Dec 24, 2007

Christians Opposition to Christmas Justified--A Superstitious Tradition

The Charleston Gazette last week ran a very good lead article about a pastor opposing Christmas who had written a book documenting its historical observance (see below).

Contrary to the superficial and politically-correct, largely compromised of the modern corrupt churches, Christmas was historically resisted even to the death by Protestant Christians as a gross superstition associated with Roman Catholicism. The Pilgrims refused to observe Christmas as much as they resisted the tyrannical Church of England and the tyrant King James yes of the King James Bible who hated the Calvinist Geneva version .

Here is a sample of some of the arguments by a Presbyterian patriot and pastor (very influential during the American Revolution), Rev. Samuel Davies of Virginia, on a (too compromising) sermon on the subject during the 18th century, who concedes to both scriptural and historical arguments against it, and also the very real problems practicing such superstitious observances can bring--including waste of time, money, and poverty:

...the example of the same apostle [Paul] will authorize us modestly to propose our own sentiments and the reasons of our practice, and to warn people from laying a great stress upon ceremonials and superstitious observances. This he does particularly to the Galatians, who not only kept the Jewish holy-days, but placed a great part of their religion in the observance of them. “Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years;” therefore, says he, “I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain” (Gal. 4:10-11). The commandments of God have often been made void by the traditions of men; and human inventions more religiously observed than divine institutions; and when this was the case, St. Paul was warm in opposing even ceremonial mistakes. Having premised this, which I look upon as much more important than the decision of the question, I proceed to show you the reasons why I would not religiously observe days of human appointment, in commemoration of Christ and the saints. What I have to say shall be particularly pointed at what is called Christmas day: but may be easily applied to all other holy-days instituted by men.

The first reason I shall offer is, that I would take my religion just as I find it in my Bible without any imaginary improvements or supplements of human invention. All the ordinances which God has been pleased to appoint, and particularly that one day in seven, which he has set apart for his more immediate service, and the commemoration of the works of creation and redemption, I would honestly endeavor to observe in the most sacred manner. But when ignorant presuming mortals take upon them to refine upon Divine institutions, to make that a part of religion, which God has left indifferent, and consecrate more days than he has thought necessary; in short, when they would mingle something of their own with the pure religion of the Bible: then I must be excused from obedience, and beg leave to content myself with the old, plain, simple religion of the Bible. Now that there is not the least appearance in all the Bible of the Divine appointment of Christmas, to celebrate the birth of Christ, is granted by all parties; and the Divine authority is not so much as pretended for it. Therefore, a Bible-Christian is not at all bound to observe it.

Secondly, the Christian church, for at least three hundred years, did not observe any day in commemoration of the birth of Christ. For this we have the testimony of the primitive fathers themselves. Thus Clemens Alexandrinus, who lived about the year one hundred and ninety-four, “We are commanded to worship and honor him, who, we are persuaded, is the Word, and our Savior and Ruler, and through him, the Father; not upon certain particular or select days, as some others do, but constantly practicing this all our life, and in every proper way.” Chrysostom, who lived in the fourth century, has these words, “It is not yet ten years, since this day, that is, Christmas, was plainly known to us;” and he observes, the custom was brought to Constantinople from Rome. Now since this day was not religiously observed in the church in the first and purest ages, but was introduced as superstitions increased, and Christianity began to degenerate very fast into popery; ought not we to imitate the purity of these primitive times, and retain none of the superstitious observances of more corrupt ages?

Thirdly, if a day should be religiously observed in memory of the birth of Christ, it ought to be that day on which he was born. But that day, and even the month and the year, are altogether uncertain. The Scriptures do not determine this point of chronology. And perhaps they are silent on purpose, to prevent all temptation to the superstitious observance of it; just as the body of Moses was secretly buried, and his grave concealed, to guard the Israelites from the danger of idolizing it. Chronologers are also divided upon the point: and even the ancients are not agreed. The learned generally suppose that Christ was born two or three years before the vulgar reckoning. And as to the month, some suppose it was in September, and some in June. And they imagine it was very unlikely, that he was born in the cold wintry months of December, because we read, that at the time of his birth, shepherds were out in the field, watching their flocks by night; which is not probable at that season of the year. The Christian epocha, or reckoning time from the birth of Christ, was not introduced till about the year five hundred; and it was not generally used till the reign of Charles the Great, about the year eight hundred, or a little above nine hundred years ago. And this must occasion a great uncertainty, both as to the year, month, and day. But why do I dwell so long upon this? It must be universally confessed, that the day of his birth is quite uncertain: nay, it is certain that it is not that which has been kept in commemoration of it. To convince you of this, I need only put you in mind of the late parliamentary correction of our computation of time by introducing the new-style; by which Christmas is eleven days sooner than it was wont to be. And yet this chronological blunder still continues in the public prayers of some, who give thanks to God, that Christ was born as upon this day. And while this prayer was offered up in England and Virginia on the twenty-fifth of December old-style, other countries that followed the new-style, were solemnly declaring in their thanksgivings to God, that Christ was born eleven days sooner; that is, on the fourteenth of December. I therefore conclude, that neither this day nor any other was ever intended to be observed for this purpose.

