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The War on the Cross

(From History/Bridgeman Images).
(From History/Bridgeman Images).

Christians frequently ask me why Jewish people struggle with the image of a cross. My response is always the same, “It’s the history attached to the cross that gives Jewish people a reason to eschew this symbol sacred to Christians.” Who is responsible for this theological war waged on the New Covenant significance of the cross?

In the past 200 years, Christians have shouldered the sign of the cross in their wars on so-called infidels. Even today, followers of Jesus brandish the cross at political events. Onlookers are led to believe the Christian message is in full support of various civic causes-good and bad-when the cross is displayed at these protests.

Hence, there has been a war on the cross in ancient Christian history. This same confusion regarding the biblical significance of the cross is apparent when evangelicals glue the cross symbol to contemporary secular political aspirations.

To elaborate on this pressing question uttered by Jewish people, I authored an article in 2016. I used the subtitle “The Roots of the Problem of the Cross in the Eyes of Jewish People.”

In this short piece, l focused on the torrid history of the medieval Crusades. Recently I revised this composition and added additional insights.

In this revised article, I am mostly concerned with several parallels of the Crusader mentality leaking into modern evangelical Christianity’s political stance. The imagery of the cross as the vehicle of God’s spiritual redemption is distorted by a cadre of Christians. Sadly, these actions confuse many Jewish and non-Jewish people.

The Cross Appears Where It Should Not Be

For the past 5-6 years, the cross symbol has appeared at political rallies as a Christian stamp of approval of an event, a candidate, or a political ideology. Zealous Christians are hijacking the cross imagery for their purposes. In their patriotic fervor, the protestors seem unaware of the military stigmas attached to the cross from the Crusaders.

For example, at the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol Building, both peaceful and militant evangelicals wielded the cross as they protested the national vote that elected Joe Biden as president. From a well-researched article on Christian nationalism from the Joint Baptist Committee, we learn:

One of the most ubiquitous symbols on January 6 was the Christian cross. Latin crosses are “the principal symbol of Christianity around the world,” according to the Supreme Court, and, as used on January 6 by the insurrectionists, one of the clearest displays of Christian nationalism.

Sword & shield with light-painting illumination

They [participants at January 6 event] erected an 8-foot wooden cross in Freedom Plaza (at the White House end of Pennsylvania Avenue) and another 8-foot tall cross at the Capitol that became disturbingly iconic after the crowd prayed around it

The Cross is Used to Send a Message It Should Not Give

I embrace the American freedom to express one’s political views. Nonetheless, I am stunned at how the flagrant use of the biblical symbol of divine pardon is thoughtlessly attached to extreme right-wing politics. For further information on the appearance of Christian symbolism at the January 6 event, click here.

How can the redemptive symbol of Christianity be conjoined with any form of partisan politics? Does any political group possess the authority to utilize the crucifix icon to support their cause?

The way I see it, when a political faction adopts the image of the cross in connection with their viewpoint, this action implies their perspective is THE authoritative Christian way of thinking. The message is clear: Any faithful follower of Yeshua (Jesus) will and should back any ideology that commanders the cross to bolster their outlook.

This misuse of the cross to support a secular political effort is reminiscent of the militant Crusaders who affixed the cross to their shields as they rampaged across Western Europe.

Need I say modern evangelical patriots are NOT determined to harm anyone as the Crusaders did. Nevertheless, when the cross is displayed at an event where government property is destroyed, attacks on law enforcement personnel take place, and anger is unleashed on dissenters, how is the redemption promise of the Messiah communicated?

My title, “The War on the Cross,” describes how the misuse of the cross by followers of the crucified Messiah clouds our salvation declaration. Rather than zero in on those who reject the good news of salvation, believers in Jesus need to discern how we can be the ones making war on the message of the death of the Suffering Servant.

(more…)

Make America Good Again

Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people (Proverbs 14:34 ESV)

צְדָקָ֥ה תְרֽוֹמֵֽם־גּ֑וֹי וְחֶ֖סֶד לְאֻמִּ֣ים חַטָּֽאת׃

In 2007, the I-35 bridge that crosses the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, Minnesota, collapsed suddenly during rush hour, killing 13 people and injuring 145. The investigation revealed the gusset plates, the thick sheets of steels that connect the girders together in the truss system were undersized, resulting in a structural flaw leading to its collapse. A year after the tragedy, The New York Times summarized what went wrong:

The bridge was designed in the 1960s and lasted 40 years. But like most other bridges, it gradually gained weight during that period, as workers installed concrete structures to separate eastbound and westbound lanes and made other changes, adding strain to the weak spot.

The city planners in Minneapolis ignored the design of the bridge and pushed the limitations of the span to hold a weight amount it was not designed to withstand.

Make America Good AgainLikewise, America was designed by our founders to function within certain parameters of morality and integrity. Our nation was not fashioned to tolerate an unbearable amount of immorality. The more sin we tolerate in our country, the greater the chance our vulnerabilities will collapse our precious  nation.

In Proverbs 14:34 Solomon equips us with the prescription to build a strong nation using a support system where righteousness holds all pieces together. This ancient text teaches that a nation’s greatness exists not only in its victory over terrorism, a robust economy, a vibrant foreign policy or lack of racism, but in its observance of justice and morality.  To ignore this principle is to dabble with the possibility our country can wind up a moral disgrace.

During this presidential election cycle, it is important we understand from Proverbs 14:34 what really makes our country tick . . . and what will make it great again. (more…)




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