A Recommendation

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greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
To all those who wish to debate the season, I have a proposal.

Background: the fact of the matter is that both the abstention from Christmas and the celebration of Christmas are present in the Reformed and Presbyterian tradition. There are reasons and arguments that can be made on both sides. Unfortunately, some from both sides seem to want to refuse to believe that people of the other persuasion even exist.

To those who celebrate Christmas, you really need to know that there is a sizable chunk of Reformed argumentation and tradition that argues against all holy days, Christmas included. George Gillespie cannot be written off as some kook-head! It is time to respect the entirety of the Reformed tradition. I say this as someone who has celebrated Christmas all my life. Treat the Puritan position with respect, even if some of those who argue for it do so in a less than winsome way. That is no reason for you not to be winsome. Those who hold the Puritan position do so for reasons that are based on biblical argumentation. They believe firmly that they hold to biblical truth, and they believe that we are violating the RPW. This is a serious matter, therefore, and reading the best motivations into those who differ would posit that they have our best interests at heart. Suppose we are wrong? They are trying to save us from idolatry, if we are!

To those who do not celebrate Christmas, it is easy to come off as curmudgeonly when you post stuff against Christmas every single year right at Christmas time, even if it is not your intent to be curmudgeonly, but rather to seek to reduce idolatry (which is the motivation I would much prefer to believe!). Some of you manage to avoid looking as a curmudgeon, but precious few, and you aren't doing any favors for your position by your timing. Whom do you expect to convince? For those who have done this sort of thing for years, and everyone already knows what your position is, what does it look like? It can be interpreted as virtue signalling, even if that is not your intent. However, my gentle suggestion would be to argue the points at some other time in the year, when the emotions of Christmas are not operative, and folk might be more responsive to the logical and biblical argumentation. I know that the answer could come back, "But this is when the violation occurs." From your perspective, I can see that. However, others, in good conscience, do not see things that way, and you are only making them upset, not convincing them. Is it not better to lure people to a position by being winsome about it? Don't forget that, even though you believe that Christmas is a pagan residue of the Roman Catholic Church, the people against whom you argue today are not Roman Catholics, and have far more in common with you than differences. Many of you know this already, of course, but sometimes it is not obvious to the other side that you do know this.

My proposal is for winsomeness on both sides. We both rejoice that Jesus came to earth to be fully incarnated as a full human being. We both rejoice that the cradle led to the cross and the empty tomb, and the good news that is for sinners.

I do not pretend to be unbiased in this discussion. Nor am I seeking for some mythical middle position, or some other such nonsense. It is a simple plea for Christian charity on both sides.
 

Joshua

Administrator
I do believe we should seek to be winsome insofar as we are able, and I also believe we should avoid needless inflammatory statements. With that, however, I will make this qualification: It is precisely because it is this time of year that the subject comes up. Now, I have done my best not to do anything beyond responding to questions and assertions with regard to the subject (i.e. not start up a thread on the subject to push debate), but if a question arises, or an assertion, it is not uncomely to respond. There is also duty not to read "tone" into one another's posts. There is also a duty not to impute the intention of idolatry. Agreed.

I am only so capable of avoiding the charge of "virtue signaling," and -frankly- I hope to signal virtue not just with words, but in deed and in truth, thought I confess I fall short of this often. My time on the Puritan Board has drastically reduced over the last few years for this very reason: I have a lot of heart work to do, and it requires me to execute that hard work of self-examination far more than spending times on reading the latest "discernment" blogs on the various goings-on. Rarely do I think the things I post are going to "convince" others, but such is not the sole reason we interact. Sometimes, it is to bear record and uphold the truth of what we believe, even if it's not "convincing" to others. That said, it seems to me that the Puritan board should be a safe place for aforementioned subjects to be debated, even vigorously, yet -as you've pleaded- without rancor and evil surmisings.

I am happy to be brought to task publicly if anything I post is perceived to cross that line.
 

Seeking_Thy_Kingdom

Puritan Board Sophomore
I agree Lane, discussions should always had in a spirit of love and respect, especially when we disagree. However, for who do hold to the Puritan position this is a very difficult time of year and I do appreciate the posts.

However, my gentle suggestion would be to argue the points at some other time in the year, when the emotions of Christmas are not operative, and folk might be more responsive to the logical and biblical argumentation.

I don’t fully agree. I think that the posts throughout the year regarding the Lords day and other church calendar issues have the same root thought and theology. Certainly there is an uptick during this time, but that is to be expected from both sides.

