Deconstructing Krismass





Deconstructing Krismass

by Michael Daniels, 2014



Are we permitted to celebrate days created by man or are we restricted to divine commandment to institute any religious day of observance? What about krismass and other days taken from paganism? Are we free to adopt and redeem paganistic practices?

We as Reformed Covenanters believe that it is wrong to celebrate krismass and easter or any other man-made holy day for the following reasons.

1. We do not believe it is in the right or preogative of man to institute days from God’s own direction and commandment. It is a violation of the Second and Fourth Commandment. It is entrenching upon God’s prerogative.

2. Those days that man has instituted are filled with paganistic cultic practices and thus condemned. We are not called to adopt, redeem or cleanup paganistic practices but completely and utterly destroy them. We are to remember them no more.

3. Those days are also combined and filled with popery, of which we are not to have fellowship with workers of inquity

4. Neither Romans 14 nor Paul’s Meat’s Offered to Idol’s Dialog frees us from obeying God’s commandments of not partaking in paganistic and wicked practices which are to be destroyed from the land. We are not to be partakers in acts of idolatry for these things are truly offered up to demons.

5. It is not even the time of when the Messiah was born and there is a Romanticizing aspect that has been read into the nativity story.

Also, before anybody tries to think I am inconsistent by claiming “what about wedding rings? They are pagan” and “What do you do about the Calendar and all those paganistic names?”

I neither wear a wedding ring, as was the Reformed position both due to the paganistic cultic origin as well as connected with a sacramental component of Catholicism and their sacramental dogma.

I also have for quite sometime called for a complete Calendar replacement, as also was a something that many Puritans and Covenanters called for. Not so much because of any pagan religious significance but due to the commandment found in Exodus 23:13 “And in all things that I have said unto you be circumspect: and make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth.”, But I’ll leave these subject for another day.

Are we allowed to Institute a Day without Direct Precept

It is not in the allowance of the people of God to institute a day without direct precept and direction from the law-giver. For to institute a day belongs to God alone.

“Festival days are an entrenching upon God’s prerogative: for none can appoint an holy day, but he who hath made the days, and hath all power in his own hand” .” –John Bernard (Nonconformist minister, England), The Anatomy of the Service Book (1641).

No man can institute any day, even to the true God, as a part of worship, so as to bind the consciences to it, or to equal it with this day. That is a part of God’s royal prerogative, and a thing peculiar to him to sanctify and bless a day.”–James Durham (minister, Church of Scotland), The Law Unsealed (1675).

To institute a day that is not commanded in the Scripture is to create a new way to worship which is expressively forbidden and condemned by Paul as will-worship. We can only worship God in the way He has commanded. To do otherwise is a violation of the Second Commandment. Paul goes as far as fear for the Galatians who “observe days, and months, and times, and years.” who “how turning again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto you desire again to be in bondage?” Paul says “ I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.”

We are Reformed and as Reformed we hold to the Regulative Principle of Worship which does not only restrict Corporate Worship but also Private and Family Worship and therefore is just as relevant on ways we worship God outside the church as it is in.. The regulative principle of worship, anything that is not commanded is prohibited, silence is as much a prohibition as an explicit negative mentioning of it…

The Westminster Confession of Faith nicely summarizes this with,

“The light of nature shows that there is a God, who has lordship and sovereignty over all, is good, and does good unto all, and is therefore to be feared, loved, praised, called upon, trusted in, and served, with all the heart, and with all the soul, and with all the might.[1] But the acceptable way of worshipping the true God is instituted by Himself, and so limited by His own revealed will, that He may not be worshipped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in the holy Scripture. [2]”

[1] ROM 1:20, ACT 17:24, PSA 119:68, JER 10:7, PSA 31:23, PSA 18:3, ROM 10:12, PSA 62:8. JOS 24:14, MAR 12:33

[2] DEU 12:32, ACT 17:25, (see also DEU 4:15-20) EXO 20:4.

Robert Shaw who wrote one of the first commentaries on the Westminster Confession of Faith wrote regarding chapter 21 of the Confession of Faith,

“Religious worship consists in that homage and honour which we give to God, as a being of infinite perfection; whereby we profess our subjection to, and confidence in him, as our chief good and only happiness. It may be viewed as either internal or external; the former consisting in that inward homage which we owe to God, such as loving, believing, fearing, trusting in him, and other elicit acts of the mind; the latter consisting in the outward expression of that homage, by the observance of his instituted ordinances. Concerning the external worship of God, our Confession affirms, in the first place, that God can be worshipped acceptably only in the way of his own appointment. As God is the sole object of religious worship, so it is his prerogative to prescribe the mode of it. Divine institution must, therefore, be our rule of worship; and whatever may be imagined to be useful and decent, must be examined and determined by this rule. It is not left to human prudence to make any alterations in, or additions to, God’s own appointments. “What thing soever I command you,” saith the Lord, “observe to do it; thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.”—Deut. xii. 32. To introduce into the worship of God what may be deemed significant ceremonies, under the pretext of beautifying the worship, and exciting the devotion of the worshippers, is to be guilty of superstition and will-worship. In the second place, our Confession particularly condemns the worshipping of God “under any visible representation.” The worshipping of God in or by images is one of the worst corruptions of the Church of Rome. God is a spiritual, invisible, and incomprehensible being, and cannot, therefore, be represented by any corporeal likeness or figure. “To whom will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One.” – Isa. x1. 25. “We ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.”—Acts xvii. 29. The Israelites were expressly forbidden to make any image of God. In Deut. iv. 15, 16, Moses insists that “they saw no manner of similitude on the day that the Lord spake to them in Horeb, lest they should corrupt themselves, and make them a graven image.” And, therefore, he charges them (ver. 23) “to take heed lest they should forget the covenant of the Lord their God, and make them a graven image.” The Scripture forbids the worshipping of God by images, although they may not be intended as proper similitudes, but only as emblematic representations of God. Every visible form which is designed to recall God to our thoughts, and to excite our devotions, and before which we perform our religious offices, is expressly prohibited in the second commandment.—Exod. xx.4. The Church of Rome, being sensible that this precept condemns their doctrine and practice, makes it an appendage to the first commandment, and leaves it out in their catechism and books of devotion. In the third place, our Confession not only condemns the worshipping of God by images, but also the worshipping him “in any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scripture.” Not only has the Church of Rome corrupted the worship of God by a multitude of insignificant ceremonies, but even some Protestant Churches retain many of the usages of Popery, and enjoin the wearing of particular vestments by the ministers of religion, the observation of numerous festival days, the erection of altars in churches, the sign of the cross in baptism, bowing at the name of Jesus, and kneeling at the Lord’s Supper. These practices we justly reckon superstitious, because there is no scriptural warrant for them, and they are the inventions of men. It were well if those who enjoin and those who observe them would consider the words of God concerning the Jews: “In vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” – Matt. xv. 9.”

To institute a day even to the true God is adding to the worship of God and thus idolatry. For to institute festival days belong to God alone. John Calvin righty said,

“For when you elevate one day alone for the purpose of worshipping God, you have just turned it into an idol.  True, you insist that you have done so for the honour of God, but it is more for the honour of the Devil.” –John Calvin, Sermons on the book of Micah, trans. and ed. B. W. Farley (1551; Phillipsburg

But one might ask, “Does not the Regulative Principle of Worship only apply to the Corporate worship service?”

Let me ask a question to you. Is it lawful to setup an idol at home to worship the one true God? I hope the obvious answer is no. We are not permitted to set up an idol at home. I object to the setting apart of a day for a “holy” purpose in any situtation, place or sphere.

Any commandment which applies corporately also applies for families and for individuals. The second commandment (the regulative principle of worship) applies to any time that we answer the call of God to come into His presence and offer Him praise, homage and oblation.

Both private and family worship are as much regulated according to the Regulative Principle of Worship as Corporate Worship.

When we set a day apart for a “holy” purpose that is a violation of the second commandment as well as a violation of the fourth commandment.

The fourth commandment “requireth of all men the sanctifying or keeping holy to God such set times as he hath appointed in his word” (WLC 116). We also confess that includes not only the sabbath day, but daily in private families, and in secret by ourselves.


May we Adopt and Redeem Paganistic practices?


More then this, we are simply not allowed to adopt paganistic practices.

We are not called to redeem or clean up pagan practices. We are expressively and explicitly called to not imitate the ways of the Heathens and to destroy their practices from the land. Exodus 23:24; Exodus 34:13; Numbers 33:52; Deuteronomy 7:5; Deuteronomy 7:25; Deuteronomy 7:26.

If you can find any verses that instruct the people of God to take the monuments of idolatry from paganism and clean them up to use as believers, please share them.

When was the Messiah Born?


Also is the fact that Christ was not born on Dec. 25, Scripture places His nativity in the fall during the feast of Sukkot. At this time of the year there is always a great debate about the celebrating of Foolstide (krismass) and the issue of Christ birth.

