Resurrected Christ versus Crucified Christ?


I think the objection is not in what it is, but in what it is intended to replace or obscure.

It smacks of “Buddy Christ”-ism to me.


I have a tough time with this. Might as well put the Archangel Gabriel overhead, the manger to one side and the empty tomb on the other, so it tells the entire story. It is an essential corruption of the symbol of suffering. That’s all.

I say let the “Success in Life Fellowship” use it.


And yet that is very much like what many churches have. A traditional arrangement for churches is to have a “nativity window” on one side (often “Mary’s side”) and a “resurrection window” on the other side. Often angels are part of ceiling frescoes.

Again, I see that image (which I reiterate is not one of my favorites) and I am reminded of Jesus showing the marks of His Passion to Thomas. The reminder of His Sacrifice is always present in His Risen body.



While I don’t think the Resurrected Christ Cross is forbidden in church, it cannot replace the Crucified Christ Cross which is mandatory.
Also the Resurrected Christ Cross makes absolutely no sense as Jesus did not rise from the cross. He rose from the tomb.


Now, you’re talking! Thomas’ moment of faith pertains to all of us. Just, not in the Sanctuary, please.

Christ’s peace.


I prefer the Crucified Christ cross for two reasons.

1 The Sacrifice of the Mass is the same sacrifice as the Sacrifice of Calvary. The crucifix helps to make the connection.

2 Christ does not suffer any more in heaven, but WE DO! Therefore, we need to contemplate the Suffering Servant.


Thank you, everybody, really. You rawk! All of this, including the accepting comments, is just what I needed!

I reject this Resurrected Christ on Cross symbol at such a gut level, but was a bit paralyzed because doing so is rejecting a symbol of Jesus, so I really needed your help. I am assimilating your different points, and will post them back as a summary of this thread.



Here’s my summary of this thread (I’ll use CC for Crucified Christ, and RC for Resurrected Christ):


  1. We are a suffering people and need the reminder that God is love and suffers with us. The RC is more a symbol of His power.
  2. CC more traditional, a point in its favor.
  3. Connection between CC and Eucharist: Eucharist is Christ’s Body and Blood which, by hanging on that Cross, saved us; and the Eucharist is the closest we get to Christ on earth.
  4. Empty cross suggests falsity that suffering is over (in the RC the cross is empty in the background, as if saying "Yes, in the past Christ was crucified but in the present moment, now, He is risen, and that’s what’s important). If what is desired is a symbol of the Resurrection, better would be an empty tomb.
  5. Others came alive after death, such as Lazarus & Tabitha. It’s Christ’s death on the Cross that makes His Resurrection significant. It is His death which saves. His resurrection identifies and explains what the Cross did.
  6. The CC is best remnder of what He did at what cost, and we need that reminder.
  7. Nothing actually wrong with the RC as long as it is subordinate to the CC.
  8. Tradition speaks volumes.
  9. Christ’s sacrifice saved; His Resurrection revealed Him. Salvation did not come through the Resurrection.
  10. RC is happy clappy Catholicism :rotfl:
  11. Satan would not fear such a symbol.
  12. Christ’s blood is essential to what the Cross is all about.
  13. Let’s follow St. Paul in this Pauline Year.
  14. Paul knew Christ was Risen, but Paul focuses more on the crucifixion (bible quotes below)
    **po18guy **(thanks for those helpful pics)
  15. The RC image adds nothing to our faith.
  16. The RC detracts from our faith by being confusing. It is a mixed metaphor (excellent). Christ died on the Cross, not resurrected off of it. The former is why it became the universal symbol of his salvific suffering and death. (to use it as a directly joyful sign is to make it somehow contradict itself?)
  17. If you want a symbol of His Resurrection, why not show Him atop His empty tomb?
  18. Never mind what the G.I.R.M. has to say. :rotfl: (But, as I understand it: As long as there is real crucifix noticeable in the sanctuary, the GIRM does not prevent, for example, hanging as the focal point a huge RC prominently over the altar…)**
  19. Only the Crucifixion makes sense out of the Incarnation, Passion AND the Resurrection. The Mass is about this moment which makes sense out of all the other moments.
  20. Christ calls Christians to die to ourselves, pick up our crosses and follow Him. The saints urge us to make The Crucified our only object of heart and mind.
  21. How about further unpacking the symbolic possibilities of the traditional CC, as in a cross holding Jesus the High Priest and King Crucified.
  22. We can participate, on earth, in His Passion and Death; participation in His Resurrection comes after, and rests upon the former. We are meant, on earth, to concentrate on the Passion judging by the fact that it is open to our participation.
  23. Focusing on the Passion makes us more tender against our own sins, and that’s what we need.
  24. Focusing on the Passion puts our hand into the hand of our Mother suffering with Her Son.
  25. The RC does not falsify the “story” if you see it as saying that first Christ died, then He resurrected…
  26. RC smacks of "Buddy Christ"ism :rotfl: if it replaces or obscures the real crucifix.
  27. Just because there are lots of Christian symbols doesn’t mean they should all be layered over each other (loved the passing image of a mishmash of every bit and piece of the Christian story squished into the sanctuary, all jostling for position–I think it’s called “decorating by committee”)
  28. RC reminds of the Resurrected Jesus showing His wounds to Thomas.
  29. RC is nonsense symbolically, because Jesus rose from tomb not cross.
    Valient Lucy
  30. The CC helps connect the Mass to Calvary.
  31. We need to contemplate the Suffering Servant because we need to be that too.