To remedy this, I would like to make a proposal:

A weekly reading group of A Dispute Against the English Popish Ceremonies. A few pages or paragraphs at a time so that healthy discussion from both sides can be had. Lord willing, by this time next year we would be done with the book and hopefully we have all learned and have gained a mutual respect for the opposing positions.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Lane, as you know charity and winsomeness are called for in all discussions on the board and the moderators are tasked to help ensure this. We've already had to step in today. But a moritorium is not what is needed. Real questions come up because folks don't generally think of them six months in advance. This latest round began with real questions about a person's church's practice and what to think about it. I appreciate you noting that the Presbyterian, Westminster, puritan nonconformist position is not some strange thing. Yet you say that because that is consistently how it is treated, even on this board.

I have spent past years less active if not sitting out the semi annual holy day debate. My view is too nuanced for either the pagan holy day side or what on God's green earth makes it bad side. But this year I'm stirred up. It just seems that things are getting worse not better. While it is significant that a film about the regulative principle of worship has been made, it took several generations of relatively few faithfully teaching for something like that to ever be possible. And yet the principle is still not understood w.r.t. to this issue and now it seems like rot from within when I see it is just if not more common to see advent candle and candle ceremonies, and this strange idea undermining the doctrine itself that the RPW does not apply to before the call to worship or to outside public worship? So that by way of explanation to my posting this year in particular, my general curmudgeonliness aside.
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
Bob, there is no doubt that those who celebrate Christmas are not often very considerate of those who do not. It would behoove both sides to be considerate about the question.

As to your suggestion, it is an excellent one, especially if there is a good solid book defending the so-called evangelical feast days that could be read alongside Gillespie.

But a moritorium is not what is needed. Real questions come up because folks don't generally think of them six months in advance.

Maybe a moritorium on the question as a whole is not what is needed so much as a moritorium on overly short, single-bullet "shots" on both sides that only appear to desire to get people riled up. Surely a genuine attempt to get at the Bible's teaching would be welcome. I assume you know that you are not one of the primary targets I had in mind. You are one of the few who hold to the Puritan view on holy days (and EP as well) who do so in a winsome manner. :)

That being said, I still don't think this time of year is the best time to discuss the issue of Christmas/Easter, etc. January seems like a better time to me.
 

Seeking_Thy_Kingdom

Puritan Board Sophomore
especially if there is a good solid book defending the so-called evangelical feast days that could be read alongside Gillespie.
I second that idea, but to be honest I would not be able to name one. The ‘evangelical feest days’ side has become such an overwhelming majority I doubt there is a solid polemic, both for their position and against the Puritan side.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Consider this notice that such bullet shots are fair game for moderators to delete.
Maybe a moritorium on the question as a whole is not what is needed so much as a moritorium on overly short, single-bullet "shots" on both sides that only appear to desire to get people riled up.
Thanks; but that by way of admission that I find it very vexing that this time of year otherwise seeming reformed folk, present company excepted, let go their inner anglocatholic and images and overt attachment to the advent season flows with abandon.
Surely a genuine attempt to get at the Bible's teaching would be welcome. I assume you know that you are not one of the primary targets I had in mind. You are one of the few who hold to the Puritan view on holy days (and EP as well) who do so in a winsome manner. :)

We'll have to agree to disagree; that's like telling folks they can only discuss the current sports season of their favorite sport, after it is over.
That being said, I still don't think this time of year is the best time to discuss the issue of Christmas/Easter, etc. January seems like a better time to me.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
To be perfectly honest, speaking as one who ascribes no religious significance to Christmas, much of the opposition to it from cyber-Covenanters and other cage-stagers on Facebook does come across as sanctimonious virtue signalling. Instances of that sort of thing on the Puritan Board are much rarer, however.

And while I think that there is some value in discussing the subject when emotions are likely to be running less high, I still think it is a bit much to expect us not to discuss the subject during the season itself. Obviously, we need to exercise some prudence and not give someone a two-hour lecture if they wish us a Merry Christmas, as I intend to have a "Merry" Christmas by ascribing no religious significance to the season.
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
I second that idea, but to be honest I would not be able to name one. The ‘evangelical feest days’ side has become such an overwhelming majority I doubt there is a solid polemic, both for their position and against the Puritan side.

I can't think of a good book on this either. I daresay, though, that there has probably been a decent article or two written on the subject. Maybe there is a way we could make some of those available for discussion.

We'll have to agree to disagree; that's like telling folks they can only discuss the current sports season of their favorite sport, after it is over.

The juxtaposition of sports seasons with the Puritan view on holy days is one which I find inexplicably amusing. Maybe that was your intent.
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
I didn't write the original OP to target any one specific person or group of people, except by way of general exhortation. It was intentionally vague. Its purpose is simply moderation on a macro level with regard to the issue of Christmas. Let's think about how we "live" electronically with each other on an issue about which we disagree. Let's learn how to love one another, and a key to that thought is becoming self-aware of how we come across to others, which may have little or no relation to how we perceive ourselves. What we think we are doing may have little relation to how others perceive what we are attempting. I ask no one to put aside their convictions, only to think about how best to serve those of the other persuasion with the love with which we have been loved by God.
 