Scriptures does give us a time frame, just not in the way that we are use to seeing.. They kept track of things far differently..
“There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia” Luke 1:5

“Thus were they divided by lot, one sort with another” 1 Chronicles 24:5

They were divided into 24 groups. Each one of the 24 courses of priests would begin and end their service in the Temple on the Sabbath, a tour of duty being one week (2 Chronicles 23:8, 1 Chronicles 9:25). on three festivals of the Lord in the year, all the men of Israel were required to travel to Jerusalem, so on those fays all the priests would be needed in the Temple to accommodate the crowds.

In the first week of the year, the course began with Jehoiarib which began the 1st of Nisan (March- April). Taking into account the third week would have been all priest required at the temple for the feast of unleavened bread and the 8th week all priest would have been required at the temple for the feast of Pentecost, it bumps the Course of Abijah to the second Sabbath of the third month of Sivan (May-June). The Course of Abijah was the course of Zecharia in Luke.

6 months after the conception of John the Baptist, Mary conceived the Messiah which would be the 9th month of Kislev (November -December).

“And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.” Luke 1:26-27

Nine months later would be the middle of the 7th month Tishri (September -October) which would be early fall and fit with the Shepherds being out to pasture, etc and not in the dead of winter..

He was not born in the middle of Winter but born in the fall during the Feast of Tabernacles, which the feast itself signifies Christ Tabernacling among us.

The Puritan Increase Mather wrote in 1687,

“”It seems most probable that He was born in the latter End of September, or in the beginning of October. “

“as to the month, a probable Judgement may be made. The Great [De Emendat. Temp. l. 5] Scaliger, [In Chronol. Isag. c. 47.] Calvisius, and L’Empereur [In Scholiis ad Iarchiadenia Dan. 9.] conclude that it was in the latter end of September, or the beginning of October. And before them, Beroaldus, Wolfius and Hospinian were of that Judgment. And this suits well with what is recorded of the shepherds, Luke 2:8. It is not probable that the Shepherds would be abroad watching their Flocks in the Depth of Winter. The month of December is by Hesiod called Meis kalepos probatois, And though in Judaea the summer be hot, yet the winter is cold. Matth. 24:20. Ps. 147:17. But in September or October this might well be. [Wolphius de Tempore p. 81, 82.] Nor is it likely that Augustus should enjoin all his Subjects throughout the whole Roman World to travel into their own cities in the midst of Winter, as he did at the Time when Christ was born. Luke 2:1.”

“Moreover, the Feast of Tabernacles, which signified the Incarnation of Christ, was in the seventh month. Inasmuch as the Passover typified Christ’s Death, he was crucified in that month. Why then may we not think that since the Feast of Tabernacles typified his Nativity, he was in that month born? There were also several other Festivals in that month, which might fitly type the Good Tidings of great joy that should be to all People by reason of Christ’s being born into the world at that season of the Year. Likewise in the same month was the Ark by Solomon brought into the Temple.”

“From these considerations, some of the Jewish Rabbins (v. Midrash Rabba) have concluded that Messiah should be born in Ethanim or Tisri, i.e., in the 7th Month. And Mr. Broughton (in his Book called the Lord’s Family) observes that the Jews scoff at Christians for keeping the Feast of Christ’s Nativity on 25. of December, saying that they place Christ’s Birth in the month of his Conception. “–Increase Mather, 1687, Against profane Christ-mass-keeping

Westminster divine John Lighfoot wrote,

“V. Christ was born in the month of Tisri; somewhat answering to our September. This we conclude, omitting other things, by computing backwards from his death. For if he died in his two-and-thirtieth year and a half, at the feast of the Passover, in the month Nisan, you must necessarily lay the time of his birth in the month Tisri. But that he died at that age, not to make any delay by mentioning more things, appears hence, that he was baptized now beginning his thirtieth year, and that he lived after his baptism three years and a half; as the space of his public ministry is determined by the angel Gabriel, Dan. 9:[27]; “In the half of a week” (that is, three years and a half), “he shall make the sacrifice to cease,” &c. But of this hereafter. … VI. It is probable Christ was born at the feast of Tabernacles. 1. So it ariseth exactly to three-and-thirty years and a half, when he died at the feast of the Passover. 2. He fulfilled the typical equity of the Passover and Pentecost, when, at the Passover, he offered himself for a passover, at Pentecost he bestowed the Holy Ghost from heaven, as at that time the law had been given from heaven. At that time the first-fruits of the Spirit were given by him (Rom. 8:23), when the first-fruits of corn had been wont to be given, Levit. 23:17. It had been a wonder if he had honoured the third solemnity, namely, the feast of Tabernacles, with no antitype. 3. The institution of the feast of Tabernacles agrees excellently with the time of Christ’s birth. For when Moses went down from the mount on the tenth day of the month Tisri, declaring that God was appeased, that the people was pardoned, and that the building of the holy tabernacle was forthwith to be gone in hand with (hitherto hindered by and because of the golden calf), seeing that God now would dwell among them, and forsake them no more; the Israelites immediately pitch their tents, knowing they were not to depart from that place before the divine tabernacle was finished, and they set upon this work with all their strength. Whence the tenth day of that month, wherein Moses came down and brought this good news with him, was appointed for the feast of Expiation; and the fifteenth day, and seven days after, for the feast of Tabernacles, in memory of their dwelling in tents in the wilderness, when God dwelt in the midst of them: which things with how aptly typical an aspect they respect the incarnation, when God dwelt among men in human flesh, is plain enough…. ” -John Lightfoot, A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica, Matthew-1 Corinthians, Matthew-Mark, vol. 2 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2010), 32.

John Dunton in 1707 wrote,

The Rabbins in Midrash Rabba conclude, that the Messiah must be born in the month of Aethanim or Tisri; that is, in September, the Month of Strengths, full of feasts, to teach of the Messiah. And so agreeably we find in Moses, that the Three chief Anniversary Feasts do foretell and typify out Christ’s times. …

3. The feast of dwelling in Tabernacles on the 15th of September, for eight days, is suitable to our Lord’s pitching in the Tabernacles of his Flesh amongst us, or his Nativity in September, the first month after the creation. The feast of joyful meditation of God’s dwelling in the cloud amongst Israel, is a memorial of Christ dwelling in the flesh with us, John 1:14. And the Word was made flesh, and he pitched his tabernacle amongst us. So in 1 Kings 8:2 this is plainly typified. Solomon brings the Ark and Tabernacle into the temple, in the seventh month, called Aethanim or September, Month of Strengtth and Fruits; and the Cherubims spread their wings over the Ark. This Ark and Tabernacle was the Type of the Ark and Tabernacle of Christ’s body: The bringing in of this Tabernacle into the Temple, the coming of Christ into the world, in the Temple of Zorobabel, under which he was born, preached, and wrought miracles. … And this was in the month Aethanim or September, (The month of Strengths, or Fruits and Feasts_ wherein Christ was born, bringing Strength, and Fruits of righteousness, into the world. And thus having shew’d your honour the sweet harmony between the type and the thing typified; The feasts of Tabernacles in September, and Christ in the same t ime pitching in this Tabernacle of his flesh, amongst us; The content between the history and the mystery; I conclude with that of the Apostle, Great is the mystery of Godliness, God manifest in the flesh. For the true calculation of the months, consult with munjier’s Calendarium Hebraicum.” -John Dunton, The Phenix, 1707, pg. 118 & 119

In Critica Biblica, or, Depository of sacred literature, of 1827

Tisri – Stepember … The birth of Christ should be assigned to this month,” says Mr. Carpenter, in his Calendarium Palrtiinae, p. 2” -Critica Biblica, or, Depository of sacred literature, comprising remarks on the sacred Scriptures edited by William Carpenter, 1827

John Gill, in his ‘Commentary’ on Luke 2:8, has the following:

“There are two sorts of cattle with the Jews, there are the cattle of the house that lie in the city; the cattle of the wilderness are they that lie in the pastures.” On which statement the commentator Maimonides, in Misn. Betza, cap. 5, sec. 7, observes: “These lie in the pastures, which are in the villages all the days of the cold and heat, and do not go into the cities until the rains descend. The first rain falls in the month Marchesvan, which answers to the latter part of our October and the former part of November; from whence it appears that Christ must be born before the middle of October, since the first rain was not yet come.” -John Gill, Commentary On The Entire Bible

