Christian Cyclopedia

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1. In NT times the cross was used to torture and kill. It is used figuratively in the NT for suffering (Mt 10:38; Mk 8:34; 10:21; Lk 9:23; 14:27) and as a symbol of Christ's atoning death (e.g., 1 Co 1:17; Gl 6:12, 14; Eph 2:16; Ph 3:18; Heb 12:2).

2. Over 50 forms of the cross have been distinguished and used in symbolism, including crux decussata (St. Andrew's cross, or saltire, shaped like the letter X); crux commissa, or tau cross (St. Anthony's cross, shaped like the letter T.; the crux ansata, or ankh, is a tau cross with a loop at the top); crux immissa (Lat. cross, shaped like the symbol +).

3. In RC chs. on Good Friday a ceremony called adoration, or veneration, of the cross, or creeping to the cross, is observed, in which the worshipers remove their shoes, kneel, and kiss a crucifix,* clergy preceding laity.

4. The practice of making the sign of the cross may be traced at least to the time of Tertullian,* who wrote of it as a custom of Christians everywhere, observed as a reminder of the crucified Savior on all ordinary occasions of life. In the 2d c. superstitious use was made of the sign of the cross. The Luth. Ch. condemned superstitious abuse of the symbolic act, but retained its proper use. Luther (SC VII 1, 4) recommends the use of the sign of the cross in connection with the morning and evening prayer. The cross is also found in Christian art as the most significant and eloquent symbol of Christianity. In some chs. it lies flat on the altar or is suspended from the ceiling of the apse.* In the Luth. Ch. a crucifix may stand on a shelf above the mensa (see Church Furniture, 1 and 2). A cross may also be used as ornament on other furniture and on ch. bldgs.

See also Images; Invention of the Cross, The; Symbolism, Christian, 1.

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

Internet Version Produced by
The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod

Original Editions ©Copyright 1954, 1975, 2000
Concordia Publishing House
All rights reserved.

Content Reproduced with Permission

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