“A Happy Christmas to You All”

Status
Not open for further replies.

Taylor

Puritan Board Senior
...this is the puritan board after all.
The board rules do say, though, that the Second Helvetic Confession is an acceptable confessional subscription:

"One must hold to either the Westminster Standards, the Three Forms of Unity, the Second Helvetic Confession, or the LBCF to be approved for membership without a waiver."​
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
Also from Spurgeon it seems:

"We have no superstitious regard for times and seasons. Certainly we do not believe in the present ecclesiastical arrangement called Christmas: first, because we do not believe in the mass at all, but abhor it, whether it be said or sung in Latin or in English; and, secondly, because we find no Scriptural warrant whatever for observing any day as the birthday of the Savior; and, consequently, its observance is a superstition, because not of divine authority. (Charles Spurgeon, Sermon on Dec. 24, 1871).

When it can be proved that the observance of Christmas, Whitsuntide, and other Popish festivals was ever instituted by a divine statute, we also will attend to them, but not till then. It is as much our duty to reject the traditions of men, as to observe the ordinances of the Lord. We ask concerning every rite and rubric, "Is this a law of the God of Jacob?" and if it be not clearly so, it is of no authority with us, who walk in Christian liberty. (from Charles Spurgeon's Treasury of David on Psalm 81:4.)

 

Jeri Tanner

Moderator
Staff member
Also from Spurgeon it seems:

"We have no superstitious regard for times and seasons. Certainly we do not believe in the present ecclesiastical arrangement called Christmas: first, because we do not believe in the mass at all, but abhor it, whether it be said or sung in Latin or in English; and, secondly, because we find no Scriptural warrant whatever for observing any day as the birthday of the Savior; and, consequently, its observance is a superstition, because not of divine authority. (Charles Spurgeon, Sermon on Dec. 24, 1871).

When it can be proved that the observance of Christmas, Whitsuntide, and other Popish festivals was ever instituted by a divine statute, we also will attend to them, but not till then. It is as much our duty to reject the traditions of men, as to observe the ordinances of the Lord. We ask concerning every rite and rubric, "Is this a law of the God of Jacob?" and if it be not clearly so, it is of no authority with us, who walk in Christian liberty. (from Charles Spurgeon's Treasury of David on Psalm 81:4.)

Seems a pretty good contradiction of himself per the OP quote.
 

Stephen L Smith

Moderator
Staff member
We ask concerning every rite and rubric, "Is this a law of the God of Jacob?" and if it be not clearly so, it is of no authority with us, who walk in Christian liberty.

Seems a pretty good contradiction of himself per the OP quote.
Two possibilities:
1. You will note the original sermon was given in 1854, the latter in 1871. It may reflect a maturity in his thought over time.
2. The reference to Christian liberty may be that Spurgeon saw this as a matter of Christian liberty - especially if he believed some could distinguish Christmas observance itself from the Popish distortions. I did look up Spurgeon's official biography "Living by Revealed Truth" but could find nothing on this.
 

Joshua

Administrator
Staff member
All I am saying is that, as far as historic Reformed theology goes, we cannot pretend there is uniformity on this matter.
Who did? :pilgrim:

As far as "virtue-signaling" goes, referenced by Pastor Sheffield -and I understand that his words were directed at no one in particular- sometimes statements, strong ones especially, can be interpreted as virtue signaling, which has a modern pejorative edge to it, when -really- the timeliness of the comments are more acutely felt, and the person is not merely attempting to signal virtue (and that's bad, why?) but to assert duty amongst brethren whom he/she loves enough to tell the truth, even when it's quite unpopular. I strongly agree that if one is acting such merely in an attempt to be contrary, cantankerous, or altogether calumnizing, that is shameful. The time of the year presents the occasion more especially to press the duty of the purity of God's worship, and one may contend about it, without imputing idolatrous intentions to those who are wrongly engaged in such things. Charity is in order, encouragement to godliness in doctrine and practice a priority, and God's glory in how He would be approached supreme.
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
OPC Minister 1962:

"We emphasize the fact that such holy days as Christmas are an abomination to God – not because of many of the things that are so often condemned (such as gifts, and the upturn in business, and the hearty smile and friendly greeting – why should these be condemned?) but precisely because of the things that are usually praised! It is the religious trappings, the so-called sacred tradition of Christmas, that exactly which men highly esteem, that is abomination unto God. And the most tragic thing about it is that the children of the Reformation are in the forefront of those who are trying to make it a “holy day.”

