Dear Reader,


A Latter-day Saint who believes that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its leaders are authorized of God doesn’t necessarily accept whatever the church puts forth as “gospel.” On the contrary, anyone who wants a better church tomorrow really ought to speak up today. We aren’t potted plants. Let's face it: Theological malarkey will continue to thrive in the church if members say “amen” to it all.

That is the main reason this site exists.

It also exists because I want to encourage wavering Latter-day Saints not to leave the Lord's restored church merely because of its flaws and the errors of its leaders.

Each article is listed below with a title, short synopsis and a link. They were written by Steve Warren (bio below). Articles by others may be added.

Keep the faith.

Steve Warren
West Valley City, Utah

“God is actually trying to create a much more profound relationship with us. We can only do that if we are actually wrestling with issues at hand.”
--Fiona Givens

Christ moves closer to us as we move from dogma toward truth.

Steve Warren was raised in Heppner, Oregon, and has lived in Utah for 44 years. He attended Ricks College for two years, served a mission to Colombia and Venezuela, and graduated from BYU in 1973 with a degree in communications. He and his wife, JaNiece, have two sons and a daughter. He wrote and published Drat! Mythed Again, Second Thoughts on Utah in 1986 and was a copy editor at the Deseret News from 1988-2008. He wrote and printed 100 copies of a novel, Beyond the Finish Line, but has yet to find a real publisher. (2018)
Knowing, believing, seeing Insights into our borderline dysfunctional LDS relationship with the word “know.”

Pathway to heaven The Scriptures show one sure way to return to God’s presence: possess a heart that pleases him.

Obedience gone awry Strictly following the prophet is an excellent idea—at least as long as he’s right.

Falling short, staying put Living prophets constantly err, but that’s not a good reason to leave the Lord’s church.

What in the world? Certain strange features of the Book of Mormon add to its credibility.

Some kind of miracle Fiction. An invitation to speak in sacrament meeting begins a Utah couple’s wild ride.

The cross = victory The cross is a worthy, positive symbol because it reminds us that it is the dying Christ who saves us.

Pilate tried Jewish religious leaders sought to kill Jesus; Pontius Pilate sought to set him free, so let’s give the man a break.

Father, Father, Father Why do we repeat the name of Deity so often in prayers these days?

Witnesses Multiple witnesses provide a compelling reason for anyone to ponder the claims of Mormonism.

Who is God? The Book of Mormon and other scriptures clearly teach that Jesus Christ is God and that Heavenly Father is God the Father.

Creation stories Teachings about the Creation tend to turn wobbly when they go beyond “God created the earth.”

Short takes Brief quotes, comments and reflections on a variety of gospel topics.
A few heresies... that would make for a more interesting sacrament meeting.
Oopsy-daisy 40 foul-ups by top LDS authorities.
Appreciating Christ



Thursday, October 22, 2015

The cross = victory



For several decades after the founding of the church, representations of the cross were common in Mormon culture.  In the early 1900s, that began to change. Finally, President David O. McKay in 1957 made it official by saying cross jewelry should not be worn because crosses were “purely Catholic.”  He noted that “our worship should be in our hearts.”

In 1975 Elder Gordon B. Hinckley observed in April general conference that Mormons don’t use the cross as “the symbol” of our faith because “for us, the cross is the symbol of the dying Christ, while our message is a declaration of the living Christ.”

LDS.org echoes Elder Hinckley’s words: “Because the Savior lives, we do not use the symbol of His death as the symbol of our faith.”  A statement on the official LDS site opposes the use of the cross by all members except for military chaplains: “The only members of the Church who wear the symbol of the cross are Latter-day Saint chaplains, who wear it on their military uniforms to show that they are Christian chaplains.”

In 2017, finding a cross symbol in an active LDS home was about as rare as finding a car in Utah County with a Hillary sticker.

That’s unfortunate.  In my view, neither President McKay's nor Elder Hinckley's words offer a valid reason not to display the cross.  President McKay's idea that the cross is their thing, not our thing, is undoubtedly the true reason Latter-day Saints don't display it.  As members of the restored church, we Latter-day Saints would be on firm ground to simply say that using the cross as one of our symbols would blur the fact that there are key distinctions between us and mainstream Christianity. 

