Skip to comments.WHY THE CHURCH OF CHRIST DOES NOT OBSERVE CHRISTMAS (Ecumenical)
Posted on 12/25/2012 1:13:09 PM PST by narses
WHY THE CHURCH OF CHRIST DOES NOT OBSERVE CHRISTMAS
Some years ago I received a letter from a listener to the weekly radio program who asked me to explain why the church of Christ does not observe Christmas. This sermon is the answer I gave to that question.
I realize that there are many people in the world who regard members of the church of Christ as being very narrow-minded in our refusal to join with the denominational world in the observance of that holiday which was formerly known as Christ Mass Day, but is now generally abbreviated to Christmas Day. The question is often asked of us, Do you folks not believe in the Bible account of the birth of Jesus? When we reply that we do indeed believe every word of that divine record, we are then asked this question: Do you not believe that the birth of Jesus is an event worth remembering? There are several reasons why the church of Christ does not observe Christmas, and so I wish to mention some of them.
THERE IS NO DIVINE COMMAND OR PRECEPT
We believe that we must have a divine command or precept for all that we do in religion. We believe that we are not authorized to observe religious holidays that are not mentioned in the Bible for Christians to observe. There is no record in the Bible that any Christian ever observed a holiday in the memory of the birth of Christ. Although the Bible does tell us of the activities of the early church, it gives no hint that anyone in apostolic times thought of declaring a holiday to celebrate the birth of Christ, or that God wanted it to be celebrated. In fact, the Encyclopedia Britannica reveals that it was a good many years after the death of Jesus before a certain Pope conceived the idea of having a Mass to celebrate the birth of the Savior. To learn of the beginning of Christmas, we must go to the encyclopedia rather than the Bible, for the Bible is silent about the subject. Reading further in the encyclopedia we learn that the Pope who first inaugurated Christmas said, We have a Mass for every saint, but there is no Mass for Christ. He decreed that henceforth the 25th day of December each year would be observed as Christ Mass Day. For many years, in fact for many centuries, Christmas was strictly a Catholic holiday, but when various Protestant churches came into being, one by one they borrowed that holiday.
WE MUST SPEAK AS THE ORACLES OF GOD
The church of Christ does not observe Christmas because of the apostle Peters statement in I Peter 4:11, If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God. We cannot speak as the oracles of God and speak of Christmas. Why? Because the oracles of God are silent about such a holiday. If the New Testament spoke of Christmas and we had the teaching that Christians in New Testament times observed that holiday, the church of Christ would do so now.
IS DECEMBER 25TH CHRISTS BIRTH DAY?
I submit to you that a fourth reason why the church of Christ does not observe and celebrate Christmas is that no one knows that Jesus was born on the 25th of December. That particular day and month was arbitrarily selected by the Pope who inaugurated that holiday. Most Bible scholars believe that Christ was really born in the summer time, but the very fact that God was not pleased to reveal through His word the day or the month in which His Son was born is evidence that he did not expect us to reverence that day.
IT IS A CATHOLIC HOLIDAY
I have already mentioned that originally Christmas was called Christ Mass Day, having been inaugurated by the Pope. Protestant churches borrowed this day from the Catholic church. The church of Christ has never borrowed it. Let me say in this connection that nearly everything that it practiced in many Protestant churches has been borrowed from the Catholic church. Instrumental music, infant baptism, sprinkling, Christmas and Easter Day observance are just a few of the inventions of Catholicism which have been borrowed by Protestants. A number of years ago a priest friend of brother Carl Finley remarked that it was amusing to see Protestants borrow such things as Christmas and infant baptism from the Catholics and try to prove that the Bible mentions and commands such things. He added, We practice them because our church councils decided that we should do so. We do not believe that the Bible mentions or suggests these things. He explained that the Catholic church differs from many other churches in that it does not believe that it is necessary to prove by the Bible all things that they do. I think this priest had a greater respect for the church of Christ after learning that we do not take this inconsistent position of being opposed to Catholicism, but at the same time imitating and borrowing from these things invented by Catholicism, of which Christmas is one.
Should Christians observe Christmas? Religiously no! As a family, if they so desire. I think Paul deals with this in Romans 14:5-6, One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let each man be fully assured in his own mind. From this verse I can see nothing wrong with a family setting aside Christmas Day as a day to exchange gifts with friends and family. The wrong comes when we try to make it a religious festival and bind its observance upon others without authority from the scriptures. I am of the firm opinion that it should have no place in the church for which Jesus died.
Ecumenical threads are closed to antagonism.
To antagonize is to incur or to provoke hostility in others. Unlike the caucus threads, the article and reply posts of an ecumenical thread may discuss more than one belief, but antagonism is not tolerable.
More leeway is granted to what is acceptable in the text of the article than to the reply posts. For example, the term gross error in an article will not prevent an ecumenical discussion, but a poster should not use that term in his reply because it is antagonistic. As another example, the article might be a passage from the Bible which would be antagonistic to Jews. The passage should be considered historical information and a legitimate subject for an ecumenical discussion. The reply posts however must not be antagonistic.