Finally, superstition is a very growing evil; and therefore the first beginnings of it ought to be prevented. Many things that were at first introduced with a pious design have grown up gradually into the most enormous superstition and idolatry in after ages. The ancient Christians, for example, had such a veneration for the pious martyrs, that they preserved a lock of hair, or some little memorial of them; and this laid the foundation for the expensive sale and stupid idolizing of the relics of the saints in popish countries. They also celebrated their memory, by observing the days of their martyrdom. But as the number of the martyrs and saints real or imaginary, increased, the saints’ days also multiplied to an extravagant degree, and hardly left any days in the year for any other purpose. And as they had more saints than days in the year, they dedicated the first of November for them all, under the title of All-saints-day. But if the saints must be thus honored, then certainly much more ought Jesus Christ. This seemed a natural inference: and accordingly, these superstitious devotees appointed one day to celebrate his birth, another his baptism, another his death, another the day of Pentecost, and an endless list that I have not time now to mention. The apostles also must be put into the Calendar: and thus almost all the days in the year were consecrated by superstition, and hardly any left for the ordinary labors of life. Thus the people are taught to be idle the greatest part of their time, and so indisposed to labor on the few days that are still allowed them for that purpose. This has almost ruined some popish countries, particularly the Pope’s dominions in the fine country of Italy, once the richest and best improved in the world. Mr. Addison, Bishop Burnet, and other travelers, inform us, that every thing bears the appearance of poverty, notwithstanding all the advantages of soil and climate: and that this is chiefly owing to the superstition of the people, who spend the most of their time as holy-days. And if you look over the Calendar of the Church of England, you will find that the festivals in one year, amount to thirty-one. The fasts to no less than ninety-five, to which add the fifty-two Sundays in every year, and the whole will make one hundred and seventy-eight: so that only one hundred and eighty-seven days will be left in the whole year, for the common purposes of life. And whether the poor could procure a subsistence for themselves and their families by the labor of so few days, and whether it be not a yoke that neither we nor our fathers are able to bear, I leave you to judge. It is true, that but very few of these feasts and fasts are now observed, even by the members of the established church. But then they are still in their Calendar and Canons, and binding upon them by the authority of the church; and as far as they do not comply with them, so far they are dissenters: and in this, and in many other respects, they are generally dissenters, though they do not share with us in the infamy of the name. Now, since the beginnings of superstitious inventions in the worship of God are so dangerous in their issue, and may grow up into such enormous extravagance, we ought to shun the danger, by adhering to the simplicity of the Bible-religion, and not presume to make more days or things holy, than the all-wise God has been pleased to sanctify. He will be satisfied with the religious observance of his own institutions; and why should not we? It is certainly enough, that we be as religious as he requires us. And all our will-worship is liable to that confounding rejection, “Who hath required this at your hands?” (Isaiah 1:12).

Some are waking up to the truth of the so-called "holy-day", which is necessary. It is impossible for the superstitious to be truly free or for those who relish fantasy and sentimentalism (blinding them to present realities, and gross corruptions of church and government) to not give preference to vain delusions, at expense of the truth. Is America more free now than in the 1700s, when Christmas was less observed, even frowned upon by Christian churches? It appears that Christmas is the mark of anti-Christian Empires, historically, who stamped the name of Christ on their governments while brutally persecuting true Christians and establishing their own "new world order". It would be better to lament that Christmas is now observed, as the early Christians in America resisted it, than to lament that it has its critics. The real Scrooges on Wall Street love it, as well as the modern Pharisees who also collect many "tithes and offerings" from their flocks too eager to follow the "traditions of men".
clipped from
Just another day
  • Some Christian churches still follow historical Protestant rejection of holiday
  • As Christmas draws near, Princeton-based Pastor John Foster won’t be decorating a tree, shopping for last-minute gifts or working on a holiday sermon for his flock. After all, it’s been 50 years since Christmas was anything more than a day of the week to him.

    He’s one of very few American Christians who follow what used to be the norm in many Protestant denominations — rejecting the celebration of Christmas on religious grounds.

    In researching his book, “Christmas: A Candid History,” Forbes discovered that major American denominations — Presbyterians, Baptists, Quakers, Methodists and Congregationalists — either ignored the holiday or actively discouraged it until the late 19th century.