Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Anti-Catholic Calvinist Preacher Charles Spurgeon Attacks Crucifixes and Crosses as Idols

By Dave Armstrong (10-14-09)

He didn't "get" it, either (a thing that Martin Luther himself got). Recently, I chronicled equally clueless arguments along the same lines from Protestant "reformers" Calvin, Zwingli, and Bullinger.

* * * * *

I. First, let us enquire, WHAT IS THIS CROSS OF CHRIST to which some men are sadly said to be enemies?

Of course, it is not the material cross. It is not anything made in the shape of the cross. There are some who can fall down and adore a cross of wood, or stone, or gold, but I cannot conceive of a greater wounding of the heart of Christ than to pay reverence to anything in the shape of a cross, or to bow before a crucifix! I think the Savior must say, “What? What? Am I the Son of God and do they make even Me into an idol? I who have died to redeem men from their idolatries, am I, Myself, taken and carved, and chiseled, and molten, and set up as an image to be worshipped by the sons of men?” When God says, “You shall not make unto you any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in Heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: you shall not bow down yourself to them, nor serve them,” it is a strange fantasy of human guilt that men should say, “We will even take the image of the Son of God, or some ghastly counterfeit that purports to be His image, and will bow down and worship it, as if to make the Christ of God an accomplice in an act of rebellion against the commandment of the holy Law.” No, it is not the material cross to which Paul alludes—we have nothing to do with those outward symbols! We might have used them much more, but they have been so perverted to idolatry that some of us almost shudder at the very sight of them!

(Sermon #2553: The Enemies of the Cross of Christ; Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington, 26 October 1884)


~*Miss Kelly Jay*~ said...

How can Jesus Christ NOT be our idol?! The First Commandment says "Thou shall have no other gods before ME." This affirms that Jesus, who is God, is supposed to be our idol.

I like Jesus on the cross. It is a reminder that "He gave his life to be a ransom for many."

Dave Armstrong said...

One would think so, wouldn't one? But like I said, these guys just don't get it. I think it speaks volumes as to the lack of what we might call a "Christian imagination" on their part.

I certainly had no such aversion to crosses or crucifixes when I was a fervent evangelical. I would have thought such a thing was every bit as absurd then as I do now.

So it's not even a Catholic-Protestant thing. Luther understood this.

Erwin Fleischer said...

Spurgeon certainly sets himself apart from centuries of Christian practice.

Maureen said...

By this argument, nobody could actually worship Jesus Christ if they met Him on the street. I mean, you'd be responding to a mental image in your brain and a bit of colored light falling on your eye, not to Jesus Himself... because how do we see anything, if not by images?

It gets ridiculous.

Matthew Bellisario said...

This is just another example of how an iconoclastic mindset actually draws the focus off of Christ and refocuses it on the "preacher." This is why their churches are whitewashed tombs with a podium at the center, so they can park themselves at the front and preach their private opinions on the Scriptures to people, rather than celebrate the Divine Liturgy. This is the problem with iconoclasm. It leads to self worship rather than Christocentric worship. I just wrote an article about this the other day. If you are interested in reading more on this topic you can find the article here...

Dave Armstrong said...

All excellent points.

john7078 said...

What about Angels on the Ark made by Moses.

Dave Armstrong said...

Yep. There were all sorts of images, for example (cherubim, etc.), in the Temple, too.

Ben M said...

Just a little follow-up to some comments I made here.

From Medieval Craftsmen: Glass-Painters

“Another decisive blow to glass-painter in the sixteenth century was the devastating effect of the Reformation leading to the break up of the medieval Catholic Church. Long before this there had been opponents to stained glass on religious grounds. In the twelfth century St. Bernard of Clairvaux and the reformed order of Cistercian monks had prohibited coloured and figurative glazing in their churches.

"This austere and seemingly negative response had nevertheless produced some of the most simple and ornamental grisaille panels by medieval glaziers.

