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Is the Symbol of the Cross a Cultural or a Doctrinal Taboo?


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The cross, like many symbols throughout Christianity, has a variety of interpretations.  For Catholics, Christ on the cross may symbolize his suffering and death.  For Protestants, the empty cross is a symbol of His resurrection and eternal life.  As modern Latter-Day Saints, the symbol of the cross is absent from all aspects of our worship.  Some members may have experienced that sense of uneasiness when a new investigator visits the ward whering a cross to church and the member begins to wonder when the missionaries will have that discussion with the potential new member.  President Hinckley once stated "But for us, the cross is the symbol of the dying Christ, while our message is a declaration of the living Christ."  However, historically crosses were worn by many members of the church including many of Brigham Young's wives and daughters.  The foot print of the Hawaiian and Cardston temples are crosses.  Is the symbol of the cross truly for us a symbol of death and suffering similar to Catholics or can it be a symbol of resurrection and eternal life as the Protestants?   

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15 minutes ago, Urloony said:

The cross, like many symbols throughout Christianity, has a variety of interpretations.  For Catholics, Christ on the cross may symbolize his suffering and death.  For Protestants, the empty cross is a symbol of His resurrection and eternal life.  As modern Latter-Day Saints, the symbol of the cross is absent from all aspects of our worship.  Some members may have experienced that sense of uneasiness when a new investigator visits the ward whering a cross to church and the member begins to wonder when the missionaries will have that discussion with the potential new member.  President Hinckley once stated "But for us, the cross is the symbol of the dying Christ, while our message is a declaration of the living Christ."  However, historically crosses were worn by many members of the church including many of Brigham Young's wives and daughters.  The foot print of the Hawaiian and Cardston temples are crosses.  Is the symbol of the cross truly for us a symbol of death and suffering similar to Catholics or can it be a symbol of resurrection and eternal life as the Protestants?   

The cross is not God's symbol of life. The original NT called it a tree. In fact it does mark entrance into the tree of life for Christ. Interestingly, in Egyptian lore the Tet or cross was the symbol of life. Apparently, they kept this much truth from ancient times. The reason it is not in our worship is because it is a thing - and we shouldn't bow or kneel before things. If it was seen merely as a symbol, I think it would be OK. I see nothing wrong with wearing a cross as an indication of one's fidelity, but I think Christ frowns on that because merely wearing one doesn't indicate the level of one's faithfulness. Christ would want us to wear the cross on our hearts instead...

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Mostly cultural,  but also based on opinions from church leaders whose council we try to follow. President Gordon B. Hinckley said:
"I do not wish to give offense to any of my Christian brethren who use the cross on the steeples of their cathedrals and at the altars of their chapels, who wear it on their vestments, and imprint it on their books and other literature. But for us, the cross is the symbol of the dying Christ, while our message is a declaration of the living Christ. The lives of our people must become the only meaningful expression of our faith and, in fact, therefore, the symbol of our worship." (General Conference, April, 1975)

 

 

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1 hour ago, Urloony said:

The cross, like many symbols throughout Christianity, has a variety of interpretations.  For Catholics, Christ on the cross may symbolize his suffering and death.  For Protestants, the empty cross is a symbol of His resurrection and eternal life.  As modern Latter-Day Saints, the symbol of the cross is absent from all aspects of our worship.  Some members may have experienced that sense of uneasiness when a new investigator visits the ward whering a cross to church and the member begins to wonder when the missionaries will have that discussion with the potential new member.  President Hinckley once stated "But for us, the cross is the symbol of the dying Christ, while our message is a declaration of the living Christ."  However, historically crosses were worn by many members of the church including many of Brigham Young's wives and daughters.  The foot print of the Hawaiian and Cardston temples are crosses.  Is the symbol of the cross truly for us a symbol of death and suffering similar to Catholics or can it be a symbol of resurrection and eternal life as the Protestants?   

I’m guessIng you’ve never participated in the sacred ordinances performed in the temples of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints? I ask this question because anybody who’s ever participated in the ordinances of the temple should know your statement that “the cross is absent from all aspects of our worship“ is as untrue as it is absurd. Quite honestly, I never cease to be amazed by the apparent absolute blindness of so many members of the Church to the undeniable fact that no Christian Church on earth places more importance on the symbolism of Christ’s crucifixion than does the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The fact that this painfully obvious truth never seems to dawn on so many members has left me baffled and perplexed for many years. Perhaps it’s a manifestation of the Savior’s warning that people often see but do not really see and hear but do not really hear?

