Home Forums Everything Else Lutheran’s Bare Cross

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    Dear Dave ~
    Hello and thank you for writing!

    Both an “empty cross” and a crucifix, symbolize the same thing: the death of Christ our Lord for the salvation of the world.


    Peg Baxter
    LCMS Church Information Center
    1-888-843-5267 (1-888-THE-LCMS)
    [email protected]
    fax: 1-314-996-1165

    From: Dave Wierstad [mailto:[email protected]]
    Sent: Sunday, August 27, 2006 6:10 PM
    To: LCMS Church Info Center
    Subject: Jesus on Cross

    How come in Lutheran Church’s you have the bare cross without Jesus on it?


    I am Lutheran, and although I have never confirmed this with a pastor, the explanation given to me was that the cross is empty in order to emphasize the risen Christ (rather than the death of Christ).


    [quote:22fjyl2z]I am Lutheran, and although I have never confirmed this with a pastor, the explanation given to me was that the cross is empty in order to emphasize the risen Christ (rather than the death of Christ).[/quote:22fjyl2z]
    I’ve heard this too, actually.


    A cross bearing an image of Our Lord’s Body, venerated among Christians since the 6th century. When blessed, it is an important sacramental. A crucifix must be placed over an altar on which thc Mass is to be offered, and during the Sacrifice the priest bows towards it several times, and incenses it at a solemn Mass. It is also used at certain services as a “processional cross,” being carried at the head of the line of the clergy. The faithful are urged to have crucifixes in their homes, and the same blessed symbol is usually attached to rosaries. The tablet at the top of a crucifix is called the “title.” It bears the letters I N R I, the initials of Jesus Nazarenus, Rex Iud?¬∂orum (Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews), the inscription placed on the cross of Our Lord by order of Pilate. On some crucifixes a skull and bones are shown at the foot, reminding us that Golgotha (Mount Calvary) meant “a skull,” probably because it was a burial-place, or from a fanciful legend that in the hole dug for Our Lord’s cross was found the skull of Adam.

    To all who, after a worthy Communion, recite before a crucifix or a picture of the crucified Saviour the prayer beginning “O Good and Most Sweet Jesus,” a plenary indulgence is granted, applicable to the souls in Purgatory. Those prevented from visiting the Stations of the Cross can gain the indulgences attached thereto by holding a crucifix especially blessed for this purpose and reciting devoutly 20 Our Fathers, Hail Marys, and Glorys. A plenary indulgence can be gained at the hour of death by holding a crucifix with the “Apostolic Indulgence” attached and by using a crucifix to which the indulgence for a good death is attached.


    [quote:26w2z65q][quote:26w2z65q]I am Lutheran, and although I have never confirmed this with a pastor, the explanation given to me was that the cross is empty in order to emphasize the risen Christ (rather than the death of Christ).[/quote:26w2z65q]
    I’ve heard this too, actually.[/quote:26w2z65q]
    I said it[/url:26w2z65q].


    Peace be with you all! <img decoding=” title=”Smile” />

    [quote:xyvzs2wh]Luther saw the crucifix as a natural and valuable symbol. He said, [b:xyvzs2wh]”I know for sure that God would have us hear and read His words, especially the suffering of Christ. But if I am to hear it or think about it, I cannot possible do so without picturing it to myself in my heart. For whether I want it or not, the picture of a man hanging on a cross arises in my heart when I hear about Christ, just as water naturally reflects my face when I look into it. If, then, it is not sinful but good to have a picture of Christ in my heart, why should it be sinful to have it in my eyes? [/b:xyvzs2wh]([u:xyvzs2wh]What Luther Says,[/u:xyvzs2wh]I,p.180,CPH,1959).[/quote:xyvzs2wh]
    This is taken from a handout my local Lutheran Pastor handed out (and has also written but I’m not quite sure) in Introduction to Lutheran Spirituality, a class that I have attended to learn about Lutheran spirituality. (Go figure <img decoding=” title=”Razz” />)

    Also from this same handout:

    [quote:xyvzs2wh]I realize that people do not have the same preferences. Some people within the Lutheran Church have crucifixes, and some intentionally do not. “Jesus, after all, is not dead but alive,” we are told. I suppose that if this is what a person thinks when they see a crucifix, they then should not have one. However, they should not think that those who do use a crucifix have the same idea about them.[/quote:xyvzs2wh]
    In a nutshell, Lutherans believe that both the bare cross and the crucifix show Christ’s salvation for us sinners.


    I don’t really think that it is fair to say Lutherans believe this or that. When discussing Lutherans, we have to remember there are a couple of issues. First the idea first proposed by Luther, that The only rule of life one is bound to is the Scripture, and that Each individual can interpret the Bible on his or her own, with no training, or understanding of the History or Context of the times, language, culture or direction. (From this we have thousands of Churches that all teach apposing doctrines. Secondly there is more than one Lutheran Church. Each teaches different doctrines, (If they all agreed there would be no need for the different groups which condemn one or the other teaching of the other Lutheran sects. Each takes or rejects those aspects of Luther’s writings, and interprets them according to what they think it means.


    The E.L.C.A’s or the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America are more liberal in the sense that they allow women to become pastors, etc. and the L.C.M.S or the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod are quite conservative and they are similar to Catholic teachings. (Take notice that I said similar. I stress in that sentence that of course they aren’t the same but are close.)

    These are the two local Lutheran churches in my area. I believe (of course I could be wrong, I’m not infallible,) that they “split” because of misinterpretation of scripture.

    The reason why I used “split” the way I did was that the Lutheran church didn’t split into other denominations such as the Anabaptist and the Calvinist denomination.

    I may not be smart with my Bible. I may not be completely educated in both the Catholic and Lutheran doctrines but I’m trying to understand your statement
    as much as I can with what knowledge I have.

    Please excuse me of my incompetant knowledge.


    If we knew it all, Jesus would not have given us the Church as our guide, nor would He have had to promise to remain with it. He would not have promised the Holy Spirit to guide the Church. The Catholic Church has stood by the promise of Jesus, rather than the confusion of Protestantism, where everyone decides for himself what God means in the Scripture, we listen to what He says by listening to what the Church which He founded and authorized, and guards says.

    If I thought you where not really seeking the truth, I’d not reply to your questions, I would also not offer the links to other sites where you can find out more than my limited knowledge and typing skills.

    In that vein, here are some short audio answers to the typical Protestant Charges against the Catholic Church….



    Thank you so much for your help and insight LARobert <img decoding=” title=”Smile” />


    There is also WELS – Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod who are even more strict than the Missouri Synod.


    I’ve heard that they won’t allow boys to enter the Boy Scouts.

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