"Heretical groups such as the Cathars or the followers of John Wyclif in England, know as Lollards, attacked the institutional church and its fabric and regarded costly and beautiful works of art such as stained glass windows as snares of the devil. When later Protestant reformers attacked Rome, the cult of saints, relics, pilgrimages and monasteries, an art form which was bound up with religious orthodoxy inevitably came under attack.

Medieval Craftsmen: Glass-Painters, Sarah Brown and David O'Connor
University of Toronto Press, 1991, ISBN 0802069177 978-0802069177, p. 68

Bernard undoubtedly had his reasons for his austerity. Whether they were valid or not is another question. In any event, what is certain is that he would have humbly accepted correction had the Church deemed his austerity excessive or inappropriate under the circumstances in which he lived.

I pointed out here an instance of the great and wonderful humility and obedience of St. Bernard who, like St. Francis of Assisi, was a true and great Reformer.

Dave said...

I think that Miss Kelly Jay's point clearly demonstrates the issue that I take concerning the crucifix, and why I agree with Spurgeon on this principle, which, for clarification, is not a material representation of something, but repetitive actions and intentions of people to create intrinsic meaning of an object apart from the real value of what that object symbolizes.
In her point, Miss Kelly Jay suggests that it should be obvious that, in order to obey the first commandment, and avoid having other gods before God, that we should make Jesus our idol. I can appreciate how she arrived to this. But the problem is that she is misinterpreting the meaning of the word "idol", which is inherently something that is worshipped in Gods stead, that does not deserve the worship that God should be getting from us. God is not an "idol". He cannot be because He is God (the three-in-one). And, if you really consider the commandment, it is that we should not have any other "gods" before God. That suggests that we are not to put "gods", things that are lesser than God, which is ANYTHING (which is what an idol is, anything lesser than God that takes his place in someone's heart and mind) in God's place.
So, Miss Kelly Jay's suggestion is actually not that we keep other things from getting our worship, and the #1 place in our heart and mind, but that we just make sure that we make God our idol.
This suggestion is inherently a misunderstanding of how we are to approach God, how we worship God, and why we worship God. Making sure that God is #1 is not enough, if we just think that He is simply the correct choice out of many choices of things we can choose. God must be #1 because of who He is and what He has done for us. And that knowledge, that truth is what causes us to realize that there is no contest, but simply an issue of whether we realize who is worthy of our worship, or if we give it to something else.
In short, we do not please God and obey his first commandment if we just make him our #1 idol. We must understand that He is not an idol. An idol is something made by God, or even worse, by human hands. God is God.
So, in answering Miss Kelly Jay, Jesus Christ can not be our idol, because he is not an idol. He is God. That is what should be obvious.

Also, a point should be made that Jesus did come down off the cross, eventually, and He rose again, which is very important, because it demonstrates his power over death and hell, and then he went to Heaven, which is also very crucial, because it demonstrates his authority. If He didn't come down off the cross, we would be in a heap of trouble. Perhaps that is a major point of contention about the "crucifix". A cross is a great reminder of what Jesus did for us, I agree. We must remember that Jesus died for us. But, he's also gone ahead and done more afterward. That must also be remembered and understood and believed. We serve and believe in a risen Savior, who is alive in Heaven at the right hand of the Father.

Is this something that is clearly demonstrated by the crucifix? Or is this simply another tradition from "centuries of Christian practices", as Erwin Fleischer stated, that comes between an individual and the simple, profound truth that is the entire work, the supremacy, and the SUFFICIENCY of Jesus Christ, and Him alone for our salvation?

Just some thoughts of a protestant.

Martin said...

...why I agree with Spurgeon on this principle, which, for clarification, is not a material representation of something, but repetitive actions and intentions of people to create intrinsic meaning of an object apart from the real value of what that object symbolizes.

I’m not sure we disagree. A cross is a cross. A crucifix is a crucifix. We look on these objects as focus points. Our eyes perceive a religious object, our mind reflects, our hearts go to God. Where is the idolatry?

