The Cross & the Crucifix
(From a letter Steve wrote to a Evangelical Protestant who asked about the Catholic Crucifix)
Dear Evangelical Friend:
You display a bare cross in your home; we display the cross and the crucifix. What is the difference and why? The cross is an upright post with a crossbeam in the shape of a “T”. A crucifix is the same, but it has Christ’s body (corpus) attached to the cross.
As an Evangelical Protestant I rejected the crucifix, as you do—Christ was no longer on the cross; he had ascended into heaven. So why do I now tremble in love and awe at the site of a crucifix? Let’s examine the history and issues surrounding the two.
I will provide a brief overview of the Cross and the Crucifix, the origin, the history, and the differing perspectives of Catholic and Protestant. It will try to catch the historical flow and include the pertinent points. The outline is as follows:
1. The Three Main Protestant Objections to the Crucifix
2. Images and Gods in the Old Testament
3. Images and Images of Christ in the New Testament
4. The Cross in the First Centuries
5. The Crucifix Enters the Picture
6. The “Reformation” and Iconoclasm
7. Modern Anti-Catholics and the Crucifix
8. Ecumenical Considerations