Christmas, communication and PB

Discussion in 'Church Calendar and Pretended Holy Days' started by timfost, Dec 26, 2016.

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  1. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior

    Dear all,

    Here are some thoughts on Christmas, communication and Puritan Board.

    I know that Christmas conversations tend to stir up some strong feelings on PB. My pastor preached the last couple of weeks in Isaiah concerning the prophecies foretelling the incarnation and ended yesterday with a sermon in Luke 2. We also had a “Christmas Eve service” where our pastor read from both OT and NT on relevant passages with short expositions and a hymn between each section. This was not in lieu of Sunday worship and Christmas is not viewed as some kind of “holy day” (I will use “holy day” and “holiday” differently). Though we often referred to the day as “Christmas,” our pastor made it clear that we were not celebrating Mass but the incarnation, and though he explained that “incarnation” was the more accurate word, he did use the word “Christmas” on various occasions throughout the weeks as the word itself is not so closely linked with its etymological beginnings.

    Leaving aside whether one should or should not celebrate Christmas, I find it disheartening the uncharitable, sometimes downright rude and hostile tone some on PB have taken against those wishing a merry Christmas. It seems as if some cannot get past the etymology of the word “Christmas” and they end up judging the one who used the word. If God looks at the heart, shouldn’t we be able to get past the word and understand what the person means when they use it? Imagine if we employed this tone in our households-- how provocative it would be!

    A rule that I try to use in forums (and often fail!) is this: “Would I say this to their face?” or “Would I be ashamed of myself if I saw them at my church next Sunday?” The danger of communication on a forum is that sometimes we forget that we are speaking to people-- at least we act like it.

    I’m hoping that if people would like to speak against Christmas, they do so in a thread designed to look at the issue. But I find it very discouraging when well meaning people are chewed out for wishing all a “merry Christmas.”

    We had a number of visitors for our Christmas eve service as well as Sunday worship. Yes, it is terrible that so many in our country believe that going to church for Christmas and Easter is sufficient. However, people heard the gospel! My wife’s grandparents (90 years old) were both there. They are both unbelievers, but God used their Roman Catholic habits to get them to a Reformed church. I don’t know if God will change their hearts or not, but dear friends, they heard the gospel!

    Please, try to look past the word “Christmas” and be charitable. Do you really believe that any on this board are celebrating a Christ Mass?

    Thank you for hearing me.

    Blessings,
     
  2. Andrew P.C.

    Andrew P.C. Puritan Board Junior

    The scriptures search us and strike us down. Our hearts are wicked.

    I think you are missing the point. On one hand, no one should condone rudeness. However, if you think it's about the "word", then you do not understand the argument against xmass. It is filled with such gross idolatry. It is also a day that people set apart (holy; sanctify) when there is only one day in seven that is to be set apart.

    I want you to know, I say this with all sincerity and brotherly love towards you.
     
  3. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable

    Tim,

    Rather than this sort of sweeping generalization, can you point to specific instances of hostility or rudeness? Could it possibly be you are assuming more than is in evidence?
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2016
  4. Parakaleo

    Parakaleo Puritan Board Sophomore

    The day could be called "Incarnation Day". It could be used for Scripture reading and Psalm singing the whole day. If it was counted as a day to be observed year after year in connection to Christ's birth, it would still be totally out of the bounds of confessional orthodoxy. Six days shall thou labor and do all thy work.

    The fact that it is called "Christmas" and used largely for merry-making, loosely or closely connected with Christ's birth, makes it all the more blatantly out of order. Most of us believe this is something that really should be more obvious than it is.

    I, too write this with sincerity and love.
     
  5. ZackF

    ZackF Puritan Board Graduate

    ...or inserted in a way similar to a Wednesday or any other voluntary prayer meeting.....in Eastern traditions it is historically referred to as "The Feast of the Nativity."
     
