The Crucifix and The Cross

Written by Joel on June 7th, 2008

In the National Guard I am given a “chaplains field kit” which is used to conduct field services. If you look closely you can see a cross in the middle. This kit is given to both Protestant and Catholic chaplains.

The cross you can see in the middle of the picture is two sided. If you are Catholic you show the crucifix side. If you are Protestant you simply show the reverse which is a blank cross.

Protestants are not “hiding Jesus” or have any aversion to Christ Crucified. I find that the different use of symbols stems from a different focus each community has on Christ’s action on the cross.

Roman Catholics tend to emphasize Christ’s death on the cross. The mass itself is a re-enactment of the Last Supper. Help me with the word, is it anamesis…? Meaning more than a memory, a renewed participation in the past event.

Protestant Christians tend to emphasize Christ as risen. It is not only because Christ died that we are saved, but because Christ is the Son of God and has power over death that we find salvation in his work on the Cross.

Christ remains on the cross in Roman Catholic settings as we remember the sacrifice he provided for us. The cross is empty, like the empty tomb, in Protestant Churches to recall the power of Christ over death and Satan.

The chaplain kit has both cross and crucifix, which I think it a helpful way of thinking of Christ’s work on the cross. It is not an either/or view. Rather we need to have both the crucifix and the cross in order to have a full understanding of what happened through the Passion and Resurrection of the Lord.


1 Comments so far ↓

  1. Anonymous says:

    Many Lutheran and High Church Anglicans are Protestants ( of the ‘evangelical catholic” type who are interested inbeing faithful to the gosple and Patristic Church of the early centuries) who appreciate the crucifix

    I am Catholic (RC “Catholic of the Apostolic Papal Communion”) and in my parish we have crucifixes and images of the Risen Christ( and the Child Christ,etc) I do not think that Protestants emphasize the Resurrection more than Latin Catholics (and Protestants of any sort do not emphasize the resurrection more than Eastern Catholics and Orthodox).

    Low Church Protestants (and those liturgical protestants strongly influenced by them)tend to have an aversion to images in general and not just of Jesus Crucified.

    There is no resurrection without the Crucifixion and no sacrifice without the Incarnation

    God bless! James O’

Leave a Comment