Christmas and the Christian

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sevenzedek

Puritan Board Junior
It's good anyway that the Reformation seems to have reduced the Church Calendar in the hearts and minds of Protestants of most persuaisions to only two days in the year - Christmas and Easter.

Can you think of any other "problem days"? That would be a subject for another thread.
It is not my experience that most Protestants have only two Holy Days in addition to the Lord's Day.
Maundy Thursday and Good Friday are widely celebrated.
Actually I think many Protestants now celebrate Pentecost Sunday for all of the wrong reasons.
When I was growing up the only Protestants to celebrate Advent and Lent were Lutherans and Episcopalians. Now these penitential seasons are commonly celebrated by liberal Methodists and liberal Presbyterians.

Around me I have started to see SBC churches beginning to adopt Ash Wednesday and Lenten services.

And they say some of us are too careful about Christmas and other issues. To what else will this lead? A little leaven leavens the whole lump.
 

Backwoods Presbyterian

Puritanboard Amanuensis
This is not a "causation" comment, merely just noting what I have seen, but it almost always starts in the "youth ministry" side where the youth pastor is trying to get more "spiritual" and finds these ancient traditions upon which to cling. I have also seen the same thing with this bizarre trend in "edgy/emergent" Presbyterian circles of having passover seder's.
 

sevenzedek

Puritan Board Junior
This is not a "causation" comment, merely just noting what I have seen, but it almost always starts in the "youth ministry" side where the youth pastor is trying to get more "spiritual" and finds these ancient traditions upon which to cling. I have also seen the same thing with this bizarre trend in "edgy/emergent" Presbyterian circles of having passover seder's.

For clarification, neither was I. But the will worship of Christmas will lead to other things in the same way that other things have led to the will worship you mentioned. These in turn lead to other corruptions too.
 

Miss Marple

Puritan Board Junior
"But the will worship of Christmas will lead to other things in the same way that other things have led to the will worship you mentioned."

Is this not the fundamentalist argument against all drinking, all smoking, all games of cards, etc?
 

cmaglaughlin

Puritan Board Freshman
If Christians didn't shop for Christmas, the world would finally realize Jesus is the reason for the season, and we would finally show the dumb masses we are NOT the clueless and silent majority we come across as! What better place to start fighting the battle than at THE beginning.
 

Andres

Puritan Board Doctor
If Christians didn't shop for Christmas, the world would finally realize Jesus is the reason for the season

But a large part of the discussion relating to this thread is that many of the Christians on this board don't believe Jesus is the "reason for the season". :D
 

Free Christian

Puritan Board Sophomore
I saw post earlier here where someone raised the issue of paganism. Someone answered and said that maybe it was Pagan but is not now.
My question and example was distorted, so I will ask it this way.
Can anyone tell me please what is the criteria, Biblically, for or when something changes from being pagan to not being pagan based upon time passing?
And if this also applies to God changing the stance on the subject?
Does it go hand in hand that when we deicide something is now ok, it is ok then with God?
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
Can anyone tell me please what is the criteria, Biblically, for or when something changes from being pagan to not being pagan based upon time passing?

To me, meat is meat, and I don't particularly care whether that particular kind was sacrificed to idols 2,000 years ago. If it offends you I won't eat it in front of you.

The trouble with the question, brother, is that it is entirely relative to culture. Things that are pagan in one culture may not be in another. Cats were first domesticated in Egypt because they were thought to be gods, does this mean that keeping a pet cat is still a pagan practice? No, you will not find a criterion in Scripture for determining which meat is to be eaten because we are to use our God-given discernment to help us learn what is wise. To me, a tree is but a festive decoration to put presents under and to celebrate God's gifts around. If to you it represents Odin, then by all means don't let me convince you to violate your conscience. But I can say truthfully that it has none of those associations for me, and certainly not in the wider culture. Symbols change in their meaning, and the Bible doesn't give us criteria because all we need to discern this is to use our noggins and ask, "what am I saying to a wider culture in this practice?" Somehow I'm not sure that by putting up a Christmas tree or other Yuletide decorations that I am signalling that I want to return to the worship of Thor and Odin.
 

Backwoods Presbyterian

Puritanboard Amanuensis
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THE W

Puritan Board Freshman
Somehow I'm not sure that by putting up a Christmas tree or other Yuletide decorations that I am signalling that I want to return to the worship of Thor and Odin.

But we are now using them in worship to Christ, which is a clear violation of the RPW.

If that is what this thread is about then its a done deal, but that is why I asked the question of whether or not those who want to observe the holiday would seek to completely dissociate Christ from it.
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
But we are now using them in worship to Christ, which is a clear violation of the RPW.

Certainly I would not propose to use them liturgically, if that is what you mean. I would not even, for that matter, recommend placing them in the sanctuary. But as a festive seasonal decoration, I can see no harm.

Whether the holiday is to be observed in the church is an entirely different question than whether certain seasonal decorations are appropriate.
 

THE W

Puritan Board Freshman
But we are now using them in worship to Christ, which is a clear violation of the RPW.

Certainly I would not propose to use them liturgically, if that is what you mean. I would not even, for that matter, recommend placing them in the sanctuary. But as a festive seasonal decoration, I can see no harm.