Baptist Magazine and Literary Review, 1844

Under the Mosaic dispensation three feast were singled out from the manifold observances prescribed to Israel. Thus in Deut. Xvi. 16, we read, “Three times in a year shall all they males appear before the Lord thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles.” Moreover, among the principles regulating these three feast, one seems to have been that on which our Lord spoke in parables; namely, to meet the case of parties “to whom,” as stated in Matt. Xiii 11, “it is not given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.” Satan, so ready with scriptures when he tempted the Savior, doubtless knew that it was written in Deut. Xvi. 1,2, “In the month of Abib the Lord they God brought thee forth out of Egypt by night. Thou shalt, therefore, sacrifice the passover unto the Lord thy God.” Nor could Satan overlook the connexion between the giving of the law from Mount Sinai and the day of pentecost. And, the great enemy must also have known that it was written in Lev. Xxiii. 42, 43, “Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; and all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths, that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt.” Thus, while the three feast had shadows of good things to come, there was, in each of them, such a reference to time past as tended to blind both bad men and bad angels. The cloud that is light and life to the Israel of God has been darkness and death to the Egyptians. When, on Friday April 3rd, A.D. 33, Satan and his agents beheld the Savior expire on the day, and at the hour, for slaying the paschal lamb, they were ill prepared to say with the apostle, “Christ our passover is sacrificed for us.” 1 Cor. v.7. Nor did the enemies of the great Redeemer see how the type was connected with the antitype on Sunday, May the 24, A.D. 33, (the memorable day of pentecost,) when a portion of the first fruit spoken of in Rom. xi. 16, was presented to the Lord of Hosts, and when three thousand anthems were sung in God’s holy temple above by a countless multitude rejoicing over repenting sinners. That the feast of tabernacles also had “a shadow of good things to come,” there can be no doubt. And, inasmuch as the tabernacle of the ox and the ass, made the Saviour’s humble shelter from the day of his birth to the day of his circumcision, is connected with a series corresponding with the observance of the eight days of the feast of tabernacles, while no other corresponding series can be found, we infer that the Savior was both on the 15th day of Tisri, or first day of the said feast celebrated in September or October. … at which time the Saviour was born when the shepherds were watching over their flock by night. Further particulars, however, as to the precise day in our calendar may, if desirable, be given in another paper on the correspondence (as type and antitype,) between the eight days of the feast of tabernacles and the first eight days of the Saviour’s abode on this atom of his vast dominions. Suffice it to say, in conclusion, that the feast of tabernacles was signalized by Jehovah as a period of peculiar joy. And such was the time of the Saviour’s birth. “Fear not,” said the angel of the Lord to the shepherds, “for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Saviour who is Christ the Lord.”” -Baptist Magazine and Literary Review, Volume 36, J. Burditt and W. Button, 1844

Why couldn’t the birth of Christ be established using Abia’s second ministration during the year? (October 31-Nov 6)

Luke 2:8-20 states that there “were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night”.

According to historians, shepherds in Palestine only keep their flocks out during the warm dry months of Spring and Summer. They keep their sheep in the sheepfold during the cold, wet months of fall and winter. If the birth of Christ is calculated from the second ministration of Abia, this would place the birth of Christ in February, which is ordinarily the coldest and wettest time of year in Palestine.

Unless February was warm, this would not go with the testimony of Luke 2:8.

Luke 2:1-5 states:

1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.

2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

Winter would also be a good time of year to force people to travel for taxation due to the cold and rain which are normal for that time of year.. Money to pay taxes would also be in short supply until later in the year when the harvests began to come in. The time of taxation would point towards a later date in the year such as August or September.

Someone may ask, “What about decorations? Can we decorate without all the pagan influences? What if I just like putting up things that pertain to the incarnation?” what would decorating based on incarnation look like? Christ in the manager? Which would be a Second Commandment violation.

Demystrifying the Nativity Scene!

What about the Stable? The ‘katalyma’ is not an inn as everyone assumes but the upper guest room of a house. And the manger was not separate or independent of a house but a lower section of a house where Israelite people would bring there animals inside of their houses but in a lower level section at night. They brought in the animals for two reasons, 1. Thieves. It prevented thieves from stealing the animals in the middle of the night, 2. It added extra warmth from the animals to the house. Joseph was a “royal.” That is, he was from the family of King David. Being of that famous family, Joseph would have been welcome anywhere in town. In every culture a woman about to give birth is given special attention. Was there no sense of honor in Bethlehem? Surely the community would have sensed its responsibility to help Joseph find adequate shelter for Mary and provide the care she needed. To turn away a descendent of David in the “City of David” would be an unspeakable shame on the entire village. Mary also had relatives in a nearby village. There is a whole host of problems with the traditional nativity scene.

Biblical scholar Kenneth E. Bailey has written a magnificent book entitled Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes: Cultural Studies in the Gospels (2008). In the first chapter of this book, Dr. Bailey presents a convincing case for the historical inaccuracy of certain features of the traditional Christmas story. Dr. Bailey lived in the Middle East from 1935-1995. He spent 40 of those years teaching New Testament in seminaries and institutes in Egypt, Lebanon, Jerusalem and Cyprus. He has spent his academic efforts trying to understand more adequately the narratives of the Gospels in the light of Middle Eastern culture.

The source of this misinterpretation stems from approximately two hundred years after the birth of Jesus, when an anonymous Christian wrote an expanded account of the birth of Jesus that has survived and is called The Protevangelium of James. James had nothing to do with it. The author was not a Jew and did not understand Palestinian geography or Jewish tradition.In that period many wrote books claiming famous people as the authors.

I highly recommend reading through Dr. Bailey’s treatment that the Nativity scene was not about a filled commerical inn and that Christ was not born in some shelter outside of some home.

What about wintery stuff?

Well besides the issue of some of the pagan origin of those things (Mistletoe, Garland, Yule Logs, Evergreen Tree) and as stated above we are not to adopt pagan practices but to completely and utterly destroy them from the land. To see many of the paganistic aspects of these things as many more, I would recommend this video,

There is simply no way to get around the paganistic influence. Pope Gregory I declared,

“Tell Augustine (of Canterbury) that he should be no means destroy the temples of the gods but rather the idols within those temples. Let him, after he has purified them with holy water, place altars and relics of the saints in them. For, if those temples are well built, they should be converted from the worship of demons to the service of the true God. Thus, seeing that their places of worship are not destroyed, the people will banish error from their hearts and come to places familiar and dear to them in acknowledgement and worship of the true God.

Further, since it has been their custom to slaughter oxen in sacrifice, they should receive some solemnity in exchange. Let them therefore, on the day of the dedication of their churches, or on the feast of the martyrs whose relics are preserved in them, build themselves huts around their one-time temples and celebrate the occasion with religious feasting. They will sacrifice and eat the animals not any more as an offering to the devil, but for the glory of God to whom, as the giver of all things, they will give thanks for having been satiated.

Thus, if they are not deprived of all exterior joys, they will more easily taste the interior ones. For surely it is impossible to efface all at once everything from their strong minds, just as, when one wishes to reach the top of a mountain, he must climb by stages and step by step, not by leaps and bounds….

Mention this to our brother the bishop, that he may dispose of the matter as he sees fit according to the conditions of time and place.” -Gregory I, Letter to Abbot Mellitus, Epsitola 76

What about about Romans 14?

Do we not have freedom to esteem one day above another or asteem every day alike? Don’t we have freedom in Christ?

The whole context of Romans 14 is now to allow us to adopt whatever holy days we want to observe nor to allow us to adopt paganistic practices. It had to do with things that were of Adiasphora or those things that are ‘indifferent’ when it relates to God’s law and the context is is over fasting days.

What were the men differing about? was it concerning some keeping the Sabbath and others not keeping the Sabbath or man made celebrations whether pagan or even created by the people of God? Not at all.

One man esteemeth one day above another, another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth the Almightly thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth the Almightly thanks..

Notice verse 6 says that the man that regards the day does so to the Lord, then the next phrase says that he who eats, eats unto the Lord and give thanks, but the one that does not eat, does so with thanks to the Almighty as well. It thus appears that the issue was that days were being set aside as special for fasting purposes. One man would esteem a particular day and not eat (fast) and do so towards God. Another man would eat and give God thanks and that was fine too. Eat man was to be fully persuaded in his mind in regards to these personal preference fast days..

The Pharisees required fasting two days per week. See Luke 18:12 …I fast twice in the week….

Since these differing convictions and practices did not undermine the essence of the Gospel, Paul advises mutual tolerance and respect in this matter of fasting. But there is nothing in the text insinuating that the Apostle was saying it was okay to not observe the Sabbath if you felt it was not needed. It was a commandment that was binding upon all believers in all times nor was it license to free us to create our own holy days or to practice days that were instituted and celebrate by the heathens.

John Chrysostom (c. 347 – 407), Homily 25 on Romans XIV.

“Ver. 5. “One man esteems one day above another, another esteems every day alike.”

Here he seems to me to be giving a gentle hint about fasting. For it is not unlikely that some who fasted were always judging those who did not, or among the observances it is likely that there were some that on fixed days abstained, and on fixed days did not. Whence also he says, “Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” And in this way he released those who kept the observances from fear, by saying that the thing was indifferent, and he removed also the quarrelsomeness of those who attacked them, by showing that it was no very desirable (or urgent, περισπούδαστον) task to be always making a trouble about these things. Yet it was not a very desirable task, not in its own nature, but on account of the time chosen, and because they were novices in the faith. For when he is writing to the Colossians, it is with great earnestness that he forbids it, saying, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men, after the elements of the world, and not after Christ.” Colossians 2:8 …

But with the Romans, since it was not yet the proper time for setting things of this sort right, “Let every man,” he says, “be fully persuaded in his own mind.” For he had been speaking of fasting. It was to clear away the vanity of the others and to release these from fear then, that he said as follows:

Ver. 6. “He that regards the day, regards it unto the Lord; and he that regards not the day, to the Lord he does not regard it.” And, “He that eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he that eats not, to the Lord he eats not, and gives God thanks.”

