No-Cross Protocol

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Mike Reed
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No-Cross Protocol

Post by Mike Reed »

While laboring as a Mormon missionary many years ago, an investigator reported that he had a dream of a cross of fire. Apparently unaware of the no-cross protocol, the investigator was convinced that the dream was a heaven sent confirmation that he should join the Church. I didn't know just how to respond to this, except to raise my eyebrows and ask, "Will you be baptized?" Later I asked my companion what he thought about the dream, and he replied, "I don't know Elder." We were both very confused.

I am interested in reading your experiences that may relate to the Church's no-cross protocol.

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Post by Sethbag »

My 2nd companion was a pretty serious believer. I was too, and we fed off each other. We discussed when we thought the end of the world would be, etc. We were both convinced it was within 10 years or so (19 years and counting...). We talked pretty in-depth about stuff. We both believed it all, hook, line, and sinker. This guy was really sad and upset that Jesus didn't appear to him, because he'd been praying for that to happen, and he thought he'd been righteous and faithful enough.

Well, we had an investigator who was I think Lebanese, or Syrian or something. He had a cardboard cross hanging on his wall. It wasn't big, maybe two or three inches tall. My companion and I both got the willies. We were sure that the cross was a Satanic instrument used to give him power over you, or some such stupid s***. Yeah, we believed it, just like we believed the stupid crap on some papers that got passed around from missionary to missionary, saying that in some Catholic churches you'd see a cross upside down, and that meant that bishop or whatever had the authority within the church to kill someone. Well, we decided we needed to get rid of the cross so that our investigator could feel the spirit, and keep himself safe from Satan. So on a visit to him we asked for the cross, and he let us take it. We tore it up and threw it away later on after we left. We both felt sure we'd done the right thing.

How stupid of me. That was probably the most credulous phase in my life, before I figured out that a lot of the stuff that got passed around was just dumb.
Mormonism ceased being a compelling topic for me when I finally came to terms with its transformation from a personality cult into a combination of a real estate company, a SuperPac, and Westboro Baptist Church. - Kishkumen

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Post by moksha »

If we did do a Stations of the Cross, I wonder if the first scene would be set in a primeval Independence County, Missouri?
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Post by richardMdBorn »

moksha wrote:If we did do a Stations of the Cross, I wonder if the first scene would be set in a primeval Independence County, Missouri?
This reminds me of a joke. God appears to the Pope. He tells him that he's got good news and bad news. The Pope asks what the good news is. "Jesus is coming back tomorrow." The Pope asks what the bad news is. "He's coming back to Missouri."

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Re: No-Cross Protocol

Post by harmony »

Mike Reed wrote:While laboring as a Mormon missionary many years ago, an investigator reported that he had a dream of a cross of fire. Apparently unaware of the no-cross protocol, the investigator was convinced that the dream was a heaven sent confirmation that he should join the Church. I didn't know just how to respond to this, except to raise my eyebrows and ask, "Will you be baptized?" Later I asked my companion what he thought about the dream, and he replied, "I don't know Elder." We were both very confused.

I am interested in reading your experiences that may relate to the Church's no-cross protocol.


All that shows is that the paradigm in which your investigator was working was different from the LDS paradigm. The no-cross protocol is obviously not important enough to God to change his manifestation to your investigator. So, like much of that which we accept without question, the no-cross protocol is likely manmade.

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Re: No-Cross Protocol

Post by Mike Reed »

Harmony: All that shows is that the paradigm in which your investigator was working was different from the LDS paradigm. The no-cross protocol is obviously not important enough to God to change his manifestation to your investigator. So, like much of that which we accept without question, the no-cross protocol is likely manmade.


Thanks for your reply, Harmony, but I was not asking for an explanation. What I am asking for in this thread is for people to share experiences that relate to the no cross protocol.

Here is another experience that I have had:

As a teenager, I stole a cross necklace from a mini-market while on vacation. This would have been an extremely ironic deed had I been a mainstream Christian, but I wasn't. I was Mormon. As a Mormon, the cross symbol was viewed as a sign of apostasy, and therefore was a perfect expression of the rebellious feelings that I had at the time.


Here is an experience that was shared to me at exmormon.org:

Girls' Camp was held at a Boy Scout encampment, and we stayed in tents that were permanently pitched on wooden platforms. In each tent were 4 metal cots, and most of the cots had a crude wooden cross (gasp!) lashed to the head of the frame.

