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!