Another Christmas Question

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BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
It depends. If you will define what you mean by this I may take a stab.

First, I didn't say celebrating Christmas was necessarily sinful, as the above quote implies. I was echoing Ron's yet-to-be-refuted point that intention and act don't always coincide. Is the act qua act sinful?
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
First, I didn't say celebrating Christmas was necessarily sinful, as the above quote implies. I was echoing Ron's yet-to-be-refuted point that intention and act don't always coincide. Is the act qua act sinful?
Again, define the act and I will try to answer. What do you mean by “celebrating Christmas”.

I fixed the quote btw, honest mistake.:detective:
 
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PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
I am not going in circles. You say that whenever I bring up logical points. It doesn't count for a logical rebuttal, much less refutation.
You don't answer my questions. You neglect to interact with what I say. How do you want to define Christmas? We established what the OP implies. You have not given a definition that is concrete. The OP is specific. I say it is sin if it is not Prescribed by God. We can use Aaron's sons as an example of violating God's prescribed way of Worship. There was no forbidding of the offering of Strange Fire but they didn't follow the way God told them to offer fire. God took their lives because he said he would be Sanctified before the people. Do you agree that Worship must be prescribed by God and done the way his Word reveals? Or do you subscribe to the Normative Principle of Worship? Do you believe that it is okay to do things because there is no forbidding of them? Is it okay to just pick a fixed date like December the 25th and yearly promote worship based upon some aspect of a theological theme outside of his prescription?

Would it have been okay for Israel to pick any day they wanted to Worship? Is it okay for us to do that?
 
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U

Username3000

Guest
It has to do with the reason for meeting. The Christmas service meets because of a superstitious setting aside a day to observe Christ's birth: the meeting is appointed because the day is regarded as religiously special, the time of year to have this meeting. The meeting itself is a special worship service dedicated to this theme. The purpose for meeting is to worship by God as part of paying a special religious regard to a particular day. A special religious regard for days is part of the immature, ceremonial system of the OT, Gal. 4.

The midweek meetings meet out of convenience. We have warrant to meet daily for worship if we wished. There is nothing special about meeting on a Wed or Thurs, etc.: the time is appointed for the purpose of meeting with no regards to any special religious meaning for the day. The day is not regarded as religious but as an ordinary day that has been conveniently chosen, and the worship service is just an ordinary worship service, the same as it always is and has been. The purpose for meeting is simply to worship God publicly.

From McCrie (on days of thanksgiving and fasting, but the same principle applies to midweek meetings that are not tied to special acts of God's providence): "There are times when God calls, on the one hand, to religious fasting, or, on the other, to thanksgiving and religious joy; and it is our duty to comply with these calls, and to set apart time for the respective exercises. But this is quite a different thing from recurrent or anniversary holidays. In the former case the day is chosen for the duty, in the latter the duty is performed for the day; in the former case there is no holiness on the day but what arises from the service which is performed on it, and when the same day afterwards recurs, it is as common as any other day; in the latter case the day is set apart on all following times, and may not be employed for common or secular purposes."

Ask yourself: What is special about Dec 25th that we have these meetings year after year? Who appointed it? Who decided that we should have worship and worship of a particular nature each year? Who decided that the 25th should be so special? And you will soon see there is a world of difference between a Christmas service on the 25th and a midweek meeting appointed on a Wednesday. And perhaps in finding the answers to those questions, you will also see that, even if it were indifferent for the church to appoint an annual ecclesiastical holy day, this day is a monument to past and present idolatry that must be put away.


https://www.naphtali.com/articles/george-gillespie/holy-days/unlawful-because-superstitious/

https://purelypresbyterian.com/2016/11/03/8-reasons-holidays-should-not-be-observed/

Thanks from this. I have to work my way through. I think I’m understanding some more.
 