The counselors were horrified and had us take our little pocketknives and cut them all down. The token LDS p'hood holder (can't have Girls' Camp without the p'hood, yanno) was then asked to bless the place once the nasty crosses were down. One counselor actually referred to them and "symbols of the Great Whore of Babylon".

Turns out we cut down all the frames for mosquito netting - oops!


Too funny!!

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Post by moksha »

I had a Step-Daughter who wore a gold cross. It caused my Mormon ex-wife's reactionary gland to go into overtime. The Step-Daughter even wore the gold cross to Church. I imagine it caused some of the old ladies heads to do 360 degree turns and smoke to come out their nostrils.

Here is my favorite trivia: If you hold a cross to the forehead of a Mormon, nothing will happen. Knowing this, it is hard to understand how they can get so worked up about a symbol of Christianity.
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Re: No-Cross Protocol

Post by harmony »

Mike Reed wrote:Harmony: All that shows is that the paradigm in which your investigator was working was different from the LDS paradigm. The no-cross protocol is obviously not important enough to God to change his manifestation to your investigator. So, like much of that which we accept without question, the no-cross protocol is likely manmade.


Thanks for your reply, Harmony, but I was not asking for an explanation. What I am asking for in this thread is for people to share experiences that relate to the no cross protocol.


Silly me. I thought you actually wanted to have a discussion about it, rather than just a story sharing session. My apologies. Carry on.

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Post by twinkie »

I had a cross hanging on the wall in my bedroom when I was growing up. It was a gift from the Lutheran church after my parents had me baptized. I swear it used to vibrate on the wall at night. Used to scare me. (I did grow up near San Francisco, so it was probably just minor earthquakes).

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Post by Gazelam »

When I was eight I got a blue clear plastic rosary with a fancy metal crucifix attached to it with various metal beads along the strand. I tohught it was pretty cool and brought it home. That was when I was informed that we don't carry around crosses, and that I should just throw it away. There was no freaking out, just the explanation that as Mormons we celebrate the ressurection, not the death of Christ.

I have no problem with crosses myself. I wouldent hang a cricifix on my wall or wear a cross necklace, but I think that they are merely a showing a statement of their faith.

Freaking out about it is just silly. Its like not letting your kids play with a friend because their parents drink.
We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light. - Plato

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Post by Sethbag »

Gazelam wrote:When I was eight I got a blue clear plastic rosary with a fancy metal crucifix attached to it with various metal beads along the strand. I tohught it was pretty cool and brought it home. That was when I was informed that we don't carry around crosses, and that I should just throw it away. There was no freaking out, just the explanation that as Mormons we celebrate the ressurection, not the death of Christ.

Why should you throw it away? Ok, so Mormons celebrate the resurrection, not the death of Christ. Ok, fine. But why should you through the crucifix away? Why did it have to go into the garbage? Why couldn't you just throw it into your junk drawer, or put it in your jewelry box and leave it there, or whatever? Why did it need to literally be thrown into the garbage and buried in the landfill?

You say your parents didn't "freak out", but because they wished to focus on a different aspect of Christ's atonement, you were instructed to throw a symbol of the un-focused-upon aspect of this Atonement into the garbage. Do you see the irony that I see in your statement?
Mormonism ceased being a compelling topic for me when I finally came to terms with its transformation from a personality cult into a combination of a real estate company, a SuperPac, and Westboro Baptist Church. - Kishkumen

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Seth

Post by Gazelam »

Hah, that was 27 years ago. I have no clue.

The doctrine, as I understand it, is that the crucifix or cross is seen as a form of irreverence, and that we instead should focus on the death and ressurection through the sacrament as opposed to an iconic image.

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Post by neworder »

Here is the spine of a older D&C (I know the brethern prefer people to say Doctrine & Covenants) from Europe. This was before the cross was a taboo in Mormon Culture.

Image

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Post by Coggins7 »

The crux of this matter (no pun intended), is that the cross did not appear as a symbol of Christian discipleship or religious affiliation until the 4th century. It was a much later accretion, and not part of primitive Christian worship or symbology. Indeed, the cross in an extremely ancient world symbol common to a number of ancient cultures and religious systems and was not understood by 1st century Saints to be symbolic of Christ's atoning sacrifice, which the New Testament indicates was worked out at Gethsemane.

