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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OPC'n

Puritan Board Doctor
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.

Christmas has nothing to do with Christ's birth since Scripture does not command us to celebrate this day as a holy day for his birth. Since Scripture does not command us to celebrate it for his birth, then to do so goes against Scripture. It doesn't matter who turned it from a pagan holiday into a "Christian" holiday God didn't and that is what matters.

As for a holy day or religious holiday, God doesn't look kindly on it any more than he looked kindly on the Israelites for forming a golden calf to portray who he was. We can't just do whatever we want because we think it's righteous. The Israelites had become used to worshipping idols in Egypt. They thought they could place God into a golden calf and worship him by bowing down to it. They probably thought they were doing a righteous act too. God didn't give us a command to set aside one day out of the year to celebrate Christ's birth. A religious Christmas is a manmade holy day ill-conceived by sinful man.

As for its pagan roots, that's just what it is "roots" which no one but actual pagans celebrates. They actually call it something different and I doubt it falls on the 25th each year. I don't know much about it. If its roots bother some people, I can respect that and would advise them not to celebrate Christmas. I have no such qualms over its pagan roots because I don't associate it with paganism. I associate Christmas with my family's rituals or customs whatever you want to call lit.

As for a secular holiday, if we decide we can't celebrate the Christmas holiday in a secular fashion, then you will have to apply that command to every holiday. Although, I'm not sure which Scripture you would use to enforce this command.
 

CJW

Puritan Board Freshman
We ignore it, and life goes on as usual on the 25th December. Only slight difference is my husband is home, and we get more work done on the farm. We’re blessed to attend a church where it is also ignored.

My view is that it is a monument to idolatry, both pagan and popish, and that it should be consigned to oblivion as Hezekiah did the brazen serpent.
 

Megs

Puritan Board Freshman
It would be a great Lord’s Day to preach the condemnation of will-worship...

Sadly, last year my Church's Christmas sermon coincided with our study of the second commandment per the Heidelberg Catechism. No one noticed the irony of preaching that we should be worshipping God only as He has commanded while simultaneously acknowledging and celebrating Christmas in the church during the same service.

As for a secular holiday, if we decide we can't celebrate the Christmas holiday in a secular fashion, then you will have to apply that command to every holiday...

There was a time when my family did try to celebrate Christmas as purely a secular holiday. Unfortunately, the religious aspect kept intruding in and so we decided to give it up altogether. My particular denomination devotes no less than 9 weeks of Sunday School every year to having kids memorize and practice singing religious Christmas carols instead of learning the Psalter.

I tend to agree with Naphtali Press's conclusion that we are to remove the monuments to idolatry and that retaining the holiday in any way tends to make it creep into the church. In that view, for my family at least, it seems that it's better to just ignore the holiday and treat it as any other day like we do with Halloween.

That said, I don't want to come across as condemning anyone who is able to celebrate Christmas as a purely secular celebration in their circumstances. It's just not possible in my denomination given their multi-month emphasis on it as a religious celebration :-(.
 

B.L.

Puritan Board Sophomore
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

My surprise is with the number of Christians who cast off the religious meaning once assigned to the holiday and choose to embrace only the secular aspects the culture has given it. This is inconsistent in my opinion. Either call into remembrance the Nativity of Christ (is there a better time of the year to do so in our culture?) or get rid of "Christmas" in its entirety altogether. For some reason people think our post-Christian culture is neutral and harmless.

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.

I think the modern reformed who reject the religious aspects of Christmas and retain the secular aspects do indeed share some similarities with atheists who do the same. The reason for the rejection might be different (as you've noted), but the end-state is the same...both embrace the same secularism, which is where the irony lies.

As a general comment -- some seem to think as long as what they are remembering/celebrating isn't "religious" then they're free to imbibe whatever the culture is serving up. Secularism isn't harmless. It's an entirely different religion. Why one would hermetically seal their approach to worship in the church, but leave the windows of their house open for the winds of the world to whip through is a mystery to me.
 