U

Username3000

Guest
Thanks to all who have contributed. Please don’t stop yet.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
That is not a worship service ordained by the Church is it? I understand it is a Celebration but is it an ordained Worship Service ordained by God? The Christmas Services I have been to are Worship Services. That is what we are talking about.

You also need to answer my questions concerning what is prescribed and what isn't before the small portion you quoted.

I am going to be absent most of the day. Got dinner at Mom's house. Cooked the Turkey and Ham last night. Got to warm them up and finish cooking this morning. Have a great day with your families guys if you are fortunate enough to have a gathering.
 
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NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
I don't know what Purim has to do with Wednesday night services; it has nothing to do with the pretended holy days, except that the Anglicans tried to defend them based on this passage. Esther 9:22 is a proof text for days of thanksgiving at WCF 21.5, for calling them "as the several eminent and extraordinary dispensations of God's providence shall administer cause and opportunity to his people" as said in the appendix against holy days in their directory for the public worship of God.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
You might find that some would think this reply somewhat lacking in detail. :)

I thought I had read where God's people, presumably including those in the Old Covenant, took it upon themselves to create a new holiday. Purim is a good example.

No, it isn't the same as a Wednesday night prayer meeting. Don't know why that is important.
 

User20004000

Puritan Board Sophomore
“That is not a worship service ordained by the Church is it?”

That’s the point. Christmas is not “ordained” by the church. For such an argument to have any impact, “ordained” must mean “required.”

Yes, if the elders were requiring Christmas worship, then that would be a problem. I don’t think anyone on the PB attends a church that commands on God’s authority something other than the Lord's Day for public worship. If the elders are merely offering an opportunity to gather, then we must grant the liberty to let one man esteem the day above another, but let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.
 

timfost

Puritan Board Senior
Yes, it does indeed have historical baggage. But what I’m waiting for is someone to distribute that (historical) premise of the argument into a syllogism that would conclude that the practice is, therefore, idolatrous today. The missing premise of the argument is that the practice, ipso facto, is sinful regardless of intent. That needed premise is indefensible. What makes many practices sin is intent. Circumcision for instance. Halloween too. Even Christmas.

@PuritanCovenanter and @G, I'd really appreciate an answer to the above. You keep throwing back at Ron and Jacob that they've not answered your questions, but your charges have no established premise, only assumption and conjecture. I'm not saying that you are necessarily wrong, but rather that your premise is not proven which makes your questions if Ron out of place and premature.
 

User20004000

Puritan Board Sophomore
@PuritanCovenanter and @G, I'd really appreciate an answer to the above. You keep throwing back at Ron and Jacob that they've not answered your questions, but your charges have no established premise, only assumption and conjecture. I'm not saying that you are necessarily wrong, but rather that your premise is not proven which makes your questions if Ron out of place and premature.

Tim,

One problem is, this principle is being misapplied: “I say it is sin if it is not Prescribed by God.”

The word “it” needs to be understood. God reveals to us how he is to be worshipped. He also reveals to us that (a) we must gather on the first day of the week with all his people and (b) we may freely worship him with other Christians on any other days. To deny (b) leads to many problems, like innocent retreats, campfires etc. One cannot deny (b) without being arbitrary and inconsistent.

What some are being accused of is turning the practice of (b) into a must or holy day. That’s called a straw man, which are usually easy to erect and even easier to knock down. The accusation loses its teeth when we appreciate that Reformed folk aren’t required to gather or regarding the day as holy.
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
@PuritanCovenanter and @G, I'd really appreciate an answer to the above. You keep throwing back at Ron and Jacob that they've not answered your questions, but your charges have no established premise, only assumption and conjecture. I'm not saying that you are necessarily wrong, but rather that your premise is not proven which makes your questions if Ron out of place and premature.
Tim,

What are my charges? What post did I state that?

