Go read! An excellent resource on Christmas


John 1

AKJV

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.


Christmas: An Historical Survey Regarding Its Origins and Opposition to It

by Kevin Reed

Lately, I’ve posted excerpts from this article, here and here. This is the introduction:

To speak against Christmas observance is considered by many people to be sacrilegious and others as religious fanaticism. After all, how can anyone legitimately oppose such a hallowed institution?

The purpose of this study is to set forth scriptural reasons for opposing Christmas celebration. A brief historical survey will provide the suitable means for such an examination. Following an initial look at the origins of Christmas, we will note historic opposition to its observance, with special emphasis on Protestant objections to the holiday. We will see that Protestants, and especially Presbyterians, have rejected Christmas celebration, as demonstrated by the following facts: (1.) the scriptural principles of worship upheld by Reformed churches; (2.) the confessional testimony of the churches; (3.) the historic practice of the churches in their most orthodox times.


 

A word in season – A Thanksgiving Psalm


Brethren, a happy happy Thanksgiving to you! May we praise the Lord more and more as He leads us to our desired haven – heaven!

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!


John Sharp - Gleaning from the Puritans FB page

Psalm 107 

NKJV

Thanksgiving to the Lord for His Great Works of Deliverance

107 Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy,
And gathered out of the lands,
From the east and from the west,
From the north and from the south.

They wandered in the wilderness in a desolate way;
They found no city to dwell in.
Hungry and thirsty,
Their soul fainted in them.
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
And He delivered them out of their distresses.
And He led them forth by the right way,
That they might go to a city for a dwelling place.
Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness,
And for His wonderful works to the children of men!
For He satisfies the longing soul,
And fills the hungry soul with goodness.

10 Those who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death,
Bound in affliction and irons—
11 Because they rebelled against the words of God,
And despised the counsel of the Most High,
12 Therefore He brought down their heart with labor;
They fell down, and there was none to help.
13 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
And He saved them out of their distresses.
14 He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death,
And broke their chains in pieces.
15 Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness,
And for His wonderful works to the children of men!
16 For He has broken the gates of bronze,
And cut the bars of iron in two.

17 Fools, because of their transgression,
And because of their iniquities, were afflicted.
18 Their soul abhorred all manner of food,
And they drew near to the gates of death.
19 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
And He saved them out of their distresses.
20 He sent His word and healed them,
And delivered them from their destructions.
21 Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness,
And for His wonderful works to the children of men!
22 Let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving,
And declare His works with rejoicing.

23 Those who go down to the sea in ships,
Who do business on great waters,
24 They see the works of the Lord,
And His wonders in the deep.
25 For He commands and raises the stormy wind,
Which lifts up the waves of the sea.
26 They mount up to the heavens,
They go down again to the depths;
Their soul melts because of trouble.
27 They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man,
And are at their wits’ end.
28 Then they cry out to the Lord in their trouble,
And He brings them out of their distresses.
29 He calms the storm,
So that its waves are still.
30 Then they are glad because they are quiet;
So He guides them to their desired haven.
31 Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness,
And for His wonderful works to the children of men!
32 Let them exalt Him also in the assembly of the people,
And praise Him in the company of the elders.

33 He turns rivers into a wilderness,
And the watersprings into dry ground;
34 A fruitful land into barrenness,
For the wickedness of those who dwell in it.
35 He turns a wilderness into pools of water,
And dry land into watersprings.
36 There He makes the hungry dwell,
That they may establish a city for a dwelling place,
37 And sow fields and plant vineyards,
That they may yield a fruitful harvest.
38 He also blesses them, and they multiply greatly;
And He does not let their cattle decrease.

39 When they are diminished and brought low
Through oppression, affliction, and sorrow,
40 He pours contempt on princes,
And causes them to wander in the wilderness where there is no way;
41 Yet He sets the poor on high, far from affliction,
And makes their families like a flock.
42 The righteous see it and rejoice,
And all iniquity stops its mouth.

43 Whoever is wise will observe these things,
And they will understand the lovingkindness of the Lord.


distant-view-of-niagara-falls-by-thomas-cole


 

GREAT HOLIDAY READING

“As Christians, our challenge is to “take every thought captive in obedience to Christ” (II Corinthians 10:5), including our thinking about our national heritage. Thanksgiving is a good place to start.”

Faith and History

Yes, I’m still alive.

I hope to return to semi-regular posting with the new year, but it occurred to me just now that Thanksgiving is only two and a half weeks away, so I thought I would take the time to engage in some shameless self-promotion.

On the possibility that some of you might be interested in a book about the history of the holiday, I will be bold and suggest that you consider my own: The First Thanksgiving: What the Real Story Tells Us about Loving God and Learning from History.

The book came out in the fall of 2013 from Intervarsity Press, and it was a labor of love.  For years I had been gradually developing a new sense of vocation.  I believe that academic historians write too much for each other, leaving the public to learn about the past from pastors, talk-show hosts, rap musicians, and…

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Who said this? William Ames!


Ephesians 5:13,14

13 But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. 14 Therefore He says:

“Awake, you who sleep,
Arise from the dead,
And Christ will give you light.”


So who is William Ames? – For me, he is someone new, but he was an important English Puritan theologian who lived in the Netherlands. I agree with his view of manmade holy days and was struck by his quote of Martin Bucer, the Strasbourg Reformer. Solid!


