THE OLD RUGGED CROSS
ATTEMPTING TO ALTER THE PAST
By: Frederick Meekins
In one classic science fiction plot, antagonists attempt to gain control of the
future by attempting to alter the past. Though it might not be as exciting as a
Dalorian speeding at 88 miles per hour, maniacal forces in our own reality are attempting
to accomplish nearly the same thing by drastically reconceptualizing our understanding of
Part of the way history is publicly remembered and allowed to exert an influence
over the cultural milieu is through the erection of assorted monuments and memorials.
This is itself a practice that, in part, traces its origin back through the pages of
In Joshua 4:5-7, the representatives of the tribes of Israel are instructed as to the
following: Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the
number of tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future,
when your children ask you, What do these stones mean? tell them that the flow
of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant...These stones are to be a
memorial to the people of Israel forever.
This is not the only incident in Scripture where the believer is admonished to respect
assorted physical historical commemorations. In Proverbs 22:28, the child of God is
admonished to remove not the ancient landmark.
No doubt one of the reasons thorough going secularists and even their sissified allies
among certain branches of the clergy leaning to the left fanatically lobby for the removal
of religious symbols and emblems commemorating solemn events in the life of the nation is
to no doubt alter our perception of history in the attempt to shift the country's
underlying values and focus. By so doing, it is hoped that Americans will go from
the most part being an independently inclined group of individuals who will protect their
precious heritage to the point of laying down one's life should circumstances require it
to one where the state is looked to as the first as the source of goodness and truth which
it is free to redefine as changing circumstances warrant.
One such perspective lent a voice calling for the removal of Peace Cross (also just as
correctly referred to as Victory Cross) in Bladensburg, Maryland. The American
Humanist Association is orchestrating the campaign because the monument is erected on
public land. In the mind of this agitprop front group, this violates the
non-establishment clause of the First Amendment.
However, one area minister in the 9/27/2012 Gazette newspaper of suburban Maryland
provided what he considered a number of Christian reasons as to why the memorial cross
should be taken down. Rev. Brian Adams of the Mount Rainier Christian Church is
aligning himself with the outcome advocated by the American Humanist Association because
he does not want the Cross associated with militarism and patriotism as a "general
symbol of sacrifice."
In making his argument, Rev. Adams enunciated a number of questionable assumptions.
He insists that the memorial is blaspheming the Cross by honoring violent people
with weapons defending a country while they try to kill people from other countries.
No one in their right mind said war was a picnic. But how else will at least a
small sliver of goodness otherwise survive in a fallen world? Does Rev. Adams
honestly believe that once things have degenerated to the point of physical hostilities
that appeals to reason, compassion, and the brotherhood of man alone will be enough to
dissuade those bent on utter desolation?
If the way Rev. Adams categorizes the Crucifixion and a number of Biblical imperatives
is a true summation of his doctrinal perspective, as a denomination the Disciples of
Christ is in serious trouble.
Though it along with the Resurrection is one of the building blocks of the Christian
religion and an offence or stumbling block to those hoping to make it to Heaven under the
power of their own good works which are as filthy rags, the death of Christ upon that
accursed tree was anything but, to use Rev. Adams' words, "the symbol of the son of
God dying peacefully." History and medical science concur that it was in fact
one of the most tortuous forms of execution ever devised.
Because the believer so appreciates the price paid by Jesus at the hill of Golgotha,
over the centuries artists and craftsmen inspired by the moving beauty of Christs
sacrifice on behalf of all sinners have transformed this implement of abject fear and
terror visually into a beacon of hope and adoration. However, in the context of what
happened that original Good Friday afternoon, the bejeweled sculptures and golden
masterpieces are about as accurate as depicting a ride in Old Sparky the electric chair as
if it was an overstuffed Lazy Boy recliner wrapped in a plush snuggy.