He still keeps to the same subject. And what he means is about this. The thing is not concerned with fundamentals. For the thing requisite is, if this person and the other are acting for God’s sake, the thing requisite is (these words are repeated 3 manuscripts), if both terminate in thanksgiving. For indeed both this man and that give thanks to God. If then both do give thanks to God, the difference is no great one.“”

What about Meat’s offered to Idols?

I as a Historic Reformed person do not believe we can eat meat offered to Idols. Anything that Paul’s says (or any other portion of scripture) must be interpreted in the light of all of Scripture (including the Older Testament) as well as the immediate context. No Scripture can contrdict another Scripture and it must be interpreted in harmony. Paul’s Meat’s offered to Idol’s dialog is part of a Rethorical device, a device of beginning an argument where the person is and then bringing them along to a more biblical principle which can says we really do partake of the sacrifice if we eat meat offered to idols and know about it and those sarrifices really ARE offered to demons and we cannot be partakers of the Table of the Lord and the Table of Demons. Paul’s argument is based on their own premises and proposals, at least at the start, in order to lead them to an entirely different set of premises in keeping with Scripture, and a different way of living than their own reasoning had led them to suppose followed from the renunciation of idols. When engaging in this adaptability Paul relates to the addresse from their premises at the beginning of his argument. He reasons from first principles that there is only one God and thus idols are nobodies (8:4-6), and therefore food offered to them can be eaten as profane (8:8, 10:19, 23, 25-26). But he grants this line of argument only in theory -even undermining it in the way it is first stated, for he includes the caveat that “there are many gods and many lords” (8:5) – thereafter seeking to lead them to a very different conclusion. For then he explains that there are such things as demons represented by these idols (10:19-22). Thus they are not to eat any food known to be dedicated to idols, just as the Law of God commanded in the Old Testament.

Also, We simply cannot play Paul’s word’s against John’s. In Revelation, twice the eating of food sacrificed to idols was called abominable. Like many other issues in Scripture it is far more nuanced than just one passage by the Apostle Paul. All of Scripture must interpret Scripture, and we cannot isolate one passage apart from all of Scripture and interpret it independently.

But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, **to eat things sacrificed unto idols**, and to commit fornication.” (Rev. 2:14)

Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and **to eat things sacrificed unto idols**.” (Rev. 2:20)

Augustine said that it is better to die of hunger than to eat of such idolatry.

Westminster divine George Gillespie said the following regarding the issue of Meat’s Offered to Idols you will see that he is merely restating the standard reformed position as he quotes from Zanchius, Beza, Cartwright, Perkins and Augustine.
Extended Portion George Gillespie’s Treatise on ‘Meat’s Offered to Idols’, Disputation Against the English Poplish Ceremonies, 1645,

On Meats Offered to Idols Discourse

Pgs. 68 – 71

The proposition thus explained is confirmed by these five proofs: 1. God’s own precept, – “Ye shall defile also the covering of they graven images of silver, and the ornaments of thy molten images of gold: thou shalt cast them away as a menstruous cloth, thou shalt say unto it, Get thee hence,” Isa. Xxx. 22. The covering of the idol here spoken of, Gasper Sanctus rightly understandth to be that, quo aut induebantur simulaera Gentilico ritu, aut bracteuas quibus lignece imaginea integantur, aut quo homines idolis sacrificaturi amiciebantur; so that the least appurtenances of idols are to be avoided. When the apostle Jude would have us to hate garments spotted with the flesh, his meaning is, detestandam esscvel superficiem ipsaus mali sive peccati, quam tuniece appellatione subiumuere videtur, as our own. Rolloke hath observed, If the very covering of an idol be forbidden, what shall be thought of other things which are not only spotted, but irrecoverably polluted with idols? Many such precepts were given to Israel, as “Ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves,” Exod. Xxxiv. 13, “The graven images of their gods shall ye burn with fire: thou shalt not desire the silver nor gold that is on them, nor take it unto thee, lest thou be snared therein; for it is an abomination to the Lord thy God,” Deut. Vii. 25, 26. Read to the same purpose, Num. Xxxiii. 53; Deut. Vii. 5; xii. 2, 3.

Secondly, God hath not only by his precepts commanded us to abolish all the relics of idolatry, but by his promises also manifested unto us how acceptable service this should be to him. There is a command “That the Israelites should destroy the Canaanites,” Num. Xxxiii. 52, evertantque res omens idololatricas ipsorum eui mandato, saith Junius, subjicitur sua promissio, namely, that the Lord would give them the promised land, and they should dispossess the inhabitants thereof, ver. 53; yeah, there is a promise of remission and reconciliation to this work: “By this shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged and this is all the fruit to take away his sin when he maketh all the stones of the altar as chalk-stones that are beaten asunder, the groves and images shall not stand up.” Isa. Xxvii. 9.

Thirdly, the churches of Pergamos and Thyatira are reproved for suffering the use of idolothies, Rev. ii. 14-20, where the eating of things sacrifices to idols is condemned as idolatry and spiritual adultery, as Perkins noteth. Paybody, therefore, is greatly mistaken when he thinks that meats sacrifices to idols, being the good creatures of God, were allowed by the Lord, out of the case of scandal, notwithstanding of idolatrous pollution; for the eating of things sacrificed to idols is reproved as idolatry, Rev. ii; and the eating of such things is condemned as a fellowship with devils, 1 Cor. x. 20. Now idolatry and fellowship with devils, I suppose, are unlawful, though no scandal should follow upon them. And whereas he thinks meats sacrificed to idols to be lawful enough out of the case of scandal, for this reason, because they are the good creatures of God, he should have considered better the Apostle’s mind conerning such Idolothites; which Zanehius seteth down thus: Verum est, per se haec nihil sunt, sed, respectu eoerum quibus immolantur aliquid sunt; quia per haecillis quibus immolantur, nos consoeiamur. Qui isti? Daemones. For our better understanding of this matter, we must distinguish two sorts of idolothites, both which we find, 1. Cor. x. Of the one, the Apostle speaks from the 14th verse of that chapter to the 23d; of the other, from the 23d verse to the end. This is Beza’s distinction in his Annotations on that chapter. Of the first sort, he delivers the Apostle’s mind thus: That as Christians have their holy banquets, which hare badges of their communion both of Christ and among themselves; and as the Israelites, by their sacrifices, did seal their copulation in the same religion, so also idolaters, cum suisidolis aut potius daemonibus, solemnibusillis epulis copulantur. So that this sort of idolothites were eaten in temples, and public solemn lanquets, which were dedicated to the honour of idols, 1 Cor. Viii. 10. Cartwright showeth that the Apostle is comparing the table of the Lord with the table of idolaters; whereupon it followeth, that as we use the Lord’s table religiously, so that table of idolaters of which the Apostle speaketh, had stat in the idolatrous worship like that feast, Num. Xxv.3; quod in honorem falsorum Deorum celebrabatur, saith Calvin

This first sort of idolothities Pareus calls the sacrifices of idols; and from such, he saith, the Apostle dissuadeth by this argument, Partcipare epulis idolorum, est idololatria. Of the second sort of Idolothites, the Apostle begins to speak in ver. 23. The Corinthians moved a question, Whether they might lawfully eat things sacrificed to idols? In privatis conviviis, saith Pareus. The Apostle resolves them that domi in primvato convictu, they might eat them, except it were in the case of scandal; thus Beza. The first sort of idolothites are meant of Rev. ii., as Beza there noteth; and of this sort must we understand Augustine to mean whilst he saith, that it were better mori fame, quam idolothites vesci. These sorts are simply and in themselves unlawful, then much more such things and rites as have not only been sacrificed and destinated to the honour of idols (for this is but one kind of idolatrous abuse), but also of a long time publicly and solemnly employed in the worshipping of idols, and deeply defiled with idolatry, much more, I say, are they unlawful to be applied to God’s most pure and holy worship, and therein used by us publicly and solemnly, so that the world may see us conforming and joining ourselves unto idolaters.

