Puritan Board Professor
So Jack you admit that the Church, not Christ, named (invented) the day and began to celebrate it regularly?
If the church could see that a practice is supported biblically, would not the church and Christ be in agreement even if we don't have a direct command from Christ regarding the practice?
We don't need a direct command from Christ in order to seasonally celebrate the nativity. Christ didn't give direct commands, that we know of, on many aspects of worship and godly life that the church carries over due to a "big picture" understanding of the rest of Scripture (applying baptism to infants is one example I know you and I could agree on).
Since it hasn't been done yet on this thread, allow me to show that Christmas observance can be supported biblically. This isn't a direct response to Andrew's question, but more of a general response to many questions raised here. The question of biblical support is a good one that deserves an answer.
First, the approach: There is abundant scriptural mandate for the seasonal celebration of landmark acts of redemption, and for the celebration of the nativity in particular. Some of the most prominent of these passages are huge chunks of Exodus, Leviticus, Psalms, Nehemiah, Esther, and Luke. But as with any matter, a “big picture” understanding of Scripture and how it fits together is necessary. We want a general understanding of worship through the centuries of biblical history, not just a proof text.
The issue, as it is with certain other matters like the use of musical instruments in worship, is not whether one can find evidence in Scripture but rather how specific and direct a New Testament mandate one requires.
That stated, a brief argument from Scripture in favor of Christmas observance, using more of a “big picture” approach, might go as follows:
— It is good to celebrate the incarnation and the nativity as a part of our worship of God because these are special, landmark acts in redemptive history. The psalms give us ample examples of celebrating landmark redemptive acts. The four songs in Luke 1 and 2 are examples of worship focused on the incarnation/nativity and on the fact that these are landmark acts of redemption too.
— God has repeatedly had his people set aside days and seasons in addition to the Sabbath for the celebration of landmark acts of redemption (see Exodus, Leviticus, Nehemiah, Esther, and more). We have no reason to think that this principle of worship should end with the New Testament, as if God’s way of dealing with his people has changed that fundamentally. A covenant theology understanding of Scripture asserts that it hasn’t. We put aside observance of those looking-ahead-to-Jesus days that have been fulfilled, but this doesn’t mean the principle is changed.
— We have no need for detailed commands to seasonally remember this or that New Testament redemptive act such as existed with many of the Old Testament redemptive acts. New Testament instruction on worship gives us far less detail in general than was given to Old Testament believers—yet we carry over Old Testament instructions and freely apply them in ways that fit us on this side of Christ’s first coming. If special acts of redemption were to be seasonally observed in Old Testament days, how much more now that Christ has come and the redemptive acts we celebrate are that much greater!
Now, we can agrue over this line of reasoning. Certainly, those who don’t accept it on matters such as musical instruments are going to be less likely to accept it when it comes to Christmas as well. I understand that. But I did want to show that Christmas can be observed by churches that are trying to be biblical and have Bible-based reasons for their position on the matter.