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 The Trinitarian Sign of the Cross

And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. - Colossians 2:15

Most if not all traditions in the Church carried on from apostolic times from the record of Scriptures. But there have been some godly traditions that started in the first 200 years of the Church that were done for reasons of truth and theology. These physical actions were things that reminded believers of a great spiritual truth and belief. One of these practices is the sign of the cross. The cross of Jesus Christ is where our Lord wrought the victory over the power of sin and the devil. The cross is the emblem not only of suffering but of victory. The cross has been an early Church symbol that has lasted to this day with it being the main symbol used in most evangelical churches and all other Christian groups. Most prominently a cross is on a or behind a preaching pulpit, and especially crosses on-top of Church buildings has been a practice world-wide. In the same way an early Church practice written but obviously pre-dating A.D. 200 of making the sign of the cross, has endured till this day in various Christian groups. Tertullian in the 2nd century said, "In all our travels and movements, in all our coming in and going out, in putting of our shoes, at the bath, at the table, in lighting our candles, in lying down, in sitting down, whatever employment occupieth us, we mark our foreheads with the sign of the cross." St Cyril of Jerusalem also mentions this practice in roughly 300 A.D. Not all reformers adopted this practice though it dates to ante-Nicene Christianity.

For example in Luther's Small Catechism it says, "In the morning, when you rise, you shall make the sign of the holy cross, and you shall say: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Then, kneeling or standing, you shall say the Apostles’ Creed and the Lord’s Prayer." This is repeated as a practice for the evening, as well as baptism and other special rites. John Wesley the founder of the Methodists also encouraged this practice in different occasions, one being where Elders are called to lay hands on someone anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord (James 5:14-15). In various Presbyterian Churches such as the Church of Scotland this practice is used during communion, and also in benediction when the minister concludes the service using the trinitarian blessing. Anglicans as well as some other smaller current evangelical movements also carry on this practice and tradition. The rise of the practice was mostly due to the stand of the Church on the doctrine of the trinity against many heresies that were denying that God came in the flesh (2 John 1:7). The practice of the sign of the cross was a way to solidify this theology in the minds of believers. Many also saw it was a way of proclaiming the victory of the cross over the enemy and all principalities. Also when one does the sign of the cross over themselves they are not only proclaiming the truth of who God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) but also proclaiming their body the possession of the Lord's. This practice shows the importance to the early Church to promote the truth of the dual nature of Jesus being fully God and fully man and the doctrine of the Trinity.


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SI Moderator - Greg Gordon

 2015/5/13 13:32Profile
vsuarez7
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Joined: 2008/7/14
Posts: 12


 Re: The Trinitarian Sign of the Cross

The practice of "crossing" one's self, as with many traditions of men, was not taught, whether implicitly or explicitly, by the Apostles of the Lamb or by Paul, was taught by those second and third generation disciples. Though harmless on its own, it has become a religious crutch and a superstitious stronghold for many. If one does not cross themselves, and some unfortunate event should occur to them, they attribute it to not crossing themselves. People also use it as a substitute for earnest devotion and prayer. It's akin to the repetitive prayer wheels pagans used in order to talk to their gods. Many do it in public as false piety and an outward show of religious devotion. The Pharisees had similar directives to those following their brand of Judaism. And many esteemed the Pharisees to be very pious and devoted to G-d. With some exceptions, our prayer life is fiercely private; it is a hidden act of communion and fellowship. If one does not have fruitful prayer life, it matters not that they cross themselves, whether once or a thousand times.

Furthemore, it does not matter that it was pre-Nicene. I think we use time-markers to neatly organize our theological positions. In the end it about this: what did Jesus teach? what did His disciples teach? Even the Didache is not 100% reliable. Therefore, with so much to absorb and learn from what is already written, I don't think we need man's traditions.

Finally, the victory of the cross must be present in the believer's heart, not their hand. Demons will not tremble before one making the sign of the cross. They will respect those walking in the reality of the victorious cross; those that stand in the authority of Christ's cross. Such a person will never have to resolve to any outward sign. It is, after all, the hidden man of the heart - the inward reality of the Holy Spirit's power and might that will defeat the Enemy and his cohorts.

 2015/5/13 14:55Profile









 Re:

I'm also very careful with traditions. We need to go by what is written in the Word of God. Last Easter i was reflecting a bit on the Gospel message that we proclaim today and realised it is more a "traditional "message and we leave out important passages. Most messages don't talk about Gethsemane anymore where the Lord prayed :
"Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done." 43Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him.…Luke 22:42
Jesus didn't pray "remove this cross from me". So that cup is therefore extremely important for the full understanding of the Gospel message. Jesus suffered most when the Father put all the sins of the world on Him and "darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour "
Sin is something that the Holy Spirit reveals to us. It is something that can't be captured in a movie ! "Search me, O God, and know my heart..." we need to learn to pray again ! To remember the Lord's death He told us to share communion. It is also interesting to study why we have the "cross" in today's form.
Most important: "The Lord is risen indeed..." Praise Him !

 2015/5/13 17:07
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 Re:

Brethren,

Thank you for your comments and thoughts, they are excellent. Then what do we accept from Church tradition at all? Do we strip from the Church everything even the word "Church" is not the greek word Ekklesia they used so is that wrong? Buildings were not in use in the first 100 years during the New Testament, so do we not use buildings at all?

Can we trust anything of history? And it seems all other brethren did, John Wesley, Luther and many others, were they deceived?


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SI Moderator - Greg Gordon

 2015/5/13 19:24Profile









 Re:

Greg - you brought up many points, i'm trying to keep my answer simple.
I think we should see things in a wider context and find a balance otherwise we might become legalistic or Pharasees.
We all agree that God's Word is infallible and therefore the ultimate authority. Then we also need to realise that those questions are not of primary importance.
Sadly some members reported that the church in America is divided. So we could try and answer those questions in the most Biblical way, but as long as we don't know and don't focus of what is of primary importance we might still be divided and fall.

Now a few words about buildings. A few years ago we had an earthquake in my city. We were unable to meet on Sunday because the building had to be checked for safety etc. So we had a national emergency but we were unable to meet for over a week. Then i was thinking may be it would be better to do things God's way, He knows best. Buildings also cost a lot of money to maintain and renovations can cause disagreements. May be you know the Parable of the Life-Saving Station
http://www.bible.ca/evangelism/e-parable-life-saving.htm

But Paul makes an important point in Philippians 1:18
What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice.

Might share a few more thoughts later about some of the other points you mentioned

 2015/5/14 17:17





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