Early Christians never used the symbol of the cross at all. When the need arose, the fish was used, as discussed last week. The cross did not commonly appear in Christian art until the 5th c., and crucifixes 200 years after that. Telford Work, Pastor at Westmont College states, “Church history classes usually mention the role images once played in splitting the Church, but until recently, Western theologians rarely paid serious attention to images as a continuing concern.” This dispute was especially apparent in the latter divisions of the Catholics and Protestants.
Like the fish, the cross is another symbol that precedes the faith of Christianity by far. The modified Greek letter Omega was a common staff symbol in the Tigris-Euphrates region as far back as 2500 BCE. The simple staff, a “stave, stake, prop or stay of the suffering sun was the Stauros…[and] was primarily a stake for supporting, shaped as a cross,” according to Gerald Massey. This word stauros is the same on used in the Greek Gospels, causing some such as Jehovah’s Witnesses to question the very crucifiction of Jesus on a cross. This sun was crucified by hanging on the cross, symbolizing the passing of the equinoxes and being resurrected at Easter, the vernal equinox. To both the Chinese, and later Western astronomers, the underlined Omega symbolized the new sun on the horizon.
The establishment of the cross as a religious symbol began with Constantine’s infamous vision, which “meant to him that Jesus was a manifestation of the Sun God… He continued to issue coins showing his head with the Sun, and the Church blurred the difference between the two religions: having moved the Sabbath from Saturday (Saturn's day) to Sunday (the Sun's day)… The monstrance, still used in Catholic and High Anglican Churches, shows golden rays radiating out from the consecrated host in the centre: Jesus as Sun God,” says Jacquetta Hawkes, a clear distortion of the faith.
Because of this, the cross caused much controversy in the early church. B. Walker mentions that "Early Christians even repudiated the cross because it was pagan." One such clergyman contemporary with Constantine was Minucius Felix who said, "I must tell you that we neither adore crosses nor desire them; you it is ye Pagans … for what else are your ensigns, flags and standards, but crosses gilt and beautiful. Your victorious trophies not only represent a cross, but a cross with a man upon it." T. W. Doane claims this explains this aversion to using the cross by saying, “It is very evident that this celebrated Christian Father alludes to some Gentle mystery, of which the prudence of his successors has deprived us… We are inclined to think that the effigies of a black or dark-skinned crucified man, which were to be seen in many places in Italy even during the last century, may have had something to do with it [distaste for the cross].”
The sun and Sun God was not the only figures found on ancient crosses; a number of dark-skinned pagan gods also died and rose from the dead at the Easter equinox and rose to heaven. John G. Jackson states “Most of these black gods were regarded as crucified saviors who died to save mankind by being nailed to a cross, or tied to a tree with arms outstretched as if on a cross, or slain violently in some other manner. Of these crucified saviors, the most prominent were Osiris and Horus of Egypt, Krishna of India, Mithra of Persia, Quetazlcoatl of Mexico, Adonis of Babylonia and Attis of Phrygia… The parallels between the legendary lives of these pagan messiahs and the life of Jesus Christ as recorded in the Bible are so similar that progressive Bible scholars now admit that stories of these heathen Christs have been woven into the life-story of Jesus.”
While symbolism may be perfectly fine with pagan religions, it is entirely incompatible with the doctrine of the three Monotheistic faiths, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, as they detract from the true essence of these faiths. Even when not intended for the purpose of worship, symbols and human depictions are viewed as rivaling the creationary aspects of God. Figures such as the statues of Abraham Lincoln in Washington D.C., and the presidents depicted on Mt. Rushmore, are easily considered a form of idolatry from a Biblical perspective. Godfrey Higgins says, “No one can deny that the, at first perhaps innocent, adoration of images and emblems, has ended in the degradation of all nations.”
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