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Re: Christmas a pagan festival? Maybe not

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  • timmopussycat
    ... point ... opposing ... make. ... Tim-Actually Gerry, given that all of what you said was... But who told us to celebrate Jesus birthday? And who told us
    Message 1 of 22 , Dec 28, 2006
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      --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, "gmw"
      <ragingcalvinist@...> wrote:
      >
      > --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, "timmopussycat"
      > <timmopussycat@> wrote:
      > >
      > > I was cautioning against citing Calvin as authority for the
      point
      > > the original poster wished to make, which relied on Calvin
      opposing
      > > Christmas to the same degree as the Scots.
      > >
      >
      > Actually, that is not at all what the original poster wished to
      make.
      > I asked you who told you to celebrate Jesus' birthday, and who told
      > you how to celebrate it?
      >
      > Or, "Who told you it was Christmas, you poor beasts?"

      Tim-Actually Gerry, given that all of what you said was...

      But who told us to celebrate Jesus' birthday? And who told us how to
      celebrate Jesus' birthday?

      How do you know that God is pleased with your celebrating Jesus'
      birthday?

      These questions, to me, are more significant than simply "how was it
      decided that December 25th was a likely date for Christ's birth?"

      Why is December 25th, the date of Christ's birth or not, to be
      called ChristMass, celebrated as a Holy Day, with lighting candles
      and putting up trees, and decorating with red and green, celebrated
      by giving gifts to each other, with tales of elves and fat trolls
      sneaking down your chimney?

      Or, to paraphrase Calvin... "Who told you it was Christmas, you poor
      beasts?"

      ...it is fair to read you as believing that Calvin supported you, a
      supprorter of the Scots view, in your questions. The problem is that
      he did not entirely do so.
      Calvin would answer your questions like this: "The early church told
      us that we may celebrate Jesus' nativity, and there is no second
      commandment reason not to. We may celebrate Jesus birthday in any way
      that honours God, but nobody in Geneva had ever heard of any of the
      19th and 20th century Anglo-American accretions that turned the
      celebration into a commercial racket, so don't attribute those abuses
      to us. Granted we have some of our own, which is one reason I don't
      entely approve of celebrating Christmas."

      And you should know that the festival was instituted about 100 years
      before the name Mass was first applied to the Eucharist in 397. And
      the content of that "Mass" included no heresies, the churches would
      not descend to the unbliblical doctrine of transubstantiation for
      another 700 years. So please drop the "guilt by association" fallacy
      of using "ChristMass" here, as such connotations were not present
      when the festival began, and need not be present today.

      And please note that you are confusing two questions which should not
      be confused. One is should we celebrate the Lord's nativity at all,
      the other (which I was not initially addressing) is how should it be
      celebrated? On the latter question, I agree with you that we should
      not celebrate with the santa myth. But once again that is not what is
      proposed.

      But I would like to see an answer to a question I asked which has not
      been answered. I would like to see someone address Englsma's
      challenge to provide a Scriptural justification of the Westminster
      view that we may set special services of public worship in observance
      of "notable judgments," "some special blessing," and "days of public
      thanksgiving," as allowed by the Westminster Assembly's "Directory
      for the Public Worship of God" and as actually held by Presbyterian
      churches in the Scottish tradition. But keep in mind, however, if you
      establish that the Directory is Scriptural at this point, you have
      also established that the church may set special services to mark the
      Lord's coming to earth.


      > Where did I even imply that Calvin's view was the same as the
      Scots?
      > Where did I even mention the Scots?

      Tim-Nowhere. That clause was simply the conclusion of the sentence,
      but I included it to highlight the differing views among the Reformed.
      >
      > I've seen many a discussion on Calvin's view of Christmas, none of
      > which consider the following quote taken from his December 25th
      Sermon
      > on the Book of Micah, wherein he clearly blasts the idea of
      Christmas,
      > and yet concedes to reading the Nativity story on the following
      Lord's
      > Day -- I believe this shows what his view is, and what his
      concessions
      > were (Christmas keeping is nigh unto devil worship, but because it's
      > good to set aside some time to think about the Lord's birth, they'll
      > read the nativity story on God's Holy Day):
      >
      >
      > "Now, I see here today more people than I am accustomed to having at
      > the sermon. Why is that? It is Christmas Day. And who told you
      > this? You poor beasts. That is a fitting euphemism for all of you
      > who have come here today to honor Noel. Did you think you would be
      > honoring God? Consider what sort of obedience to God your coming
      > displays. In your mind, you are celebrating a holiday for God, or
      > turning today into one. But so much for that.


      > In truth, as you have often been admonished, it is good to set
      aside one day out of the year in which we are reminded of all the
      good that has occurred because of Christ's birth in the world, and in
      which we hear the story of his birth retold, which will be done on
      Sunday.

      Tim-This one sentence is why I say it is not wise to deploy Calvin in
      favour of the WCF nonobservance of Christmas. Although Calvin here
      says that the Genevans will hear the story of Christ's birth retold
      and consider all the good that has occured because of his coming on
      the following Sunday, he does agree that it is good to set aside one
      day out of the year in which to be reminded of these things. In doing
      so he allows what the Scots do not.


      Tim
    • gmw
      Tim, You re a good man in my book, and you ve been a friend to me when I needed one (you might not even have realized this), and I consider you my friend
      Message 2 of 22 , Dec 28, 2006
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        Tim,

        You're a good man in my book, and you've been a friend to me when I needed one (you might not even have realized this), and I consider you my friend still. PLEASE REMEMBER THIS during this discussion. My fear is that hot things are said during heated discussions which might bring these things into question. I assure you, I hold you in high esteem, and our friendship is not at stake in this discussion as far as I'm concerned. Now that I got that out of the way, here we go, friend!

        >...it is fair to read you as believing that Calvin supported you, a

        >
        supprorter of the Scots view, in your questions.

        No, I do not believe that is fair to conclude something that I was not even implying. I was asking you the same question Calvin asked his audience regarding your observation of this holy day – who told you it was Christmas? You pretend to answer in Calvin's voice below, which far more strongly implies that you believe your views are congruent with Calvin's than I ever attempted to imply. I shall respond to that below.

        But since you brought it up, yes, I do believe that Calvin is more in line with my view of Christmas than yours. To quote George Gillespie,

        "If holidays, in Calvin's judgment, be fooleries — if he gave advice not to approve them — if he thought them occasions of superstition — if he held it superstition to distinguish one day from another, or to esteem one above another — if he calls them Judaical, though kept to the honor of God, judge then what allowance they had from him."

        > The problem is that

        > he did not entirely do so.

        Yes, and I acknowledged that fact. He cries down more than it seems you, or any other Christmas-keeper, is willing to do, but he makes concessions that I would not make.

        > Calvin would answer your questions like this: "The early church told

        > us that we may celebrate Jesus' nativity,

        No, Calvin's rhetorical use of this question was to strongly imply that they had no good answer. The answer is NOT, "God told us it's Christmas," or "The Bible tells us it's Christmas," which concludes that Christmas then must be superstitious in nature, hence Calvin's later statement, "God must not only strip away things that are bad themselves, but must also eliminate anything that might foster superstition."

        Who told you that throwing salt over your shoulder was good luck?

        Who told you to build an altar to the unknown god?

        Who told you it's Christmas?

        God certainly didn't tell you these things. So, who did?

        > and there is no second commandment reason not to.

        No, Calvin clearly appeals to God's Laws against idolatry: "when you elevate one day alone [Context demands that he is referring specifically to Christmas] for the purpose of worshipping God, you have just turned it into an idol. True, you insist that you have done so for the honor of God, but it is more for the honor of the Devil."

        > We may celebrate Jesus birthday in any way

        > that honours God,

        Well, of course we can do that which truly honors God, but the question is how in the world you know that celebrating Jesus' birthday as Christmas honors God. Seems to me you would have to ask the same person who told you it was Christmas, which is … who again? You see, when we do service to God that is not prescribed in His Word, it is entirely our presumption that God is pleased with it (Calvin's view on the Regulative Principle WAS essentially the same as the Westminster Standards, agreed?), and so your "honoring" of God cannot be said to honor God in truth, if it is not prescribed by Scripture. Hence Calvin's statement, "you insist that you have done so [i.e. shown up for worship because it's Christmas] for the honor of God, but it is more for the honor of the Devil."

        > but nobody in Geneva had ever heard of any of the 19th and 20th century Anglo-American

        > accretions that turned the celebration into a commercial racket, so don't attribute those abuses

        > to us.

        I did not intend to attribute all of today's abuses to yesteryear Geneva, but this does bring up an interesting question: Would Calvin approve of today's Christmas along with the commercial racket? Or would he actually condemn today's Christmas even more so, given he is condemning Christmas in his day as being satanic and superstitious when today our abuses are (it seems) much worse?  Do we not have even greater reason to abandon the Christmas nowadays than even Calvin, the Puritans, the Scots?

        > Granted we have some of our own, which is one reason I don't

        >
        entirely approve of celebrating Christmas."

        No, it's more like "Because Christmas keeping is superstitious, not commanded or recommended by God, not to mention all of the abuses which take place "in the holiday spirit," I don't approve of it. What I will concede to is that it is good to read from God's Word about the nativity of Christ (reading from God's Word being a practice approved by God's Word), we shall do so on God's appointed holy day (the Lord's Day), and not on man's self-appointed holy day (Christmas).

        Now, a bit about my own view on this concession of Calvin's – I freely admit that I personally would not change up the regular Scripture reading schedule, as I believe that is too much of an acknowledgment of the holiday. However, if a concession is going to be made (and let's face it, Calvin knew what his people needed, I do not), this is the kind of concession that I do not get too upset about because all he is advocating here is 1). Reading a portion of God's Word. 2). Serving the Lord's Supper. 3). Preaching. 4). And doing these things, not on December 25th because it's December 25th, but on the Lord's Day, because it's the Lord's Day. These are lawful acts of worship anyway, and so cannot be condemned as will-worship or superstition.

        What he is not doing or advocating: 1). Taking December 25th off, or closing all the shops that day, to observe the holiday (to the contrary, he condemns this practice as "the idleness of a holiday spirit" which is a "heavy sin to bear"). 2). Doing any unwarranted act of worship (of course not, Calvin is an RPW advocate that condemns "will-worship." 3). Any of the trappings of Christmas-keeping, either of ancient or modern practice – hanging holly, red and green decorations, nativity scenes, "merry Christmas," exchanging Christmas gifts, caroling, lighting candles, etc. etc. etc. And so, I'm so offended at what Calvin was doing... as it wasn't Christmas!

        Here's the thing as far as I'm concerned. If all people are advocating is reading from the Gospels, observing the Lord's Supper, listening to preaching, and that NOT on December 25th for the sake of December 25th, but on the Lord's Day, regardless of the date… then have at it man! But let's be honest…

        That's not what "Christmas" is, now is it?

        I'm told to have a merry Christmas, by a passer by. What is he wishing me, exactly? Have a good day off? Enjoy my Christmas goose? Don't get too drunk at the office party? I hope Santa brings you lots of stuff? Enjoy watching the kids unwrap their gifts under the Christmas tree? Or does he mean something like, "May the reading of the Word and your partaking the Lord's Supper become effectual means of having the blessings of Christ's redemptive work graciously applied to me?"

        If the former things, then no thank you… I don't do Christmas. If the latter, why must we use a term (with the name of Christ in it, no less) that is commonly understood to include the former things, to describe that? And what are the chances that said passer by means the latter, and not something of the former things?

        Or, to put it another way: If a Christian seeking to honor Christ by "Christmas keeping" is not doing any of the things Calvin condemned, and is not doing any of the worldly and wicked things so closely associated with Christmas today, than what of "Christmas keeping" is he actually doing? I mean, why even maintain the name of Christmas and why wish me a merry one, if there are better ways to say what you intend?

        >
        And you should know that the festival was instituted about 100 years
        > before the name Mass was first applied to the Eucharist
        in 397.

        Was it called Christ's Mass at that time?

        > And the content of that "Mass" included no heresies, the churches would

        > not descend to the unbliblical doctrine of
        transubstantiation for
        > another 700 years.

        So, what date are we at now? AD 1000 or so?

        "The word for Christmas in late Old English is Cristes Maesse, the Mass of Christ, first found in 1038, and Cristes-messe, in 1131." – the Catholic Encyclopedia.

        "Christ's Mass" is where "Christmas" comes from, and apparently the first use of the term occurs when the heretical perversions were indeed understood by that term. Also, when we use the term today, the mass is to be understood that way. This is not guilt by association, this is "blasphemy by association," in that by using the term Christmas, we associate Christ with the mass.

        >
        And please note that you are confusing two questions which should not
        > be confused.

        Ah, but the confusion did not come from me. Shall we celebrate Christmas and how is Christmas to be celebrate are fantastically confused because of everything associated with and understood by Christmas all over the world. You might say, "I think I should be thankful for Christ's birth on the date that I think is the best guess as to the date of his birth." And therefore, what then? "Therefore I should take the day off, and go to church because it's December 25th, and engage in various merriments." No, said Calvin. "Who told you it was Christmas, you poor beasts? You think you're honoring God but you are actually honoring the devil!" (again, paraphrased).

        > One is should we celebrate the Lord's nativity at all,

        Celebrate the Lord's nativity every Lord's Day. And while you're at it, celebrate His resurrection, too. But now are you confusing the issue? You are defending the idea that the celebration is to be annual, and have you not then entered into "how should it be celebrated" territory?

        >
        the other (which I was not initially addressing) is how should it be
        > celebrated?

        Annually, and by special remembrances, or on every Lord's Day by ordinary acts of worship? This actually is the issue, then, isn't it?

        > On the latter question, I agree with you that we should

        > not
        celebrate with the santa myth.

        I would that this list was longer, but I'm glad that you personally do not support the Santa myth. Sadly, the world, and "the Christian world" at that, continues to support it.

        >
        But I would like to see an answer to a question I asked which has not
        > been answered. I would like to see someone address
        Englsma's
        > challenge to provide a Scriptural justification of
        the Westminster
        > view that we may set special services of
        public worship in observance
        > of "notable judgments,"
        "some special blessing," and "days of public
        >
        thanksgiving," as allowed by the Westminster Assembly's "Directory
        > for the Public Worship of God" and as
        actually held by Presbyterian
        > churches in the Scottish
        tradition.

        You do understand that these observances are not annually observed days, right? I mean, what are you asking proof for, that God's people occasionally enter into fasts?

        > But keep in mind, however, if you establish that the Directory is Scriptural at this point, you have

        > also established that the
        church may set special services to mark the
        > Lord's coming to
        earth.

        If you were arguing that the church at the time of Christ's birth would have been justified in celebrating the special occasion of the birth of Messiah, then I will not argue against that. But if you are therefore concluding that the Church may institute annually observed holy days or festivals, than I'm afraid I don't even see how that can be argued.

        >>
        Where did I even imply that Calvin's view was the same as the Scots?
        >> Where did I even mention the Scots?

        >
        Tim-Nowhere.

        Thank you.

        >> In truth, as you have often been admonished, it
        is good to set
        >>aside one day out of the year in which we
        are reminded of all the
        >>good that has occurred because of
        Christ's birth in the world, and in
        >>which we hear the
        story of his birth retold, which will be done on
        >>Sunday.