  6. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    I guess it is otherworldly to find anyone that finds this word flat offensive. And maybe this is the one place in the world they all congregate. But knowing this would be a stick in the eye to many here, particularly in the context of a couple of threads on the subject and given the timing posting such on the Lord's Day, why would one post such a merry wishes thread on PB? Say the term is indifferent, which many reasons suggest it is not including the third commandment, but say it is; then the strong should not go out of their way to offend the weak. But that plea probably will fall on deaf ears. There's going to be threads about the illegitimacy of the pretended holidays every year a couple of times a year; again, this is the puritan board. And I know some will persist and feel compelled for whatever good or ill reason to do such pleasantry threads every year. But PB is not like you are out on the street exchanging pleasantries; this is a discussion group, this is a controverted subject, and a mere pleasantries thread using this word is not a safe space.
     
  7. Tyrese

    Tyrese Puritan Board Sophomore

    First, let me say that I agree with the OP. Tim pretty much summed up my thinking on this issue that I'm usually tempted to express, but I resist the urge as I believe it does more harm than help. Reality is I don't know that much about the origins of Christmas, and I suspect others here don't know either. At the same time I fail to see the evil of anything that I've done (or considered doing)leading up to Christmas considering the fact that so many had the opportunity to hear the gospel who would not have been willing to hear it any other day (or days) during the year. I think we should always be open to what is idolatry, and if convinced we should 'flee idolatry' as we are commanded in Scripture. In saying that though, I would refuse the opportunity to open the Church so that the sick can come to the great physician and be healed of their spiritual disease.

    Now, here's where I disagree with Tim. The Bible teaches us that all that we do should be done in love. 'Love thy neighbor as thyself.' It is not loving to post 'Merry Christmas' on an Internet forum where the majority of it's participants condemn the practice and all that is connected to it. We have to be mindful of others, and put them before ourselves. If we fail to do this we have sinned against our neighbor and we have sinned against God. If anything, those who have done this should rather be apologizing to our brethren here, repent, and refrain from doing it in the future. How would it feel if we were surrounded by Roman Catholics and they repeated the 'hail Mary's' in our faces knowing we despise the very practice. I know I would be extremely offended. How about you?
     
  8. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Professor

    I find myself in agreement with both you and our brother on issue of Christmas in church, as understand the actual history behind it, and how it was "taken over" by Church of Rome and adapted in Holiday, but alsodo think that scripture would allow for a faithful obseverance of it. My church just had a ChristmanEve service, was all singing praise to Jesus and God the Father by Hymns of the Faith. Christmas service was done in communion, rememberingthe birth of our Lord and his death for us.
    Think this is reallyan issue of convictions/preferences, and we should honor bothviews on it IF those who do observe do in as God intended, to worship His Son being born and celebrated.
     
  9. reaganmarsh

    reaganmarsh Puritan Board Senior

    Dear brethren,

    My post wishing the PB Merry Christmas is the cause of this unrest.

    I am grieved that my words gave offense, when the opposite was my intent.

    In past years, I've given similar greetings and it didn't provoke anyone (at least, not that I recall). However, it clearly has caused an issue this year; and for that, I ask your forgiveness. Such was not my desire.

    Please accept my sincerest apologies for causing my brothers and sisters to stumble.

    I'm not sure how to delete the offending thread; but perhaps one of our moderators will be so gracious as to do that, and we can move forward. I'll not broach this topic again.

    Again, I am sorry that I caused offense; and I hope you'll forgive me. I did not consider that the exercise of my freedom might cause others to stumble.

    Grace to you.
     
  10. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    Reagan,

    Thank you for the apology. No need to delete the thread. There was no offense taken on my part, and I think the moderators agree the whole discussion should remain as it is.

    We see something similar almost every year. May God be glorified in our interactions, and may this whole series of discussions be a reminder that we can and should discuss such doctrinal issues with grace.

    Even if sometimes our understanding of grace ends up stinging another.
     
  11. Stope

    Stope Puritan Board Sophomore

    I couldnt agree more :(
     
  12. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    I can't recall well enough to speak to previous years but thanks for the apology. The thread should remain and I'll simply close and link it to this thread as they may serve for some good use in future.
     
  13. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    Closing the thread.

    Frankly, I could not find a particular instance of anyone being rude, hostile, or uncharitable in the thread in question.

    Facts were set out, the historical position of the Puritans summarized (very succinctly). No name calling, no hostilities show up as far as I could see.

    So we will put this annual imbroglio behind and, God willing, press on.
     
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