Elder Hinckley's statement, which suggests it is a negative thing to remember the dying Christ, is clearly contrary to the Scriptures and to the gospel.  Remembering the dying Christ is central to being a true disciple.  The living Christ has power to save only because the dying Christ conquered death and hell; they are inseparable.  As one of our sacrament hymns proclaims: “For us on Calvary’s cross he bled, And thus dispelled the awful gloom That else were this creation’s doom.”  (“While of These Emblems We Partake,” page 174.)  If the cross reminds us of his death and suffering, surely that's a good thing. Otherwise, we'd have to conclude that sacramental bread and water—symbols of his crucified body and of the blood shed for us—are bad things.  

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland gets it right: “It is the wounded Christ who is the captain of our soul—he who yet bears the scars of sacrifice, the lesions of love and humility and forgiveness. Those wounds are what he invites young and old, then and now, to step forward and see and feel . . . All this we could remember when we are invited by a kneeling young priest to remember Christ always.(October 1995 general conference)

Moreover, it is precisely the dying Christ who ENDS dyingnot just for mankind, but through the shedding of his blood the Passover Lamb fulfilled the law of Moses and also brought an end to animal sacrifice.  He was the great and last sacrifice. In other words, to object to the cross on the grounds that it reminds us of dying is a most puzzling position indeed because only by dying on the cross did our Lord achieve the ultimate victory over dying.

In the church. we teach that it was in Gethsemane, not on the cross, that Christ suffered infinitely for sin and bled from every pore.  While this may be true, it is equally true that without the Lord's death on the cross, there is no resurrection. Gethsemane means little if we remain spirits forever.  Moreover, Gethsemane did not achieve total victory over sin; death of a sinless man was necessary to complete the victory.  

Both the Book of Mormon and the New Testament offer strong witnesses of the dying Christ and the cross.

When the risen Lord appears to the Nephites, the first thing he does is to invite 2,500 of them to one by one feel the wounds in his hands, feet and side. Such an event must have taken several hours. He emphatically wants them to be witnesses of the dying Christ “slain for the sins of the world.” (3 Nephi 11:14)

Mormon tells his son Moroni “may Christ lift thee up, and may his sufferings and death . . . rest in your mind forever.” (Moroni 9:25)

A similar message is emphasized elsewhere in the Book of Mormon.

In 3 Nephi 6:20, we read:  “And there began to be men inspired from heaven and sent forth, standing among the people in all the land . . . and they did testify boldly of his death and sufferings.”

“Now Aaron began to open the scriptures unto them concerning the coming of Christ, and also concerning the resurrection of the dead, and that there could be no redemption for mankind save it were through the death and sufferings of Christ, and the atonement of his blood.” (Alma 21:9; see also Alma 16:19; 22:14; Mosiah 18:2)

And I, Nephi, saw that he was lifted up upon the cross and slain for the sins of the world. (1 Nephi 11:33)

“And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me . . . ”  (3 Nephi 27:14) 

In the New Testament, Paul testified boldly concerning the cross.

“But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . ” (Galatians 6:14)

“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. . . . we preach Christ crucified . . . ”  (1 Corinthians 1:18, 23)

“For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”  (1 Corinthians 2:2)

According to BYU professor Robert L. Millet, the apostle Paul viewed the cross as a token of the Atonement.  To say that one believed in and taught the cross was to say that one accepted the reality of the lowly Nazarene's suffering and death as having divine redemptive power. . . . Clearly, the doctrine of the cross, meaning the doctrine of the Atonement, was right where it needed to beat the heart and core of Paul's teachings.

The cross is a positive and powerful symbol.  A simple roadside cross shrine is not meant to say “look, some poor sucker died.”  Instead, it signifies hope and declares, “We love and remember you and believe that through Christ you live again.” And how can any Christian not feel great reverence in the presence of row after row of simple white crosses in military cemeteries?

What is the first thing we know about a person if we notice she is wearing or displaying a cross?  Without exception, the message is I believe in Christ.  The cross also sends three other messages: Christ conquered death for me, he atoned for me, and I remember his sufferings and death.  No, a cross doesn't tell us whether someone lives a Christlike life.  But the willingness of the wearer to make such a public acknowledgment of belief in Christ is entirely commendable and brings to mind the scripture: Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before my Father which is in heaven. (Matt. 10:32)  While it is also perfectly commendable to wear Angel Moroni jewelry, the first message sent is I'm a Latter-day Saint,” not I believe in Christ.