        >
        Tim-This one sentence is why I say it is not wise to deploy Calvin in
        > favour of the WCF nonobservance of Christmas.

        Yeah, I didn't do that, though. Like I said a few times now, I acknowledge a difference in Calvin's concessions and Scotland's lack thereof.

        > Although Calvin here

        > says that the Genevans will hear the
        story of Christ's birth retold
        > and consider all the good that
        has occured because of his coming on
        > the following Sunday, he
        does agree that it is good to set aside one
        > day out of the
        year in which to be reminded of these things. In doing
        > so he
        allows what the Scots do not.

        What he concedes, though, is NOT Christmas. What he concedes, he contrasts with Christmas. Again, if you want to take this time of year to reflect on Christ's birth, you're not going to get a lot of complaints from me. If you are keeping a festival, or a holy day, or doing any of the other things Calvin rightly rejected by his words we are now considering, and recommending that others do the same, then I will have a problem with that. So would Calvin, so would the Scots, though they agreed not on how much of the season they acknowledged.

        gmw.


      • gmw
        ... I perceive that it was answered almost 400 years ago, by George Gillespie, in his treatise against the English Popish Ceremonies. ... Gillespie: The
        Message 3 of 22 , Dec 28, 2006
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          --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, "timmopussycat" <timmopussycat@...> wrote:

          > But I would like to see an answer to a question I asked which has not
          > been answered.

          I perceive that it was answered almost 400 years ago, by George Gillespie, in his treatise against the English Popish Ceremonies.

          > I would like to see someone address Englsma's
          > challenge to provide a Scriptural justification of the Westminster
          > view that we may set special services of public worship in observance
          > of "notable judgments," "some special blessing," and "days of public
          > thanksgiving," as allowed by the Westminster Assembly's "Directory
          > for the Public Worship of God" and as actually held by Presbyterian
          > churches in the Scottish tradition. But keep in mind, however, if you
          > establish that the Directory is Scriptural at this point, you have
          > also established that the church may set special services to mark the
          > Lord's coming to earth.

          Gillespie:

          "The Bishop has yet a third dart to throw at us:  If the church (he says) has power, upon occasional motives, to appoint occasional fasts or festivities, may not she, for constant and eternal blessings, which do infinitely excel all occasional benefits, appoint ordinary times of commemoration or thanksgiving? ANSWER. There are two reasons for which the church may and should appoint fasts or festivities upon occasional motives, and neither of them agrees with ordinary festivities. 1. Extraordinary fasts, either for obtaining some great blessing, or averting some great judgment, are necessary means to be used in such cases; likewise, extraordinary festivities are necessary testifications of our thankfulness for the benefits which we have impetrate [obtained by asking] by our extraordinary fasts; but ordinary festivities, for constant and eternal blessings, have no necessary use.  The celebration of set anniversary days is no necessary mean for conserving the commemoration of the benefits of redemption, because we have occasion, not only every Sabbath day, but every other day, to call to mind these benefits, either in hearing, or reading, or meditating upon God's word.  I esteem and judge that the days consecrated to Christ must be lifted, says Danæus:  Christ is born, is circumcised, dies, rises again for us every day in the preaching of the Gospel.

          "2.  God has given his church a general precept for extraordinary fasts (Joel 1:14; 2:15), as likewise for extraordinary festivities to praise God, and to give him thanks in the public assembly of his people, upon the occasional motive of some great benefit which, by the means of our fasting and praying, we have obtained (Zech. 8:19 with 7:3).  If it is said that there is a general command for set festivities, because there is a command for preaching and hearing the word, and for praising God for his benefits; and there is no precept for particular fasts more than for particular festivities, I answer:  Albeit there is a command for preaching and hearing the word, and for praising God for his benefits, yet is there no command (no, not in the most general generality) for annexing these exercises of religion to set anniversary days more than to other days; whereas it is plain that there is a general command for fasting and humiliation at some times more than at other times.

          "And as for particularities, all the particular causes, occasions, and times of fasting could not be determined in Scripture, because they are infinite, as Camero says.  But all the particular causes of set festivities, and the number of the same, might have been easily determined in Scripture, since they are not, nor may not be infinite; for the Bishop himself acknowledges that to appoint a festival day for every week cannot stand with charity, the inseparable companion of piety.  And albeit so many were allowable, yet who sees not how easily the Scripture might have comprehended them, because they are set, constant, and anniversary times, observed for permanent and continuing causes, and not moveable or mutable, as fasts which are appointed for occurring causes, and therefore may be infinite.

          I conclude that, since God's word has given us a general command for occasional fasts, and likewise particularly determined sundry things about the causes, occasions, nature, and manner of fastings, we may well say with Cartwright, that days of fasting are appointed at such times, and upon such occasions, as the Scripture does set forth; wherein because the church commands nothing, but that which God commands, the religious observation of them falls unto the obedience of the fourth commandment, as well as of the seventh day itself."

          gmw.

        • bob_suden
          (The Mar.15 95 SB editorial by DJ Engelsma says:) ... -Greetings, Did we bother to read the material? David W. Cason (not Carson) answers the objection
          Message 4 of 22 , Dec 28, 2006
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            (The Mar.15 '95 SB editorial by DJ Engelsma says:)
            > Neither is there
            > basis in Scripture for their observing a Day of Prayer on the second
            > Wednesday of March annually. [7] Nor is there such basis in Scripture
            > for services of public worship in observance of "notable
            > judgments," "some special blessing," and "days of public
            > thanksgiving," as allowed by the Westminster Assembly's "Directory
            > for the Public Worship of God" and as actually held by Presbyterian
            > churches in the Scottish tradition.
            >
            > Tim-Carson does not address this point although the same
            > contradiction with which he charges Englsma is here present in the
            > WCF.
            >

            -Greetings,

            Did we bother to read the material?
            David W. Cason (not Carson) answers the objection against the occasional
            days of fasting and prayer/thanksgiving allowed in the WA Directory for
            Public Worship in the 5th out of the 8 chapters in his Christmas
            Keeping and the Reformed Faith (1995, Pres. Heritage Publ. pp.34-40),
            also available on the '99 PHP CD Rom or as mentioned at:
            http://www.swrb.com/newslett/actualNLs/Xmas_ch3.htm
            (Gillespie in Dispute against Eng. Popish Ceremonies also deals with
            annual festival days as opposed to occasional allowed by the West.
            Assembly but glancing at the forum before I push Send, it looks like
            Gerry covered that).

            Chapter 5
            Festival Days and Prayer Days

            There is a wide difference between what it is lawful for the church to
            do on those occasions when God in His providence may be calling its
            members to weeping and humiliation,or summoning them to special joy and
            thanksgiving, and what it is lawful for the Church to do in the way of
            setting up a standing part of its permanent worship.

            James Bannerman The Church of Christ (1869; rpt. Edinburgh: Banner of
            Truth, 1974), 1:411.

            . . . But we find another sort of observance in the Old Testament as
            well occasional days of fasting or thanksgiving (Ezra 8:21; 2
            Chron. 20; Jonah 3:5-10; Judges 20:26). These days were appointed by the
            nation or the church in response to God's providential dealings;
            sometimes in response to sin and judgement, sometimes in response to
            blessing and victory. But these observances were not annual in
            character, or perpetual, they were occasional  in other words,
            they were celebrated only once. To annually repeat them would have
            destroyed their essential character as responses to God's providential
            dealings.[8] In one sense these days were also appointed by God, but by
            his providence rather than his precept. As to their actual calling,
            however, they were appointed by men. By comparing these two types of
            days, some simple moral principles are established. First, we learn that
            it is the prerogative of God alone to institute and abrogate religious
            festival days. Man has no role or right in their appointment. Secondly,
            we see that God's eminent and extraordinary providential dealings ought
            to be marked by special times of fasting and thanksgiving. God ought to
            be specially praised for his eminent blessings, and we should be
            specially humbled in the face of severe judgments or sins.[9] [pp.37,8
            for starters]

            Basically Cason's Christmas Keeping and the Reformed Faith smoked the
            opposition. His comments were and are unaswerable. While Engelsma is a
            talented polemicist, even he knew better than to bring it up again or
            even acknowledge their existence. I was a member of a PR church at the
            time and nothing other that the party line was ever really heard in the
            denominational magazine, The Standard Bearer after the Dec. 15,'94 and
            Mar.15, '95 editorials of Engelsma that Cason responded to.

            But the same thing happened after the inter denominational Psalmody
            conference in 1990. It was promoted in the PRC's and Prof. Hanko from
            the PRC Theo. Seminary spoke at it. Evidently though, the keynote
            address by GI Williamson on the RPW in regard to not only holy days,
            but also the use of or presence of religious symbols in worship was too
            hot to handle. That, in light of the Van Baren case in the PRC's where a
            large cross was erected behind the pulpit of the SW PRC of Grand Rapids
            because the consistory thought that the symbol of the cross said the
            same thing as "we preach Christ crucified." I kid you not.

            While the PRC's commendably affirm the Textus Receptus, the Authorized
            Version and formal equivalency in Bible translation, the Presbyterian
            Psalter 1912 used in the denomination since 1924 when it began, as it is
            in many Reformed denominations, is the NIV of English psalters compared
            to the Scotch Psalter 1650. The American/Canadian Reformed Churches of
            Art. 32/Schilder roots have a much more faithful reformed psalter in the
            Book of Praise: Anglo Genevan Psalter 1972, an historic English
            translation of Calvin's Genevan psalter. (Believe it or not, the used
            copy I have, is signed "Norm Shepherd.")

            While I appreciated the time I spent in the PRC's, and in the main they
            affirmed the RPW, there were some notable exceptions in their practice
            as with most modern day Dutch Reformed churches on holy days, as well
            as musical instruments. Arguably that also led in the PRC's to a
            reinterpretation/rewrite of the Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 98 to allow for
            religious symbols in the place of worship because they are not
            forbidden, as well a gross breach of the doctrine of Scripture in
            allowing for visual inspiration as well as verbal inspiration to
            motivate the erection of a large cross behind the pulpit.

            Unfortunately in all this, you will find Prof. Engelsma defending all
            these items in the pages of the SB, from holy days to holy organs to
            holy symbols on the less than holy grounds of holy tradition or holy
            sincerity, which again, doesn't quite carry the weight of holy
            Scripture.
            You will also again find Cason effectively rebutted the first.

            cordially
            Bob S
            former member Lynden PRC
          • timmopussycat
            ... you my friend still. PLEASE REMEMBER THIS during this discussion. My fear is that hot things are said during heated discussions which might bring these
            Message 5 of 22 , Dec 28, 2006
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              --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, "gmw"
              <ragingcalvinist@...> wrote:
              >

              > Tim,
              >
              > You're a good man in my book, and you've been a friend to me when I
              > needed one (you might not even have realized this), and I consider
              you my friend still. PLEASE REMEMBER THIS during this discussion. My
              fear is > that hot things are said during heated discussions which
              might bring > these things into question. I assure you, I hold you in
              high esteem, and our friendship is not at stake in this discussion
              as far as I'm concerned. Now that I got that out of the way, here we
              go, friend!

              My dear Gerry-Thank you for your encouraging words. I consider you a
              friend to me despite our different church principles. Do not fear
              that I will forget our friendship during any discussion. You have
              always conducted yourself as a Christian gentleman in debate and if
              you ever fall from that level, I will seek to restore you to it in
              the spirit of gentleness that Paul encourages he Galatians to acquire.
              In addition I have found our discussions profitable as in "iron
              sharpens iron" and not least already, in this discussion.

              > >...it is fair to read you as believing that Calvin supported you, a
              > > supprorter of the Scots view, in your questions.
              >
              > No, I do not believe that is fair to conclude something that I was
              not
              > even implying.

              Tim-You are partially correct. I should have asked you if you were
              intending to imply that you had Calvin's support for your own view.
              But one may accidentally leave room for your readers to draw
              inferences as good but not necessary consequences that one does not
              intend to imply. I believe that the inference I drew was a good but
              not necessary consequence deduction from your statements.
              CS Lewis once wrote that the job of a writer is herding sheep along a
              road with a number of open gates along each side. Unless the writer
              is careful to close all the gates of good but not necessary
              consequence inferences his readers like sheep will wander through the
              open gates. This is one reason that writing well is so difficult.


              I was asking you the same question Calvin asked his
              > audience regarding your observation of this holy day – who told you
              > it was Christmas? You pretend to answer in Calvin's voice below,
              > which far more strongly implies that you believe your views are
              > congruent with Calvin's than I ever attempted to imply. I shall
              > respond to that below.

              Tim-Now you have here drawn the incorrect inference: I do not believe
              that my views are entirely congruent with Calvin's. We are in
              different circumstances and I am a little stronger than he is that
              Christians should not divide over this issue and I take that stand
              for a different reason than he does.

              > But since you brought it up, yes, I do believe that Calvin is more
              in
              > line with my view of Christmas than yours. To quote George
              Gillespie,
              >
              > "If holidays, in Calvin's judgment, be fooleries — if he gave
              > advice not to approve them — if he thought them occasions of
              > superstition — if he held it superstition to distinguish one day
              > from another, or to esteem one above another — if he calls them
              > Judaical, though kept to the honor of God, judge then what allowance
              > they had from him."
              >
              > > The problem is that
              > > he did not entirely do so.
              >
              >
              > Yes, and I acknowledged that fact. He cries down more than it seems
              you,
              > or any other Christmas-keeper, is willing to do, but he makes
              > concessions that I would not make.
              >
              > > Calvin would answer your questions like this: "The early church
              told
              > > us that we may celebrate Jesus' nativity,
              >
              > No, Calvin's rhetorical use of this question was to strongly imply
              > that they had no good answer. The answer is NOT, "God told us
              > it's Christmas,"

              Tim-Calvin did not absolutely deny that we could celebrate the
              nativity. Therefore he would say the EC told us that it is Christmas.

              or "The Bible tells us it's
              > Christmas," which concludes that Christmas then must be
              > superstitious in nature, hence Calvin's later statement, "God
              > must not only strip away things that are bad themselves, but must
              also
              > eliminate anything that might foster superstition."
              >
              > Who told you that throwing salt over your shoulder was good luck?
              >
              > Who told you to build an altar to the unknown god?
              >
              > Who told you it's Christmas?
              >
              > God certainly didn't tell you these things. So, who did?
              >
              > > and there is no second commandment reason not to.
              >
              > No, Calvin clearly appeals to God's Laws against idolatry: "when
              > you elevate one day alone [Context demands that he is referring
              > specifically to Christmas] for the purpose of worshipping God, you
              have
              > just turned it into an idol. True, you insist that you have done so
              for
              > the honor of God, but it is more for the honor of the Devil."

