Christmas Poll

What is your position on Christmas?

  • Ought to be celebrated in the Church and home

    Votes: 8 16.3%
  • Ought to be celebrated only at home, in a religious fashion, but not in the Church

    Votes: 1 2.0%
  • Ought to be celebrated only at home, in a secular fashion, and not in the Church

    Votes: 8 16.3%
  • Ought not to be celebrated at all, in any fashion, secular nor religious

    Votes: 23 46.9%
  • Other (explain)

    Votes: 9 18.4%

  • Total voters
    49
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U

Username3000

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What is your view of how Christmas ought to be celebrated?
 

timfost

Puritan Board Senior
"Ought" is a strong word since it presupposes a law. Christmas observance is not commanded. If someone commemorates it and uses it as an occasion to preach topical sermons or read the first couple chapters of Luke, it is not a matter of a commandment but a help to those within a cultural context. The subject matter within this context is not a matter of commandment but rather what is helpful within that context.

Yes, some to make an idol of the day. Instead of worshipping this UNKNOWN GOD (Acts 17), use the occasion to preach Christ-- or don't use it if you think the subject matter irrelevant or unhelpful to your (sub)culture.

"Ought to" or "ought not" do not appropriately account for Christian liberty relating to this subject.

:2cents:
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
My view is hard to fit in the poll. I'm becoming increasingly more hard line in recent years. I used to hold as long as you keep it out of the church with exception of properly couched nativity sermons, then home holiday stuff otherwise is okay. But now I'm not sure but that the latter isn't another trojan house for retaining the religious aspects, especially since it was this aspect, the holiday party aspect, which was the first means to bring recognition of the day back into American Presbyterianism. So while it is still a liberty issue, far better if starting out one's family to set very minimal traditions in this regard, if I'm being asked, and regardless keep it far away from church practice. On use in the church, I've also concluded even minimalist use like an advent sermon is also to much credence to give the season. Even as the RPW has become more known and talked about, clearly unwarranted stuff like advent ceremonies has become more prevalent and defended, not less in supposed Presbyterian churches holding to that principle. So while a properly predicated or couched nativity sermon is indifferent, I'm not convinced its annual regular use doesn't permanently hold the door open for decline, or undercuts reform from the drag the observance has toward biblical worship. Things are simply not getting better but worse, at least judging from the many year's discussion on this board.
 
U

Username3000

Guest
Can the poll be edited to include something about it being a matter of Christian liberty?
 

Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
Christmass should not at all be celebrated but condemned and destroyed, and the true God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) ought to be worshipped and celebrated forever.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Maybe our times should be influenced by Calvin here, since it is no longer the case we have a nation and church that has practiced complete neglect of the church calendar but it is ubiquitous. As I have noted many times here, Calvin compromised for the good of the church and retained observance of four feast days that had been imposed on Geneva and had been part of the circumstances that led to his banishment. When he returned, he immediately began work to reduce the use of these things even while allowing them. So if you have to retain some things like this, keep working to reform. Otherwise, if not moving forward to reform, we're going to move backward and get dragged back toward actual will worship. To me, things like Advent ceremonies in Presbyterian churches prove this to be more than simply a fear.
My view is hard to fit in the poll. I'm becoming increasingly more hard line in recent years. I used to hold as long as you keep it out of the church with exception of properly couched nativity sermons, then home holiday stuff otherwise is okay. But now I'm not sure but that the latter isn't another trojan house for retaining the religious aspects, especially since it was this aspect, the holiday party aspect, which was the first means to bring recognition of the day back into American Presbyterianism. So while it is still a liberty issue, far better if starting out one's family to set very minimal traditions in this regard, if I'm being asked, and regardless keep it far away from church practice. On use in the church, I've also concluded even minimalist use like an advent sermon is also to much credence to give the season. Even as the RPW has become more known and talked about, clearly unwarranted stuff like advent ceremonies has become more prevalent and defended, not less in supposed Presbyterian churches holding to that principle. So while a properly predicated or couched nativity sermon is indifferent, I'm not convinced its annual regular use doesn't permanently hold the door open for decline, or undercuts reform from the drag the observance has toward biblical worship. Things are simply not getting better but worse, at least judging from the many year's discussion on this board.
 