By referencing a work as readily available as "The Case For Christ" by Lee
Stroebel (so much so that many ministries give away free paperback editions), both
disciple and skeptic alike approximately 2000 years after this hinge point of history get
a better idea of just how peaceful the passing of this Nazarene carpenter and rabbi was
from this world. Stroebel in a chapter on the medical evidence lays out these
First, Jesus would have been secured to the cross by driving 5 inch nails
through a portion of the wrist containing a nerve nearly as sensitive as the one in the
area of the so-called funny bone. Once secured in this position, the cross would
have been hoisted upright with the feet being secured in position in a manner similar to
and as painful as that used upon the wrists. Yet, the suffering had only just
The gravity pulling Jesus downward as the cross was thrust upward would have stretched
at his arms, causing his shoulders to dislocate. With gravity pulling the individual
downward, whatever waning strength remains in the individual is mustered to thrust the
body upward in a reflex to merely continue the otherwise simple process of breathing so
few of us even give a second thought to. In so doing, splinters would be driven
deeper and deeper into the flesh of the back as it slid against a roughly hued pole not
crafted with comfort in mind. This struggle would eventually result in suffocation
as the victim in agony would grow too exhausted to continue.
Death upon the cross was of such a terrifying overwhelming agony that a new word had to
be coined in order to accurately describe its unique variety of suffering. That
word was none other than "excruciating".
So fundamentally wrong about this fundamental of the true Christian faith, it is no wonder
Rev. Adams is so profoundly mistaken in regards to other interpretative matters as well.
Rev. Adams writes that the cross is the symbol of Jesus telling his followers
to put down their weapons, and dying for the sake of hope, for the forgiveness and
salvation of even those who put him to death. What Rev. Adams has done here
has been to take a course of action applied in a particular incident and elevated it to
the status of a categorical universal imperative.
Rev. Adams is correct in the sense that in John 10:18 Jesus instructs that no man takes
His life but that He gives it willingly. This was demonstrated in Luke 4 when a mob
angered at words Christ delivered in the synagogue conspired to hurl Jesus over a cliff.
Amidst such homicidal frenzy, Jesus miraculously perambulated on through unnoticed
Yet, later on, the Savior was not as eager to elude His captors. When Peter
attempted to rescue Jesus resulting in the severing of the ear of the high priest's
servant, Jesus declares in Matthew 26:53-54, "Do you think I cannot call on my
Father, and he will at once and he will put at my disposal more than twelve legions of
angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen this
way (NIV)?" Christ chastised a foremost disciple because His unjust arrest was
to unfold so that the greater purpose of His being slain from the foundation of the world
might be fulfilled so that all calling upon the name of the Lord might be saved.
Though each of us are valued having been made in the image of God, the way we proceed
into Glory will not cause the very cosmos to unhinge if it does not transpire in a precise
manner as foretold as a part the public record of religious history. Therefore,
though honor is to be bestowed upon those that lose their lives for the sake of the
Gospel, one won't likely be given additional brownie points or a crown in Heaven should
one not do everything moral within one's own power to preserve one's own life.
In Matthew 5:39, Christ instructs his disciples to turn the other cheek. Often, the
application of this passage has encouraged an undue pacifism on the part of certain
quietist sects and overly pious theologians. However, what is being addressed here
is more akin to individual insults and certainly not the basis around which to build a
foreign or defense policy.
The Gospels should not be construed as denying the individual the right of self defense
should the individual feel the necessity to protect their life and that of their family.
In Luke 22:36, Christ instructs, "...and he that hath no sword, let him sell
his garment, and buy one."
Scripture admonishes the believer to be as wise as a serpent but as harmless as a dove.
While the Christian is not to go around stirring up undue trouble, neither is the
Christian to enter unequipped into situations that will result in overwhelming bodily harm
or unnecessary physical death.
Just how literally do those raising the turning of the other cheek to something on the
level of the Prime Directive from Star Trek want to take the remainder of the passage?
In Matthew 5:41, the text reads, "And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile,
go with him twain." So will those insisting upon the turning of the other cheek
as an unmodifiable absolute now teach their child that, instead of refusing to get into a
car with a stranger, that you as a parent will punish them severely if they don't comply
with every Sanduskite that slithers out of its sewer pile.
In his concluding paragraph, Rev. Adams declares that using the cross to symbolize the
military or to praise the military amounts to a blasphemy equivalent to taking the Lord's
name in vain. It seems that clergy within the Disciples of Christ would only be
interested in adhering to the strictures of the divine scriptures when they think these
teachings can be used to tear down the pillars upon which this great country rests.