Baptists

I recently attended a funeral at a Baptist Church. I found it was a beautiful celebration of the life of the person who died. I found the prayers were lovely and easy to follow. I found the music a little…gospelly? Poppy? but harmless enough in any case. I felt like there was nothing I couldn’t join in with, although there seemed to be quite a bit they were missing out on.

There was no proselyting, most of the community know me and know I’m a bit of an amateur theologian. They seemed very happy to pray with me and that I was there. They were lovely, frankly, very open and very religious. We had nothing to disagree about to be honest, which I thought was really great! :thumbsup:

I was particularly interested that I was the only one making the sign of the Cross, even when we all said “In the name of the Father…etc” do Baptists not make the sign of the Cross?

No Baptists that I know of make the Sign of the Cross, as that as seen as too “Catholic.” As far as I know (I could be wrong) only more traditional branches of Christianity make the Sign of the Cross.

How bizarre, there’s no other reason?

I was first in line about to enter a pew at a Lutheran church, I genefluected and nearly caused a “5 person pile up” on top of my body.

LOL! That’s awesome! :thumbsup: I heard a story that you know the Catholics in a cinema, because they’re the ones who genuflect when they leave!

No, Baptists don’t make the sign of the Cross. I don’t think it’s something that people consider and then intentionally avoid- it’s just not a part of their tradition. Look at your signature, for example. There’s several phrases in Latin that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before, and while I may recognize a word here or there, I don’t know the meaning of what’s said there and I certainly don’t use any of those phrases myself. It’s not that I avoid Latin phrases because they’re “too Catholic”- I have no problem saying “sola fide” or “non posse non peccarre” or “simul iustus et peccator,” for example. I’ve become familiar with those phrases because they have something to do with me and the traditions that mean a lot to me. I have no idea what your Latin phrases mean and therefore don’t use them, but it’s not because I avoid them- they’re just not a part of my tradition and I’m not at all familiar with them.

Genuflection, the sign of the Cross, holy water, incense, votive candles, what to do when there’s an altar in your church- these are all things that Baptists are vaguely aware of to one degree or another, but none of them are a part of their tradition. Try this when you get the chance- next time you have the opportunity to speak to a Baptist child/young person under the age of 18, ask them what it means to genuflect and under what circumstances a person might do such a thing. Unless you’re talking to someone who’s spent some time in a church where genuflection is done, I’m willing to bet the response is something that would embarrass you if you were talking to a Catholic child.

Then, if you like, you can ask the Baptist kid why it is that they don’t genuflect on a regular basis. You might get a weird look, though, because in this example it probably has less to do with avoiding “things that are Catholic” and more to do with “I didn’t really know what that word meant until you just told me.”

It’s a little bit like that with the sign of the Cross. Baptists at least know how to physically do it, and they might even know two or three different ways in which it can be done. But if you go back to the Baptist church and ask why the sign of the Cross is done and the times at which it would be appropriate to make the sign, the only way you’ll find someone that can give a sufficiently detailed answer (in that they would be able to make the sign of the Cross at the right times and for the right reasons) is if you find someone who’s ex-Catholic, ex-Orthodox, or ex-something else where the sign of the Cross is used.

Ultimately, the sign of the Cross isn’t used by Baptists simply because it’s not a part of Baptist tradition (or any other Protestant tradition that’s Baptist-adjacent). And that’s really just another way of saying “Baptists don’t do the sign of the Cross because it’s not something that Baptists do.” But for the most part, I don’t think it’s coming from a place where people are saying “I refuse to do this because it’s too Catholic.” I think it’s coming from a place where people say “That’s just not something we do. What, were we supposed to? We seem to be fine without doing it…”

If there is any kind of sentiment that’s more actively opposed to doing the sign, it’s probably on the basis of calling it superstitious. And in some parts of the world, the only people you can associate that with are Catholics because Catholics are the only people in that part of the world that make the sign. When that happens, though, it’s not just because you’re Catholics. It’s because people see the sign as superstitious, and if they were in an environment where Orthodox Christians were the only Christians around, they’d associate it with them instead.

It’s not like people see “Catholic-looking things” and say “I dislike that because it looks Catholic.” People’s minds don’t actually work that way. (Except when a Catholic is describing the way a Baptist mind works). When a Baptist doesn’t use the sign of the Cross, it’s for one of two reasons- it’s a tradition in which the Baptist is functionally illiterate, or the Baptist perceives it as a superstitious tradition regardless of who’s doing it. If they really want to do the sign of the Cross, they’ll probably find a church where it’s done. And they have permission to do so, because the Baptist church does not claim to be the One True Church. (This is a good thing).

I think you’re right-on, cooterhein.

BUT, I would add that while most non-Catholic Christians don’t do the Sign of the Cross because it’s not part of their traditions, this (and many other things) were originally excised from the traditions by denominational leaders who did indeed wish to ‘separate’ themselves from Catholicism by eliminating pretty much anything not specifically described in Scripture. Part of this was a sincere ‘sola scriptura’ attitude, and part of it was specifically to differentiate from the old, outdated Catholic Church.

Again, I’m talking about hundreds of years ago now…nowadays, many of the flash-points between the various splinters of Christianity have cooled. Things like this are no longer an active rejection of something ‘Catholic,’ but just not part of the Baptist / Methodist / Presbyterian / etc. tradition and something most non-Catholic Christians simply don’t think about or have awareness of (as you aptly stated).