Scriptures Cited:
we “proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” 1 Cor 11:26 (Lief)
pick up our cross and follow Christ (Lief)

“For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” (1 Cor 2:2) (jprioli & others)

(Paul) preached “Christ, and Christ crucified”. (po18guy)

“…but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” (1 Cor 1:23-24)

"And he said to all, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)

“But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.” (Romans 6:8)

“O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?” (Gal 3:1) iaskquestions

jprioli, reminding us of biblical emphasis on the futility of the Cross without the Resurrection:
…all of the 15th chapter of Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians. “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” (v17)
See also:
Romans 1:4
Romans 6:5
Phillipians 3:10 ::: Just from Paul

From maurin: “The Savior hangs before you with a pierced heart. He has spilled His heart’s blood to win your heart. If you want to follow Him in holy purity, your heart must be free of every earthly desire. Jesus, the Crucified, is to be the only object of your longings, your wishes, your thoughts…He wants your life in order to give you his. Hail to the Cross, our only Hope!” St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. Her last written words before being sent ot the gas chambers of Auschwitz, August 9, 1942.

Thanks again, everybody, for all these excellent thoughts. Once again this forum displays the faith formation, talent, generosity and thoughtfulness of its contributors. I can be more measured now as I urge the intrinsic symbolic superiority of the real Crucifix over the Resurrected Christ on the Cross.

If anybody has more thoughts, please add them as I will check back.



Hanging high above our sanctuary is a Cross with Christ wearing high priest robes and a crown on His head. This is not a New Age concept. The Cross has been hanging there since the mid 1800s. The Cross reveals a lesson in theology: Jesus is Victim, High Priest, and King.

Crucifixes were not used in churches for many centuries into Christendom. The horrific reality of crucifixion as capital punishment, and the fact that our blessed Savior was tortured in such a manner, was too uncomfortably close in the collective conscious.

The earliest representation of the crucifixion was a symbol, the bleeding Pelican who pierces her breast and sacrifices her own blood to feed her young. The first cross was a bare cross, like the Celtic Cross. Later the Anglo-Saxon Cross depicted scenes of Christ’s life within the vertical bar and the cross bars. Toward the end of the first millennium, it was acceptable to show Jesus on the Cross, but it was not acceptable to show him dead (with eyes closed, head bowed). Note in the St. Francis Cross of San Damiano, Jesus has his eyes open. By the end of the Middle Ages it was acceptable to show the corpus as dead (at least this was true of the Latin church, not sure about the Eastern churches).