The inevitable result of such a trend is today what it has always been. Whenever men highly esteem tradition, they make of none effect the Word of God. Not only the Pharisees of old, but today also men make the Word of God of none effect through their tradition. And wherever the emphasis on such holy days as Christmas, Easter, etc., has increased, there has also been a corresponding decline in the observance of the Sabbaths of God. (And conversely, where there has been a serious attempt to keep the Sabbaths of God, there has been a rejection of those holy days which are without warrant in the Scripture.) And so we say again, that such holy days are an utter abomination unto God, even though they are highly esteemed among men. And they are an abomination because God has said, “What thing soever I command you, observe to do it; Thou shalt not add thereto nor diminish from it.” No, not even by means of time-honored and custom-hallowed tradition. For the fact is that all religious worship, reverence, feeling and conscience which comes from any source but the infallible Word of God is just that – abomination in His sight.

Let me close with the words: “Am I become your enemy, because I have told you the truth?” And if I have not told you the truth, bear witness to the error. If I have told you the truth, then come, let us reason together. Is not the religion of God good enough for you? Are not the Sabbaths which our Lord has called His own, sufficient for your soul? Are you not willing to rest content with that which the Master has given? It is time that we Protestants, who condemn the Church of Rome for her superstitions, give up a few superstitions of our own."

The Rev. G. I. Williamson
 
Last edited:

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
That is the word = concept fallacy
Please explain. When I look up the meaning of the word itself/origin/ and current use of the word for this holiday, it becomes clear, in my opinion, that the associations lead you to the mass.
 
Last edited:

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
The board rules do say, though, that the Second Helvetic Confession is an acceptable confessional subscription:

"One must hold to either the Westminster Standards, the Three Forms of Unity, the Second Helvetic Confession, or the LBCF to be approved for membership without a waiver."​
I'd forgotten. It may be there for historical purposes. I can vaguely recall maybe 1 person claiming it solely since the rules changes.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Please explain. When I look up the meaning of the word itself/origin/ and current use of the word for this holiday, it becomes clear, in my opinion, that the associations lead you to the mass.

"Mass" is derivative from the Latin "to send," which was just the natural way to end a Latin church service long before the Papacy. You mentioned the historical roots of the term. That's a fallacy in linguistics, as James Barr noted in Semantics of Biblical Language. We don't determine meaning by a word's origin (and in any case, the origin simply means send, not transubstantiation). In any case, we determine a word's meaning by how it is used in regular speech, full stop.

For example, the Greek word for nature, physis, derives from phusein, which means to spring up, as Heidegger waxed uneloquently. No one in his right mind, though, in determining what nature means today, would look it with the Greek origin "to spring up."

Further, this discussion is literally nonsense to an Eastern or African Christian. Since they don't have Latin, they don't have "mass;" ergo, Christmas for them can't be associated with Mass. It would be strange to them to tell them they are enslaved Latin language traditions.
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
You mentioned the historical roots of the term. That's a fallacy in linguistics, as James Barr noted in Semantics of Biblical Language. We don't determine meaning by a word's origin (and in any case, the origin simply means send, not transubstantiation). In any case, we determine a word's meaning by how it is used in regular speech, full stop.
I would disagree here as if you go make to my sentence, I did NOT say I looked at origins alone. Origins is one of many things to which I looked. So if that fits your view of a fallacy then are you not saying looking at origins to help use better understand a word is wrong? Other than this point, thanks for the overall answer.
 

B.L.

Puritan Board Sophomore
Over the years I've wrestled with what sort of "tradition" my family will practice on the special days our nation celebrates. Though I enjoy the Puritans I live several hundred years after them and my environment looks nothing like theirs. The principles behind the battles they waged are relevant, but the context is wholly different. They remain a helpful guide, but as our western culture continues to erode and decay and present new challenges for the Christian living in 2020 I really think the Modern Puritan would do well to develop a modern apologetic that answers today's challenges for today's people.

