I firmly believe in the death of Jesus Christ, that it provided the ransom that opens the door to everlasting life for those who truly demonstrate faith in him. (Matthew 20:28; John 3:16) However, I do not believe that Jesus died on a cross, I do believe that Jesus died on an upright stake with no crossbeam. Why do I say this?
The New Catholic Encyclopedia admits: "The cross is found in both pre-Christian and non-Christian cultures, where it has largely a cosmic or natural signification." Various other authorities have linked the "cross" with nature worship and pagan sex rites.
W. E. Vine, respected British Bible scholar, offers these hard facts: "By the middle of the 3rd century A.D. pagans were received into the churches and were permitted largely to retain their pagan signs and symbols. Hence the Tau or T, with the cross-piece lowered, was adopted."-Vine's Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words.
Oxford University's Companion Bible says: "The evidence is that the Lord was put to death upon an upright stake, and NOT on two pieces of timber placed at any angle."
More important, no matter what device was used for the torture and execution of Jesus, no image or symbol of it should become an object of devotion or worship for Christians. "Flee from idolatry," commands the Bible. (1 Corinthians 10:14; 1 John 5:21) Why, then, was this pagan symbol of the cross promoted? Apparently, to make it easier for pagans to accept "Christianity." In the fourth century, pagan Emperor Constantine became a convert to apostate Christianity and promoted the cross as its symbol.
The Greek word used in the Scriptures that is generally translated "cross" is stauros'. But stauros' basically means "an upright pale or stake." The Companion Bible points out: "stauros never means two pieces of timber placed across one another at any angle. There is nothing in the Greek of the New Testament even to imply two pieces of timber." The book, "The Non-Christian Cross" by J.D. Parsons (London, 1896) states: "There is not a single sentence in any of the numerous writings forming the New Testament, which, in the original Greek, bears even indirect evidence to the effect that the stauros used in the case of Jesus was other than an ordinary stauros [upright stake]; much less to the effect that it consisted, not of one piece of timber, but of two pieces nailed together in the form of a cross. " The writer also states: "It is not a little misleading upon the part of our teachers to translate stauros' as cross when rendering Greek documents of the Church into our native tongue."
In several texts, Bible writers use another word for the instrument of Jesus' death. It is the Greek word "xylon". (Acts 5:30; 10:39; 13:29; Galatians 3:13; 1 Peter 2:24) A Greek-English Lexicon, by Liddell and Scott, defines "xylon" as meaning: "Wood cut and ready for use, firewood, timber, etc, piece of wood, log, beam, post, cudgel, club, STAKE on which criminals were impaled, of live wood, tree."
Explaining why a simple stake was often used for executions, the book Das Kreuz und die Kreuzigung ( i.e. The Cross and the Crucifixion), by Hermann Fulda, states: "Trees were not everywhere available at the places chosen for public execution. So a simple beam was sunk into the ground. On this the outlaws, with hands raised upward and often also with their feet, were bound or nailed."
From the foregoing, we clearly see that it is WRONG to use the Cross in worship.
I once again emphasize that I believe in the death of Jesus Christ, that he died for us, with benefits to us if we show true faith in him. However, Christ died, NOT on a cross, but on an upright stake.
NB: Pastors, please examine this matter very seriously since we do not want to intentionally or unintentionally mislead our church members.