Why do some Baptist/Evangelical groups tend to gloss over the crucifixion?

I have noticed that certain Baptists and other similar-type Protestants seem somewhat uncomfortable with anything having to do with our Lord’s crucifixion. This is not to say that they deny it or never talk about it, but it seems to be something that they generally prefer to gloss over in favor of going straight to the resurrection.

For example, in the Baptist circles that I was a part of before becoming Catholic, they didn’t have a Good Friday service or even a Holy Thursday service—just an Easter Sunday service, and Christ’s suffering and death was barely touched on. Also (as is the case with many Protestants), they are not at all comfortable with crucifixes, although most don’t have a problem with hanging a plain cross in their church or home.

Furthermore, I realized recently that my young nephews (whose parents are a part of this Baptist group) have almost never seen a picture of Jesus on the cross. They always seem somewhat surprised and impressed when they do see a depiction of it—for example, they like to look at the crucifix on my necklace, and they always point out the large crucifix in the Catholic cemetery when we ride our bicycles past it. The other day, the younger boy wanted to draw a card for someone with Jesus on the cross, and his dad discouraged him from doing it, saying “Jesus isn’t on the cross anymore.” Something about that incident made me sad—not to mention that it doesn’t make sense. If that is their logic, they shouldn’t set up nativity scenes at Christmas, since Jesus isn’t a baby anymore.

For those of you who might come from a similar church background, what do you think the reasoning is behind their discomfort with the cross (or more specifically, the crucifixion)? When you think of it, it seems strange for Christians to almost “skip over” the whole focal point of our faith. Is it one of those things that some people subconsciously avoid out of fear of seeming too Catholic? Is it because the cross is too . . . “unpleasant”? Or are there other reasons? (Of course, we as Catholics glory in the Resurrection as well as the cross, but you lose something when you emphasize one at the expense of almost ignoring the other.)

Well, from my perspective I would never think of any of my fellow protestants as “glossing over” the crucifixion, as I’ve never ran into that in any denominational service I’ve attended. The crucifixion is seen to be absolutely necessary for salvation and taught that the on the cross is where God’s mercy and justice meet. In fact, there is an emphasis of Christ’s finished work on the cross, and on His blood and on His sacrifice and the fulfilling of many prophecies. The other side of this that you mention, the emphasis of the resurrection, is because it is the resurrection that provides the evidence for people to believe that Jesus is God.

As Paul said, if Christ be not risen, our faith is in vain. There were many other “messiahs” and “prophets” and such that were killed in gruesome ways, but only Jesus rose from the dead to prove His claims. The physical resurrection, then, gives validation to the effectiveness of the crucifixion and the evidence to support all of what Jesus claimed about Himself.

In many protestant circles it is by thinking of the cross and remembering it that we come to utter contrition for the sins we committed, as we realize that those sins were laid on Him, and He took the Father’s punishment on our behalf. Now, there are some televangelists that we can all agree do not present the cross, nor speak of sacrifice nor sin. :frowning:

Don’t over-read too much into this. Especially don’t assume anti-Catholic motives.

My husband and I were Evangelical Protestant for the first 47 years of our lives before converting to Catholicism in 2004.

There is no de-emphasis of the crucifixion. In fact, I grew up hearing graphic apologetic presentations of the crucifixion of Christ. And lots of Evangelical Protestant churches hold Good Friday and even Maundy Thursday services.

What you’re actually seeing is a de-emphasis on VISUAL ART in the Church. This makes it appear that there is a lack of emphasis on the crucifixion, when in actuality, you are not seeing artistic images of the crucifixion. This makes it appear that there is a de-emphasis on crucifixion, when in reality, Evangelical Protestants do a lot of verbal and written teaching about the crucifixion and its importance.

**Very few Protestant churches display any kind of visual art. ** Occasionally you will see photographs of the current and past pastors, or perhaps a bulletin board displaying photos of the current missionaries in that church or denomination.

Sometimes you will see a graphic of the denominational emblem/logo.

But you don’t see stained glass windows with pictures, although you will see stained glass windows with mosaic displays of colored glass.

You seldom see portraits or paintings, and never sculptures. The only Evangelical Protestant church that I ever saw portraits in was a Christian church (Campbellite), which had a display of the portraits of the 12 apostles.

In the children’s areas, you will see “children’s art” of the various Bible stories, and lots of pictures of Jesus, always looking kind and welcoming. Never any of the “suffering Christ” or “crucified Christ” images that are on display in Catholic churches.

