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Urloony

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

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, MiserereNobis said:
1 hour ago, JAHS said:

The shape of an older church building in Ogden Utah. I wonder if the cross was in mind when they designed this?

823311721_crosschurch.jpg.8b4f6aec42406eb8a633ab8d318a8037.jpg

Traditional cathedrals are built in the shape of a cross.

Right. My point exactly.  Winchester Cathedral.

winchester.jpg.e993c4246967743860f3ef172fb9a5eb.jpg

Edited by JAHS

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On 7/29/2020 at 9:03 PM, 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?   

B. H. Roberts has a cross on his tombstone.  There is nothing at all wrong with the cross, the fish, or any other Christian symbols.

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23 hours ago, MiserereNobis said:

I just want to clarify this. Indeed for us it does symbolize those things -- hence the crucifix. But the reason for that is that we believe His suffering and death is what redeems us. It's what is able to cleanse us and bring us to God. It focuses on the fact that He descended below all. As God, He accepted this, because He loved us so. I understand (I think) what is behind the protestant ideas of the empty cross as a symbol of resurrection and life, but I think they are missing the more important aspect. God literally suffered for us. He allowed Himself to be tortured and mistreated, when in an instant He could have obliterated those who mocked Him and hurt Him.

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.

That's why I appreciate the crucifix. It shows me what God went through for me, and reminds me what I must go through for God.

 

23 hours ago, Storm Rider said:

It is strictly a cultural position within the Church. There is no doctrine that supports or negates the wearing of a cross.

You guys are both correct.  Modern Latter-day Saints may like to differentiate themselves from other religious groups, and so have adopted certain unique symbols in the past century or so, and have pretty much avoided others.  How about the new LDS Church logo?  Note how the Thorvaldsen Christus holds his hands out to show the nail prints.  Very much like a cross:

arch-sm.png

It is copied from the Lutheran Church original.

For those who are unaware, the primary LDS symbol used to be the Angel Moroni with trumpet.

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32 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

 

You guys are both correct.  Modern Latter-day Saints may like to differentiate themselves from other religious groups, and so have adopted certain unique symbols in the past century or so, and have pretty much avoided others.  How about the new LDS Church logo?  Note how the Thorvaldsen Christus holds his hands out to show the nail prints.  Very much like a cross:

arch-sm.png

It is copied from the Lutheran Church original.

For those who are unaware, the primary LDS symbol used to be the Angel Moroni with trumpet.

Recently stayed a night in Afton, Wyoming on a vacation and saw the temple there. It is one of the smallest temples I've ever seen, and the Angel Moroni looked too large for it. I wonder if they would ever re-think the dimensions for future smaller temples. But it just might be me that sees it like that.

 

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The church leadership make great efforts to prevent us from embracing a particular symbol which may be one of the reasons why we do not use the traditional cross. our chapels are devoid of art or any images an our temples lack a specific overarching symbol. We rejoice in the crucifixion, but this was not the end any more than his entry into Jerusalem was the end. The atonement culminated in his resurrection, not his death. The cross did not become the symbol of Christianity until the 4th century so clearly it had no part of worship in the early church. But it is a beautiful symbol; just one of many.  

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Posted (edited)

Many early LDS tabernacles were also built on a cruciform floor plan—the Provo Tabernacle and the Assembly Hall being two examples.  But it strikes me as being an open question whether this was supposed to be a direct nod to the symbol/theological significance of the cross, or merely an emulation of houses of worship that were being built by other faiths and whose design had proved functional.  I suppose that next to a simple square/rectangle, a cross is probably among the most prevalent and logical footprint for any large building meant to accommodate a crowd?

Edited by mgy401
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On 7/29/2020 at 9:29 PM, 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 absence of the image should not be conflated to equal the absence of the central importance of the crucifixion. If someone leaped in front of a train to save my life, me having a picture on my mantle of that person as a healthy and happy living mortal rather than a picture of a train would not imply that i do not deeply respect that persons sacrifice. In fact, the picture of the train would be perceived as rather macabre. The atonement is central to our doctrine, the image of a cross which represents one aspect of the atonement is not. We glory in his conquering death, not dying. 

Nevertheless, your use of the cross is a beautiful way to remember the Saviors sacrifice. 

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12 hours ago, Rain said:

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.

Yes, the temple reference is not really to the cross as such.

12 hours ago, Rain said:

..........................

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. 

