“Just another guy with a blog.  No big whoop.”

May 22, 2009

Why Mormons Don't Like the Cross


Ever since I began engaging in apologetics with Mormons, back in the 1980s, their skittishness about and rejection of the cross, as a symbol of Christ and His atoning sacrifice, has always seemed odd to me.  After all, St. Paul himself proclaimed to scoffers, "
We preach Christ crucified" and "I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified" (1 Cor. 1:23, 2:2).

The rationale I've heard from many Mormons for their aversion to the cross as a Christian symbol has included rejoinders such as, "We don't use them because that's a Catholic thing," and, "Why would I want to see a reminder of the thing that killed Jesus? That's morbid!" The fomer president of the Mormon Church, Gordon B. Hinkley, had this to say: For us [Mormons], the cross is the symbol of the dying Christ, while our message is a declaration of the Living Christ.”

One Mormon missionary who, along with several LDS confreres, attended one of my parish seminars on Mormonism some years ago, told me in all earnestness, "We don't use crosses because Jesus died on a cross. If your brother were murdered with a knife, you wouldn't hang a little knife on chain around your neck, would you?" I told him that this was precisely the point. "What happened on the cross is, in itself, the reason we Catholics display the cross," I said. "The most important event in history took place on the wood of the cross at Golgotha, upon which Christ suffered and died for our salvation."

I could see from the look on his face that that Mormon missionary didn't accept my reasoning.

In a future post on this blog, I'll supply a prĂ©cis of the Catholic reasons for venerating the cross, whether it be a crucifix (i.e., with the corpus of the Lord affixed) or an empty cross. But for the moment, I think the primary reason, at least from the explanations given by Mormons I've discussed this subject with over the years, is that the cross of Christ is inextricably identified in their minds with the Catholic Church. Until recently, the Mormon Church has been up front in its opinion that the Catholic Church is nothing other than the "counterfeit" church which, Mormons say, arose out of the maelstrom of syncretism, corruption, and heresy which occurred when Christ allegedly withdrew the "keys of authority" from the Church He had established, thus  (c.f., Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1979 ed.], 42-46, 172-174, 712, James E. Talmage, The Great Apostasy [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1968], 130 ff.; and Hugh Nibley, Mormonism and Early Christianity [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1987], 282-288).

In any case, in light of the above, here's an interesting blog piece about Mormons and the cross and why they eschew it. 

7 comments:

  1. Fascinating article. I have a Catholic and Protestant background, and lived a few years in Salt Lake City, so this is really interesting to me. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  2. These are my thoughts when I was thinking about why Mormons don't have crosses in their Churches - it is part of the plan of the enemy.
    Jesus and the Cross

    I was thinking about why does Satan not want the cross to be shown, used or even present in our homes and our lives. For instance some groups believe that we should not wear the cross or the crucifix because they say it is a charm or good luck symbol. Often in the media we hear reports too of crosses being removed from sets in case they should offend someone.

    Why would Satan not want us to wear the cross or to have the cross in our churches? – because Satan knows that there is power in the cross. It was on the cross that Jesus took on himself our sins and set us free. It was on the cross that Satan was defeated when Jesus rose again. There is resurrection power in the cross.

    There is power in the cross of Jesus.



    Mighty awesome wonderful is the holy cross
    Where the Lamb laid down His life To lift us from the fall
    Mighty is the power of the cross (Chris Tomlin)

    Thank you for the Cross, Jesus.

    In Numbers 21:6 – The Lord sent fiery serpents to bite the people and many Israelites died. This was after they had been grumbling when they became depressed and discouraged and lost faith. When the Israelites realised that the serpents were from God they went to Moses and said that they had sinned and Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said to Moses (v8): “make a fiery serpent (of bronze) and set it on a pole and everyone who is bitten when he looks on it shall live.”

    And in John 3: 14, 15 – Jesus says: And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert (on a pole), so must the Son of Man be lifted up (on the cross). In order that everyone who believes on Him may not perish but have eternal life and live forever.”

