Monday, October 29, 2012

Halloween? What About Christmas?


HALLOWEEN?
WHAT ABOUT CHRISTMAS?

So many people will dismiss such a discussion instantly and without a genuine desire to investigate its Scriptural validity. It is in the same class as nationalism, and it is so ingrained and so enjoyable that it rarely if ever gets any substantive consideration. Many will label it as legalism, but this has nothing to do with salvation except that it is used by the evil one to suggest to lost people that they are saved and it engenders a sentimentality that inebriates the spirits of believers and thereby dilutes spiritual commitment.

The church has for many centuries observed and celebrated many religious “holidays“, which comes from the words “holy days”. Many protestant denominations even observe seasons like lent and advent, but most churches usually have Christmas and Easter as their main days of celebration. Sadly, many churches now include a 4th of July weekend in this same category. That is blasphemous and actually desecrates the gathering.

But observing days and orchestrating celebrations around these days is hardly innocuous. It has quietly and inconspicuously pushed out true worship and has replaced it with pagan rituals and a self serving emotional uplift which is more saccharine than it is spiritually authentic. What if a man proposes marriage to his girlfriend, and then after a few months they are married. But after they are married the man begins to construct the event in which he proposed. He insists every week that they go to the same restaurant, sit in the same seats, order the same food, wear the same clothes, send out the same invitations, and eventually these observances begin to replace the emotional and even the physical intimacy in their marriage.

That is what has happened in the church. Instead of a growing intimacy with Jesus Christ through worship, service, and an insatiable desire to learn and obey His Word, the church now primarily observes days and seasons. Even Sunday is observed as a holy day and usually sees a congregation that is outwardly more pious than they had been throughout the week. Most pew sitters join in the music service after had little if any personal worship during the week. But the observance of the day suffices. Instead of the Sunday gathering being a time for collective worship naturally flowing out of a week long journey of seeking Christ, it has become a religious observance which soothes the conscience, uplifts the spirit, and offers a time for surface greetings and convenient times of snapshot fellowship. That is hardly what was envisioned by the early church.

But churches across the country will observe the pagan ritual named “Christmas” and spend much money on flowers and other seasonal accoutrements. In fact, some churches will engage in a recreation of the birth of Christ in a gala spectacle which required hundreds of hours of practice and preparation. And after the presentation everyone goes home feeling good and complimenting the performance. It seems so right and so edifying but in reality it is actually a pagan ritual. Our faith is not thespian in nature. It is allowing the Spirit to take God’s Word and infuse it into our lives so that we are living and exhibiting Christ in the here and now and not in a redundant production of certain written narratives.

Paul in his letter to the Galatians makes it perfectly clear that we are in no way supposed to take Old Testament shadows and mesh them with the New Testament Spirit.

Gal.4: 9 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.

How many people loudly and sometimes proudly claim they believe the Bible is God’s Word and even inerrant? Well, what do these words mean? I mean come on, we must do some verbal gymnastics to avoid the obvious implications of Paul’s warning. And yet the church has found ways to dilute and avoid being inconvenienced by words like these. And if a sinner comes to Christ during a Christmas pageant, and sometimes they do, that is presented as evidence of God’s approval. The end justifies the means. But there is much more to Paul’s warnings.

Gal.4: 20 I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you.
21 Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?
22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman.
23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise.
24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.
25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.
26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.
27 For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband.
28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.
29 But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.
30 Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.
31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.

There can be no compromise regardless of how deeply in love you have fallen with pagan observances, that is if you sincerely wish to please God and follow His Words. The bondwoman, the law, cannot share a doctrinal tent with the freedom that is found in Christ. Even though the law was once a schoolmaster that brought us to Christ, the two are enemies now. After the law had finished its work, it was destroyed. To resurrect it is a sin and compromises the gospel and the truth. Shadows cannot feed, they cannot edify, and even though sentimental observances have found their way into the church, they still diminish the glory of the Risen Christ.

Religious holidays spiritually persecute the Spirit as is mentioned in verse 29. This is no game, and part of the reason the church blends in so well with the world is that we observe days like they do, we spend like they do, we borrow like they do, we vote like they do, and yet we believe that Christ has changed us? The event called Christmas is not only unscriptural as it pertains to accuracy in its date, but it is not even an Old Testament feast. It was ushered in by a fallen religious church to provide a substitute for another pagan holiday.

But even if the birth of Jesus was commanded by Scripture as an observance by the church, the western practice has become nothing short of a hedonistic spending spree and a heathen leviathan that is overwhelmingly sentimental rather than a true worship of the Incarnate Christ. I have seen Christmas celebrations in church where there is a play where people sing “It’s Beginning to look a lot like Christmas” and other songs which celebrate some kind of Christmas “spirit”. To treat Christmas as a spirit is pagan but certainly defines the observance. To be technical, observing birthdays in and of itself is also pagan.

It would be a compromise for individuals believers to observe pagan holidays, but over the centuries the church has succumbed to the cultural pressure. And this pagan ritual has become a mainstay in the church with trees and gifts and the spirit of the season. Does this rattle your cage, or does it disturb your plans? This kind of issue, even though it is not essentially doctrinal, is often a beginning point for believers to begin to move away from the trappings of the western institutional church. Do you think this was just discovered? Do you think a nobody like me is just finding axes to grind? Well, since you seek a greater earthly authority, I leave you with the words of C. H. Spurgeon.

"We have no superstitious regard for times and seasons. Certainly we do not believe in the present ecclesiastical arrangement called Christmas: first, because we do not believe in the mass at all, but abhor it, whether it be said or sung in Latin or in English; and, secondly, because we find no Scriptural warrant whatever for observing any day as the birthday of the Savior; and, consequently, its observance is a superstition, and not because of divine authority."

I exhort you to pray about it this year.

6 comments:

TRUTH459 said...

Christians and Halloween – 101 Blog.
http://truth459.blogspot.com/2010/10/christians-and-halloween-101blog.html

*** (Ezekiel 2:7) And you shall speak My Words to them, whether they will hear or whether they will forbear, for they are rebellious.

JMD said...

It is so interesting the level of fervor that professing Christians have about the protecting of Christmas. While one may be "tolerated" for opting out of Halloween I have found their is not the same charity extended to those that choose not to participate in Christmas or some of the other holiday celebrations.

Anonymous said...

Rick,

This was a test, right? I have to laugh to myself because you gave the answer to this test in the sermon yesterday. We have strayed from the Gospel message of Grace and Salvation. What can wash away my sin, nothing but the blood of Jesus. What can make me whole again, nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Joel

Lori Tucker said...

Christmas is nothing more than just another one of the golden calves of Churchianity. Touch it and expect the "Christian" fur to fly. :(

Anonymous said...

Rick I totally agree but what about Thanksgiving? I think that the Christian should be thankful everyday not just a certain day set aside for this. What do you think?-Noel

Rick Frueh said...

Yes, Thanksgiving is a sentamental holiday tethered to nationalsim. It presents a false view of how the Indians were generally treated as well as a false view of the depth of spirituality in those days. We would do well to remember that being "God fearing" does not necessarily equate to being evangelical.