Fourthly, I fortify my proposition by approved examples; and, first, we find that Jacob, Gen. Xxxv. 4, did not only abolish out of his house the idols, but their ear-rings also, because they were superstitionis insignia, as Calvin; res ad idolatriam pertinentes, as Junius; monilia idolis consecrata, as Pareus calleth them; all writing upon that place. We have also the example of Elijah, 1 Kings xviii. 30: he would by no means offer upon Baal’s altar, but would needs repair the Lord’s altar, though this should hold the people longer in expectation. This he did, in P. Martyr’s judgment, because he thought it a great indignity to offer sacrifice to the Lord upon the altar of Baal; whereupon Martyr reprehendeth those who, in administering the true supper of the Lord, uti velint Papisticis vestibus et instrumentis. Further, we have the example of Jehu, who is commended for the destroying of Baal out of Israel, with his image, his house, and his very vestments, 2 Kings x. 22-28. And what example more considerable than that of Hezekiah, who not only abolished such monuments of idolatry as at their first institution were but men’s invention, but break down also the brazen serpent (though originally set up at God’s own command), when once he saw it abused to idolatry? 2 Kings xvii. 4. This deed of Hezekiah Pope Steven doth greatly praise, and professeth that it is set before us for our imitation, that when our predecessors have wrought some things which might have been without fault in their time, and afterward they are converted into error and superstition, they may be quickly destroyed by us who come after them. Farellus saith, that princes and magistrates should learn by this example of Hezekiah what they should do with those significant rites of men’s devising which have turned to superstition. Yea, the Bishop of Winchester acknowledgeth, that whatsoever is taken up at the injunction of men, when it is drawn to superstition, cometh under the compass of the brazen serpent, and is to be abolished; and he excepteth nothing from this example but only things of God’s own prescribing. Moreover, we have example of good Josiah, 2 Kings xxiii., for he did not only destroy the houses, and the high places of Baal, but his vessels also, and his grove, and his altars; yeaj, the horses and chariots which had been given o the sun. The example also of penitent Manasseh, who not only overthrew the strange gods, but their altars too, 2 Chron. Xxxiii. 15. And of Moses, the man of God, who was not content to execute vengeance on the idolatrous Israelites, except he should also utterly destroy the monuments of their idolatry, Exod. Xxxii. 17-20. Lastly, we have the example of Daniel, who would not defile himself with a portion of the king’s meat, Dan. I. 8; because saith Junius, it was converted in usum idololatricum; for at the banquets of the Babylonians and other Gentiles, erant proaemessa sive praemissa, quae diis praemittebantur, they used to consecreate their meat and drink to idols upon the same, so that their meat and drink fell under the prohibition of idolothites. This is the reason which is given by the most of the interpreters for Daniel’s fearing to pollute himself with the king’s meat and wine; and it is hath also approbation of a Papist.

Fifthly, Our proposition is backed with a twofold reason, for things which have been notoriously abused to idolatry should be abolished: 1. Quia Monent. Quia movent. First then, they are monitory, and preserve the memory of idols; monumentum in good things is both moniumentum and munimentum; but monumentum in evil things (such as idolatry) is only moniumentum, which monet mentem, to remember upon such things as ought not to be once named among saints, but should lie buried in the eternal darkness of silent oblivion. Those relics therefore of idolatry, quibus quasi monumentis posteritas admoneatur (as Wolphius rightly saith), are to be quite defaced and destroyed, because they serve to honour the memory of cursed idols. God would not have so much as the name of an idol to be remembered among his people, but commanded to destroy their names as well as themselves, Exod. Xxiii. 13; Deut. Xii. 3; Josh. Xxiii. 7; whereby we are admonished, as Calvin saith, how destestable idolatry is before God, cujus memoriam vult penitus deleri, he posthac ullum ejus vestigium appareat: yeah, he requreth, corum omnium memoriam deleri, quae semeldieata sunt idolis. If Morecai would not give his countenance, Esth.. iii. 2, nor do any reverence to a living monument of that nation whose name God had ordained to be blotted out from under the heaven, much less should we give connivance, and far less countenance, but least of all reverence, Deut. Xxv. 19, to the head and dumb monuments of those idols which God hath devoted to utter destruction, with all their naughty appurtenances, so that he will not have their names to be once mentioned or remembered again. But, secondly, movent too; such idolothous remainders move us to turn back to idolatry. For usu compertum habemus, superstitiones etiam postquam explosae essent, si qua relicta fuissent earum monumenta, cum memoriam sui ipsarum apud homines, tum id tandem ut revocerantur obtinuisse, saith Wolphius, who hereupon thinkgs it behoveful to destroy funditus such vestiges of superstition for this cause, if there were no more: ut et aspirantibus ad revocandam idololatriam spes frangatur, et res novas molientibus ansa pariter ac materia praeripiatur. God would have Israel to overthrow all idolatrous monuments, lest thereby they should be snared, Deut. Vii. 25; xii. 30. And if the law command to cover a pit, lest an ox or an ass should fall therein, Exod. Xxi. 23, shall we suffer a pit to be open wherein the precious souls of men and women, which all the world cannot ransom, are likely to fall? Did God command to make a battlement for the roof of a house, and that for the safety of men’s bodies, Deut. Xxii. 8, and shall we not only not put up a battlement, or object some bar for the safety of men’s souls, but also leave the way slippery and full of snares? Read we not that the Lord, who knew what was in man, and saw how propense he was to idolatry, did not only remove out of his people’s way all such things as might any allure or entice them to idolatry (even to the cutting off the names of the idols out of the land, Zech. Xiii. 2), but also hedge up their way with thorns that they might not find their paths, nor overtake their idol gods when they should seek after them? Hos. Ii, 6, 7. And shall we by the very contrary course not only hedge up the way of idolatry with thorns, which may stop and stay such as have an inclination aiming forward, but also lay before them inciting and enticing occasions which add to their own propension, such delectation as spurreth forward with a swift facility?

Thus, having both explained and confirmed the proposition of our present argument, …”

A Cloud of Witnesses


John Calvin of the Reformed Church of the Protestant Reformation preached on 25 December 1551:

Now, I see here today more people than I am accustomed to having at the sermon.  Why is that?  It is Christmas day.  And who told you this?  You poor beasts.  That is a fitting euphemism for all of you who have come here today to honor Noel.  Did you think you would be honouring God?  Consider what sort of obedience to God your coming displays.  In your mind, you are celebrating a holiday for God, or turning today into one.  But so much for that.  In truth, as you have often been admonished, it is good to set aside one day of the year in which we are reminded of all the good that has occurred because of Christ’s birth in the world, and in which we hear the story of his birth retold, which will be done Sunday.  But if you think that Jesus Christ was born today, you are as crazed as wild beasts.  For when you elevate one day alone for the purpose of worshipping God, you have just turned it into an idol.  True, you insist that you have done so for the honour of God, but it is more for the honour of the Devil.

Let us consider what our Lord has to say on the matter.  Was it not Saul’s intention to worship God when he spared Agag, the king of the Amalekites, along with the best spoils and cattle?  He says as much: “I want to worship God.”  Saul’s tongue was full of devotion and good intention.  But what was the response he received?  ”You soothsayer!  You heretic!  You apostate!  You claim to be honouring God, but God rejects you and disavows all that you have done!” [see 1 Samuel 15:8-9].  Consequently, the same is true of our actions.  For no day is superior to another.  It matters not whether we recall our Lord’s nativity on a Wednesday, Thursday, or some other day.  But when we insist on establishing a service of worship based on our whim, we blaspheme God,  and create an idol, though we have done it all in the name of God.  And when you worship God in the idleness of a holiday spirit, that is a heavy sin to bear, and one which attracts others about it, until we reach the height of iniquity.  Therefore, let us pay attention to what Micah is saying here, that God must not only strip away things that are bad in themselves, but must also eliminate anything that might foster superstition.  Once we have understood that, we will no longer find it strange that Noel is not being observed today”

-John Calvin, Sermons on the book of Micah, trans. and ed. B. W. Farley (1551; Phillipsburg

“Because, then, there is plainly no reason why any one festival should stay, and another should go away; because also it cannot be denied that they have all done harm, and the greatest have done the most harm; so we will allow ourselves to use only Sunday for celebration, which brotherly love alone requires.”

–Martin Bucer, Grund und ursach auß gotlicher schrifft (1525)

Festival days are an entrenching upon God’s prerogative: for none can appoint an holy day, but he who hath made the days, and hath all power in his own hand, which is clear; first, from the denomination of them in both Testaments; in the old they are called the solemn feasts of Jehovah [Lev. 23:1; Ex. 32:5], not only because they were to be kept to Jehovah, but also because they were of his appointing.” –John Bernard (Nonconformist minister, England), The Anatomy of the Service Book (1641).

Festival days, vulgarly called holy-days, having no warrant in the Word of God, are not to be continued.”

–Westminster Assembly, Directory for Publick Worship (1645).

The General Assembly taking to their consideration the manifold abuses, profanity, and superstitions, committed on Yule-day [Christ-mass] and some other superstitious days following, have unanimously concluded and hereby ordains, that whatsoever person or persons hereafter shall be found guilty in keeping of the foresaid superstitious days, shall be proceeded against by Kirk censures, and shall make their public repentance therefore in the face of the congregation where the offence is committed. And that the presbyteries and provincial synods take particular notice how ministers try and censure delinquents of this kind, within the several parishes.”

–General Assembly, Church of Scotland, Act for Censuring Observers of Yule-day, and other Superstitious days (1645).

1. That there can be no solemn setting apart of any day to any creature; thus Saints’ days are unlawful. For the Sabbath, or Day of Rest, is to the Lord, and to none other, it being a peculiar piece of worship to him who hath divided time betwixt his worship and our work. . . .

