Monday, May 10, 2010

The Upside-Down Cross

Lies have an interesting way of revealing the truth.

Confused? I'll explain.

When a lie spreads through a large group of people, it often reveals a lot about what those people really believe. As an example, I'll talk about a lie that is pervasive through large sections of the American evangelical church.

The lie is this: the peace sign is actually the sign of Nero; a broken, upside-down cross.

In actuality, the peace sign is based on the semaphore signals for N and D, which stand for "Nuclear Disarmament".

What does this lie reveal about the American evangelical church? First, the obvious, it reveals the conservative nature of American evangelicalism. It reveals how deeply rooted their opposition to liberal politics is. They have no problem believing that the peace sign, a common symbol of the anti-war movement in the 60's and 70's, as actually the symbol of the most hated persecutor of Christianity in history.

But it also reveals something else. It reveals that they believe that the message of the cross is diametrically opposed to the message of peace.

So we see that the lie reveals a fundamental misunderstanding about the meaning of the cross. The message of the cross is fundamentally a message of peace. Peace, first of all, between God and humanity, and secondarily, peace among men. (If you don't believe me, consider what Paul said about Jesus.)

Of course, the lie is even more revealing than that. Why would conservative evangelicals feel the need to slander peace activists like this?

The answer is simple, if they don't, then their congregations might consider the fact that Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers." They might consider the fact that the call for nuclear disarmament sounds a lot like Jesus' call to turn the other cheek. In other words, they use this lie to make sure that their followers' eyes remain blind to the truth.

The truth is that there is another symbol, one that is easily recognizable, which more accurately fits the label of "upside-down cross". That symbol is the crusader's sword.

First of all, cruciform swords, when held upright, bear a clear resemblance to an upside-down cross. More importantly, however, the crusaders inverted the message of Christ. They took a message of peace of love and used it as a justification for violence and bloodshed. When they drew their swords, they turned the cross upside down, both literally and metaphorically.

This perversion is still alive and well in the church. Men spread the lie that the peace sign is an upside-down cross to obscure the fact that they themselves have turned the cross upside-down. In the words of Greg Boyd, they have fused the cross and the sword.

In my experience, nothing combats a lie more effectively than the truth. If you hear someone calling the peace sign an upside-down cross, please correct them. Also, consider telling people about the true upside-down cross.

1 comment:

  1. I think you misspelled "nukeular."

    Also, what about pogo sticks? I always thought they had some nefarious intentions.

    Clearly the best way to make peace is with swords. Just ask any 5-year old with a stick-shaped object; or, ask any leader with an arsenal of things that go boom.