Contrasting of beliefs or even criticisms can be made without provoking hostilities. But when in doubt, only post what you are for and not what you are against. Or ask questions.
Ecumenical threads will be moderated on a where theres smoke, theres fire basis. When hostility has broken out on an ecumenical thread, Ill be looking for the source.
Therefore anti posters must not try to finesse the guidelines by asking loaded questions, using inflammatory taglines, gratuitous quote mining or trying to slip in an anti or ex article under the color of the ecumenical tag.
Lord, in this holy season of prayer and song and laughter, we praise you for the great wonders you have sent us: for shining star and angels song, for infants cry in lowly manger. We praise you for the Word made flesh in a little Child. We behold his glory, and are bathed in its radiance.
Be with us as we sing the ironies of Christmas, the incomprehensible comprehended, the poetry made hard fact, the helpless Babe who cracks the world asunder. We kneel before you shepherds, innkeepers, wisemen. Help us to rise bigger than we are. Amen.
The birth of Yashua is in your heart no matter where or when He was born. You carry His will in your heart, do good to those who persecute you and His love will abide with you always.
Interesting article. Especially after attending a Christmas Eve service at my local Church of Christ.
Well, I have always been for any excuse to have a celebration. The birth of our Lord and Savior is a pretty good one.
This kind of stick-in-the-mud-ism is exactly why we are declining in numbers and not effectively communicating the Gospel to a desperate and lost world. By hiding in your hole at Christmas, you are missing a prime opportunity to speak about the Savior.
Just speaking the truth here, brother.
“Just speaking the truth here, brother.”
Indeed you are - Merry Christmas!
What nonsense :-)
“IT IS A CATHOLIC HOLIDAY”
That is as true inasmuch as it is a Pagan Holiday. Just like Easter, this is a “holiday” comprised of Christian traditions, pagan customs, and in modern times - an emphasis on shopping and spending and buying gifts.
Our Christmas Eve service was just like yours. We sang carols, heard the scriptures regarding the birth of Christ, and reached out to many neighbors and visitors.
Merry Christmas, brother.
The Angels God sent to the Earth to tell us of the birth of Christ asked us to celebrate and be full of joy. Christ was given gifts....and I’m sure Mary and Joseph used them!
Exactly. We don’t have a Biblical mandate to celebrate our own birthdays either, but we all do that. I feel there is no wrong in celebrating the best birthday on earth - that of the Lord Jesus. I understand all that concern about it being a “catholic” holiday and it being celebrated on a day that was actually a pagan holiday. But people misunderstand that it was the catholic church’s attempt to convert a pagan holiday into one that honoured God. They were trying to replace the bad with the good. Another point is that for centuries, the “catholic” church was the church that descended from Christ’s disciples. We can banter back and forth about how wrong the Catholic church is and how wrong the Protestant churches are. For one, I don’t think that God is at all offended that we would want to celebrate Christ’s birthday - I believe He probably wishes we did so in a way that was a lot less “consumerist” and self-centered as it has become. Celebrating His birthday in a way that truly seeks to put Him first and honour Him and provide for those considered “the least of these” would truly bring Him great joy. And not only that, it would get the attention of the world who is looking for something more to this life. Right now, the world doesn’t think we truly have the answer. We have failed the world.
I have nothing against anyone who chooses not to celebrate Christ’s birthday for various reasons such as the one in this article. But I think we are missing more important, more key issues. The times are winding down to the final hour. Who knows for sure if we are the final generation, but we are certainly coming close. Our churches here in the West are exactly the Laodicean church in Revelation chapter 3. We are foolish, “pitiful, blind naked and poor” and also “neither hot nor cold” . I worry that too many of our churches and their members are going to find themselves in the group that the Lord addresses with “I never knew you” on the day of judgment. Let us focus on a genuine, purposeful effort to really know Christ personally and to make Him known for the good God that He is - because the world needs to know.
I live in the heart of Christ of Christ territory. I do N OT know of a single member or church that doesn’tât celebrate Christmas
The Church of Christ (non instrumental), Church of Christ (Christian), and Disciples of Christ (Christian) have a common origin in the Christian Church Movement of the early 1800s ~ as described in the article above. Then there's the Primitive Baptist Church, which is so similar in its basic beliefs and structure as to be indistinguishible but for the name.
After many years of membership in congregations in two of the main branches my parents went with a non instrumental church founded by people from Tennessee in Indiana. They were advised they'd need to be rebaptised.
So, they went back to the regular kind ~ the DOC ~ which actually has an open communion these days.
There are, to say the least, variations from congregtion to congregation. Then, there are common features. The desire to restore the First Century Church is one of the common elements ~ at the same time the best anybody has been able to do is a restoration to the second-century. Still, I have no doubt someone is going to find an authentic text from the time of Jesus mentioning the use of musical instruments ~ and the non-instrumentals will stick to their practice ~ which I've always thought derived more from their Moravian predecessors than careful evaluation of first century church practice ~ but that's just a personal impression.
