Why did you use a crucifix in Contradict?

crucifixAt least a few times a year I receive a question asking me why I chose to use a crucifix in my Contradict logo.  Protestant Christians sometimes avoid Contradict because to them the crucifix represents Roman Catholicism, a belief system that openly teaches that our works are involved in our salvation, a doctrine wholly opposed by the Reformation that led to the birth of Protestantism.

These Protestants are expressing a popular understanding, but I think it is incorrect.  Many people have come to associate the crucifix to specifically represent Roman Catholicism, but I see no reason why it must only represent Roman Catholicism.  Many people don’t even know that there are Protestants who think the crucifix shouldn’t be used by Protestants in fear of mingling Protestant doctrine with Roman Catholic teachings.

I come from a conservative Lutheran background theologically and am a member of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod.  I was never taught such a distinction concerning the use of a crucifix.  Lutheran churches I attend typically have a cross that does not have Jesus hanging on it, however, some congregations in my denomination do have Christ on the cross in their sanctuaries.  I hear that in Europe, it’s most likely that Lutheran churches will have a crucifix.

For Protestants and Roman Catholics who have the crucifix, it’s a reminder of what Christ suffered for us to pay for our sins.  It falls in line with what Paul said about resolving to only preach and know “Christ and him crucified.”  Of course Paul also explains that “Christ died for our sins, was buried, and raised on the third day.”  Roman Catholics and Protestants alike who display crucifixes instead of empty crosses, confess that Christ was also raised from the dead, and that in fact he is not suffering anymore!  Having Jesus on the cross in no way implies that he is still suffering, or is dead and still buried, just as an empty cross doesn’t signify that he is risen.

Here’s a quote from Luther and how he viewed the use of a crucifix:

“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.”

Luther’s works, vol. 23 : Sermons on the Gospel of St. John: Chapters 6-8

As to my reasoning for picking a crucifix, I chose a crucifix to be used in the Contradict logo because it shows that Jesus died for our sins.  That message is not conveyed with the word Contradict, but with an image of Christ on the cross at the end of Contradict that message is more likely implied.  In our day and age, the cross has lost its punch.  Few people know how brutally torturous the cross was as an execution device. Having an image of Christ on the cross reminds us that the cross isn’t just a fashion symbol, or piece of jewelry, or an expression of art, which it has far too often become in our modern society.

I also don’t think many non-Christians are aware of a Roman Catholic and Protestant divide over the crucifix.  We are divided not over the use of a crucifix, or the message that it conveys that Christ died for our sins, but instead we are divided over the doctrines that the Roman Catholic Church has rejected, namely that we are saved solely by the work of Christ alone.    For those who are aware, or not aware, of this unnecessary divide, they will certainly see from the Contradict Movement website, my blog, Reconnect podcast, or YouTube channel, or my book, Contradict – They Can’t All Be True, that I am not teaching Roman Catholic doctrine.

I also like that the last image of Contradict is one of Christ dying for our sins.  All Protestants will confess that Christ’s death is central to the Gospel, as is the resurrection.  So I don’t see this image being counter to the message of Scripture, but instead a reminder of the depth of our depravity, that the Lord of heaven had to take on flesh in the person of Jesus Christ and bear the full weight of our sins through an agonizing death on the cross of Calvary in order that we might have forgiveness of sins.

Finally, and not as important as conveying that Christ paid for all of our sins, I think the crucifix is more aesthetically pleasing (artistic) in the Contradict logo than an empty cross.

Contradict Black Final
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79. Stop the Hateful Contradict Movement Now!

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Andy has a website called Contradict Movement, where he sells stickers that spell Contradict using various religious symbols.  He also sells Contradict Gospel tracts to accompany these stickers and his book, Contradict – They Can’t All Be True.  Links are also given to his blog, Youtube channel, and Reconnect Podcast.  All of these resources are purposed to equip Christians to defend the good news of Jesus Christ in a pluralistic age.

Periodically, Andy receives messages that call for him to stop Contradict Movement, because it is a distortion of what Coexist actually is and that Contradict is a hateful movement!

In this episode, he shares the following email and the several back and forth replies that followed:

“I’m not sure I understand your message or your goal for this “movement”.  The Coexist Movement is simply a call for peace among religions.  Pointing out that different religions are different seems to be a mute point. Why go against a peaceful movement to point out our differences? No one is claiming that all religions are the same. We know that all religions are diverse and different from one another, we are just trying to coexist peacefully and respectfully. Will you please stop this movement? You are making a bad name for Christians everywhere, making Christianity the “hateful religion”. Please stop.”

Contradict Black Final

Show Links:

Bush, Hillsong Pastor, and Pope Saying Muslims, Jews, and Christians Worship the Same God (Video)

Swami Vivekananda at Parliament of World Religions Saying All Religions Are True (Video)

Unitarian Universalist Church In Their Own Words (Video)

Bono of U2 Rocking Coexist Making It Popular (Video)

The Not So Peaceful History of Coexist (Video)

Peacemonger and Their Religious Pluralism Stickers (Video)

Excerpt of Contradict – They Can’t All Be True (Book by Andy Wrasman)

Reconnect Episode 6: Contradict – Campus Evangelism

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Andy Wrasman, George Allen III, and Adam Stetson discuss how they came to use a Contradict poster for evangelism at University California Irvine.  What were their previous evangelism efforts?  Why did they decide the Contradict evangelism table method was their favorite? How do they use the poster to spring into sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ? What tips do they have to share from their outings?  What are their most memorable encounters and relationships formed via their Contradict outings?  What do they appreciate the most about each others’ personality and approach to sharing the Gospel?  Answering all of these questions, they hope to inspire and encourage you to consider a similar approach to sharing the Gospel in public spaces.

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Contradict evangelism table at Saddleback Community College.
Contradict evangelism table at Saddleback Community College.