In the past, many Evangelical Protestant denominations took the commandment about “graven images” very seriously, and did not ever make any images of Jesus, either in portraits or sculptures. Many of these denominations didn’t go along with dramatic portrayals of Jesus in theater or films, either.

Although most Evangelical Protestant denominations have relaxed their stand against images, some still believe that any kind of image of God/Jesus/The Holy Spirit is against the Ten Commandments.

Evangelical Protestants who grew up in this teaching still have a hard time with images of Christ, even if they currently attend churches that accept images.

Of course, a crucifix contains an image of Christ, and so it would be one of those things that some Evangelical Protestants find unacceptable, or at best, uncomfortable. This isn’t because they wish to de-emphasize the Lord’s Crucifixion, but rather, because they think that creating images of Jesus/God is not right.

What you’re actually seeing is a de-emphasis on VISUAL ART in the Church. This makes it appear that there is a lack of emphasis on the crucifixion, when in actuality, you are not seeing artistic images of the crucifixion. This makes it appear that there is a de-emphasis on crucifixion, when in reality, Evangelical Protestants do a lot of verbal and written teaching about the crucifixion and its importance.

Very few Protestant churches display any kind of visual art. Occasionally you will see photographs of the current and past pastors, or perhaps a bulletin board displaying photos of the current missionaries in that church or denomination.

Nailed it!!! Well done!

I again want to take a moment to thank you for your Catholic and yet unbiased view of Evangelical Christianity. Although I know you don’t accept the way Evangelicals practice Christianity as entirely true, you’re always open to explain from our perspective.

I hope I do this well for Catholics. You’re a good person for your lack of bias and more Evangelicals and Catholics like you in this world would help bring us closer to unity.

Thank you again.

I converted into Protestantism for five years as a youth.

Generally speaking, Protestants dislike religious images because of their interpretation of Old Testament law. (There are exceptions). The crucifix would fall under this heading.

However, more to the point, they often hold that showing a crucifix sends a message that we believe that HE remains dead; an empty cross does not.

(Of course, a cross with or without body remains an intsrument of death, but it is no longer seen as such).

ICXC NIKA

^This is true, as is this:

[quote=GEddie] However, more to the point, they often hold that showing a crucifix sends a message that we believe that HE remains dead; an empty cross does not.

[/quote]

I am not sure why they think this, though. As I mentioned in my first post, they have no problem with depicting him as a baby at Christmas, even though he no longer remains a baby.

I think these two answers explain part of it, but not all. Why do they skip Good Friday and Holy Thursday services? (I realize that the group I am talking about (mainly certain independent Baptists) comprises a pretty narrow slice of Protestant Christianity, but this view seems to be fairly common within this group.)

I grew up in a fundamentalist, KJV only, independent Baptist church. There is no way I could number the times I heard a preacher thunder against a crucifix. The expression was that “Catholics worship a dead Christ.”

We had no services on Holy Thursday or on Good Friday. The Sunday after Easter Sunday was a normal Sunday. There was no observation of the Easter season past the one day.

Interesting. And I never heard anything like that. The churches that I was affiliated with prior to my swimming the Tiber did not have crucifixes with a corpus, but there was detailed teaching/preaching about the crucifixion, some of which I did myself.

A lot of it depends of people’s churches and preachers and theology.

For example, I’ve heard that Sacred Heart images of Jesus (the kind with him displaying His Heart in His chest, thorn-crowned and such) were very popular in some places in the South, where people had no idea it was even Catholic-related. Sometimes Station pictures of Jesus on His way to the Crucifixion, too.

OTOH, you get people like Sharon Shinn’s Mercy Thompson character, who is a Christian who doesn’t dislike visual religious art but has a real problem with crucifixes. So in a paranormal series, she’s warding off vampires with a Lamb necklace.

Along with the liturgy, Protestants (except Anglicans) dropped the liturgical calendar. There is really no sense that the Sunday after Easter is anything special.

I imagine that not having Holy Thursday or Good Friday is just a practical matter. Protestant services can be several hours long. On a workday, no-one would go to such services.

