Question: Why don't Latter-day Saints use the symbol of the cross?

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Question: Why don't Latter-day Saints use the symbol of the cross?

From the LDS perspective the empty tomb is a more fitting symbol of the Savior's atonement than is the Cross

It is claimed that there is "in the mind of the Latter-day Saint, the significance of the cross is not nearly as important as it is to the evangelical Christian." [1]

From the LDS perspective the empty tomb is a more fitting symbol of the Savior's atonement than is the Cross. We mean no disrespect towards those who choose otherwise; but we would like our position to be more faithfully reported by those who think we need their help. Latter-day Saints do not worship at the foot of the Cross; they worship at the feet of Christ. Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Creator of the universe; He is the Lord and Redeemer of humankind; He is the Founder and Head of His Church; He is my Savior; I have accepted Him as such, and seek constantly to do His will, to do as He would have me do.

The cross is important in LDS worship, and it is simply not the case that it is less important for the LDS than for the evangelical Christian

The cross is important in LDS worship, and it is simply not the case that it is less important for the LDS than for the evangelical Christian. Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, hung and died on the cross; it was by this act that He consummated all that the Father sent him into the world to accomplish. If there is a single reason why there are no crosses on LDS buildings, it is certainly not to be attributed to such an idea as that presented by McKeever and Johnson. The reason, or reasons, as McKeever and Johnson suppose (but never list), has nothing whatsoever to do with whether the Garden or the cross is the most important element of the Atonement. Both are significant to the Latter-day Saints. There might in fact be several reasons for the lack of a cross on the LDS chapels, but probably the most important one, and one to which evangelicals such as McKeever and Johnson ought to be able to relate, is that there is simply no scriptural warrant for it. Granted, there were no specifically Christian buildings during New Testament times, other than synagogues, and later private homes. Nevertheless there is no warrant. It is simply a tradition that has arisen within historical Christianity, as part of its cultural evolution. It is not a scripturally based practice. But there is another reason (and the only one the present writer is aware of) why LDS buildings do not have crosses on them. M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve wrote not long ago:

Most other Christians use the cross as a symbol of their devotion to Christ, a physical reminder of His crucifixion on Calvary. So why don't members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints follow suit? We revere Jesus. He is the Head of our Church, which bears His name. He is our Savior and our Redeemer. We love Him. Through Him we worship and pray to our Heavenly Father. We are grateful beyond measure for the essential and awesome power His atonement has in each of our lives. But while thoughts of the blood He shed for us in Gethsemane and on Calvary fill our hearts with profound appreciation, it isn't just the fact that He died that is so meaningful to us. Our hope and faith are rooted in the profound understanding that He lives today, and that He continues to lead and guide His Church and His people through His spirit. We rejoice in the knowledge of a living Christ, and we reverently acknowledge the miracles He continues to work today in the lives of those who have faith in Him. That is why we choose to place less emphasis on a symbol that can be construed to represent primarily His death. We believe that only as we focus our attention on the Savior and build our lives upon the strong foundation the Atonement and gospel give us, are we prepared to resist the challenges and temptations so prevalent in today's world. [2]

Notes

  1. McKeever and Johnson, Mormonism 101, 141.
  2. M. Russell Ballard, Our Search for Happiness. An Invitation to Understand The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1993), 13–14. A Protestant minister, after touring the open house in the Arizona Temple, said to Gordon B. Hinckley, "I've been all through this building, this temple which carries on its face the name of Jesus Christ, but nowhere have I seen any representation of the cross, the symbol of Christianity. I have noted your buildings elsewhere and likewise find an absence of the cross. Why is this when you say you believe in Jesus Christ?" Gordon B. Hinckley responded, "I do not wish to give offense to any of my Christian brethren who use the cross on the steeples of their cathedrals and at the altars of their chapels, who wear it on their vestments, and imprint it on their books and other literature. But for us, the cross is the symbol of the dying Christ, while our message is a declaration of the living Christ," in Ensign (May 1975), 92. For a similar reason the life of the adult Jesus is more emphasized in LDS thought than the manger.