Dr William Ames (1576–1633)

One of Ames’s sermons became historical in the Puritan controversies. It was delivered in the university Church of St Mary the Great, Cambridge on 21 December 1609, and in it he rebuked sharply ‘lusory lotts’ and the ‘heathenish debauchery’ of the students during the Twelve Days of Christmas. ~ Wikipedia

[To adopt a lusory attitude is to accept the arbitrary rules of a game in order to facilitate the resulting experience of play. ~ Wikipedia]


excerpt:

Christmas: An Historical Survey Regarding Its Origins and Opposition to It

by Kevin Reed

William Ames (1576-1633), the prominent English Puritan who lived on the Continent among the Dutch for many years, sums up several fundamental principles relating to proper worship:

“No instituted worship is lawful unless God is its author and ordainer.  Deuteronomy 4:1-2; 12:32.”

“The most solemn time for worship is now the first day of each week, called the Lord’s Day, Revelation 1:10; 1 Corinthians 16:2.”

“Opposed to the ordinance of the Lord’s Day are all feast days ordained by men when they are considered holy days like the Lord’s Day.”

Shortly before his death, Ames prepared a massive volume, A Fresh Suit Against Human Ceremonies in God’s Worship (1633). This book was written as a response to earlier publications by John Morton and John Burgess. Throughout his work, Ames provides a detailed rebuttal of many of the Episcopal arguments related to church polity.

In one place, Ames speaks of the scriptural law of worship. Referring to Leviticus 10:1, he states:

“The sons of Aaron are there condemned for bringing strange, or ordinary fire to God’s worship; as doing that which God had not commanded, and yet had not otherwise forbidden, than by providing fire proper to his worship, and not appointing any other to be used in the tabernacle. And this is the very plea which we make against ceremonies of human institution, in God’s worship.”

Then he notes Jeremiah 7:31, and comments:

“Seeing God under this title only condemns that which the Jews did because he had not commanded it [to] them; therefore no other reason need to be sought for the confutation of superstitions, than that they are not by commandment from God.”

In a separate section “Concerning the Lord’s Day, Temples, and Ceremonial Festivals,” Ames states:

“Concerning ceremonial festivals, of man’s making, our practice cannot be objected; because we observe none.”

“Martin Bucer” by Jean-Jacques Boissard

In support of his position he [Ames] cites several prominent Protestant writers, including the remarks of Bucer on Matthew 12:
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I would to God that every holy day whatsoever besides 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 superstitions that I wonder we tremble not at their very names.

 

 

The most unpopular controversy – Should Christians celebrate Christmas?


Galatians 4

But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods. But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage? 10 You observe days and months and seasons and years. 11 I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain.

1 Peter 2

11 Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, 12 having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.


Most Bible believing Christians I know don’t celebrate Halloween because of its obvious association with witchcraft, horror, and death. Christmas is another story however, because as it is celebrated by Christians it is seen as a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ and who can object to this? Only people who are misguided and. . .well, fanatical.

Most of the devout Christians I know celebrate the season; otherwise, they have no interest in the liturgical calendar. I’m disheartened and perplexed. Is the celebration of Christmas really adiaphora, that is, indifferent, a matter of conscience? How can this be when it’s common knowledge that Christmas originates in the pagan world and Catholic Rome.

Wikipedia: In Christianity, adiaphora are matters not regarded as essential to faith, but nevertheless as permissible for Christians or allowed in church. What is specifically considered adiaphora depends on the specific theology in view.

Though it seems early to be thinking about all of this I believe it’s important to get a head-start on the season by learning what Christians who have been opposed to the celebration on biblical grounds have had to say about it. Since they are sound in other respects, they should at least be given a hearing.


Arthur Walkington Pink (1 April 1886 – 15 July 1952) was an English Bible teacher who sparked a renewed interest in the exposition of Calvinism. Virtually unknown in his own lifetime, Pink became “one of the most influential evangelical authors in the second half of the twentieth century.” ~Wikipedia~


from

XMAS (Christmas)

by A.W. Pink


Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen. . .for the CUSTOMS of the people are vain” (Jer. 10:1-3).

Christmas is coming! Quite so: but what is “Christmas?” Does not the very term itself denote its source – “Christ-mass.” Thus it is of Roman origin, brought over from paganism. But, says someone, Christmas is the time when we commemorate the Savior’s birth. It is? And WHO authorized such commemoration? Certainly God did not. The Redeemer bade His disciples “remember” Him in His death, but there is not a word in scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, which tells us to celebrate His birth. Moreover, who knows when, in what month, He was born? The Bible is silent thereon. Is it without reason that the only “birthday” commemorations mentioned in God’s Word are Pharaoh’s (Gen. 40:20) and Herod’s (Matt. 14:6)? Is this recorded “for our learning?” If so, have we prayerfully taken it to heart?

And WHO is it that celebrates “Christmas?” The whole “civilized world.” Millions who make no profession of faith in the blood of the Lamb, who “despise and reject Him,” and millions more who while claiming to be His followers yet in works deny Him, join in merrymaking under the pretense of honoring the birth of the Lord Jesus. Putting it on its lowest ground, we would ask, is it fitting that His friends should unite with His enemies in a worldly round of fleshly gratification? Does any true born again soul really think that He whom the world cast out is either pleased or glorified by such participation in the world’s joys? Verily, the customs of the people are VAIN; and it is written, “Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil” (Ex. 23:2). . .



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