Biblical Exposition

The Cross & the Crucifix

(From a letter Steve wrote to a Evangelical Protestant who asked about the Catholic Crucifix)


Dear Evangelical Friend:

You display a bare cross in your home; we display the cross and the crucifix. What is the difference and why? The cross is an upright post with a crossbeam in the shape of a “T”. A crucifix is the same, but it has Christ’s body (corpus) attached to the cross.

As an Evangelical Protestant I rejected the crucifix, as you do—Christ was no longer on the cross; he had ascended into heaven. So why do I now tremble in love and awe at the site of a crucifix? Let’s examine the history and issues surrounding the two.

I will provide a brief overview of the Cross and the Crucifix, the origin, the history, and the differing perspectives of Catholic and Protestant. It will try to catch the historical flow and include the pertinent points. The outline is as follows:


1. The Three Main Protestant Objections to the Crucifix
2. Images and Gods in the Old Testament
3. Images and Images of Christ in the New Testament
4. The Cross in the First Centuries
5. The Crucifix Enters the Picture
6. The “Reformation” and Iconoclasm
7. Modern Anti-Catholics and the Crucifix
8. Ecumenical Considerations

To read the whole article, click here. To read Steve’s other articles, click here. For Steve’s talk “The Pain of the Crucifixion,“ click here.

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Mary, Assumed into Heaven as the Queen

by Steve Ray on August 12, 2019

A while ago a man called in to say my argument for the Assumption of Mary including references from the Old Testament was wrong.

Bathsheba takes care of young King Solomon; she later became his queen

I had quoted 1 Kings 2:19 where Solomon had raised his mother up to a throne on his right hand to reign as Queen of the Kingdom. The man arguing with me said, “That was the ONLY case of a mother being a queen in the Old Testament.”

He prefaced his comment by saying that he knew the Old Testament well and it does not support what I had asserted.

Well, if he DID know his Old Testament as well as he said, he would realize I was correct and he was very wrong.

In the Old Testament, the kings of Judah following Solomon had queens but the queens were not their wives — but their mothers — with one exception of the queen being a grandmother.

AncientIsrael.jpgSolomon had 1,000 wives and concubines — but he only had one mother. Click here to read the section on The Great Lady or Queen Mother in Roland de Vaux’s book Ancient Israel: Its Life and Institution.

The Queen Mothers of earthly kings of Judah were not always good examples or godly queens. Many of them were egregious sinners and would intercede for the people with improper requests to the king. But, this takes nothing away from the fact that the mother was the queen and intercessor. It only confirms that many of the Old Testament kings and queens were disobedient to God.

But there is a perfect King and a perfect Queen — Jesus and his mother Mary. They follow the pattern of protocol and the royal institution. It is the royal protocol and the historical precedent and the office that is important in the analogy. Kings of Israel DO what Kings of Israel do and always have done. Jesus is THE king of Israel and would follow the protocol.

Jesus is a king sitting on the throne of his fathers David and Solomon (Luke 1:30-33; Daniel 7:13-14; Rev 5:5; 19:16) and all the subsequent kings of Judah. Solomon was called the son of David because that’s what he was. But the phrase “Son of David” became a title of the Messiah. Jesus is referred to as THE Son of David (Matt 1:1; 21:9) and is therefore the ultimate and true king.

The kings of Judah all had queens but the queens were not their wives — they were their mothers. This is the royal protocol of the Old Testament and the kings of Judah. It is ultimately fulfilled in Christianity and the Kingdom of God which, obviously, is based on the Old Testament model. Jesus is our king and obviously his mother is the queen. It is proper and justly so.

Remember, the kings of Israel do what the kings of Israel do. Jesus is the ultimate King of Israel, so…

…let’s follow the logic:
GB_king_solomon1) Solomon and subsequent kings of Judah raised their mothers to Queenship which became established as an official office;
2)
the mothers were referred to as the Queen Mothers or the Great Lady;
3)
they sat on a throne near their sons (1 Ki 2:19);
4) The kings of Israel do what the kings of Israel do;
5) Jesus is the quintessential Jewish King with an eternal kingdom;
6)
Jesus is the fulfillment of the Israelite offices of Prophet, Priest & King;
7)
As the Davidic king, Jesus who obeyed the Law perfectly, would honor his mother more than earthy kings honored their mothers;
8) It is biblical, historical, and reasonable to expect the perfect Jewish king to follow the protocol of the kingdom and his fathers by assuming his mother to a throne at his right hand.
9)
It is proper and biblical to consider Mary in a position of intercessor as the Queen of Heaven.
10) Mary is seen as the Queen of Heaven in Revelation 12:1.

