Baptists Displaying Crucifixes?

May 1, 2004




Q.

Why don’t Baptists believe in displaying crucifixes in the home and church? Couldn’t these serve as a good reminder of what Christ did for us on the cross?

A.
First, I sincerely believe that God’s Word itself should really be the reminder of the things of God and Jesus Christ. If we read and think about the Word consistently, we need little else in the way of reminders.

On the other hand, as Bible-believing Christians we do sparingly use certain symbols as testimonies; for example, many of our churches have crosses, particularly in the front of the auditorium. The chief reason we do not use crucifixes is that they, in essence, “keep” Jesus Christ on the cross, when He not only died but also was buried, rose from the dead on the third day, and then ascended into Heaven. While we want to keep the message of the cross ever before us, we also must keep before us the fact that He did not stay on the cross. Instead we serve a living Savior Who will come for us someday. An empty cross speaks of these realities.

We also avoid crucifixes because of their association with the Mass. The religion that celebrates the Mass has always stressed that Christ is re-sacrificed over and over again in that service. “It [the Mass] is rightly offered not only for the sins, punishments, satisfactions and other necessities of the faithful who are living, but also for those departed in Christ, but not yet fully purified [i.e., those in purgatory]” (Council of Trent, Session 22, Chapter 2). Bible-believing Baptists and other groups reject this teaching because Hebrews 10:10–14 teaches us that Jesus Christ died once for all, and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices can never take away sins.

Also, while we realize that humans can make an object of worship out of just about anything, crucifixes are particularly vulnerable to this danger because people have attributed various powers and even superstitions to them. For example, they are worn or displayed to keep the owner from harm. People even kiss them. The second commandment warns us against making graven images and bowing down to them or honoring them (Exod. 20:4, 5). The selling of crucifixes is commercialized as well. But we don’t need rosaries, crucifixes, and missals. We are saved by faith alone, through the finished work of Jesus Christ, Who shed His blood for us.

Further, using items that have the connotations of power and a merit-based religion could be a great stumbling block to other people (1 Cor. 10:32). In an age of compromise and ecumenicity we have to be particularly careful not to adopt practices and icons that erase our Biblical distinctives before the world and before fellow believers.

Do you have feedback or a Bible question to submit? Send to nolson@garbc.org or mail to Norman A. Olson in care of the Baptist Bulletin, 1300 N. Meacham Rd., Schaumburg, IL 60173-4806.

Reprinted from the Baptist Bulletin (March 2004).
© 2004 Regular Baptist Press. All rights reserved.
Used by permission.