Jeri Tanner

Moderator
Staff member
I’ve had increasingly less enthusiasm the past four or five years for the trappings of Christmas- the music, the trees, the decor. I am seeing pretty clearly this year how that for the Christian, the use of those things in their private homes can stand in opposition to the desire to share and stand for Christ in the present evil we now find ourselves in. (I haven’t yet worked out how to articulate all the reasoning for it very well, I just know it’s so. ) I completely get how it’s not a neutral thing to have these obvious monuments to the day/season in our homes. It’s tough, and a matter of conscience still at this point for Christians, but I’m in agreement with Chris’s reasoning. People will, as B.L. has noted, be confused and misunderstand a Christian’s reasoning on this perhaps. But I think there’s a call and a way to make use of the season as we interact with people in our private lives, as Calvin did in the church. But I’m feeling pretty convinced this will be my last year for a tree and any other Christmas-related decor.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
What do you mean by modern (ie what is that distinction supposed to be contrary to?) and what do you mean by secular aspects? If one rejects the pretended holy day but gives gifts, are they affected with secularism? Or are you saying one must have some kind of religious appreciation for the pretended holy day or one is a secularist?
My surprise is with the number of Christians who cast off the religious meaning once assigned to the holiday and choose to embrace only the secular aspects the culture has given it. This is inconsistent in my opinion. Either call into remembrance the Nativity of Christ (is there a better time of the year to do so in our culture?) or get rid of "Christmas" in its entirety altogether. For some reason people think our post-Christian culture is neutral and harmless.



I think the modern reformed who reject the religious aspects of Christmas and retain the secular aspects do indeed share some similarities with atheists who do the same. The reason for the rejection might be different (as you've noted), but the end-state is the same...both embrace the same secularism, which is where the irony lies.

As a general comment -- some seem to think as long as what they are remembering/celebrating isn't "religious" then they're free to imbibe whatever the culture is serving up. Secularism isn't harmless. It's an entirely different religion. Why one would hermetically seal their approach to worship in the church, but leave the windows of their house open for the winds of the world to whip through is a mystery to me.
 

kodos

Puritan Board Junior
If Christmas, which associates Christ’s holy name with nativity scenes, materialism, and all manner of ungodliness and will worship - is ultimately destroyed because of pagans, I suppose that is God’s prerogative. He has done that kind of thing in the past.

If God’s people won’t reform, He will use the pagans to shame us.
 
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B.L.

Puritan Board Sophomore
What do you mean by modern (ie what is that distinction supposed to be contrary to?) and what do you mean by secular aspects? If one rejects the pretended holy day but gives gifts, are they affected with secularism? Or are you saying one must have some kind of religious appreciation for the pretended holy day or one is a secularist?

With regards to what I mean by "modern", I was just quoting you (below). I suppose it entered the discussion since I had originally made reference in an earlier post to a "modern puritan."

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.

By secular aspects I mean Santa, Christmas Trees, and anything else that points to something other than the birth of Christ as being the reason for the season.

I must ask though...in the scenario you laid out regarding the giving of gifts...how can one reject the "pretended holy day" and yet still give gifts? What is the gift for in your scenario? A gift is generally meant to commemorate/celebrate/show appreciation for/call to remembrance an occasion, event, etc. You don't take gifts for your sister's family when sharing a meal on December 25th do you?
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
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.

No, it was a great Lord's Day for a evangelistic sermon targeting those who only darken the doors of a church a couple of times a year. Although the preacher did start out by pointing out that nativity scenes with three wise men aren't Scripturally accurate.
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
No, it was a great Lord's Day for a evangelistic sermon targeting those who only darken the doors of a church a couple of times a year. Although the preacher did start out by pointing out that nativity scenes with three wise men aren't Scripturally accurate.
I sure hope so Edward! The Lord certainly uses the ministry of the word as He sees fit, thankfully.
 
U

Username3000

Guest
My pastor is preaching through Luke/Acts, and, having only just begun recently, the birth of Christ in Luke 2 fell on this week. Not by design.
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
Personal principles are nice and neat in a post, but what do you actually practice regarding the practical complications of the season (gifting and family gatherings)?