One reason why the arguments against celebrating Christmas falls on deaf ears today is we use the same 17th century talking points that our Puritan forebears used and focus excessively on the etymology and historical traditions associated with the mass. Yet when I scan the horizon the greatest threat in view isn't the idolatrous practices of the Roman Catholic Church and the threat they pose to our churches it is the radical secular humanism that is permanently erasing the memory of the one true and living God from all areas of life and all passing of time.

Our lives are marked by the passage of time. There is no way around that. Our days, our weeks, our months, our years. Our birthdays, our anniversaries, our graduations, deaths of loved ones, etc. We keep wall calendars, desk calendars, pocket organizers. We wear watches, have clocks in our houses, in our cars, in the corner of our computer monitors. Time. It marches on. People are inevitably going to order their lives around it.

In circling back to my opening comment. I'm increasingly convinced that one can't ignore the special days our culture celebrates. You can try, but there is no point in pretending. You can take pride in the hole you've created on 25 December by making the deliberate choice to remove any/all references to the birth of Christ, but that hole won't remain empty for long. The neo-paganizing culture will fill it for you...maybe not all at once, but gradually little by little. If not in your heart in the hearts of your children and grandchildren. The threat of idolatry today isn't primarily in us returning to a pre-reformation age it is in our people uncritically embracing secular humanism. This isn't the Current Era/Common Era (CE). We are living Anno Domini. The Modern Puritan and the Secular Humanist makes strange bedfellows in this area.

I mean no offense...just sharing some of what I've been wrestling with. I remain open to having my thinking sharpened in this area.
 
Last edited:

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
In circling back to my opening comment. I'm increasingly convinced that one can't ignore the special days our culture celebrates. You can try, but there is no point in pretending.
You can take pride in the hole you've created on 25 December by making the deliberate choice to remove any/all references to the birth of Christ, but that hole won't remain empty for long
Let me assure you there is no hole and no pretending, but a guarding of the day like all the others. A guarding to protect early rising to have private devotion. A guarding to have family worship and to be deligent in getting work done around property and in making preparations for the Lord’s Day. A guarding against sin. Of my own flesh and the attacks of satan. The answer to rising paganism and secularism is not to create a festival, but a returning to the duties the Lord has called us. After all, wasn’t is the RC answer to rising paganism to call others to recognize a “holy day” with zeal into the Lord?

The Modern Puritan and the Secular Humanist makes strange bedfellows in this area.
This assertion dear brother is folly. You are asserting that those who agree with the puritans here are “in bed” with the ideologies of secular humanist. Can you give quotes of the puritans argument lining up with a modern advocate of humanistic secularism? Nothing could be further from the truth. I would ask you to reconsider or at least further explain.
 
Last edited:

B.L.

Puritan Board Sophomore
Let me assure you there is no hole and no pretending, but a guarding of the day like all the others. A guarding to protect early rising to have private devotion. A guarding to have family worship and to be deligent in getting work done around property and in making preparations for the Lord’s Day. A guarding against sin. Of my own flesh and the attacks of satan.

I don't doubt your piety dear brother.

The answer to rising paganism and secularism is not to create a festival. After all is that not what Rome did originally?

The irony here is that the majority of Christians in our society have swapped out a "religious" festival and replaced it with a "secular" festival. Many well intending Christians think the former is dangerous and the latter harmless, but there is no neutrality here. Over the years I have seen many shun any/all remembrance of the first advent while seeing nothing wrong with decorating their homes with images of Santa and telling their children the lie that he is real. There is a blind spot in many people's thinking with this. Nothing is neutral. Something or someone will be worshipped.

This assertion dear brother is folly. You are asserting that those who agree with the puritans here are “in bed” with the ideologies of secular humanist.

