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The Cross: A Sign for All Christians

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  • The Cross: A Sign for All Christians

    The origin of the sign of the cross is unknown. It was probably first made on the forehead of those being baptized. It appears that people began to cross themselves during the early liturgies then carried the practice over into everyday life. In time this practice became emblematic of being a Christian. Possibly, the early Christians took their cue from Genesis 4:15, Ezekiel 9:4, and Revelation 14:1 and 22:4. Then the gesture took on more elaborate forms with two fingers used to indicate the two natures of Christ or three fingers to indicate faith in the Trinity.

    While the origin of the sign of the cross is obscure, it is evident that the early Christians saw it as an integral part of an ancient tradition. The second century apologist, Tertullian (c. 160/170-215/220), defended Holy Tradition by pointing to the sign of the cross as an example of an ancient custom all Christians shared in. Tertullian wrote:
    And how long shall we draw the saw to and fro through this line, when we have an ancient practice, which by anticipation has made for us the state, i.e., of the question? If no passage of Scripture has prescribed it, assuredly custom, which without doubt flowed from tradition, has confirmed it. For how can anything come into use, if it has not first been handed down? . . . . At every forward step and movement, at every going in and out, when we put on our clothes and shoes, when we bathe, when we sit at table, when we light the lamps, on couch, on seat, in all the ordinary actions of daily life, we trace upon the forehead the sign.
    If the sign of the cross was considered an ancient practice in Tertullian’s time circa 200, we can infer that it was in use in the first half of the second century and possibly as early as the start of the second century soon after the Apostles died.

    Similarly, Basil the Great (c. 329-379) pointed to the sign of the cross as a prime example of unwritten tradition. In his On the Holy Spirit Basil wrote:
    Of the beliefs and practices whether generally accepted or publicly enjoined which are preserved in the Church some we possess derived from written teaching; others we have received delivered to us“in a mystery” by the tradition of the apostles; and both of these in relation to true religion have the same force. And these no one will gainsay—no one, at all events, who is even moderately versed in the institutions of the Church. For were we to attempt to reject such customs as have no written authority, on the ground that the importance they possess is small, we should unintentionally injure the Gospel in its very vitals; or, rather, should make our public definition a mere phrase and nothing more. For instance, to take the first and most general example, who is thence who has taught us in writing to sign with the sign of the cross those who have trusted in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ?
    Basil asserted that to omit an established custom on the grounds that it lacks biblical backing or it is trivial would “injure the Gospel in its very vitals.”

    In their defense of the sign of the cross Tertullian and Basil the Great anticipated and refuted the regular principal, i.e., what the Bible does not teach is not to be allowed. The regulative principle being foundational to Reformed hermeneutics points to a fundamental incompatibility between the Reformed tradition and early Christianity. While theologically astute Protestants might point out that the classic form of sola scriptura allows for extra-biblical traditions, a Protestant would not be able to agree with Basil’s assertion that unwritten tradition “have the same force” as Scripture which is how Orthodoxy views the relation between Scripture and Tradition.

    Readers who are skeptical of Holy Tradition should keep in mind that Tradition like Scripture did not fall out of the sky but is rooted in the ministry of the original Apostles. In an earlier blog: “The biblical basis of Holy Tradition” I examined what the New Testament had to say about the process of handing down oral and written apostolic tradition.....

    Continued here: https://preachersinstitute.com/2017/...ll-christians/
    In accordance with the Apostolic faith delivered to us by tradition from the Fathers, I have delivered the tradition, without inventing anything extraneous to it. What I have learned, that I inscribed, comfortably with the Holy Scriptures

  • #2
    Originally posted by Iakobos View Post
    The origin of the sign of the cross is unknown. It was probably first made on the forehead of those being baptized. It appears that people began to cross themselves during the early liturgies then carried the practice over into everyday life. In time this practice became emblematic of being a Christian. Possibly, the early Christians took their cue from Genesis 4:15, Ezekiel 9:4, and Revelation 14:1 and 22:4. Then the gesture took on more elaborate forms with two fingers used to indicate the two natures of Christ or three fingers to indicate faith in the Trinity.

    While the origin of the sign of the cross is obscure, it is evident that the early Christians saw it as an integral part of an ancient tradition. The second century apologist, Tertullian (c. 160/170-215/220), defended Holy Tradition by pointing to the sign of the cross as an example of an ancient custom all Christians shared in. Tertullian wrote:
    And how long shall we draw the saw to and fro through this line, when we have an ancient practice, which by anticipation has made for us the state, i.e., of the question? If no passage of Scripture has prescribed it, assuredly custom, which without doubt flowed from tradition, has confirmed it. For how can anything come into use, if it has not first been handed down? . . . . At every forward step and movement, at every going in and out, when we put on our clothes and shoes, when we bathe, when we sit at table, when we light the lamps, on couch, on seat, in all the ordinary actions of daily life, we trace upon the forehead the sign.
    If the sign of the cross was considered an ancient practice in Tertullian’s time circa 200, we can infer that it was in use in the first half of the second century and possibly as early as the start of the second century soon after the Apostles died.

