Most Protestants (excluding a majority of Lutherans and Anglicans), don't cross themselves. What is the basis behind this?

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    Why should they? It's neither commanded nor even described in the Bible. Shouldn't the question be directed to those who do practice this gesture?
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Nov 9, 2021 at 22:01
  • 2
    @curiousdannii Well considering it was common practice among the original two Churches (EO's and Catholics), it seems odd that the practice would just end for no reason.
    – Luke Hill
    Commented Nov 9, 2021 at 22:03
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    It's not odd at all. The whole point of the reformation was to cast off things with no connection to the scriptures.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Nov 9, 2021 at 22:04
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    @curiousdannii Right but the Lutherans and the Anglicans still practice it. Why didn't they reject it?
    – Luke Hill
    Commented Nov 9, 2021 at 22:09
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    @curiousdannii "Why should they?" Because early Christians did.
    – Geremia
    Commented Nov 10, 2021 at 0:05

2 Answers 2


Given the reformers emphasis on sola scriptura, this particular practice is not found in Scripture and was seen as idolatry by some reformers. Because Protestantism is rooted in the reformation, there is a historically rooted hesitancy to explore practices not found directly in the Scriptures. However, as with other traditions from throughout Christian history, there are Protestants today who are exploring the adoption of the sign of the cross (see second article). Certainly most Protestants would not feel that the sign of the cross had any special power, but perhaps they would adopt it as a reminder of what Christ has done for us.



  • 1
    Sola scriptura does not refer to only doing things in the scriptures - that's the regulative principle of worship. Which is probably relevant to this question, but would only be an answer for some protestants, as many protestants reject the regulative principle.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Nov 10, 2021 at 2:29
  • I like this answer, but I almost want to ask a second question on why Luther kept it since its still tradition.
    – Luke Hill
    Commented Nov 10, 2021 at 4:49
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    @LukeHill From the wiki article: "On this basis, many early Calvinists also eschewed musical instruments and advocated exclusive psalmody in worship". Now I see why JS Bach, a Lutheran, whose main output was sacred music wouldn't thrive if he were a Calvinist. I think he might not even achieved this if he were Catholic; because of the restrictions in musical forms he could compose in. Mozart was Catholic, relatively few sacred compositions. Commented Nov 10, 2021 at 5:39
  • This recent journal article describes JS Bach's piety and understanding of theology and how his music was suffused with both. Commented Nov 10, 2021 at 5:50
  • @LukeHill Luther also accepted transubstantiation as far as I know. He was, after all, a Catholic monk who sought reformation, so it makes sense he would retain certain elements of his prior form of worship. Another possible explanation is that as time passed protestants slowly shed more and more of their Catholic heritage just because they were disconnected from that context. These types of questions don't generally have simple answers with a single right explanation - it's a combination of various social, political, and religious historical developments.
    – Zanarkand
    Commented Nov 11, 2021 at 1:19

It’s like why some Christians don't practice the laying on of hands when praying for others in a personalized manner. It’s why some Christians don’t hug when greeting people, when COVID is not a threat. It’s why some people don’t like to say “amen” out loud in appreciation of a sermon. It’s why some churches discourage clapping after a beautiful song. It’s why some like to lift up their hands to worship God while others prefer to fold their hands. It’s mostly due to cultural differences.

  • This doesn’t really answer the question. People of the same culture in the reformation stopped this practice. I want to know the reasoning behind it. Culture doesn’t work.
    – Luke Hill
    Commented Nov 10, 2021 at 22:46
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    I don't think it was ever taught by any of the Reformers that one should not make the sign of the cross. Martin Luther says in his Small Catechism: “In the morning and in the evening . . . you shall bless yourself with the sign of the holy cross and say, In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." Yet, very few Lutherans in America start their morning or end their evenings with that ritual.
    – Jess
    Commented Nov 11, 2021 at 0:51

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