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Why Are There No Crosses On Mormon Churches And Temples? 


I Believe In Christ
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I can imagine that one of the reasons many people do not believe the Mormons are Christian is because there can be found no Crosses on any of the LDS buildings.  In fact, crosses are not found in any part of the LDS faith except that it is accepted for what it was.  The Cross was the instrument upon which the Savior of all mankind was put to death.  Jesus Christ completed His earthly ministry by doing all that He was sent here to do.  Jesus ascended to His Father with the promise that in like manner He would come again to usher in His mellinial reign.  The Cross symbolizes what Christ "did".  I am looking forward to His return, not back at what He has already completed.  In addition, the cross is the generally accepted symbol that identifies those who display it as being part of, or connected with, any of the numerous "Christian" denominations.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is in no way connected with or is part of any other church, Christian or otherwise.

Here is what modern day apostles and prophets have to say:

McConkie, Bruce R. Mormon Doctrine. 2d ed. Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1966.

Cross

See CHRIST, CRUCIFIED ONE, CRUCIFIXION, SIGN OF THE CROSS.

1. Among the Assyrians, Persians, Phoenicians of Carthage, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, the cross was an instrument of execution. From earliest times the eventual crucifixion and death of our Lord upon the cross was revealed to holy prophets. (Moses 7: 55; 1 Ne. 11:33; 19:10-13; 2 Ne. 6:9; 10:3-7; 25:13; Mosiah 3:9: 15:7.) The gospel authors detail many of the events and circumstances incident thereto. (Matt. 26;  27;  28; Mark 14;  15;  16; Luke 22;  23;  24; John 18;  19;  20;  21.) And after his resurrection, our Lord said that the very reason he came into the world was to fulfil the will of the Father in being lifted up upon the cross. (3 Ne. 27:13-15.)

2. Because of its association with our Lord, the cross has come to have symbolic meanings for those who profess belief in his atoning blood. Paul properly used the cross of Christ to identify to the mind the whole doctrine of the atonement, reconciliation, and redemption. (1 Cor. 1:17-18; Gal. 6:12-14; Eph. 2: 8-21; Philip. 2:5-9; 3:18; Col. 1:20; 2:14; Heb. 12:2.)

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 attached to the robes of their priests. Frequently this practice of dwelling on the personal death struggle of our Lord has caused these churches to put sculptured representations of Christ on their crosses, thus forming so called crucifixes. All this is inharmonious with the quiet spirit of worship and reverence that should attend a true Christian's remembrance of our Lord's sufferings and death. In fact, the revealed symbolism to bring these things to the attention of true worshipers is found in the ordinance of the sacrament.

3. Growing out of the crucifixion of Christ is the concept that any great affliction or trial that comes upon the saints does in itself constitute a cross they must bear as part of their obligation to overcome the world. Thus the saints -- knowing that Christ "for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Heb. 12:2) -- are themselves strengthened to withstand all trials and persecutions which come upon them in the gospel cause. Such afflictions or trials are regarded as crosses which test Christian patience or virtue. (2 Ne. 9:18; Jac. 1:8.)

4. Similarly the gospel cause commands every man to take up his cross and follow him who carried his own cross to Golgotha. That is, the saints are to carry the cross of service and consecration, the cross of devotion and obedience. "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me," our Lord said. "And now for a man to take up his cross, is to deny himself all ungodliness, and every worldly lust and keep my commandments." (Inspired Version, Matt. 16:25-26.)

Crucifixion

See CHRIST, CROSS, CRUCIFIED ONE, PASSION OF CHRIST. Few if any forms of execution are or could be more painful and agonizing than that of crucifixion -- a form of taking life in which the condemned person has his hands and feet nailed or bound to a cross of execution, after which he is left to suffer inexpressible pain and torture until the spirit finally leaves the mangled and broken body. When crucified persons were nailed rather than bound to the cross, the nails ordinarily were driven through the feet and wrists (or both hands and wrists) so that the weight of the body could be sustained. Our Lord was, of course, nailed rather than tied to the cross. (Isa. 22:21-25.)

Crucifixion was the form of death chosen from the beginning for Christ, that in his death, having descended below all things, he might in his resurrection ascend above all things. (D. & C. 88:6; 122:8; Eph. 4:9-10.) Long before his earthly ministry, holy prophets foresaw his crucifixion on the cross. (Moses 7: 55; 1 Ne. 19:10-13; 2 Ne. 6:9; 10:3-5; 25:13; Mosiah 3:9; 15:7.)

After his resurrection our Lord showed his disciples in Jerusalem and the host of Nephite Saints on this continent the nail marks in his hands and in his feet. (Luke 24:36-43; 3 Ne. 11:14-19.) At the Second Coming these same wounds will stand as a witness to the Jews that he is the Crucified One, their King whom they rejected in the meridian of time. (D. & C. 45:51-52; Zech. 12: 10; 13:6.)

Crucified One

See CHRIST, CROSS, CRUCIFIXION. Christ is the Crucified One -- a title used by Christians generally when they desire to point attention to the horrible and painful death by crucifixion which he suffered on the cross.

Smith, Joseph Fielding. Answers to Gospel Questions. vols. 1-5. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957-1966.

The Wearing of the Cross

Question: "Having been reared in a Latter-day Saint community, I have never had occasion to give serious thought to this question of the wearing of the cross until I moved to the mission field.

"Many who join the Church who come from a Catholic or Protestant background while trying their utmost to live the gospel, and rid themselves of past habits, unconsciously bring some of the customs of their former environment with them. One of these is the wearing of the crucifix on a necklace, bracelet or in some other form.