Whether the holiday is to be observed in the church is an entirely different question than whether certain seasonal decorations are appropriate.

The RPW refers to all forms of worship, Public and private, that are rendered to the LORD.

Again, unless the intention is to disassociate Christ from the holiday, its observance must be abandoned.
 

THE W

Puritan Board Freshman
So when the lights and trees go up, the presents are bought , and the carols are sung, what's being celebrated?
 

Miss Marple

Puritan Board Junior
The birth of Christ! By individuals and families. Not as a particular worship service of the organized church.
 

THE W

Puritan Board Freshman
The birth of Christ! By individuals and families. Not as a particular worship service of the organized church.

The burden of proof would fall squarely on your shoulders to find warrant in scripture for such a tradition of celebration to be rendered to Christ.
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
The burden of proof would fall squarely on your shoulders to find warrant in scripture for such a tradition of celebration to be rendered to Christ.

Not precisely. The question is whether the church may institute feasts in addition to the Lord's Day, commemorating acts of God's faithfulness, like the incarnation.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
And the answer to that question is the difference between Presbyterian and Episcopalian worship principals (nay v. yea) as I've already noted above somewhere. Even the Reformed churches that kept a few cyclical days only did so for traditional date reasons (no?); they didn't re-institute or defend them for the mystical, for the commemorating the acts of redemption type reasons given by those Anglo Catholics who tried to re-impose them in the early 17th century, which led to the second reformation in Scotland. If one wants to understand the arguments of both sides (AnglicCatholic/Presbyterian&Puritan) read Gillespie. He's partisan Presbyterian/Puritan but cites all the literature on both sides and the new edition now out, has sources confirmed and everything in translation (such as the many citations from the oft quoted Jerome Zanchius, a Gillespie favorite, who on this question favored keeping some extra days but purged of superstition; while granting it was in accord with apostolic practice that only the Lord's day be observed--both sides tried to use Zanchi on this question of holy days).
The burden of proof would fall squarely on your shoulders to find warrant in scripture for such a tradition of celebration to be rendered to Christ.

Not precisely. The question is whether the church may institute feasts in addition to the Lord's Day, commemorating acts of God's faithfulness, like the incarnation.
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
Even the Reformed churches that kept a few cyclical days only did so for traditional date reasons

Can you explain what is meant by this?

they didn't re-institute or defend them for the mystical, for the commemorating the acts of redemption type reasons given by those Anglo Catholics who tried to re-impose them in the early 17th century

I wouldn't do so for those particular reasons either. I was thinking more along the lines of Old Covenant feasts outside the Pentateuch (Purim and the Feast of Dedication).
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
They picked a few (four I think) and kept them for public services on the traditional dates; but no ceremonies, mystical reasons, as per the Anglo Catholics. The arguments from Purim and John 10 also adduced by the same proponents are also well covered by Gillespie and other Puritan authors on this question.
Even the Reformed churches that kept a few cyclical days only did so for traditional date reasons

Can you explain what is meant by this?

they didn't re-institute or defend them for the mystical, for the commemorating the acts of redemption type reasons given by those Anglo Catholics who tried to re-impose them in the early 17th century

I wouldn't do so for those particular reasons either. I was thinking more along the lines of Old Covenant feasts outside the Pentateuch (Purim and the Feast of Dedication).
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
But we are now using them in worship to Christ, which is a clear violation of the RPW.
If that is what this thread is about then its a done deal, but that is why I asked the question of whether or not those who want to observe the holiday would seek to completely dissociate Christ from it.

We need to acknowledge that refraining from the use of an object in worship is not the same as completely dissociating Christ from that object in everyday life. I try not to completely dissociate Christ from anything in my life. I want to celebrate Him in all I do (and I should!), but this does not turn all I do into the sort of worship subject to the "only what's expressly commanded" principle.

In my house, we have Proverbs 12:10, "A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal," posted above the guinea pig cage. It's there to remind us (well, the kids mostly) that the otherwise mundane task of feeding the guinea pig is also service to Christ and, in that sense, is a celebration of Him. Feeding the guinea pig is an occasion to remember Christ. Should we dissociate the guinea pig from Christ? Absolutely not! ALL of life should be a celebration of Christ. But this does not mean we invent a ceremony using the guinea pig and use it in our family devotions. That's the difference.

So if I string up colored lights or (gasp!) put up a tree—yes, absolutely I am doing that in celebration of Christ and to his glory. I hope it helps me to think of Him and to keep His blessings on my heart so that I keep the command to "talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise"—just as I hope feeding the guinea pig helps me to consider Christ. That fact that I associate those colored lights with Christ does not necessarily mean that I'm using them for worship in the narrower sense of the word.

Now, Christmas decorations may be unwise for a number of reasons including the temptation to turn them into ceremonial worship aids. In the case of Christmas decorations, some people surely are particularly tempted that way. But merely putting them up with Christ in mind, intending to be reminded of Him often throughout the season, does not violate the worship principle. If such things did, my guinea pig would starve.
 