My point is that the outcome, while unintended, is the same. The Modern Puritan and the Secular Humanist come from different starting points and have different intentions, but the result is largely the same. The former is seeking to glorify God while the latter is seeking to remove God, but both seem to me to have the same impact on society, which is the hole I described. The Modern Puritan, whether here on PB or elsewhere in society, would do well to at least contextualize their apology for the 21st Century. It often seems like the Modern Puritan is jousting with a ghost from the past and perhaps due to our love for history have traveled to the past and haven't realized the time machine we traveled in broke down. Unable to return to the present we are unable to identify the common foe of today that is wreaking havoc in our homes, in our churches, and in our communities. This isn't the RCC it's secular humanism.
 
Last edited:

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
I don't doubt your piety dear brother.



The irony here is that the majority of Christians in our society have swapped out a "religious" festival and replaced it with a "secular" festival. Many well intending Christians think the former is dangerous and the latter harmless, but there is no neutrality here. Over the years I have seen many shun any/all remembrance of the first advent while seeing nothing wrong with decorating their homes with images of Santa and telling their children the lie that he is real. There is a blind spot in many people's thinking with this. Nothing is neutral. Something or someone will be worshipped.



My point is that the outcome, while unintended, is the same. The Modern Puritan and the Secular Humanist come from different starting points and have different intentions, but the result is largely the same. The former is seeking to glorify God while the latter is seeking to remove God, but both seem to me to have the same impact on society, which is the hole I described. The Modern Puritan, whether here on PB or elsewhere in society, would do well to at least contextualize their apology for the 21st Century. It often seems like the Modern Puritan is jousting with a ghost from the past and perhaps due to our love for history have traveled to the past and haven't realized the time machine they traveled in broke down. Unable to return to the present they are unable to identify the common foe of today that is wreaking havoc in our homes, in our churches, and in our communities. This isn't the RCC it's secular humanism.
Brother we are not called to alter our approach based off of “impact“. We are called to obedience and faithfulness, to worship God in the ways he has commanded, and we are called to oppose Superstition and idolatry. The “impact“ is ultimately left to our Lord. I think we disagree because the very same points could be made by comparison to those who see no issue with honoring the day as a man-made holy Day unto the Lord. I digress. To know the Puritan approach to man-made holy days and say they are similar to the secularists approach seems like a failure to understand our Puritan forefathers. I think we would be all the wiser not making our arguments from “impact” and rather making our arguments from God’s word, which I believe the Puritans have done faithfully. There is another enemy of the church on top of secularism, and it goes by the name of pragmatism. We should be on guard and fight against against both.

A good reminder from a modern-day pastor on the dangers of pragmatism
 
Last edited:

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
Unable to return to the present they are unable to identify the common foe of today that is wreaking havoc in our homes, in our churches, and in our communities. This isn't the RCC it's secular humanism.
Depends upon where you are, apparently.

The biggest danger in my community is a strong belief in salvation by works. Nobody admits it, but many live it. The Roman Catholic Church has deep roots in the Northwest world-view. Tie that in with the strong presence of Mormons, and we see the same enemy that Luther battled.

I have long noted the irony you speak of, though. "You don't celebrate Christmas? You are just like the humanists!"

But it can work to God's glory, too. When I hear a comment like that, the door is wide open to discuss the Creator of the Universe, his Law (natural and spiritual), sin, disgrace, destruction, and grace and redemption. It becomes a much bigger engagement than a secularist can offer.
 

B.L.

Puritan Board Sophomore
Brother we are not called to alter our approach based off of “impact“. We are called to obedience and faithfulness, to worship God in the ways he has commanded, and we are called to oppose Superstition and idolatry. The “impact“ is ultimately left to our Lord. I think we disagree because the very same points could be made by comparison to those who see no issue with honoring the day as a man-made holy Day unto the Lord. I digress. To know the Puritan approach to man-made holy days and say they are similar to the secularists approach seems like a failure to understand our Puritan forefathers. I think we would be all the wiser not making our arguments from “impact” and rather making our arguments from God’s word, which I believe the Puritans have done faithfully. There is another enemy of the church on top of secularism, and it goes by the name of pragmatism. We should be on guard and fight against against both.