Edited by teddyaware
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1 hour ago, MiserereNobis said:

Bold mine. CFR

There is basically no cross on any building or person in the LDS faith. I see no cross ANYWHERE. If there is a cross in the temple, it certainly cannot be greater than the focus on the cross in the Catholic Church, which appears EVERYWHERE and is the absolute focus of our most important rite, the Eucharist.

This made me chuckle... Become a Latter-Day Saint and worship in one of our temples and you’ll understand. I can say no more.

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Quote

The cross is used in many Christian churches as a symbol of the Savior’s death and Resurrection and as a sincere expression of faith. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we also remember with reverence the suffering of the Savior. But because the Savior lives, we do not use the symbol of His death as the symbol of our faith.

Our lives must be the expression of our faith. When we are baptized and confirmed, we covenant to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ. The way we live our lives should demonstrate our love for the Savior and His work.

The only members of the Church who wear the symbol of the cross are Latter-day Saint chaplains, who wear it on their military uniforms to show that they are Christian chaplains.

Cross

Emphasis mine.

It's more than cultural.

 

Edited by Thinking
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5 hours ago, teddyaware said:

This made me chuckle... Become a Latter-Day Saint and worship in one of our temples and you’ll understand. I can say no 

4 hours ago, Thinking said:

Somewhat condescending I say.

It actually did make me chuckle. It’s an absurd situation to be in because I know I’m 100% correct, yet, for obvious reasons, I’m unable to point to anything specific to make my case. All I can do is smile (rather than frown) and then move on to another subject.

Edited by teddyaware
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9 hours ago, Urloony said:

The cross, like many symbols throughout Christianity, has a variety of interpretations.  For Catholics, Christ on the cross may symbolize his suffering and death.  For Protestants, the empty cross is a symbol of His resurrection and eternal life.  As modern Latter-Day Saints, the symbol of the cross is absent from all aspects of our worship.  Some members may have experienced that sense of uneasiness when a new investigator visits the ward whering a cross to church and the member begins to wonder when the missionaries will have that discussion with the potential new member.  President Hinckley once stated "But for us, the cross is the symbol of the dying Christ, while our message is a declaration of the living Christ."  However, historically crosses were worn by many members of the church including many of Brigham Young's wives and daughters.  The foot print of the Hawaiian and Cardston temples are crosses.  Is the symbol of the cross truly for us a symbol of death and suffering similar to Catholics or can it be a symbol of resurrection and eternal life as the Protestants?   

President Hinckley was addressing the cross as the Church's symbol of religion and worship, not as a symbol of personal expression or witness worn by members in the past and increasingly in the present:

[He said: “I’ve been all through this building, this temple which has the name of Jesus Christ over the front door, but nowhere have I seen any representation of the cross, the symbol of Christianity. Why is this?”

I responded: “I do not wish to give offense to any of my Christian brethren, but for us, the cross is the symbol of the dying Christ, while our message is a declaration of the living Christ.”

He then asked: “If you do not use the cross, what is the symbol of your religion?”]

Throughout the decades, the cultural ethos regarding attitudes towards symbols and their applications is bound to wax and wane; attitudes toward actual doctrine (the teachings or expression of faith), less so. Presiodent Hinckley's subsequent explanation points to doctrinal basics, not symbolism: "I replied that the lives of our people must become the only meaningful expression of our faith and, in fact, therefore, the symbol of our worship."

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9 hours ago, MiserereNobis said:

Bold mine. CFR

There is basically no cross on any building or person in the LDS faith. I see no cross ANYWHERE. If there is a cross in the temple, it certainly cannot be greater than the focus on the cross in the Catholic Church, which appears EVERYWHERE and is the absolute focus of our most important rite, the Eucharist.

I would like to double the CFR. I guess I'm one of those dumb members that never saw what teddyaware has. In fact I use to walk with a former ward member and when I mention the wearing of the cross, she said it is of the devil. 

