Well, it’s that time of year again. I feel like I’m pretty much alone on this issue so “why not give up?” I ask myself.
Maybe I will.
Maybe we shouldn’t base our faith on scripture alone?
Maybe some tradition is good?
Maybe a lot of tradition is not only good but needful?
Maybe tradition is safe guard?
Maybe I’m just messin’ with ya…lol
Yours in the Lord,
“WE HAVE NO superstitious regard for times and seasons. Certainly we do not believe in the present ecclesiastical arrangement called Christmas: first, because we do not believe in the mass at all, but abhor it, whether it be said or sung in Latin or in English; and, secondly, because we find no Scriptural warrant whatever for observing any day as the birthday of the Saviour; and, consequently, its observance is a superstition, because not of divine authority.” – Spurgeon
Everyone Loves Christmas!
The Christmas festival is the celebration of the incarnation of the Son of God. It is occupied, therefore, with the event which forms the centre and turning-point of the history of the world. It is of all the festivals the one most thoroughly interwoven with the popular and family life, and stands at the head of the great feasts in the Western church year. It continues to be, in the entire Catholic world and in the greater part of Protestant Christendom, the grand jubilee of children, on which innumerable gifts celebrate the infinite love of God in the gift of his only-begotten Son. It kindles in mid-winter a holy fire of love and gratitude, and preaches in the longest night the rising of the Sun of life and the glory of the Lord. It denotes the advent of the true golden age, of the freedom and equality of all the redeemed before God and in God. No one can measure the joy and blessing which from year to year flow forth upon all ages of life from the contemplation of the holy child Jesus in his heavenly innocence and divine humility.
Johnny Come Lately:
…the festival of the birth of the Lord is of comparatively late institution. This may doubtless be accounted for in the following manner:
In the first place, no corresponding festival was presented by the Old Testament, as in the case of Easter and Pentecost.
In the second place, the day and month of the birth of Christ are nowhere stated in the gospel history, and cannot be certainly determined.
Again: the church lingered first of all about the death and resurrection of Christ, the completed fact of redemption, and made this the center of the weekly worship and the church year.
Finally: the earlier feast of Epiphany afforded a substitute. The artistic religious impulse, however, which produced the whole church year, must sooner or later have called into existence a festival which forms the groundwork of all other annual festivals in honor of Christ.
The feast of Epiphany had spread from the East to the West. The feast of Christmas took the opposite course. We find it first in Rome, in the time of the bishop Liberius, who on the twenty-fifth of December, 360…
(“The human mind is, so to speak, a perpetual forge of idols.” John Calvin, Institutes, 1.XI.8)
Christmas was introduced in Antioch about the year 380; in Alexandria, where the feast of Epiphany was celebrated as the nativity of Christ, not till about 430. Chrysostom, who delivered the Christmas homily in Antioch on the 25th of December, 386, already calls it, notwithstanding its recent introduction (some ten years before), the fundamental feast, or the root, from which all other Christian festivals grow forth.
Of Pagan Origin:
The Christmas festival was probably the Christian transformation or regeneration of a series of kindred heathen festivals—the Saturnalia, Sigillaria, Juvenalia, and Brumalia—which were kept in Rome in the month of December, in commemoration of the golden age of universal freedom and equality, and in honor of the unconquered sun, and which were great holidays, especially for slaves and children. (Schaff’s footnote: The Satumalia were the feast of Saturn or Kronos, in representation of the golden days of his reign, when all labor ceased, prisoners were set free, slaves went about in gentlemen’s clothes and in the hat (the mark of a freeman), and all classes gave themselves up to mirth and rejoicing. The Sigillaria were a festival of images and puppets at the close of the Saturnalia on the 21st and 22d of December, when miniature images of the gods, wax tapers, and all sorts of articles of beauty and luxury were distributed to children and among kinsfolk. The Brumalia, from bruma (brevissima, the shortest day), had reference to the winter solstice, and the return of the Sol invictus.)