Bear in mind even your argument would allow crosses and crucifixes in homes and churches. Your only point being that these objects remain objects, not idols. So before I start tearing down my churches crucifix you'll have to explain why that one is an idol when the one in my home (or yours :)...) is not.

That suggests that we are not to put "gods", things that are lesser than God, which is ANYTHING (which is what an idol is, anything lesser than God that takes his place in someone's heart and mind) in God's place.

Yes, nor do we. I would deem Miss Kelly Jay’s wording unfortunate though I followed the intent more than the actual words. At no time does a Catholic hold up a cross, crucifix or any other object and proclaim like the tribes in the desert, “Here is your god”. (The Eucharist clearly being a special case).

Also, a point should be made that Jesus did come down off the cross,... (and) .... Is this something that is clearly demonstrated by the crucifix?

The purpose of the crucifix is to remind us that he died for us, to remind us we are sinners in need of salvation, remember that, as Catholics, when we are in Church staring at a Crucifix is it typically during a Mass wherein Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection are recalled and re-presented for us. We are not likely to forget the resurrection and the Ascension as He presents Himself right in front of us. (Side note: Apparently Christian churches in the earliest centuries showed a Resurrected Christ or a Christ coming in judgment rather than a crucified Christ. Perhaps Ben or someone with a historical bent can explain the change, but that’s neither here nor there).

Finally, DA has any number of discussions of Idolatry on his site. Always a good read.

Dave Armstrong said...

Hi Dave,

Thanks for your comment.

Would it be okay, then, in your view, if, when there was a crucifix, it would always be required to have next to it an image also of the risen, glorified, ascended Jesus and a disclaimer under the crucifix: "this is never intended to replace the real Jesus but only to represent Him, for the purpose of piously remembering and being grateful for what He did for us, and does not imply that Jesus did not rise again triumphantly"? And with a disclaimer under the image of the risen Jesus: "this is never intended to replace the real Jesus but only to represent Him, and does not imply that Jesus did not die on the cross for the redemption and salvation of the elect"?

I'm not trying to be flippant or sarcastic; I'm perfectly serious. I'm trying to see what would be required for a proper use of a crucifix, from this "Spurgeonian" point of view, since there seems to be a very narrow window of acceptance for even Calvin and Spurgeon et al.

Johnno said...

20Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.

Dave said...

First, thanks for the replies. And, please understand that I did not write what I wrote to argue the inherent legitimacy of symbolism. I was simply blown away that Kelly Jay (with all respect) suggested that the purpose of the First Commandment was to make Jesus an idol. I come from the perspective/conviction that words have meaning. And this is no attempt to wax intelligent. I just wanted to see what you would say to her suggestion that Jesus was an idol.

And, DA, you seemed to agree with Kelly Jay on the point, and then Maureen suggested that Spurgeon's whole point is based on optic stimuli, as if, anything that creates a physiological response is an idol, unless we're having a "Paul on the road to Damascus" moment straight from Jesus. The reactions seemed a little far fetched, and I think it is because the definition of the word idol is either lost or misunderstood. And, if that's true, then the whole point cannot be appreciated. Hence my comments about Spurgeon's intentions so that the real issue could be considered.

Martin suggests that we don't disagree; fantastic! That's what I was interested in finding out. It seems that Kelly Jay may have misused a word, or expressed herself unclearly. But, the way I took it, she misses the serious reality of what an idol is. The definition of putting things before God, and what that entails. That's a pretty important concept, and I just wanted to look further into her comment.

Dave said...

