I attended a Protestant Evangelical church for several years that had no crosses, and no statues of saints, in or on the building.
This seems to be in keeping with the spirit and letter of the 2nd Commandment, which tells us “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them…” ~ Exodus 20:4-5 (KJV)
Birds, Animals, And Fish
The English word “heaven” is translated from the Hebrew word “shamayim,” and it means not only heaven but the sky. Genesis 2:20 tells us that “Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air [shamayim], and to every beast of the field…”. This gives us a clearer picture of what God was saying in the 2nd Commandment, and I think the New Living Translation does a great job of putting it very succinctly.
Do not make idols of any kind, whether in the shape of birds or animals or fish. ~ Exodus 20:4 (NLT)
Birds, Animals, Fish, And Anyone In Heaven
Furthermore, if we extend the meaning of “shamayim” out to include heaven and not just the sky, we could include anyone who we believe is in heaven. So, we are not to make graven images of birds, animals, fish, or anyone in heaven (including God). Now, if this were a court of law, I could make a compelling case that Exodus 20:4 does not prohibit crosses. Yet so many Protestant Evangelical churches have done away with crosses.
Selective Enforcement Of Scripture
Although Exodus 20:4 does not prohibit graven images of crosses, it does prohibit graven images of birds– and this church certainly had graven images of birds.
Why is the bird allowed, but not the cross?
Furthermore, the congregants of this church would certainly never put statues of saints on their dashboards because we are not to make graven images of anything in heaven. But look at the verse again. We are also not to make graven images of anything “in the water,” which includes fish!
I certainly saw this fish on cars at that church. Why is it wrong to put a graven image on your dashboard, but okay to put one on your trunk?
I see this as a double-standard, hypocrisy, and selective enforcement of Scripture. In my opinion, Protestantism often doesn’t see the plank in its own eye, because it is so busy looking for sawdust in the Catholic eye– truth spoken in love.
The Bible is always proven true.