    For us the cross is not just a charm but rather it represents what Jesus has done for us on the cross.

    How great is our God.
    Posted by JoannaB at 10:41

    ReplyDelete
  3. Jesus and the Cross

    I was thinking about why does Satan not want the cross to be shown, used or even present in our homes and our lives. For instance some groups like Mormons believe that we should not wear the cross or the crucifix because they say it is a charm or good luck symbol. Often in the media we hear reports too of crosses being removed from sets in case they should offend someone.

    Why would Satan not want us to wear the cross or to have the cross in our churches? – because Satan knows that there is power in the cross. It was on the cross that Jesus took on himself our sins and set us free. It was on the cross that Satan was defeated when Jesus rose again. There is resurrection power in the cross.

    There is power in the cross of Jesus.



    Mighty awesome wonderful is the holy cross
    Where the Lamb laid down His life To lift us from the fall
    Mighty is the power of the cross (Chris Tomlin)

    Thank you for the Cross, Jesus.

    In Numbers 21:6 – The Lord sent fiery serpents to bite the people and many Israelites died. This was after they had been grumbling when they became depressed and discouraged and lost faith. When the Israelites realised that the serpents were from God they went to Moses and said that they had sinned and Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said to Moses (v8): “make a fiery serpent (of bronze) and set it on a pole and everyone who is bitten when he looks on it shall live.”

    And in John 3: 14, 15 – Jesus says: And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert (on a pole), so must the Son of Man be lifted up (on the cross). In order that everyone who believes on Him may not perish but have eternal life and live forever.”

    For us the cross is not just a charm but rather it represents what Jesus has done for us on the cross.


    How great is our God.
    Posted by JoannaB at 10:41

    ReplyDelete
  4. The death of Jesus on the cross, his burial, and his resurrection, are the central truths of the Gospel. To leave out any one of the three is to distort Christianity. Since Mormonism is not Christianity, there is no surprise that they would distort it.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thank you for the post. We Catholics and Protestants need to learn more about apologetics and how to defend our faith against the non- Christian believers. I have been hearing a lot more Mormons and JW's telling others that they are Christians too. I think for a long time they were called a cult (which I do believe they are), but more than ever they are coming back stronger and really pushing many to believe that they are Christians too...they are not!!! That is being very deceitful.

    How are we going to expose them for this unhanded trickery?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Indeed, if my brother had been killed with a knife, I wouldn't have a miniature one around my neck. However, if he had died under a knife while saving my life and of my family, I'd cherish his free and life-giving sacrifice.

    Surely, the faithful didn't embrace the cross as a symbol while corpses hanging from crosses littered the roads. But once that practice stopped and its horror became a grievous memory, they did.

    That's the reason why the Alamo, the place of a gruesome massacre, wasn't cherished if not a few years later.

    Oh, yes, this is a tradition of men, because men we are, thanks be to God.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks for your blog post. As a devout Mormon, I just wanted to make a few things clear:

    Mormons don't use the cross, that's correct. But that doesn't mean they try to vilify the cross as a religious symbol of faithful Christians throughout the world. Some Mormons you may have spoken to might have negative feelings about the cross, but please remember that their personal opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of other Mormons, or even the LDS Church leaders. I don't believe any disrespect is meant by not using the cross as a symbol in our Church. It's not even official Church doctrine to avoid using the cross. It's really more of a cultural practice that developed after the Mormon Church was founded.

    For me personally, the cross is a symbol of Christ's death. Period. I understand that Catholics see the cross as much more, and that's fine. It's alright to believe in different things, right?

    And by the way, I just want to make clear that Mormons' appreciation and love of Jesus Christ is not at all diminished by the fact that we refrain from using the cross as a symbol of our faith. We are a Christ-centered people. We cherish and rejoice in our knowledge of the Savior and His Ministry. We honor and worship Him as Redeemer and Messiah, with or without symbolic objects.

    Peace to all.

    ReplyDelete

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