Visual representations and signs - also known as symbols - are very important in the Christian religion. Christians may be called "people of the book" (meaning they are readers of the Bible) and "people of faith" (meaning they believe in unseen things). Still, imagery plays an important role in the Christian life. For instance, symbols incorporating colors, shapes, and numbers, can have significant importance in the right context.
While faith apart from the senses may be of primary importance in Christianity, believers recognize that God is also the creator of the human senses, including sight. Moreover, what is visible and physical can, under the right circumstances, be an aid to faith. For example, when Christians remember the cross of Jesus Christ, in accordance with biblical instruction (e.g. 1 Corinthians 11), they consume bread and wine (or similar elements) at the Lord's Supper.
Faith is thereby supported by a sensory experience.
Various Christian Crosses
The cross is one of the earliest and most widely used Christian symbol. In the most broad sense it symbolizes the religion of Christianity (and so appears at the top and left of this page). More specifically, it represents and memorializes Christ's death. A great variety of crosses has developed, some with specific symbolic meaning and others that have simply become culturally associated with certain groups.References
- Color illustrations on this page are the work of Walter E. Gast.
- Carolle E. Whittenmore, ed., Symbols of the Church.
- W.E. Post, Saints, Signs, and Symbols.
- George Wells Ferguson, Signs & Symbols in Christian Art.
- Frederick Rest, Our Christian Symbols.