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Re: [Covenanted Reformation] Re: Christmas a pagan festival? Maybe not

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  • 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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 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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