We accept gifts from grandparents for our kids. My wife and I do not buy any gifts for anyone other than our 3 girls. We watch some holiday movies (home alone). We have 1 small fake tree (Sméagol face). We are still reforming. I would love to be a teetotaler but am working on slowly reforming my household and being respectful to grandparents.

We have totally killed the other pretended holy days (Easter & Halloween). Christmas has been harder to kill off but is slowly dying.

We do go to family invite meals on Easter and Christmas..
 

Jeri Tanner

Moderator
Staff member
As far as actual family practice, at the moment I’m thinking/hoping next year to have banished the tree and other decor. Youngest grandchildren and daughter will be a little sad. I intend to still give modest gifts to children and grandchildren as usual but may think of ways to make it more modest and less formal as far as timing and presentation. We will still attend family gatherings at easter and Christmas.
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
If I could be open about a bit of an internal debate without getting hit up 'side the head?

On one hand, we see one remembrance given in the New Testament: the institution of the Lord's table. This comes in stark contrast to the the multitude of days and memorials established in the Old Testament. This certainly points to a simplicity of worship for the New Testament church. (Baptism is theorem here.)

On the other hand, the early church argued about the timing of observations regarding the Lord's incarnation and resurrection. I'm not accepting the opulent abuses of the later Roman church, but the earlier, patristic era. Are we not to be informed by the practice of these brothers?
 

Tom Hart

Puritan Board Senior
As far as actual family practice, at the moment I’m thinking/hoping next year to have banished the tree and other decor. Youngest grandchildren and daughter will be a little sad. I intend to still give modest gifts to children and grandchildren as usual but may think of ways to make it more modest and less formal as far as timing and presentation. We will still attend family gatherings at easter and Christmas.
It's a similar situation here. This year my wife got a 30-centimetre plastic tree. Next year, I hope to reduce even that. Just an "end-of-year gift" for my son.

I don't object to the tree and decorations as wicked in themselves, but I don't wish to give the impression, since the religious side and secular side are often blurred, that in giving room to the latter we are tolerating the former. For the sake of my son, I would also like to avoid, as much as possible, any emotional entanglement with December 25th.
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
As far as actual family practice, at the moment I’m thinking/hoping next year to have banished the tree and other decor. Youngest grandchildren and daughter will be a little sad. I intend to still give modest gifts to children and grandchildren as usual but may think of ways to make it more modest and less formal as far as timing and presentation. We will still attend family gatherings at easter and Christmas.
We might be on the same wavelength!
 

Tom Hart

Puritan Board Senior
...the early church argued about the timing of observations regarding the Lord's incarnation and resurrection. I'm not accepting the opulent abuses of the later Roman church, but the earlier, patristic era. Are we not to be informed by the practice of these brothers?
What is the only rule for faith and practice? If earlier Christians have given us a model that is in line with Scripture, then surely we can stand to benefit from it. I know I benefit from Scottish psalmody, for instance. But let all tradition submit to the Word.
 

wcf_linux

Puritan Board Freshman
When my wife and I started to hold the Reformed conviction about Christmas and other invented church holy days, we actually added a private custom. On Christmas day (when it's not on a Sunday), we started going to Starbucks. What better way to desacralize a day? ;)

We still exchange gifts with family, but mainly take it as a family thing. It never felt like very religious of an activity anyways.

