The basic difference in the way Mormon’s and Christians see the cross demonstrates how vastly different Mormonism is from Biblical Christianity.
But many Latter-day Saints will say that they do not see a big difference between Christianity and Mormonism.
Contrary to what Latter-day Saint leaders have taught – the cross is far more than just the instrument of death the Romans used to kill the physical body of Jesus. It plays a significant role in the salvation of all who choose to follow Jesus.
What He did on the cross is everything the Good News represents: it’s the work of Christ for man, the shed blood, the hope, the miracle, our justification, our sanctification, and our very eternal life.
Is the cross an offense to Latter-day Saints or is it a symbol of joy, peace, and God’s great love?
Latter Day Saints who have been raised in a Mormon beliefs do admit that they have had somewhat of an aversion for the symbol of the cross. Probably most Latter-day Saints feel the same way.
Probably, much of it has to do with the teachings and attitudes that have been passed down from parents, teachers and leaders.
Listen, this is very important! How you, view the cross is very dependent on whether you have been spiritually reborn and whether you truly understand Jesus.
“But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”Galatians 6:14?
Paul doesn’t say he glories in ordinances, in church membership, priesthood authority, family, or baptism. He says he glories ONLY “in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
What if that became the main, focus of your LDS Mission and the rest of life?
Anything added to what Christ accomplished on the cross for us is useless. It ends up being works-based “Religion”. It causes us to take our eyes off the cross and give attention to non- essential matters.
What greater ploy could there be than to get people – well-meaning people – to take their eyes off the very place where they were each reconciled to God. And to have them look up at a golden angel on a building that inspires the proud hearts of men!
I just pray that Latter-day Saints everywhere like yourselves will demand that those golden images on top of their most sacred buildings would be replaced with crosses and cease officiating in man-made ordinances.
I want you to understand all that’s commanded of us is summarized in one verse of the Bible.
“And this is his commandment, that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.”1 John 3:23
With that commandment in mind – to believe on Jesus Christ and love one another – I’d like to explain how it applies to the symbolic meaning of the cross.
The vertical post pointing upwards toward heaven represents our, belief in Jesus and our direct relationship with God. The horizontal cross beam placed on that post reaching outward represents our relationship with others. As Jesus loved God and others, we are called to do the same.
What does the cross symbolize?
What exactly does this mean?
The cross represents a payment made on our behalf. Remember, God pronounced a penalty to every human being who sinned.
Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death.”
When someone puts their faith in Jesus, his death on the cross pays the penalty due for our sins. Our sins are placed on Jesus as the righteousness of Jesus is credited to us. His death on the cross paid the penalty for our sins – ALL of them! Jesus took upon Himself our sin and death and in return gave us His righteousness and Eternal Life!
“For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”2 Corinthians 5:21
The New Testament speaks of the cross time and time again. Each time the cross is spoken of, it is referring to the Good News of God’s accomplishments through the death of Christ upon the cross.
“Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me. This He said, signifying what death He should die.”John 12:31-32
In that passage, Jesus teaches that the cross will not only break the power of Satan, but also will draw ALL men to Himself. However, not all people who are drawn to Him will come to Him. There are many who reject Him and the message of the Cross.
God took the “Law”, which was a testimony against us, and nailed it to the cross.
“Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.”
The Law is against us because like a mirror, it shows us our sinfulness. Since we can’t keep all the commandments perfectly – that makes us sinners. But in Christ’s death, God took the law and ordinances away, and nailed it to the cross.
The Christian believer does not have the testimony of the Law against him. Instead, the Christian has been justified by God’s grace and power guided by the Holy Spirit.
Because the Law had no power to do it anyway.
Let’s read how the Bible warns us that those who do not accept the message of the cross, are enemies of the cross.
“For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ.”Philippians 3:18
Being an enemy of the cross of Christ is not a favorable position to be in. Rejecting God’s ONLY provision for salvation, which is through the cross of Jesus Christ, is rejecting salvation itself. And Christ said He in turn, will reject those who are ashamed of Him.
So, you’re saying being ashamed of Him includes being ashamed of his redemptive death on the cross.