ICXC NIKA

converting from an evangelical protestant background I can comment a little bit. We never had much of an observance of easter aside from just easter sunday. that is it. People did not know what lent even was. The crucifixion was importatnt but the ressurection seemed to be greatly more emphasized. nonetheless, people at my church went to the passion movie in theaters in droves and loved it. The preaching centered on the crucifixion quite a bit especially accompanying sort of moral exhortation. People look at Catholic crucifixes and seem to get a bit weirded out for some reason though. I really think there is some truth in the previous comments made here about a subconcious fear of seeming too Catholic and a need to dissasociate from that, but I do not think it is a real explicit anti-catholic sentiment, just something that seems foreign or other to them.

Hi EnglishTeacher,
I don’t see the empty cross as glossing over Christ’s crucifixion any more than a crucifix is glossing over Christ’s resurrection. In my view, it is just a different emphasis of the same atoning event.

In my Christian denomination, Christ’s atoning death on the cross is the cornerstone of the Christian faith. It is preached consistently and strongly. The empty cross is a symbol that Christ died for our sins as the ultimate sacrificial lamb and conquered the grave and rose from dead.

However, I don’t see a problem with a crucifix, either, because it serves as a reminder of the atoning sacrifice and passion that Christ endured on our behalf.

In short, what Cat said. :slight_smile:

It’s not being “weirded out” or a fear of being “too Catholic.” What we are really seeing is two very different mentalities rooted in theological differences that go back all the way to the Reformation.

In 1563, Johann Weyer, court physician to a German duke, published a work on exorcism that includes an account in which a girl experienced seizure-like symptoms. Her father claimed that her hands and mouth could only be opened by the sign of the Cross. Weyer’s statement at this point seems very much in line with a Protestant outlook:

*But without laying on this Sign, I opposed the Devil’s deceitful hypocrisy by means of my faith in God (imperfect though it may be), and I finally parted her hands and opened her mouth and restored these organs to their natural condition. It is not that I would have anything taken away from the Cross, for the preaching of the Cross is the power of God for those who attain to salvation [1 Cor. 1:18]. But this power resides not in the sign but in the limitation of Christ crucified . . . With His strength to support us, we can do all things. In His name the Apostles cast out demons. The Devil does not fear the Sign of the Cross, but the Cross itself – that is, torment and punishment. . . . No one would flout the sign, and rightly so; but its misuse is certainly to be censured, especially when the honor due to the Crucified and to the living belief in Him is transferred to the cross.
*

He described his treatment as being “drawn from the font of Sacred Scripture; it will not be the magical or superstitious treatment longed for and cherished by many.”

(Johann Weyer, De praestigiis daemonum in Witches, Devils, and Doctors in the Renaissance edited by George Mora [Temple, Arizona: Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, 1998] p. 361.)

I was wondering along the same lines today. Just a related comment. I received a nice “Baby’s First Bible” from a non-Catholic relative, and noticed that the Bible stories stop with Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem. There isn’t even a page dedicated to the Resurrection! Now, it’s nicely illustrated and there’s certainly no maliciousness or subversion involved, but I do think it’s a bit of a strange editing choice to leave out the cross altogether. Maybe they thought it too thematic for a baby’s bible? Or maybe they wanted a cliff-hanger… :wink:

There is no Easter Sunday without Good Friday. And as far as an empty cross is concerned, the cross saved no one. It was the One hanging on it that saved us.

Isn’t there a verse from Galatians where Paul “scolds” his audience that they were foolish for forgetting Jesus was on the Cross? :hmmm:

MJ

You are correct, sir. :thumbsup:

Thanks. I know others on CAF who would not be so complimentary of me, so it’s nice to hear a positive comment!

This all reminds me of my old Protestant pastor’s comment, “When it comes to theology, Protestants couldn’t agree how far to spit.”

So far I’ve seen differing Protestant theologies or opinions about -

  1. Music in church.

  2. Images in church.

  3. Which day of worship eg. Seventh Day Adventists.

  4. Baptism - Adult / Child.

  5. Baptism methodology - Sprinking or immersion.

  6. Predestination - Calvinist or Arminian.

  7. Abortion

  8. Homosexuality.

  9. Wearing Hats in Church (some of the Brethren).

  10. Liberalism vs. Literalism (Biblical Interpretation).

Plus the ever ready arrogant willingness of some to consider everyone else to be damned, unless someone belongs to their particular brand of church.

But then again, amongst Catholics, I’ve seen divisions between conservatives and liberals, right wing vs. left wing, hardliners versus softliners and all the rest.

So I suppose the ultimate reason is that we’re all human, and very often NOT guided by the Holy Spirit.

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