    Similarly, Basil the Great (c. 329-379) pointed to the sign of the cross as a prime example of unwritten tradition. In his On the Holy Spirit Basil wrote:
    Of the beliefs and practices whether generally accepted or publicly enjoined which are preserved in the Church some we possess derived from written teaching; others we have received delivered to us“in a mystery” by the tradition of the apostles; and both of these in relation to true religion have the same force. And these no one will gainsay—no one, at all events, who is even moderately versed in the institutions of the Church. For were we to attempt to reject such customs as have no written authority, on the ground that the importance they possess is small, we should unintentionally injure the Gospel in its very vitals; or, rather, should make our public definition a mere phrase and nothing more. For instance, to take the first and most general example, who is thence who has taught us in writing to sign with the sign of the cross those who have trusted in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ?
    Basil asserted that to omit an established custom on the grounds that it lacks biblical backing or it is trivial would “injure the Gospel in its very vitals.”

    In their defense of the sign of the cross Tertullian and Basil the Great anticipated and refuted the regular principal, i.e., what the Bible does not teach is not to be allowed. The regulative principle being foundational to Reformed hermeneutics points to a fundamental incompatibility between the Reformed tradition and early Christianity. While theologically astute Protestants might point out that the classic form of sola scriptura allows for extra-biblical traditions, a Protestant would not be able to agree with Basil’s assertion that unwritten tradition “have the same force” as Scripture which is how Orthodoxy views the relation between Scripture and Tradition.

    Readers who are skeptical of Holy Tradition should keep in mind that Tradition like Scripture did not fall out of the sky but is rooted in the ministry of the original Apostles. In an earlier blog: “The biblical basis of Holy Tradition” I examined what the New Testament had to say about the process of handing down oral and written apostolic tradition.....

    Continued here: https://preachersinstitute.com/2017/...ll-christians/

    Originally posted by Iakobos View Post
    While the origin of the sign of the cross is obscure, it is evident that the early Christians saw it as an integral part of an ancient tradition....
    Why do Orthodox Christians today place a high emphasis in signing with the sign of the cross (i.e. when the origin of the sign of the cross tradition is unknown, and is also obscure), while at the same time, place 0% faith in an integral part of ancient tradition that early Orthodox Christians placed 100% of their faith in "on earth"? (i.e. not unknown - not obscure - well documented) (i.e. Everlasting Passover Memorial observance "on earth" - Christ our Passover - Spirit of the law, only, always - (1 Corinthians 5:7; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; 2 Corinthians 3:5-6) - Nisan 14 (Matthew 26:2) (Numbers 28:16) - (Exodus 12:14,17,24; Mark 14:12 - the "first" day) - Jesus (Christ - Matthew 16:16) > Apostle John (John 4:22-24) (1 John 2:21) - Saint Polycarp (Jude 1:3) > Polycrates > to all faithful and loving saints in Christ Jesus "on earth")

    Isn't that the type of hypocrisy that Jesus (Christ - Matthew 16:16) warned about "on earth"? (i.e. (Matthew 16:6,11,12; Mark 8:13-15; Luke 12:1))

    Did the second century apologist Tertullian practice the Everlasting Passover Memorial worship observance "on earth" (i.e. Christ, our Passover - Spirit of the law, only, always) as the Apostle John and all of his followers handed down in "unwritten" (i.e. oral) Holy Tradition (i.e. early Christians), or did the second century apologist Tertullian practice Pontifex Maximus Caesar's "doctrine of the day" ("private interpretations"), instead?


    Please be honest. Why is one integral part of ancient tradition worthy to be included in worship practices "on earth" (i.e. which is unknown and obscure, i.e. sign of the cross), and yet, another integral part of ancient worship tradition not worthy to be practiced "on earth"? (i.e. not unknown - not obscure - well documented - Everlasting Passover Memorial observance "on earth" - "according to the Gospel" - "following the rule of faith")


    Apostolic "oral" tradition - Everlasting Passover Memorial observance "on earth" - ("unwritten" - Spirit of the law, only, always - LORD God's Perspective (Deuteronomy 4:39) (Ephesians 4:4-6))

    [(Polycarp - Pastor and Martyr) - Saint Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna, along with all of the parishes of all Asia, held that the [.... fourteenth day of the moon, on which day the Jews were commanded to sacrifice the lamb, should be observed as the feast of the Saviour's passover...]

    ["...All these observed the fourteenth day of the passover according to the Gospel, deviating in no respect, but following the rule of faith....] - (wikipedia.org - wiki Polycrates of Ephesus)

    “Polycrates emphatically stated that he was following the tradition passed down to him:
    We observe the exact day; neither adding, nor taking away. For in Asia also great lights have fallen asleep, which shall rise again on the day of the Lord's coming ... All these observed the fourteenth day of the passover according to the Gospel, deviating in no respect, …” (Polycrates, bishop of Ephesus, letter to Victor, bishop of Rome, quoted in Eusebius. "24". Church History book V.")]


    Who is the head of the Body of Christ "on earth"? (Caesar? or Christ?) (i.e. Deuteronomy 4:39) (Ephesians 4:4-6)
    Answer: Acts 5:29 (i.e. (Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 12:12–27; Ephesians 3:6, 5:23; Colossians 1:18,24))


    Signing of the cross "on earth", should never supersede taking up one's cross daily "on earth"! (i.e. Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23; Luke 14:27)



    In Christ's service,
    David Behrens
    Sola Gloria Dei!
    Bringing Christian harmony to all the world

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