Is the celebration of christmas an issue of adiaphora?

Discussion in 'Theological Forum' started by earl40, Dec 7, 2014.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I have seen those who favor the celebration of Dec. 25 say it is. Curious to see those that oppose such if they think it is adiaphorous.

    In my thinking it is not adiaphorous if one thinks it is a sin to celebrate that day.
     
  2. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Are you speaking of observing the day like Thanksgiving or are you talking about a religious observance of the day, public worship, etc.
     
  3. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    The second instance, as the entire world view it as such. Personally I enjoy Thanksgiving.....a tad too much if you get my drift. Burp.
     
  4. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Okay; a religious observance like that is not a matter of indifference or adiaphora. N.B. Let's not derail this over simply preaching a sermon about Christ's birth; all other things being as they should.
     
  5. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    N.B.?
     
  6. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    N.B.=nota bene=note.
     
  7. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    The entire world sees Christmas as a religious holiday? Are you saying Santa is religious?
     
  8. nick

    nick Puritan Board Freshman

    He is an idol for millions of kiddos. :)
     
  9. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I will go out on a limb and say "yes" all who know the right hand from the left hand know Santa is connected to some type of religion. Now in saying this I understand they may not have this in the view many times as evidenced by our nonreligios culture but In my most humble opinion they know Santa is connected to a religion especially with all the mangers and angels that come with the trappings of this season.

    Curious, do you see this differently?
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2014
  10. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    We need to separate out cultural attachments from worship. Otherwise these discussions turn into a discussion of pagan practices and the much more important question of purifying worship on biblical principles never gets traction. Take care of worship practices and the tree, presents, Santa, light gazing, red and green M&Ms, and all of the rest takes care of itself.
     
  11. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I agree that none of the periphery belongs in the church for Sunday or Dec. the 25th which falls on Thursday and thus is not adiaphorous. Is there warrent in your opinion to place this periphery as adiaphorous outside the church? In other words, I understand this is not a RPW issue but to observe this holiday anytime seems to somewhat synchronistic and not an issue of adiaphora because of the religious connotations.
     
  12. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    If it is not worship it needs to be judged as anything else that is alleged to be indifferent in theory. I'm not saying that everything about xmas observance culturally outside the church is indifferent; I'm saying let's show some level of discernment over priorities. Sure, you can get a consortium of folks who hate the xmas tree as a pagan idol or Santa as the devil, but they will just as likely be a majority of "let's put Christ back into xmas".
     
  13. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    You could probably stretch the term 'religion' to include just about everything from Santa to the American Flag to the NFL. What is your definition of 'religion'?
     
  14. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Football is secular, as is the American flag. Of course we may enjoy when FSU beats Alabama in the NC and stand and face the flag when they play the national anthem before the game to the glory of God. In other words, I can separate these activities from any type of religious observance while still enjoying the good Our Lord provides. Now with Santa, candy canes, and the trapping of Christmas I believe it is not as easy to separate these trappings from the idea that men are setting apart a day (holi or holy day) to observe the incarnation.
     
  15. johnny

    johnny Puritan Board Sophomore

    I like Xmas, waking up and opening pressies, going to church and singing carols, having a big lunch and just generally feeling happy, on the one day that the western world comes together and entertains the possibility that there might actually be a God.

    I praise God for Xmas, what a wonderful gift to the world is this small holiday.
    A great opportunity to talk about Christ at a time when people are more receptive to the gospel message.
    Merry Christmas to all my Brothers and Sisters in Christ on the puritanboard :)
     
  16. arapahoepark

    arapahoepark Puritan Board Graduate

    When you work retail, you will hate Christmas but not for its intended meaning. You see all the godless consumerism and the working of other holidays to make these people, who likely know nothing of the meaning of Christmas, happy to buy gifts for themselves for a couple bucks less (if, of course, they win a fist fight to get it).
     
  17. jwithnell

    jwithnell Moderator Staff Member

    If a church wishes to emphasize the incarnation of Jesus at a certain time of year then I wish they wouldn't skip over the historic practice of setting aside time to celebrate the escatological hope the church has had throughout the ages.
     
  18. Dearly Bought

    Dearly Bought Puritan Board Junior

    I enjoy waking up on the Sabbath morn, going to church and singing psalms, having a shared lunch with my brethren in Christ, and just generally feeling joyful. Even from a purely pragmatic perspective, I don't think Christmas aids receptivity to the Gospel message, particularly since it associates the discussion of the incarnation and the birth of Christ with so much baggage. Try extricating a simple word such as "manger" from thoughts of fireside caroling, wooden nativity scenes, and children's pageants. What about the account of the magi and singing claymation camels?

