"Advent" Candles, circumstance or will worship

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Grant

Puritan Board Senior
Often it seems otherwise faithful Pastors try to find some way to uphold the candle lightings because of congregational pressure. Otherwise the congregations might maul them. I doubt any faithful Reformed Seminarians would invent the practice themselves.

Here is a good question: Why can’t you try to intentionally drop the practice for 1 year?
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
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Because as you say, they would be mauled/fired. It is often if not the case most of the time that Reform cannot be made overnight. Calvin was banished from Geneva in the context amongst other things of the re imposition of 5 holy days at the insistence of the City of Bern (Bern had saved Geneva's bacon, and felt owed its conformity to Bern's practices), which he and Farel had abandoned for only the Lord's Day two years earlier in 1636. Four years later when Geneva had descended into anarchy and had enough of that and pleaded with Calvin to returned, he allowed the days to be retained even though at that point he had the moral authority to order them away again. He did so because the Reformation in the city itself was in peril. It took a decade with continued attempts to minimize the days before they were outlawed and a much more reduced compromise was in place that retained only a nativity sermon at the end of December. So I don't want to minimize as valid that sometimes some actions must be measured or delayed or one's ability of doing any good at all will cease when folks move on to the next guy who will give them what they want much as Geneva had done. The difference between Calvin and today, is he recognized he had compromised and knew he had to continue to work for reform.
Often it seems otherwise faithful Pastors try to find some way to uphold the candle lightings because of congregational pressure. Otherwise the congregations might maul them. I doubt any faithful Reformed Seminarians would invent the practice themselves.

Here is a good question: Why can’t you try to intentionally drop the practice for 1 year?
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
If you are having conscience about your participation, come to clear conviction so you know it is yours and not from what others say, and while you don't need to defend a thesis, at least be able to explain what the doctrine is guiding your conscience and that while you don't have everything worked out or can answer every question, you need to reduce your participation.
Mr. Coldwell, do you have any advice on relaying how I feel about a special candlelight service to my pastor? I'd like to understand a little bit more of the objection to it, beyond the "it's not a prescribed service in Scripture", which my Reformed Baptist pastor doesn't care about, he espouses John Frame's view of worship. Thank you, and have a happy and merry normal December month!
I can tell you what I did. I quoted Chris's original post and sent it to my pastor and elder. Whether they disagree or agree doesn't change the clear logic of the syllogism.
 

earl40

Puritan Board Professor
Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. While not holy, it is helpful.

Umm, I wonder if what you said is true? If it is "the most wonderful time of the year" how is it set apart as "not holy"? :)
 
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Grant

Puritan Board Senior
From A Practical Exsposition of the Ten Commandments by James Durham, RHB & Naphtali Press Corrected and Revised Edition/ pg. 57

Under ways we break God’s 2nd Commandment.:detective:

(2) Men sin against this command when they practice will-worship and superstition in serving God by duties He never required. Whether [1] It be will-worship in respect of the service itself, as when that is gone about as duty which is not in itself lawful, as when such and such pilgrimages and penances are appointed by men to be done as service to God.

[4] When it is without a divine warrant tied to such a time only, as Christmas (commonly called Yule), Easter, Pasch, etc., which is an observing of times that God has not appointed.
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Senior
I can tell you what I did. I quoted Chris's original post and sent it to my pastor and elder. Whether they disagree or agree doesn't change the clear logic of the syllogism.
@NaphtaliPress

One of the elders wrote back to me and responded with these words:

Interesting. Not being defensive here (because I’m surprisingly sympathetic to the RPW), but how would this principle be distinguished between non-structural design elements of the sanctuary? Chamfered baseboards, for example?​

Here's what I wrote in reply:

Dear Ted, [not his real name]

We don't call the "Chamfered baseboards" by a special name, at a special time of the year and draw attention to them and read Scripture around them. Clearly, you must realize the difference between Chamfered baseboards and the advent wreath and candles. Take thought for yourself about a powerful, almost irresistible force at work in the human heart. Consider the words of Jesus as He explains the real reason why people did not accept His teaching. There were no metaphysical difficulties. Just this one reason. "because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not." (John 8:45) It was because He told the truth that men would not believe.

Ted, the truth is, you know the difference between Chamfered baseboards and the advent wreath. I will not try to convince you that special names and special seasons and drawing attention to an object makes it an element of worship. You already know the truth. If I tried to persuade you of that truth, it would give you an out. "Well, Ed thinks I might not know the truth of what he says, and that's the way I like it. Maybe he's right? Maybe I don't know."​
 

Jeri Tanner

Moderator
Staff member
@NaphtaliPress

One of the elders wrote back to me and responded with these words:

Interesting. Not being defensive here (because I’m surprisingly sympathetic to the RPW), but how would this principle be distinguished between non-structural design elements of the sanctuary? Chamfered baseboards, for example?​

Here's what I wrote in reply:

Dear Ted, [not his real name]

We don't call the "Chamfered baseboards" by a special name, at a special time of the year and draw attention to them and read Scripture around them. Clearly, you must realize the difference between Chamfered baseboards and the advent wreath and candles. Take thought for yourself about a powerful, almost irresistible force at work in the human heart. Consider the words of Jesus as He explains the real reason why people did not accept His teaching. There were no metaphysical difficulties. Just this one reason. "because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not." (John 8:45) It was because He told the truth that men would not believe.

Ted, the truth is, you know the difference between Chamfered baseboards and the advent wreath. I will not try to convince you that special names and special seasons and drawing attention to an object makes it an element of worship. You already know the truth. If I tried to persuade you of that truth, it would give you an out. "Well, Ed thinks I might not know the truth of what he says, and that's the way I like it. Maybe he's right? Maybe I don't know."​
It’s great that you’re able and willing to communicate these things with your church, Ed. May the Lord bless your efforts.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
If all that is going on is a church lady has put plastic holly and a red candle on each windowsill then we can talk about whether decorations (which are a circumstance) associated with the holy day season are appropriate in the church. That brings in the rules that govern something allegedly indifferent (how the church is decorated and when). But something brought into the worship service with functions and meaning put upon them are part of the worship of God and there is no allowance for ceremonies of man's devising. Will worship is not circumscribed by the call to worship. That is insane to my Presbyterian ears. Or at least it is a rejection of the regulative principle and insisting on a normative principle outside the call to worship. No where is that taught in a Reformed understanding of what the Scriptures have to say about the worship of God.
@NaphtaliPress

One of the elders wrote back to me and responded with these words:

Interesting. Not being defensive here (because I’m surprisingly sympathetic to the RPW), but how would this principle be distinguished between non-structural design elements of the sanctuary? Chamfered baseboards, for example?​

Here's what I wrote in reply:

Dear Ted, [not his real name]

We don't call the "Chamfered baseboards" by a special name, at a special time of the year and draw attention to them and read Scripture around them. Clearly, you must realize the difference between Chamfered baseboards and the advent wreath and candles. Take thought for yourself about a powerful, almost irresistible force at work in the human heart. Consider the words of Jesus as He explains the real reason why people did not accept His teaching. There were no metaphysical difficulties. Just this one reason. "because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not." (John 8:45) It was because He told the truth that men would not believe.

Ted, the truth is, you know the difference between Chamfered baseboards and the advent wreath. I will not try to convince you that special names and special seasons and drawing attention to an object makes it an element of worship. You already know the truth. If I tried to persuade you of that truth, it would give you an out. "Well, Ed thinks I might not know the truth of what he says, and that's the way I like it. Maybe he's right? Maybe I don't know."​
 
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