Queen of HeavenIs it impossible or unlikely that God would assume someone into heaven body and soul? All of us will be taken us some day (1 Cor 15:52). In the Bible there are at least two clear examples of humans taken up to heaven body and soul. Both Enoch (Gen 5:24; Heb 11:5) and Elijah (2 Kings 2:1-11) were taken up into heaven body and soul. Mary was not the first! There was already precedent set!

Queenship of Mary is a Marian feast day in the liturgical calendar of the Roman Catholic Church,established by Pope Pius XII. On 11 October 1954, the Pontiff pronounced the new feast in his encyclical Ad caeli reginam. The feast was celebrated on May 31, the last day of the Marian month. In 1969, Pope Paul VI moved the feast day to August 22.

***********************************

One question was asked today about the Queen in Psalm 45. If the queen was the bride marrying the king, then how can we say the queen was always the mother and that it was a pattern by which we could see Jesus, like other Jewish kings, appointing his mother as his queen. I speculate a bit on the matter here.

For a response to the argument that Jeremiah condemns those who worship the Queen of Heaven, click here.

For more on Mary, get my documentary filmed on location. It is entitled Mary, Mother of God. You can learn more about it and order it here. My talk Mary: Real Girl & Woman of Mystery here.

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The birth and presentation of Mary is described in the early 2nd century document known and loved by the first Christians. It is the source for the names of Mary’s parents Joachim and Anna. It is entitled “The Protoevangelium of James.”  It is fascinating.

I have only provided the first 1/3 of the document. The second part is about Joseph and Mary’s betrothal. The third about the birth of Jesus.

The Protoevangelium of James 
The Birth of Mary the Holy Mother of God,
and Very Glorious Mother of Jesus Christ

In Honor of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary on September 8.

IN THE RECORDS OF THE TWELVE TRIBES OF ISRAEL was Joachim, a man rich exceedingly; and he brought his offerings double, saying: There shall be of my superabundance to all the people, and there shall be the offering for my forgiveness to the Lord for a propitiation for me. For the great day of the Lord was at hand, and the sons of Israel were bringing their offerings. And there stood over against him Rubim, saying: It is not meet for thee first to bring thine offerings, because thou hast not made seed in Israel. And Joachim was exceedingly grieved, and went away to the registers of the twelve tribes of the people, saying: I shall see the registers of the twelve tribes of Israel, as to whether I alone have not made seed in Israel. And he searched, and found that all the righteous had raised up seed in Israel. And he called to mind the patriach Abraham, that in the last day God gave him a son Isaac. And Joachim was exceedingly grieved, and did not come into the presence of his wife; but he retired to the desert, and there pitched his tent, and fasted forty days and forty nights, saying in himself: I will not go down either for food or for drink until the Lord my God shall look upon me, and prayer shall be my food and drink.

2. And his wife Anna mourned in two mournings, and lamented in two lamentations, saying: I shall bewail my widowhood; I shall bewail my childlessness. And the great day of the Lord was at hand; and Judith her maid-servant said: How long dost thou humiliate thy soul? Behold, the great day of the Lord is at hand, and it is unlawful for thee to mourn. But take this head-band, which the woman that made it gave to me; for it is not proper that I should wear it, because I am a maid-servant, and it has a royal appearance. And Anna said: Depart from me; for I have not done such things, and the Lord has brought me very low. I fear that some wicked person has given it to thee, and thou hast come to make me a sharer in thy sin. And Judith said: Why should I curse thee, seeing that the Lord hath shut thy womb, so as not to give thee fruit in Israel? And Anna was grieved exceedingly, and put off her garments of mourning, and cleaned her head, and put on her wedding garments, and about the ninth hour went down to the garden to walk. And she saw a laurel, and sat under it, and prayed to the Lord, saying: O God of our fathers, bless me and hear my prayer, as Thou didst bless the womb of Sarah, and didst give her a son Isaac.