2. No man can institute any day, even to the true God, as a part of worship, so as to bind the consciences to it, or to equal it with this day. That is a part of God’s royal prerogative, and a thing peculiar to him to sanctify and bless a day.

3. Even those days which are pretended to be set apart to and for God, and yet not as part of worship, cannot be imposed in a constant and ordinary way (as Anniversary days and feasts are) because by an ordinary rule God hath given to man six days for work, except in extraordinary cases he shall please to call for some part of them again.”

–James Durham (minister, Church of Scotland), The Law Unsealed (1675).

“The Protestant Church is fast returning to the heathen ceremonies of the Church of Rome, vieing with her in the observance of “Easter Sunday,” etc. By means of Christmas trees, Santa Claus is becoming a greater reality and the object of more affection to children than the Saviour himself.”

–Reformed Presbyterian Church (Covenanter), Minutes of the General Meeting (1889)

“And herewith I shall end this year. Only I shall remember one passage more, rather of mirth than of weight. On the day called Christmas Day, the Governor called them out to work as was used. But the most of this new company excused themselves and said it went against their consciences to work on that day. So the Governor told them that if they made it matter of conscience, he would spare them till they were better informed; so he led away the rest and left them. But when they came home at noon from their work, he found them in the street at play, openly; some pitching the bar, and some at stool-ball and such like sports. So he went to them and took away their implements and told them that was against his conscience, that they should play and others work. If they made the keeping of it matter of devotion, let them keep their houses; but there should be no gaming or reveling in the streets. Since which time nothing hath been attempted that way, at least openly.”

-William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation, 1620-1647

When it can be proved that the observance of Christmas, Whitsuntide, and other Popish festivals was ever instituted by a divine statute, we also will attend to them, but not till then. It is as much our duty to reject the traditions of men, as to observe the ordinances of the Lord. We ask concerning every rite and rubric, “Is this a law of the God of Jacob?” and if it be not clearly so, it is of no authority with us, who walk in Christian liberty.

— Charles Spurgeon’s Treasury of David on Psalm 81:4.

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, because not of divine authority.

— Charles Spurgeon, Sermon on Dec. 24, 1871.

“The generality of Christmas-keepers observe that festival after such a manner as is highly dishonourable to the name of Christ. How few are there comparatively that spend those holidays (as they are called) after an holy manner. But they are consumed in Compotations, in Interludes, in playing at Cards, in Revellings, in excess of Wine, in mad Mirth …

— Increase Mather, 1687

Those who observe the Romish festivals or fasts shall only be reprimanded, unless [i.e., if] they remain obstinately rebellious.

–Register of the Company of Pastors (Geneva, 1546).

Abrogation of Festivals. On Sunday 16 November 1550, after the election of the lieutenant in the general Council, an edict was also announced respecting the abrogation of all the festivals, with the exception of Sundays, which God had ordained.

–Register of the Company of Pastors (Geneva, 1550).

By the contrary doctrine, we understand whatsoever men, by laws, councils, or constitutions have imposed upon the consciences of men, without the expressed commandment of God’s Word; such as the vows of chastity, forswearing of marriage, binding of men and women to several disguised apparels, to the superstitious observation of fasting days, difference of meat [food] for conscience’ sake, prayer for the dead; and keeping of holy days of certain saints commanded by man, such as be all those that the Papists have invented, as the feasts (as they term them) of Apostles, Martyrs, Virgins, of Christmass, Circumcision, Epiphany, Purification, and other fond feasts of our Lady. Which things, because in God’s Scriptures they neither have commandment nor assurance, we judge them utterly to be abolished from the realm; affirming farther, that the obstinate maintainers and teachers of such abominations ought not to escape the punishment of the Civil magistrate.

–Church of Scotland, (First) Book of Discipline (1560).

This one thing, however, we can scarcely refrain from mentioning, with regard to what is written in the 24th chapter of the aforesaid Confession [Second Helvetic] concerning the “festival of our Lord’s nativity, circumcision, passion, resurrection, ascension, and sending the Holy Ghost upon his disciples,” that these festivals at the present time obtain no place among us; for we dare not religiously celebrate any other feast-day than what the divine oracles have prescribed.

–The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland [subscribed by John Knox, John Craig, James Melville, and a host of others], Letter to the Very Eminent Servant of Christ, Master Theodore Beza, the Most Learned and Vigilant Pastor of the Genevan Church (1566).

That all days that heretofore have been kept holy, besides the Sabbath days, such as Yule [Christ-mass] day, Saint’s days, and such others, may be abolished, and a civil penalty against the keepers thereof by ceremonies, banqueting, fasting, and such other vanities.

–General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Articles to be Presented to my Lord Regent’s Grace (1575).

[W]e abhor and detest all contrary religion and doctrine; but chiefly all kind of Papistry in general and particular heads, even as they are now damned and confuted by the Word of God and Kirk of Scotland. But, in special, we detest and refuse the usurped authority of that Roman Antichrist upon the Scriptures of God, upon the Kirk, the civil magistrate, and consciences of men;. . . [his] dedicating of kirks, altars, days;. . .

–John Craig [subscribed by the king and the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 1580; renewed in 1581, 1590 and 1638], The National Covenant: or, the Confession of Faith (1580).

The Kirk of Geneva, keeps Pasche and Yule, what have they for them? They have no institution [from Scripture].

–King James VI (James I, of King James Bible fame), Address to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland (1590).

The Papists are much more laid open to condemnation, which press observations of feasts of men’s devising, and to the honour of men.

–Thomas Cartwright (Nonconformist minister, England), The Confutation of the Rhemists’ Translation, Glosses and Annotations (1618).

Opposed to the ordinance of the Lord’s Day are all feast days ordained by men when they are considered holy days like the Lord’s Day.

–William Ames (Nonconformist minister, exiled to the Netherlands; professor of theology at Franeker), The Marrow of Theology (1623).

The PASTOR thinketh it no Judaism nor superstition, but a moral duty to observe the Sabbath. . . . Beside the Sabbath he can admit no ordinary holidays appointed by man, whether in respect of any mystery, or of difference of one day from another, as being warranted by mere tradition, against the doctrine of Christ and his apostles, but accounteth the solemn fasts and humiliations unto which the Lord calleth, to be extraordinary sabbaths, warranted by God himself.

The PRELATE, by his doctrine, practice, example, and neglect of discipline, declareth that he hath no such reverend estimation of the Sabbath. He doteth so upon the observation of Pasche, Yule, and festival days appointed by men, that he preferreth them to the Sabbath, and hath

turned to nothing our solemn fasts and blessed humiliations.

–David Calderwood (minister and theologian, Church of Scotland), The Pastor and the Prelate (1628).

Concerning ceremonial festivals, of man’s making, our practice cannot be objected: because we observe none. We take occasion of hearing, and praying, upon any day, when occasion is offered. We say (with Hospinian, de Orig. Fest. Christ, cap. 2.),

Not the day, but the Word of God, &c. puts us in mind of the nativity, resurrection, and ascension of Christ. . . . For we do not fear. . . lest all the Churches of God will condemn us herein. Those that consent with Geneva, nor those of Scotland;. . . no nor any that follow Bucer’s judgment (in Matt. 12), I would to God that every Holy-day whatsoever beside the Lord’s Day, were abolished. That zeal which brought them first in, was without all warrant of the Word, and merely followed corrupt reason, forsooth to drive out the Holy days of the Pagans, as one nail drives out another. Those Holy-days, have been so tainted with superstition that I wonder we tremble not at their very names.

See the place, Oecolampadius (in Isa. 1:4), thinketh that no wise Christian will condemn us. I never heard wise man yet, who did not judge that a great part at least of other feasts besides the Lord’s Day should be abolished.

–William Ames (Nonconformist minister, exiled to the Netherlands; professor of theology at Franeker), A Fresh Suit Against Human Ceremonies in God’s Worship (1633).

By communicating with idolaters in their rites and ceremonies, we ourselves become guilty of idolatry. Even as Ahaz (2 Ki. 16:10) was an idolater. . . that he took the pattern of an altar from idolaters. Forasmuch then, as kneeling before the consecrated bread, the sign of the cross, surplice, festival days, bishopping, bowing to the altar, administration of the sacraments in private places, &c. are the wares of Rome, the baggage of Babylon, the trinkets of the Whore, the badges of Popery, the ensigns of Christ’s enemies, and the very trophies of Antichrist: we cannot conform, communicate, and symbolize with the idolatrous Papists, in the use of the same, without making ourselves idolaters by participation. Shall the chaste Spouse of Christ take upon her the ornaments of the Whore?

–George Gillespie (Westminster divine), A Dispute Against the English Popish Ceremonies (1637).

[H]ow can it be denied, that many corruptions, contrary to the purity and liberty of the Gospel, were they never so innocent in themselves, have accompanied these Novations, such as the superstitious observing of Days, feriation and cessation from work, on those days, Feasting-guising, &c.