              Tim-If Englsma is right that Calvin elsewhere said celebrating the
              nativity was not necessarily idolatry, than we must restrict his
              charge here to how the Genevans were keeping it and not to the
              question of whether to keep it.
              >
              > > We may celebrate Jesus birthday in any way
              > > that honours God,
              >
              > Well, of course we can do that which truly honors God, but the
              question
              > is how in the world you know that celebrating Jesus' birthday as
              > Christmas honors God. Seems to me you would have to ask the same
              person
              > who told you it was Christmas, which is … who again? You see, when
              > we do service to God that is not prescribed in His Word, it is
              entirely
              > our presumption that God is pleased with it (Calvin's view on the
              > Regulative Principle WAS essentially the same as the Westminster
              > Standards, agreed?), and so your "honoring" of God cannot be
              > said to honor God in truth, if it is not prescribed by Scripture.
              Hence
              > Calvin's statement, "you insist that you have done so [i.e.
              > shown up for worship because it's Christmas] for the honor of God,
              > but it is more for the honor of the Devil."

              Tim-Calvin's view of the RP may have been similar to that of the WCF
              but unless he has contradicted himself over this issue, it was not
              identical. Calvin according to Englsma does not condemn the nativity
              festival itself as idolatry, the WCF does.

              > > but nobody in Geneva had ever heard of any of the 19th and 20th
              > century Anglo-American
              >
              > > accretions that turned the celebration into a commercial racket,
              so
              > don't attribute those abuses
              > > to us.
              >
              > I did not intend to attribute all of today's abuses to yesteryear
              > Geneva,

              Tim-then don't incoporate those 20th century abuses into your
              argument against the nativty.

              but this does bring up an interesting question: Would Calvin
              > approve of today's Christmas along with the commercial racket?

              Tim-What difference is there between "today's Christmas" and "the
              commercial racket". If any includes anything more than the Divinely
              ordained elements of worship into a special nativity service, I deny
              the righteousness of the inclusion.

              Or
              > would he actually condemn today's Christmas even more so, given he
              > is condemning Christmas in his day as being satanic and
              superstitious
              > when today our abuses are (it seems) much worse? Do we not have
              even
              > greater reason to abandon the Christmas nowadays than even Calvin,
              the
              > Puritans, the Scots?

              Tim-Is not the best anser to abuse of a good thing the right use of a
              good thing? Would you deny your brother the liberty of a beer because
              he might get drunk? In the same way is not the best answer to a
              superstitious keeping of Christmas a truly Christian keeping of the
              day?
              >
              > > Granted we have some of our own, which is one reason I don't
              > > entirely approve of celebrating Christmas."
              >
              >
              >
              > No, it's more like "Because Christmas keeping is superstitious,
              > not commanded or recommended by God, not to mention all of the
              abuses
              > which take place "in the holiday spirit," I don't approve of
              > it. What I will concede to is that it is good to read from God's
              > Word about the nativity of Christ (reading from God's Word being a
              > practice approved by God's Word), we shall do so on God's
              > appointed holy day (the Lord's Day), and not on man's
              > self-appointed holy day (Christmas).
              >
              > Now, a bit about my own view on this concession of Calvin's – I
              > freely admit that I personally would not change up the regular
              Scripture
              > reading schedule, as I believe that is too much of an
              acknowledgment of
              > the holiday. However, if a concession is going to be made (and let's
              > face it, Calvin knew what his people needed, I do not), this is the
              kind
              > of concession that I do not get too upset about because all he is
              > advocating here is 1). Reading a portion of God's Word. 2). Serving
              > the Lord's Supper. 3). Preaching. 4). And doing these things, not on
              > December 25th because it's December 25th, but on the Lord's Day,
              > because it's the Lord's Day. These are lawful acts of worship
              > anyway, and so cannot be condemned as will-worship or superstition.
              >
              > What he is not doing or advocating: 1). Taking December 25th off, or
              > closing all the shops that day, to observe the holiday (to the
              contrary,
              > he condemns this practice as "the idleness of a holiday spirit"
              > which is a "heavy sin to bear").

              Tim-If all restraint from regular work was "the idleness of a holiday
              spririt" and "a heavy sin to bear" how will you acquit God from the
              charge of leading his OT people into such "a heavy sin" by ordaining
              the OT festivals? The answer you will rightly give is that they were
              instruted how to keep those days. And I will reply; then let
              Christians learn to keep the nativity and other festivals with the
              same spirit that OT Israel was instructed to keep its festivals.

              2). Doing any unwarranted act
              > of worship (of course not, Calvin is an RPW advocate that condemns
              > "will-worship." 3). Any of the trappings of Christmas-keeping,
              > either of ancient or modern practice – hanging holly, red and green
              > decorations, nativity scenes, "merry Christmas," exchanging
              > Christmas gifts, caroling, lighting candles, etc. etc. etc. And so,
              I'm
              > so offended at what Calvin was doing... as it wasn't Christmas!
              >
              > Here's the thing as far as I'm concerned. If all people are
              > advocating is reading from the Gospels, observing the Lord's Supper,
              > listening to preaching, and that NOT on December 25th for the sake
              of
              > December 25th, but on the Lord's Day, regardless of the date…
              > then have at it man! But let's be honest…
              >
              > That's not what "Christmas" is, now is it?

              Tim-Not to many people, but it could be to Christians. And if we are
              going to celebrate it, that's what it should be.

              > I'm told to have a merry Christmas, by a passer by. What is he
              > wishing me, exactly? Have a good day off? Enjoy my Christmas goose?
              > Don't get too drunk at the office party? I hope Santa brings you
              > lots of stuff? Enjoy watching the kids unwrap their gifts under the
              > Christmas tree? Or does he mean something like, "May the reading of
              > the Word and your partaking the Lord's Supper become effectual means
              > of having the blessings of Christ's redemptive work graciously
              > applied to me?"
              >
              > If the former things, then no thank you… I don't do Christmas.
              > If the latter, why must we use a term (with the name of Christ in
              it, no
              > less) that is commonly understood to include the former things, to
              > describe that? And what are the chances that said passer by means
              the
              > latter, and not something of the former things?

              Tim-So why not ask him what he means and lead the resultant
              conversation into an evangelistic opportunity?
              >
              > Or, to put it another way: If a Christian seeking to honor Christ by
              > "Christmas keeping" is not doing any of the things Calvin
              > condemned, and is not doing any of the worldly and wicked things so
              > closely associated with Christmas today, than what of "Christmas
              > keeping" is he actually doing?

              Tim-Keeping a special service to remember the coming of the second
              person of the Trinity into this world and the good that came thereby.

              I mean, why even maintain the name of
              > Christmas and why wish me a merry one, if there are better ways to
              say
              > what you intend?

              Tim-If the reminder of Christ's nativity does not make your heart
              merry than there may well be something wrong with your spiritual
              condition. And I may wish my neighbour the same blessing provided I
              make sure he understands what I mean.
              >
              > > And you should know that the festival was instituted about 100
              years
              > > before the name Mass was first applied to the Eucharist in 397.
              >
              > Was it called Christ's Mass at that time?

              Tim-Sometime in the next 100 or so years all Eucharists would have
              been so called. Certainly by 604 it was the usual word used for the
              Eucharist in the Latin churches. (Catholic Encyclopedia).

              >
              > > And the content of that "Mass" included no heresies, the churches
              > would
              > > not descend to the unbliblical doctrine of transubstantiation for
              > > another 700 years.
              >
              > So, what date are we at now? AD 1000 or so?
              >
              > "The word for Christmas in late Old English is Cristes Maesse, the
              Mass
              > of Christ, first found in 1038, and Cristes-messe, in 1131." –
              > the Catholic Encyclopedia.

              Tim-Right, that's Old English. I have already shown that the word was
              used in latin as early as 397 and was in general use for the
              Eucharist about 604. I don't have access to all the Latin fathers
              references to the festival so cannot say whether or not the word was
              specifically applied to it. But given that it was the general word
              for the eucharist, we cannot rule the possibility out on the basis or
              our present knowledge. The word transubstantiation, on the other
              hand, was first mentioned in 1079 and the concept was developed over
              the next 1.25 centuries. The fourth Lateran council of 1215 made it
              official. (Catholic encyclopedia)

              So the eucharist was called the mass for about 400-500 years before
              Catholic theologians fell into the transubstantiation error. If one
              wants to claim that it is inappropriate to call the nativity
              Christmas, one will need to demonstrate that the Latin fathers never
              called the nativiy Christmas during this period.

              > "Christ's Mass" is where "Christmas" comes from, and
              > apparently the first use of the term occurs when the heretical
              > perversions were indeed understood by that term.

              Tim-To quote Ira Gershwin "It ain't necessarily so." See above.

              Also, when we use the
              > term today, the mass is to be understood that way.

              Tim-It may be so understood by Roman Catholics, but RC's are not very
              thick on the ground where I live. If I asked a hundred people in
              Vancouver what the word "Christmas" means, less than 5 of them would
              give the Catholic answer. As Englsma rightly notes " the
              word "Sunday" is "derived from pagan sources and denotes the day
              devoted to the sun" (p. 653). [4] This does not rule out Christians
              meeting for worship on this day or using the word to refer to the day
              on which they engage in public worship." If you object to calling the
              day of the nativity of our Lord's celbration Christmas, why have you
              not advocated changing the name of the day upon which we weekly meet
              as he has ordained?


              This is not guilt by
              > association, this is "blasphemy by association," in that by
              > using the term Christmas, we associate Christ with the mass.

              Tim-Don't think so. See above.
              >
              > > And please note that you are confusing two questions which should
              not
              > > be confused.
              >
              > Ah, but the confusion did not come from me. Shall we celebrate
              Christmas
              > and how is Christmas to be celebrate are fantastically confused
              because
              > of everything associated with and understood by Christmas all over
              the
              > world. You might say, "I think I should be thankful for Christ's
              > birth on the date that I think is the best guess as to the date of
              his
              > birth." And therefore, what then? "Therefore I should take the
              > day off, and go to church because it's December 25th, and engage in
              > various merriments."

              Tim-ISTM that you are putting the words "various merriments" into my
              mouth. If so, why?

              No, said Calvin. "Who told you it was
              > Christmas, you poor beasts? You think you're honoring God but you
              > are actually honoring the devil!" (again, paraphrased).
              >
              > > One is should we celebrate the Lord's nativity at all,
              >
              > Celebrate the Lord's nativity every Lord's Day. And while
              > you're at it, celebrate His resurrection, too. But now are you
              > confusing the issue? You are defending the idea that the
              celebration is
              > to be annual, and have you not then entered into "how should it be
              > celebrated" territory?

              Tim-If the church has the right to thank God for extraordinary
              mercies received, then by parity of reasoning the chuch has the right
              to offer, not compel, its members the opportunity of repeatedly
              remembering so extraordinary a mercy as the coming of the Lord.


              > > the other (which I was not initially addressing) is how should it
              be celebrated?
              >
              > Annually, and by special remembrances, or on every Lord's Day by
              > ordinary acts of worship? This actually is the issue, then, isn't
              > it?
              >
              > > On the latter question, I agree with you that we should
              > > not celebrate with the santa myth.
              >
              > I would that this list was longer, but I'm glad that you personally
              do
              > not support the Santa myth.

              Tim-That's shorthand for everything and anything arising from the
              culture.

              Sadly, the world, and "the Christian
              > world" at that, continues to support it.

              Tim-True, but what is that to the truth of what the Christian world
              should do.

              > > But I would like to see an answer to a question I asked which has
              not
              > > been answered. I would like to see someone address Englsma's
              > > challenge to provide a Scriptural justification of the Westminster
              > > view that we may set special services of public worship in
              observance
              > > of "notable judgments," "some special blessing," and "days of
              public
              > > thanksgiving," as allowed by the Westminster Assembly's "Directory
              > > for the Public Worship of God" and as actually held by
              Presbyterian
              > > churches in the Scottish tradition.
              >
              > You do understand that these observances are not annually observed
              days,
              > right? I mean, what are you asking proof for, that God's people
              > occasionally enter into fasts?

              Tim-That God's people have the right to enter into occasional
              services of thanksgiving.

              (In case any wonder why I do not chastise you for ommitting to
              provide Scripture for the WDPW position, I see by the headings that
              you will address this matter in another post.)

              > > But keep in mind, however, if you establish that the Directory is
              > Scriptural at this point, you have
              > > also established that the church may set special services to mark
              the
              > > Lord's coming to earth.
              >
              >
              > If you were arguing that the church at the time of Christ's birth
              would
              > have been justified in celebrating the special occasion of the
              birth of
              > Messiah, then I will not argue against that. But if you are
              therefore
              > concluding that the Church may institute annually observed holy
              days or
              > festivals, than I'm afraid I don't even see how that can be argued.

              Tim-If the church may institute special services of thanksgiving for
              mercies received because this is profitable for Christians, then the
              church may equally institute annual services of worship for the
              extraordinary mercies of Christ's coming and resurrection, for to be
              reminded of them is surely profitable to Christians as Calvin stated.
              Although he stated in the sermon you cited that such would be done on
              the following Sunday, he did do so on this "Christmas" as well.

              > >> Where did I even imply that Calvin's view was the same as the
              Scots?
              > >> Where did I even mention the Scots?
              >
              > > Tim-Nowhere.
              >
              > Thank you.
              >
              > >> In truth, as you have often been admonished, it is good to set
              > >>aside one day out of the year in which we are reminded of all the
              > >>good that has occurred because of Christ's birth in the world,
              and in
              > >>which we hear the story of his birth retold, which will be done on
              > >>Sunday.
              >
              > > Tim-This one sentence is why I say it is not wise to deploy
              Calvin in
              > > favour of the WCF nonobservance of Christmas.
              >
              > Yeah, I didn't do that, though. Like I said a few times now, I
              > acknowledge a difference in Calvin's concessions and Scotland's lack
              > thereof.

              Tim-And as I have said, I inferred what you did not intend to imply.

              > > Although Calvin here
              > > says that the Genevans will hear the story of Christ's birth
              retold
              > > and consider all the good that has occured because of his coming
              on
              > > the following Sunday, he does agree that it is good to set aside
              one
              > > day out of the year in which to be reminded of these things. In
              doing
              > > so he allows what the Scots do not.
              >
              > What he concedes, though, is NOT Christmas. What he concedes, he
              > contrasts with Christmas. Again, if you want to take this time of
              year
              > to reflect on Christ's birth, you're not going to get a lot of
              > complaints from me. If you are keeping a festival, or a holy day, or
              > doing any of the other things Calvin rightly rejected by his words
              we
              > are now considering, and recommending that others do the same, then
              I
              > will have a problem with that. So would Calvin, so would the Scots,
              > though they agreed not on how much of the season they acknowledged.
              >
              Tim-Once again, it has been a pleasure engaging in discussion of
              difficult matters with you. Again, I thank you for setting a
              remarkably high and inspriring standard of Christian courtesy in
              disagreement, (and I hope some of your readers will learn from how
              you conduct yourself in these discussions even if, like me, they
              cannot share your eccliesiology). I trust the Lord will enlighten our
              eyes where we are in darkness, give us encouragement to hold on to
              what we have light to see, and if we cannot see alike then let us
              hold the essentials of our faith in that winsome and blessed charity
              that is the fruit of God's Holy Spirit in us.

