Christmas and the *3rd* Commandment

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Henry Hall

Puritan Board Freshman
Christmas has issues with the 2nd and 4th Commandments, but what about the 3rd? This is piggy-backing on the thread about what makes a day holy. The defense "It's not a holy day" brings the immediate question, Then why is it called "Christmas"? If "Christmas" is not a holy day, it seems that defenders are taking the name of the Lord Christ in vain.

Surely someone on the PB or some Puritan writer has been down this path before, and has more developed thoughts about it than mine. Anyone?

Indeed, it seems that the word "Christmas," with that idolatrous root, could be a 3CV within itself.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Someone asked this this week on Facebook and this was my post.
Even Knox used the term in a letter; I don't think it was some slip but a civil use. I have a mixed opinion so tend not to use it except in discussions like this. On the one hand we have scripture warrant as James Durham illustrates, to use terms in common use among a people; but on the other hand, there's that exception at the end to deal with.:

"II. For the second, seeing it gets this name to be called the Lord’s day, it may be questioned here concerning our manner of speaking of days, calling the Lord’s Day Sunday, the next day after it Monday, etc., which has the first rise from superstition, if not from idolatry, some of them being attributed to planets, as Sunday and Monday; some of them to idols, as Thursday, etc. But to speak to the thing itself, look to the primitive times, we will find Sunday called the Lord’s Day, and the days of the week by the first, second, third, etc. But the names of days, being like the names of places and months, folks must speak of them as they are in use, and scripture warrants us so to do. Acts 17:22, Paul is said to stand in the midst of Mars hill. Acts 28:11 speaks of a ship, whose sign was Castor and Pollux. So, March, January, July and August, are from the idols Mars and Janus, or derived from men that appropriate more than ordinary to themselves. And though it was ordinary to Christians in the primitive times to call this day the Lord’s day among themselves, yet when they had dealing with the Jews, they called it the Sabbath, and when they had dealing with the heathen, they called it the Sunday. And so, though it be best to speak of days as scripture names them, yet it is agreeable with scripture to design or denominate them as they are in use among a people, especially where no superstitious use is in naming of them." James Durham, Commentary on Rev. 1:10.​
 

Tom Hart

Puritan Board Senior
Christmas has issues with the 2nd and 4th Commandments, but what about the 3rd? This is piggy-backing on the thread about what makes a day holy. The defense "It's not a holy day" brings the immediate question, Then why is it called "Christmas"? If "Christmas" is not a holy day, it seems that defenders are taking the name of the Lord Christ in vain.

Surely someone on the PB or some Puritan writer has been down this path before, and has more developed thoughts about it than mine. Anyone?

Indeed, it seems that the word "Christmas," with that idolatrous root, could be a 3CV within itself.
Careful there. You're risking being labelled a fanatic.
 
U

Username3000

Guest
Careful there. You're risking being labelled a fanatic.
You come across as bitter in some of your posts. You suggested I check myself before; I am returning the favour. I know text doesn’t portray tone though.
 

Tom Hart

Puritan Board Senior
You come across as bitter in some of your posts. You suggested I check myself before; I am returning the favour. I know text doesn’t portray tone though.
Sarcasm. I find I have to use it sparingly, even in face-to-face conversations, and especially in the company of North Americans.

It is true, though, that one member of this board was quite prepared to apply that label ("fanatical fervour") to Christians who oppose Christmas on the grounds of the RPW. That really is sad, I think.
 

Jake

Puritan Board Senior
That might have been a thread I started that Chris referenced.

I have argued the same as you in the past, that the name "Christmas" is contrary to the 3rd commandment, but I'm not so sure that "mass" necessarily means transubstantiation. Sometimes as Knox and Luther and others used it was more generally used of the worship service, and the most commonly supposed etymology only has it to do with the word "dismissal." Even today some Protestants continue to use the word who at least confessionally do not believe in transubstantiation.
 

Henry Hall

Puritan Board Freshman
Sarcasm. I find I have to use it sparingly, even in face-to-face conversations, and especially in the company of North Americans.