As for DA, I don't imply that we be that absurd. And, I do take your comments seriously and genuinely. I understand your point. If, by my putting the issue of "idols" under a microscope (as I tend to do with the way I think through things) you got the impression that I was preoccupied with the details, correctness, and piety of every action of the church, no. As I suggested in my opening, it is the actions and intentions of Catholics in response to Catholicism that I was questioning. My concern is not what a symbol tangibly, literally communicates. That's not the point of a symbol, because it's symbolic. It represents something in simple form. My concern is what the average person's perception and response is to the symbol, based on everything surrounding the symbol, in this case, everything that goes on within a Catholic church in regards to the crucifix.

So, if your answer is that you use it to further remind yourself of what Jesus did for us on the cross, and you also take careful, intentional measures to address his resurrection, then awesome! The gospel is preached. That was my concern and question, and this is the answer it seems that I'm getting.

To speak further on this, and respond to DA's general question about the proper use of crucifixes, I think I would mainly point to the irony that what the crucifix symbolizes is the reason it could easily be considered unnecessary.

What Jesus Christ did on the cross for us broke the barrier between us and God. That was, interestingly enough, symbolized by the tearing of the divide in the temple to the Holy of Holies as Jesus died. He is our High Priest now, as we see in the NT, and we can go directly to Him. The HS also dwells within us (this all of course hinges on His grace through our faith in Him alone as our salvation) and so our connection with God now is inside us, and is entirely spiritual in its source.

So, if you step back and take a look at the OT and NT as a whole, you see a huge shift in the manner of our communication with God. In the OT, God is very outwardly symbolic. He demands sacrifices and lengthy, detailed rituals for many different things. He presents himself as many different outward things to demonstrate His presence. (Cue burning bush...) And people were just as symbolic and outward in return. This was the way God had it. Before, there was a required outward component for many things spiritual, and ultimately to have and sustain a relationship with God.

But now, the incredible truth is that God is now within us! And the emphasis shifts completely from outward to inward. We now facilitate our relationship with God from within, not from actions without. There are still things we do outwardly, but the inherent quality and significance of these things are completely reliant upon our personal, inward relationship with Jesus Christ, and are also a result, or outpouring of it.

So, I say all this to just give you the perspective of someone, like Spurgeon, who would see the crucifix and the other religious trappings and traditions of Catholicism as potentially superfluous, and approaching distractive or contraindicative. In other words, with all the outward stuff going on (symbols, etc) we lose sight of the meaning and importance and primacy of our inward focus.

Now, I say this with respect and love, and for the sake of the argument, and for a response. This is a touchy subject, and I have no mal-intent. So, what do you think?

PS. Johnno, are you politely calling me an idiot? No, just kidding...I hope. I assume you're drawing the emphasis of "preaching Christ crucified" which would legitimize the Catholic emphasis of the crucifix. If that is the case, then what is the Catholic take on "preaching Christ crucified"? What does that mean to me?

Dave Armstrong said...

Hi Dave,

First of all, I agree that there was a bit of imprecision in the use of the word "idol" in Kelly Jay's comment, but I think I know what she meant, so I was focusing on the overall intent, not particular definitions that could have been better expressed.

Folks can make an idol out of anything (as I think you'd readily agree): the Bible, their own spiritual pride, their office as a minister, riches, fame, power, beauty, you name it. So they can make an idol out of a crucifix if they choose to do so.

My argument is that since anything can be corrupted, this is not a sufficient argument to abolish things that can be corrupted, since in that case, everything would have to be abolished! It's a reductio ad absurdum.

Calvinism and iconoclasm in general uses this sort of shoddy logic:

1) "so-and-so [in this case, a crucifix] can possibly become an idol."

2a) "Because so-and-so [in this case, a crucifix] has the potential to become an idol, we ought to abolish it in order to remove all possibility of this happening."


2b) "So-and-so [in this case, a crucifix] always, or almost always becomes idolatrous, therefore we should abolish it."

Calvin and Spurgeon's position seems to be 2b, but IMHO it is a self-evidently ridiculous, ludicrous position.

Underlying the antipathy is the false notion (or at least a strong tendency to think) that images are wrong in and of themselves, and an over-broad, simplistic application of the prohibition of images in the Ten Commandments, that runs contrary to other scriptural indications.