The OG Festival: All About the Incarnation
The feast of Epiphany on the contrary, on the sixth of January, is older… It refers in general to the manifestation of Christ in the world, and originally bore the twofold character of a celebration of the birth and the baptism of Jesus. After the introduction of Christmas, it lost its reference to the birth. The Eastern church commemorated on this day especially the baptism of Christ, or the manifestation of His Messiahship, and together with this the first manifestation of His miraculous power at the marriage at Cana. The Westem church, more Gentle-Christian in its origin, gave this festival, after the fourth century, a special reference to the adoration of the infant Jesus by the wise men from the east, under the name of the feast of the Three Kings, and transformed it into a festival of Genthe missions; considering the wise men as the representatives of the nobler heathen world. Thus at the same time the original connection of the feast with the birth of Christ was preserved. Epiphany forms the close of the Christmas Cycle. It was an early custom to announce the term of the Easter observance on the day of Epiphany by the so-called Epistolae paschales, or gravmmata pascavlia. This was done especially by the bishop of Alexandria, where astronomy most flourished, and the occasion was improved for edifying instructions and for the discussion of important religious questions of the day.
Does Romans 14 give us a defense for keeping Christmas? I’ve seen v.5 cited often as a general defense for the keeping of holy days.
One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.
Well folks, I don’t believe it applies to Christmas, just read the passage in context. The passage is speaking to the church at Rome made up of Jewish converts and Gentiles. Some wanted to keep old Mosaic holy days while other did not.
Gill explains this passage is;
“not to be understood of days appointed by the Christian churches for fasting, or abstinence from certain meats, either once a year, as the “Quadragesima”, or Lent; or twice a week, as Wednesdays and Fridays; for these are things of much later observation, and which had never been introduced into the church of Rome in the apostle’s time; nor were there any disputes about them: much less of days of Heathenish observation, as lucky or unlucky, or festivals in honour of their gods; for the apostle would never say, that a man who regarded such a day, regarded it to the Lord; nor would have advised to a coalition and Christian conversation with such a man, but rather to exclude him from all society and communion:”
If Paul isn’t defending Christian liberty to make up and keep holy days what is his point?
“it must be understood of Jewish days, or of such as were appointed to be observed by the Jews under the former dispensation, and which some thought were still to be regarded; wherefore they esteemed some days in the year above others, as the days of unleavened bread, or the passover; particularly the first night, which was a night to be observed throughout their generations; and in their service for it to this day”
Ahh, that makes sense. Gill continues;
“but let it be observed, that the man that did so was one that was weak in faith; the same man that ate herbs, because he would not be guilty of violating those laws, which ordered a distinction of meats to be observed, the same weak man esteemed one day above another, imagining the laws concerning the distinction of days were still obligatory, not rightly understanding the doctrine of Christian liberty, or freedom from the yoke of the ceremonial law”
The context of Romans 14 doesn’t support the introduction of unbiblical holy days. It just doesn’t.
I don’t believe ‘keeping Christ in Christmas’ will sanctify the day.
Don’t get me wrong, celebrate Christmas any way you like, I would never prevent you from doing so…I just don’t see a biblical reason for the celebration.
The Puritans didn’t either.
They went a step further and had it banned because of the open drunkenness and debauchery that attended the celebration. The Puritans were wrong for trying to ban Christmas. I wouldn’t ban the ‘holiday.’ (I also wouldn’t ban a gay pride parade, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa…I just don’t want tax dollars funding them.)
Christmas is one of our cultural traditions that I will participate in, just like Thanksgiving, but not because I am a Christian or because I believe it is a Christian Holy Day.
Keep a holy day if you like its up to you.
Gill on Christ’s Mass:
It directs to the observation of several fasts and festivals, which are no where enjoined in the word of God, and for which it provides collects, gospels and epistles to be read: the fasts are, Quadragesima or Lent, in imitation of Christ’s forty days fast in the wilderness, Ember weeks, Rogatian days, and all the Fridays in the year; in which men are commanded to abstain from meats, which God has created to be received with thanksgiving. The festivals, besides, the principal ones, Christmas, Easter and Whitsuntide, are the several saints days throughout the year; which are all of popish invention, and are either moveable or fixed, as the popish festivals be; and being the relics of popery makes us still more uneasy and dissatisfied with them.