What is meant by Alma 39:9, “Now my son, I would that ye should repent and forsake your sins, and go no more after the lusts of your eyes, but cross yourself in all these things; for except ye do this ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.”  Or II Nephi 9:18, "behold, the righteous, the Saints of the Holy One of Israel, they who have believed in the Holy One of Israel, they who have endured the crosses of the world, and despised the shame of it, they shall inherit the Kingdom of God," clearly reflecting Hebrews 12:2, "endured the cross, despising the shame"; compare also Jacob 1:8, "that all men would believe in Christ, and view his death, and suffer his cross and bear the shame of the world"

In  the Oxford English Dictionary, C:1194-1195, meanings 3,4, and 14, "cross yourself" can mean to vow, cancel, or oppose, but what does it mean in the above contexts?  Biblical texts sometimes speak of "marking a mark" (literally "X-ing an X," which is the ancient Hebrew letter taw), as in Ezekiel 9:4,6, and Sumero-Akkadian uses the same X-logogram (Chicago Assyrian Dictionary, VII:253).  Likewise, Greek Xi was used by Justin Martyr to refer to the cross of Christ (Apologia, I:6, citing Plato, Timaeus, 36b).  For the antiquity of the cross symbol and its connection with the Egyptian 'ankh "life" symbol, see Jack Finegan in Biblical Archaeology Review, 5/6 (Nov-Dec 1979):40-49, and inside cover.  image.png.1133c7b9773670b57b82f0ffd510231a.png

 

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50 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

But it just might be me that sees it like that.

It's not.  I would share my nickname of what I see as disproportional Moronis, but it might be an image that can't be 'unseen' and make it more difficult to enjoy them...though perhaps I am projecting my own difficulty when such things occur. 

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1 hour ago, Freedom said:

The church leadership make great efforts to prevent us from embracing a particular symbol which may be one of the reasons why we do not use the traditional cross. our chapels are devoid of art or any images an our temples lack a specific overarching symbol. We rejoice in the crucifixion, but this was not the end any more than his entry into Jerusalem was the end. The atonement culminated in his resurrection, not his death. The cross did not become the symbol of Christianity until the 4th century so clearly it had no part of worship in the early church. But it is a beautiful symbol; just one of many.  

Longtime no see Freedom!!

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Posted (edited)
11 hours ago, Freedom said:

the absence of the image should not be conflated to equal the absence of the central importance of the crucifixion. If someone leaped in front of a train to save my life, me having a picture on my mantle of that person as a healthy and happy living mortal rather than a picture of a train would not imply that i do not deeply respect that persons sacrifice. In fact, the picture of the train would be perceived as rather macabre. The atonement is central to our doctrine, the image of a cross which represents one aspect of the atonement is not. We glory in his conquering death, not dying. 

Nevertheless, your use of the cross is a beautiful way to remember the Saviors sacrifice. 

The cross actually deals with 2 aspects.  First, suffering for sins "recurred".  Second,  physical death.  

Edited by Rain
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21 hours ago, Urloony said:

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?

There's a good book about this.

Celestial Symbols - Symbolism in Doctrine, Religious Tradition and Temple Architecture by Allen H. Barber

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Posted (edited)
13 hours ago, Urloony said:

The "doctrine of the veneration of the cross" is still Catholic doctrine regardless of whether its practice is required by the church or not.  Doctrine is not limited to just saving ordinances.  My doctrinal definition seems to be broader than yours, which may be the cause of our difference in perspective here.  I adopt Bruce Rs simple definition that doctrines are teachings which are either true or false.  The sacrament for example is a rite, but could also be described as a doctrinal rite.    

I think it is wonderful to have a doctrine that says that once a year (Good Friday), believers are invited to optionally participate in the Veneration of the Cross and that the cross is used as a symbol in this rite. I also think it is wonderful to have a doctrine that says Jesus died on the cross as the sacrificial Lamb (symbolically, rather, metaphorically) in behalf of all mankind.

Edited by CV75

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My understanding is that many Mormons wore the cross and hung it in their homes in earlier days. It was David O McKay who had a personal dislike for the cross who fostered the new culture of not using the cross.  

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11 hours ago, Tacenda said:

Recently stayed a night in Afton, Wyoming on a vacation and saw the temple there. It is one of the smallest temples I've ever seen, and the Angel Moroni looked too large for it. I wonder if they would ever re-think the dimensions for future smaller temples. But it just might be me that sees it like that.

 

Good point.  The new trend is not to have Angel Moroni on the temple.  Someone, I think on this board, pointed this out in an analysis of the temples.  Some of the older ones like Mesa don’t have Moroni, and many of the new ones do not either.  

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2 hours ago, 2BizE said:

My understanding is that many Mormons wore the cross and hung it in their homes in earlier days. It was David O McKay who had a personal dislike for the cross who fostered the new culture of not using the cross.  

Leadership tends to cut back on any symbol that starts to become too prevalent. Remember when everyone was wearing CTR rings? It keeps us from being identifiable by symbol unless we are walking around in public our underwear in which case they probably do not want as a symbol. I think President Hinckley's admonition that the symbol should be our lives and countenances in general is a good start. It serves two purposes. It avoids ostentatiousness in symbols and on a more cynical note also means that our most wicked members rarely get associated with us because they do not have the symbolism. The latter is why people do not suspect my actual faith unless I tell them. :vader:

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Posted (edited)
18 hours ago, Urloony said:

That's interesting.  Even as a convert, I never wore the cross on my person.  We would make crosses out of palm branches at Easter which is a typical tradition among many Protestant churches.   