It is true, though, that one member of this board was quite prepared to apply that label ("fanatical fervour") to Christians who oppose Christmas on the grounds of the RPW. That really is sad, I think.
I had enjoyed the sarcasm.....
Someone asked this this week on Facebook and this was my post.
Even Knox used the term in a letter; I don't think it was some slip but a civil use. I have a mixed opinion so tend not to use it except in discussions like this. On the one hand we have scripture warrant as James Durham illustrates, to use terms in common use among a people; but on the other hand, there's that exception at the end to deal with.:

"II. For the second, seeing it gets this name to be called the Lord’s day, it may be questioned here concerning our manner of speaking of days, calling the Lord’s Day Sunday, the next day after it Monday, etc., which has the first rise from superstition, if not from idolatry, some of them being attributed to planets, as Sunday and Monday; some of them to idols, as Thursday, etc. But to speak to the thing itself, look to the primitive times, we will find Sunday called the Lord’s Day, and the days of the week by the first, second, third, etc. But the names of days, being like the names of places and months, folks must speak of them as they are in use, and scripture warrants us so to do. Acts 17:22, Paul is said to stand in the midst of Mars hill. Acts 28:11 speaks of a ship, whose sign was Castor and Pollux. So, March, January, July and August, are from the idols Mars and Janus, or derived from men that appropriate more than ordinary to themselves. And though it was ordinary to Christians in the primitive times to call this day the Lord’s day among themselves, yet when they had dealing with the Jews, they called it the Sabbath, and when they had dealing with the heathen, they called it the Sunday. And so, though it be best to speak of days as scripture names them, yet it is agreeable with scripture to design or denominate them as they are in use among a people, especially where no superstitious use is in naming of them." James Durham, Commentary on Rev. 1:10.​
I'm not going to sit here and say Knox is wrong...........

I agree with him, but am I the only one on the PB who thinks that we ought to work for a Reformation which at some point includes effects on our language, including proper nouns?

"I will pour My Spirit on your descendants,
And My blessing on your offspring;
4 They will spring up among the grass
Like willows by the watercourses.’
5 One will say, ‘I am the Lord’s’;
Another will call himself by the name of Jacob;
Another will write with his hand, ‘The Lord’s,’
And name himself by the name of Israel."--Is. 44
 
U

Username3000

Guest
I agree with him, but am I the only one on the PB who thinks that we ought to work for a Reformation which at some point includes effects on our language, including proper nouns?

Although that would be great, I’m more concerned about reforming my life and piety. I want to love my wife before I try to change common usage of the English language. Still trying to figure that one out.
 

Henry Hall

Puritan Board Freshman
Although that would be great, I’m more concerned about reforming my life and piety. I want to love my wife before I try to change common usage of the English language. Still trying to figure that one out.

So people interested in that kind of Reformation are under-concerned about their marriages and personal piety?
 
U

Username3000

Guest
So people interested in that kind of Reformation are under-concerned about their marriages and personal piety?
Not what I said at all. You asked a question, I answered it by stating my priorities.
 

Henry Hall

Puritan Board Freshman
Not what I said at all. You asked a question, I answered it by stating my priorities.
I don't understand the relevance.

I asked an ethical question: "ought."

You gave what is either merely an autobiographical answer (wrong level), or an answer which implied no, "we ought [not] to work for a Reformation which at some point includes effects on our language, including proper nouns."

Evidently, your meaning was the former.
 

Ben Zartman

Puritan Board Sophomore
I would be fine if we changed the name to X-mas, or called it just-past-solstice day, or Winter Holiday. However, I agree with the above post on the use of common names.
Here's another: "Holiday," though derived from "holy day" now simply means "a break from work." I don't think there's idolatry in calling any break from work a "holiday."
And if we were really finicky, would we be able to use place names given by Papists? What about Los Angeles' original name? What about all the places names Espiritu Santo (Holy Spirit)? What about all the major cities named after Popish saints? We could get tied up in knots pretty quick.
 

Scottish Presbyterian

Puritan Board Freshman
I had enjoyed the sarcasm.....

I'm not going to sit here and say Knox is wrong...........

I agree with him, but am I the only one on the PB who thinks that we ought to work for a Reformation which at some point includes effects on our language, including proper nouns?

"I will pour My Spirit on your descendants,
And My blessing on your offspring;
4 They will spring up among the grass
Like willows by the watercourses.’
5 One will say, ‘I am the Lord’s’;
Another will call himself by the name of Jacob;
Another will write with his hand, ‘The Lord’s,’
And name himself by the name of Israel."--Is. 44

I think so, and I think passages such as Zephaniah 3:9 and Isaiah 19:18 seem to imply (perhaps among other things) that revival of true religion will impact on use of language. I'd caveat by saying that as ever, Durham's qualifier posted above seems eminently sensible and biblical
 
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