I am not sure I have done any of the above. All I have “thrown back” to Jacob is that I cannot answer his questions unless he tells me what he means by “celebrating Christmas” (Post # 62). I was ignored (hopefully unintentionally). The definition matters. Celebrations in themselves are not necessarily sinful. Christmas celebrations need to be defined before I can answer personally. My personal position has been laid out in detail. I never feel comfortable when Latin lingo and scholastic level logic MUST be answered. I am not on that level, forgive me. For me, this discussion is simpler than that. Maybe that makes me a simpleton. I personally don’t feel it is that complicated nor does it need to be. I’m okay if that’s the outlook.

I agree with the Westminster DOPW and believe it to be supported by scripture as I understand it.:detective:
 
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Grant

Puritan Board Senior
Lastly, I have said more than once that I personally don't have an issue with a session calling a regular worship service on Dec 25th, though I would not call it myself if it were my decision, but it is not. Just keep foreign idolatrous elements out. Don’t cancel a Lord’s Day Service, enough with the candle ceremonies, and the superstitious decorations. Give the visitors the best you can which is the ordinary regular means of grace. Finally, let the Pastor have the freedom to pick his text even it means preaching 1 Chronicles 23.:detective:
 
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timfost

Puritan Board Senior
Lastly, I have said more than once that I personally don't have an issue with a session calling a regular worship service on Dec 25th, though I would not call it myself if it were my decision, but it is not. Just keep foreign idolatrous elements out. Don’t cancel a Lord’s Day Service, enough with the candle ceremonies, and the superstitious decorations. Give the visitors the best you can which is the ordinary regular means of grace. Finally, let the Pastor have the freedom to pick his text even it means preaching 1 Chronicles 23.:detective:

Thanks for clarifying. I had thought you were implicitly agreeing with others who draw a harder line based on your participation and ratings. I apologize if I assumed too much. Again, thanks for the clarification.

I agree with you that the ordinary means should be used without adding. At our service last night he included more singing than usual, but had scripture reading/expounding and prayer. Don't worry, no candles. ;)
 

Tom Hart

Puritan Board Senior
"Why not celebrate Christmas on a weekday? It won't interrupt the Lord's Day service."

Who are you kidding? Show me a church that celebrates Christmas on a weekday and doesn't allow Christmas-themed intrusions the Sunday prior. Or a church that, when the 25th falls on a Sunday, won't mark Christmas at all.
 

User20004000

Puritan Board Sophomore
Tim,

What are my charges? What post did I state that?

I am not sure I have done any of the above. All I have “thrown back” to Jacob is that I cannot answer his questions unless he tells me what he means by “celebrating Christmas” (Post # 62). I was ignored (hopefully unintentionally). The definition matters. Celebrations in themselves are not necessarily sinful. Christmas celebrations need to be defined before I can answer personally. My personal position has been laid out in detail. I never feel comfortable when Latin lingo and scholastic level logic MUST be answered. I am not on that level, forgive me. For me, this discussion is simpler than that. Maybe that makes me a simpleton. I personally don’t feel it is that complicated nor does it need to be. I’m okay if that’s the outlook.

I agree with the Westminster DOPW and believe it to be supported by scripture as I understand it.:detective:

My Brother, we are all simpletons. Personally, it’s one of my most pleasurable confessions.
 
U

Username3000

Guest
So the issue coming to the fore is not that there is a disagreement between the allowance of man-made holy days, but about what constitutes such a day.

Some say Christmas, with its idolatrous past, certainly is a man-made holy day.

Others say that modern Christmas, as celebrated by some Reformed Christians, does not meet the criteria of a man-made holy day.

Is that correct?
 

User20004000

Puritan Board Sophomore
So the issue coming to the fore is not that there is a disagreement between the allowance of man-made holy days, but about what constitutes such a day.

Some say Christmas, with its idolatrous past, certainly is a man-made holy day.

Others say that modern Christmas, as celebrated by some Reformed Christians, does not meet the criteria of a man-made holy day.

Is that correct?