3. And gazing towards the heaven, she saw a sparrow’s nest in the laurel, and made a lamentation in herself, saying: Alas! who begot me? and what womb produced me? because I have become a curse in the presence of the sons of Israel, and I have been reproached, and they have driven me in derision out of the temple of the Lord. Alas! to what have I been likened? I am not like the fowls of the heaven, because even the fowls of the heaven are productive before Thee, O Lord. Alas! to what have I been likened? I am not like the beasts of the earth, because even the beasts of the earth are productive before Thee, O Lord. Alas! to what have I been likened? I am not like these waters, because even these waters are productive before Thee, O Lord. Alas! to what have I been likened? I am not like this earth, because even the earth bringeth forth its fruits in season, and blesseth Thee, O Lord.

4. And, behold, an angel of the Lord stood by, saying: Anna, Anna, the Lord hath heard thy prayer, and thou shalt conceive, and shall bring forth; and thy seed shall be spoken of in all the world. And Anna said: As the Lord my God liveth, if I beget either male or female, I will bring it as a gift to the Lord my God; and it shall minister to Him in holy things all the days of its life. And, behold, two angels came, saying to her: Behold, Joachim thy husband is coming with his flocks. For an angel of the Lord went down to him, saying: Joachim, Joachim, the Lord God hath heard thy prayer Go down hence; for, behold, thy wife Anna shall conceive. And Joachim went down and called his shepherds, saying: Bring me hither ten she-lambs without spot or blemish, and they shall be for the Lord my God; and bring me twelve tender calves, and they shall be for the priests and the elders; and a hundred goats for all the people. And, behold, Joachim came with his flocks; and Anna stood by the gate, and saw Joachim coming, and she ran anti hung upon his neck, saying: Now I know that the Lord God hath blessed me exceedingly; for, behold the widow no longer a widow, and I the childless shall conceive. And Joachim rested the first day in his house.

images5. And on the following day he brought his offerings, saying in himself: If the Lord God has been rendered gracious to me, the plate on the priest’s forehead will make it manifest to me. And Joachim brought his offerings, and observed attentively the priest’s plate when he went up to the altar of the Lord, and he saw no sin in himself. And Joachim said: Now I know that the Lord has been gracious unto me, and has remitted all my sins. And he went down from the temple of the Lord justified, and departed to his own house. And her months were fulfilled, and in the ninth month Anna brought forth. And she said to the midwife: What have I brought forth? and she said: A girl. And said Anna: My soul has been magnified this day. And she laid her down. And the days having been fulfilled, Anna was purified, and gave the breast to the child, and called her name Mary.

7. And her months were added to the child. And the child was two years old, and Joachim said: Let us take her up to the temple of the Lord, that we may pay the vow that we have vowed, lest perchance the Lord send to us, and our offering be not received. And Anna said: Let us wait for the third year, in order that the child may not seek for father or mother. And Joachim said: So let us wait. And the child was three years old, and Joachim said: Invite the daughters of the Hebrews that are undefiled, and let them take each a lamp, and let them stand with the lamps burning, that the child may not turn back, and her heart be captivated from the temple of the Lord. And they did so until they went up into the temple of the Lord. And the priest received her, and kissed her, and blessed her, saying: The Lord has magnified thy name in all generations. In thee, on the last of the days, the Lord will manifest His redemption to the sons of Israel. And he set her down upon the third step of the altar, and the Lord God sent grace upon her; and she danced with her feet, and all the house of Israel loved her.

Ann-Joachim-Mary-233x3008. And her parents went down marveling, and praising the Lord God, because the child had not turned back. And Mary was in the temple of the Lord as if she were a dove that dwelt there, and she received food from the hand of an angel. And when she was twelve years old there was held a council of the priests, saying: Behold, Mary has reached the age of twelve years in the temple of the Lord. What then shall we do with her, test perchance she defile the sanctuary of the Lord? And they said to the high priest: Thou standest by the altar of the Lord; go in, and pray concerning her; and whatever the Lord shall manifest unto thee, that also will we do. And the high priest went in, taking the robe with the twelve bells into the holy of holies; and he prayed concerning her. And behold an angel of the Lord stood by him, saying unto him: Zacharias, Zacharias, go out and assemble the widowers of the people, and let them bring each his rod; and to whomsoever the Lord shall show a sign, his wife shall she be. And the heralds went out through all the circuit of Judaea, and the trumpet of the Lord sounded, and all ran.