–Alexander Henderson (Westminster divine) and David Dickson (professor of theology, Church of Scotland), The Answers of Some Brethren of the Ministrie, to the Replies of the Ministers and Professours of Divinitie in Aberdeene: Concerning the Late Covenant (1638).

Festival days are an entrenching upon God’s prerogative: for none can appoint an holy day, but he who hath made the days, and hath all power in his own hand, which is clear; first, from the denomination of them in both Testaments; in the old they are called the solemn feasts of Jehovah [Lev. 23:1; Ex. 32:5], not only because they were to be kept to Jehovah, but also because they were of his appointing; and so in the New Testament, as we read but of one for the self-same reasons, it is called The Lord’s Day [Rev. 1:10].

–John Bernard (Nonconformist minister, England), The Anatomy of the Service Book (1641).

This day is the day which is commonly called The Feast of Christ’s Nativity, or Christmas day: A day that hath been heretofore much abused to superstition and prophaneness. It is not easy to reckon whether the superstition hath been greater, or the prophaneness. I have known some that have preferred Christmas day before the Lord’s Day, and have cried down the Lord’s Day, and cried up Christmas day.

I have known those that would be sure to receive the sacrament upon Christmas day, though they did not receive it all the year after. This and much more was the superstition of the day. And the prophaneness was as great. Old Father Latimer saith in one of his sermons, That the Devil had more service in the twelve Christmas holy days (as they were called) than God had all the year after. . . . There are some that though they did not play at cards all the year long, yet they must play at Christmas; thereby, it seems, to keep in memory the birth of Christ. This and much more hath been the profanation of this feast. And truly I think that the superstition and profanation of this day is so rooted into it, as that there is no way to reform it but by dealing with it as Hezekiah did with the brazen

serpent. This year God by a Providence hath buried this feast in a fast, and I hope it will never rise again. You have set out (Right Honourable [House of Lords]) a strict order for the keeping of it, and you are here this day to observe your own order, and I hope you will do it strictly. The necessity of the times are great. Never more need of prayer and fasting. The Lord give us grace to be humbled in this day of humiliation for all our own, and England’s sins; and especially for the old superstition, and profanation of this feast: always remembering upon such days as these, Isa. 22:12-14.

–Edmund Calamy (Westminster divine), An Indictment Against England Because of her Selfe-Murdering Divisions (1645).

Festival days, vulgarly called holy-days, having no warrant in the Word of God, are not to be continued.

–Westminster Assembly, Directory for Publick Worship (1645).

The General Assembly taking to their consideration the manifold abuses, profanity, and superstitions, committed on Yule-day [Christ-mass] and some other superstitious days following, have unanimously concluded and hereby ordains, that whatsoever person or persons hereafter shall be found guilty in keeping of the foresaid superstitious days, shall be proceeded against by Kirk censures, and shall make their public repentance therefore in the face of the congregation where the offence is committed. And that the presbyteries and provincial synods take particular notice how ministers try and censure delinquents of this kind, within the several parishes.

–General Assembly, Church of Scotland, Act for Censuring Observers of Yule-day, and other Superstitious days (1645).

Lascivious carousings, drunkenness, harlotry, come from observing of holy days. . . . [Y]our [i.e., the prelates’] ceremonies that break the sixth commandment, shall find no room in the fifth commandment. Cause the fifth commandment [to] speak thus, if you can: “Notwithstanding that crossing, kneeling, surplice, human holy days occasion the soul murder of him for whom Christ died, yet we the Prelates command the practice of the foresaid ceremonies as good and expedient for edification, for our commandment maketh the murdering of our brethren, to be obedience to the fifth commandment.” But if Prelates may command that which would otherwise, without, or before the commandment, spiritual murdering and scandalizing our brother, they may command also, that which would be otherwise without, or before their command, adultery against the seventh, and theft against the eighth, and perjury and lying against the ninth commandment, and concupiscence against the tenth; for the fifth commandment hath the precedency before the seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth commandments, no less than before the sixth, which forbiddeth the killing of our brother’s soul. . . .

What do our Doctors [the prelates] clatter and fable to us of a right of justice, that mortal rulers have to command in things indifferent, from which the destruction of souls doth arise? for these commandments of rulers: kneel religiously before bread, the vicegerent image of Christ crucified; keep human holy days; cross the air with your thumb above a baptized infant’s face, at best, are but positive commandments, not warranted by God’s word. But shall they be more obligatory by a supposed band of justice that Prelates have over us to command, such toy’s then this divine law of God and Nature, Rom. 14. For indifferent days, meats, surplice, destroy not him for whom Christ died?. . . We see not how the ceremonies are left free to conscience, because they are alterable by the Church, for [because] the reason of kneeling to bread, of human [holy] days, of surplice, is moral, not national [i.e., they are ecclesiastical, and therefore moral, not civil, and therefore national].

–Samuel Rutherford, (Westminster divine), The Divine Right of Church Government and Excommunication (1646).

Usurping Prelacy under it’s shadow, did in the secret and holy judgment of God, change the Glory of God and of our Lord Jesus into the Similitude and Image of the Roman Beast, turning the Power of Godliness unto Formality, his faithful Ministers into corrupt Hirelings, the Power and Life of Preaching into Flattery and Vanity, the Substance of Religion into empty and ridiculous Ceremonies, the Beauty and Purity of the Ordinances into Superstitious Inventions of Kneeling, Crossing, Holy

Days and the like. . . .

–James Stirling (minister, Church of Scotland), Naphtali, or the Wrestlings of the Church of Scotland for the Kingdom of Christ (1667).

1. That there can be no solemn setting apart of any day to any creature; thus Saints’ days are unlawful. For the Sabbath, or Day of Rest, is to the Lord, and to none other, it being a peculiar piece of worship to him who hath divided time betwixt his worship and our work. . . .

2. No man can institute any day, even to the true God, as a part of worship, so as to bind the consciences to it, or to equal it with this day. That is a part of God’s royal prerogative, and a thing peculiar to him to sanctify and bless a day.

3. Even those days which are pretended to be set apart to and for God, and yet not as part of worship, cannot be imposed in a constant and ordinary way (as Anniversary days and feasts are) because by an ordinary rule God hath given to man six days for work, except in extraordinary cases he shall please to call for some part of them again.

–James Durham (minister, Church of Scotland), The Law Unsealed (1675).

Dec. 25. Friday. Carts come to Town and Shops open as is usual. Some somehow observe the day [Christ-mass]; but are vexed I believe that the Body of the People profane it, and blessed be God no Authority yet to compell them to keep it.

–Samuel Sewall (judge, chief magistrate of Boston), journal entry in The Heart of the Puritan (1685).

It is not a work but a word makes one day more holy than another.

There is no day of the week, but some eminent work of God has been done therein; but it does not therefore follow that every day must be kept as a Sabbath. The Lord Christ has appointed the first day of the week to be perpetually observed in remembrance of his resurrection and redemption. If more days than that had been needful, he would have appointed more. It is a deep reflection on the wisdom of Christ, to say, He has not appointed days enough for his own honour, but he must be beholding to men for their additions. The Old Waldenses witnessed against the observing of any holidays, besides that which God in his Word hath instituted. Calvin, Luther, Danaeus, Bucer, Farel, Viret, and other great Reformers, have wished that the observation of all holidays, except the Lord’s Day, were abolished. A Popish writer complains that the Puritans in England were of the same mind. So was John Huss and Jerome of Prague long ago. And the Belgic Churches in their Synod, Anno 1578. … All stated holidays of man’s inventing, are breaches of the Second and of the Fourth Commandment. A stated religious festival is a part of instituted worship. Therefore it is not in the power of men, but God only, to make a day holy.

–Increase Mather (Nonconformist minister, New England), Testimony Against Prophane Customs (1687).

Q. Is there any other day holy besides this day [i.e., the Lord’s day]?

A. No day but this is holy by institution of the Lord; yet days of humiliation and thanksgiving may be lawfully set apart by men on a call of providence; but popish holidays are not warrantable, nor to be observed; Gal. 4:10. Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.

–John Flavel (Nonconformist minister, Dartmouth, England), An Exposition of the Assembly’s Shorter Catechism (1692).

Q. 3. May not the Popish holy-days be observed?

A. The Popish holy-days ought not to be observed, because they are not appointed in the Word; and, by the same reason, no other holy-days may be kept, whatsoever pretence there be of devotion towards God, when there is no precept or example for such practice in the holy scripture.

–Thomas Vincent (Nonconformist minister, London), An Explicatory Catechism: or, An Explanation of the Assembly’s Catechism (1708).

Instead of Endeavours to extirpate Superstition and Heresie, as we are bound by the same Articles of the Solemn League,and by the “National Covenant to Detaste [sic] all Superstition and Heresie without or against the Word of God, and Doctrine of this Reformed Kirk; according to the Scripture. . . Gal. 4:10. Ye observe Days, and Months, and Times, and Years. . . . Col. 2:23, Which things have indeed a shew of Wisdom in Will-worship, and Humility, and neglecting of the Body, not in any Honour to the satisfying of the Flesh. Tit. 3:10. A Man that is an Heretick, after the first and second Admonition, reject. Yet in the darkness of the times of Persecution, many Dregs of Popish Superstition were observed, many Omens and Freets too much looked to; Popish Festival days, as Pasche, Yule, Fastings even, &c. have been kept by many. . . .”