"The teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints seem to indicate that this is improper because we do not hold any special reverence for the cross as such, nor do we have crosses in our chapels or homes or wear a crucifix as jewelry. How may we uphold this belief, if my assumption is correct, through the study of the scriptures? Is there some statement that might be given from the General Authorities of the Church which would give me a dear understanding of this question?"

Answer: While we have never questioned the sincerity of Catholics and Protestants for wearing the cross, or felt that they were doing something which was wrong, it is a custom that has never appealed to members of the Church. The motive for such a custom by those who are of other churches, we must conclude, is a most sincere and sacred gesture. To them the cross does not represent an emblem of torture but evidently carried the impression of sacrifice and suffering endured by the Son of God. However, to bow down before a cross or to look upon it as an emblem to be revered because of the fact that our Savior died upon a cross is repugnant to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

THE CROSS WAS AN EGYPTIAN SYMBOL

The use of the cross dates back to a very early time. Its early meaning is somewhat obscure. We are informed that the Egyptians used it as a symbol representing life and fertility of crops. However the general use throughout the Christian world comes from the crucifixion of our Redeemer. This custom of adoring the cross seems to have grown out of the purported vision given to Constantine when it is stated that he saw a cross in the heavens and was told that by it he was to conquer. From that time the use of the cross as an object of reverence grew, and when the rebellion against the Catholic Church commenced, the adoration of the cross continued more or less among the Protestant churches.

To many, like the writer, such a custom is repugnant and contrary to the true worship of our Redeemer. Why should we bow down before a cross or use it as a symbol? Because our Savior died on the cross, the wearing of crosses is to most Latter-day Saints in very poor taste and inconsistent to our worship. Of all the ways ever invented for taking life and the execution of individuals, among the most cruel is likely the cross. This was a favorite method among the Romans who excelled in torture. We may be definitely sure that if our Lord had been killed with a dagger or with a sword, it would have been very strange indeed if religious people of this day would have graced such a weapon by wearing it and adoring it because it was by such a means that our Lord was put to death.

A humble, contrite spirit and sincere prayer of gratitude is a far better means of worship and acknowledgment of our love for the great blessings we receive through our Saviors voluntary sacrifice than to adore the cross. It is through the shedding of his blood that we gain the resurrection; and by our faithfulness, exaltation in the kingdom of God.

Smith, Joseph Fielding. Answers to Gospel Questions. vols. 1-5. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957-1966.

Statues of Graven Images

Question: "How do we explain why we have statues of the Angel Moroni and Brigham Young when in Exodus 20:4 we are told not to have graven images, or likenesses?"

Answer: There is no difficulty in explaining why we place the angel on the temple and    have a monument or statue of Brigham Young in the street. We do not worship President Brigham Young nor bow down to the monument. The image of an angel on the temple is symbolical of the angel flying through the midst of heaven.1 Exodus 20:4 has nothing to say about erecting monuments or placing on a temple images of angels proclaiming the gospel.

Ludlow, Daniel H., ed. Encyclopedia of Mormonism. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1992.

Cross
The cross, a traditional symbol of Christianity, is displayed extensively in Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Protestantism. In each tradition, the symbol of the cross focuses the worshiper's attention on central elements of the Christian faith. However, different theological points may be emphasized. For example, in Catholicism the crucifix (the cross with the dead Christ hanging on it) symbolizes the crucifixion of Christ and invites meditation on the Atonement. In contrast, the plain cross used by Protestants symbolizes not only the crucifixion but also the resurrection of Christ, for the cross is empty. The Eastern Orthodox crucifix is a symbolic concept somewhere between those of Catholicism and Protestantism: Christ hangs on the cross, but as the living Lord, his head not bowed in death but raised in triumph. Thus, the crucifixion, the Atonement, the resurrection, and the Lordship of Christ are all graphically presented in the Orthodox crucifix.
Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol.1, CROSS
Latter-day Saints do not use the symbol of the cross in their architecture or in their chapels. They, like the earliest Christians, are reluctant to display the cross because they view the "good news" of the gospel as Christ's resurrection more than his crucifixion.

Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol.1, CROSS

The LDS conception of the Plan of Salvation is comprehensive. It encompasses a Council in Heaven; Jehovah's (Jesus') acceptance of his role as Savior; the virgin birth; Jesus' life and ministry; his saving suffering, beginning in Gethsemane and ending with his death at Golgotha; his burial; his preaching to the spirits of the righteous dead; his physical resurrection; and his exaltation to the right hand of the Father. No one symbol is sufficient to convey all this. Moreover, the cross, with its focus on the death of Christ, does not symbolize the message of a living, risen, exalted Lord who changes the lives of his followers. Thus, President Gordon B. Hinckley, counselor in the First Presidency, stated that the lives of people must become a "meaningful expression of our faith and, in fact, therefore, the symbol of our worship" (p. 92).

Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol.1, CROSS

While the symbol of the cross is not visually displayed among the Latter-day Saints, the centrality of the Atonement is ever present in their observance of baptism, the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, and the temple ordinances, and in their hymns and testimonies. Without the Atonement of Jesus Christ, there is no hope for the human family. Scripture is replete with the admonition that disciples of Christ must "take up their cross," yielding themselves in humility to their Heavenly Father (D&C 56:2, 14-16; 112:14-15), releasing themselves from the ties of worldliness (3 Ne. 12:20), and submitting themselves to persecution and even martyrdom for the gospel of Jesus Christ (2 Ne. 9:18; Jacob 1:8).

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