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Post by Mike Reed »

Coggins7 wrote:The crux of this matter (no pun intended), is that the cross did not appear as a symbol of Christian discipleship or religious affiliation until the 4th century. It was a much later accretion, and not part of primitive Christian worship or symbology. Indeed, the cross in an extremely ancient world symbol common to a number of ancient cultures and religious systems and was not understood by 1st century Saints to be symbolic of Christ's atoning sacrifice, which the New Testament indicates was worked out at Gethsemane.


This is not true. The cross was revered by early Christians long before the 4th century. Although they had reservations about depicting the symbol materially, they looked for it's manifestation around them.

The reasons Christians were reluctant to display the cross were:
1) To avoid persecution. They often worshipped inconspicuously.
2) It wasn't an effective missionary tool, being that they were ridiculed over the fact that Jesus died.
3) (and perhaps most significantly) Many Christians believed it a sin to materially depict a religious image.

These factors don't exist for the LDS Church today, and so it seems inappropriate to use the early Christian "reluctance" as justification for the informal policy. The mainstream LDS view of the cross does not mirror the early Christian view.

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Post by Coggins7 »

My 2nd companion was a pretty serious believer. I was too, and we fed off each other. We discussed when we thought the end of the world would be, etc. We were both convinced it was within 10 years or so (19 years and counting...). We talked pretty in-depth about stuff. We both believed it all, hook, line, and sinker. This guy was really sad and upset that Jesus didn't appear to him, because he'd been praying for that to happen, and he thought he'd been righteous and faithful enough.

Well, we had an investigator who was I think Lebanese, or Syrian or something. He had a cardboard cross hanging on his wall. It wasn't big, maybe two or three inches tall. My companion and I both got the willies. We were sure that the cross was a Satanic instrument used to give him power over you, or some such stupid s***. Yeah, we believed it, just like we believed the stupid crap on some papers that got passed around from missionary to missionary, saying that in some Catholic churches you'd see a cross upside down, and that meant that bishop or whatever had the authority within the church to kill someone. Well, we decided we needed to get rid of the cross so that our investigator could feel the spirit, and keep himself safe from Satan. So on a visit to him we asked for the cross, and he let us take it. We tore it up and threw it away later on after we left. We both felt sure we'd done the right thing.

How stupid of me. That was probably the most credulous phase in my life, before I figured out that a lot of the stuff that got passed around was just dumb.




Some of us here long ago come to the conclusion that roughly 100% of the stuff you "pass around" in this forum fits this descriptive template quite nicely, the above post being a wonderfully crafted "exhibit 'A'" of just this state of affairs.

You got the willies from a cross hanging on a wall? You believed it was an instrument of Satan? Let's see, you couldn't have gotten that idea from anything taught in the Church, so...from whence was it derived?

Both you and your companion sound like you were real dweebs, quite unlike any missionaries I've ever known (and I've known a few who needed a reality check, to be sure).

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Post by Coggins7 »

Mike Reed wrote:
Coggins7 wrote:The crux of this matter (no pun intended), is that the cross did not appear as a symbol of Christian discipleship or religious affiliation until the 4th century. It was a much later accretion, and not part of primitive Christian worship or symbology. Indeed, the cross in an extremely ancient world symbol common to a number of ancient cultures and religious systems and was not understood by 1st century Saints to be symbolic of Christ's atoning sacrifice, which the New Testament indicates was worked out at Gethsemane.


This is not true. The cross was revered by early Christians long before the 4th century. Although they had reservations about depicting the symbol materially, they looked for it's manifestation around them.

The reasons Christians were reluctant to display the cross were:
1) To avoid persecution. They often worshipped inconspicuously.
2) It wasn't an effective missionary tool, being that they were ridiculed over the fact that Jesus died.
3) (and perhaps most significantly) Many Christians believed it a sin to materially depict a religious image.

These factors don't exist for the LDS Church today, and so it seems inappropriate to use the early Christian "reluctance" as justification for the informal policy. The mainstream LDS view of the cross does not mirror the early Christian view.



I should have been clearer and not made such a broad statement. The cross, as a symbol of Christianity, was not in common usage by Christians until the 4th century. It was associated with Christianity in the 2nd century, but was hardly common. Its widespread usage as both a symbol of Christian faith and as an adornment, charm or amulet worn by individual Christians, dates from roughly the 4th century. The fish symbol far predates the cross as a symbol of Christian belief, appearing on some Christian graves as early as the late 1st century.

