Is There Something Wrong with the Symbol of the Cross?

Messianic Necklace with Cross

Messianic Necklace with Cross

Messianics often are in dubio about the symbol of the Cross. To my knowledge there is nothing wrong with symbolic crosses, provided that they be not used as in Catholicism, as an image to worship. During the long course of history, Judaism has been enriched with symbols like the Chanukah menorah and the Magen David. The typical symbol of Yeshua is the Cross, and we glory in a crucified Messiah. Messiah did not die on a Cross accidentally. Crucifixion was a Roman way of execution and when Messiah died on the cross, this death was the means of his victory over the Roman Empire — the final of the four Beasts mentioned in the Book of Daniel and the Apocalypse — and thus over all the wordly powers.

There is thus nothing wrong with wearing a necklace of the cross, or making the sign of the cross at certain moments of the liturgy, e.g. when specific messianic berachoth are recited. Making the sign of the cross is in fact a beautiful confession of the core of our messianic faith. In touching our forehead we symbolize the authority of G-d the Father, in touching our navel we symbolize his only begotten Son, Yeshua the Messiah, and in touching our shoulders we symbolize the power of the Ruach HaKodesh.

The acceptability of traditions like these should be determined according to the standards of the Torah. Making a crucifix with a corpse on it, with the intention of worshipping the image and offering incense to it, as occurs in the Roman Catholic Church, is clearly unacceptable by Torah standards. But there’s no objection to using the Cross, without corpse, in a similar manner as the Magen David, as a symbol.

6 Responses to “Is There Something Wrong with the Symbol of the Cross?”


  1. 1 jeshuaist September 13, 2018 at 3:33 pm

    Why using the symbol for the god of evil Tamuz in the star of David?
    You write ” The typical symbol of Yeshua is the Cross, and we glory in a crucified Messiah.” but that is not at all true. Jeshua was impaled on a torture stake in the first century, when the Romans did not use a cross.

    Making the sign of the cross at certain moments of the liturgy, e.g. when specific messianic berachoth are recited seems totally wrong and gives the impression you believe in a three headed god (the Trinity)

    I sincerely hope you have not put your Jewishness aside to become a worshipper of the Trinity instead of worshipping the Only One True God, the God of Abraham, Isaac,Jacob, Jesus and his disciples.

    • 2 Messianic613 October 14, 2018 at 3:31 pm

      In the first place, what makes you think that I’m a worshipper of the Trinity? I don’t interpret the biblical formula of Mt. 28:19 as a confession of the Trinity, the false belief that there are three persons in God. This formula simply asserts that the Assembly of Messiah formally acts and worships on the authority (‘Name’) of the God the Father, that this authority is invested in the Son (i.e. Yeshua the Messiah) as the Father’s representative, and that this authority is exercised in the power of the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh) which is given to us by the Father, through the Son.

      The Sign of the Cross (+) is an appropriate liturgical expression of the fact that we are followers of a crucified and rejected Messiah. According to a traditional explanation a person makes the Sign of the Cross by first touching the head, thus symbolizing the authority of God the Father, then touching the belly, thus symbolizing the Son, (i.e. the firstbegotten of the Father), and finishes by touching the right and left shoulders, thus symbolizing the power of the Ruach HaKodesh. This simple ritual is thus a beautiful confession of our faith, which teaches us that we are made God’s children, and partakers of his Spirit, through the merits of Messiah Yeshua, in his death and passion.

      Secondly, it is not historically certain how the crucifixion or impalement of Yeshua was performed. In the NT the Greek word stauros is used, which can refer to a cross or a pole as the instrument of execution. Whether Yeshua died on a cross or a single execution pale is a subject of discussion among scholar. Many, however, are of the opinion that John 19:17 indicates that Yeshua carried the patibulum, or horizontal piece, of an actual cross. John Granger Cook argues:

      “In classical Latin texts, incidentally, the individual to be crucified never carried a crux (vertical beam or entire cross) but only the patibulum (horizontal piece). When a criminal carried the patibulum, the crux (vertical beam, in this case) was already set in place. That implies that in John 19:17 Jesus only carried the horizontal member of the cross to Golgotha, since Pilate would have followed Roman procedure.” (Cook — “Crucifixion in the Ancient Mediterranean World” In: Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament (WUNT) 327, Tübingen 2014[a]).

      I think we can leave the discussions about this point safely and wisely to historical scholars. From a liturgical perspective, however, it doesn’t matter much whether the method of Yeshua’s execution was impalement or crucifixion. For it is not necessary at all that a liturgical sign exactly represents the historical orginal symbolized by it. Liturgical history and development have their own dynamics and the function of a liturgical sign is to symbolize and point to the deeper meaning of things, not to give a scholarly historical account (which is never really certain and always subject to discussion and revision). A modern Torah Scroll and a Bimah don’t historically represent the exact form and material used by Moses in writing down G-d’s revelation, or the Mount of Sinai, but they adequately symbolize them in the Synagogue Liturgy.