              Tim
            • timmopussycat
              ... not ... observance ... public ... Presbyterian ... you ... the ... fasts or ... do ... which ... occasional ... likewise, extraordinary festivities are
              Message 6 of 22 , Dec 29, 2006
              • 0 Attachment
                --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, "gmw"
                <ragingcalvinist@...> wrote:

                > --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, "timmopussycat"
                > <timmopussycat@> wrote:
                >
                > > But I would like to see an answer to a question I asked which has
                not
                > > been answered.
                >
                > I perceive that it was answered almost 400 years ago, by George
                > Gillespie, in his treatise against the English Popish Ceremonies.
                >
                > > I would like to see someone address Englsma's
                > > challenge to provide a Scriptural justification of the Westminster
                > > view that we may set special services of public worship in
                observance
                > > of "notable judgments," "some special blessing," and "days of
                public
                > > thanksgiving," as allowed by the Westminster Assembly's "Directory
                > > for the Public Worship of God" and as actually held by
                Presbyterian
                > > churches in the Scottish tradition. But keep in mind, however, if
                you
                > > establish that the Directory is Scriptural at this point, you have
                > > also established that the church may set special services to mark
                the
                > > Lord's coming to earth.
                >
                > Gillespie:
                >
                > "The Bishop has yet a third dart to throw at us: If the church (he
                > says) has power, upon occasional motives, to appoint occasional
                fasts or
                > festivities, may not she, for constant and eternal blessings, which
                do
                > infinitely excel all occasional benefits, appoint ordinary times of
                > commemoration or thanksgiving? ANSWER. There are two reasons for
                which
                > the church may and should appoint fasts or festivities upon
                occasional
                > motives, and neither of them agrees with ordinary festivities. 1.
                > Extraordinary fasts, (sinp since we are not talking about this)
                likewise, extraordinary festivities are necessary testifications
                > of our thankfulness for the benefits which we have impetrate
                [obtained
                > by asking] by our extraordinary fasts;

                Tim-Not all great extrordianry festivites followed extraordinary
                fasts. Certainly Israel's deliverance from the Red Sea was not so
                preceded.

                but ordinary festivities, for
                > constant and eternal blessings, have no necessary use. The
                celebration
                > of set anniversary days is no necessary mean for conserving the
                > commemoration of the benefits of redemption, because we have
                occasion,
                > not only every Sabbath day, but every other day, to call to mind
                these
                > benefits, either in hearing, or reading, or meditating upon God's
                word.
                > I esteem and judge that the days consecrated to Christ must be
                lifted,
                > says Danæus: Christ is born, is circumcised, dies, rises again for
                > us every day in the preaching of the Gospel.

                Tim-Although the ceremonial festivities are covenantally abolished
                with the rest of te ceremonial laws, it is worth asking if some of
                these festivities may remain remain morally fitting if not legally
                binding.
                The Jews were covenantally required to thank God annually for
                reception of food for the next year in their festivals of
                firstfruits, festivals that did not occur on the Sabbath (Lev. 23:11).
                Now there is no doubt that today we are not obliged to offer such
                sacrifices to God as a fulfillment of covenant stipulations, as such
                actions would be Galatianism and heresy. Yet, we must ask: does it
                not remain equally fitting for us to thank God for the harverst we
                receive each year? And does God not deserve to be specially thanked
                for each harvest he provides apart from the regular service of
                worship? And if the answers to both questions are "Yes" is it not
                morally fitting to offer God an annual service of thanksgiving for
                these blessings?
                And if we are morally obligated to take such pains to thank God
                for the giving of earthly food, how much more should we not so thank
                God for the gift of his Son, by marking the day of his coming? After
                all man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds
                out of the mouth of God and pre-eminently that Word is Christ.

                > "2. God has given his church a general precept for extraordinary
                fasts
                > (Joel 1:14; 2:15), as likewise for extraordinary festivities to
                praise
                > God, and to give him thanks in the public assembly of his people,
                upon
                > the occasional motive of some great benefit which, by the means of
                our
                > fasting and praying, we have obtained (Zech. 8:19 with 7:3).

                Tim-I notice that Gillespie does not include Purim (Esther (:20:23)
                in which an extraordinary deliverance was provided after fasting and
                prayer. I wonder why the ommission.....??? Was it because the Jews
                realized that this deliverance was so great it rightly deserved
                annual rememberance??

                If it is
                > said that there is a general command for set festivities, because
                there
                > is a command for preaching and hearing the word, and for praising
                God
                > for his benefits; and there is no precept for particular fasts more
                than
                > for particular festivities, I answer: Albeit there is a command for
                > preaching and hearing the word, and for praising God for his
                benefits,
                > yet is there no command (no, not in the most general generality) for
                > annexing these exercises of religion to set anniversary days more
                than
                > to other days;

                Tim-Gillespie has overlooked the question of whether or not Purim and
                Hanukah are good examples to follow. In each case a most extreme
                danger was present (Purim-national extinction, and Hanukah-
                destruction of the covenant relationship between Israel and God) and
                both deliverances were recognized as to be so great (in both cases
                the covenant was kept Israel alive and preserved the covenat
                relationship) as to rightfully merit annual observance.

                Since it is clear that it is as fitting for us to observe an annual
                thanksgiving for harvest ingathered as it was for the Jews, and since
                the deliverance we have by Christ is so much greater than the
                temporary survival provided by food, it is clear that it is fitting
                that we glorify God by treating the coming of His Son to earth to
                achieve our redemption (which began the inauguration of the new
                covenant) and His acheivement of that redemption (which completed the
                same) in a way equivalent to or even greater than the festival of
                thanksgiving.

                Tim
              • Chris Coldwell
                FYI. Portions of George Gillespie s English Popish Ceremonies on the topic of holy days are given at http://www.naphtali.com/GGhodays.htm Sincerely, Chris
                Message 7 of 22 , Dec 30, 2006
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                  FYI. Portions of George Gillespie’s English Popish Ceremonies on the topic of holy days are given at http://www.naphtali.com/GGhodays.htm

                   

                   

                  Sincerely,

                  Chris Coldwell

                  Owner, Naphtali Press http://www.naphtali.com

                  Editor, The Confessional Presbyterian journal http://www.cpjournal.com

                  Member, Faith Presbyterian Church Reformed, Mesquite TX http://www.fpcr.org

                   

                   

                • bob_suden
                  Greetings again Tim, ... True, but they have already been asked and answered in the material you mentioned, which leads to the question again, have you read
                  Message 8 of 22 , Dec 30, 2006
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                    Greetings again Tim,
                    >
                    > Tim-Although the ceremonial festivities are covenantally abolished
                    > with the rest of the ceremonial laws, it is worth asking if some of
                    > these festivities may remain remain morally fitting if not legally
                    > binding.

                    True, but they have already been asked and answered in the material you mentioned, which leads to the question again, have you read the material? Cason first, then Gillespie (and M'Crie on Esther if you can get your hands on him or Cartwright on the Feast of Dedication against the Rhemists in that it is pretty much the same argument: We may do,  because the Jews have done; we may do for Christ, because Christ has done for us.)

                    >    The Jews were covenantally required to thank God annually for
                    > reception of food for the next year in their festivals of
                    > firstfruits, festivals that did not occur on the Sabbath (Lev. 23:11).
                    > Now there is no doubt that today we are not obliged to offer such
                    > sacrifices to God as a fulfillment of covenant stipulations, as such
                    > actions would be Galatianism and heresy.
                    > Yet, we must ask: does it
                    > not remain equally fitting for us to thank God for the harverst we
                    > receive each year? And does God not deserve to be specially thanked
                    > for each harvest he provides apart from the regular service of
                    > worship? And if the answers to both questions are "Yes" is it not
                    > morally fitting to offer God an annual service of thanksgiving for
                    > these blessings?

                    But the answer is not yes to both or necessarily even one question. More than that, it is not morally and reasonably fitting to  celebrate  an annual  harvest day in the midst of a famine or as Cason mentions, observe an annual  national day of thanksgiving (harvest day)  in the midst of apostasy and backsliding. The spiritual man, never mind the natural is only too prone to turn on the autopilot of annual days, rote prayers etc. That is why they are forbidden. But that is exactly what is argued for.

                    The modern national and civil "Thanksgiving Day" is deficient on this very ground. Our nation ought to be repenting in sackcloth and ashes, and praying God to withhold his fury against our sins. Instead, the annual civil Thansgiving perpetuates the idea that America is greatly beloved and blessed of God although we have nationally turned our backs to him and rejected his laws and commandments (CK&RF, p.38 fn.8).

                    In other words, something like Is. 22:12,13 is applicable.

                    And in that day did the Lord GOD of hosts call to weeping, and to mourning, and to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth:
                    And behold joy and gladness, slaying oxen, and killing sheep, eating flesh, and drinking wine: let us eat and drink; for to morrow we shall die.

                    God providentially called for mourning, but Israel called for feasting, a harvest day.  And God did not approve, in that he wants the heart, not the external days, months and years, because if he has the heart all else follows. But we want to give him everything but, including annual days. It is not enough that the motive appears to be pure - our hearts are deceitful beyond knowing - but the end has to be right also. Adding man appointed annual days is not a right end.

                    >
                    >     And if we are morally obligated to take such pains to thank God
                    > for the giving of earthly food, how much more should we not so thank
                    > God for the gift of his Son, by marking the day of his coming? After
                    > all man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds
                    > out of the mouth of God and pre-eminently that Word is Christ.

                    Morally obligated is not annually obligated. That has not been proved. "Every word of God" assumes that the regulative principle is operative and Christ has already sufficiently provided for his church. Worship is a command performance, not a "bring your own" affair. Every word includes  "whatsoever is not commanded is forbidden." Deut. 12
                    and the will worship of Col.2
                    Likewise, God has ordained the first day of the week, which because of the resurrection of Christ, replaces the OT sabbath ordained at creation, in so much as it is the stamp of approval upon Christ's ministry. The sting of sin is death. All men are sinners and hence die. Yet Christ came to redeem sinners in his death, but did not die, rising from the grave. Hence his death accomplished its purpose in saving sinners from sin, roughly is the argument.
                    Consequently the emphasis in Scripture is 1. not on one or two special days of the year, but on one day a week - "Easter" if you will,  not Christmas and 2. we may not be wiser than God and devise ways to help God beyond what he has already ordained, however reasonable it may appear to us.   A
                    ssertions and opinions though, are not reasonable arguments.

                    >
                    > > "2.  God has given his church a general precept for extraordinary
                    > fasts
                    > > (Joel 1:14; 2:15), as likewise for extraordinary festivities to
                    > praise
                    > > God, and to give him thanks in the public assembly of his people,
                    > upon
                    > > the occasional motive of some great benefit which, by the means of
                    > our
                    > > fasting and praying, we have obtained (Zech. 8:19 with 7:3).
                    >
                    > Tim-I notice that Gillespie does not include Purim (Esther (:20:23)
                    > in which an extraordinary deliverance was provided after fasting and
                    > prayer. I wonder why the ommission.....??? Was it because the Jews
                    > realized that this deliverance was so great it rightly deserved
                    > annual rememberance??

                    Mordecai was a prophet (though the first institution of Purim was civil) according to Gillespie in  Dispute 1993, NP, p.305
                    Likewise McCrie, quoted by Cason says on the book of Esther:

                    "Shall we suppose that Christ and his apostles, in abrogating those days which God himself had appointed to be observed, without instituting others in their room, intended that either churches or individuals should be allowed to substitute whatever they pleased in their room?[CK&RF, p.34]"

                    But that is precisely what is being proposed and is essentially the height of arrogance, however unintended, because it presumes to steady the ark of God's worship in the light of what is right in our own eyes. Rather that God might open the eyes of our understanding to see what he has already provided for us in his instituted worship. We need no substitutes or additions.

                    Cason ends  Chapt. 5 quoting a doubting Thomas:

                    "There are times when God calls, on the one hand, to religious fasting, or, on the other, to thanksgiving and religious joy; and it is our duty to comply with these calls, and to set apart time for the respective exercises. But this is quite a different thing from recurrent or anniversary holidays. . . . . Stated and recurring festivals countenance the false principle, that some days have a peculiar sanctity, either inherent or impressed by the works which occurred on them; [as in we know that the 25th was the day of Christ's birth or that it should be observed even though God didn't tell us so?] they proceed on an undue assumption of human authority; interfere with the free use of that time which the Creator hath granted to man; detract from the honour due to the day of sacred rest which he hath appointed; lead to impositions over conscience; have been a fruitful source of superstition and idolatry; and have been productive of the worst effects upon morals, in every age, and among every people, barbarous and civilized, pagan and Christian, popish and Protestant, among whom they have been observed."[M'Crie in Cason, CK&RF pp.39,40, ul. added]"

                    To man made days on the account of man made reasons, come also man made rites, man made pictures etc. and the end is even worse than the start.  But who  can bring a clean thing out of an unclean (Job 14:4)?  Man by his nature, even redeemed  is incapable of appointing anything for God's worship (place, hour, this chapter over that chapter are not of the substance of worship.)

                    >
                    >  If it is
                    > > said that there is a general command for set festivities, because
                    > there
                    > > is a command for preaching and hearing the word, and for praising
                    > God
                    > > for his benefits; and there is no precept for particular fasts more
                    > than
                    > > for particular festivities, I answer:  Albeit there is a command for
                    > > preaching and hearing the word, and for praising God for his
                    > benefits,
                    > > yet is there no command (no, not in the most general generality) for
                    > > annexing these exercises of religion to set anniversary days more
                    > than
                    > > to other days;
                    >
                    > Tim-Gillespie has overlooked the question of whether or not Purim and
                    > Hanukah are good examples to follow. In each case a most extreme
                    > danger was present (Purim-national extinction, and Hanukah-
                    > destruction of the covenant relationship between Israel and God) and
                    > both deliverances were recognized as to be so great (in both cases
                    > the covenant was kept Israel alive and preserved the covenat
                    > relationship) as to rightfully merit annual observance.
                    >
                    Again, it is generally considered that Mordecai was a prophet and had the authority to institute a day such as Purim. Further, one either admits, in the totality of Scripture and the reformed understanding of the Second commandment, that only what God has commanded or instituted, either explicitly, by approved example or by necessary consequences is permitted in public worship or they are necessarily forced to the conclusion that one may institute as they please in the worship of God as historically the Lutherans and Anglicans have done and you are essentially arguing. It is largely a repeat.  Likewise the cadre of supposedly reformed theologians and pastors such as Jordan, Frame, Schlissel, Leithart and particularly Gore who are ponying up the same "redemptive-historical" arguments re.  Purim, the Feast of Dedication etc. New redemptive events mean new songs or new/annual days celebrating that redemption/incarnation/fill in the blank. Where does it end? It doesn't/it ends in popery which is what it is in essence.

                    > Since it is clear that it is as fitting fo us to observe an annual
                    > thanksgiving for harvest ingathered as it was for the Jews,

                    No, it is not clear. It is assumed or asserted. But an assertion is not an  argument, much less it has been shown to be wrong above. An annual thanksgiving sinfully assumes that every year there will be a harvest and not a famine. It is to take more than it professes to give and is the height of presumption, much more Scripture explicitly  forbids.

