The Easter season – is this celebration Biblical?


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Galatians 4

Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. 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? 10 Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. 11 I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.

1 Corinthians 11

23 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: 24 and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. 25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.

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As we approach the Easter season, please take time to sample the testimony of the Church of Jesus Christ on manmade holy days. Please go here to read the rest of “Deconstructing Krismass” from which these quotes on holidays were copied (Mint, Anise and the Cumin blog). 

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“To take the ground that the church has a discretionary power to appoint other holy days and other symbolical rites is to concede to Rome the legitimacy of her five superfluous sacraments and all her self-devised paraphernalia of sacred festivals. There is no middle ground. Either we are bound by the Lord’s appointments in his Word, or human discretion is logically entitled to the full-blown license of Rome.”

–John L. Girardeau (professor, Columbia Theological Seminary, Presbyterian Church in the U.S.), Instrumental Music in the Public Worship of the Church (1888).

Festival days are an entrenching upon God’s prerogative: for none can appoint an holy day, but he who hath made the days, and hath all power in his own hand, which is clear; first, from the denomination of them in both Testaments; in the old they are called the solemn feasts of Jehovah [Lev. 23:1; Ex. 32:5], not only because they were to be kept to Jehovah, but also because they were of his appointing.”

–John Bernard (Nonconformist minister, England), The Anatomy of the Service Book (1641).

“It is not a work but a word makes one day more holy than another.

“There is no day of the week, but some eminent work of God has been done therein; but it does not therefore follow that every day must be kept as a Sabbath. The Lord Christ has appointed the first day of the week to be perpetually observed in remembrance of his resurrection and redemption. If more days than that had been needful, he would have appointed more. It is a deep reflection on the wisdom of Christ, to say, He has not appointed days enough for his own honour, but he must be beholding to men for their additions. The Old Waldenses witnessed against the observing of any holidays, besides that which God in his Word hath instituted. Calvin, Luther, Danaeus, Bucer, Farel, Viret, and other great Reformers, have wished that the observation of all holidays, except the Lord’s Day, were abolished. A Popish writer complains that the Puritans in England were of the same mind. So was John Huss and Jerome of Prague long ago. And the Belgic Churches in their Synod, Anno 1578. … All stated holidays of man’s inventing, are breaches of the Second and of the Fourth Commandment. A stated religious festival is a part of instituted worship. Therefore it is not in the power of men, but God only, to make a day holy.”

–Increase Mather (Nonconformist minister, New England), Testimony Against Prophane Customs (1687).

“When it can be proved that the observance of Christmas, Whitsuntide, and other Popish festivals was ever instituted by a divine statute, we also will attend to them, but not till then. It is as much our duty to reject the traditions of men, as to observe the ordinances of the Lord. We ask concerning every rite and rubric, “Is this a law of the God of Jacob?” and if it be not clearly so, it is of no authority with us, who walk in Christian liberty.”

–Charles Spurgeon’s Treasury of David on Psalm 81:4.

“I would to God that every Holy-day whatsoever beside the Lord’s Day, were abolished. That zeal which brought them first in, was without all warrant of the Word, and merely followed corrupt reason, forsooth to drive out the Holy days of the Pagans, as one nail drives out another. Those Holy-days, have been so tainted with superstition that I wonder we tremble not at their very names.

“See the place, Oecolampadius (in Isa. 1:4), thinketh that no wise Christian will condemn us. I never heard wise man yet, who did not judge that a great part at least of other feasts besides the Lord’s Day should be abolished.”

–William Ames (Nonconformist minister, exiled to the Netherlands; professor of theology at Franeker), A Fresh Suit Against Human Ceremonies in God’s Worship (1633).

“Q. 3. May not the Popish holy-days be observed?

“A. The Popish holy-days ought not to be observed, because they are not appointed in the Word; and, by the same reason, no other holy-days may be kept, whatsoever pretence there be of devotion towards God, when there is no precept or example for such practice in the holy scripture.”

–Thomas Vincent (Nonconformist minister, London), An Explicatory Catechism: or, An Explanation of the Assembly’s Catechism (1708).

“We therefore condemn the following errors, and testify against all who maintain them:

“1. That any part of time is appointed in divine revelation, or may be appointed by the church, to be kept holy, in its weekly, monthly, or annual returns, except the first day of the week, which is the Christian Sabbath.”

–Reformed Presbyterian Church in America (Covenanters), Reformation Principles Exhibited (1806).

“[The Waldenses] contemn all approved ecclesiastical customs which they do not read of in the gospel, such as the observance of Candlemas, Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and the feast of Easter. . . .”

–William Sime, History of the Waldenses (1827).