I didn’t mean to get off topic. I just think we need to be fair and admit that in Church history, the stark Good Friday image was not always present. That said, the resurrected Jesus on the Cross doesn’t do much for me. I know that when I am sick or grieving, the sight of the Crucified Christ helps me to focus on His sufferings and unite my sufferings with His. For many Catholics, it provides the deepest consolation.

Another thought to ponder: In art there always exists artistic license. The resurrected Jesus on a Cross reveals a mystery. There are three phases of Christ being “lifted up” for our salvation: The first is the Cross, the second is the Resurrection, the third is the Ascension. Though physically and historically these are three separate events, mystically and theologically they are ONE event. All three fulfilled and sealed our salvation. Thus the image of the glorified Christ with a Cross in the background is not theologically unsound.

  • Westy


Yes, a paradox–that such suffering can be comforting. I know 2 sick people who hold a crucifix in bed for comfort.

… the Cross, the second is the Resurrection, the third is the Ascension…mystically and theologically they are ONE event. All three fulfilled and sealed our salvation. Thus the image of the glorified Christ with a Cross in the background is not theologically unsound.

What of a point already made, Westy: that it was the freely-offered Death that saved us? I. e., it was the Sacrifice that Saved. The Resurrection did something else, but it was not the moment of redemption. Yes, the three events are all interconnected, but they are also separable not only in concept, time and effect, but also in essence and purpose. The Crucifix is a clear, unmuddied symbol–the RC is a confusion of the sign.

As to historical progression: The earlier versions of the Sign of our Salvation you mentioned don’t feature what tends to contradict the cross in our times. The no-cross, the bare cross, the alternate sign of the Pelican, the story-cross, the living Christ being Crucified (including Christ as High Priest and King being Crucified?)–these don’t use the symbol of the Sacrifice to skip over the Sacrifice and convey happiness.

As to historical context: The event of the Protestant Reformation makes a difference in how we see the crucifix. What was fine before the Deformation is not after it. Because after if, Protestants rejected the Crucified Christ because of their new principles (also perhaps as an over-reaction to it being Catholic–part of the protest).

They also rejected the Eucharist–they reject That Flesh. They embrace a symbolic-only meaning for John 6, and they think Christ’s Flesh is somehow not nice. They reject the truth that His Flesh is what Saved us, and saves us every time we receive It in the Eucharist.

This apostasy has to enter into our calculation on the OP. To go along with the Protestants on this issue is to side with those who reject the Suffering Body and Blood which Saved us. Before Protestantism is one thing and after it it’s another, when it comes to considering these two symbols.

There is a whiff of the heresy of Assurance of Salvation and Easy Believism–the Risen Christ says to me, “You and I in heaven together; believe and it’s all good.” Instead the truth is what the Crucifix says to me, “This is the perilous and difficult way to be in heaven with Me.”

It’s human nature to want to skip over difficulty and get the reward anyway. The last thing we need is to be encouraged in our own wounded will for ease and sin. The Crucifix is the reminder we need, for our weakness is in dying to ourselves, not in partying.

The very fact that the Risen Christ Cross would be unobjectionable for Protestants should set off a warning bell for Catholics, IMO. It reminds me of the hymns–if you can sing it in a protestant church, it doesn’t belong in a Catholic Mass. There has already been too much dumbing down of Catholicism in order to placate the Protesters. Result being: the Mormon church is the fastest growing religious body outside of Islam (I think). The Protestant doctrinal inanities are sterile.

Thanks for bringing this up, Westy, about the older or other signs of the Sacrifice. I think all the older signs are still used and understood as seamless with the fuller sign, the Crucifix itself. I think the RC is a break with that sign.