Believers in Jesus Christ are identified closely with Him and His cross.
“Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.”Romans 6:6
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.”Galatians 2:20-21
These and other verses in the Bible teach that we are not to be ashamed of the cross of Christ but are to be closely identified with it instead. We are to die to sin and live for righteousness.
Yes, the cross was a cruel and violent method of death, but Jesus died for me and YOU on that cross 2,000 years ago. The cross demonstrates and reveals to us how much God hates sin. It was our sins that put Him on the cross. The cross also demonstrates God’s immense love for us.
Unfortunately, those who reject this single provision that God has provided for salvation, will perish. You know why they reject it?
They just don’t care because they don’t understand?
They reject it because it is foolishness to them.
“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”1 Corinthians 1:18
The reason believers wear crosses, is because they are not ashamed of what Jesus did on the cross for them. They are eternally grateful for the power of cross to save them.
Why do most Mormons have an aversion toward the cross as a Christian symbol?
I don’t see crosses on top of LDS church steeples. Instead of a cross on LDS temples there’s an angel with a horn. And it’s rare to see a Mormon wearing a Christian cross as a piece of jewelry – like on a necklace or bracelet.
Mormons believe the cross symbolizes Jesus’ death. As Latter-day Saints they claim to worship the risen Christ and focus on the living Savior.
I can appreciate the emphasis on the resurrected Lord, but there seems to be more of a reason why the cross is generally ignored in LDS theology.
Are you aware that in early church history the cross was a big part of the LDS culture?
In the early years of the Saints living in Utah, many Mormons promoted the Christian symbol as an expression of their personal and collective faith. It was probably influenced by their Protestant backgrounds.
But in the 20th century its use has been discouraged by LDS church leaders. Wanting to maintain a distinction among Christian churches, the Mormon Church essentially rejected outward displays of the cross.
There is nothing doctrinally or scripturally that keeps the LDS from honoring the cross.
LDS Church leaders have made some pretty, strong statements about the cross. Bruce R. McConkie in his book, Mormon Doctrine, equated the cross with the Bible’s satanic “mark of the beast.”
McConkie’s father-in-law, Church President Joseph Fielding Smith compared the cross to a guillotine and believed both items were merely “tools of execution.”
Early LDS church leaders felt more affinity for the cross. In pioneer Utah, crosses were common in church art, in stain-glass windows, on pulpits, gravestones and quilts. Brigham Young’s wives and daughters wore crosses on their jewelry. Crosses appeared on cattle in the Salt Lake Valley as the official LDS Church brand.
In 1916, the Presiding Bishop of the LDS Church proposed to the Salt Lake City Counsel to place a giant cross on top of Ensign Peak as a, way to honor the Mormon pioneers. But there was opposition from within the ranks of Church leadership who saw the cross as more of a Catholic symbol. As a result, the proposal was discarded.
The real roots of opposition to the cross took hold in the 1930’s, when Utah’s Roman Catholic Church became more concentrated and powerful in the community.
In 1957, LDS Church President David O. McKay established the no-cross policy.
From that day forward, Mormons look negatively on anyone wearing a cross. It makes them feel uncomfortable, even offended.
Mormons believe that the scars of the Lord’s crucifixion, is how Christ identified Himself to those in ancient Israel and, according to the Book of Mormon, in ancient America. If Christ so openly displayed the marks of the cross, perhaps Mormons should be more open to what the cross represents.
But even though anti-Catholic feelings have subsided, Mormons as, a whole still do not use the cross as an outward symbol of their faith.
In April 2005, President Gordon B. Hinckley spoke in General Conference about the symbol of the cross. He recognized how other churches view the symbol, and said,
“But for us, the cross is the symbol of the dying Christ, while our message is a declaration of the living Christ.”
My prayer is that someday, Latter-day Saints will come to understand the significance and meaning of what Christ accomplished for them on that cross. The cross represents the redemption that Jesus won for us. There is no salvation without redemption and the cross is where Jesus redeemed us. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the Gospel message of the Bible.
The word “Gospel” means “Good News”. Therefore, the symbol of the Good News is the cross!