User20004000

Puritan Board Sophomore
I’m a firm believer that a disproportionate amount of disagreement is attributable to ill defined terms or in this case, a loaded thesis.

“To those who celebrate Christmas, you really need to know that there is a sizable chunk of Reformed argumentation and tradition that argues against all holy days, Christmas included.”

Yes, I agree, but such a sentiment as that defines up front that Christmas is a holy day. Therefore, it lumps into one group both Romanists who believe it actually is a holy day and Protestants who in good conscience know it’s not yet choose to participate anyway.
 

earl40

Puritan Board Professor
This I will say. The PB was how I was exposed to this subject, and though it took time to come to the correct understanding of its sinfulness o_O I appreciate the proper timing of the threads of days that are appointed by mere men, and this board in my mind is the single greatest witness to what is or not proper this season.
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Senior
I’m a firm believer that a disproportionate amount of disagreement is attributable to ill defined terms or in this case, a loaded thesis.

You are in good company, brother:

"It may be laid down as a rule, with tolerable confidence, that the absence of accurate definitions is the very life of religious controversy. If men would only define with precision the theological terms which they use, many disputes would die. Scores of excited disputants would discover that they do not really differ, and that their disputes have arisen from their own neglect of the great duty of explaining the meaning of words."

—John Charles Ryle, Knots Untied: Being Plain Statements on Disputed Points in Religion, from the Standpoint of an Evangelical Churchman, 10th ed. (London: William Hunt and Company, 1885), 1.​
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
The topic at hand is similar to me as the topic of Images of Christ. I first read J. I. Packer's book back in the mid 80's. When I read his portion on that topic I put the book down and fumed over it. I had never been introduced to the thought that images of Christ were Idolatry. I grew up with them and they made me think of Christ. How could that possibly be sin? When I removed my emotional sentiment to the situation and looked at it from an honest Biblical stance I had to relent. The issue is going to be charged. It is by nature of sentiment. We all have been culturally stained. We can not get around it. It takes time and patience to wade through these issues. The terminology is defined and concrete. The boundaries of scripture have not moved. We have a solid Confessional heritage we can also rely upon Just be patient with each other is my plea.

BTW, I like all the lights and even the trees in the home. I love the family gatherings. I love the extra charitableness. I love the season. Especially on a day like today when it is up in the 50's degree wise here. I am not a Winter person the older I get. LOL
 
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timfost

Puritan Board Senior
You are mistaken in that comment. I am in Union with Christ. I am a member of the Kingdom. Plus, I agree with our heritage concerning worship.

I don't think you're understanding @RWD and are unhelpfully inferring that he is suggesting something against you. Please correct me if it misunderstood you.

I think @Taylor Sexton has good advice in post 18 that should slow us all down in the meaning we force into words when we are actually misunderstanding them and rushing to a conclusion.

My :2cents::

It is Christmas Eve. Emotions are high on both sides. We are likely solidifying @greenbaggins argument that now is not going to be the most productive time to discuss/debate the merits of December 25.

For those that celebrate Christmas, Merry Christmas!

For those that don't, I hope you have a restful day off work and glorify God as you do every other day.

Blessings!
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
I don't think you're understanding @RWD and are unhelpfully inferring that he is suggesting something against you. Please correct me if it misunderstood you.
I was mischievously being precise. That reference is from Jesus to someone who was seeking his advice concerning the greatest commandment. I took it as RWD was mischievously being... I think you might understand. I took it as just jabbing at each other in fun.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Don’t get your tinsel in a tangle. I posted it with an emoticon to make doubly sure you knew it was a joke. I see emoticons aren’t working for me. Maybe it’s iOS 13.3.
Look at the post above. We cross posted. I totally got it. I am a lot more fun than you might think. Especially after imbibing. But I am refraining from that for a while. I am enjoying having my thought processes back too much. Health was causing me to be very confused for a few years.
 

timfost

Puritan Board Senior
I was mischievously being precise. That reference is from Jesus to someone who was seeking his advice concerning the greatest commandment. I took it as RWD was mischievously being... I think you might understand. I took it as just jabbing at each other in fun.

My bad, apparently Android doesn't catch those emoticons! :)
 

Tom Hart

Puritan Board Senior
Only one person who has been active in these discussions I have thought to have been uncharitable and dismissive. In general the discussions have been vigorous, but not nasty.
 
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