Christmas

Discussion in 'Church Calendar and Pretended Holy Days' started by Pittzburghkid, Dec 1, 2016.

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  1. Pittzburghkid

    Pittzburghkid Puritan Board Freshman

    When I see "leave Christ in Christmas" I am starting to consider the idea that Christ was never "in" Christmas. I'm tireing of trying to make a connection that is forced. I love Christmas time. I love the Lord. I give God the glory for corny Christmas songs, sweaters and movies. Eggnog and Christmas trees please me but have little to do with Christ. So what, either does craft beer but I drink it to his glory. Anyone feel me?

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  2. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    The more apt question may be, Does God love 'christmas' time? The Lord never appointed special times for His church other than the Lord's Day and no less idolatry is associated with it than with the bronze serpent He ordered made which was a type of Christ, but when it was made an idol, Hezekiah destroyed it with no so much as a command from God to do so. Hence the Reformers have made use of that act as a rule about what should be done to such idolatrous things. Destroy them, put them to oblivion. But man whose hearts are idol factories are loath to put away such things, particularly when sentimentality and other concerns get attached to them, or dare I say when a paycheck is suspended on its retention. I have posted this from Gillespie so many times every year I made the whole thing available in a pdf. See https://www.naphtali.com/articles/g...n-the-rule-for-purging-monuments-of-idolatry/
     
  3. Pittzburghkid

    Pittzburghkid Puritan Board Freshman

    Or does God hate Christmas time?

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  4. Pittzburghkid

    Pittzburghkid Puritan Board Freshman

    I love football. Is it an idol? No. Does God love football?

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  5. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    But football is not going on in His worship; well, I suppose in some church's it is.
     
  6. Pittzburghkid

    Pittzburghkid Puritan Board Freshman

    But either is Christmas, no?

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  7. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    No what?
     
  8. Pittzburghkid

    Pittzburghkid Puritan Board Freshman

    Troubles? Christmas is NOT going on in his worship!

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  9. Bill The Baptist

    Bill The Baptist Puritan Board Graduate

    I think what you are asking is whether or not it is acceptable to celebrate Christmas so long as it is kept separate from church or worship of God. I suppose it could be, but it is often hard to separate.
     
  10. Pittzburghkid

    Pittzburghkid Puritan Board Freshman

    Acceptable to whom? Is God dishonored when I don a silly sweater and buy my kids a few toys and my wife a bracelet? No.

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  11. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    It is an idol for much of the world still; a badge of idolatry as Gillespie would argue in that pdf I posted the link to. We know what Hezekiah did with such; but we are smarter and think we can keep the serpent around. We need to get it out of the worship of God and then focus on making it as unremarkable as some of the names of the days of the week. Yes; much of the cultural is not attached to worship but much of it keeps the door wide open to the church.
     
  12. johnny

    johnny Puritan Board Sophomore

    Ah yes its December, here we go again...

    Why does April seems to be immune from these questions,
    Is it because we all enjoy our easter holidays?

    I am totally with Chris on this and I thank him for his patience in explaining these things. :)
     
  13. Pittzburghkid

    Pittzburghkid Puritan Board Freshman

    It is indeed December and here come the newbies with their silly questions for us enlightened folk. I alleviate the link and have read some of it. It seems the author is arguing that we destroy all ceremonies associated with idolatry. I get that. What I don't understand is how that relates to a Christmas carol or dinner or gift.

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  14. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Some things may not and I get are judgment calls, but I am increasingly of this thought after over thirty years thinking about this: If this 'holiday' is in honor of dishonoring God, so to speak, what would we not avoid that in any manner treats the day like it's special? Xmas is a monster of issues that cover the gamut of idolatry to many things we should avoid simply for the scandal and stumbling block they are. Even small errors in practice are much bigger a generation or two out. Just look at the history of xmas and holy days in the last 100 years amongst Presbyterians (we're now seeing Lent added to the big 2) and other historically nonconformist churches. We have one of the most recognized Presbyterian scholars today (Sproul) who argues for treating the day special for the exact same reason the anglocatholics did against which Gillespie argued made it an idol.
     
  15. Rich Koster

    Rich Koster Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    If you believe the pope is antichrist, why would you want to hold on to things popes synchretized into the "church calendar"?
     
  16. Parakaleo

    Parakaleo Puritan Board Sophomore

    Sounds like there may be a story behind this. Care to share? Or, are you simply saying that forsaking idols can often lead to queer looks from the world and affect your bank account?
     
  17. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Nothing specific; the latter part meant folks fear man and losing their paycheck so they don't rock the boat when otherwise their convictions might lead them there. As a prof of one of my old pastors used to say, nothing like cold cash to shed light on your theology....
     
