Steve’s Writings

The Cross & the Crucifix

(From a letter Steve wrote to a Evangelical Protestant who asked about the Catholic Crucifix)


Dear Evangelical Friend:

You display a bare cross in your home; we display the cross and the crucifix. What is the difference and why? The cross is an upright post with a crossbeam in the shape of a “T”. A crucifix is the same, but it has Christ’s body (corpus) attached to the cross.

As an Evangelical Protestant I rejected the crucifix, as you do—Christ was no longer on the cross; he had ascended into heaven. So why do I now tremble in love and awe at the site of a crucifix? Let’s examine the history and issues surrounding the two.

I will provide a brief overview of the Cross and the Crucifix, the origin, the history, and the differing perspectives of Catholic and Protestant. It will try to catch the historical flow and include the pertinent points. The outline is as follows:


1. The Three Main Protestant Objections to the Crucifix
2. Images and Gods in the Old Testament
3. Images and Images of Christ in the New Testament
4. The Cross in the First Centuries
5. The Crucifix Enters the Picture
6. The “Reformation” and Iconoclasm
7. Modern Anti-Catholics and the Crucifix
8. Ecumenical Considerations

To read the whole article, click here. To read Steve’s other articles, click here. For Steve’s talk “The Pain of the Crucifixion,“ click here.

{ 4 comments }

A Page from my New Book on Genesis

by Steve Ray on July 31, 2019

This book has been on the back burner for quite a few years. But I took five weeks off this summer to finish it. About 12 hours a day since June 28 and I am almost done. Just putting the finishing touches on it this week before leaving for the Family Conference in Wichita, two TV shows on EWTN, speaking in Indianapolis and two buses to Poland (yikes!)

Genesis is such an exciting and foundational book. When I am completely finished with it I will miss Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. Feel like they are friends after all this research and writing. Well, if I have been a bit quiet over the last month, now you know why.

Here is a section of the book introducing Abram before he leaves Ur in modern-day Iraq. Our filming in Iraq several years ago for our documentary “Abraham, Father of Faith & Works” helped a lot.

Introduction to Abraham

Scripture now funnels the narrative down to one particular line within Shem’s family tree. There were ten generations from Adam to Noah followed by ten generations from Shem to Abraham which are provided here to arrive in our story to a major milestone in the history of salvation—the great patriarch and “the father of us all.” (Gen 10:10–26; Rom 4:16)  Again we see the new chapter in the story with the often repeated “These are the descendants of Shem. (11:10). In his line from Shem to Abram we find the name Eber. (11:16)   Êber in the Hebrew means “on the other side of.”  The ancestors of Israel are described as those who ‘dwelt of old time beyond the River’ (êber ha-nâhâr = ‘on the other side of the Euphrates river’). See Josh. 24:2.”  From his name comes we get the word Hebrew. 

In verse 27 we find again the formula which announces a new phase in the story. A new funnel to direct us toward the line of the Messiah.  “Now these are the descendants of Terah. Terah was the father of Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran was the father of Lot.  Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his birth, in Ur of the Chaldeans” (Gen 11:27–28). Haran means mountaineer, Nahor means snorting, and Abram means exalted father.

We have arrived at a huge juncture on the road of salvation history. We are now introduced to Abraham though that was not the name he was born with.  His given name was Abram.  Only later at the age of ninety-nine will God change Abram’s name to Abraham.  We must also remember that Abram was not a Jew, per se, since at this point Jews did not exist. The word Jew comes from Judah—one of the twelve sons of Jacob, son of Isaac, son of Abraham.  Abraham was also not an Israelite since Israel was a new name given to Abraham’s grandson Jacob (Gen 32:28). To outsiders Abram was referred to as a Hebrew from the name Eber as we just discussed.

Abram was born in the city of Ur in Mesopotamia, between the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers, also known as the land of the Chaldeans. (Acts 7:2).  Even today Christians from Iraq are called Chaldeans.  The ancient site of Ur is located at Tel el–Miqayyar in Iraq, about 250 miles southeast of Baghdad, near the Persian Gulf.  “The city of Ur is one of the oldest and most famous in Mesopotamia, with a recorded history of over two millennia…. Findings at the tell point to the Early Dynastic III period (2600–2500 B.C.) and the Third Dynasty (2111–2003 B.C.), especially under Ur-Nammu and Shulgi, the first two kings of the Third Dynasty, as the high points in the city’s history. It was during Ur-Nammu’s reign that the famous ziggurat began to be constructed. …  Ur was the center of Mesopotamian worship of Nanna/Sin, the moon god, the same god who was said to reside in Haran, the city to which Terah and his family migrated when they left Ur.”

