scottish Knight Well-Known Member

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    The crucifix, according to wikipedia and books I have read became near universal during the late middle ages, it was this same period when the plague spread across Europe, morbidity was high, wars were prevalent, memento moris were popular, and I wonder if the two are not related. When there was intense suffering all around you, to see the suffering Christ being depicted, sharing in our pain, what a comforting image that must have been. Christ is often depicted in ceertain ways to reflect the trials and problems in the present. An army chaplain told me once how in Africa seeing a lone church right next to an encroaching muslim area, and depicted on the wall of the building the triumphant Christ riding on the clouds sitting in judgement and power. For the christians feeling outnumbered and in the minority it is a comforting face of Christ the all powerful.

    There was noted in the writings of a ww1 baptist chaplain that in the ruins of a French village, after witnessing incredible carnage he took great comfort in looking upon the old crucifix in a local shrine. Quoted from memory he wrote "although there is a gulf betwixt the scarlet whore [Roman Church] and I, I do like to look upon the crucifix" For a dissenting minister to say this at the time would have been rather shocking to civilians back home
     
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  7. Toma

    Toma Well-Known Member Anglican

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    The reason you would quickly find were you to ask Romanists or the Easterners, would be this:

    God is incarnate, so spiritual words and things are not adequate. To deny crosses, icons, images, etc., is to deny the incarnation, to be docetist, and a million other nasty heretical names. That's pretty much the only reason I've ever found to keep such things.
     
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  8. Scottish Knight

    Scottish Knight Well-Known Member

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    I've heard this agrument also. At it's heart it's a confusion of symbol and substance. By removing these symbols some will feel we are attacking the belief itself when that is not the case These symbols were originally meant to be only helps to remind us of the substance. What is important is the beliefs we hold, whether or not with symbols. Far better to have a church full of substance but few symbols than one full of symbols but with little substance
     
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  9. Aaytch Barton

    Aaytch Barton Active Member

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    Yes, the East and Rome would say this, but God was (not is) incarnate in Jesus. He now is raised from the dead and sitting on the Throne in heaven. To deny the present location of the substance of Jesus Christ is to deny the Creed.
     
  10. Pirate

    Pirate Member

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    I think that both have their place.
     
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  11. CatholicAnglican

    CatholicAnglican Active Member

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    I wear a Celtic Cross as a necklace, and I have a crucifix above my front door that I see it everytime I leave my house. Because it reminds me of the Love of God that He gave His only-begotten Son to be sacrificed for our sins on the Cross. Jesus is our co-suffering redeemer.
     
  12. Toma

    Toma Well-Known Member Anglican

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    As much as we disagree about many things, sir, I have much respect for you in doing that. There may be disagreements within the Church about the crucifix, but the outside world sees it and just thinks "Christians". In putting that above your door, you open yourself to the scorn and laughter of the world. Bravo!
     
  13. CatholicAnglican

    CatholicAnglican Active Member

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    I had a Crucifix necklace, but I lost it at work in the changing room. I also like the Christus Rex one
     
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  14. mark1

    mark1 Active Member

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    This is similar to our Jewish ancestors in faith who put the 10 commandments on their doors.

     
  15. Scottish Monk

    Scottish Monk Well-Known Member

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    CatholicAnglican...

    Hanging the crucifix on the inside of your door is a wonderful practice. When I was a child, a neighbor family did the same thing. It always made me pause and reflect whenever I left their house.
     
  16. Scottish Monk

    Scottish Monk Well-Known Member

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    Thanks to everyone for their comments.
     
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  17. CatholicAnglican

    CatholicAnglican Active Member

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    Not just that, but it keeps demons from entering your house, mine was blessed by my former priest with the cross/crucifix blessing in his manual and then sprinkled with holy water
     
  18. Scottish Monk

    Scottish Monk Well-Known Member

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    Now that is interesting! Do you remember the blessing that the priest used? Book/manual that he used?

    Catholic Answers forum has a thread on "What does blessing a crucifix do?" (posts dated 2005, 2009, 2010).
     
  19. CatholicAnglican

    CatholicAnglican Active Member

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    I think it was one made by the Cowley Fathers (S.S.J.E), but a good book I recommend is the English Ritual by Canterbury Press. It even has a blessing for a Domestic Oratory in it.
     
  20. CatholicAnglican

    CatholicAnglican Active Member

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