“We believe that the Scriptures not only do not warrant the observance of such days [i.e., “holy” days], but that they positively discountenance it. Let any one impartially weigh Colossians 2:16, and also, Galatians 4:9-11; and then say whether these passages do not evidently indicate, that the inspired Apostle disapproved of the observance of such days.”

–Samuel Miller (professor, Princeton Theological Seminary, Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.), Presbyterianism: The Truly Primitive and Apostolic Constitution of the Church of Christ.

“It is notorious, that wherever other days than the Sabbath are religiously observed, there that holy day is less strictly observed than its nature demands–less strictly than it is generally observed by those who regard it as the only set time which God has commanded to be kept holy. It is also notorious, that holy days, as they are called, are times at which every species of vice and disorder is more flagrantly and more generally indulged in, than at any other time; so that these days are really and highly injurious to civil society, as well as an encroachment on the prerogative of God.”

–Ashbel Green (minister, Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.), Lectures on the Shorter Catechism (1841).

“[T]hose who quote those portions of Scripture in opposition to the idea of a divine obligation on Christians to observe the Sabbath are found for the most part, in one section of the Church, and as members or dignitaries therein they are very far from being consistent. Their reasoning on behalf of their theory and their practice are diametrically opposed. If the Apostle Paul were permitted to revisit earth, we might imagine him addressing them somewhat after the following manner:–‘Ye men of a half-reformed Church, ye observe days and times. Ye have a whole calendar of so-called saints’ days. Ye observe a Holy Thursday and a Good Friday. Ye have a time called Easter, and a season called Lent, about which some of you make no small stir. Ye have a day regarded especially holy, named Christmas, observed at a manifestly wrong season of the year, and notoriously grafted on an old Pagan festival. And all this while many of you refuse to acknowledge the continued obligation of the Fourth Commandment. I am afraid of you, lest the instruction contained in my epistle, as well as in other parts of Scripture, has been bestowed upon you in vain.’”

–Robert Nevin (minister, Reformed Presbyterian Church in Ireland and editor of the Covenanter Magazine in Ireland), Misunderstood Scriptures (1893).

“Q. 7. Is it not a daring intrusion upon the prerogative of God to appoint as a stated religious festival any other day or season, such as Christmas or Easter?

“A. It is an impeachment of the wisdom of God and an assertion of our right and ability to improve on his plans.”

–James Harper (professor, Xenia Theological Seminary, United Presbyterian Church), An Exposition in the Form of Question and Answer of the Westminster Assembly’s Shorter Catechism (1905).

[Rules that help distinguish between truth and lies, walking in divine truth promotes godliness] For example when debating whether to maintain Lenten Eve (Fat Tuesday), Epiphany (when the wiseman saw Christ), and other Roman Catholic holidays or to radically abolish them, some people may say yes and others no. However, the godly immediately know the right way, for they understand that Roman Catholic holidays have no basis in Holy Scripture and that regular observance of them offers occasion for much sin. The celebrations cause great disorder in the places or homes where they are observed and become a stumbling block to real holiness as they strengthen the old man. The godly swiftly conclude that Reformed Christians who would gladly abolish or ignore the feast days have the truth on their side.”

–Willem Teelinck [1579-1629], The Path of True Godliness, p. 101.

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19 thoughts on “The Easter season – is this celebration Biblical?

  1. Reblogged this on The X Mass H8rs Blog and commented:
    After reading these quotes its a wonder that those who say they are Christians do not tremble when observing these “holy” days that God has not ordained! I fear for those who dare to come against God’s Word by their defending of them under “Christian liberty!”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Maria, I’ve never asked what denomination you follow. Are you part of the new reformation movement? I’m looking for a church, or I will be when I get well enough, and I’m considering a Reformed Church. I have been Independent Baptist for a long time but my church has changed. I did at one point visit a Reformed Baptist church and was caught off guard when they observed lent, recited the Apostles Creed, and while they baptized by immersion, they accepted sprinkling. The church I’m considering seems more like how you present your beliefs. I’m kind of floundering in this area right now. Not something I thought I’d be doing at my age. I consider myself a Biblicist but that’s really the only label I identify with other than Christian.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I didn’t see anything about the time line of “good Friday” and “easter”. Sorry if I missed it. Nevertheless, in light of Matt. 12:39 & 40 things just don’t add up. How can it be ‘three days and three nights’ when Jesus died somewhere around the ninth hour (3 PM) on a Friday and was raised before sunrise on the next Sunday (first day of the week)? Even the best mathematician can only come up with about 40 +/- hours in the grave while Jesus’ own words said explicitly “three days and three nights in the heart of the earth”. The tradition of “good Friday” and “easter” have made our Lord out to be a liar, something I will not stand for. May the Lord open our eyes.