Click here for the rest of the document

 

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Is the Eucharist just a Symbol? Podcast on the Eucharist with Steve Ray

June 26, 2019

In this episode of The Cordial Catholic Podcast, I talk to Steve Ray, author, speaker, and Catholic evangelist about the Eucharist. Is it a sign and symbol like Protestants say that it is, or something more? What did the Early Church believe? We unpack Steve’s conversion story to find out how a Bible-believing Baptist of 30 […]

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Corpus Christi Sunday: Multiplication of Loaves a Miracle or Just a Lesson in Sharing?

June 23, 2019

When confronted with this at Mass a while ago I wrote a letter to the priest which became an article in Catholic Answers Magazine. Article HERE. The priest said there was no miracle when Jesus multiplied the loaves and fish. All he did was teach selfish people to share and they pulled extra loaves and fish from […]

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How Much Can a Camel Drink? – as he bites me!

June 13, 2019

Since we will soon be in Jordan and Israel again riding camels, I thought I would post some fun and interesting facts – and a movie of the camel trying to bite me. I recently wrote the Bible Study on Genesis for www.CatholicScriptureStudy.com. In chapter 24 Abraham sends his unnamed servant to find a bride […]

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When Is the Word “Love” First Used in the Bible?

June 8, 2019

When is the first time the word love is used in the Bible? It is great fun to ask a million questions when you open the Bible. Good questions serve to unlock the treasure chest revealing untold riches. Since the Bible is a book and books are made of words, it is great fun to […]

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Laughter in the Bible: A Quiz

June 7, 2019

1. Which couple laughed at the incredibility of God’s promise to them? 2. Which son brought laughter to his mother? 3. Which king was laughed at when he invited people from all over Israel to celebrate the Passover? 4. Who advised that laughter should change to mourning? 5. Who referred to himself as laughingstock? 6 […]

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Did Jesus Ascend into Heaven from Mount of Olives (Acts 1:12) or from Bethany (Luke 24:50)?

May 30, 2019

Today is Ascension Thursday. The Ascension always falls on a Thursday, 40 days after Resurrection Sunday. Then 9 days of praying in the Upper Room (1st Novena) and on the 50th day from the Resurrection the Holy Spirit fell on Pentecost. Pentecost means “the fiftieth day.” One of our past pilgrims wrote to me expressing […]

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Interesting Explanation of Baptism from Protestant Dictionary – “baptism…in itself is unimportant”

May 11, 2019

I was looking up Greek definitions of the word baptism and found this interesting “definition.” This dictionary is usually very good but I found this summary of biblical passages on baptism very intriguing and disingenuous. Take a look at this definition and think about it for yourself. Analyze it and the verses used. Notice how they […]

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Plants and Trees of the Bible – What a Fun Show!

May 10, 2019

You may not realize how often plants and trees play a part in Scripture! To understand the land and culture of the Bible is to open your eyes to the whole story of salvation. Recently I did a fun show on Relevant Radio about the Trees & Plants in the Bible. Hope you enjoy it. […]

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Hair Cut only Once a Year

May 8, 2019

David had a very handsome son. His name was Absalom and he betrayed his father the king and led a rebellion against him. The Bible says that Absalom was “beautiful“ and he only cut his hair once a year. Here is what the Bible says about him: “Now in all Israel there was no one so much to be praised […]

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Mary, Ark of the New Covenant & the Visitation to Elizabeth

May 1, 2019

Read my article about Mary, typology and reading the Bible with the Fathers of the Church and the Visitation. It was published in 2005 in Catholic Answers Magazine but is as relevant today as then, as relevant now as in the 1st century.. Click HERE for the whole article. Click HERE for the full article.

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Is Scripture Sufficient…

April 29, 2019

Someone wrote a friend of mine asserting that 2 Timothy 3:16 proved that Scripture alone was all we needed. The famous passage reads, “All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” […]

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How Long Was Jesus in the Tomb? Another Contradiction?

April 20, 2019

“For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matt. 12:38-40) Skeptics claim to have discovered an error in the New Testament —claiming Jesus was not in the tomb […]

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Passover Lamb: A True Story

April 12, 2019

Contributed by my son Jesse Ray a while ago but worthy of reposting… I arrived on the scene with my gun and stoically loaded in some self-defense rounds (although I was clearly not in danger). I did not lavish the idea of slaughtering a lamb, but my friend and new-farmer, Pat, called and sheepishly asked for […]

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