                    James 4:13  Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:
                    14  Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
                    15  For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.
                    Again, where in the word can we prove this  arrogant assumption that God owes us a harvest every year and that we need to/should have an annual day of thanksgiving? We can't and therefore not only is the statement erroneous, everthing  built upon it below is also mistaken.

                    and since
                    > the deliverance we have by Christ is so much greater than the
                    > temporary survival provided by food, it is clear that it is fitting
                    > that we glorify God by treating the coming of His Son to earth to
                    > achieve our redemption (which began the inauguration of the new
                    > covenant) and His acheivement of that redemption (which completed the
                    > same) in a way equivalent to or even greater than the festival of
                    > thanksgiving.

                    While the first is true regarding the bread from heaven, the rest is a non sequitur. It does not follow, it has not been established. It has been assumed and is only in accord with the natural man or natural reasoning. If God had wanted that, we would have been informed of it in the scripture. Instead, we have a day of thanksgiving, once a week. To sincerely want to add to it is not scriptural. Rather it is will worship in principle, regardless if one  considers  their conscience clear on the matter. God simply  forbids it by saying we may not add to his worship. That's the real issue.


                    cordially
                    Bob S

                  • gmw
                    Whew! This discussion is getting Loooong! I must preface this post by stating that I m having some difficulty here, in that I am trying to express my own
                    Message 9 of 22 , Dec 30, 2006
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                      Whew! This discussion is getting Loooong! I must preface this post by stating that I'm having some difficulty here, in that I am trying to express my own views, explain Calvin's views (which I confessed were not exactly what mine are, though I think not so very far off), while condemning Christmas as it actually is now celebrated by practically the entire world, why trying to interact with Tim and his views, which I do not pretend to be identical to that of my neighbors who have the gaudy lights and giant inflatable snowman with the Santa hat on their front porch. And I'm sending this convinced that I probably misspoke (mistyped?) somewhere. But I'm giving it a go, now ain't I? LOL!

                      >My dear Gerry-Thank you for your encouraging words. I consider you a

                      >friend to me despite our different church principles. Do not
                      fear
                      >that I will forget our friendship during any discussion.
                      You have
                      >always conducted yourself as a Christian gentleman in
                      debate and if
                      >you ever fall from that level, I will seek to
                      restore you to it in
                      >the spirit of gentleness that Paul
                      encourages he Galatians to acquire.
                      >In addition I have found
                      our discussions profitable as in "iron
                      >sharpens iron"
                      and not least already, in this discussion.

                      Cool!

                      (snipping stuff about our intentions in using Calvin, as this seems to have been taken care of).


                      >> No, Calvin's rhetorical
                      use of this question was to strongly imply
                      >> that they had
                      no good answer. The answer is NOT, "God told us
                      > >it's
                      Christmas,"

                      >Tim-Calvin did not absolutely deny that
                      we could celebrate the
                      >nativity. Therefore he would say the EC
                      told us that it is Christmas.

                      Can I assume by celebrating the nativity you are referring to the annual celebration of the Nativity Festival, commonly called Christmas? I would hope all Christians in some sense "celebrate the nativity," and it would be wrong to suggest that all non-Christmas-keepers are un-celebratory of the birth of Christ.

                      If indeed you refer to the annual festival day/holy day, commonly called Christmas, then we see in Calvin that –

                      1). He demands an answer for where they got the idea that December 25th was Christmas.

                      2). He calls them poor beasts, and reiterates that "poor beasts" is a fitting name for such people who have come to church for a special service on December 25th thinking it was Christmas.

                      3). He calls them "as crazed as wild beasts" for thinking Jesus was born on December 25th.

                      4). He says that they think they're serving God by coming, when what they are doing is more like honoring Satan.

                      5). He calls the attempt to make December 25th a holy day making an idol out of the day.

                      6). He tells his audience that their intent does not justify their actions, by telling the story of Saul's "worship" of God (which Saul says was his intent), which worship leads to the accusations of heresy, apostasy, and soothsaying.

                      7). He says that if we seek to establish worship service based on our whim (which I perceive to be Calvin's answer to "Who told you it was Christmas?" It was whim and not God), we blaspheme God and create an idol, even if we think we're honoring God.

                      8). He calls the worshiping of God "in the idleness of a holiday spirit" a heavy sin to bear, and one that encourages others to sin, thus lifting you to the "height of iniquity." (NOTE: Below you ask me to acquit God of this charge, given that God instituted rest days/festival days in the OT – here I simply point out that whether you agree with Calvin's statement on this matter or not, you cannot deny that this is what Calvin said. If he was alive, I would ask you to take up your objection with him. Since he is not, I shall do my best to answer your objection to Calvin's statement below).

                      9). Calvin brings the audience back to the text he's preaching on (Micah 5:7-14), and exhorts from the Scriptures that we are not only to eliminate things that are bad themselves, but also those things that might foster superstition (like the observance of Christmas on December 25th, if context means anything).

                      10). He explains that once you understand all that he said above, you will understand why Christmas, or Noel, is not being celebrated in this church. Those of you who came to get a special Christmas service on December 25th are just going to have to go home, because we're not doing it.

                      Now, if Calvin said all of this regarding Christmas-keeping, and if we know from other writings of Calvin that he believed that holidays were "fooleries," and if he advised against approving them, and if he called them superstitious and things that foster superstition, if he believed them to be Judaical, then the Christmas-keeper can take little comfort in the fact that Calvin conceded to read from the nativity story, preach on the goodness which comes from Christ's birth, and serve communion on God's real holy day (the Lord's Day) – UNLESS, all that is being advocated is that it would be good that sometime near the end of the year one of the Lord's Day services focus on the birth of Christ. And again, if that is all that is being advocated, I may still say "you give too much heed to the days and the seasons, and you could just as easily, to avoid all superstition, do this in the Summer or in the Spring," but I suppose I would have no great quarrel, as no unlawful acts of worship are discernible therein.

                      >
                      Tim-If Englsma is right that Calvin elsewhere said celebrating the
                      >
                      nativity was not necessarily idolatry, than we must restrict his
                      >
                      charge here to how the Genevans were keeping it and not to the
                      >
                      question of whether to keep it.

                      Unless I'm shown more material that I have not yet read, I believe that Engelsma can only make such a statement if by it he means simply that, at the end of December, Calvin allowed an ordinary Lord's Day service to focus on the birth of Christ (and that much quite possibly due to political or pastoral factors which we have not yet brought up). If Englesma means any of the things that Calvin totally shoots down (enumerated above), which seems to include most things that most Christians, with honest intentions to honor God, mean by "Christmas," then I must conclude that he is wrong. And certainly Calvin would not have approved of many of the modern practices associated with Christmas some of which were not yet prevalent in his day – one would labor in vain to find Calvin's approval of Christmas trees, mistletoes, and all that stuff.


                      >Tim-Calvin's
                      view of the RP may have been similar to that of the WCF
                      >but
                      unless he has contradicted himself over this issue, it was not
                      >identical. Calvin according to Englsma does not condemn
                      the nativity
                      >festival itself as idolatry, the WCF does.

                      Do you see any substantial difference between Calvin's doctrine of the Regulative Principle of Worship, and that of the Westminster Standards? Because I think one could line up, side by side, almost identical statements of the doctrine, with no real difference in meaning whatsoever.

                      Calvin condemns festival days, as do the Westminster Standards. Calvin's concessions, it seems to me, are an attempt to make sure that the worship service in which they read of the nativity story, preach thereon, and partake of the Lord's Supper are NOT celebrated as a festival day, by deferring all these things to the Lord's Day (God's festival day).

                      >
                      Tim-then don't incoporate those 20th century abuses into your
                      >
                      argument against the nativty.

                      I have NO argument against the nativity itself – I'm a Christian. I only have an argument against the annual holy day/festival celebration of it, TOGETHER WITH all of the trimmings now attached to it. I cannot go back and convince the church fathers to refrain from inventing and keeping a feast day, I can only implore my brothers and sisters in Christ to stop celebrating Christmas with all of its trappings of today. I think that you're warning me not to throw the baby out with the bathwater, but I believe that the light-up plastic baby "jesus's" should be thrown out too! This is NOT to accuse you, or the people of Geneva in Calvin's day, of advocating cheap blasphemous Christmas merchandise being set up in the front lawn. It's only to say that when we, today, speak of Christmas, we can hardly do so without dealing with what Christmas actually IS, here, today.

                      >Tim-What
                      difference is there between "today's Christmas" and "the
                      >commercial racket".

                      Nothing that I can tell. Bury it all.

                      >Tim-Is
                      not the best answer to abuse of a good thing the right use of a
                      >good
                      thing? Would you deny your brother the liberty of a beer because
                      >he
                      might get drunk?

                      1). If he has a marked history of drunkenness, and therefore I have reason to believe that he is GOING TO GET DRUNK, then denying him the liberty of a beer may do him good.

                      2). If everyone else in the room is getting drunk, the brother probably needs to put down his beer and leave, so as to not keep company with drunkards, nor to countenance them in their drunkenness.

                      3). Otherwise, sure… go ahead and have a beer (or two, if they're good and you're thirsty).

                      >In the same way is not the best answer to a

                      >superstitious keeping
                      of Christmas a truly Christian keeping of the
                      >day?

                      I'm not willing to grant that keeping holy days/festival days is like consuming alcoholic beverages. However, for the sake of discussion, let's use the comparison you suggest, granting for the sake for the sake of illustration that Christmas keeping is indifferent, then,

                      1). If the person involved has a marked history of superstitious practices and idolatrous worship, then he ought to refrain from his liberty, lest it prove to actually be slavery.

                      2). If others are stumbling into superstition and idolatrous worship practices over this liberty, then my brother ought to forbear his liberty for the sake of his neighbors.

                      Therefore, even if Christmas-keeping were a thing indifferent, it ought to be forsaken, because many (most?) those who practice it, do have a history of superstitious practices and idolatrous worship, and our neighbors are stumbling into superstition and idolatrous worship over the issue of Christmas.

                      Consider:

                      "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" (2 Kings 18:4).

                      The Geneva Bible notes "That is 'a piece of brass': thus he calls the serpent by contempt, which even though it was set up by the word of God, and miracles were wrought by it, when it was used for idolatry this good king destroyed it, not thinking it worthy to be called a serpent, but a piece of brass."

                      If such treatment was justifiable against something set up by God, and used by God to bless His people, once it becomes the occasion of stumbling into idolatry, what shall we say of something indifferent that has also become such a remarkable stumbling block to God's children? How much more of something that is not indifferent, but which is in itself superstitious and idolatrous?

                      >Tim-If
                      all restraint from regular work was "the idleness of a holiday
                      >spririt" and "a heavy sin to bear" how
                      will you acquit God from the
                      >charge of leading his OT people
                      into such "a heavy sin" by ordaining
                      >the OT
                      festivals? The answer you will rightly give is that they were
                      >instructed how to keep those days. And I will reply; then
                      let
                      >Christians learn to keep the nativity and other festivals
                      with the
                      >same spirit that OT Israel was instructed to keep its
                      festivals.

                      As I've pointed out before, this opinion I mentioned, that tanking the day just because it's December 25th is idleness, a heavy sin to bear, etc., is Calvin's opinion. He preached it against Christmas-keeping. Your question then, ought to be posed to him. Yet since he is not here, but in the enjoying the eternal Holy Day, I'll say this in response: Not only did God tell the OT people how to keep the holy day, He also told them ~that they are~ to keep it. IF GOD COMMANDS A DAY OF RELIGIOUS REST, WE SHALL REST IN OBEDIENCE TO HIM, because He has commanded it. What we are to be doing during this rest, would also be commanded by God. And yet we have neither the command to keep Christmas, nor any direction as to how to keep Christmas. And so you reply, "let us keep the nativity [and apparently a host of other festivals besides] with the same spirit that OT Israel was instructed to keep its festivals.

                      To which reply I reply, but "Who hath required this at your hand?" and "

                      But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain."


                      >>
                      That's not what "Christmas" is, now is it?

                      >Tim-Not
                      to many people, but it could be to Christians. And if we are
                      >going
                      to celebrate it, that's what it should be.

                      So then, if all that you are asking for is that Christians be given the liberty to read the nativity story, hear Gospel preaching about Christ's birth, and partake of the Lord's Supper, and that on the Lord's Day -- none of which things require "Christmas" – our only dispute is over the idea that this needs to occur at the same time of year that all manner of idolatry and blasphemy and debauchery are taking place in the name of Jesus' birthday.


                      >>
                      Tim-So why not ask him what he means and lead the resultant
                      >>
                      conversation into an evangelistic opportunity?

                      Honestly, I cannot respond to each "Merry Christmas" with that deep of a discussion. I can't see that anyone has that kind of time – everyone's wishes me a Merry Christmas, ranging from Mormon's, to Roman Catholics, to people who don't make any discernible profession of faith during any other time of the year, and everyone in between. It practically makes the term meaningless, because it has a different meaning for everyone saying it. I usually keep it short to "Thank you for the sentiment, but I don't celebrate it." If I get a "why not?," then we talk.


                      >Tim-Keeping
                      a special service to remember the coming of the second
                      >person
                      of the Trinity into this world and the good that came thereby.

                      On the Lord's Day? Special service meaning "reading the scriptures, preaching, and receiving the Lord's Supper"? Cool. Go ahead. No complaints from me on those things. Why the insistence that this be done at the same time when so much superstition and idolatry abound, called "Christmas" by the whole civilized world, though?

                      >Tim-If
                      the reminder of Christ's nativity does not make your heart
                      >merry
                      than there may well be something wrong with your spiritual
                      >condition.

                      The light up plastic baby-jesus nativity scene, complete with "the three kings," and angels floating overhead, certainly bring some remembrance of the coming of Christ, but it's mixed with grief as I behold this appalling display. Honestly, "Christmas" is more of a distraction from the birth of Christ than it is a proper holy remembrance of it. God tells us how to properly remember Christ and how to celebrate Him. He tells us in His Word. The same Word of God that is silent about Christmas, or about annually celebrating Jesus' birthday in any way whatsoever (even while he dwelt on earth), outside of allusions to his bar mitsvah.

                      Tim-Right, that's Old English.

                      Yes, English. That's what I speak. That's what people speak when they say "Merry Christmas," and it's what the Romanists speak when they refer to Christ-Mass, Michael-Mass, Mary-Mass, etc. And they mean "Mass" in the abominable way now too.

                      > If one
                      wants to claim that it is inappropriate to call the nativity
                      >
                      Christmas, one will need to demonstrate that the Latin fathers never
                      > called the nativiy Christmas during this period.

                      How about we just call it Nehushtan now.

                      > Tim-It may be so
                      understood by Roman Catholics, but RC's are not very
                      > thick on
                      the ground where I live.

                      Not that this is at all fundamental to my position, but the Roman Catholic Church is the largest denomination in the United States, nearly twice the size of the next denomination (Southern Baptists) – the third largest Roman Catholic population in the world next to Brazil and Mexico (where they celebrate Christ's Mass too!). You may not bump into too many, but they sit next to me in my office at work, live in my neighborhood, I'm not celebrating Christmas and I hope they stop doing it too.

                      > As Englsma rightly notes " the

                      > word "Sunday"
                      is "derived from pagan sources and denotes the day
                      >
                      devoted to the sun" (p. 653).

