It’s Christmas Eve night, a holy night as we sit under eager expectation to celebrate our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ’s birth. You’d think this special time of the year is for joyous celebration and quality time spent with friends and family observing holiday traditions, going to church, eating a delicious fine meal, and exchanging gifts. Yet for most Reformed, Christmas, and Easter celebrations illicit feelings that are akin to a pre-conversion Scrooge from Charles Dicken’s wonderful book “A Christmas Story“. To them, these are just ordinary days on the calendar with no special significance whatsoever. I disagree strongly with this view. These people believe the only lawful and proper holiday for Christians to observe is the Christian Sabbath (Sunday). I have no problem with observing the Lord’s Day, but I don’t believe it is the only possible holiday we have the freedom to observe as believers.
It is utterly fallacious for opponents of Christians observing holidays, such as Christmas, to assert that these are not holy days since they are not explicitly defined as such in Scripture. That very narrow-minded definition is not biblical at all. What could be more holy than Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection?! We know these are holy days and are fit for a celebration. It’s ridiculous to assert that Scripture must explicitly designate a certain day to be holy for it to be so.
Making an extra special celebration for Christ’s birth is VERY BIBLICAL and VERY NECESSARY in my view. It is an exaggerated and reactionary Reformed response to the Roman Catholic church calendar which is behind most Reformed not celebrating Christmas or Easter. I think it’s stupid! The Puritans went so far as to condemn those that celebrate Christmas and Easter as being guilty of sin. They often banned such holidays from being observed in their jurisdictions.
Christians from the time of the EARLY CHURCH to the present have been celebrating Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection continuously for nearly 2,000 years!! Yes, December 25th, and Easter, are very momentous, significant, and special days. I believe ALL CHRISTIANS should honor Christ on these days and celebrate!!
The other root cause of this problem, besides a reactionary response to all things Roman Catholic, is the regulative principle of worship (RPW). It dictates that we may only worship God in ways He has delineated in Scripture. I have several objections to this principle. First, observing holidays like Christmas does not fall under the rubric of worship so the RPW does not apply. Second, even if observing Christmas does fall under the category of worship there is nothing in Scripture that explicitly commands us to only worship God as defined in Scripture. I believe the normative principle of worship (NPW) is a far more biblical and balanced view. The NPW says that anything which is not sinful and is not explicitly condemned or forbidden in Scripture is permissible.
A problem here is believers not comprehending how better a covenant the New Covenant is, and the freedom to worship we have in Christ. So no I absolutely do not believe that a Christian who sets up a Christmas tree, watches a Christmas movie, sings carols, has a fine family meal, or any of the other traditions associated with Christmas makes us somehow guilty of offering Strange Fire unto the Lord.
There is, sadly, often a highly legalistic and self-righteous spirit behind these objections to Christmas and Easter. I actually feel sorry for such Christians, and I pray God would open their eyes someday. It would be one thing if they choose to not observe Christmas or Easter, but they aren’t content with that and frequently feel compelled to criticize, falsely judge, ridicule, mock, and lambast those of us who do observe such holidays. I’ve seen some very ugly behavior on Facebook in particular. This controversy does not honor Christ! I will step back and try to not let such people get me too upset and disturbed.