The early christians used the fish symbol as a means of identification in public.  It was a password during a time of intense persecution.  When one christian would meet with another he didn't know in public, he would draw half an arc in the dirt and the other would draw an opposing arc thereby creating the fish image.  The New Testament has no shortage of imagery involving fish and fishing.  "I will make you fishers of men", Christ told his disciples.  These days the symbol is most commonly seen on the bumpers of automobiles.

Sometimes the symbol is just the fish and often it contains the name "Jesus" or the Greek word for fish, "ichthus".  What's really cool is that this word forms an acronym for "Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior" as the following table demonstrates:

greek letter Ι (iota) Χ (chi) Θ (theta) Υ (upsilon) Σ (sigma)
greek word Iesous Christos Theos Huios Soter
english word Jesus Christ God Son Savior

Unfortunately, this nifty symbol has been cheapened in our society.  You may or may not have heard of the so called "fish wars".  Recently, some atheists and supporters of Darwin's theory of evolution have coopted this symbol for their cause.  The most common form is the fish symbol containing the name "DARWIN".  Often the displaying of this new fish is meant as a direct insult to the Christian faith and its adherents.  I find this to be a very puzzling action coming from a group that holds religious tolerance as a high virtue.

Typically, the more petty and immature members of the christian community have responded in kind.  They rally and actually make this an issue that further hinders the spread of the Light of the Gospel to the world.  I mean to think that a dispute over a mere symbol could somehow damage the faith...the struggle never ends does it?

--Bugs  January 24, 1998

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