As a Catholic, I am officially authorized to announce to the other members of my Christian family (in other words, Protestants) that the RCC doesn't hold the copyright on things like making the sign of the cross, displaying crucifixes, statues, paintings and murals, liturgical music (as opposed to this stuff), etc. Feel free to add any or all of these things to your practice. You might be surprised at how much they help your focus and your devotion to our Lord and Savior. That's kinda why we use them in the first place.
I promise you that if you make the sign of the cross, no Catholic will swoop down on you, grap you up and say "Ha ha! You screwed up! Now you're Catholic! I'm taking you to Rome to be branded with the Fisherman's ring!"
And I'll tell you something else... but this part is top secret, so don't let it get out, OK? Ready? Here it is: We Roman Catholics don't hold the copyright on Mary, either. That's right! Our Protestant brothers and sisters are free to look to the mother of Christ for inspiration and for a beautiful Christian example any time they want to! In fact... and get this, this is gonna knock your socks off.. you can even pray the Rosary (and find that it's an amazingly rewarding meditative experience) without waking up the next morning tied to a pew in St. Peter's Basilica! Shhhhhh! Don't let that cat out of the bag!
Darrell is having a bit of fun and being playfully facetious. But he's right and I want to address it seriously.
Lutherans who object to paintings, mosaics, murals, icons, statues, or crucifixes in their churches simply do not know or understand their own heritage. The Lutheran Reformers NEVER objected to these things. In fact, Martin Luther came out of hiding, risking his own life, to put a stop to the radical destruction of churches that was taking place in his name during his absence.
On making the sign of the cross. It is precisely because some Lutherans frown on this practice that I will do it all the more. How dare anyone try to restrict my freedom to remind myself of my baptism into the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. So, as a pastor, I make the sign of the cross at numerous points throughout the liturgy, both upon myself and upon my congregation to mark us all as those redeemed by Christ, the crucified.
In 1529, Martin Luther wrote a morning and evening prayer in his Small Catechism, a booklet that every Lutheran should be instructed from. And Luther says: "In the morning when you get up, make the sign of the holy cross and say, In the Name of the Father.... Then, kneeling or standing, repeat the Creed and the Lord's Prayer." And he gives the same instructions for in the evening when going to bed.
On private confession, Luther said in his Large Catechism, a book our church pledges to follow: "When I urge you to go to confession, I am simply urging you to be a Christian."
On Mary and the Saints, the Augsburg Confession (another text our church pledges to follow) says, "It is also taught among us that saints should be kept in remembrance so that our faith may be strengthened when we see what grace they received and how they were sustained in faith. Moreover, their good works are to be an example for us...." And of course, as Melanchthon was quick to add, "However, it cannot be proved from the Scriptures that we are to invoke saints or seek help from them."
Certainly there are real and substantive differences between the Church of Rome and the Lutheran Reformation. But it is counter-productive when the ill-informed try to create differences where they don't exist, all because of some irrational aversion to things that look Catholic. Many such Lutherans are really closet Baptists. (No offense intended to my very fine Baptist Christian friends. I'm just struggling for a renewal of Lutheran identity.). Sphere: Related Content