Church removes crucifix for being too scary

As a coda to our series on the Theology of the Cross, consider this story about a church in England that removed the outdoor crucifix below because it was “too scary.” Says the story, quoting a museum curator who ended up with the sculpture, “the powerful image portrayed by the figure was that of Christ in pain. ‘That today isn’t an image which a lot of churches want to follow.’” Why is that, in light of our series on the Cross?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Baby Jesus is so much cuter.

  • richard

    I recall visiting the Crystal Cathedral several years ago, touring the grounds with a church guide who was showing me the statues Robert Schuller commissioned–showing Jesus laughing and playing with children, among others. I was told the sculptor agreed to make the statues for the Cathedral so long as he did not have to make those “Jesus hanging on the Cross” things. I thought to myself–how appropriate for a church which does not mention “sin” that it would not depict the main work of Christ for sinners. Maybe this is the answer, Dr. Veith–that we do not want to think of our sin.

  • WebMonk

    Dude, that’s not scary, that’s just plain, old-fashioned UGLY!!!!

    Not in the “ugliness of sin” sort of way. It’s ugly as in a really sucky looking thing.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Richard is right. Modern secular people including liberal Christians are in denial about the reality of fallen sinful people who have been given the tremendous gift of the Cross. They, also, have little comprehension of the courageous and brilliant Luther who called attention to the centrality of the Cross.

  • richard

    Archbishop Fulton Sheen had a neat quote: “Keep your eyes on the crucifix, for Jesus without the cross is a man without a mission, and the cross without Jesus is a burden without the reliever.”

  • CRB

    I recall a wife of a pastor saying, in response to seeing a crucifix, “Oh, I don’t like that, I prefer the plain cross that reminds me of Jesus resurrection.”

  • Bryan Lindemood

    I have become a much bigger fan of the crucifix over the last couple years. In LCMS Lutheran churches in the Western United States especially Utah and Idaho (at least when I was growing up) I saw very few crucifixes. I grew up seeing a lot of almost plain crosses with the “IHS” on them. While good teaching tools, they are quite ineffective without an explanation. I think that is beginning to change for the better though and we’re seeing more crucifix around. Too bad for that church in England, though. They probably aren’t preaching anything scandalous there! Richard, thanks for the Sheen quote. I like that.

  • rlewer

    I think it is true that both Willow Creek and Osteen have banned all crosses, even plain ones.

  • http://changeintheweather.blogspot.com Weslie O.

    This is precisely what Paul declares will happen:

    “…a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”

  • http://www.isukzn.ru Синдбад

    А есть скриншот? Ну, для правдивости

  • WebMonk

    rlewer, you might want to be slightly less credulous when you hear those things. I know Willow Creek has crosses plainly visible, at least as of a couple weeks ago. (saw it in a video) Also, the NYT article talks about a screen at one of the satellite churches coming down in front of a cross on the wall.

    Dunno about Osteen’s church, but it wouldn’t particularly surprise me if they had removed the crosses, but I haven’t heard that anywhere. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a picture of the Lakeview auditorium.

  • Dan Kempin

    On a much simpler level, this may illustrate the deep and almost phobic fear of suffering that exists in our culture today.

    Suffering, not death, is considered the ultimate evil, and the graphic depiction here may be offensive for non-theological reasons.

    If that is the case, then it was a brilliant interpretation by the artist, who touched the involuntary natural reaction to the scandal of the cross.

  • Schultzy

    Anyone read what Bishop Robinson had to say about praying at the inaguration?

    http://blog.christianitytoday.com/ctpolitics/2009/01/warren_applauds.html

  • CRB

    Robinson said that the prayer what Warren will be praying is “not to the God I know.” Well, I’m sure that the “god” that Robinson prays to is NOT the true God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. As Luther said to Zwingli, “You have a different spirit”!!!


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