U

Username3000

Guest
"Ought" is a strong word since it presupposes a law. Christmas observance is not commanded. If someone commemorates it and uses it as an occasion to preach topical sermons or read the first couple chapters of Luke, it is not a matter of a commandment but a help to those within a cultural context. The subject matter within this context is not a matter of commandment but rather what is helpful within that context.

Yes, some to make an idol of the day. Instead of worshipping this UNKNOWN GOD (Acts 17), use the occasion to preach Christ-- or don't use it if you think the subject matter irrelevant or unhelpful to your (sub)culture.

"Ought to" or "ought not" do not appropriately account for Christian liberty relating to this subject.

:2cents:

Understood. But what you are saying will be vigorously denied by those who believe that it ought not to be celebrated. To them it is sin, and there is no liberty to sin.


My view is hard to fit in the poll. I'm becoming increasingly more hard line in recent years. I used to hold as long as you keep it out of the church with exception of properly couched nativity sermons, then home holiday stuff otherwise is okay. But now I'm not sure but that the latter isn't another trojan house for retaining the religious aspects, especially since it was this aspect, the holiday party aspect, which was the first means to bring recognition of the day back into American Presbyterianism. So while it is still a liberty issue, far better if starting out one's family to set very minimal traditions in this regard, if I'm being asked, and regardless keep it far away from church practice. On use in the church, I've also concluded even minimalist use like an advent sermon is also to much credence to give the season. Even as the RPW has become more known and talked about, clearly unwarranted stuff like advent ceremonies has become more prevalent and defended, not less in supposed Presbyterian churches holding to that principle. So while a properly predicated or couched nativity sermon is indifferent, I'm not convinced its annual regular use doesn't permanently hold the door open for decline, or undercuts reform from the drag the observance has toward biblical worship. Things are simply not getting better but worse, at least judging from the many year's discussion on this board.

Interesting. If I may ask, what does the season look like in your home?
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
Voted other.

It ought not to be made religious anywhere (home or church). The religious observance should be destroyed given the history, lack of command (RPW), and continuing abuse.

I do not take issue with secular celebration in private homes ( ex. gift giving, watch the grinch, gather for food....etc.). We do some of this in our home. This is our household compromise. No form of celebration at church. Even if celebrating at home in a secular manner, no lying to kids (The Santa Idol).

No form of celebration should be required as in “ought” at all. Families who choose to drop Christmas in all forms should be encouraged and not bemoaned.:detective:
 
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Tom Hart

Puritan Board Senior
"Christ-mass" is not commanded and is therefore forbidden. That is consistent with the RPW. You'll find some who say that it is the most wonderful time of the year, that it is helpful for reflecting on the incarnation. That is not consistent with the RPW. Helpful (in human eyes) is a long way from commanded by God.

So much for public worship. Let me say briefly how the event is privately observed in my family.

We avoid any special religious association with the day. We do family worship in the morning and evening, as usual, singing psalms and continuing reading in Scripture from where we had left off. In past few years, we have made a point of going to restaurants or being otherwise busy on the 25th, since I have the day off. At the moment, I do not object to gift-giving as a cultural practice. The same goes for trees. I also avoid the use of the name "Christmas" where possible.
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
"Christ-mass" is not commanded and is therefore forbidden. That is consistent with the RPW. You'll find some who say that it is the most wonderful time of the year, that it is helpful for reflecting on the incarnation. That is not consistent with the RPW. Helpful (in human eyes) is a long way from commanded by God.

So much for public worship. Let me say briefly how the event is privately observed in my family.

We avoid any special religious association with the day. We do family worship in the morning and evening, as usual, singing psalms and continuing reading in Scripture from where we had left off. In past few years, we have made a point of going to restaurants or being otherwise busy on the 25th, since I have the day off. At the moment, I do not object to gift-giving as a cultural practice. The same goes for trees. I also avoid the use of the name "Christmas" where possible.
:cheers2:
 

Tom Hart

Puritan Board Senior
Voted other.

It ought not to be made religious anywhere (home or church). The religious observance should be destroyed given the history.

