Q. I recently saw your Q&A on the cross. The story of Balak and Balaam in Numbers 24:2-5 seems to show when Balaam looked down to the Israelite camp that he saw the symbol of the cross. This would have been due to the positioning of the Israelite tribes and Judah being double in size. Also, John Hagee provides a teaching on the tabernacle and points out how the shape from within the Holy of Holies to outside the tabernacle makes the form of the cross. Reading this Q&A, I am being challenged once again. Is the symbol of the cross pagan? Please help me understand what is going on here? Where is the error?
A. We cannot be certain of what Balaam saw. It may have resembled more of an ‘x.’ Regarding John Hagee, we are familiar with him, but not with this specific teaching. However, we do not believe either of these two examples support the cross. The shape of the cross would require the Greek crux, which is not found in the Koine Greek of the New Testament. Instead, the words used (i.e., stauros and xulon) convey an upright post.
In addition to the Greek, the cross itself is a very old symbol that contains strong ties to paganism. In our Q&A we quote the Encyclopedia Britannica, which confirms that the cross is connected to pagan worship. There are many other sources verifying this connection. Consider the following:
“This Pagan symbol … the Tau, the sign of the cross, the indisputable sign of Tammuz, the false Messiah … the mystic Tau of the Chaldeans (Babylonians) and Egyptians – the true original form of the letter T the initial of the name of Tammuz … the Babylonian cross was the recognized emblem of Tammuz” (The Two Babylons, pp. 197, 205).
“By the middle of the third century A.D. the churches had either departed from, or had travestied, certain doctrines of the Christian faith. In order to increase the prestige of the apostate ecclesiastical system, pagans were received into the churches…and were permitted largely to retain their pagan signs and symbols. Hence, the Tau or T, in its most frequent form, with the cross-piece lowered, was adopted to stand for the cross of Christ” (Babylon Mystery Religion, p. 256).
“The pre-Christian cross of one form or another was in use as a sacred symbol among the Chaldeans, the Phoenicians, the Egyptians, and many other…nations. The Spaniards in the 16th century found it also among the Indians of Mexico and Peru. But its symbolic teaching was quite different from that which we now associate the cross” (Davis Dictionary of the Bible, p. 159).