Still standing in the archaeological site at Ur is the massive ziggurat, a square–shaped multi–leveled temple. While recently visiting Ur in Iraq we climbed to the top of this amazing ziggurat. Even after significant erosion of the the last 4,000 years it is not difficult to image the splendor that entranced the people of Abram’s time. Mesopotamia is a flat land with no natural “high places” to ascend for the worship of the gods. The people of Mesopotamia made bricks to build their own “high places” which were called ziggurats, derived from an Akkadian word meaning to “build higher.” This ziggurat known by Abram was built to worship the god of the moon named Nanna-Sin in the 21st century B.C. The massive step pyramid was 210 ft. in length, 150 ft. in width and 100 ft. in height. The erosion makes it difficult to estimate the full hight. Projections suggest it was a hundred feet high. Saddam Hussein rebuilt portions of the ziggurat including the steps running up the face of the pyramid.

Famed British archaeologist Sir Leonard Wooley uncovered hundreds of tombs near the ziggurat some of which contained the remains of kings and queens with all their royal retinue. Wooley referred to the royal tombs as the Death Pits because the royal personages were surrounded by the skeletons of their entourage carefully arranged to accompany the royalty on their journey into the afterlife. Some tombs had over seventy skeletons strategically arranged around the king or queen, some of whom had declared themselves to be divine. The people of Ur practiced human sacrifice. “In the corridors and in the wells, funerary chariots are found with their teams of equids, their drivers and a whole group of servants and musicians that must have accompanied the king in death. Sometimes more than 80 bodies have been found, certainly sacrificed before the funeral.”

When God called Abram, Abram was a pagan—an uncircumcised gentile living in an opulent land a thousand miles from Canaan. Abram’s ancestors, and certainly Abram himself worshiped Nanna–Sin, the patron god of the city.  Ur was an upscale, wealthy urban center during Abram’s time. The musical instruments, pottery, jewelry and other treasures discovered attest to the wealth and elegance of the city….

{ 2 comments }

Here are a few paragraphs from my new book on Genesis which is nearly done.

Genesis 2:7 is foundational and crucial to the whole story of the cosmos, Man and salvation. God takes dust or clay from the ground and like a potter he fashions a human being. The scientific formulas used by God still elude us.

Imagine God making the first human brain from the chemical compounds he had already created as part of the earth. The intelligent design of the brain is beyond our comprehension, immensely complicated with intricate and precise electronics, hormones, connections, blood passageways, molecules, minerals, living cells and more.

And this amazing “machine” is able to learn, process and recall information, and even heal itself. It is more than a brain—it is also a “mind.” 

 Then God moves to the heart that will pump 40 million times in a year, 2.5 billion times in a lifetime of 70 years—without maintenance and without missing a beat. Right now, as I write this book, my heart has beat over 2,000,000,000 times since my birth.

Then on to the lungs which will take in necessary oxygen produced by the plants. Since my birth until now I have breathed 629,000,000 times! Then God shaped the liver, the kidneys, the glands, the reproductive organs, the stomach with its incredibly fine-tuned and intricate digestive system . . . 

 God did not just form a “machine” or an animal. He took this incredible body he had fashioned from clay and with his own breath he breathed into the nostrils the breath of life—like divine CPR. This is face–to–face, warmly personal, almost as the intimate kiss of God.

The body of clay came alive; it was animated. The created object was now a Man with body and soul; he became a living, spiritual being (CCC 362–363, 704).

The Man was dual in nature: body and soul, related to earth and heaven (1 Cor 15:45). The potter has made a Man for glory out of the clay of the earth! Man is the crown of the creation! The drama of salvation is under way, being directed and controlled by God himself. 

 Remember what Jesus does to the Apostles in the Upper Room (Jn 20:22)? How does this signify the creation of the new being—the Church?

Remember also that the wind of the Holy Spirit blew on Pentecost at the birth of the Church! You can already see a pattern forming: “For God so loved . . . that he gave” (cf. Jn 3:16)—an act of self–giving as well as of making; God invests himself in his new creation. This passage is rich with symbolic and typological meaning, ripe for the picking.

Pray for me as I work on finalizing this manuscript which is almost done! Working on it 12+ hours a day during July which I blocked out for finishing the book. It will be published by Ignatius Press and available on Verbum Catholic Software.