Backwoods Presbyterian

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Does Christ command us to use such things (or anything other than the Lord's Supper) in order that we are "reminded of Him often throughout the season" or any season?

Does He say these things are either necessary or warranted?

The fundamental problem with all of these things is that it strikes at the sufficiency of the given revelation. They are saying, intentionally or not, that what we have been given (namely the Lord's Supper and the Lord's Day in general) is not sufficient for our adoration and worship of our savior. That we need to have these things in order to better worship and love Christ. That again is the Anglican/Lutheran argument, not the Deut 12:32 Presbyterian argument.

From where I sit it can hardly be argued that the additions made to the worship of God in December and April (or March) are not used as elements of worship. There is no way a person can honestly argue that the additions of Christmas and Easter (and all their trappings) are merely "circumstances" like pews, lights, and air conditioning.
 

THE W

Puritan Board Freshman
The burden of proof would fall squarely on your shoulders to find warrant in scripture for such a tradition of celebration to be rendered to Christ.

Not precisely. The question is whether the church may institute feasts in addition to the Lord's Day, commemorating acts of God's faithfulness, like the incarnation.

In view of the RPW, the answer to this question be 'no'.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
The answer to the question is "no" with Regulative Principle of Worship properly explained, applied, and the attempts to adduce sufficient warrant per the RPW for setting aside holy days of our own devising answered and showed insufficient. When attempts to simply assert bare authority (either ecclesiastical or civil) failed, it is not as though past defenders of such things didn't try to answer with warrant when polemics required it; the arguments were simply not sufficient for the warrant required.
The burden of proof would fall squarely on your shoulders to find warrant in scripture for such a tradition of celebration to be rendered to Christ.

Not precisely. The question is whether the church may institute feasts in addition to the Lord's Day, commemorating acts of God's faithfulness, like the incarnation.

In view of the RPW, the answer to this question be 'no'.
 

THE W

Puritan Board Freshman
But we are now using them in worship to Christ, which is a clear violation of the RPW.
If that is what this thread is about then its a done deal, but that is why I asked the question of whether or not those who want to observe the holiday would seek to completely dissociate Christ from it.

We need to acknowledge that refraining from the use of an object in worship is not the same as completely dissociating Christ from that object in everyday life. I try not to completely dissociate Christ from anything in my life. I want to celebrate Him in all I do (and I should!), but this does not turn all I do into the sort of worship subject to the "only what's expressly commanded" principle.

In my house, we have Proverbs 12:10, "A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal," posted above the guinea pig cage. It's there to remind us (well, the kids mostly) that the otherwise mundane task of feeding the guinea pig is also service to Christ and, in that sense, is a celebration of Him. Feeding the guinea pig is an occasion to remember Christ. Should we dissociate the guinea pig from Christ? Absolutely not! ALL of life should be a celebration of Christ. But this does not mean we invent a ceremony using the guinea pig and use it in our family devotions. That's the difference.

So if I string up colored lights or (gasp!) put up a tree—yes, absolutely I am doing that in celebration of Christ and to his glory. I hope it helps me to think of Him and to keep His blessings on my heart so that I keep the command to "talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise"—just as I hope feeding the guinea pig helps me to consider Christ. That fact that I associate those colored lights with Christ does not necessarily mean that I'm using them for worship in the narrower sense of the word.

Now, Christmas decorations may be unwise for a number of reasons including the temptation to turn them into ceremonial worship aids. In the case of Christmas decorations, some people surely are particularly tempted that way. But merely putting them up with Christ in mind, intending to be reminded of Him often throughout the season, does not violate the worship principle. If such things did, my guinea pig would starve.


You are equating obeying a command of God(caring for your pets) with a tradition of celebration that is not commanded by God thus breaking God's command to only render worship to Him that He commanded, nothing more and nothing less(read deut. chapter 12).

You are correct that we should not disassociate the LORD from anything we do and this includes our decision to create and participate in traditions of worship of Him that He did not command. You would also need to explain how putting up lights, trees, and caroling "in celebration of Christ and to His glory" is not worship of Him.

You quoted the passage "talk of them when you sit in your house...". This passage in context("them") is referring to the commands of God. You are correct again that "ALL of life should be a celebration of Christ". What those who reject the holiday are saying is that while we are commanded to worship the LORD we do not have a say in how to do that. The LORD commands us to worship Him and also commands how we are to worship him.

I am pretty sure that uzzah had good intentions when he reached out to grab the ark so it wouldn't fall over. God killed him anyway. nadab and abihu had good intentions when they offered unauthorized fire on the alter to worship God. God killed them anyway. We're not allowed to make up the way in which we worship the LORD.

so, yet again, those who are pro-winter holiday need to provide biblical exegesis and hermeneutic to show that this holiday is warranted by God in worship to Him.
 

THE W

Puritan Board Freshman
The burden of proof would fall squarely on your shoulders to find warrant in scripture for such a tradition of celebration to be rendered to Christ.

Not precisely. The question is whether the church may institute feasts in addition to the Lord's Day, commemorating acts of God's faithfulness, like the incarnation.

In view of the RPW, the answer to this question be 'no'.

I probably should have went into that but i think backwoods Presbyterian explains it well enough.
 
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