Bucer on the “Sign of the Cross”

One of my favorite St. Athanasius quotes includes the phrase, “their so-called gods are routed by the sign of the cross, and the crucified Savior is proclaimed in all the world as God and Son of God.” [more quote]

Each and every doxology spoken deserves this physical affirmation.

The following is excerpted from The Sociology of the Church: Essays in Reconstruction by James B. Jordan:

Since, however, it is generally assumed in presbyterian circles that signing with the cross is “too catholic,” I offer this quotation from Martin Bucer, the man who taught John Calvin, and one of the four foremost Reformers. Bucer is writing concerning the sign of the cross in baptism, but what he says is relevant elsewhere:

martin-bucer_1“This sign was not only used in the churches in very ancient times: it is still an admirably simple reminder of the cross of Christ, For these reasons I do not consider that its use is either unsuitable or valueless, so long as it is accepted and used with a strict understanding of its meaning, untainted by any admixture of superstition or servitude of an element or casual adherence to common custom .” [1]

The point here is that the protestant Reformers did not interpret the “regulative principle of Scripture” in such a minimalist way as to exclude all simple gestures.

1. Bucer, Censura; found in E. C. Whitaker, Martin Bucer and The Book of Common Prayer. Alcuin Club Collections No. 55 (London: SPCK, 1974), p. 90.