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Luther on Using Crucifixes
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Is It Wrong or un-Lutheran to Use a Crucifix - Some Quotations from Martin Luther

 

“The custom of holding a crucifix before a dying person has kept many in the Christian faith and has enabled them to die with a confident faith in the crucified Christ.[1]

 

“It was a good practice to hold a wooden crucifix before the eyes of the dying or to press it into their hands.40 This brought the suffering and death of Christ to mind and comforted the dying. But the others, who haughtily relied on their good works, entered a heaven that contained a sizzling fire. For they were drawn away from Christ and failed to impress His life-giving passion and death upon their hearts.”[2]

 

“Now we do not request more than that one permit us to regard a crucifix or a saint’s image as a witness, for remembrance, as a sign as that image of Caesar was. Should it not be as possible for us without sin to have a crucifix or an image of Mary, as it was for the Jews and Christ himself to have an image of Caesar who, pagan and now dead, belonged to the devil?18 Indeed the Caesar had coined his image to glorify himself. However, we seek neither to receive nor give honor in this matter, and are yet so strongly condemned, while Christ’s possession of such an abominable and shameful image remains uncondemned.”[3]

 

“And I say at the outset that according to the law of Moses no other images are forbidden than an image of God which one worships. A crucifix, on the other hand, or any other holy image is not forbidden. Heigh now! you breakers of images, I defy you to prove the opposite![4]

 

“But here Christ is the image of the Father in such manner that he is the image of the Father’s divine substance, not made of a different nature. He is (if one is to put it into words) a “God-den” image, made out of God and having the Godhead in itself or on itself, just as a crucifix is called a wooden image of Christ—made out of wood. And although all human beings and angels are also made in the image of God, they are not, however, the image of his substance or nature, nor have they been made or arisen out of his divine nature. But Christ arose out of the Father’s divine nature from eternity and is his substantial image, substantialis imago, non artificialis aut facta vel creata,33 which has the Father’s divine nature wholly and completely in itself, and of which nature it is itself, not made or created out of something else, just as the divine substance itself is not made or created out of something else. For if Christ did not have the whole Godhead of the Father in himself and were not wholly God, then he could not be, or be called, the image of the Father’s substance, because the Father would still possess something in which the Son was not equal or similar to him. Thus he would in the final analysis turn out to be completely dissimilar to the Father and would by no means be his image according to the substance. For the divine substance is altogether the only substance, indivisible, so that wherever it is, it must be whole and complete, or nothing at all.”[5]

 



[1]Luther, M. 1999, c1957. Luther's works, vol. 22 : Sermons on the Gospel of St. John: Chapters 1-4 (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works. Vol. 22 (Jn 1:18). Concordia Publishing House: Saint Louis

[2]Luther, M. 1999, c1959. Luther's works, vol. 23 : Sermons on the Gospel of St. John: Chapters 6-8 (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works. Vol. 23 (Jn 8:22). Concordia Publishing House: Saint Louis

[3]Luther, M. 1999, c1958. Luther's works, vol. 40 : Church and Ministry II (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works. Vol. 40 (Vol. 40, Page 96). Fortress Press: Philadelphia

[4]Luther, M. 1999, c1958. Luther's works, vol. 40 : Church and Ministry II (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works. Vol. 40 (Vol. 40, Page 85-86). Fortress Press: Philadelphia

[5]Luther, M. 1999, c1960. Luther's works, vol. 34 : Career of the Reformer IV (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works. Vol. 34 (Vol. 34, Page 221-222). Fortress Press: Philadelphia

Gloria Christi Lutheran Church (LCMS)

1322 31st Avenue

Greeley, Colorado 80634

(970) 353-2554
 

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