Source: The Dissenter’s Reasons for Separating from the Church of England, Occasioned By A Letter wrote by a Welch Clergyman on the Duty of Catechizing Children. Intended chiefly for the Dissenters of the Baptist Denomination in Wales.
“Festival days, vulgarly called holy-days, having no warrant in the Word of God, are not to be continued.” Westminster Assembly, Directory for Publick Worship (1645)
Albert N. Martin is a straight shooter. In a series on Christmas he outlines the history of the practice in connection with Christian liberty. It was a blessing for me personally and wanted to share it with others who may struggle to avoid keeping days, etc.
Christmas and the Christian 01
Christmas and the Christian 02
Christmas and the Christian 03
Christmas and the Christian 04
Christmas Liberty 01
Christmas Liberty 02
Christmas Liberty 03
Friends on facebook have already started posting pictures of ChristmasTrees! Oh, well. Christmas is my favorite secular holiday, you will not find me “keeping Christ in Christmas” (He was never there in the first place) but enjoying this secular holiday with friends and family.
“The Demons it may be would once or twice in a Week trouble her for a few minutes with perhaps a twisting and a twinkling of her eyes, or a certain Cough which did seem to be more than ordinary. Moreover, Both she at my house, and her Sister at home, at the time which they call Christmas, were by the Demons made very drunk, though they had no strong Drink (as we are fully sure) to make them so. When she began to feel her self thus drunk, she complained, “O they say they will have me to keep Christmas with them! They will disgrace me when they can do nothing else!” And immediately the Ridiculous Behaviours of one drunk were with a wonderful exactness represented in her Speaking, and Reeling, and Spewing, and anon Sleeping, till she was well again. But the Vexations of the Children otherwise abated continually. They first came to be always Quiet, unless upon Provocations. Then they got Liberty to work, but not to read: then further on, to read, but not aloud, at last they were wholly delivered; and for many Weeks remained so” (Cotton Mather, Memorable Providences, Relating to Witchcrafts and Possessions (1689).
Sure, Mather may have been a little extreme, maybe. But isn’t it extreme the way people celebrate Christ’s Mass?
IS THE KEEPING OF CHRISTMAS PLEASING TO THE LORD?
by Robert D. Gracey (1935)
Christmas, a name that has lost its one-time charm!
Years ago when we were children, Christmas was to us a name associated with the purest joys of earth. It stood for giving and forgiving, for love, self-sacrifice and neighbourliness. Even the first day of the week, the Lord’s Day, held no charm like December 25th. Such as they were, there were always enough little gifts to go round the large family circle. And, literally, the day was scarcely over before we were laying plans for the next year’s happy family reunion and celebration.
• The Reproach of Being Different
We do not keep Christmas now. It was a terrible wrench to give it up. But, thank God, there are many others who are prepared to share the reproach of being different to the majority of those about them; who are willing to forego the popularity which might be theirs by simply joining in the popular enjoyments of the times; who place faithfulness to Christ in His absence before personal pleasure.
The Scriptures say nothing about the disciples of the Lord Jesus celebrating the anniversary of His birth. On the other hand, there are many references to the commemoration of His death, the Breaking of Bread, which was evidently to take place on the first day of each week. See Luke 22: 19-20; 1 Cor. 11: 23-26; Acts 20: 7.
Like many other things which affect people generally and which have more or less of a connection with Christianity, the kindly sentiment and activities connected with Christmas-keeping have doubtless had a softening effect upon this Godless world. But think how this ostensibly religious festival has become commercialized! Theatres, restaurants, stores and business concerns generally, have come to depend upon it annually as a source of revenue. True, it is still to many sincere persons a time of family reunion and of simple, natural pleasures,
but can any true lover of the crucified Saviour, the rejected Son of God, afford to overlook how He must regard these annual celebrations which bear His holy Name?
• The World’s Idea of a ‘Merry’ Time
As another has pointed out, if on the occasion of celebrating the birthday of a dead patriot one were to arise and eulogize him feelingly in well-chosen terms, those gathered in his memory would be delighted. Alas, how different it would be if a lover of the Lord Jesus Christ were to stand up in any one of most of the Christmas Day gatherings large or small and tell out in simple, heartfelt language the story of the humble circumstances of His miraculous birth; of His pathway of untiring service, yet of rejection, culminating in His vicarious death on Calvary’s cross; of His burial, resurrection and ascension and of the glorious prospect of His soon coming to take those who love Him to be forever with Himself.