The cross itself of course, in numerous forms, predates its association with Christianity by thousands of years. The cross may have been revered by some early Christians well before the 4th century, but the widespread adoption of the cross as a personal symbol of membership in the Christian faith dates from the 4th century, even though some may have initiated this practice at an earlier date. Tertullian wrote of people making the sign of the cross on the forehead well before the 4th century, but this was in 204 A.D., a century after the last of the Apostles and during which Alexandrian philosophy, as well as other influences, had already substantially altered critical conceptions of Christian doctrine.

The crucifix, a cross with a representation of Christ attached to it, doesn't appear until the 6th century, and the first time the cross appears in a work of Christian art is in the 5th century, on a Vatican sarcophagus. The first actual crucifixion scene, in which the suffering Christ is depicted hanging upon the cross, doesn't appear until the 7th century.

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Post by Fortigurn »

Coggins7 wrote:I should have been clearer and not made such a broad statement.


Quoted for truth. Preach it Cogs! That's signature material.
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Post by Sethbag »

I'd much rather have been a dweeb in 1988 and gotten over it than still be a dweeb in 2007, as you are.

by the way, I knew lots of missionaries that had all sorts of crazy beliefs like this. Having grown up in a Mormon environment where the dislike for the cross bordered on fear or paranoia, throw in a healthy dose of Bruce R. McConkie saying that the Roman Catholic Church was the Church of Satan, and it shouldn't be too surprising that some missionaries suspected that the cross was not a good thing to have in the house.
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Post by Mike Reed »

In this post I will discuss the ironic absence of the cross image in early Christianity—-not being found in their artwork (in reference to the passion event) prior to Constantine’s reign—-and then will explain the various reasons for this absence; not only because early Christianity had a rather small membership population, and also were at times forced to worship inconspicuously (these would certainly be factors for the absence), but there are two other reasons in particular that seem significant and intriguing to me. I will then show, using Christian literature, how some Christians got around those reasons, so that they could still embrace and revere the symbol of the cross.

A Universal Symbol?
The image of the cross has been used throughout antiquity. From Quetzalcoatl’s four cardinal points of the winds, to the Hammer of Thor, the cross shows up in nearly every culture. The universality of the symbol “makes more poignant the striking lack of crosses in early Christian remains.”(1) In fact, most scholars now concur that a Christian artistic use of the symbol, in reference to the passion event, cannot be found prior to the time of Constantine. (2)

The absence of the cross is quite ironic, as the symbol was used throughout Christian literature, and (by evidence of their literature) we know that it appealed particularly to their increasing regard for ideals of asceticism and martyrdom. The symbol, in fact, took on such a sacred nature, that traditions like Peter refusing to be crucified in the same way as Jesus, developed: “for I am not worthy to be crucified like my Lord,” declares Peter. (3)

Dispite the favorable interpretation of the cross that developed, Christians had significant reservations for depicting the symbol artistically. These reasons include:

1) A desire to worship inconspicuously, in order to avoid persecution.

2) It was a symbol of capital punishment to Jews and Gentiles, and therefore was not an effective tool for evangelizing.

3) Some Christians believed that it was a sin to materially depict an image.

Many Christians worshiped inconspicuously, in hopes that they would avoid drawing the attention of their enemies. Tertullian speaks to these Christians who are afraid to assemble “in large numbers to the Church. You are afraid that we may awaken their anxieties.” (4) Tertullian remarks further elsewhere,

But you [Christians] say, ‘How will we assemble together [if we do not pay tribute to avoid persecution]?’ To be sure, just as the apostles also did—-who were protected by faith, not by money…. Finally, if you cannot assemble by day, you have the night—-the light of Christ luminous against its darkness…. Be content with a church of threes. It is better that you sometimes should not see the crowds [of other Christians], than to subject yourselves. (5)


This inconspicuous and sometimes “nocturnal” worship, though, did not always ease persecutions, but instead (at times) bred further suspicion in the minds of their critics. The pagan Caecilius, for example, levels charges against Christians for “the very obscurity which shrouds this perverted religion.” He asks, “Why else should they go to such pains to hide and conceal whatever it is they worship? One is always happy for honorable actions to be made public; crimes are kept secret.” Caecilius continues to ask accusatory questions, “Why do they have no altars, no temples, no publicly-known images? Why do they always assemble in stealth?” (6) Caecilius apparently failed to understand that Christians worshiped inconspicuously in order to avoid persecution. Again, there were “no publicly-known images” (like the cross) because Christians did not wish to be identified.