      Finally, your remarks about “Tamuz” and “a three headed god” are incomprehensible to me.

      • 3 jeshuaist December 12, 2018 at 12:21 pm

        The ritual of making a cross as a beautiful confession of your faith, giving evidence that we are made God’s children, and partakers of his Spirit, does not seem the ideal ritual by using the sign of the god Tamuz (the god of evil)

      • 4 Messianic613 December 18, 2018 at 6:17 pm

        Can you perhaps explain how you got the weird idea that the symbol of the cross (+) is a symbol of Tamuz? The cross may be a symbol found in other religions, but this fact alone doesn’t make it per se pagan. It is only to be expected of such a simple symbol as two crossed lines to be found in many traditions. But today and through a long history the cross has become a uniquely Christian symbol, and there is nothing inherently pagan in it, nor does it cause confusion. Making the sign of the cross is not in anyway a pagan rite today. It is exclusively Christian. More important is of course that there’s nothing against it from the perspective of Torah.

        Don’t you realize that by arguing in this way you will have to reject circumcision as a pagan rite because the ancient Egyptians practiced circumcision? And there are some claims that the star of David is of pagan origin as well.

        You should consider that symbols are context dependent. We should clearly reject all symbols and rites which are either contrary to the Torah, or are perceived as somehow associated with paganism. But nobody associates the symbol of the cross with paganism anymore than circumcision with the religion of the ancient Egyptians.

      • 5 jeshuaist December 21, 2018 at 2:11 pm

        It is a historical fact that at the time of the death of Christ the Romans did not yet use such crosses as we can fin din the Renaissance paintings.

        You say “nobody associates the symbol of the cross with paganism anymore than circumcision with the religion of the ancient Egyptians. ” but if you would take into account certain Jewish and Christian groups you would clearly much opposition against that symbol. Though all those groups do worship the Only One True God of Israel and not the Trinity.

      • 6 Messianic613 December 24, 2018 at 10:52 pm

        Jeshuaist:
        It is a historical fact that at the time of the death of Christ the Romans did not yet use such crosses as we can find in the Renaissance paintings.

        Reply by Messianic613:
        No, this is not a historical fact, as I already explained in a former reply. Besides, it is liturgically completely irrelevant whether the cross of Yeshua is similar or not to the crosses found in Renaissance paintings and statues. We don’t have such paintings or statues in our synagogues.

        Jeshuaist:
        You say “nobody associates the symbol of the cross with paganism anymore than circumcision with the religion of the ancient Egyptians”, but if you would take into account certain Jewish and Christian groups you would clearly much opposition against that symbol. Though all those groups do worship the Only One True God of Israel and not the Trinity.

        Reply by Messianic613:
        The sign of the cross as a liturgical gesture performed by a person or as a symbolic artifact (e.g. as a necklace, like the Magen David) is opposed by Jewish groups simply because it is a reference to Yeshua. Everyone knows that official Judaism strongly opposes Yeshua and considers faith in him as apostasy from Judaism. This Jewish opposition against Yeshua has in principle nothing to do with faith in the Trinity. It existed already in the time-frame covered by the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, when the doctrine of the Trinity had not yet emerged. Even if the entire Christian Church abandoned the doctrine of the Trinity and returned to a biblical understanding of Yeshua, this would not in the least diminish or soften the Jewish opposition against him.

        It is not true that a strictly monotheistic religion like Orthodox Judaism worships the One true G-d without qualification, although it correctly emphasizes the divine unity. True worship of G-d has to be in conformity with G-d’s revelation. G-d has not only revealed himself as the G-d of the Patriarchs, but also as the One who sent Yeshua the Messiah. In order to worship the only true G-d it is thus not only necessary to acknowledge him as the G-d of the Patriarchs or the G-d of Israel, but also as the G-d and Father of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah.

        Many Protestant groups reject paintings and statues of the cross in their churches because of the danger of image worship, and in this we side with them. But Protestantism has gone too far in prohibiting without sufficient reason many ancient Christian customs and practices. Making the liturgical sign of the cross at prayer or in the liturgy has nothing to do with image worship, not more than making any other liturgical gesture — like kneeling or bowing in the direction of the Aron HaKodesh or Jerusalem — would be an act of image worship or idolatry. Nobody assumes that when Jews or Messianics bow in the direction of the Aron Kadosh or Jerusalem they actually worship the Torah Scrolls, or the Holy City, instead of HaShem. So again, what is the problem?


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