A good reminder from a modern-day pastor on the dangers of pragmatism

I think you may have misunderstood my response. I'm not arguing for pragmatism. Not at all. Actually, I'm not even addressing worship on the Lord's Day either.
 
Last edited:

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
Depends upon where you are, apparently.

The biggest danger in my community is a strong belief in salvation by works. Nobody admits it, but many live it. The Roman Catholic Church has deep roots in the Northwest world-view. Tie that in with the strong presence of Mormons, and we see the same enemy that Luther battled.

I have long noted the irony you speak of, though. "You don't celebrate Christmas? You are just like the humanists!"

But it can work to God's glory, too. When I hear a comment like that, the door is wide open to discuss the Creator of the Universe, his Law (natural and spiritual), sin, disgrace, destruction, and grace and redemption. It becomes a much bigger engagement than a secularist can offer.
I totally agree Vic, especially in regions where farming is more prominent there are certainly strongholds of Catholicism where protestants are the minority . So our defense must he able to point out secularism and also point out pragmatism. There is also the fact that Rome is still trying to become more and more friendly and encompassing of other beliefs more so today than ever in order to survive.
 
Last edited:

Jeri Tanner

Moderator
Staff member
@B.L. : “One reason why the arguments against celebrating Christmas falls on deaf ears today is we use the same 17th century talking points that our Puritan forebears used and focus excessively on the etymology and historical traditions associated with the mass”
Many on the PB hold to our confession’s (WCF) position that the Pope is the antichrist. The RCC is still around, still sacrificing Christ again and again... in the mass.
 

B.L.

Puritan Board Sophomore
Many on the PB hold to our confession’s (WCF) position that the Pope is the antichrist. The RCC is still around, still sacrificing Christ again and again... in the mass.

True indeed and yet we would all agree the Pope isn't the only antichrist...

1 John 2:18
18 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.

2 John 7
7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.
 

Jeri Tanner

Moderator
Staff member
True indeed and yet we would all agree the Pope isn't the only antichrist...

1 John 2:18
18 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.

2 John 7
7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.
Sure of course... but the Pope is the only "that Antichrist, that man of sin..."

WCF 25:6: "There is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ.[13] Nor can the Pope of Rome, in any sense, be head thereof, but is that Antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalts himself, in the Church, against Christ and all that is called God. [14]

2 Thessalonians 2:3 "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God."
 

B.L.

Puritan Board Sophomore
Sure of course... but the Pope is the only "that Antichrist, that man of sin..."

WCF 25:6: "There is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ.[13] Nor can the Pope of Rome, in any sense, be head thereof, but is that Antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalts himself, in the Church, against Christ and all that is called God. [14]

2 Thessalonians 2:3 "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God."

At the risk of pushing this discussion too far into left field...

The Church of Rome isn't the only one who has claimed to have an absolute and supreme head of the visible church. Yes, the Pope is addressed explicitly in the WCF given the time and place in which it was written (though today Francis probably doesn't see himself as the Vicar of Christ), but the biblical teaching taught here -- that Christ is the sole and exclusive head of the church whether considered as visible or as invisible -- is an enduring truth that is equally applicable to the Erastian state churches that have existed through the centuries (i.e. Church of England) and to the secular civil powers, whether in the west or somewhere like China, that are encroaching on the church in this very present hour.
 
Last edited:

Jeri Tanner

Moderator
Staff member
At the risk of pushing this discussion too far into left field...

The Church of Rome isn't the only one who has claimed to have an absolute and supreme head of the visible church. Yes, the Pope is addressed explicitly in the WCF given the time and place in which it was written (though today Francis probably doesn't see himself as the Vicar of Christ), but the biblical teaching taught here -- that Christ is the sole and exclusive head of the church whether considered as visible or as invisible -- is an enduring truth that is equally applicable to the Erastian state churches that have existed through the centuries (i.e. Church of England) and to the secular civil powers, whether in the west or somewhere like China, that are encroaching on the church in this very present hour.
You're right, it wouldn't be good to push the thread far afield of the OP; suffice it to say that one's adherence to the WCF and LBC will determine how one views the relationship of Christmas (and the word) to past and present-day papist doctrine.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top