I do not take issue with secular celebration in private homes ( ex. gift giving, watch the grinch, gather for food....etc.). We do some of this in our home. This is our household compromise. No form of celebration at church. Even If Celebrating at home in a secular manner, no lying to kids (The Santa Idol).

No form of celebration should be required as in “ought” at all. Families who choose to drop Christmas in all forms should be encouraged and not bemoaned.:detective:
:cheers2:
 

Kinghezy

Puritan Board Sophomore
The observance of Christmas, either in the Church or home, is an area of Christian liberty.

Wouldn't the church observing it, not fall into Christian liberty, because at that point it is the elders (or leaders depending on your structure) of the church [imposing] their views on the members? For that reason, I think it is prudent for elders to be very careful what they allow to be brought into a service, since members may have more stringent scruples than the session.
 
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OPC'n

Puritan Board Doctor
How should xmas be celebrated? With lots of lights inside and out, old-timey xmas music, old-timey xmas movies, a beautiful tree with sentimental ornaments (don't forget to water your tree!), cheap gifts hehe wrapped in beautiful paper, a proper delicious meal, and most importantly friends and family gathered in one place to enjoy each other's company. Oh, and maybe a wee bit of spirits and ofc very strong coffee with sugar cookies.
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
I'm in the ambiguous "other."

I absolutely reject the sentimental junk that arose in the mid-1800s, but find it useful in my home to emphasize Christ's incarnation in our readings and hymns.

I am becoming less and less comfortable with the church recognizing the day and am persuaded only because it gives us an outreach that continues to have traction in our community. (We had a bunch of people going door-to-door tonight.)

From what I have observed, the more a church observes a liturgical calendar, the less Biblically literate a congregation becomes. I have no idea what comes first, the calendar or the attenuation of knowledge.
 

W.C. Dean

Puritan Board Sophomore
My view is hard to fit in the poll. I'm becoming increasingly more hard line in recent years. I used to hold as long as you keep it out of the church with exception of properly couched nativity sermons, then home holiday stuff otherwise is okay. But now I'm not sure but that the latter isn't another trojan house for retaining the religious aspects, especially since it was this aspect, the holiday party aspect, which was the first means to bring recognition of the day back into American Presbyterianism. So while it is still a liberty issue, far better if starting out one's family to set very minimal traditions in this regard, if I'm being asked, and regardless keep it far away from church practice. On use in the church, I've also concluded even minimalist use like an advent sermon is also to much credence to give the season. Even as the RPW has become more known and talked about, clearly unwarranted stuff like advent ceremonies has become more prevalent and defended, not less in supposed Presbyterian churches holding to that principle. So while a properly predicated or couched nativity sermon is indifferent, I'm not convinced its annual regular use doesn't permanently hold the door open for decline, or undercuts reform from the drag the observance has toward biblical worship. Things are simply not getting better but worse, at least judging from the many year's discussion on this board.

I generally agree with Mr. Coldwell. I don't think it's sinful inherently to celebrate it in a secular sense at home with your family, but it's too easy for it travel into adding religious connotations. I generally don't approve of a church celebration of it. If you are exegetically preaching through Luke, by all means preach the incarnation of our Lord! But the day you preach that doesn't have to be (nor should be, for the sake of avoiding holy-days) in December.
 

Susan777

Puritan Board Sophomore
I have no idea what comes first, the calendar or the attenuation of knowledge.
I so agree with you about the liturgical calendar but what bothers me more than Christmas is the observance of Lent with the ashes and making of special vows etc. But at least my pastor stopped doing the advent candle lighting ceremony years ago. No one noticed except me but I was glad to see it go.
 

B.L.

Puritan Board Sophomore
My personal view on Christmas has evolved over the past few years. I've gone from wanting to remove all signs, symbols, expressions, etc. of Christmas (secular or religious) from both the church and the home to where I now increasingly seek to use the season to call into remembrance Jesus Christ's first advent and how important this is in God's plan of redemption.

While not a fan of liturgical calendars per se, I'm far from convinced they are the root cause for the biblical illiteracy in our churches today. An argument of greater persuasion could be made that the complete secularization of our society and resulting tsunami of postmodernism is the cause. I'd rather order the time of the year around the major events of God's Story than mark some of the occasions listed as federal and state holidays here.