My sister wears a cross that is laid sideways. I like that, because it combines the importance of Christ, and that he was resurrected. 

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10 hours ago, MiserereNobis said:

Bold mine. CFR

There is basically no cross on any building or person in the LDS faith. I see no cross ANYWHERE. If there is a cross in the temple, it certainly cannot be greater than the focus on the cross in the Catholic Church, which appears EVERYWHERE and is the absolute focus of our most important rite, the Eucharist.

The symbolism of Christ’s crucifixion can take many forms (the cross being but one), and some are public and some more private and sacred. The cross itself is one public means.

Edited by CV75
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11 hours ago, Urloony said:

The cross, like many symbols throughout Christianity, has a variety of interpretations.  For Catholics, Christ on the cross may symbolize his suffering and death.  For Protestants, the empty cross is a symbol of His resurrection and eternal life.  As modern Latter-Day Saints, the symbol of the cross is absent from all aspects of our worship. 

Apart from the cross, we have other symbols.

Beehives, moonstones, sunstones, the all-seeing eye, and five-pointed pentagrams are used as decorations
on both the Salt Lake City and Nauvoo temple.

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11 hours ago, RevTestament said:

The reason it is not in our worship is because it is a thing - and we shouldn't bow or kneel before things. If it was seen merely as a symbol, I think it would be OK. I see nothing wrong with wearing a cross as an indication of one's fidelity, but I think Christ frowns on that because merely wearing one doesn't indicate the level of one's faithfulness. Christ would want us to wear the cross on our hearts instead...

I agree.  I don't think an object should be an object of worship, but merely a symbol of faith.  In Mormondom, Moroni has become a symbol for preaching the Gospel to the world.  In many respects, it has been adopted as a symbol of our faith. 

11 hours ago, MiserereNobis said:

I personally find it powerful to meditate on that when I pray before a crucifix. What God chose to experience so that we could be redeemed, so that He could truly say He understands the breadth and depth of human suffering.

This topic has been brought up here before, and I have disagreed with President Hinckley's statement, because it appears to ignore the fact that Christ chose to die. Of course He was going to live after, and of course there was going to be a message of a living Christ. But the decisive moment was Christ's choice to die, because that didn't have to happen. It was a conscious deliberative act, without which we and He would not be able to join together in union. Christ was going to live, but He didn't have to die. He chose that to save us and allow humanity and divinity to commingle.

As Latter-Day Saints, the temple has become our focus for meditation, and perhaps in some respects is similar to your use of the crucifix.  With regard to President Hinkley, I find myself in agreement with you.  Which brings me to me broader idea that our choice for not using the cross, is based upon opinion rather than revelation.  Growing up Protestant, I was taught that we used an empty cross for the very same reason Pres. Hinckley states is the reason Latter-Day Saints do not use the cross.  The Protestant assumption is that the crucifix is a symbol of death and the bare cross as a symbol of life.  I'm not arguing that that is the correct assumption, but symbolism will vary from faith to faith, which is one of the points I'm trying to make.  For an active Catholic, the symbolism is clearly much deeper.

10 hours ago, JAHS said:

Mostly cultural,  but also based on opinions from church leaders whose council we try to follow. President Gordon B. Hinckley said:
"I do not wish to give offense to any of my Christian brethren who use the cross on the steeples of their cathedrals and at the altars of their chapels, who wear it on their vestments, and imprint it on their books and other literature. But for us, the cross is the symbol of the dying Christ, while our message is a declaration of the living Christ. The lives of our people must become the only meaningful expression of our faith and, in fact, therefore, the symbol of our worship." (General Conference, April, 1975)

  Thank you for linking the entire quote.  What I am challenging is the "for us" statement.  What prompted the statement?  It's possible that as the church grew throughout South America and other largely Catholic areas, the act of "worshiping at the cross" was a habit the church was trying to break.  Instead of requiring an implement with which to worship, whether it be rosary beads, a statuary, or a crucifix, converts would need to develop their faith without those focuses.

