Crucifixes and Protestant Christianity?
B. Hodge, Biblical Authority Ministries, August 5, 2022
Question: Should Protestants Display An Image Like This? From RH
Answer: Roman Catholics have Jesus on a cross (called a crucifix at that point). A crucifix is widely known as a symbol of Roman Catholicism. So, I’d be careful of using it or displaying it publicly especially at Protestant locations since we hold to the 66 books of the Bible as the authority, not the Pope or apocryphal books or alleged deuterocanonical works.
That specific crucifix looks a lot like a Latin American Roman Catholic crucifix. Many in Latin America were influenced by Catholic Spain. Protestants tend to have Jesus off the cross indicative of Jesus being alive and not still dead upon a cross; thus, there is a revered focus on the resurrection (Luke 24:6) and His current position of sitting at the right hand on the throne of God (e.g., Hebrews 12:2). The empty cross is a reminder for Protestants to daily take up their own cross and follow Christ (e.g., Luke 9:23).
One reason many protestants distance themselves from a crucifix is that Catholics often pray to and worship graven images of Jesus (or Mary, apostles, and saints, etc.), which is a form of idol worship. Protestants pray to God to alone as our mediator (e.g., 1 Timothy 2:5). Some protestant denominations go so far as to say that graven images of Jesus are a violation of the graven image statute in The Ten Commandments.
Early Protestants debated these issues during the early reformational period you may find some that have crucifixes as a carryover from Catholicism, but most have moved to an empty cross. Though Protestants largely recognize that images of Christ for teaching are one thing and acceptable, but typical Roman Catholic version of images of Christ on a cross (crucifix) in Catholicism is also largely for worship.
Protestants, not wanting to be confused with Catholicism, tend to avoid crucifixes in the same way they avoid putting a picture of the Pope up in their house. Think of it like this, the swastika has been used by cultures for thousands of years—even by Christians. But it has become a symbol of the religious and political movement called Nazism. If one were to display a swastika, even if they had no belief in Nazism, they would immediately be branded in that camp or associated with that movement.
Since crucifixes are seen as a Roman Catholic symbol worldwide, even in innocence, one would often be lumped into that camp whether they realize it or not. I hope this helps, God bless.