I'm still not sure what you answer is to my query as to what WOULD be acceptable. A simple "yes / agree" or "no / disagree" would suffice (no need for a theological / philosophical treatise). Here is my question again:


Would it be okay, then, in your view, if, when there was a crucifix, it would always be required to have next to it an image also of the risen, glorified, ascended Jesus and a disclaimer under the crucifix: "this is never intended to replace the real Jesus but only to represent Him, for the purpose of piously remembering and being grateful for what He did for us, and does not imply that Jesus did not rise again triumphantly"? And with a disclaimer under the image of the risen Jesus: "this is never intended to replace the real Jesus but only to represent Him, and does not imply that Jesus did not die on the cross for the redemption and salvation of the elect"?


Dave said...

DA, hey, thanks. That's a perfect answer. And, I can appreciate that you were picking out her general point, which I also can see. That's just what I was questioning, and your answer is very sound.

I really appreciate your perspective about eliminating everything out of the principle about idolatry. We can't live in a bubble. I do however feel that there is a continuum to this principle, and finding a reasonable middle is prudent. You didn't speak to this point, but I feel like you might agree. But, I guess I'm just also throwing out there the point that you can't swing the opposite way and let everything go. There is a lot of Biblical precedent to this, as in cutting off your hand if it offends you because it's better to get to heaven without a hand, etc. This is a very strong point about being guarded against temptation. I think Calvin and Spurgeon are just zealous about every-day idolatry. Perhaps, in your opinion, a little over-zealous. But, I don't think their principle is entirely a "reduction of/to absurdity" as I assume you were saying. Many people have avoided much sin, pain and heartache from taking hard lines against the potential for temptation. To totally ignore the possibility is to invite it in.

As for the answer to your question, that's exactly what I responded about. I feel like I addressed you directly, however diffuse it may have been.

You've got to be careful when asking someone to answer a question, but only a certain way. And, I'm not trying to get on my high horse here. I just felt like your question deserved more than a yes/no, even though I did actually say "no" to your question. "No", as in, no it's not ok to use symbols with clarifications on them, that's absurd, just use the symbol, and try to intentionally use it appropriately.

That's my answer, just as I put it. It points not to the symbol itself, but the use of it. Just go back and read my response, it's right there. And, I don't mean this to come off the wrong way, but, if there's no need for my "theological/philosophical treatise", then what's this blog for? Kinda cutting me off at the knees with a "y/n" answer stipulation. No offense, I'm just not sure if I should be feeling dumb right now for crashing your blog party, or not.

I'm actually very interested in the Catholic perspective on these very issues. Sorry if I'm overstaying my welcome. Feel free to let me know if I am. This is just way easier than scheduling an appointment with a priest.

I'm still very interested in the response to my question to Johnno about what preaching Christ is in the Catholic perspective, and what Christ should mean to me.

Johnno said...

I was seduced by "non-denominational" Calvinism for years with their claiming all the benefits the risen Christ can GIVE them but not recognising our part of the bargain in confession and contrition. These people were like a lot of people in society in general always knowing their "RIGHTS" but never acknowledging their responsibilities, demanding MIRACLES saying they had faith but if the MIRACLES didn't eventuate leaving for a more "ALIVE IN THE SPIRIT" church. I listened for years to their sermons (how many times can you hear about "Blind Bartemeus" or Zacchaeus).
One day when the Pastor was in full flight I could not keep up so I just took down the references he was giving and looked at them later. He kept saying to us "here it is in the Bible" but when reading them later in context the references did NOT support his argument at all, in fact they shot down all his theories in flames.
Their continual referring to the Catholic church as a sect and that Catholics did not read their Bibles but only used Missals was a lie as any Catholic going to Mass on a regular basis is hearing 100 times more Bible than most non-denominationals. Mel Gibsons movie had people like Benny Hinn using a Crucifix in the background of his set. My point is that we Catholics realise Christ is risen but for us men and for our salvation we need to continually recognise His great sacrifice for us and concentrate on this fact. If we lose sight of the cross and of Christ crucified we fall into pride and self righteousness very quickly.

