Is the Cross An Idol?

Today, churches have crosses all over on the rooftop and in the worship area. Even people carry crosses as sign for the Christianity to show to other that they believe in Christ and go to church. In this sense we can say that the cross is used as symbol for the Christianity.

However, God warned not to worship an idol in the Ten Commandments. Those who worship idols cannot receive blessings from God, but curses. Therefore, we have to make sure if the cross is an idol or not. To know what an idol is, we must find standards for an idol through the bible. Just because a pastor says that a cross is not an idol, we cannot be relieved and keep a cross with us. It is not the pastor who gives us blessings, but God. Therefore, we must know the thoughts of God to know about an idol.

Through Prophet Jeremiah, God gives clear standards for an idol. Then let us find out the criteria for an idol through the bible.

Jeremiah 10:1 Hear what the Lord says to you, people of Israel. 2 This is what the Lord says: “Do not learn the ways of the nations or be terrified by signs in the heavens, though the nations are terrified by them. 3 For the practices of the peoples are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel. 4 They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter. 5 Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field, their idols cannot speak; they must be carried because they cannot walk. Do not fear them; they can do no harm nor can they do any good.”

Let us summarize the characteristics of an idol one by one.

  • First, it is a custom originated from the nations of the world, which means the custom of worshiping an idol is not the teaching of God, but the traditions of Gentiles, who do not know God.
  • Second, an idol is made out of tree by the hand of man, not by God.
  • Third, an idol is decorated with silver or gold to make it beautiful.
  • Fourth, it cannot stand by itself so it must be fastened with hammer and nail.
  • Fifth, it cannot speak, which means it cannot give any blessings nor any curses.
  • Sixth, it even cannot move by itself, so it must be carried by people.
  • Seventh, it has no power to do any good, nor do any good.

Now, think of the cross with these criteria from the bible. A cross originated from a Gentile custom. It is made of wood by the hands of craftsman. It is decorated with silver or gold. It cannot stand by itself, nor can it speak or move by itself. Does it have any power to do any good or any harm? No, definitely not. For these reasons, we know that the cross is an idol and worshiping the cross is idolatry. As believers of God we have to get rid of idols.  Moses warns about idolatry.

Deuteronomy 4:12 Then the Lord spoke to you out of the fire. You heard the sound of words but saw no form; there was only a voice.

When God appeared to the Israelites on the top of Mountain Horeb, God did not appear in any kind of form. Instead, God spoke His voice to the people. For this reason, He warned His people not to make anything in any form to represent himself. Rather He told them to listen to his voice and obey the words and commands of God. God is not the God of any form, but God of words, who gives the words of promise of salvation to his people.

Apostle John also describes God as Word.

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

God is God of Word who created heavens and earth with his words. Therefore, it is wrong to make a form to signify God or the power of God. When we do that, we are committing idolatry. A cross is also a form and using a cross for the worship of God is practicing idolatry.

That which is now called the Christian cross was originally no Christian emblem at all, but was the mystic Tau of the Chaldeans and Egyptians–the true original form of the letter T–the initial of the name of Tammuz.
From The Two Babylons by Alexander Hislop