From a historical LDS standpoint the cross was prominently worn by many 19th century saints.  The cross as a symbol of Christianity existed prior to the 4th century and is present as early as the 2nd century AD.  

Do you have a reliable source for that 2nd century information? The staurogram was used in Greek as an abbreviation for the cross in early texts but it was not used as a symbol of Christianity (by any means) as it is today.  

Edited by Islander

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23 hours ago, Tacenda said:

Longtime no see Freedom!!

hey, you remember me! yes, it has been a while. It is like coming back to old friends. 

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15 hours ago, TheTanakas said:
On 7/30/2020 at 8:47 AM, Urloony said:

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?

There's a good book about this.

Celestial Symbols - Symbolism in Doctrine, Religious Tradition and Temple Architecture by Allen H. Barber

The book you referenced is "good" for which part of what Urloony said?   Exploring the historic symbolism to see that it's not the way that modern Christians interpret them?  Or what did you mean?

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12 hours ago, InCognitus said:

The book you referenced is "good" for which part of what Urloony said?   Exploring the historic symbolism to see that it's not the way that modern Christians interpret them?  Or what did you mean?

The book is written from an LDS perspective about symbols used in our temple.

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On 7/29/2020 at 8:03 PM, Urloony said:

As modern Latter-Day Saints, the symbol of the cross is absent from all aspects of our worship.

Perhaps we are looking for the Cross in the wrong places. Actually, it is explicit in our most sacred and intimate temple rites and prominent in our weekly sacramental hymnody. There is nothing to prevent someone from wearing a cross or displaying one in the home.

Edited by Bernard Gui
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On 7/29/2020 at 9:11 PM, 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?

There are 4 right angles in the cross for a reason, no wonder, if Christ was crucified on a "tree".

The cross is a symbolic tree, made triumphant over death.

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On 7/29/2020 at 11:31 PM, MiserereNobis said:

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.

That's why I appreciate the crucifix. It shows me what God went through for me, and reminds me what I must go through for God.

 

True he could have chosen to live, but it was to this very mission to which he was born. To live, as we live, to suffer, as we all do to varying degrees, and to rise from the dead. What made it so important, and impactful, is that he had the “free will” to chose. Knowing the agony and sin he would have to take upon him, so much so that he “hoped and prayed for another way. Even with the knowledge, he submitted himself to the Father’s will, setting aside his own will. Sadly in that day, “the cross” was the manor in which the Romans used, so we should not loose site, and remember that we worship “Jesus the Christ and the deed“, and not just the “wood and the nails”. Wearing a crucifix or cross is meaningless, when we forget his sacrifice, and turn the instrument of his death into earrings and necklaces, or prison tattoos. Only when we both walking in Faith, do any of these objects have any meaning. 

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Perusing past Conference talks that refer to the cross, I get the sense that from the start the emphasis has been on the historical account of the Crucifixion, the suffering and death of Christ on the cross, the admonition to “take up your cross,” and so forth, but not on the cross itself as an object of adulation or veneration. I really like this quote from Brigham Young in 1867.

Quote

I would say to my young friends and to the middle-aged brethren, though I believe all who are going may be called young men, that if you go on a mission to preach the gospel with lightness and frivolity in your hearts, looking for this and that, and to learn what is in the world, and not having your minds riveted—yes, I may say riveted—on the cross of Christ, you will go and return in vain. Go forth weeping, bearing precious seed, full of the power of God, and full of faith to heal the sick even by the touch of your hand, rebuking and casting out foul spirits, and causing the poor among men to rejoice, and you will return bringing your sheaves with you. If you do not go in this way your mission will not be very profitable to yourselves nor to the people. I wish you to bear this in mind. We do not send these elders forth for political purposes; we have nothing to do with the political world. Neither do we wish them to go for two or three years to learn what is transpiring in the scientific world. If they wish to study the sciences, they can do that at home. We have an abundance of scientific men among us. If you wish to know what is going on in theaters, do not go to theaters to learn, but wait until you come back to our own. I am simply giving you a word of counsel. This is as good a time to do it as when you assemble together to receive your 

I do not understand why not having crosses in our churches is a matter of any consequence.

Edited by Bernard Gui

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1 hour ago, Bill “Papa” Lee said:

True he could have chosen to live, but it was to this very mission to which he was born.

And this aspect of his mission (death on the cross) was seen by Nephi in prophesy It was the way he would die....known 600 years before it happened.

Quote

1Nephi 11:32 And it came to pass that the angel spake unto me again, saying: Look! And I looked and beheld the Lamb of God, that he was taken by the people; yea, the Son of the everlasting God was judged of the world; and I saw and bear record.

33 And I, Nephi, saw that he was lifted up upon the cross and slain for the sins of the world.

 

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