Dave Armstrong said...

Hi Dave,

Okay. I couldn't tell from your earlier response what your answer would have been.

So your position (as I understand it) is that there is no possible way to correctly use a crucifix, even with provisions such as the ones I outlined.

What is your denominational affiliation, by the way, and do you think Catholicism is a species of Christianity and offers a saving gospel?

Dave Armstrong said...

No offense, I'm just not sure if I should be feeling dumb right now for crashing your blog party, or not.

If you're feeling that people here think you are "dumb," or think that folks are "politely calling [you] an idiot" -- that is an internal, subjective determination made by you, certainly having nothing to do with me (such a thought never remotely crossed my mind), nor (I think) most of my readers, nor the commenters on this thread (though I can't speak for them).

I make arguments, and try my best to give reply to opposing arguments. I simply follow my socratic method of dialogue that I have engaged in for over thirty years now.

This blog is not about going after persons, or trying to hurt their feelings or being uncharitable, but about theological truth, as each feels it to be, and about explaining and defending the Catholic position (seeing that I am a Catholic apologist). But vigorous arguments are made. Some people take those personally. I've never found a foolproof method for totally avoiding that. Perhaps one day I will; who knows?

My concern is what the average person's perception and response is to the symbol, based on everything surrounding the symbol, in this case, everything that goes on within a Catholic church in regards to the crucifix.

Exactly. This is precisely why I suggested a few provisions to offset possible idolatry by the tiny, misguided minority I believe is actually viewing a crucifix as a replacement for our Lord Jesus Christ Himself (i.e., as an idol and/or the proverbial "magic charm").

Yet you don't seem to think that is the solution to what you see as the problem. If there is a perception problem among Catholics on this score, then it could be solved by bringing to mind the things that Protestants want to be brought to mind (Jesus' glorification and resurrection, etc.), no?

But you didn't like my solution. So the only way is to get rid of crucifixes, because there is a danger that some will make them idols?

Very well. One could take that position, but in my opinion, closely scrutinized, it still reduces to absurdity, because then we would have to get rid of every potential idol, and that would include even the Bible itself. So we end up with a Bible-less Christianity based on the Bible (sola Scriptura), and that seems sensible?

If you disagree, then please show me how the Bible never becomes an idol for some people and is never exploited and distorted and twisted. Best wishes in that endeavor.

Martin said...

No offense, I'm just not sure if I should be feeling dumb right now for crashing your blog party, or not.

No crashing, you're contributing. DA has already replied so I will simply read.

~*Miss Kelly Jay*~ said...

I just looked up the word "idol," and it says "fallacy," and of course, I DID NOT mean that about Jesus Christ. Are you kidding?!

He's number one in my life, and although, I don't consider myself a Bible Scholar by any means, I know what I feel in my heart and what Christ means to me.

When I interpreted the first commandment, I believed it to say, "Only worship ME."

I was thinking of an idol as something we bow down and worship.


When I think of "idols," I think of ANYTHING we worship.

But, just forget the word "idol" entirely because I believe people completely misunderstood what I was trying to say....

I was actually dumbfounded that a preacher would consider a crucifix an "idol."

And as far as crucifixes are concerned, I love the cross whether Jesus is on it or not; however, personally, there is something inherently beautiful to me about Jesus hanging on the cross with his hands outstretched as if to say:


I also think there's something symbolic about Jesus on the cross and seeing Him there. I like seeing him period, and when he's not on the cross, I can't see him.

~*Miss Kelly Jay*~ said...

We all have varying backgrounds, I'm sure.

I was raised Protestant; although, I cannot say I was ever a Christian until last November 2008, when I completely repented and had a conversion experience.