I move for immediate closing of the thread! :)
 
U

Username3000

Guest
I think that its idolatrous past isn’t being used as proof or a reason for keeping it out of the churches. Historical events and viewpoints are brought in as examples and aids to understanding.
Can you rewrite the statement to represent the issue at hand as it ought to be defined?

Some say that Christmas in 2019 is a man-made holy day.

Others say that Christmas in 2019 in not a man-made holy day.

Does that pass the test?
 

Jeri Tanner

Moderator
Staff member
Can you rewrite the statement to represent the issue at hand as it ought to be defined?

Some say that Christmas in 2019 is a man-made holy day.

Others say that Christmas in 2019 in not a man-made holy day.

Does that pass the test?
I haven’t really thought about trying to frame the issue in a concise way like that; maybe?
 

Tom Hart

Puritan Board Senior
Here's a thought. If you and your church want to celebrate the Incarnation every year that December 25th falls on a weekday or a Saturday, then go for it. You'd have to skip it on the years the 25th falls on a Sunday, or else move it to a different day.

Don't pull out the old candles. Don't let it intrude in the least on the Lord's Day, in song choices or preaching.

But that wouldn't really be "Christmas," would it?
 

Tom Hart

Puritan Board Senior
Serious question:

Among rank-and-file professing Protestants, are Christmas or Easter not actually considered holy days? I ask because my own experience on the ground suggests they are.

I grew up an evangelical Christian in North America, and I definitely thought of the days as more holy. (I remember trying especially hard not to sin on Easter Sunday!)

Is the case different in Reformed churches? I do wonder what people would say if asked whether Christmas and Easter are holy days.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
@PuritanCovenanter and @G, I'd really appreciate an answer to the above. You keep throwing back at Ron and Jacob that they've not answered your questions, but your charges have no established premise, only assumption and conjecture. I'm not saying that you are necessarily wrong, but rather that your premise is not proven which makes your questions if Ron out of place and premature.
i replied. Have you read the replies in-depth? Syllogisms are very limited and seem to obfuscate from the the one trying to use them sometimes. I love them for the most part and used them as a Reformed Baptist. But they come up very lacking in evidence and proof of truth when the premises are set in definitions not supplied or adequately understood. That is the problem in this thread. I replied to Jacob and RWD. I think I have done it sufficiently. Maybe not. The topic was comparing Wednesday night prayer meetings with the Sabbath day. Christmas Worship Services are neither one.
 
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PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Here was my reply
You don't answer my questions. You neglect to interact with what I say. How do you want to define Christmas? We established what the OP implies. You have not given a definition that is concrete. The OP is specific. I say it is sin if it is not Prescribed by God. We can use Aaron's sons as an example of violating God's prescribed way of Worship. There was no forbidding of the offering of Strange Fire but they didn't follow the way God told them to offer fire. God took their lives because he said he would be Sanctified before the people. Do you agree that Worship must be prescribed by God and done the way his Word reveals? Or do you subscribe to the Normative Principle of Worship? Do you believe that it is okay to do things because there is no forbidding of them? Is it okay to just pick a fixed date like December the 25th and yearly promote worship based upon some aspect of a theological theme outside of his prescription?
 
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PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Thankfully no one in Reformed or evangelical circles celebrates “Christ-mass” (whatever that is).
Really. Where do you live? Not around me. I have seen Intinction Communion recently and Nativity displays in the front of our Churches around here. Yes, I have to endure a lot. I live in a weird place.
 
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User20004000

Puritan Board Sophomore
Here's a thought. If you and your church want to celebrate the Incarnation every year that December 25th falls on a weekday or a Saturday, then go for it. You'd have to skip it on the years the 25th falls on a Sunday, or else move it to a different day.

Don't pull out the old candles. Don't let it intrude in the least on the Lord's Day, in song choices or preaching.

But that wouldn't really be "Christmas," would it?

Trappings aside (candles....), what would be the sin in preaching on the hypostatic union on Sunday, December 25th?
 
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