A John Ankerberg Show viewer asks: “What do you tell witnesses when they say Jesus was impaled on a torture stake and not crucified on a cross?”
It depends. In general I like to choose my battles. Not all are of equal importance. Here they agree that He died and I can proclaim the gospel. If they ask something like, “Don’t you know the cross is a pagan symbol?” my response is, “Sure. What sort of symbols do you think pagans would use to crucify Jesus on?” Sometimes this is enough to move in to a real discussion of the impaling stake vs. the cross. The Romans did use an impaling stake but not in the way the Watchtower shows. They draw pictures of a post with a top sharpened to a point and Jesus nailed to this upright stake. The picture of the post is correct but they didn’t nail the victim to the post. The victim was thrown on to the top of the post or “impaled” and their bowels gushed out. This is how Judas killed himself. He “hanged” or threw himself on to an impaling post. On the other hand, Jesus was nailed to a post with a cross beam or “cross.” Thomas confirms this with his with his comments that he would not believe unless he saw the imprints of the “nails” (plural) in the Lord’s hands (John 20:25). If He has been nailed to an impaling post with His hands above His head, there would have been one nail (singular) not a plural “nails.” The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:18:
For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
L.L. (Don) Veinot Jr. , President
Midwest Christian Outreach, Inc.