Cross vs Crucifix

When I was a fundamental Baptist, I was told that Catholics still have Jesus on the Cross through the Crucifix, while theirs was an empty Cross signifying the Resurrection. The empty cross testifies that Jesus has completed the work He was given to do for our redemption. The crucifix tells us only that He has failed.
Once again, I am not saying I believe this, it’s simply what I was told.
What is the Catholic response to such a teaching?

‘Catholics still have Jesus on the cross’ is just a simple rhetorical device. Obviously Catholics believe in the Ressurection. Catholics could say that the emphasis on the empty cross is more of a problem since it wasn’t the cross that saved us but Jesus’ work on the cross. But that would also be a simple rhetorical device.

At every Catholic Mass it is clear Jesus was victorious since the once for all sacrifice is represented to the Father. The sacrifice has within it the seeming failure of the cross but also the actual success of it. The sacrifice began on Maundy Thursday and was completed on Good Friday. At every Catholic Mass this truth is proclaimed. The Resurrection is proclaimed in all the Eucharistic prayers, in the Creed and in other places in the Mass.

There is nothing wrong with a cross or a crucifix. The crucifix can help us to be aware of how God entered into our suffering. How he joined himself to man. To have a problem with the crucifix is to have a problem with the complete work of Jesus. If all one takes away from seeing a crucifix is failure then they are ignoring the rest of Church teaching which is not obscure. And It would be like objecting to pictures of the Nativity because Jesus isn’t a baby anymore.

The crucifix helps me remember that in order to have the glory of an Easter Sunday, you must first go through the trials of a Good Friday.

Each Mass is a re-presentation of that sacrifice on Calvary, and the crucifix calls to mind that sacrifice— which is why you have it in every single Catholic church. Think of it as sort of a supernatural time machine, where the faithful are transported to the foot of the cross. The Eucharist transcends time and space, just like the Eucharist on Holy Thursday was a presentation of the Good Friday sacrifice which had not yet occurred.

And likewise, think back to the first initial post-Resurrection appearances. Who did Jesus first appear to? “Contemplation of his death” was the thread that connected them all… Mary Magdalene, Peter, the disciples on the way to Emmaus, the Apostles. Ergo, such contemplation was pleasing to Christ, and continues to be pleasing.

Those would be three valid Catholic interpretations on why we have crucifixes.

The crucifix represents the ultimate Sacrifice of Our Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross, by which all of humanity was saved, and we should never forget it. Yes, the Resurrection has occurred, but it was only through the Cross that we had the Resurrection.

May God bless you abundantly and forever, and thank you for your genuine interest in the Holy Catholic Faith! :slight_smile:

That is an old, tired “objection”. Given that Christ is preached crucified (Greek estauromenon), which is in the Greek not in the past tense but in the perfect (1 Corinthians 1:23), clearly, Scripture presents the crucifixion not as a dead event consigned in the past but something that continues into the present, which is what the Greek perfect does. In other words, his crucifixion is always, in a sense, here with us.

That’s what a crucifix is for. We keep Christ on the cross because that’s how Scripture would preach him to us: Christ Crucified: Christon Estauromenon. It “sets before our eyes” (Galatians 3:1) what he did on Calvary. It’s a constant reminder of his love for us, not some fanciful notion that he was defeated or something like that.

Besides, the proper symbol of the resurrection is the empty TOMB, not the empty CROSS.


Okay, I mean no disrespect to anyones beliefs, but living in Baptist country, I’ve gotten the impression Baptists believe they have been saved (past tense), as a Catholic, I believe salvation is a work in progress…hence Christ on the crucifix reminds me that my salvation is still being earned. I think to the Baptists, the empty crucifix reminds them they believe they have already been saved.

God will decide in the end.

I was a Baptist and I never heard that before.

No, no one ever said it, its just my impression. I’m am often asked, have you been saved, my answer is I hope to be. I’m not big on evangelizing verbally, so I’ve never engaged in any arguments about it, just an impression. It really isn’t a bad one either. If they are right, more power to them. If we are right, then glad I’m trying to stay the course.

I was raised baptist so i heard the same, that the empty cross shows that Jesus was victorious. Short story: Our parish has a book sale every year and i volunteered to help with it. A couple older women came in and saw this huge crucifix with Christ suffering hanging on the wall and i heard one of them whisper to the other, “That’s just ugly and awful.”
Now, as a convert, i can definitely say that the suffering Christ on the crucifix means a lot more to me. I see my sins in Christ’s suffering, I see how ugly my sins are and that he did that for me (us). I can see how some people feel more comfortable seeing an empty cross instead of the pain. An empty cross doesnt remind them that it was their sins that caused it.

And yeah, the tomb is a better representation of the resurrection, not an empty cross.

Perhaps my most valued possession is my dad’s crucifix that he wore as a pastor.

The empty tomb represents the resurrection.

When I am asked why I wear a Crucifix instead of a Cross my response is; “Without the Crucifix; there would be no Resurrection”.

The assertion that He Failed is incorrect.

The Corpus (Body of Jesus) on the Crucifix is a reminder of His Holy and Divine Sacrifice on behalf of all mankind.

To any non-Catholic who says “He is no longer on the Cross”, I say to them “Amen! He is RISEN! BUT WE MUST NEVER EVER FORGET HE WAS THERE.”

To be reminded of Christ’s glorious Sacrifice on the Cross is a VERY blessed thing. Would any of us WILLINGLY allow ourselves to suffer a death such as that when we could have told the powers that be what they wanted to hear and live? Or when we could have ran and hid? Anyone???

Jesus didn’t tell them what they wanted to hear, and He didn’t run and hide to escape His glorious Destiny. He did the Will of Our Father in Heaven. It is very sad that so many people are so ignorant of this. There isn’t a Catholic alive that would assert that Jesus Christ ever failed at ANYTHING. I have no idea where people get these ridiculous notions.

Protestant Reformers generally embraced aniconism. They were opposed to the use of religious icons, such as a crucifix, believing their use to be a violation of the Commandment against graven images.

See Wikipedia article on “Aniconism in Christianity.”

The cross by itself did nothing.

Christ’s death on the cross was everything.

but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block, and to Gentiles foolishness,

1 Corinthians 1:23

The Lutheran reformers rejected iconoclasm, and the misinterpretation of Decalogue you describe here.


While I was at church tonight, I was thinking about this post. Maybe what the Baptists mean mby failure is that Christ failed to convert the Jews ? In my book, that failure was our (the gentiles) success. Or I need to spend more time in church listening and less thinking!

No, they do not mean that in the least.
I would tend to agree with the last sentence though. :cool:

Sometimes I wear a crucifix, sometimes just a cross. Right now I’m wearing a diamond cross, not a crucifix. Is there anything wrong with that?

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