Why Don’t Protestants Use the Crucifix?

Who are the Protestants? What is a crucifix? And why are crucifixes rejected by Protestants? In this article we will give you a glimpse of Protestantism and the behind their beliefs.

A protestant is an adherent of any of those Christian bodies that separated from the church of Rome during the reformation or of any group descended from them. Another way to describe them would be to say they are those who broke away from the rigidity of the Church of Rome.

Protestantism is a form of Christian faith which originated in the 16th century reformation and is one of the three major branches of Christianity.the other two branches are Catholicism and Orthodoxy. Protestants believe good deeds and faith in God will help them get into heaven. Their four core beliefs are:

  • “Salvation by faith through grace” (Sola Fides)
  • Bible is supreme authority (Sola Scriptura)
  • “Priesthood of all believers” no intercession by clergy needed to achieve salvation
  • Semper Reformanda – always reforming

Protestants and Catholics have few similarities but many differences. One difference being the crucifix . You will not find crucifixes in a protestant church. However, you will see a an empty cross. The protestants  have given many reasons for rejecting crucifixes. One reason being as simple as “it’s too catholic” or that they don’t use them simply because the catholics use them.

However a lot of the rejection towards crucifix from the protestants has to do with the reform/puritan iconoclasm that put a ban on images viewing it as idolatry. What are some of the other reasons given by Protestants for rejecting the crucifix? Here are a few answers to that question. Some of these reasons they claim to come directly from the Bible while other reasons are purely opinions or as one Protestant put it,  “is common sense”.

The word crucifix in Latin, cruci fixus, means “(one) fixed to a cross”  it is a cross with the body of Jesus depicted on it. It is also known as a Corpus Christi cross representing Jesus Christ in his final dying hours at the cross at Calvary. The crucifix is a symbol of many groups of Christians and a common form of crucifixion in the arts. The Catholic see the crucifix as a symbol of remembrance of the great sacrifice and suffering that Jesus Christ made for us, and the pain he endured.

Protestants state that the image of Jesus should not be on a cross for many reasons, some of which are:

  •  Jesus is no longer suffering on the cross, He is now  in heaven
  • They claim that it is a biblical prohibition against worshipping graven images
  • Jesus is not fixed to the cross anymore since he has risen
  • crucifixes typically become objects of veneration, which did not sit well with the protestants.
  • Protestants view Jesus as risen from the dead not on a cross
  • Protestants feel that by depicting Jesus they are also depicting God and according to the Bible that is a sin
  • Protestants believe a crucifix behind an altar should not be when preparing to receive the real presence of the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist.
  • crucifixes are a very Catholic symbol

Protestants prefer the cross instead of the crucifix. The empty cross, to the Protestants, symbolizes:

  • the centrality of the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the fullest revelation of God to humanity.
  • They see it as the hope of a new life with the prophesies second coming of the Lord.

They argue that since Jesus is no longer on the cross there is no reason why we should have to be subjected to the view of his corps, (which some say has been made to look extremely exaggerated over the years) on the cross for he has now resurrected and is in heaven. Furthermore, some protestants claim there is no evidence that the early church ever used crucifixes as symbols.

They would rather focus on the resurrection of Christ and the assurance of life after death, not on his death. Some protestants believe the crucifix dishonors God and are usually uncomfortable with the Catholic devotion to the crucifix. They can’t seem to understand why Catholics choose to leave Jesus on a cross, stating that it actually goes against the Bible to have such an image.

You will find that some protestants even reject the value of the true cross itself.

Protestants see the cross mostly as a decorative object rather than an object of worship. You will find in some protestant churches a cross or two as decoration. Unlike the Catholic Church, the protestant church is very plain and simple, especially compared to a Catholic Church. A crucifix in the Catholic Church is not seen as decoration they are a part of the mass service and important symbol inside the church. A crucifix in a Catholic Church is given a place of honor.

In some churches you will find a large crucifix across the central axis which are known by the old English term rood. Modern Roman catholic churches and many Lutheran Churches often have a crucifix centered above the altar on the wall.

You can also find a crucifix displayed at some schools, hospitals and even worn as jewelry on many people. For some it may just be a piece of jewelry but for many others its something more than jewelry. It is worn as a sign of the devotion they have for their religion and God as well as for ones protection against any harm. A wooden or bronze crucifix is used for processional, sacramental or the liturgical purposes.

Some older Catholic churches display a silver crucifix or a gold crucifix. In times of suffering the image of the crucifix can give that spiritual strength needed. A prayer in front of a crucifix is part of devotion for Christians especially in church. A person may sit, stand or Kneel in front of a crucifix. The crucifix as i stated earlier, plays a very important part in the Catholic religion.

Will Protestants ever change the way they feel about crucifixes? Very few have already, however the crucifix, most likely will not be found in a Protestant church anytime soon or perhaps ever. For that to happen would mean changing some of their beliefs and who they are.

Gene Botkin

Gene is the director of the Theosis Christian Project. He studied physics and military science before founding the Project. Gene is currently pursuing his doctorate in systems engineering at an engineering college in the Ozarks. The Theosis Christian Project is his attempt to expand Holy Orthodoxy in America.

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