Sunday, October 01, 2006

Holy Days or Holidays

Once upon a time someone asked me to share how we handle Halloween and Christmas in our family. So, true to my slow, methodical pace, I will post several entries about this topic.

First, allow me to commend to your attention, Carmon's excellent essay at Buried Treasure. Then for some in depth research, consider reading the following five points in an effort to solidify in your mind that there is no more important day each week than the Sabbath and that the worship service of the living God is not to be mixed (syncretized) with any man-made celebrations.

1) The Westminster Assembly's Directory of Public Worship (1640s) excerpt:

There is no day commanded in Scripture to be kept holy under the Gospel but the Lord's Day, which is the Christian Sabbath. Festival days, vulgarly called Holy days, having no warrant in the Word of God, are not to be continued.

2) Lectures in Theology by Rev. John Dick (1836):

this (Sunday) is the only day which God claims as His own in a peculiar sense; He has given us the other six days to pursue our secular employments. It follows, that men have no right to institute holidays, which return as regularly at certain intervals as the Sabbath does at the beginning of the week. This is an assumption of authority which God has not delegated to them. Holidays are an encroachment upon the time of which He has made a free gift to men for their worldly affairs; and although enforced by civil and ecclesiastical laws, they are not binding upon conscience. No man sins in not observing them; but he does sin, if he observes them from an opinion of their holiness. Men may set apart particular days for fasting and thanksgiving; but those are only occasionally, and not the days, but the services, are holy.

3) The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States (1899):

There is no warrant in Scripture for the observance of Christmas and Easter as holy days, rather the contrary (see Gal 4:9-11; Col 2:16-21), and such observance is contrary to the principles of the Reformed Faith, conducive to will-worship, and not in harmony with the simplicity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

4) How is the Gold Become Dim by Dr. Morton Smith (1973):

It is just this attitude of indifference to the Constitution (Westminster Standards) that has brought us to the state we are in in the PCUS. Whereas, earlier, as is reflected in the 1899 deliverance about Christmas and Easter, there was meticulous concern for staying with the standards, and the strict interpretation of Scripture on even such a matter as these two days. Now there is a complete reversal to the point of adopting the liturgical calendar of past tradition, without any Biblical basis.

5) These statements, which represent the consensus of historical Presbyterianism, are rooted in the 2nd and 4th commandments and the regulative principle of worship (Deut 12:32). They are also rooted in the Westminster Standards, e.g. Larger Catechism questions 108 and 109.

Copied from a handout by my church.

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