Anglican Moment: The Crufix

Anglican Moment: The Crufix

A crucifix (from Latin cruci fixus, meaning “one fixed to a cross”) is a cross with a representation of Jesus’ body, or corpus. It is a principal symbol of the Christian faith which has been used in the Church since as early as the 6th century A.D. However, some modern day Christians have objected to the use of crucifixes in the Church on one of the three grounds.
First, a common misunderstanding among some Christians is the opinion that a crucifix, or the use of a crucifix, is a “Roman Catholic” practice. Yet, the history of the Church demonstrates that the crucifix was a regular and routine feature of the Christian worship and devotional life when there was only one, undivided Church (no Roman Catholic churches, no Eastern Orthodox churches, no Protestant churches). In fact, even Martin Luther and the Lutherans continued to use the crucifix in their worship and devotional life well into the time of the Protestant Reformation and beyond. Therefore, we can see that there is nothing uniquely Roman Catholic about the use of a crucifix.
Other Christians have objected to the use of a crucifix on the grounds that it is idolatry (i.e., the worship of images). However, historic Christendom has always held that such art in the Church is not wrong and is a great aid for helping to focus devotional thoughts on the truths of the Word of God (see, The Seventh Ecumenical Council of Nicaea 787 A.D.). Surely, no greater truth can be contemplated than the death of Jesus Christ our Lord for the world’s salvation.
Now Anglicanism has always recognized that the use of any symbol (even the empty cross) can become an idolatrous practice, if in any way people are led to believe there is “power in the cross” or that a picture or representation of a cross has some sort of ability, in itself, to bring us into a relationship with Christ and His Gospel. Any of God’s good gifts can be turned against Him in this life and become an end in themselves. This is the reason that Anglicans have never believed that banning or limiting proper artwork in the church is the way to prevent its improper use. Rather, we believe that proper teaching and right use is the best way, and the way that is in keeping with the gift of freedom we have in Christ to use all things to the glory and honor of God.

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