Protestants and the Holy Trinity
Question from on 04-21-2007:
I've always wondered why Protestants never cross themselves before prayer. Is it because they don't believe in the Holy Trinity? I never hear their ministers mention the Three Persons by name, although they do speak of the 'Spirit of God', which I don't think they equate with the Holy Spirit in the same way we do. Is there some history behind this apparent omission on their part?
Answer by Matthew Bunson on 04-29-2007:
The most distant origins of the Sign of the Cross are difficult to trace. However, the earliest testament to the practice was made by Tertullian around 230. He noted that tracing the sign of the cross on the forehead was a gesture of personal piety. The sign of the cross dates back to the early Church. Tertullian (c. 230) attests to the custom of tracing the sign on the forehead as a means of sanctifying the actions of daily life and as a gesture of piety. Further, the earliest initiation rites of the Church included tracing the sign of the cross on the forehead of a catechumen and at the initiation. The sign is used chiefly to make a profession of faith in the Holy Trinity and intercedes for a blessing upon the person making the sign as well as others and things
The Sign of the Cross was rejected by the Reformers in the 16th century as a Catholic practice and not as part of a rejection of the Trinitarian formula. Today, it is generally not used by Protestants, including many so-called Low-Church Anglicans. It is, I believe, used by many Anglicans and also by many Lutherans.