Who would hesitate to admit that such a theme, even on Christmas Day, is not the world’s idea of a ‘merry’ time? To venture to tell of the Saviour’s dying love of His hatred of sin yet compassion for sinners, and of His holy perfections so delightful to the heart of God, would indeed be inappropriate and unwelcome in the great majority of Christmas Day parties or audiences.
‘But’, says a fellow-Christian, ‘what you have said so far does not apply to my case at all. The fact that so many leave the Lord Himself out of their Christmas Day activities does not mean that everybody leaves Him out.
‘For me the Day is filled with thoughts of His lowly birth, of the visit of the magi who brought Him gifts of “gold, and frankincense and myrrh”.’
‘The family reunions, the renewing of friendships by means of greeting cards and visits, as well as the providing of food and other presents for the poor, are joys connected with Christmas that are almost sacred.’
‘In fact, I hold the Day itself so sacred that I would give up my position rather than consent to work on December 25th! ‘
• God is Calling Attention to Death of Christ
That is all quite understandable. No doubt your convictions and feelings are perfectly honest and sincere. Your motives too may be the best. But our convictions and feelings and motives, even at their best, are an unreliable guide in themselves. Cain’s motives may have been good enough when he thought to give an offering of the fruit of the ground, but his offering nevertheless was not acceptable to God. The important thing was not Cain’s intention, but God’s requirement what would be pleasing to Him.
Cain’s offering overlooked the necessity of blood-shedding; Abel’s, on the other hand, gave evidence that he valued in type the death of Christ, so he offered a lamb; and it says that “The Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering; but unto Cain and to his offering He had not respect”.
Surely no lover of the Lord Jesus who reads his or her Bible prayerfully and in dependence upon the Spirit of God, can fail to see that God is calling special attention to the death of Christ rather than to His birth.
• A Device of Satan
Not only does the word of God make no request of us to commemorate the Lord’s birth, but, as we have already noted, it gives no intimation that the earliest disciples marked its anniversary. Nor does Scripture indicate the exact date of His birth.
Turning to accredited encyclopedias – e.g., Encyclopedia Britannica – we find the speculation as to the probable date ranged in early centuries from January 6, March 28, April 19 or 20, May 20, November 17 to December 25th! December 25th was evidently a day originally connected with sun-worship. My own suspicion is that Christmas-keeping was a device of Satan – who according to 2 Corinthians 11: 14 is transformed into an angel of light with a view to creating a place where Christian and unconverted might eventually meet on common ground in the Name of the Lord Jesus. If my suspicion is correct, Satan’s plan would seem to have proved to be one of his masterpieces, for Christmas calls supreme attention to the birth of Jesus whereas it is unmistakably evident from the Scriptures that God would have us constantly engaged with the efficacy of His atoning death.
Commemorating the Lord’s death involves reproach, which is true Christian ground. Heb. 13: 13. Commemorating a day which is generally accepted as His birthday involves no reproach whatever; on the contrary, to fail to keep it is sure to cause misunderstanding and reproach.
Evidently, therefore, not to keep the Day as the masses do is consistent for those who “esteem the reproach of Christ”, Heb. 11: 26.
• Three Questions
To those therefore who are really concerned as to whether or not they should ‘keep Christmas’, I would commend prayerful consideration of three questions:
Do I keep Christmas to please myself?
Do I keep it to please others?
Do I keep it to please the Lord?
The beloved Apostle Paul indicated that he felt the need of such concern as to matters in his own life, for he says in writing to the Corinthians: “Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of Him”, 2 Cor. 5: 9. Of the Lord Jesus it says that He “pleased not Himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached Thee fell on Me”, Romans 15: 3.
I am persuaded that in the face of the word of Scripture, of history and of present-day conditions, the question of Christmas-keeping will not be a difficult one for the Christian whose honest concern in life is to be pleasing to the Lord.
Westfield, N.J., December 7, 1935
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