C.H. Spurgeon

Sinners, let me address you with words of life; Jesus wants nothing from you, nothing whatsoever, nothing done, nothing felt; he gives both work and feeling. Ragged, penniless, just as you are, lost, forsaken, desolate, with no good feelings, and no good hopes, still Jesus comes to you, and in these words of pity he addresses you, "Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out."

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Monday, December 06, 2010

Christ-Mass at 180 Degrees: A Sin to Celebrate, a Sin to Not

I realize this post may come across as anti-Christmas, as the Grinch, or just plain argumentative, but actually it is more of just a note of thoughts for the individual reader to consider this year.

It is interesting that each year we hear an uproar about people, businesses, or whatever “trying to take Christ out of Christmas”, but I wonder just how many of us know anything about the history of Christmas or actually worship Christ more during the season supposedly celebrating His birth.

First, the word Christmas originates from combining the words Christ (the son of God) and Mass (the Catholic Mass). [1] “The Mass is the complex of prayers and ceremonies that make up the service of the Eucharist in the Latin rites.” [2] Both Baptists (of which I am) and Catholics believe the Lord’s Supper began with Christ [3], but the literal or symbolic nature of the Lord’s Supper is quite different between the two. The Eucharist or ‘Sacrifice of the Mass’ [4] carries with it the idea of Transubstantiation [4]; whereby “Catholic Christian belief [is] in the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist” (meaning the bread and wine actually become the literal body and blood of Christ) by their interpretation of such scripture as John 6:53-56 [5]. Whereas Baptist realize the words of Christ were spiritual and not fleshly, for Christ did say in verse 63: “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” One may notice all who are saved are also called “one bread, and one body” in 1 Corinthians 10:17. And if the ‘cup of the Lord’ is the literal blood of Christ, is the ‘cup of devils’ the literal blood of devils? [1 Corinthians 10:21]

Point 1: Baptists do not celebrate or believe in the teaching of the Catholic Mass, and the word Christmas appears to have originated with Catholic teachings.

Second, according to some “Christmas history of America” [6], in 1645 Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans took over England, and cancelled Christmas as part of their vow to ‘rid England of decadence’ [moral degeneration or decay]. “Puritans by definition felt that the English Reformation had not gone far enough, and that the Church of England was tolerant of practices which they associated with the Catholic Church. They formed into and identified with various religious groups advocating greater "purity" of worship and doctrine, as well as personal and group piety.” [7] Oddly, during the 1600s, some pilgrims (English separatists, also Puritan in their beliefs) enjoyed Christmas in America, while for others it was outlawed. Even before the Civil War, the North “saw sin in the celebration of Christmas”, while the South celebrated it without guilty conscience. From there, it seems Christmas was promoted in books and Sunday school to the children, then with magazines and decorations to the women.

Point 2: Whereas the Puritans of England seemed to argue that Christmas was not for the Christian (or non Catholic), there were those in America who fought over the idea of whether Christmas was sin or worthy to be celebrated.

Thirdly, when I hear the yearly outcry from professing Christians that this place or that group is refusing the say or promote Christmas, I have to sit back and wonder what all the hoopla is about. Why? Because while we criticize those who do not display nativity scenes or say “Merry Christmas”, I do not see us as Christians doing any more for Christ during a season whereby we claim people are doing less or nothing at all for “Christ’s birthday”. I mean, really, if we would like to demand the lost world (or those “less” Christian) to say “Merry Christmas” to recognize our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (not to mention the Catholic Mass), then why do we as Christians not spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ rather than sitting lazily inside our homes watching football, overeating, and often spending the day with family and friends we don’t always like, with gifts we usually can’t afford?

Point 3: Before we demand a change in other’s priorities, we need to ensure ours are in the right place.

Why does it seem that we - as Christians (or non Catholic) - have gone 180 degrees in stating that it was once a sin (or Catholic) to celebrate Christmas, but now it is apparently a sin (or non Christian) to not celebrate Christmas?

** note: this is not a post against Catholic's or Catholicism, but a post for my Baptists brothers and sisters...

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John Bunyan

To be saved is to be preserved in the faith to the end. 'He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.' (Mt. 24:13) Not that perseverance is an accident in Christianity, or a thing performed by human industry; they that are saved 'are kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation.' (1 Pet. 1: 3-6) But perseverance is absolutely necessary to the complete saving of the soul…. He that goeth to sea with a purpose to arrive at Spain, cannot arrive there if he be drowned by the way; wherefore perseverance is absolutely necessary to the saving of the soul.