Symbols of Christianity


In addition to my full-time calling as a local church minister, I also have the opportunity to teach at two universities.  For one of the universities (just beginning and has no students), I am currently crafting a class on communication focusing on Christian Witnessing.

One book I am using, “Communicating Christ Cross-Culturally” by David J. Hasselgrave investigates some basics of language and meaning as it prepares Christians to think about sharing the Gospel.  One section states: “But I do believe that God made man a ‘symbolizing’ creature, that he chose to reveal his Word by the use of certain symbol systems, and that he speaks today through that Word as it is communicated by his servants and as his Holy Spirit works in the hearts and minds of the hearers” (page 71).  He goes onto say on the next page: “the human being [is a] symbol using creature” (page 72).  He is speaking of language in general, but his statements got me thinking about the actual symbols of Christianity.

I hope you would agree that the main symbol of Christianity is THE CROSS.  The cross is indeed the main symbol of Christianity because Jesus Christ died on a cross.  The cross is a powerful symbol.  1 Corinthians 1:17-18 says, “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel– not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. 18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (NIV1984).  Philippians 2:8 says, “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross” (NIV1984).

The cross is a powerful rallying symbol of Christians because it speaks to the heart of our faith and communicates much about salvation.

I wondered… what else might work?

I wondered that because in some circles “the cross” has been co-opted by folks who do not believe.  People wear crosses who are not Christians.  A cross tattoo does not mean someone is a believer.  People burn crosses for awful racial or political statements.

Just so you know, I’m not going to shoot for other traditional symbols that are already used that we might see hanging in churches or that are often incorporated into stained glass windows.

So, I wondered… what else might work?


A.A. Milne (author of Winnie the Pooh) said via Winnie the Pooh: “Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits.”  Well, I did some sitting and thinking.  To be honest, I came up with only one symbol that would have the same powerful message as the cross.  Maybe I am too boxed into my view of Christianity.

How about the nail?  It would be quite effective for Christians

It was the nail that fixed Jesus to the cross.  It was the nails that caused Him great pain.  It was the nails that the Romans enjoyed pounding into Jesus.  Certainly, it was not the nails that kept Jesus on the cross… His love for us did that.  The nail is indeed a powerful symbol of the death of Jesus.

The nail (or the nail marks) are also powerful proof that Jesus rose from the dead.  John 20:25 says about the Apostle Thomas, “So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it” (NIV1984).  The nail marks were what he was looking for!

We also see that the nails/the nailing was an important thought when it came to crucifixion.  The Apostle Paul says in Colossians 2:13-14, “He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; He took it away, nailing it to the cross” (NIV1984).

Thinking inside the box, THE NAIL is an obvious wonderful symbol of Christianity that communicates Jesus’ death and His purposeful death for us.  Again, that is thinking inside the box.

Would you help me think outside the box?

What, in your opinion, would be an effective uniting meaningful symbol for Christians?  The cross certainly will never be replaced for us, but it is a worthy exercise to communicate the Scriptures well for as many people as possible.  Any out-of-the-box ideas?

Please feel free to comment below!


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