    Darrel

    Liked by 2 people

    • Darrel, thank you for bringing up the issue of the timeline of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection! No, it wasn’t brought up in the quotes I posted. It’s important because as you’ve said getting it wrong can call into question our Lord’s sure and certain word.

      Because the subject is difficult and involves calendars and when that particular Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread was kept on the year of His death and resurrection, I haven’t pursued trying to understand it, have not been diligent – so thank you! Not only must we worship only in the ways the Lord told us to and not according to human traditions, but we must attempt with the Lord’s help to understand things that are difficult.

      God bless you for visiting – you have blessed me!
      Maria

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Maria,
    I so enjoy reading your blog. It’s a comfort to see your passion for the truth which undergirds everything you present here.
    This subject is so confusing for me. Having come to Christianity from a non-Christian background, I wasn’t raised with these holidays and traditions. As a Christian at times I’ve thought Easter and Christmas were to be avoided at all costs. At other times they seemed cultural and devoid of pagan significance. And in some seasons they – and the church calendar – were deeply comforting to my faith.

    One thing seems certain to me –
    ¶ Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ. (Colossians 2:16-17)

    Amongst those of us who have been saved and stand by faith alone, there’s no sin in observing them or not observing them. At least that’s how I see it these days. Definitely could be wrong.
    Alec

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the encouragement, Alec!

      A few thoughts:

      It’s clear that following what people have called the Regulative Principle in worship – doing only what the Lord has commanded us to do as worship – will keep us safe(r) and help us keep from grieving the Lord without meaning to.

      About celebrating or not celebrating these two big days, perhaps we should separate them and address each by itself. First, I commend you for going to Colossians here – it has a lot to teach us about right worship, and Jesus Christ Whom we worship.

      Celebrating the birth of Jesus on the 25th of December has no basis in fact and most writers early and late dismiss the date as well as realize that it was chosen to accommodate pagans coming into the Church after Christianity was legalized and then chosen as the religion of the Empire.

      Celebrating His Resurrection so close to Passover does have some basis, though from what I’ve read the Bishop of Rome wanted to distance the Church from anything Jewish, that is, the Jewish feasts – so the changing date of Passover was forsaken and a more fixed (“Christian”) date adopted.

      As I get older, simplicity appeals to me, and also it is so obvious that there is a mix of Christianity and paganism in these days that it is very sad, and that abstaining seems the way to glorify the Lord.

      You have blessed me by visiting and speaking in a brotherly way!

      Like

      • Yes, I understand all these points and see validity in them. I really like the regulative principle, too, though I’ve never been anywhere where I could see it in action. My only concern with it has to do with the working out of things like this in modern day Orthodox Judaism, which has a principle called “making a hedge around the law”. They want to be so clear not to violate any of the commandments that they are able to do (some portion of the 613 in the Mosaic code), that they make man made laws which are more stringent than those given. Jesus and the NT writers spoke about this kind of thing in unflattering terms, to say the least.

        On the other hand, the Regulative Principle is not a direct parallel.

        I guess the problem seems to be that in 2016 the manifestations of the visible church are in a very weak state. At times like this the heterodoxy and outright heresy overwhelms all kinds of worship. In the city I live I have been unable to find any Reformation church which is not in serious error on a major aspect of doctrine OR has a worship which is seriously irreverent or problematic in one way or another. We have Lutheran Churches which deny Justification by Faith. We have Reformed Baptist Churches whose pastors recommend Roman Catholic theologians from the pulpit. We have Reformed Calvinists in the social gospel. Plenty more that preach against the reliability of the Word from the pulpit “The Greek really says…” etc. And the influence of BioLogos is everywhere.

        Alec

        Liked by 1 person

        • Just took a quick detour to look up BioLogos – yikes! Evolution is a topic I avoid, Alec. Really a coward in some ways, you see. It contradicts God’s Word and I leave the issue with that. As a child, an older young person going to college and studying philosophy used to ask me questions like, ‘how do you know you exist?’ and this forever frightened me away from certain kinds of topics that have the tendency to corrode trust in the world and our perceptions, etc. I’m so sorry to hear that BioLogos (saw Tim Keller’s picture at the site) is being promoted. Evolution is a corrupt concept that undermines societies hugely.

          About Orthodox Judaism, yes, from my limited understanding this is done. They should use the law as their tutor to bring them to Christ – its purpose. But all people, Jews and Gentiles, are blind without the Lord’s gracious dealings with us. Yes, this hedge and human meddling with the law – instead of using it rightly – led to the traditions that the Lord and His apostles warned of and rebuked.

          Yes, the church is very weak now – has this always been so but the scale is just grander now? I may be a fanatic but I truly believe and affirm that this present weakness is due to the Counter-Reformation. I’ve found your category menu and want to read your posts in this category.

          Liked by 1 person

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