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10 hours ago, teddyaware said:

I’m guessIng you’ve never participated in the sacred ordinances performed in the temples of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints? I ask this question because anybody who’s ever participated in the ordinances of the temple should know your statement that “the cross is absent from all aspects of our worship“ is as untrue as it is absurd. Quite honestly, I never cease to be amazed by the apparent absolute blindness of so many members of the Church to the undeniable fact that no Christian Church on earth places more importance on the symbolism of Christ’s crucifixion than does the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The fact that this painfully obvious truth never seems to dawn on so many members has left me baffled and perplexed for many years. Perhaps it’s a manifestation of the Savior’s warning that people often see but do not really see and hear but do not really hear?

You raise an excellent point, and perhaps I overstated our non-use of the cross in my OP.  My intent was in the discussion of the symbol of the physical representations of the cross itself, as is used by mainstream Christianity.  Clearly the endowment makes reference, as you indicate and in a very significant way, with regard to the crucifixion.  However, what I'm suggesting is that Christ's crucifixion is not the only symbolism that can be attributed to the cross.  Examining symbolism is the opposite of blindness.

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8 hours ago, Thinking said:

It's more than cultural.

Aren't chaplains required to wear an insignia of their faith per military regulation?    

2 hours ago, CV75 said:

Presiodent Hinckley's subsequent explanation points to doctrinal basics, not symbolism: "I replied that the lives of our people must become the only meaningful expression of our faith and, in fact, therefore, the symbol of our worship."

I don't think his statement establishes doctrine as much as it establishes opinion.  I don't want to derail into the territory of what qualifies as doctrine and what is opinion, but from what I'm seeing, the basis of our none use of the cross stems solely from Pres. Hinckley's statement from 1975.

11 hours ago, MiserereNobis said:

There is basically no cross on any building or person in the LDS faith. I see no cross ANYWHERE. If there is a cross in the temple, it certainly cannot be greater than the focus on the cross in the Catholic Church, which appears EVERYWHERE and is the absolute focus of our most important rite, the Eucharist.

  There are no physical inanimate crosses in the temple like you find in your church. 

47 minutes ago, TheTanakas said:

Apart from the cross, we have other symbols.

Beehives, moonstones, sunstones, the all-seeing eye, and five-pointed pentagrams are used as decorations
on both the Salt Lake City and Nauvoo temple.

Yes, absolutely.  How we interpret pentagrams on the Nauvoo temple for example, is completely different from the way modern mainstream Christians would interpret them.  In fact, many of our critics would condemn our use of it due to it's modern, 19th century association with satanism.  One has to examine the historic symbology of that symbol in order to understand it's relationship with the Savior and his crucifixion.  Are we guilty of only providing one interpretation of the cross, the same way that our mainstream Christian brethren interpret the pentagram?  

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11 hours ago, MiserereNobis said:

Bold mine. CFR

There is basically no cross on any building or person in the LDS faith. I see no cross ANYWHERE. If there is a cross in the temple, it certainly cannot be greater than the focus on the cross in the Catholic Church, which appears EVERYWHERE and is the absolute focus of our most important rite, the Eucharist.

I know you respect how we view the temple and I really appreciate your view of not searching for what goes on inside (at least that is what I can remember you saying once.) With that in mind I think using the temple to prove the point is unfair.

My personal opinion is that while there are some things in the temple that show a focus on the crucifixion they do not show more focus or more emphasis.  Rather, it is a more private focus.

I want to say it is a more personal focus as well because of the nature of it, but I don't really think that is the case.  What makes a difference is the individual who gives it the focus. 

Outside of the temple I think the Catholic church places much more emphasis on the crucifixion.  Not just in crosses placed in churches and in jewelry etc, but in crossing oneself in prayer.  

 

Edited by Rain
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24 minutes ago, Rain said:

I know you respect how we review the temple and I really appreciate your view of not searching for what goes on inside (at least that is what I can remember you saying once.) With that in mind I think using the temple to prove the point is unfair.

teddyaware used the temple to make the point of our use of the cross.  

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24 minutes ago, Urloony said:

I guess I'm not sure what's unfair then.

I don't feel it is fair to use temple content to prove to someone who has not gone to the temple (and respects us enough to not search for it) that we have more emphasis. 

Just on a purely logical standpoint it doesn't meet a CFR when we know the other person hasn't entered the temple.

Editing to add: it's like just providing a link somewhere without quoting what shows the proof. But not only that, you have a paywall there so you can't even see the article should you click on the link. 

 

 

Edited by Rain
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