                      Actually, I call it the Lord's Day or Sabbath, and would that the next Reformation includes removing these monuments of idolatry too. So, the "why have you not advocated the changing of the name of the day" argument doesn't stick with me. It might for others, but not for me. For now, there is something civilly significant about maintaining the current system of identifying the day of the week, and my just need to be borne with – anybody recall a discussion on the names of the week days by Rutherfurd? I'm having trouble recalling where I saw this discussed.

                      >Tim-ISTM that you are putting the words
                      "various merriments" into my
                      >mouth. If so, why?

                      Because unless you spell out specifically what you're advocating in Christmas-keeping, and contrast it from other Christmas practices, I can only define "Christmas" by what it actually is, here, now, today.

                      >Tim-If the church has the
                      right to thank God for extraordinary
                      >mercies received, then by
                      parity of reasoning the church has the right
                      >to offer, not
                      compel, its members the opportunity of repeatedly
                      >remembering
                      so extraordinary a mercy as the coming of the Lord.

                      How does parity of reason require that because the Church may occasionally observe fast days or feast days in response to God's providence, therefore permanent annual celebration of feast days may be instituted?

                      The Church (and the state, for that matter) has warrant for occasional days of religious fast or feast, Judges 20:26; 2 Chronicles 20; Ezra 8:21; Jonah 3:5-10. Yet there is no warrant for instituting permanent annual holy days.

                      Now, I see that Mr. Suden has taken up against this line of argument, so I will defer for the sake of saving me some precious time (Time I could use to take my decorations down... just kidding).

                      >
                      Tim-That's shorthand for everything and anything arising from the
                      culture.

                      Everything the whole world calls Christmas?


                      >>
                      Sadly, the world, and "the Christian
                      >> world" at
                      that, continues to support it.

                      >Tim-True, but what is that
                      to the truth of what the Christian world
                      >should do.

                      I know what Hezekiah would do! The Bible tells me that.

                      >
                      Although he stated in the sermon you cited that such would be done on
                      > the following Sunday, he did do so on this "Christmas"
                      as well.

                      He tolerated certain things, while complaining against them (note: NOT APPROVING OF THEM, but tolerating them for a time, and for reason political and pastoral), gradually doing less and less (it appears) in acknowledgment of the nativity observance. So, if your point is only to say that Calvin reluctantly tolerated some things that the Scots outright condemned, I do not pretend this isn't true. But no Christmas keeper can turn to Calvin for support of Christmas-keeping, any more than he can turn to Westminster. Maybe in Geneva, depending on the time period you were there, your Christmas-keeping would have been tolerated, but it would not have been championed by Calvin. I'm not saying this is what you're asserting, I'm just wanting to make this point clear – Englesma appears to be trying to use Calvin to justify Christmas-keeping, which is just silly. That he reluctantly tolerated some things that he cried down and complained about, is about as much as I'll grant.


                      >
                      Tim-Once again, it has been a pleasure engaging in discussion of
                      >
                      difficult matters with you. Again, I thank you for setting a
                      >
                      remarkably high and inspriring standard of Christian courtesy in
                      >
                      disagreement, (and I hope some of your readers will learn from how
                      >
                      you conduct yourself in these discussions even if, like me, they
                      >
                      cannot share your eccliesiology).

                      I'm humbled, and I thank you, my friend.

                      > I trust the Lord will enlighten our

                      > eyes where we are in
                      darkness, give us encouragement to hold on to
                      > what we have
                      light to see, and if we cannot see alike then let us
                      > hold the
                      essentials of our faith in that winsome and blessed charity
                      >
                      that is the fruit of God's Holy Spirit in us.

                      Amen.

                      gmw.

                    • Jerry
                      ... I m having trouble spelling as well... should be while trying to interact etc. gmw.
                      Message 10 of 22 , Dec 31, 2006
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                        gmw wrote:

                        Whew! This discussion is getting Loooong! I must preface this post by stating that I'm having some difficulty here, in that I am trying to express my own views, explain Calvin's views (which I confessed were not exactly what mine are, though I think not so very far off), while condemning Christmas as it actually is now celebrated by practically the entire world, why trying to interact with Tim and his views,








                        I'm having trouble spelling as well... should be "while trying to interact" etc.

                        gmw.
                      • Walt Bre
                        The following newsletter is sort of the modern day traditional rite, Roman Catholic and Jesuit view on the subject of Christmas. They discuss some of the
                        Message 11 of 22 , Dec 31, 2006
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                          The following newsletter is sort of the modern day
                          traditional rite, Roman Catholic and Jesuit view on
                          the subject of Christmas. They discuss some of the
                          historical precedent for the December 25 date, as well
                          as its history from the ultra orthodox Roman Catholic
                          view. It is worth a review from the context of what
                          the founders of Christmas think, perhaps.

                          http://www.catholicism.org/downloads/Mancipia12-06.pdf

                          Remember, this group is not fully recognized by the
                          Vatican, but more and more Catholics are going this
                          direction from my watching them the past 10 years.


                          --- Jerry <ragingcalvinist@...> wrote:

                          > gmw wrote:
                          > >
                          > > *Whew! This discussion is getting Loooong! I must
                          > preface this post by
                          > > stating that I'm having some difficulty here, in
                          > that I am trying to
                          > > express my own views, explain Calvin's views
                          > (which I confessed were
                          > > not exactly what mine are, though I think not so
                          > very far off), while
                          > > condemning Christmas as it actually is now
                          > celebrated by practically
                          > > the entire world, why trying to interact with Tim
                          > and his views, *
                          > >
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          > I'm having trouble spelling as well... should be
                          > "while trying to
                          > interact" etc.
                          >
                          > gmw.
                          >


                          __________________________________________________
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                        • Chris Coldwell
                          I do not think the Cartwright is online (I have the English Experience facsimile). The Gillespie on Purim is at the link previously noted in an earlier post,
                          Message 12 of 22 , Dec 31, 2006
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                            I do not think the Cartwright is online (I have the English Experience facsimile). The Gillespie on Purim is at the link previously noted in an earlier post, and the section from M’Crie on Esther on the days of Purim is posted as an appendix to my article, “The Religious Observance of Christmas and ‘Holy Days’ in American Presbyterianism at http://www.fpcr.org/blue_banner_articles/americanxmas.htm

                            Sincerely,

                            Chris Coldwell

                            Owner, Naphtali Press http://www.naphtali.com

                            Editor, The Confessional Presbyterian journal http://www.cpjournal.com

                            Member, Faith Presbyterian Church Reformed, Mesquite TX http://www.fpcr.org

                             

                            --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com , "bob_suden" <bsuden@...> wrote:

                            >Cason first, then Gillespie (and M'Crie on Esther if you

                            >can get your hands on him or Cartwright on the Feast of Dedication

                            >against the Rhemists

                             

                             

                          • timmopussycat
                            ... of ... you ... We may ... Christ ... Tim-I had read the Gillespie material the others you mention are new to me not being from a Scots background
                            Message 13 of 22 , Dec 31, 2006
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                              --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, "bob_suden"
                              <bsuden@...> wrote:
                              >
                              > Greetings again Tim,
                              > >
                              > > Tim-Although the ceremonial festivities are covenantally abolished
                              > > with the rest of the ceremonial laws, it is worth asking if some
                              of
                              > > these festivities may remain remain morally fitting if not legally
                              > > binding.
                              >
                              > True, but they have already been asked and answered in the material
                              you
                              > mentioned, which leads to the question again, have you read the
                              > material? Cason first, then Gillespie (and M'Crie on Esther if you
                              > can get your hands on him or Cartwright on the Feast of Dedication
                              > against the Rhemists in that it is pretty much the same argument:
                              We may
                              > do, because the Jews have done; we may do for Christ, because
                              Christ
                              > has done for us.)

                              Tim-I had read the Gillespie material the others you mention are new
                              to me not being from a Scots background ecclesiastically speaking.

                              > > The Jews were covenantally required to thank God annually for
                              > > reception of food for the next year in their festivals of
                              > > firstfruits, festivals that did not occur on the Sabbath (Lev.
                              23:11).
                              > > Now there is no doubt that today we are not obliged to offer such
                              > > sacrifices to God as a fulfillment of covenant stipulations, as
                              such
                              > > actions would be Galatianism and heresy.
                              > > Yet, we must ask: does it
                              > > not remain equally fitting for us to thank God for the harverst we
                              > > receive each year? And does God not deserve to be specially
                              thanked
                              > > for each harvest he provides apart from the regular service of
                              > > worship? And if the answers to both questions are "Yes" is it not
                              > > morally fitting to offer God an annual service of thanksgiving for
                              > > these blessings?
                              >
                              > But the answer is not yes to both or necessarily even one question.
                              More
                              > than that, it is not morally and reasonably fitting to celebrate
                              an
                              > annual harvest day in the midst of a famine or as Cason mentions,
                              > observe an annual national day of thanksgiving (harvest day) in
                              the
                              > midst of apostasy and backsliding.

                              Tim-It is one thing to say that Israel should not have apostasized or
                              backslid. It is another to say that Israel was not obligated to offer
                              the festival she was covenantly engaged to offer. If you take the
                              prophets as using a rhetorical device to emphasize the point that a
                              mechnaistic obedience to the festival requirements was not desired,
                              you are doing well. If you or anyone else says that God annulled
                              those festivals at any time before the New Covenant, I think the case
                              is not made.


                              The spiritual man, never mind the
                              > natural is only too prone to turn on the autopilot of annual days,
                              rote
                              > prayers etc. That is why they are forbidden. But that is exactly
                              what is
                              > argued for.
                              >
                              > The modern national and civil "Thanksgiving Day" is deficient on
                              this
                              > very ground. Our nation ought to be repenting in sackcloth and
                              ashes,
                              > and praying God to withhold his fury against our sins. Instead, the
                              > annual civil Thansgiving perpetuates the idea that America is
                              greatly
                              > beloved and blessed of God although we have nationally turned our
                              backs
                              > to him and rejected his laws and commandments (CK&RF, p.38 fn.8).

                              Tim-If the unregenerate nation celebrates it, I agree, not so if the
                              church of the liviing God does so.
                              >
                              > In other words, something like Is. 22:12,13 is applicable.
                              >
                              > And in that day did the Lord GOD of hosts call to weeping, and to
                              > mourning, and to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth:
                              > And behold joy and gladness, slaying oxen, and killing sheep, eating
                              > flesh, and drinking wine: let us eat and drink; for to morrow we
                              shall
                              > die.

                              Tim-And the church of the living God, I hope, is doing this as well.
                              >
                              > God providentially called for mourning, but Israel called for
                              feasting,
                              > a harvest day. And God did not approve, in that he wants the
                              heart, not
                              > the external days, months and years, because if he has the heart all
                              > else follows. But we want to give him everything but, including
                              annual
                              > days. It is not enough that the motive appears to be pure - our
                              hearts
                              > are deceitful beyond knowing - but the end has to be right also.
                              Adding
                              > man appointed annual days is not a right end.
                              >


                              > > And if we are morally obligated to take such pains to thank
                              God
                              > > for the giving of earthly food, how much more should we not so
                              thank
                              > > God for the gift of his Son, by marking the day of his coming?
                              After
                              > > all man does not live by bread alone but by every word that
                              proceeds
                              > > out of the mouth of God and pre-eminently that Word is Christ.
                              >
                              > Morally obligated is not annually obligated. That has not been
                              proved.
                              > "Every word of God" assumes that the regulative principle is
                              > operative and Christ has already sufficiently provided for his
                              church.
                              > Worship is a command performance, not a "bring your own" affair.
                              > Every word includes "whatsoever is not commanded is forbidden."
                              Deut.
                              > 12
                              > and the will worship of Col.2

                              Tim-There has already been a long discussion of the RPW in the
                              archives. I'm not going to restart it, but I must say that I think
                              Englsma and the Syndics of Dort are correct when they do not apply it
                              in such a way as rules out a godly celebration of Christ' birth
                              justified as a useful help to Christians and provided that those who
                              don't want to participate are not compelled to.

                              > Likewise, God has ordained the first day of the week, which because
                              of
                              > the resurrection of Christ, replaces the OT sabbath ordained at
                              > creation, in so much as it is the stamp of approval upon Christ's
                              > ministry. The sting of sin is death. All men are sinners and hence
                              die.
                              > Yet Christ came to redeem sinners in his death, but did not die,
                              rising
                              > from the grave. Hence his death accomplished its purpose in saving
                              > sinners from sin, roughly is the argument.
                              > Consequently the emphasis in Scripture is 1. not on one or two
                              special
                              > days of the year, but on one day a week - "Easter" if you will, not
                              > Christmas and 2. we may not be wiser than God and devise ways to
                              help
                              > God beyond what he has already ordained, however reasonable it may
                              > appear to us. Assertions and opinions though, are not reasonable
                              > arguments.
                              >

                              > > > "2. God has given his church a general precept for
                              extraordinary
                              > > fasts
                              > > > (Joel 1:14; 2:15), as likewise for extraordinary festivities to
                              > > praise
                              > > > God, and to give him thanks in the public assembly of his
                              people,
                              > > upon
                              > > > the occasional motive of some great benefit which, by the means
                              of
                              > > our
                              > > > fasting and praying, we have obtained (Zech. 8:19 with 7:3).
                              > >
                              > > Tim-I notice that Gillespie does not include Purim (Esther
                              (:20:23)
                              > > in which an extraordinary deliverance was provided after fasting
                              and
                              > > prayer. I wonder why the ommission.....??? Was it because the Jews
                              > > realized that this deliverance was so great it rightly deserved
                              > > annual rememberance??
                              >
                              > Mordecai was a prophet (though the first institution of Purim was
                              civil)
                              > according to Gillespie in Dispute 1993, NP, p.305

                              Tim-This is a little confusing. If M. was a prophet, that fact
                              necessarily implies (or else M. was a false prophet) that Purim had
                              God's approval. We are not told that M. was a prophet, we are given
                              no evidence that he was a prophet ie prophecies, so if we conclude
                              that he must have been a prophet to avoid the problem we face if he
                              wasn't we are committing the exegetical offense of eisegesis -
                              reading our own ideas into the text and not learning God's ideas from
                              the text.

                              But if you claim that Purim is a civil holiday look where it gets
                              you. If it was a civil holiday, it didn't need a prophet to institute
                              it. If it was an annual civil celebration to celebrate a deliverance
                              (whose ultimate provider is God and who must therefore be the one
                              thanked for it), what we have demonstrated in Scripture is the
                              premise that God's people have the right to institute annual civil
                              holidays to celebrate major deliverances. What this means is that the
                              US govt. may in its wisdom set aside Christmas to celebrate the
                              initiation of the greatest deliverance of all. And those of you who
                              take the RPW as the covenanters did, will not have a leg to stand on
                              if you want to protest.