Another factor (which is related to the first above) explains the absence of the cross: To quote Paul, “Christ crucified [is a] stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.” (7) The scholar Jack Tressider explains that the symbol was too controversial, being an image of capital punishment: “In the Roman, Persian and Jewish world, the crucifixion cross was a brutal and humiliating instrument of execution for non-citizens such as slaves, pirates and foreign political agitators or other criminals. Thus, at the time of Christ’s death, it hardly seemed an emblem likely to make many converts.” (8)

Even the mere idea that Jesus was crucified for the salvation of mankind was an embarrassment, being an issue that attracted mockery from critics. (9) Writing to “Those [Christians] who are ashamed of the cross of Christ,” Bishop Methodius of Olympus proclaims that “God Himself esteems [the cross] to be beautiful, even though it be contemned and despised by all else…. [b}y this figure He hath willed to deliver the soul from corrupt affections….” Therefore, he says, “we ought to receive it, and not to speak evil of it.” (10) The oft repeated council and rebukes (as well as celebration and glorying about the cross) from religious leaders, to those Christians who are ashamed of the cross, underscores just how common this concern was.

There was also reservation in the Church about artwork in general. Like their Jewish contemporaries (11), Christians had varying ideas regarding the second commandment against engraved images. Origen remarks about God’s command to Israel against engraved images, saying,

Neither painter nor image-maker existed in the nation of Israel, for the Law expelled all such persons from it. In that way, there was no pretext for the construction of images. For image-making is an art that attracts the attention of foolish men. It drags the eyes of the soul down from God to earth. Accordingly, there was among them a Law to the following effect: ‘Do not transgress the Law and make to yourselves a carved image, or any likeness of male or female.' (12)


Elsewhere Origen proclaims, “[Pagans], in imagining that the hand of lowly artisans can frame representations of divinity, are uneducated, servile, and ignorant.” (13) Hippolytus of Rome (?-c. 326) also stresses the importance of God’s second commandment, by criticizing the gnostic-Christian disciples of Carpocrates for making “counterfeit images of Christ.” (14)

Not only pagans and heretical religious movements made such controversial images, but even Christians themselves did. This is evident by the artistic expressions in the Christian catacombs. Jerome of the 4th century, in fact, reports that he visited a Christian church, where he saw a veil that had a depiction of Jesus or a disciple on it, and that upon seeing it, he tore it down and replaced it with a plain veil. (15) This occasion shows that even after the Milvian Bridge, there remained disagreement among some Christians over God’s second commandment.

Clement of the second century, who was the most distinguished teacher of Alexandria, expresses his conservative view of the second commandment, insisting that works of art, by their nature, “cannot be sacred and divine.” (16) Clement explains that “The senseless earth is dishonored by the makers of images, who change it by their art from its proper nature, and induce men to worship it.” According to Clement, “the image is only dead matter shaped by the craftsman's hand.” Christians, therefore, “have no sensible image of sensible matter, but an image that is perceived by the mind alone, — God, who alone is truly God.” (17)

Clement makes an exception to the second commandment, however, allowing for necessary images:

But there are circumstances in which this strictness may relaxed…. [I]f it is necessary for us, while engaged in public business, or discharging other avocations in the country, and often away from our wives, to seal anything for the sake of safety, He (the Word) allows us a signet [ring] for this purpose only. Other finger-rings are to be cast off…. [L]et our seals be either a dove, or a fish, or a ship scudding before the wind, or a musical lyre… or a ship's anchor….band if there be one fishing, he will remember the apostle, and the children drawn out of the water. For we are not to delineate the faces of idols, we who are prohibited to cleave to them…. (18)


The fact that Clement does not list the image of the cross as being suitable for seals, perhaps reveals that he had reservations about Christians openly depicting this symbol. What is particularly significant in this quote, however, is that Clement speaks of seeing a fisherman, and “remembering” the apostle (Jesus?). Such remembering seems to shed light on what Clement may have meant in the previous quote, regarding the image of God being perceived “by the mind alone.”