    It drives me nuts, as one aspiring to preach, that such excellent portions of God's Word have been clouded by a Thomas Kinkade haze.
     
  19. Elizabeth

    Elizabeth Puritan Board Sophomore

    Our church does both, for which I am grateful.
     
  20. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Christmas.

    Luke 21:8, "And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them."
     
  21. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Sadly many "Presbyterians" have forgotten their reforming ideals. How is letting the surrounding superstitious culture influence our worship by bringing in those idol holy days contrary to the second commandment and other rules in Scripture any better than those churches that violate the fourth commandment by having super bowl parties? As the Westminster Standards say, "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."

    This decline simply proves the rule that one of the Scots commissioners to that assembly articulated at the time of the 2nd Reformation in Scotland and Calvin and others before:
    [FONT=&amp]All things and rites which have been notoriously abused to idolatry, if they are not such as either God or nature has made to be of a necessary use, should be utterly abolished and purged away from divine worship, in such sort that they may not be accounted nor used by us as sacred things or rites pertaining to the same.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&amp]But the cross, surplice, kneeling in the act of receiving the communion, &c., are things and rites, &c., and are not such as either God or nature, &c.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&amp]Therefore they should be utterly abolished, &c.[/FONT] Dispute Against the English Popish Ceremonies (Naphtali Press, 2013) 149-156

    The Nassau Confession of 1578 on Monuments of Idolatry.
    “It were much to be wished that suitable steps against this evil had been taken in the Protestant churches soon upon the initial purification of doctrine. And moreover, that the idolatrous images, which have been and still are one of the principal abominations under the Papacy, had been everywhere abolished by the Protestant estates for the recovery and preservation of the proper service of worship and for the possible prevention of various disgraces to the Christian religion and to its reputation…

    “And even if all the people of this age had their eyes opened so widely that there would now be no more residue of offence or scandal on account of images, nevertheless all manner of injury could be sustained among their descendents no less than formerly as a result of the surviving idols.

    “And even if this were not encountered, still it is right in itself. And, as has previously been often stated, it is commanded by God that one should do away with the monuments of idolatry or memorials by means of which great idolatry was being promoted a few years ago. And this accords with the approved example of Holy Scripture.

    “For King Hezekiah broke up the brazen serpent after the children of Israel had burned incense to it, though Moses had made it at God’s command as a type of Christ, 2 Kgs. 18[:4]….”

    The Nassau Confession of 1578, translated by R. Sherman Isbell, in Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries in English Translation Volume 3 1567-1599. Edited by James T. Dennison (RHB, 2012), under the head “The Christian Magistrate not only has the power to remove Idolatrous Images, but is obliged to do so on account of his office,” 531.

    *****************
    The Bremer on Ceremonies (1595).
    “II. Some ceremonies are devised and established by men are properly called adiaphora, that is, a thing neither evil nor good, or an act which is left free, or an ecclesiastical rule. … They do not take the place of the indispensable worship service, such as the use of the holy sacraments and the hearing of God’s Word. Rather, they are external ordinances of men and thus they serve only for a convenient performance of the worship service. Beyond this, no necessity should be placed in them for conscience sake, nor any confidence or special reverence or sanctity, for as soon as that occurs such ceremonies will be much too highly elevated above their ordinary allowed use and are made into an evident superstition….

    5. Fifth and similarly, should the ceremonies ordained by men come to be regarded no longer as something left free, and if one makes them to be a service especially pleasing to God or wants to insist upon them as if they were necessary for conscience sake, or if one wants to persuade the people that it would be meritorious or an action by which one could obtain grace with God, reconciliation, the forgiveness of sins, or satisfaction from some transgression, then on that account and in such circumstances they should be entirely abolished. This should be done regardless of the preceding custom and regardless of its past beneficial use because by this time they have been so greatly altered that they henceforth are a thing repugnant to the truth and liberty of the gospel and rob Christ of His glory.

    6. Sixth, if the ordinances of men in the church assume a form that, for the sake of similarity, is closer in these matters to the enemies of the truth than to the orthodox so that the weak are offended by this and kept in error and the enemies would become more stiff-necked, then it is best to remove them, in part to obviate offence and in part to avoid dangers either present or apprehended as future. When there is a form with fasts, days of the deceased saints, vestments, wafers, elevation, images and the like, these are nothing other than papal ensigns and the colors of his court. They should no more be retained than a respectable woman should be accustomed to going thoughtlessly clothed among immodest people or than soldiers should undertake to carry the ensigns of the enemy.”