Prior to that, it didn't matter to me that there was a void in my religious faith because my lifestyle was so completely contrary to God, that I really didn't care about the "void."

Then, as I grew in God, I did care about the void and I longed for much more.

I'm new to the Catholic faith, and still in RCIA. It's been an unbelieavably life-altering, and enriching experience that words cannot explain.

I was not raised around crosses with Jesus on them. Perhaps, that's why I love it so much.

There's a lot about Catholicism that is very healing to me, and Jesus on the cross is one of them.

God knows what each one of us needs, and I am grateful to Him for that.

Dave Armstrong said...

Hi Kelly Jay,

I knew what you were trying to say, which is why I didn't object to it. When pressed I simply said it was a bit imprecise (according to "official" dictionary definitions). But the thought behind what you said was sound.

I'm delighted to hear about your newfound faith in Jesus, and your "coming home" to Catholicism. Your words expressing your journey are very moving.

God bless!

Dave said...

So... it's been a long time since I last responded. My hiatus was not well timed, as you all respectfully made much effort to respond. Sorry for taking so long. My wife and I bought a house, rather suddenly, add the busy season for my work, and here we are in springtime.

I hope my absence hasn't killed the conversation.

First to respond to everyone's replies about me asking if I was crashing the party; thanks for putting up with me and being open, esp. DA. I'm glad you guys are focusing on facts, and I respect that. I just wanted to make sure. It is hard to be sure of what people are trying to say in the black and white of their lines.

Miss KJ, thanks for clarifying your statement. I figured that's what you really meant, but I questioned your words just to make sure you didn't mean otherwise.

DA, I still feel like I haven't made my answer clear about the crucifix. I must admit, I assumed there was a little sarcasm in your suggestion about putting up cautions underneath them, as you also said that the perspective for that was an "absurd reduction". My question/concern is all about how the Catholic church handles, communicates and represents the crucifix. My solution would just be that, if the church was consistently teaching/establishing the reasonable and correct use or impression of the symbol, as everyone has been describing, then it is appropriate.

It's all about how it's represented and presented. Take the rainbow for example. Most people associate it with gay pride, because that's how they've been exposed to it, even though that had nothing to do with the original intent.

So, again, my answer would always involve how it is explained and represented. Does that make sense?

And I have to admit, that is what I just don't know about the Catholic church; how and why they use the crucifix.

As to your question, DA, which is the million dollar question, about my views of Catholicism as Christianity and a saving faith; I'm not sure. I do think it's a sect of Christianity. I think there are a lot of saved people in Catholic churches, and I know many of them, but many of them haven't been able to offer me much insight into Catholicism. My perception, with respect and love, is that there is a lot of stuff in Catholicism (like all the symbolism, hence my participation in this debate/query) gets inbetween the simple truth of Christ crucified. And I guess I would like to know why Catholicism is a saving faith from you. It would really be great to know your perspective. My specific concerns and hang ups are those like, confession to priests, praying to Mary and saints, and the other things; The 5 things, I can't remember what you call them.

In response to Johnno, dude, you really have some wounds. I'm sorry about that. I've got some too, and probably everyone who's been in a church, and that's a shame. I have to say that I definitely appreciate your points and perspective. I know of the churches and people you're talking about. I refer to them as the "God's an ATM" kind of people. Always looking to make withdrawals and cash out. You're right, too about remembering the cross, and staying humble. Great point, and if that's how the crucifix is used, then awesome! I have to say that I have had a completely different perspective/experience in "protestant" church-life. Sin has always been emphasized, as well as our debt, and our inability to pay, and Jesus' sacrifice. Also, how all that brings us to glorify Him, worship HIm and live for Him in gratitude, you know. So, I feel like there are other churches oustide Catholicism preaching real Bible that consistently make the points you are talking about. Sorry you had that experience. (And I don't say any of that as a plug for any church.)