Taking Down the Cross

There’s an interesting headline on this week’s Integral Life newsletter that points to the story Taking Down the Cross. In it, we are told about Ian Lawton who has “been inspired by the work of Ken Wilber since 2005, as well as a student of Genpo Roshi.” Lawton and his ostensibly Christian C3 Exchange community have made the “controversial decision to remove the cross from their church, [with] the intent to create a more inclusive and inspirational Christianity.”

Sounds positive doesn’t it? The story offers a Fox News excerpt in which Lawton speaks about people of differing religions and values who find the cross alienating on their spiritual journey. The news excerpt also offers a critical alternative opinion from International Aid CEO David Wisen who agrees that taking down the cross is a good idea, as one cannot honestly claim to be Christian while suggesting there are others ways than Christ to God.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m all for progressive Christianity, and I have no desire to align myself with Wisen’s position about salvation only being found through Christ. However, there are often other things chugging away in the background with integrally-aligned strategies. As I point out in Numen, Old Men, “Leon Schlamm (2001) and George Adams (2002) argue that Wilber’s focus on a particular type of highest-consciousness non-dualism requires the distortion of what other people (the transcended and included) mean when talking about their own traditions; in a sense, their meaning is denied.”

In short, taking down the cross may be done in the spirit of inclusivity, but can have the effect of erasing the Christianity that it seeks to transcend and include. Just imagine the stink that would be caused if we started stripping away the symbols of Islam in order to make it “more inclusive” to non-Muslims.


Adams, George. “A Theistic Perspective on Ken Wilber’s Transpersonal Psychology.” Journal of Contemporary Religion 17, no. 2 (2002): 165-79.

Schlamm, Leon. “Ken Wilber’s Spectrum Model: Identifying Alternative Soteriological Perspectives.” Religion 31, no. 1 (2001): 19-39.

2 thoughts on “Taking Down the Cross

  1. I’ve always favored more inclusive religion being about having more symbols, not fewer, as in the now stereotypical “coexist” bumper sticker.

    1. Good point.

      At last year’s Parliament of the World’s Religions the Rastafari ambassador was a bit miffed to see that a symbol for his religion had not been included, so in his presentation he stuck one firmly in the middle of all the others: folks need representing, it seems. He has an unusual energy as a speaker, if he happens to come your way: http://www.yasusafari.biz

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