{ 5 comments }

Sympathy for Cradle Catholics Who Can’t Explain or Defend the Faith

July 5, 2019

I thought of a helpful illustration to explain why “cradle Catholics” are often unable to explain and defend the Catholic faith. The example has its weaknesses, but it does help get the point across. As an American I asked myself this question: if some one trained to attack America intellectually approached me on the street […]

Read the full article →

Entering the Empty Tomb; A Contrast – Now and Back Then

April 19, 2019

It looks different today, but the place is the same. It is darker now, covered with a dome that blocks the sun. There is no grass, no hillside, no trees waving their leaves nearby. Instead there are the hushed voices of hundreds of people, the Muslim call to prayer echoing in the distance and the […]

Read the full article →

My New Book “Papacy”: National Catholic Register’s Nice Review (and my response to 2 points)

April 1, 2019

First, I want to thank John Grodelski and National Catholic Register for deeming my new book worthy of a book review. It was fair and balanced review for which I am grateful. You can read his review and my response below or here on my website documents page. ****************************************** An Introduction to the History of […]

Read the full article →

Who Chose the Books of the Bible? Are the Books “Self-authenticating”?

January 8, 2019

Are the Books of the New Testament “Self-Authenticating” or was the Catholic Church Necessary to Define the Canon of Scripture? By Steve Ray Hello Protestant Friend: I was very happy to receive your twenty-five-page letter which claimed that sola Scriptura (Bible alone) and sola fide (faith alone) were the faith and teaching of the Apostles. […]

Read the full article →

Jesus Was A Jew and Why You Can’t Understand the Bible without Knowing That

December 28, 2018

Since we are at the Western Wall today, where the Temple stood in Jesus’ day, it is appropriate to discuss this. Jesus loved the Jewish Temple and called it his Father’s house. ************************************************ Jesus was a Jew. This fact may escape the casual reader of the New Testament, but it is crucial to understanding Jesus […]

Read the full article →

Interview on my new book “The Papacy” with Catholic World Report

December 8, 2018

CWR: When you were a Baptist and looking at the Catholic Church from the outside, what did you think about the papacy? Stephen K. Ray: A year before I was born my parents became Baptists; they prayed for kids and I was born a year later. My father was taught to be very anti-Catholic. He […]

Read the full article →

Catholic Church: “Don’t Read the Bible!”

December 1, 2018

We often hear that the Catholic Church has forbidden the reading of the Bible! Have you heard this? Yeah, me too! But, this is another one of those big myths which has worked its way into the popular dialog but one that has not been proved from Church teaching and documents. There are two good […]

Read the full article →

What Does the Word Catholic Mean? A History of the Word “Catholic”

October 29, 2018

As a Protestant, I went to an Evangelical church that changed an important and historical word in the  Apostles Creed. Instead of the “holy, catholic Church,” we were the “holy, Christian church.” At the time, I thought nothing of it. There was certainly no evil intent, just a loathing of the Catholic Church and a […]

Read the full article →

Is Faith Alone the Basis for the Final Judgment?

October 17, 2018

Is Faith Alone the Basis for the Final Judgment?  By Steve Ray Dear Jerry: I had no intention of writing you again this soon but after having dinner with your brother the other day and picking up a copy of a booklet you gave him entitled Studies In Contrasts: The Doctrine of Salvation (by Herb Vander […]

Read the full article →

“An Interview with Catholic Apologist Steve Ray”

August 29, 2018

An Interview with Catholic Evangelist Steve Ray Posted by Justin McClain on Thursday Aug 23rd, 2018 at 3:31 PM “My family and I have discovered that the Catholic Church is the best-kept secret in all of human history.” I recently had the opportunity to speak with Catholic evangelist Steve Ray. Since I am a high school […]

Read the full article →

Steve’s Short Story “The Last Nightmare” Might Scare the Hell Out of You!

April 13, 2018

The Last Nightmare A Short and Terrifying Story by Steve Ray Everything went blank for a moment, but that moment seemed like eternity. He felt a motion, not with wind and breeze, but a motion none the less. He was traveling, moving, floating, transcending-he wasn’t really sure. The sudden blackness gave him time to regain […]

Read the full article →

How Big Was Jesus in Mary’s Womb at the Visitation – and what could he do?

April 8, 2018

“How big was baby Jesus in Mary’s womb when Mary visited Elizabeth?” That is the question I asked myself while visiting the Church of the Visitation in Israel. What I learned was quite revolutionary and amazing. This is one of the best pro-life arguments from Scripture and one I’ve not heard discussed before. It also […]

Read the full article →

Final Judgment based on “Faith Alone’?

January 26, 2018

Is “Faith Alone” the Basis for the Final Judgment? Dear Baptist Friend Jerry : I had no intention of writing you again this soon but after having dinner with your brother — and seeing a copy of the silly Protestant booklet you gave him entitled Studies In Contrasts: The Doctrine of Salvation (by Herb Vander […]

Read the full article →