The Cross Made Manifest
Christians, rather than depicting sacred and spiritual realities materially, observed their natural occurrence. They looked for their natural manifestations around them. Such mystical observation was sought out for the cross, as noted by Minucius Felix. He states that although they do not outwardly use the physical image of the cross (“we [Christians] neither worship nor wish for [the cross]”), they brought it to mind when they saw its resemblance in other things:

We assuredly see the sign of a cross, naturally, in the ship when it is carried along with swelling sails, when it glides forward with expanded oars; and when the military yoke is lifted up, it is the sign of a cross; and when a man adores God with a pure mind, with hands outstretched. Thus the sign of the cross either is sustained by a natural reason, or your own religion is formed with respect to it. (19)


Consistent with the views of Clement, Minucius explains how Christians look for the manifestation of the cross, rather than (like pagans) create the outward image of it.

It is clear that many Christians refrained from using images that derived from an improper process of unnaturally manipulating dead matter, which would have (according to Clement and other Christians) dishonored nature and God, and broken the second commandment. Christians were not creating a religious symbol for the sake of its religious significance. Rather, the images they viewed were mere natural manifestations of spiritual realities, perceived by the mind.

This mystical viewing was a popular trend among early Christians. Jerome discovered the manifestation of the cross in a swimming man, flying bird, and a man praying with extended arms. (20) Justin Martyr proclaims that a ship’s sail, a plough, the banners and trophies of the government, and the human form (body posture, and profile of face head) each manifest “no other form than that of the cross.” (21) Tertullian speaks of the cross being manifested in the human posture, and by “Every piece of timber which is fixed in the ground in an erect position.” (22)

Christians similarly looked for hidden manifestation of the cross throughout the Old Testament. (23) Tertullian observes the way that Moses, “at the time when Joshua was battling against Amalek, pray[ed] sitting with hands expanded…,” and in the brazen serpent that Moses hung on a tree, in order to heal Israel. “[H]e was exhibiting the Lord's cross,” concludes Tertullian. (24)

The Epistle of Barnabas finds a manifestation of the crucifixion in the number of men that Abraham circumcised in his household:

For [the Scripture] saith, "And Abraham circumcised ten, and eight, and three hundred men of his household." What, then, was the knowledge given to him in this? Learn the eighteen first, and then the three hundred. The ten and the eight are thus denoted — Ten by I, and Eight by H. You have [the initials of the, name of] Jesus. And because the cross was to express the grace [of our redemption] by the letter T, he says also, "Three Hundred." He signifies, therefore, Jesus by two letters, and the cross by one. He knows this, who has put within us the engrafted gift of His doctrine. No one has been admitted by me to a more excellent piece of knowledge than this, but I know that ye are worthy. (25)


The Tau (T or +)(26) is the last Letter of the Greek alphabet, and has the numeric value of 300. Christians believed that the tau was equivalent to the Hebrew letter omega (being the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and name of God), and manifested the image of the cross in its form. Such symbolism was also found manifest in the proportions of Noah’s ark: “Now there are some who say that three hundred cubits are the symbol of the Lord's sign,” reports Clement of Alexandria. (27)

The mystical search and observation of the cross, allowed Christians to embrace the symbol without depicting it materially (breaking the second commandment) or drawing the attention of their persecutors. Christians also got around these obstacles by tracing the “Lord’s sign,”(T or +, which revealed the cross) upon their foreheads. Tertullian records:

We feel pained should any wine or bread, even though our own, be cast upon the ground. At every forward step and movement, at every going in and out, when we put on our clothes and shoes, when we bathe, when we sit at table, when we light the lamps, on couch, on seat, in all the ordinary actions of daily life, we trace upon the forehead the sign. (28)


The Christian act of tracing the sign was in fact a reenactment of God’s command in Ezekiel 9:4. Tertullian explains this elsewhere:

He [Christ] signed them with that very seal of which Ezekiel spake: "The Lord said unto me, Go through the gate, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set the mark Tau upon the foreheads of the men." Now the Greek letter Tau and our own letter T is the very form of the cross, which He predicted would be the sign on our foreheads in the true Catholic Jerusalem… Now, inasmuch as all these things are also found amongst you, and the sign upon the forehead, and the sacraments of the church, and the offerings of the pure sacrifice, you ought now to burst forth, and declare that the Spirit of the Creator prophesied of your Christ. (29)


Tracing the cross (tau) upon their forehead was not in conflict with the second commandment, since doing so did not manipulate dead matter. Nor did the private action draw the attention of critics, since the symbol was traced invisibly. By tracing the sign, rather than drawing it visibly Christians were able to worship inconspicuously, and get their reservations for depicting the cross materially.