Thanks Toaslan, you bring up some excellent points. I agree that Christ’s death on the Cross is the all-identifying point of redemption. It was for this reason He came. The Cross is (and should be) the focus of the Church Militant here on earth. We are still struggling, suffering, walking the Via Dolorosa. Our own personal “Good Friday” has not yet happened. We must always be reminded that before the crown of glory (Easter) comes the cross of suffering (Good Friday)

The three-fold “lifting up” events are interconnected in the sense that salvation history is not complete without all three. St. Paul said, “If Christ is not risen, vain is our preaching, vain too is your faith.” The Ascension took Christ to his rightful place at the right hand of the Father, where the gates of heaven were officially opened, and from there He sent forth the Holy Spirit, without whom we would not have the Church.

Which brings me to another interesting (albeit a bit off-topic) thought about this triangle of salvation. As you mentioned, they are interconnected, but also separable. Sort of like the Blessed Trinity. Have you seen the crosses bearing the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove? They are popular gift items for confirmation these days. Now to me, that is truly disturbing and theologically incorrect. The Third Person of the Trinity did not die on the Cross.

  • Westy



minor point, westy: The 3 Persons of the Blessed Trinity are distinguishable, they are not separable.


You seem to be under the mistaken impression that there may be a resurrected Christ who was not a Crucified Christ. Lazarus was resurrected. The resurrection would mean nothing if it weren’t for the Crucifixion.


that is not at issue.


excellent, Ohwesty

crosses bearing the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove? They are popular gift items for confirmation these days. Now to me, that is truly disturbing and theologically incorrect. The Third Person of the Trinity did not die on the Cross.

Yes, another instance of confusing the sign. Why not just throw the whole bible and everything in the gift shop at somebody?


Since the Lord and His promises never change, why should we change the symbols we have come to love and rely on for strength in time of need? The Lord endured incarnation and paid the heaviest price to establish His bride, His church, on earth. Let us not dilute her meaning or water down her truth, even for a moment. Each time we do, it leads away from Him, the focal point of our existence.

Christ’s peace.




An excellent idea, IMHO.

The Crucifixion & Resurrection can’t be separated - either without the other is meaningless: for “if Christ be not raised, [we] are still in [our] sins”. And the Resurrection is meaningless without a Christ Who has died. The sort of Cross which represents the Crucified Lord combines these two great facts about as well as any design could.

The drawback with the crucifix is that it not only does a very poor job of representing the shamefulness & ugliness & degradation of crucifixion, which was an utterly horrible death; it is non-specific as well. Apart from the INRI of the title, the crucified man could be anyone. And no amount of art can possibly represent the meaning of the Mystery of Christ: art can depict men, but not God. So it has no way to represent the Man Who is God.

I far prefer ikons anyway :slight_smile:


but of course they can–in concept. The very fact they have two names signifies their distinction from each other.

either without the other is meaningless: for “if Christ be not raised, [we] are still in [our] sins”.

you think St. Paul is preaching that the Sacrifice on the Cross was not the moment of our Redemption? And that the Resurrection is confirmation of this, rather than the moment itself? Others on this thread, as well as I, would disagree with that.

The drawback with the crucifix is that it not only does a very poor job of representing the shamefulness & ugliness & degradation of crucifixion

Those not brought up to the symbol can be very squeamish about it–it does a good enough job.

it is non-specific as well. Apart from the INRI of the title, the crucified man could be anyone.

And yet throughout the world, the man hanging on the cross is know to be Jesus Christ of the Christians. You are wrong that it is non-specific.

art can depict men, but not God.

same argument for human language, which has no way to describe God; thus we have the "strong right arm of God’ anthropomorphic sort of wording. Mankind accepts that we think, speak and do art about God truly; but that real truth is but a true shadow or reflection of Him.

I like some icons too–not the newer modern ones that look like cartoons, though.

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