When we see a cross, we notice that Christ is not there. And why is he not there?  Because he is risen.  Victory!  Death is vanquished.  (Note: Crosses are far more common than crucifixes, which present a depiction of Christ's slain body on a cross.)  The shape of the cross suggests wings, upward movement and flight.  It reminds us that just as Christ was lifted up on the cross, he can lift us up.  While some say the cross is a bad symbol because thousands were executed on crosses in antiquity, no Christian displays a cross because he's trying to remind people that Romans killed people. 

As the previous scriptures suggest, after the Resurrection the early apostles taught Christ crucified as their main message.  It was the gospel’s good news. To them, having witnessed the risen Lord, Christ crucified was a message of glad tidings and is well-expressed by the words “e’en though it be a cross that raiseth me” in the hymn “Nearer My God to Thee” and by “Nothing in my hand I bring, Simply to thy cross I cling,” from “Rock of Ages.” (Note: Although the LDS hymnbook includes “Rock of Ages,” the cross verse has been omitted.)

If Latter-day Saints feel uncomfortable with crosses and their connection to suffering, it might be well to remember that the mortal Messiah, a man acquainted with grief, sorrow and intense physical pain even before Gethsemane and Golgotha, showed by words and deeds that he was focused on those who suffer. As he commenced his ministry, he declared that he was specifically sent to the brokenhearted, the poor, the meek, to those who mourn, to the captives, to the blind and to those who are bruised. (Isaiah 61:1-3; Luke 4:18)  In other words, the Crucified stands beside those who suffer.

Isn't is odd that in the most important part of our main LDS worship service we remember the body that was slain for us and the blood that was shed for us, but if anyone in that service wore a cross that reminds of those very things, many of us would feel uncomfortable? 

Perhaps one reason Elder Hinckley's dying-Christ statement gets continued play is that even though his viewpoint is contrary to the gospel and Scriptures, his apostolic, President Hinckley stature makes it hard for the church to give his words the proper burial they deserve.  After all, we venerate our Latter-day leaders. 

With regard to President McKay's statement that we should not wear cross jewelry because “our worship should be in our hearts,” no one is worshiping the cross nor the bread and water of the sacrament nor the fish symbol, nor doves, nor Angel Moroni, etc.those symbols are merely reminders of the Christ who we worship.

Although the church resembles the average vampire in its determination to avoid crosses, we would be well-advised to cease referencing Elder Hinckley's misleading cross statement entirely.  Even if one shares his view that the cross should not be “the” symbol of our faith, the church has failed to offer a single valid reason why the cross can't be “a” symbol of our faith. We certainly have plenty of other symbols available at a fair price from fine LDS merchants everywhere.

A modest correction of our message  is needed.  The church needn't bluntly reject specific comments by presidents McKay and Hinckley but could simply issue a public statement such as: “Wearing cross jewelry or otherwise displaying the traditional Christian cross is an individual decision. The church neither advocates nor opposes such displays.”  

For my part, although I choose not to display the cross or wear cross jewelry, if other members decide to do so, good for them.



Post script:

In contemporary Christianity, the cross is a symbol of the atonement and reminds Christians of God's love in sacrificing his own son for humanity. It represents Jesus' victory over sin and death, since it is believed that through his death and resurrection he conquered death itself.”     --Wikipedia

“The Christian cross represents Christ's sacrifice of his body for the sake of humanity and his victory over sin and death. This symbol of atonement for one's sins is a familiar symbol of Christianity.”    --Reference.com

As far as chaplains being the only Latter-day Saints authorized to wear a cross (mentioned at the beginning of this essay), perhaps LDS military personnel should point out to the church that saying our message is about the risen Lord but not the dying Lord is like saying we should observe Independence Day but not Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

2 comments:

  1. Thank you for this, Steve. You may already be aware of this, but my book "Banishing the Cross: The Emergence of a Mormon Taboo" (John Whitmer Books, 2012) focuses on the historical development of the cross taboo in LDS culture. This book is an expanded revision of my MA Thesis. As you rightly point out, the taboo was institutionalized in 1957 by President David O. McKay. Prior to that time, many LDS including Church authorities, embraced and promoted the symbol. I am hopeful, however, that more Latter-day Saints reconsider the cultural taboo which has no identifiable revelatory or scriptural basis.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the comment.
      Yes, I am aware of your book. It's an excellent resource. In fact, a little over a week ago I recommended it to a relative who currently lives in Chile.

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