Coming from a Methodist background, I had no idea how many beautiful bits of symbolism had been excised from the faith until I started going through the process of converting…before then, I simply wasn’t cognizant at all of the Sign of the Cross, genuflection, etc. (beyond the very basic things I’d seen on TV and in movies).

God bless!

I’m sorry, I don’t understand. I didn’t know Catholics had any reason to genuflect at the cinema…or maybe you’re referring to something else that resembles genuflection and is uniquely Catholic? I don’t know what that would be, though.

It’s a joke that they do it out of habit when they encounter a row of seats.

As for the OPs question, cooterhein is correct. It’s just not one of the traditions of the Catholic Church that Baptists chose to keep around. We don’t think we’re any better or Catholics are any worse because of this. It’s just not a part of the vague Baptist tradition of worship which tends to avoid many, but not all, ritualistic actions.

Do you have any other ‘Baptist’ questions? I know we probably do other things you weren’t expecting :stuck_out_tongue:

nope. they do not. but i will say this for them. at least most of their church buildings have cross on them, and in them, displayed somewhere. which is more than i can say for alot of these newer movements. Im glad you had a positve experience. this is rare, when you get a Baptist and Catholic together. my experience has never been that postitive. lol! :wink:

No what I’m referring too is that when you find yourself in a Church like environment, i.e. walking out of an aisle of seats, sometimes you feel an urge to do something like that—force of habit I suppose! I think it was Fr. Barron who said it, quite amused me because I can identify with that ‘urge’!

In his wonderful book, Being the Body, Charles Colson, a revered leader among evangelicals, and a Southern Baptist, says this:

“The sign of the cross is a good example. After praying with an Orthodox sister, Irina Ratushinskaya…I said my “Amen” and then watched her make the sign of the cross with such depth of feeling that I had a powerful urge to make the sign myself. I resisted–for fear it might be a betrayal of my Baptist tradition. How foolish I felt when I later discovered that believers since the very beginning and through the centuries have made the sign of the cross, signifying that they have been crucified with Christ.”

I HIGHLY recommend this book to Catholics and Protestants. It was one of the books that led me to convert to Catholicism.

My father-in-law makes the Sign of the Cross when he prays, and he’s Assemblies of God-moved-to-United Methodist.

In my novel, the Sign of the Cross is a turning point for the Protestant protagonist.

I think what a lot of Protestants, including Baptists and other evangelical Protestants, object to is when Catholics and others make the Sign of the Cross flippantly, as many movie stars and sports stars do, and sadly, as many regular Catholics do when we are not thinking seriously about our faith. How many of us enter our pew at Mass with a quick flippity-flip hand movement that can barely be distinguished as the Sign of the Cross? How many of us do it strictly out of habit, without even thinking about the significance of this visible profession of our faith in Jesus?

Evangelicals (including Baptists) despise “lukewarmness” and “lack of committment” and “carnality” in themselves and of course, in others. Christianity needs to be deep and meaningful, not just a “habit.” When Evangelicals see Christianity “institutionalized” and not taken seriously, they’re turned away.

Notice in Colson’s comments, above, that he distinctly mentioned the sisters “depth of feeling.”

Admittedly, often Evangelicals are incorrect in their assessment of someone’s soul. They judge by appearance–they see a person just sitting and praying with no facial expression, no uplifted hands, no tears, and not even closing their eyes, and the Evangelical makes an assumption that the person is not really praying. But of course that’s not true.

OTOH, Catholics do the same kind of judging of their brothers and sisters. They see someone who is not kneeling, or receiving Communion in the hand instead of the tongue, or wearing a Bears t-shirt to Mass instead of a suit and tie, and they assume that this Catholic is a "modernist’ and therefore not a “good Catholic.”

So we need to be careful about condemning others for things that we ourselves are guilty of!

However, I do feel that the Evangelicals have a good point about the Sign of the Cross. I think it is good to make it carefully and thoughtfully. We shouldn’t just toss it around like hand jive.

Thanks Robert I’m sure He was! :thumbsup:

Great info there, thanks very much! :thumbsup:

Thanks, yes I can’t say I wasn’t a little nervous, my own previous experiences involve being shouted out and told I’m going to hell a lot. This was much more positive! :slight_smile:

What a moving and honest story, thank you for sharing that with us! I will certainly order the book I think!

This is an awesome point, thank you for making it! My own attitude was changed after spending time at the local Orthodox Church. I was moved by the significance they attached to the gesture and this, for me, was the beginning of learning to make every word and gesture a prayer.

That makes a lot of sense and points to a lot of the problems we have in the Catholic Church I think. I certainly noticed a depth of commitment to Jesus that I felt very comfortable with at the Baptist Church I visited.

Great points, I agree :thumbsup: Thanks for your post!

:rotfl:

Hopefully there were more than 5 people there. While Lutherans have “rediscovered” in greater numbers making the sign of the cross, and less so meditative prayer, genuflecting has not made inroads. :stuck_out_tongue:

Jon

LOL! I’m actually just getting used to attending mass and have almost knocked my girlfriend over before when she did that and I kept walking.

Ah, that makes a lot of sense. I know some things about genuflection, but I’m not familiar enough with just how often it’s done in certain settings. I know it’s done pretty often, but I guess I didn’t know it could get to the point where it becomes a habit whenever you walk out of an aisle of seats…I didn’t even know it could become habitual in churches, so I wouldn’t have guessed that about movie theaters. Thanks for explaining!

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