                              > Likewise McCrie, quoted by Cason says on the book of Esther:
                              >
                              > "Shall we suppose that Christ and his apostles, in abrogating those
                              > days which God himself had appointed to be observed, without
                              instituting
                              > others in their room, intended that either churches or individuals
                              > should be allowed to substitute whatever they pleased in their
                              > room?[CK&RF, p.34]"
                              >
                              > But that is precisely what is being proposed and is essentially the
                              > height of arrogance, however unintended, because it presumes to
                              steady
                              > the ark of God's worship in the light of what is right in our own
                              > eyes. Rather that God might open the eyes of our understanding to
                              see
                              > what he has already provided for us in his instituted worship. We
                              need
                              > no substitutes or additions.
                              >
                              > Cason ends Chapt. 5 quoting a doubting Thomas:
                              >
                              > "There are times when God calls, on the one hand, to religious
                              > fasting, or, on the other, to thanksgiving and religious joy; and
                              it is
                              > our duty to comply with these calls, and to set apart time for the
                              > respective exercises. But this is quite a different thing from
                              recurrent
                              > or anniversary holidays. . . . . Stated and recurring festivals
                              > countenance the false principle, that some days have a peculiar
                              > sanctity, either inherent or impressed by the works which occurred
                              on
                              > them; [as in we know that the 25th was the day of Christ's birth or
                              > that it should be observed even though God didn't tell us so?] they
                              > proceed on an undue assumption of human authority; interfere with
                              the
                              > free use of that time which the Creator hath granted to man; detract
                              > from the honour due to the day of sacred rest which he hath
                              appointed;
                              > lead to impositions over conscience; have been a fruitful source of
                              > superstition and idolatry; and have been productive of the worst
                              effects
                              > upon morals, in every age, and among every people, barbarous and
                              > civilized, pagan and Christian, popish and Protestant, among whom
                              they
                              > have been observed."[M'Crie in Cason, CK&RF pp.39,40, ul.
                              > added]"



                              >
                              > To man made days on the account of man made reasons, come also man
                              made
                              > rites, man made pictures etc. and the end is even worse than the
                              start.
                              > But who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean (Job 14:4)? Man
                              by
                              > his nature, even redeemed is incapable of appointing anything for
                              God's
                              > worship (place, hour, this chapter over that chapter are not of the
                              > substance of worship.)
                              >
                              > >
                              > > If it is
                              > > > said that there is a general command for set festivities,
                              because
                              > > there
                              > > > is a command for preaching and hearing the word, and for
                              praising
                              > > God
                              > > > for his benefits; and there is no precept for particular fasts
                              more
                              > > than
                              > > > for particular festivities, I answer: Albeit there is a
                              command for
                              > > > preaching and hearing the word, and for praising God for his
                              > > benefits,
                              > > > yet is there no command (no, not in the most general
                              generality) for
                              > > > annexing these exercises of religion to set anniversary days
                              more
                              > > than
                              > > > to other days;
                              > >
                              > > Tim-Gillespie has overlooked the question of whether or not Purim
                              and
                              > > Hanukah are good examples to follow. In each case a most extreme
                              > > danger was present (Purim-national extinction, and Hanukah-
                              > > destruction of the covenant relationship between Israel and God)
                              and
                              > > both deliverances were recognized as to be so great (in both cases
                              > > the covenant was kept Israel alive and preserved the covenat
                              > > relationship) as to rightfully merit annual observance.
                              > >
                              > Again, it is generally considered that Mordecai was a prophet and
                              had
                              > the authority to institute a day such as Purim. Further, one either
                              > admits, in the totality of Scripture and the reformed understanding
                              of
                              > the Second commandment, that only what God has commanded or
                              instituted,
                              > either explicitly, by approved example or by necessary consequences
                              is
                              > permitted in public worship or they are necessarily forced to the
                              > conclusion that one may institute as they please in the worship of
                              God
                              > as historically the Lutherans and Anglicans have done and you are
                              > essentially arguing. It is largely a repeat. Likewise the cadre of
                              > supposedly reformed theologians and pastors such as Jordan, Frame,
                              > Schlissel, Leithart and particularly Gore who are ponying up the
                              same
                              > "redemptive-historical" arguments re. Purim, the Feast of
                              Dedication
                              > etc. New redemptive events mean new songs or new/annual days
                              celebrating
                              > that redemption/incarnation/fill in the blank. Where does it end? It
                              > doesn't/it ends in popery which is what it is in essence.
                              >
                              > > Since it is clear that it is as fitting fo us to observe an annual
                              > > thanksgiving for harvest ingathered as it was for the Jews,
                              >
                              > No, it is not clear. It is assumed or asserted. But an assertion is
                              not
                              > an argument, much less it has been shown to be wrong above. An
                              annual
                              > thanksgiving sinfully assumes that every year there will be a
                              harvest
                              > and not a famine. It is to take more than it professes to give and
                              is
                              > the height of presumption, much more Scripture explicitly forbids.
                              >
                              > James 4:13 Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go
                              into
                              > such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get
                              gain:
                              > 14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is
                              your
                              > life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and
                              then
                              > vanisheth away.
                              > 15 For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and
                              do
                              > this, or that.
                              > Again, where in the word can we prove this arrogant assumption
                              that God
                              > owes us a harvest every year and that we need to/should have an
                              annual
                              > day of thanksgiving? We can't and therefore not only is the
                              > statement erroneous, everthing built upon it below is also
                              mistaken.
                              >
                              > and since
                              > > the deliverance we have by Christ is so much greater than the
                              > > temporary survival provided by food, it is clear that it is
                              fitting
                              > > that we glorify God by treating the coming of His Son to earth to
                              > > achieve our redemption (which began the inauguration of the new
                              > > covenant) and His acheivement of that redemption (which completed
                              the
                              > > same) in a way equivalent to or even greater than the festival of
                              > > thanksgiving.
                              >
                              > While the first is true regarding the bread from heaven, the rest
                              is a
                              > non sequitur. It does not follow, it has not been established.

                              Tim-I am arguing from the lesser to the greater..ie if it remains
                              morally fitting to do the lesser (thanksgiving) it remains more
                              fitting to do the greater (Nativity festival).

                              It has
                              > been assumed and is only in accord with the natural man or natural
                              > reasoning. If God had wanted that, we would have been informed of
                              it in
                              > the scripture. Instead, we have a day of thanksgiving, once a week.
                              To
                              > sincerely want to add to it is not scriptural. Rather it is will
                              worship
                              > in principle, regardless if one considers their conscience clear
                              on
                              > the matter. God simply forbids it by saying we may not add to his
                              > worship. That's the real issue.
                              >
                              >
                              > Tim-As noted above, I take issue with your premise that God has
                              prohibited annual civil celebrations. I also note that moral
                              fittingness of celebrating the Nativity remains, and I agree with the
                              Sydics and others that, properly celebrated, the festival of the
                              Nativity is a useful and beneficial service.
                              >
                              Tim
                            • timmopussycat
                              ... snip ... imply ... Tim-Actually they had learned ultimately from the early church through the RC medieval church, through which it had become traditioal.
                              Message 14 of 22 , Dec 31, 2006
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                                --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, "gmw"
                                <ragingcalvinist@...> wrote:
                                >
                                snip

                                > >> No, Calvin's rhetorical use of this question was to strongly
                                imply
                                > >> that they had no good answer. The answer is NOT, "God told us
                                > > >it's Christmas,"

                                Tim-Actually they had learned ultimately from the early church
                                through the RC medieval church, through which it had become
                                traditioal. Calvin was making the point that those answers wern't
                                good enough.
                                >
                                > >Tim-Calvin did not absolutely deny that we could celebrate the
                                > >nativity. Therefore he would say the EC told us that it is
                                Christmas.
                                >
                                >
                                >
                                > Can I assume by celebrating the nativity you are referring to the
                                annual
                                > celebration of the Nativity Festival, commonly called Christmas? I
                                > would hope all Christians in some sense "celebrate the
                                > nativity," and it would be wrong to suggest that all
                                > non-Christmas-keepers are un-celebratory of the birth of Christ.

                                Tim-Correct.
                                >
                                > If indeed you refer to the annual festival day/holy day, commonly
                                called
                                > Christmas, then we see in Calvin that –
                                >
                                > 1). He demands an answer for where they got the idea that December
                                > 25th was Christmas.
                                >
                                > 2). He calls them poor beasts, and reiterates that "poor
                                > beasts" is a fitting name for such people who have come to church
                                > for a special service on December 25th thinking it was Christmas.
                                >
                                > 3). He calls them "as crazed as wild beasts" for thinking
                                > Jesus was born on December 25th.
                                >
                                > 4). He says that they think they're serving God by coming, when
                                > what they are doing is more like honoring Satan.
                                >
                                > 5). He calls the attempt to make December 25th a holy day making
                                an
                                > idol out of the day.

                                Tim-The question being begged in all of this is whether Calvin was
                                rebuking the occasianal attender's present for their presumption in
                                celebrating Christmas or denying the feast itself was lawful. Since
                                according to Englsma he is elswhere on record as keeping the feast
                                and not calling the keeping of it an inevitable second commandment
                                violation, we cannot say that Calvin was condemning all celebrations
                                of the day, only those celebrations not done by true Christians.

                                >
                                > 6). He tells his audience that their intent does not justify their
                                > actions, by telling the story of Saul's "worship" of God
                                > (which Saul says was his intent), which worship leads to the
                                accusations
                                > of heresy, apostasy, and soothsaying.
                                >
                                > 7). He says that if we seek to establish worship service based on
                                our
                                > whim (which I perceive to be Calvin's answer to "Who told you it
                                > was Christmas?" It was whim and not God), we blaspheme God and
                                > create an idol, even if we think we're honoring God.
                                >
                                > 8). He calls the worshiping of God "in the idleness of a holiday
                                > spirit" a heavy sin to bear, and one that encourages others to sin,
                                > thus lifting you to the "height of iniquity." (NOTE: Below you
                                > ask me to acquit God of this charge, given that God instituted rest
                                > days/festival days in the OT – here I simply point out that whether
                                > you agree with Calvin's statement on this matter or not, you cannot
                                > deny that this is what Calvin said. If he was alive, I would ask
                                you to
                                > take up your objection with him. Since he is not, I shall do my
                                best to
                                > answer your objection to Calvin's statement below).
                                >
                                > 9). Calvin brings the audience back to the text he's preaching on
                                > (Micah 5:7-14), and exhorts from the Scriptures that we are not
                                only to
                                > eliminate things that are bad themselves, but also those things that
                                > might foster superstition (like the observance of Christmas on
                                December
                                > 25th, if context means anything).
                                >
                                > 10). He explains that once you understand all that he said above,
                                you
                                > will understand why Christmas, or Noel, is not being celebrated in
                                this
                                > church. Those of you who came to get a special Christmas service on
                                > December 25th are just going to have to go home, because we're not
                                > doing it.
                                >
                                > Now, if Calvin said all of this regarding Christmas-keeping, and if
                                we
                                > know from other writings of Calvin that he believed that holidays
                                were
                                > "fooleries," and if he advised against approving them, and if he
                                > called them superstitious and things that foster superstition, if he
                                > believed them to be Judaical, then the Christmas-keeper can take
                                little
                                > comfort in the fact that Calvin conceded to read from the nativity
                                > story, preach on the goodness which comes from Christ's birth, and
                                > serve communion on God's real holy day (the Lord's Day) –
                                > UNLESS, all that is being advocated is that it would be good that
                                > sometime near the end of the year one of the Lord's Day services
                                > focus on the birth of Christ. And again, if that is all that is
                                being
                                > advocated, I may still say "you give too much heed to the days and
                                > the seasons, and you could just as easily, to avoid all
                                superstition, do
                                > this in the Summer or in the Spring," but I suppose I would have no
                                > great quarrel, as no unlawful acts of worship are discernible
                                therein.
                                >
                                > > Tim-If Englsma is right that Calvin elsewhere said celebrating the
                                > > nativity was not necessarily idolatry, than we must restrict his
                                > > charge here to how the Genevans were keeping it and not to the
                                > > question of whether to keep it.
                                >
                                >
                                > Unless I'm shown more material that I have not yet read, I believe
                                > that Engelsma can only make such a statement if by it he means
                                simply
                                > that, at the end of December, Calvin allowed an ordinary Lord's Day
                                > service to focus on the birth of Christ (and that much quite
                                possibly
                                > due to political or pastoral factors which we have not yet brought
                                up).
                                > If Englesma means any of the things that Calvin totally shoots down
                                > (enumerated above), which seems to include most things that most
                                > Christians, with honest intentions to honor God, mean by
                                > "Christmas," then I must conclude that he is wrong.

                                Tim-Then you need to check the citation E. gave before making that
                                asertion and read it in its context.


                                And
                                > certainly Calvin would not have approved of many of the modern
                                practices
                                > associated with Christmas some of which were not yet prevalent in
                                his
                                > day – one would labor in vain to find Calvin's approval of
                                > Christmas trees, mistletoes, and all that stuff.

                                Tim-This is not in dispute
                                >
                                > >Tim-Calvin's view of the RP may have been similar to that of the
                                WCF
                                > >but unless he has contradicted himself over this issue, it was not
                                > >identical. Calvin according to Englsma does not condemn the
                                nativity
                                > >festival itself as idolatry, the WCF does.
                                >

                                > Do you see any substantial difference between Calvin's doctrine of
                                > the Regulative Principle of Worship, and that of the Westminster
                                > Standards?

                                Tim-If Calvin anticipated and fully followed the Standards here, he
                                could not possibly have assented to keeping Chistmas which he
                                certainly did, however reluctantly. So there is certainly a
                                difference between them on the point at issue.

                                Because I think one could line up, side by side, almost
                                > identical statements of the doctrine, with no real difference in
                                meaning
                                > whatsoever.
                                >
                                > Calvin condemns festival days, as do the Westminster Standards.
                                > Calvin's concessions, it seems to me, are an attempt to make sure
                                > that the worship service in which they read of the nativity story,
                                > preach thereon, and partake of the Lord's Supper are NOT celebrated
                                > as a festival day, by deferring all these things to the Lord's Day
                                > (God's festival day).
                                >
                                > > Tim-then don't incoporate those 20th century abuses into your
                                > > argument against the nativty.
                                >

                                > I have NO argument against the nativity itself – I'm a
                                > Christian. I only have an argument against the annual holy
                                day/festival
                                > celebration of it, TOGETHER WITH all of the trimmings now attached
                                to
                                > it.

                                Tim-Instead of nativity, I should have said "nativiity festival". My
                                bad. I will point out below that you should not confuse arguing
                                against the festival and arguing with the way it is celbrated. They
                                are two separate issues.


                                I cannot go back and convince the church fathers to refrain from
                                > inventing and keeping a feast day, I can only implore my brothers
                                and
                                > sisters in Christ to stop celebrating Christmas with all of its
                                > trappings of today. I think that you're warning me not to throw the
                                > baby out with the bathwater, but I believe that the light-up plastic
                                > baby "jesus's" should be thrown out too!

                                Tim-So do I!!!!! Again you are confusing how the festival is kept
                                with whether it should be kept and you should not mix the questions
                                that way.


                                This is NOT to
                                > accuse you, or the people of Geneva in Calvin's day, of advocating
                                cheap
                                > blasphemous Christmas merchandise being set up in the front lawn.
                                It's
                                > only to say that when we, today, speak of Christmas, we can hardly
                                do so
                                > without dealing with what Christmas actually IS, here, today.