I'm kind of surprised at the number of Reformed brothers and sisters (generally speaking and not limited to PB) who are fine with remembering the secular reasons for various seasons and even partake in them, but are strongly against acknowledging the religious aspects be it at home or in the church. I recognize this is done with God-honoring intentions and meant to ensure abuses of the past don't repeat themselves; however, there is irony here that makes distinguishing some modern day puritans from militant atheists rather difficult when it comes to Christmas (or Easter, etc). The worldviews of today's puritan and pagan, though oceans apart, both ultimately reach the same destination in my opinion.

I support the way this modern day puritan celebrates Christmas. To God be the glory indeed.

Have a joyful Lord's Day friends.
 
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NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
I don’t know what biblical principle folks follow that legitimately leads to voluntarily retaining the idolatrous calendar of old pretended holy days.

If we look at practice, the Reformed first Reformers sought to abandon the days and when they were forced to retain them, sought to minimize and remove them. Exhibit Calvin and Farel in Geneva, and Calvin’s advice and practice after his return to Geneva. In retaining the practice of preaching nativity sermons, Calvin preached against superstition and will worship. The Reformed churches also sought long to remove the days but they were retained by magistrates and ‘stubborn people’ according to Gisbert Voetius who also says the idea was always these should have been reduced or abandoned when able to do so (and that was always Calvin’s advice, to get rid of them if able to do so).

In the second reformation era reformers (Scots Presbyterians, English Puritans, Dutch Nadere Reformatie) all sought to get rid of the pretended days that had been retained or re-imposed. They English made use of the days best they could when forced to use them.

The only use I see biblically is getting rid of them or if forced to do so making use of them best one can, decrying the superstition and preaching the pure gospel. I don’t see any principle of voluntarily making use of them and ignoring addressing the wrong of it all.

Is there any biblical principle that counters the one we clearly have exhibited in what Hezekiah did to the bronze serpent, which though it had been made by the appointment of God, Hezekiah had it destroyed when it was abused to gross idolatry? It’s not Christian liberty if the practice is not indifferent (and if it is a monument of idolatry per the arguing, it is not indifferent). From the bronze serpent principle the Reformers argued against retaining the idolatrous practices of the RCC as monuments of past and current idolatry. This principle is noted as a duty of the second commandment in the Westminster Larger Catechism and is adduced in Reformed Confessions (e.g., The Debrecen Synod [1567], The Synod at Szikszo [1568], The Nassau Confession [1578] and Bremen Consensus [1595]), and by Calvin in one of his tracts, which George Gillespie notably uses to expand upon the principle. I’ve posted links before; search PB for monuments of idolatry.

This is still an idolatrous and superstitious practice. The RCC is still here as are other communions, and even evangelicals within presbyterian churches argue for these days just as those communions do. Presbyterians impose ceremonies like the advent candle ceremony and reinforce rather than seek to counter all the abuses this observance brings into the church. I don’t see a counter to the significant weight Hezekiah’s example brings to this question. Instead of instructing “don’t do that,” he had it destroyed. Again, see the extensive argumentation in Gillespie’s English Popish Ceremonies.

As far as modern reformed having an ironic company with atheists in rejecting xmas, that’s not a fair assessment. We reject it for the idolatry of the practice; atheists reject it from their own idolatry and unbelief.
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
I'm kind of surprised at the number of Reformed brothers and sisters (generally speaking and not limited to PB) who are fine with remembering the secular reasons for various seasons and even partake in them, but are strongly against acknowledging the religious aspects be it at home or in the church.
The surprise is misplaced. A peep into Reformed history, worship wars, and the lack of a command should lead you to be surprised of the modern confessional church endorsement.:detective:
 
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Grant

Puritan Board Senior
It would be a great Lord’s Day to preach the condemnation of will-worship, greed, coveting, superstition, making and idol of sentimentality, and materialism, which are really what culture inside the church needs encouragement to fight during this season. Satan uses those things even more so during this season to attack the sheep and this is what saints genuinely struggle with, both adults and kids.

I think the last thing the saints struggle with this time of year is remembering nativity:2cents:
 
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