Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Scandal of the Cross

"But we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews, and a folly to Gentiles"-1 Corinthians 1:23
"But if I brethren, still  preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted?  In that case the stumbling block of the cross has been removed"-Galatians 5:11
"For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.  For the word of the Cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God."-1 Corinthians 1:17-18.
Okay, there is much, much more.  But I always like to start with verses that I feel are the easiest and most straight forward.  There are many, out there, to whom hate the Cross.  A good example is the fundamentalist Islamic group, ISIL.  You must understand that Muslims do not believe that Jesus died for our sins.  In fact, they do not believe he died during the crucifixion at all.  (If someone can help me find the exact verse in Islamic scriptures, I'd appreciate it), nor do they believe Jesus is   (al-Ikhlas 112:3) divine .  Of course, some more "moderate" Muslims haven't got a 
problem with Christians using the Cross, though they themselves may disagree with who Jesus is.  What bothers me more than that though, is those that, in some way or the other, may feel themselves Christian, but have a huge problem with the cross in places of worship.  This was not uncommon during the time of the puritans.  They believed that having crosses in their churches could end up being an object of worship.  Mormons, believe, that Christ was crucified on a cross, but that it may be wrong to venerate an item of torture.  Jehovah's Witness take it a step further with bad Greek, and say it's a torture stake.  Let's put this to rest. At least in the third century, Tertullian claimed that the sign of the cross was already in widespread use at the time (there are many variations in the sign of the cross, so it's unclear which version, I use mainly the Latin and Byzantine, but he was likely referring to the small sign).  Obviously, if such an emphasis was put on the power of the cross, not just by the Apostles, but by early Christian witness.  Paul was certainly not against the concept of the Cross.  Now, I can't tell you what Paul allowed for images during liturgies he celebrated.  What we do have, however, is clear evidence that images were allowed in places of worship BEFORE Constantine legalised Christianity (The Dura-Europs church, for instance).  On the next post, we'll talk about why it is perfectly fine to allow images in places of worship (though the objects themselves, CANNOT be worshiped).  The Cross is what saves us from our sin.  What do you believe?

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