    “The Bremen Consensus (1695),” translated by R. Sherman Isbell, in Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries in English Translation, edited by James T. Dennison, Jr. (RHB, 2012) 700–701.
    *****************
    Calvin on Removing Idolatrous Filth from the Church
    “Similarly, what is alleged of an Italian writer, that abuse does not take away good use, will not be true if one holds to it without exception: because it is clearly commanded to us to prudently watch that we would not offend the infirm brothers by our example, and that we should never undertake what would be illicit. For Saint Paul prohibits offending the brothers in eating flesh that was sacrificed to idols [1 Cor. 10:28], and speaking to this particular issue he shows a general rule that we are to keep ourselves from troubling the consciences of the weak by a bad or damaging example. One might speak better and more wholesomely if he were to say that what God himself ordains may not be abolished for wrong use or abuse that is committed against it. But even here, it is necessary to abstain from these things if, by later human ordinance, they have become corrupt with error, and if their use is harmful or scandalizes the brothers.

    “Here I marvel how this “Reformer,” after granting that superstitions sometimes have such strong popularity that it is necessary to remove from the realm of man those things once ordained by public authority (as we read of Hezekiah doing with the bronze serpent), finally does not consider even a little that his shrewdness is a horror to the ways of good action: as if in defending supportable rituals, he would oblige that all superstitions should be considered as safe and whole because they are weighty. For what is there in the papacy now that would not resemble the bronze serpent, even if it did not begin that way [Num. 21:9]? Moses had it made and forged by the commandment of God: he had it kept for a sign of recognition. Among the virtues of Hezekiah told to us is that he had it broken and reduced to ash [2 Kings 18:4]. The superstitions for the most part, against which true servants of God battle today, are spreading from here to who knows where as covered pits in the ground. They are filled with detestable errors that can never be erased unless their use is taken away. Why, therefore, do we not confess simply what is true, that this remedy is necessary for taking away filth from the church?” Cf. Raymond V. Bottomly, “Response to a Certain Tricky Middler” (Responsio Ad Versipellem Quendam Mediatorem, [French] “Response a Un Certain Moyenneur Rusé,”), The Confessional Presbyterian 8 (2012) 264.]
     
  22. Rev. Todd Ruddell

    Rev. Todd Ruddell Puritan Board Junior

    The reason we have these discussions every year is because for so many otherwise careful Christians, the celebration is "cozy". A few posts even in this brief thread have said as much. The love of that kind of "feeling" is very powerful to our fallen humanity. However, obedience on the other hand is not "cozy", and often difficult and costly. This is further exacerbated because the desire of many is that their loved ones, especially their children, ought to enjoy this pleasurable feeling--again, obedience taking the back seat. Until we deal with our base desires for this kind of coziness and love for the traditions of men (make no mistake, that is what the Christ-mass is) we will continue to have these discussions. Christ-mass does not honor Christ, and Christ has no desire to be put "back into Christmas", as He was never there. I mean not to offend anyone. I mean not to sound "mean". But the simple fact is Christ-mass is a man-made celebration, with all of its appeal to the flesh (that coziness and nostalgia) that comes with human invention. Please, my dear brethren, seek to honor Christ in the way that He has appointed to be honored, and avoid every appearance of evil.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2014
  23. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    Let's not forget that this figure is Saint Nicholas. Saint Nicholas is an important religious idol for many of the antichurches of the world.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 9, 2014
  24. Free Christian

    Free Christian Puritan Board Sophomore

    I wish they'd stop showing the wise men around the manger!
     
  25. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    I am not arguing against the fact that some might turn Santa into a religion. I am wondering if it is indeed true that "the entire world views it as such." The entire world views Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, etc as religions. But 'Clausism' is something I have never heard mentioned as a world religion.
     
  26. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Is it not the point that it is impossible to separate "Santa" from Dec. 25th? The connection is that both ,Santa and Dec. 25th, are set apart to which Paul speaks of in Galatians 4.
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2014
  27. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    I agree with you that Santa is an idol in some people's lives. I am not defending anything Santa. However, 'the entire world' does not view Santa as the god of some religious sect. There might be some who have faith in Santa, but I think most of the world sees those types as kooks, not disciples. If we the Reformed are going to argue against Santa, we cannot base it on the same grounds as our arguments against Buddhism or Islam.
     
  28. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I understand that the connection of a statue of Buddha to Buddhism is indeed woven together but the point is that Santa is connected to Dec 25th which sets apart that day which The Lord has not set apart. Now do not get me wrong I in no way wish to be looked at as a legalistic Grinch but what I have read is that in the early reformed churches such as Geneva and Scotland saw what I am conveying as not legalism but what is right in the eyes of God.

    I am here for correction if I err....Pastor Winzer, Josh?
     
  29. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    I'm just not following why the focus of your concern is on Saint Nick. You'll find many Christians who object to Santa but do the rest of the nine yards.
     
  30. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Is Santa not St. Nick? Or are you saying Santa is totally a cultural phenom?
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page