Conclusion
In conclusion, I repeat that the absence of the image of the cross in Christian artwork, was due to three significant reasons. 1) Christians desired to worship inconspicuously. 2) The image was a stumbling block to Jews and Gentiles, and therefore was not used as an emblem for attracting converts. 3) Christians had reservations about depicting the cross materially, bearing that they would commit the sin of Idolatry.

One should not conclude from this absence that the visual sign of the cross wasn’t therefore sacred to Christians. Though they had reservations about creating material depictions of the cross, many of them got around those reservations by looking for its mystical manifestation, and tracing it upon their foreheads.





1 Graydon F. Snyder, Ante Pacem (Mercer University Press, 1991), 27.
2 Ibid. Those who reject today’s general agreement among scholars may cite the 1938 excavation discovery of a cross engraved on a wall from an unearthed house in Herculaneum, or the so-called Paletine cross drawing, found in 1856, that depicts a donkey being crucified, with graffiti that reads “Alexamenos, worship god.” But though these “evidences” may both date after the rise of Christianity and prior to the reign of Constantine, there is much to dispute about them. Since the discovery of the cross at Herculaneum, “Further consideration,” says Everett Ferguson, “has given a more utilitarian purpose: the imprint in the plaster was left by wooden brackets for a wall cabinet or perhaps a shelf or mantle with a supporting upright piece.”(Backgrounds of Early Christianity [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2003], 590.) Graydon Snyder agrees, “[T]his so-called cross could have been anything attached to the wall by two cross pieces.” (Snyder, 27.) But even if the new consideration is wrong, and that the engraving indeed marked where a Latin-style-cross was once displayed, there is no reason to believe that the cross was hung by a Christian, and not a Pagan. As already explained, the cross has been used throughout antiquity by nearly every known culture. Furthermore, outside this extremely questionable example, the underwhelming evidence that the Christians displayed the image of the cross during this period makes the idea “simply appear to us as a surd in the development of early Christian art: it came three hundred years too soon.” (Ibid.) The Paletine cross should also not count as “evidence” to debunk the conclusion that we cannot find the image of the cross (in reference to the passion) being used prior to the reign of Constantine. One problem is that “no fixed date can be given for this drawing.” (Snyder, 28.) Secondly, since the image is assumed to be drawn by an opponent of the faith, “it hardly proves that the cross was an early Christian symbol.” (Ibid.) Again, the opponent would have drawn it, not a Christian. Thirdly, though one today may be quick to assume that this derogatory cartoon mocked the Christian kerygma, there is a possibility that actually paganism is being mocked. Not only did pagans use the image cross, but also some even depicted an image of deity hanging on it. Minucius Felix, of the third century, denied, “Crosses, moreover, we [Christians] neither worship nor wish for,” and then criticized pagans, saying, “You, indeed, who consecrate gods of wood, adore wooden crosses perhaps as parts of your gods…. Your victorious trophies not only imitate the appearance of a simple cross, but also that of a man affixed to it.” (The Octavius of the Octavius of, ch 29.) Barbara G. Walker comments on Minucius Felix’s remarks, saying, “From very ancient times, an effigy of a man hanging on a cross was set up in fields to protect the crops. The modern scarecrow is a survival of this sacrificial magic, representing the sacred king whose blood was supposed to fertilize the earth.” (The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets [San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1983], 188.) An example of such an image is the controversial second to third century amulet of Orpheus-Bakkikos Crucified. (Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy, The Jesus Mysteries: Was the "Original Jesus" a Pagan God? [Three Rivers Press, 2001], 52.)
3 Apocrypha of the New Testament: Acts of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, ANF v. VIII. The Acts of Peter (ch 38), which predates this text by a century, also tells of Peter being crucified head down, but does not explain that this was because he felt unworthy. Rather, Peter does so to explain the “mystery of the cross,” and how (unlike Jesus) him being crucified upside down represents the birth of man in his fallen state. See Bart D. Ehrman’s Lost Scriptures: Books that Did Not Make It into the New Testament (Oxford University Press, 2003), 153.
4 Turtullian, ANF vol. 4, De Fuga In Persecutione, ch 3.
5 Ibid., ch 14.
6 Minucius Felix, Octavius, ch 10; as provided by Bart D. Ehrman, After The New Testament: A Reader In Early Christianity (Oxford University Press, 1999), 56.
7 1 Corinthians 1:23.