                                Tim-I am not saying in the least that Christians should celebrate it
                                with the world's excesses. Those who agree that a Nativity festival
                                is useful, have to decide how to keep it to the glory of God. A
                                platic Jesus doesn't is no part of doing so.

                                >
                                > >Tim-What difference is there between "today's Christmas" and "the
                                > >commercial racket".
                                >
                                >
                                > Nothing that I can tell. Bury it all.
                                >
                                > >Tim-Is not the best answer to abuse of a good thing the right use
                                of a
                                > >good thing? Would you deny your brother the liberty of a beer
                                because
                                > >he might get drunk?
                                >
                                > 1). If he has a marked history of drunkenness, and therefore I
                                have
                                > reason to believe that he is GOING TO GET DRUNK, then denying him
                                the
                                > liberty of a beer may do him good.

                                Tim-Gerry, it is the world that has the history of drunkenness and is
                                captive to sin. Christ's church is made up of Christians who are
                                freed from sin, ie need not be "drunk" and are no longer "aloholic"
                                such people can learn to glorify God in whatever they do that is not
                                inherently sinful.

                                > 2). If everyone else in the room is getting drunk, the brother
                                probably
                                > needs to put down his beer and leave, so as to not keep company with
                                > drunkards, nor to countenance them in their drunkenness.
                                >
                                > 3). Otherwise, sure… go ahead and have a beer (or two, if
                                > they're good and you're thirsty).
                                >
                                > >In the same way is not the best answer to a
                                > >superstitious keeping of Christmas a truly Christian keeping of the
                                > >day?
                                >
                                >
                                > I'm not willing to grant that keeping holy days/festival days is
                                > like consuming alcoholic beverages. However, for the sake of
                                > discussion, let's use the comparison you suggest, granting for the
                                sake
                                > for the sake of illustration that Christmas keeping is indifferent,
                                > then,
                                >
                                > 1). If the person involved has a marked history of superstitious
                                > practices and idolatrous worship, then he ought to refrain from his
                                > liberty, lest it prove to actually be slavery.
                                >
                                > 2). If others are stumbling into superstition and idolatrous
                                worship
                                > practices over this liberty, then my brother ought to forbear his
                                > liberty for the sake of his neighbors.
                                >
                                > Therefore, even if Christmas-keeping were a thing indifferent, it
                                ought
                                > to be forsaken, because many (most?) those who practice it, do have
                                a
                                > history of superstitious practices and idolatrous worship, and our
                                > neighbors are stumbling into superstition and idolatrous worship
                                over
                                > the issue of Christmas.
                                >
                                > Consider:
                                >
                                > "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" (2 Kings 18:4).
                                >
                                > The Geneva Bible notes "That is 'a piece of brass': thus he calls
                                > the serpent by contempt, which even though it was set up by the
                                word of
                                > God, and miracles were wrought by it, when it was used for idolatry
                                this
                                > good king destroyed it, not thinking it worthy to be called a
                                serpent,
                                > but a piece of brass."
                                >
                                > If such treatment was justifiable against something set up by God,
                                and
                                > used by God to bless His people, once it becomes the occasion of
                                > stumbling into idolatry, what shall we say of something indifferent
                                that
                                > has also become such a remarkable stumbling block to God's
                                children?
                                > How much more of something that is not indifferent, but which is in
                                > itself superstitious and idolatrous?
                                >
                                > >Tim-If all restraint from regular work was "the idleness of a
                                holiday
                                > >spririt" and "a heavy sin to bear" how will you acquit God from the
                                > >charge of leading his OT people into such "a heavy sin" by
                                ordaining
                                > >the OT festivals? The answer you will rightly give is that they
                                were
                                > >instructed how to keep those days. And I will reply; then let
                                > >Christians learn to keep the nativity and other festivals with the
                                > >same spirit that OT Israel was instructed to keep its festivals.
                                >
                                >
                                >
                                > As I've pointed out before, this opinion I mentioned, that tanking
                                the
                                > day just because it's December 25th is idleness, a heavy sin to
                                bear,
                                > etc., is Calvin's opinion. He preached it against Christmas-
                                keeping.
                                > Your question then, ought to be posed to him. Yet since he is not
                                here,
                                > but in the enjoying the eternal Holy Day, I'll say this in
                                response:
                                > Not only did God tell the OT people how to keep the holy day, He
                                also
                                > told them ~that they are~ to keep it. IF GOD COMMANDS A DAY OF
                                > RELIGIOUS REST, WE SHALL REST IN OBEDIENCE TO HIM, because He has
                                > commanded it. What we are to be doing during this rest, would also
                                be
                                > commanded by God. And yet we have neither the command to keep
                                > Christmas, nor any direction as to how to keep Christmas. And so
                                you
                                > reply, "let us keep the nativity [and apparently a host of other
                                > festivals besides] with the same spirit that OT Israel was
                                instructed to
                                > keep its festivals.
                                >
                                > To which reply I reply, but "Who hath required this at your
                                > hand?" and "
                                >
                                > But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God,
                                how
                                > turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire
                                > again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and
                                > years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in
                                > vain."
                                >
                                >
                                > >> That's not what "Christmas" is, now is it?
                                >
                                > >Tim-Not to many people, but it could be to Christians. And if we
                                are
                                > >going to celebrate it, that's what it should be.
                                >
                                >
                                >
                                > So then, if all that you are asking for is that Christians be given
                                the
                                > liberty to read the nativity story, hear Gospel preaching about
                                Christ's
                                > birth, and partake of the Lord's Supper, and that on the Lord's
                                Day --
                                > none of which things require "Christmas" – our only dispute
                                > is over the idea that this needs to occur at the same time of year
                                that
                                > all manner of idolatry and blasphemy and debauchery are taking
                                place in
                                > the name of Jesus' birthday.
                                >
                                >
                                > >> Tim-So why not ask him what he means and lead the resultant
                                > >> conversation into an evangelistic opportunity?
                                >
                                >
                                >
                                > Honestly, I cannot respond to each "Merry Christmas" with that
                                > deep of a discussion.

                                Tim-You can't ask "What's merry about it?" and go with the response
                                you get?



                                I can't see that anyone has that kind of time
                                > – everyone's wishes me a Merry Christmas, ranging from Mormon's, to
                                > Roman Catholics, to people who don't make any discernible
                                profession of
                                > faith during any other time of the year, and everyone in between.
                                It
                                > practically makes the term meaningless, because it has a different
                                > meaning for everyone saying it. I usually keep it short to "Thank
                                > you for the sentiment, but I don't celebrate it." If I get a
                                > "why not?," then we talk.
                                >
                                >
                                > >Tim-Keeping a special service to remember the coming of the second
                                > >person of the Trinity into this world and the good that came
                                thereby.
                                >
                                >
                                > On the Lord's Day? Special service meaning "reading the scriptures,
                                > preaching, and receiving the Lord's Supper"? Cool. Go ahead. No
                                > complaints from me on those things. Why the insistence that this be
                                > done at the same time when so much superstition and idolatry abound,
                                > called "Christmas" by the whole civilized world, though?
                                >
                                > >Tim-If the reminder of Christ's nativity does not make your heart
                                > >merry than there may well be something wrong with your spiritual
                                > >condition.
                                >
                                > The light up plastic baby-jesus nativity scene, complete with "the
                                > three kings," and angels floating overhead, certainly bring some
                                > remembrance of the coming of Christ, but it's mixed with grief as I
                                > behold this appalling display. Honestly, "Christmas" is more of
                                > a distraction from the birth of Christ than it is a proper holy
                                > remembrance of it.

                                Tim-Once again, I am not arguing for the Xmas racket in any way shape
                                or form.



                                God tells us how to properly remember Christ and how
                                > to celebrate Him. He tells us in His Word. The same Word of God
                                that
                                > is silent about Christmas, or about annually celebrating Jesus'
                                birthday
                                > in any way whatsoever (even while he dwelt on earth), outside of
                                > allusions to his bar mitsvah.
                                >
                                > Tim-Right, that's Old English.
                                >
                                > Yes, English. That's what I speak. That's what people speak when
                                they
                                > say "Merry Christmas," and it's what the Romanists speak when
                                > they refer to Christ-Mass, Michael-Mass, Mary-Mass, etc. And they
                                mean
                                > "Mass" in the abominable way now too.

                                > > If one wants to claim that it is inappropriate to call the
                                nativity
                                > > Christmas, one will need to demonstrate that the Latin fathers
                                never
                                > > called the nativiy Christmas during this period.
                                >
                                >
                                >
                                > How about we just call it Nehushtan now.

                                Tim-Red herring, not argument, and unworthy of you. And the case of
                                Nehustan is not a parallel. It was never morally fitting to make
                                Nehustan an idol, but it is morally fitting to at least annually
                                render thanks for the coming of Christ into the world.
                                >
                                > > Tim-It may be so understood by Roman Catholics, but RC's are not
                                very
                                > > thick on the ground where I live.
                                >
                                > Not that this is at all fundamental to my position, but the Roman
                                > Catholic Church is the largest denomination in the United States,
                                nearly
                                > twice the size of the next denomination (Southern Baptists) – the
                                > third largest Roman Catholic population in the world next to Brazil
                                and
                                > Mexico (where they celebrate Christ's Mass too!). You may not bump
                                into
                                > too many, but they sit next to me in my office at work, live in my
                                > neighborhood, I'm not celebrating Christmas and I hope they stop
                                doing
                                > it too.
                                >
                                > > As Englsma rightly notes " the
                                > > word "Sunday" is "derived from pagan sources and denotes the day
                                > > devoted to the sun" (p. 653).
                                >
                                > Actually, I call it the Lord's Day or Sabbath, and would that the
                                next
                                > Reformation includes removing these monuments of idolatry too.
                                So, the
                                > "why have you not advocated the changing of the name of the day"
                                > argument doesn't stick with me. It might for others, but not for
                                me.
                                > For now, there is something civilly significant about maintaining
                                the
                                > current system of identifying the day of the week, and my just need
                                to
                                > be borne with – anybody recall a discussion on the names of the week
                                > days by Rutherfurd? I'm having trouble recalling where I saw this
                                > discussed.
                                >
                                > >Tim-ISTM that you are putting the words "various merriments" into
                                my
                                > >mouth. If so, why?
                                >
                                >
                                > Because unless you spell out specifically what you're advocating in
                                > Christmas-keeping, and contrast it from other Christmas practices,
                                I can
                                > only define "Christmas" by what it actually is, here, now,
                                > today.

                                Tim-My definition is Englsma's. Why is that not clear to you?

                                > >Tim-If the church has the right to thank God for extraordinary
                                > >mercies received, then by parity of reasoning the church has the
                                right
                                > >to offer, not compel, its members the opportunity of repeatedly
                                > >remembering so extraordinary a mercy as the coming of the Lord.
                                >
                                >
                                > How does parity of reason require that because the Church may
                                > occasionally observe fast days or feast days in response to God's
                                > providence, therefore permanent annual celebration of feast days
                                may be
                                > instituted?
                                >
                                > The Church (and the state, for that matter) has warrant for
                                occasional
                                > days of religious fast or feast, Judges 20:26; 2 Chronicles 20; Ezra
                                > 8:21; Jonah 3:5-10. Yet there is no warrant for instituting
                                permanent
                                > annual holy days.

                                Tim-OK do you take Mordecai as a prophet or not? See my response to
                                Bob, for my anwer to these questions.

                                > Now, I see that Mr. Suden has taken up against this line of
                                argument, so
                                > I will defer for the sake of saving me some precious time (Time I
                                could
                                > use to take my decorations down... just kidding).
                                >
                                > > Tim-That's shorthand for everything and anything arising from the
                                > culture.
                                >
                                >
                                > Everything the whole world calls Christmas?
                                >
                                >
                                > >> Sadly, the world, and "the Christian
                                > >> world" at that, continues to support it.
                                >
                                > >Tim-True, but what is that to the truth of what the Christian world
                                > >should do.
                                >
                                >
                                >
                                > I know what Hezekiah would do! The Bible tells me that.
                                >
                                > > Although he stated in the sermon you cited that such would be
                                done on
                                > > the following Sunday, he did do so on this "Christmas" as well.
                                >
                                >
                                >
                                > He tolerated certain things, while complaining against them (note:
                                NOT
                                > APPROVING OF THEM, but tolerating them for a time, and for reason
                                > political and pastoral), gradually doing less and less (it appears)
                                in
                                > acknowledgment of the nativity observance. So, if your point is
                                only to
                                > say that Calvin reluctantly tolerated some things that the Scots
                                > outright condemned, I do not pretend this isn't true. But no
                                Christmas
                                > keeper can turn to Calvin for support of Christmas-keeping, any more
                                > than he can turn to Westminster. Maybe in Geneva, depending on the
                                time
                                > period you were there, your Christmas-keeping would have been
                                tolerated,
                                > but it would not have been championed by Calvin. I'm not saying
                                this is
                                > what you're asserting, I'm just wanting to make this point clear –
                                > Englesma appears to be trying to use Calvin to justify
                                > Christmas-keeping, which is just silly. That he reluctantly
                                tolerated
                                > some things that he cried down and complained about, is about as
                                much as
                                > I'll grant.
                                >
                                Tim-And I agree with you.

                                > > Tim-Once again, it has been a pleasure engaging in discussion of
                                > > difficult matters with you. Again, I thank you for setting a
                                > > remarkably high and inspriring standard of Christian courtesy in
                                > > disagreement, (and I hope some of your readers will learn from how
                                > > you conduct yourself in these discussions even if, like me, they
                                > > cannot share your eccliesiology).
                                >
                                > I'm humbled, and I thank you, my friend.
                                >
                                > > I trust the Lord will enlighten our
                                > > eyes where we are in darkness, give us encouragement to hold on to
                                > > what we have light to see, and if we cannot see alike then let us
                                > > hold the essentials of our faith in that winsome and blessed
                                charity
                                > > that is the fruit of God's Holy Spirit in us.
                              • Scandals & Animals
                                Excuse me, but could we please exercise some snippage here? ... Sic semper imperatoris...Non jam est nostra patria quondam qualis erat... ...... Original
                                Message 15 of 22 , Dec 31, 2006
                                • 0 Attachment
                                  Excuse me, but could we please exercise some snippage here?



                                  -------------------

                                  Sic semper imperatoris...Non jam est nostra patria quondam qualis erat...


                                  ...... Original Message .......
                                  On Mon, 01 Jan 2007 04:00:12 -0000 "timmopussycat" <timmopussycat@...>
                                  wrote:
                                  >--- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, "gmw"
                                  ><ragingcalvinist@...> wrote:
                                  >>
                                  >snip
                                  >
                                  >> >> No, Calvin's rhetorical use of this question was to strongly
                                  >imply
                                  >> >> that they had no good answer. The answer is NOT, "God told us
                                  >> > >it's Christmas,"
                                  >
                                  >Tim-Actually they had learned ultimately from the early church
                                  >through the RC medieval church, through which it had become
                                  >traditioal. Calvin was making the point that those answers wern't
                                  >good enough.
                                  >>
                                  >> >Tim-Calvin did not absolutely deny that we could celebrate the
                                  >> >
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