These 3 or 4 churches arose at about the same time for the same purpose and found themselves drawing on people with prior Christian beliefs. There was no intention that they become a denomination, so if you believed in Christmas, you could do that. Just follow the order of worship and sing the right songs and just about anybody could be a member. Today the Disciples of Christ has accepted such a large body of Roman Catholics that it's not uncommon to find a perpetual novena underway among those members.
Some of the more independent congregations have incorporated purely Lutheran standards, and sometimes purely Baptist standards, into their church beliefs and practices.
Give you an idea what that is about ~ notice the statement regarding collections. They take up a general collection weekly. Baptists have special collections. I have attended Baptist services where at least three special collections, plus a general collection, were held during the service. The Baptist ideal is that every member's gift be treated to an accounting worthy of IRS. The Christian church ideal is that every member trust that their own chosen church leadership will be faithful.
BTW, the Reverend Jim Jones ended up affiliated with the Disciples of Christ. Obviously he did not adhere to Christian church beliefs.
In recent times there's been a great deal o concern in all three of the major divisions over what's going on with Christmas. This has been paralleled over the centuries by the various Lutheran churches in Europe and America ~ and for much the same reasons.
It's not Biblical ~
Clearly neither Lutherans nor Christian Church members let that get in their way very much.
Proud participant of the Campbellite wars here on FR back in 2006-7-8 when “they” tried to take over the Religion threads.
Then there are those “Cooneyites” who don’t believe in Christmas or Easter, or TV, or Radio, or movies.
Let's hear it for the First Century Church
As a member of the Church of Christ....
We live in an age where we get to do everything custom tailored to OUR tastes. Cars, food, insurance, education, loans, the list is endless.
However, true religion is not ours to dictate. We cannot pick and choose, as we do with most things in our life nowadays, how we serve God. We do it the way God wants, hence the article above.
Of course, the Bible mentions Our Lord observing the "Feast of the Dedication", better known by its Hebrew name, "Hanukkah". You'll find no commandment concerning that feast in the OT Bible used by the Church of Christ, nor is the incident it commemorates mentioned.
I always celebrate Christmas, the tempests are out in droves especially in churches.
Whatever Church of Christ congregants want to do is fine with me. I get worn down over “having” to celebrate certain things, myself. I could go “All Lent, all the time.”
I think I’d rather hear something that the Church of Christ does believe in, something a little more positive than this devisive stuff that keeps Christians (and others) separated. All you are doing is bragging about how much better and holier y’all are for wearing your panties a little tighter than the rest of us.
Indeed. A life of prayer and penance sounds good right now. I think of you and yours often and always in prayer.
See the World Religions and Theology section of our website for the article Bible Questions for the Church of Christ: www.faithfacts.org.
Would the church present a service relevant to any socially acknowledged reason? Say, a 9/11 memoriam? There’s nothing wrong with a sermon about Christ’s birth, and nothing wrong with timing it for when the world in general is trying to acknowledge it.
Indeed! It is a Catholic holiday ...
because the Pope took Saturn out of Saturnalia.
It’s not penance if you’re dieting ;-). Thank you for the prayer, I’m sure it helps!
Merry Christmas! We have all our children home (plus a guest-dog) and everyone is well. It’s a blessed time, really.
Thank you for the “instructions”, if that is what they are in post #1. One is fearful to write anything at all, as it may be construed by whoever to be “antagonistic”. Like the previous sentence, for example. I sign my name under post # 19, in any event.
I am at the same time envious of those homogeneous countries in South America or Europe where everyone or nearly everyone belongs to one church, and the hair splitting among the many Protestant sects we have here, some as old as a decade or less, others maybe a 100 years old or a little more (as compared to the history of the Catholic Church and Her theology), do not take place, if only because they are long considered irrelevant.
Yes, Merry Christmas to you as well.
IIRC, the Pilgrims didn’t celebrate Christmas, either; they viewed it as a pagan celebration. Not big fans of the pope. Christmas was a “ChristMASS”.
Perfectly sound, scripturally based advice from the good Pastor of The Church Of Christ. You are free to disagree and to practice otherwise, as many do, myself included.
However, you will have a difficult time in criticizing him or anyone else who believes similarly, because what he wrote is not at all inaccurate. If you observe Christmas as a Christian holy day, understand that it has no scriptural basis. That matters much more so to some than to others.
The holiday has veered into excess and error in the modern era, I suspect most would agree. Is this a condemnation of the observation or the celebration of Christmas? More so to some than to others.
Return to Paul and Romans 14 as often as you need to do so, in order to become more understanding and charitable toward your fellow brothers and sisters who do not hold to identical practices and observations. Observing or celebrating this holiday or any other is not a core, salvific matter. Upon core, salvific matters all Christians should agree, and do.
This particular topic is one with which I've dealt all my life. My father's family did not celebrate Christmas while my mother's family celebrated it thoroughly, Advent candles, greenery everywhere, caroling and all. They even had "Old Christmas."
whatsoever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven?
whoever hears you, hears me
on earth as it is in heaven ...
Church has no authority to name holidays?
some are terminally unique.
Remember how Jesus felt about the Pharisees and legalism?