Posted in 2012
More reading from my fav Dispensationalist. (at least he was a Calvinist)
THE ORIGIN OF CHRISTMAS
by J. N. Darby
The church gives a yearly round of fasts and festivals, so that mere outward events may be before the mind without any dealing of God with the individual soul …
Scripture says, “it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching, to save them that believe”; but this foolishness of God dealing with the individual does not please the wisdom of the church. It has its own way of doing it. It keeps days, and months, and years. They turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which they desire again to be in bondage.
“I am afraid of you”, says the apostle. It was, he tells us, going back to heathenism … except Easter, which was the Jewish Passover, and Pentecost, and perhaps some more recently added saints’ days, the church festivals were deliberately and formally added from heathenism. Christians, so-called, would have festivals, and they tacked on Christian names to heathen ones.
The great Augustine informs us that “the church” did it, that if they would get drunk – which they did even in the churches – they should do do in honour of saints, not of demons. One of the Gregorys was famous for this, and left only seventeen heathen in his dioceses by means of it. And another Gregory, sending another Augustine to England, directed him not to destroy the idol temples, but to turn them into churches; and as the heathen were accustomed to have an anniversary festival to their god, to replace it by one to a saint.
It was thus Europe, Africa, and Asia Minor as least were Christianised. Sicily, which in spite of all efforts had remained heathen, as soon as it was decided that Mary was the mother of God at what I must call the disgraceful and infamous general council of Ephesus, gave up all her temples and churches. It was as easy to worship the mother of God as the mother of the gods. But everywhere drunkeness in honour of the saints, and even in the churches, took the place of drunkeness in honour of demigods, the great Augustine and other fathers bearing witness.
Such were the festal anniversaries.
Christmas having been – and it is still celebrated in heathen countries – the worst of heathen festivals, to celebrate the return of the sun from the winter solstice, without a pretence that Christ was born that day, but as they could not stop the revelry, they put Christ’s birth there. Such, in real fact, is the church’s celebration of anniversaries and saints’ days. This is certain, that the apostle declares that it was a return to heathenism, so that he was afraid his labour was in vain – avowedly turning the great and mighty parts of Christianity, by which God acted upon souls, to bring them into blessed and divinely-wrought relationship with Himself, individually and collectively, into certain outward events, or outward facts, and exclusively to their announcement as occurring at particular times. “I am afraid of you”.
In result the gospel is founded on a series of mighty and divine facts, by which, through the foolishness of preaching, God, in the power of the Holy Ghost, does act on individual souls for salvation, and gather them into one. The church system makes of them a set of outward events, historically remembered by anniversaries.
Collected Writings of J. N. Darby, 29: 330-32