Enemies of the Cross
by James Walker
What does Mormonism and the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society both have in common? They deny or reject the cross as a valid symbol of Christianity.
Mormonism rejects the presence of crosses as legitimate religious symbols of the death of Christ. The Jehovah's Witnesses goes so far as to deny that Christ even died on a cross.
Under the section "Cross" in his book Mormon Doctrine, the LDS apostle Bruce R. McConkie stated:
"In succeeding centuries, the churches which came into being through an intermingling of pagan concepts with the true apostolic Christianity developed the practice of using symbolic crosses in the architecture of their buildings and as jewelry....All this is inharmonious with the quiet spirit of worship and reverence" (p. 172).
While the Mormon Church discourages the use of a cross as jewelry and on church buildings, both the Nauvoo, Illinois and Salt Lake City temples featured numerous inverted pentagrams (upside-down five pointed stars), a symbol often linked to the occult (Mormonism, Magic and Masonry, p.68).
Inverted pentagrams are symbols historically linked -- not to Christianity -- but to the Occult. The Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology explains:
"The Pentagram, the sign of the Microcosm, was held to be the most powerful means of conjuration in any rite.... with two points in the ascendant [upside-down star] it was the sign of Satan" (Vol. 2, p. 552).
In addition, while there is no record of Mormon founder, Joseph Smith, wearing a cross, he did wear a Jupiter Talisman (amulet) containing the "astrological symbol of Jupiter" and a "magic square."
Mormon author D. Michael Quinn writes that Joseph Smith had at the time of his death, "...a silver Jupiter medallion constructed according to the instructions for making `Magic Seals, or Talismans,' in Barrett's 1801 The Magus" (Mormonism and the Magic World View, p.66).
While Mormon leaders find the symbol of a cross, "inharmonious with the quiet spirit of worship and reverence," they seem to have no problem using symbols linked to the Occult.
Like Mormonism, the Jehovah's Witnesses also claim that the cross is not a valid Christian symbol claiming that it is a late invention of corrupt Christianity.
The Society expresses its position by quoting The Ecclesiastical Review which claims: "It may be safely asserted that only after the edict of Milan, A.D. 312 was the cross used as a permanent sign of our Redemption" (The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures, p. 1155).
The Watchtower not only denies the cross as a legitimate symbol of Christianity, they claim Christ did not even die on a cross.
Jehovah's Witnesses teach that Christ was not crucified on a cross, but was "impaled" on a "torture stake."
This was "an upright stake, or pole, and there is no evidence... to designate a stake with a crossbeam. -- See Impalement;" (Insight On the Scriptures, Vol. 2, p. 1116).
However there is evidence that as early as 79 A.D. Christians did use the cross as a symbol of the atonement of Christ.
Archaeologists have recently excavated portions of the first-century remains of Herculaneam, a Roman city destroyed by a volcano in 79 A.D.
One of the most shocking finds was the outline of a cross amazingly preserved on the wall of a home.
The National Geographic Society tentatively suggested the impact of this discovery. In their May 1984 issue they write:
"An imprint in the wall above it, perhaps of a cross, inspires the belief that Christians lived in the hours; if true it is one of the oldest evidences of the cross as a symbol of Christianity" (p. 593).
The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society even claims that there is no evidence that a cross with a crossbeam was used in Roman crucifixion in the first century calling the "torture stake" the "then customary usage of this means of execution in the Orient' (Kingdom Interlinear, p. 1157).
They state that archaeology will prove this "revolutionary" translation. They boast:
"The evidence is, therefore, completely lacking that Jesus Christ was crucified on two pieces of timber placed at right angles... The passing of time and further archaeological discoveries will be certain to prove its [the torture stake] correctness" (ibid).
This Watchtower book was copy written in 1969. In 1968, probably at about the same time the Society was writing this claim, an unusual discovery was made in a dig in Jerusalem that destroyed this argument.
In the book, Archaeological Commentary on the Bible, Gonzalo Baez-Camargo reports:
"...36 skeletal remains were uncovered. One of them was the first remains of a crucified man ever found anywhere.... This took place sometime during the first half of the first century A.D., perhaps at the very time of Jesus....
"Both heals had been pierced by a single large and crude iron nail. His open arms had been nailed in the way shown in the traditional crucifixion paintings (p. 211, emphasis added).
The final evidence that ultimately shatters this theory is found in the scripture account itself.
The Jehovah's Witnesses claim that Christ was crucified hand over hand with a single nail driven through both hands and into the torture stake above his head. If He were crucified on a cross, arms outstretched, two nails would have had to been used. A careful study of God's word reveals that it was nails (plural) and a nail (singular) that was used in Christ's hands.
Thomas told the other disciples that, "Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails... I will not believe. (John 20:25).
The cross is the very center of the Christian message. It is no wonder that it is under attack form the cults.
The Bible says, "For many walk, of who I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction..." (Philippians 3:18-19).
The cross is important for Christians because it is there that Christ died for their sins. It is though trusting Christ alone and His death for sins that Christians have eternal life.
"For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God" (I Corinthians 1:18).