We still sometimes put up the greenery and lights, but mainly because the bleakness of winter gets a cheer with some greenery and lights. Also, we throw out any pretense of putting those away at the end of December. :lol:

For what it's worth, my :2cents: on the history of Christmas is that the case for a pagan origin for December 25 is surprisingly weak. Too many of the parallels either aren't parallel or do not clearly predate the "Christian" practice. (Like many other claims about early Christians copying pagans.) But, the stronger case against those special days is not their origins, but the (lack of) authority of the church to invent them even for good motives.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
It's what folks do that time of year and many I know over the years retained certain family aspects of long held traditions for peace sake. I haven't given gifts since 1984. I will gather with my sister's family for the traditional family meal. I don't see it as a compromise with secularism as much as a hold over from the long tradition of feasting on holiday and being one of the main gathering times from the holiday standpoint where family can travel and be with one another. It's a concession I've made in my otherwise ignore the day pov. We have scriptural principles at stake that say get rid of the pretended holy day in the worship of God. Outside of worship there is liberty in dealing with the cultural aspects of the fact we have a state holiday on top of the old pretended holy day.
I must ask though...in the scenario you laid out regarding the giving of gifts...how can one reject the "pretended holy day" and yet still give gifts? What is the gift for in your scenario? A gift is generally meant to commemorate/celebrate/show appreciation for/call to remembrance an occasion, event, etc. You don't take gifts for your sister's family when sharing a meal on December 25th do you?
 

Tom Hart

Puritan Board Senior
Stalin instituted that practice in the Soviet Union in 1935. He had done away with Christmas celebrations in 1928.
He instituted the same practice that I do with my family? Well, that is a surprise! I wasn't aware he'd heard of me.
 

RJ Spencer

Puritan Board Freshman
I am against celebrating it in every way, but I'm married with children and although I am the head of the household I choose to pick my battles. My wife still drags me to dinners and we do the gift exchange thing, but I am winning her over slowly, we don't do any decorations or a tree any longer.
In the words of the famous Steven Q. Urkel "I'm wearing her down baby! I'm wearing her down!"
 

Tom Hart

Puritan Board Senior
Tom you are known for your precise spelling and grammar. Thus I did wonder if a 'wicked' headache was a headache that violated the moral law?
I'm afraid I mostly deal with spelling and grammar! You'd do better to ask an expert on lexicology. (Is there such a thing as a Lexicology Nazi? A Lexinazi?)
Also is a headache more 'wicked' in America, or is it more 'wicked' in Australasia? :p :p
I'll get back to you as soon as I can get an American and Australian in the same room.
 

Joshua

Administrator
Staff member
"Who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts?" - God, the alone rightful Commander and Receiver of worship (Isaiah 1)

I share the late Professor John Murray's sentiment (Collected Writings, Vol. 2, p. 120):

I have not even accepted a dinner engagement for what they call ‘Christmas.’ I hate the whole business.
 

J.L. Allen

Puritan Board Freshman
I deleted my post because I need to rethink my position. I also don't want to make anyone else sad during Christmas. ;)
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
"Who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts?" - God, the alone rightful Commander and Receiver of worship (Isaiah 1)

I share the late Professor John Murray's sentiment (Collected Writings, Vol. 2, p. 120):

I have not even accepted a dinner engagement for what they call ‘Christmas.’ I hate the whole business.
Do your parents or grandparents not invite you over at all this week?
 

Tom Hart

Puritan Board Senior
I really would like to see an attempt at a defence of Christmas from the RPW. Any sources for this?
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
I really would like to see an attempt at a defence of Christmas from the RPW. Any sources for this?
The anglocatholics and catholics who defend the church's right to institute holy days sought to argue that grant from scripture when challenged to produce a warrant. It of course amounts to showing a tyrannical power in the church to appoint humanly devised ceremonies. Outside of those rank ranks, those who roll their eyes at all the Presbyterian and nonconformist angst over the day don't see it as a serious question to have formulated a warrant beyond "it's okay to preach topically"; but then one has to question them if that is all there is to it, we need ask with Samuel, what is all the bleating of sheep we can hear (aka why are there advent ceremonies, candlelight services, etc.).
 
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jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
My own personal view is if you have a problem with it, don't do it. If you don't, do it however you want to. I've also never really understood dragging out historical opinions of people in different cultures/historical contexts. Since no one forces us to engage in "holy-days" what's the point? Anyway I might have a biased POV because I get more hours at work and business is good. Merry Christmas to all who choose to celebrate in whatever way.
 
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