  18. NickCamp

    NickCamp Puritan Board Freshman

    I must admit, I find it a bit strange that some see the things of Christmas, such as a tree, and say it is idolatry. I can't think of any new way to express that we are not worshipping the tree or any idol. While you made a position that Christ may have never been in Christmas, and I wish not to dwell on the topic too much, my family puts Christ, truly, on the centerfold. I love the season as we spend time in fasting and reflection for the coming of Christ, which is amazing in itself. We don't do Santa Clause because it is a silly myth that bears false witness of Saint Nicholas, or elves, or anything like that. We teach our daughter that we give generously because God gave us Christ generously, the most precious gift of all. I grew up atheist, and we celebrated Christmas, but it was about materialism, and knowing the origin of Christmas, I think it is indeed safe to say "leave Christ in Christmas" in terms of the intent of the origin and the secularization of the holiday.

    This all being said, I firmly believe this to be a Romans 14 issue as one abstains from Christmas for the Lord and another (me) celebrates it unto the Lord and so forth. For the record, we don't celebrate Halloween, or even try to supplement it with Reformation day, but we celebrate the 4th of July because I'm grateful and thankful for the country I live in. Any Holiday is questionable, really, just depends on what you're doing it for.

    Dragging out the point, aren't I? I don't think doing Christmas as a fun thing is a bad thing. We do plentiful things for fun, and so long as you don't start worshipping your tree, you're good in my mind. Though, as I mentioned, Santa Clause is, however, something I reject.

    God bless you!
    -Nick
     
  19. Afterthought

    Afterthought Puritan Board Junior

    I think it is best to abandon the day: http://www.loughbrickland.org/articles/mass-easter.shtml

    We are Protestants and so our stance to corrupt worship should be one of protest. Holding that stance helps sort out the other attendants of the Christmas holiday, I think.

    Some considerations. Why are we doing these things at this time of year, each year? What makes this time of year so special that we will have the things that attend the Christmas holiday in our home? Who decided that this day would be special and we would perform such customs? What exactly do "seasonal" decorations have to do with the "season" apart from pagan-papal customs or the religious celebration of the day? If we are against Christmas as a religious holy day, why are we outwardly performing many of the same actions as those who do celebrate it as a religious holy day?

    Another consideration: For those who hold Christmas to be a corruption of worship, even as the sin of Jeroboam, I don't think it is strictly proper to speak of whether one can "celebrate" Christmas in certain non-religious ways. Rather, it is better to speak of "participation" or "non-participation" in various activities. Some participation in the holiday is enforced by the governments of the land shutting things down, but such participation does not need to amount to "celebration" or "observation" of the day. I think that thinking in these terms can also help in determining what one ought or ought not do on the day (I do think that circumstances vary among people, so no general rules can be laid down), e.g., one might visit family--not as part of "observing" or "celebrating" Christmas, but rather because everyone is on break so there is an opportunity to see them--as part of "participation" in the day's activities.


    To reiterate something Chris said, taking part in the "secular" customs of the day seems to have led to acceptance of the day as a religious day in Presbyterian circles. There is something carnal and sentimental about the day that seems to so easily ensnare too. I think it is best to simply abandon the observance of the day entirely and treat it just like any other day (with the exception that one might be forced off work or have various opportunities/duties arising from others' observance and celebration of the day).
     
  20. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Professor

    One can celebrate each feast/festival/holiday as unto the Lord nased upon his conviction though, correct?

    Can a pastor stand up and say that he is not going to preach on the real Christmas story?
     
  21. Pittzburghkid

    Pittzburghkid Puritan Board Freshman

    Ehhh, I'm going with John Piper and the idea of redeeming Christmas!

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  22. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Again; I'm going with Hezekiah whose commendation in Scripture has the Lord's approval. 2 Kings 18:3 "And he [Hezekiah] did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father did. 4 He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan."
     
  23. Afterthought

    Afterthought Puritan Board Junior

    I think there is a disconnect in thought here. Those who believe we ought not to observe Christmas often also hold that we ought not to worship God except as God has commanded (some disagree with this principle but then say we ought not to observe Christmas because of its pagan/papal origins). God has not commanded us to worship him by means of a religious day dedicated to the Incarnation. So we ought not to do so. Furthermore, the Bible shows that God has claimed for himself the right to appoint days of religious observence, and God has appointed the Lord's day for focus on all topics concerning God, man, and redemption; so it would be presumptious of us to try and worship him by a day of our own appointment. If one holds this view concerning worship, it is not possible to observe Christmas as a religious day "unto the Lord." Romans 14 is understood to be concerned with the OT Jewish holy days, which were to be abandoned anyway (since the weak brother ought to become strong eventually).

    Obviously, if one disagrees with that principle concerning worship or its application to Christmas, such a person will "celebrate each feast/festival/holiday as unto the Lord ased upon his conviction."

    There have been many discussions on the PB concerning Christmas. I recommend searching through the forums if you find this topic interesting.