8 Jack Tresidder, Dictionary of Symbols (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1997), 56-57.
9 Paletine Cross graffiti mockingly displays a depiction of a person (presumably, a Christian) worshipping a man (with an ass head) handing on a cross.
10 Methodius, Three Fragments from the Homily on the Cross and Passion of the Christ.
11 See Carmel Konikoff, The Second Commandment and its Interpretation in the Art of Ancient Israel (Genève: Imprimerie du Journal de Genève, 1973).
12 Origen (c. 248, e), ANF 4.510; as quoted in David W. Bercot, A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs (Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1998).
13 Ibid, 4.579
14 Hippolytus (c. 225, w), ANF 5.114; Amobius contends that depicting images is a fruitless endeavor. “It has been sufficiently shown,” says Amobius, “how vain it is to form images.” Amobius (c. 305) ANF 6.518, as quoted in Bercot, 352-54.
15 "Moreover, I have heard that certain persons have this grievance against me: When I accompanied you to the holy place called Bethel, there to join you in celebrating the Collect, after the use of the Church, I came to a villa called Anablatha and, as I was passing, saw a lamp burning there. Asking what place it was, and learning it to be a church, I went in to pray, and found there a curtain hanging on the doors of the said church, dyed and embroidered. It bore an image either of Christ or of one of the saints; I do not rightly remember whose the image was. Seeing this, and being loth that an image of a man should be hung up in Christ's church contrary to the teaching of the Scriptures, I tore it asunder and advised the custodians of the place to use it as a winding sheet for some poor person. They, however, murmured, and said that if I made up my mind to tear it, it was only fair that I should give them another curtain in its place. As soon as I heard this, I promised that I would give one, and said that I would send it at once. Since then there has been some little delay, due to the fact that I have been seeking a curtain of the best quality to give to them instead of the former one, and thought it right to send to Cyprus for one. I have now sent the best that I could find, and I beg that you will order the presbyter of the place to take the curtain which I have sent from the hands of the Reader, and that you will afterwards give directions that curtains of the other sort--opposed as they are to our religion--shall not be hung up in any church of Christ. A man of your uprightness should be careful to remove an occasion of offence unworthy alike of the Church of Christ and of those Christians who are committed to your charge." (Jerome's Letter, 51:9)
16 Stroma, 7:5.
17 Clement, Exhortation to the Heathen, ch 4.
18 Clement, The Instructor, vol 3, ch 11.
19 Minucius Felix, The Octavius of the Octavius of, ch 29; as found in software The Complete Christian Collection (Packard Technologies, 1999).
20 Adam Clarke, Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible (vol 5), The Gospel According to Matthew, 27:35.
21 First Apology of Justin, ch 55.
22 AD Nationes, book 1, ch 12.
23 Hippolytus and Clement see the image and message of the cross in the Greco-Roman Myth, when the Ulyssies is tied to the mast of the ship (Cross of Christ), that he may not give way to the voice of the sirens. The Refutation of all Heresies, book 7; Exhortation to the Heather, ch 12.
24 Tertullian, Answers to the Jews, ch 10.
25 Epistle of Barnabas, ch 9; see also Clement of Alexandria, The Stroma, book 6, ch 11.
26 “St. Jerome and many others have thought that the letter tau was that which was ordered to be placed on the foreheads of those mourners; and Jerome says, that this Hebrew letter t tau was formerly written like a cross. So then the people were to be signed with the sign of the cross! It is certain that on the ancient Samaritan coins, which are yet extant, the letter t tau is in the form +, which is what we term St. Andrew’s cross.” Clarke’s Commentary, volume 4, chapter 9, verse 4.
27 The Stroma, book 6, ch 11.
28 The Chaplet, or De Corona, ch 3.
29 The Five Books Against Macrion, book 3, ch 22; see also Tertullian, Answer to the Jews, ch 11.

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Mike Reed
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Post by Mike Reed »

Coggins7 wrote:
You got the willies from a cross hanging on a wall? You believed it was an instrument of Satan? Let's see, you couldn't have gotten that idea from anything taught in the Church, so...from whence was it derived?

The Catholic Church was identified as the church of the devil, great abominable, and mother harlots, by more than a few LDS authorities. And MANY more identified the symbol of the cross as a "Catholic" symbol. It followed from these premises quite naturally that the symbol of the cross therefore was a symbol of the devil. And in addition to this, it became no stretch for Bruce R. McConkie to identify the sign of the cross as the Mark of the Beast.

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