    In churches that do not celebrate Christmas, our ministers usually ignore the day and continue preaching as though there were no special occasion. The subject of Christmas observence is only occasionally addressed and condemned from the pulpit as it is deemed necessary or useful for preaching the whole counsel of God. If it was deemed good to preach on the "real Christmas story" (here I will note: why do we call the historical accounts of Jesus' birth the "real Christmas story"? Is this indicative of superstition that Christmas has foisted upon the categories of our thoughts concerning the Scriptures?), then undoubtedly, they would do so, even if that topic happened to occur on or near the 25th of December.
     
  24. Pittzburghkid

    Pittzburghkid Puritan Board Freshman

    Again, we disagree.

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  25. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Professor

    Know the principle being advocated and practiced here is we only can do what the Bible directly states can be done and allowed, is there a principle where can do whatever the Bible does not stste is wrong thing to do then?
     
  26. arapahoepark

    arapahoepark Puritan Board Graduate

    Thats the normative principle of worship. The Anglicans and Lutherans adopted that one. Both of them were more 'conservative' in what they kept from Catholicism.
     
  27. NickCamp

    NickCamp Puritan Board Freshman

    Also, this really doesn't seem to apply here given the context. What idols are you breaking down? There is a BIG difference in having a statue that was an idol, and making that statue an idol. For those who do not see the statue as an idol, it is not one, it is a statue. What worship centers, images, and statues are you breaking down in a way that applies to observing a day for the birth of Christ and the incarnation?

    Regardless of what day it is, people will do dishonorable things to it, but that doesn't mean they (the days) are corrupt. Christmas has been secularized to mean materialism, my family knows it to be a celebration of Christ's coming and incarnation. Secularism has made sexual relations a game of how many people can you sleep with, should I stop participating in sexual activities with my spouse? Of course not, but I can act in accordance with scripture. To that, if I celebrate, and honor God on a particular day, than there is no issue. For those on the outside who materialize Christmas, maybe they'll notice when it is all about Christ instead.

    Regardless, most decorations are seasonal, at least in my house. I'm not worshipping nature, though. Again, there is a distinction in actually worshipping something, and having an object that has been worshiped. In context of your passage, idols were broken, because the people ACTUALLY worshiped them.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2016
  28. NickCamp

    NickCamp Puritan Board Freshman

    Again, the question that should be raised is, is it wrong for man to create a day or observe a day to celebrate God? I would say, no and I think that is the obvious answer. So long as it is not in sin, promotes sin, etc. Again, a Romans 14 issue.
     
  29. USNCerGuard

    USNCerGuard Puritan Board Freshman

    "Is it wrong for man to create a day or observe a day to celebrate God?"

    Looking up some synonyms for "celebrate" on Thesaurus.com I found the following: "honor," "laud," "praise," "proclaim," "revere," "consecrate," "exalt," "extol," and "glorify." Sure seems like language that leans toward worship, as I read the synonyms.

    So my answer to the aforementioned question is "Yes, it is wrong" if we substitute the synonyms for "celebrate." God has given us a day (52 of them, in fact) to "celebrate Him." Now, I know I'll probably hear, "But we can celebrate things and not worship them! I can celebrate my favorite sports team's victory without worshipping them!" (That might not actually be a good example, given many people's idolization of sports teams.) But the fact remains that many people want to play at being Reformed, or play at being theologically conservative (whatever that means), but still do things that modern Evangelicalism tells us we can't live without, lest we drive the "seekers" away.

    I'd offer that there's a difference between my wife and kids liking to decorate the house with pretty things around the December-January time of year and offering strange fire during corporate, public worship on the Lord's Day. Some of my brothers might differ from me in that area, and I'm OK with that, per our Christian liberty.

    But if we're arguing that Romans 14 allows us to freely choose what, when, how, and why we worship the Lord on His Day, a day that He set aside, then no, I do not believe that that's Reformed or Biblical, and I would not try to justify it by saying that one person esteemeth a day above another while others esteemeth every day alike (Romans 14:5). God alone establishes how He is to be worshipped; while we can agree to disagree about how we decorate our homes or wear sweaters, we ought not to misapply Scripture to justify will-worship. We'd do well to make sure we aren't talking past one another in this area, I think.
     
  30. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Amen
    I’m not reinventing the wheel; I've covered this ground many times here every year on the board and as I said somewhere, I've been dealing with this for over 30 years. Much of my recent thoughts or research on this ran last year in, Andrew J. Webb and Chris Coldwell, “American Presbyterianism and the Religious Observance of Christmas,” The Confessional Presbyterian journal 11 (2015), 142-186. Because of the extensive formatting I am attaching a pdf for folks who care to give it some consideration; this is just section 3, pp 176-187 only. Pick up a copy of v11 of the journal for the whole thing. Link below. Right now all issues remain on sale; store closed on Lord's days.
    https://www.cpjournal.com/store/
    Okay; looks like it is too big so try this public dropbox link.
    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/5776344/CPJ11-Coldwell-Webb-partIII-p171-187only.pdf
     
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