–John M’Millan, of Balmaghie, et al., The National Covenant, and Solemn League and Covenant, With the Acknowledgement of Sins and Engagement to Duties: As they were Renewed at Douglass, July 24th, 1712, With Accommodation to the Present Times (1712).

I do reckon the civil imposition of the Yule vacance not only unreasonable, but an occasional inlet into the religious observation of the holydays, since this is certainly the prima ratio legis, but very burdensome and expensive to lieges. I hear endeavours will be used to alter the law.

–Robert Wodrow (minister and Scottish church historian), Letter to Mr. John Williamson (1713).

The restoring of the Yule vacance, abolished at the Revolution, as it carries in it a studied reflection upon the Reformation then attained unto, so it is most senseless and superstitious in itself, an occasion of much debauchery, and a great prejudice to the lieges, by stopping the courts of justice; and it is most evident, that this and sundry other things were hatched and promoted by ill-affected persons or Jacobites, sent from among ourselves, for no other reason but merely out of wantonness, to kick at our constitution, at the Revolution, and at the glorious reign of King William our deliverer.

–Robert Wylie (minister, Church of Scotland) et al., Memorial of Grievances to be Presented to the King (1714).

1. We think God has appointed one certain day in the week, for the thankful remembrance of those mercies, which he has in common bestowed upon us. Upon that therefore, as often as it returns, all Christians are bound to employ themselves in meditating upon God’s works of creation and redemption, in praising God, and in other religious exercises. Hence we judge it needless for men, by their authority, to appoint other days of the same nature; and desire them, who usurp such a power, to produce the commission they have for it.

2. It seems probable to us, that God would not have us observe these yearly Holidays; because we meet with nothing in his word, whereby we can fix the times of the year, when those things happened, which our Adversaries pretend are the occasion of them.

–James Peirce (Nonconformist minister, Exon, England), A Vindication of the Dissenters (1718).

Albeit there be an Act of Assembly 1645. Sess. ult. Ordering all the Observers of superstitious Days, particularly Yule, &c.–to be proceeded against by Kirk-Censure–the Guilty to make publick Repentance for the same–before the Congregation where the Offence is committed–Presbyteries–and Synods, to take particular Notice how Ministers–censure Delinquents of this Kind, within the several Parishes, &c. Yet this seems to be gone into Desuetude, seeing, not only Masters of Schools and Colleges are accessory to this superstitious Prophanity–by granting Liberty or Vacancy to their Scholars at such Times; for which, by Virtue of this Act, they ought to be summoned before the Assembly, and censured according to their Trespass. But even the Elders of this Church [the author means the Revolution Church–the Church of Scotland], in many Places, are guilty of observing Yule, and such as are ordinarily Communicants, with Numbers of others in closs Communion with this Church, and yet never one of these censured, but connived at. And what if I should say, too many Ministers homologate this sinful Custom? whereby, through Ministers Unfaithfulness, a young up-rising Generation are left in Ignorance about the Sinfulness of that, and other superstitious Days, &c. too, too much in Fashion in our declining Days.

–Andrew Clarkson (acting as clerk and compiler for the United Societies, i.e., the Covenanters), Plain Reasons for Presbyterians Dissenting from the Revolution-Church in Scotland (1731).
Dissenters . . . reject the consecrating churches, chapels, cathedrals, priests, garments, altars, liturgies, singing service, litanies, bowings, crossings, cringings, holy days, fasts, feasts, vigils, because not one word of any of them is contained in our only rule of faith.

–Thomas DeLaune (English Nonconformist Baptist), A Plea for the Non-Conformists (1733).

[I]nstead of making progress in a work of reformation, we came in a short time to fall under the weight of some new and very heavy grievances: As for instance. . . . Countenance is also given to a superstitious observation of holy-days, by the vacation of our most considerable civil courts, in the latter end of December.

–Ebenezer Erskine, William Wilson, Alexander Moncrieff, and James Fisher (founding ministers of the Secession [Associate Presbyterian Church]), A Testimony to the Doctrine, Worship, Government and Discipline of the Church of Scotland (1734).

Q. Are we bound to keep the holy-days observed by others, such as days for Christ’s birth, passion and ascension; days dedicated to angels, as Michaelmas; to the virgin Mary, as Candlemas; besides many others dedicated to the apostles and other saints?

A. Though it be pretended that these days serve to promote piety and devotion, yet we have no warrant from God to observe any of them; nay, it appears to be unlawful to do it: for 1st, God doth quarrel men for using any device of their own for promoting his service or worship, without having his command or warrant for it, as in Deut. 12:32; Isa. 1:12; Jer. 7:30. 2ndly, the apostle Paul doth expressly condemn the Galatians for observing such holy days, Gal. 4:10,11. 3dly, It is a disparaging of the Lord’s day which God hath appointed, and a usurping of his legislative power, for men to set days of their appointing on a level with his day, as the institutors do, by hindering people to labor thereupon. 4thly, It is an idolatrous practice to consecrate days to the honor of saints and angels, for commemorating their acts, and publishing their praise; such honor and worship being due to God alone.

Q. Were not these days appointed by the ancient church, and authorized by great and holy men?

A. It was will-worship in them, seeing they had no power to institute holy-days: for, 1st, Under the law, when ceremonies and festivals were in use, the church appointed none of them, but God himself. 2dly, We read nothing of the apostles appointing or observing such holy-days; not a word of their consecrating a day for Christ’s birth, his passion, or ascension; nor a day to Stephen the proto-martyr, nor to James, whom Herod killed with the sword. We read of the apostles observing the Lord’s day, and keeping it holy, but not of any other. 3dly, These other days are left unrecorded, and uncertain, and so are concealed like the body of Moses, that men might not be tempted to abuse them to superstition. 4thly, These days have not the divine blessing upon them; for they are the occasions of much looseness and immorality. 5thly, Though the observing of these days had been indifferent or lawful at first, yet the defiling of them with superstition and intemperance should make all forbear them.

–John Willison (minister, Church of Scotland), An Example of Plain Catechising, Upon the Assembly’s Shorter Catechism (1737).

Not to insist further in enumerating particulars, the presbytery finally testify [sic] against church and state, for their negligence to suppress impiety, vice, and superstitious observance of holy days, &c. The civil powers herein acting directly contrary to the nature and perverting the very ends of the magistrate’s office, which is to be custos et vindex utriusque tabulae; the minister of God, a revenger, to execute wrath on him that doeth evil. Transgressors of the first table of the law may now sin openly with impunity; and, while the religious observation of the sabbath is not regarded, the superstitious observation of holy days, even in Scotland, is so much authorized, that on some of them the most considerable courts of justice are discharged to sit.

–The Reformed Presbytery (Covenanters), Act, Declaration, and Testimony, for the Whole
of our Covenanted Reformation, as Attained to, and Established in Britain and Ireland, Particularly Betwixt the Years 1638 and 1649, Inclusive. As, Also, Against all the Steps of Defection from Said Reformation, Whether in Former or Latter Times, Since the Overthrow of that Glorious Work, Down to this Present Day (1761).

The public worship of God is grievously corrupted, in England and Ireland,–by a multitude of superstitious inventions. . . . A great many devised holidays, saints days, fasts and festivals, are likewise observed; with peculiar offices for the same.

–Adam Gib (minister, Associate [Presbyterian] Anti-Burgher), The Present Truth: A Display of the Secession Testimony, Vol. 2 (1774).

Men cannot, without sin, appoint any holy days. (1.) God has marked the weekly sabbath with peculiar honour, in his command and word. But, if men appoint holy days, they detract from its honour; and wherever holy days of men’s appointment are much observed, God’s weekly sabbath is much profaned, Ex. 20:8; Ezek. 43:8. (2.) God never could have abolished his own ceremonial holy days, in order that men might appoint others of their own invention, in their room, Col. 2:16-23; Gal. 4:10,11. (3.) God alone can bless holy days, and render them effectual to promote holy purposes; and we have no hint in his word, that he will bless any appointed by men, Ex. 20:11. (4.) By permitting, if not requiring us, to labour six days of the week in our worldly employments, this commandment excludes all holy days of men’s appointment; Ex. 20:8,9. If it permit six days for our worldly labour, we ought to stand fast in that liberty with which Christ hath made us free, Gal. 5:1; 1 Cor. 7:23; Matt. 15:9. If it require them, we ought to obey God rather than men, Acts 4:19; 5:29.–Days of occasional fasting and thanksgiving are generally marked out by the providence of God: and the observation of them does not suppose any holiness in the day itself, Joel 1:14; 2:15; Acts 13:2; 14:23; Matt. 9:15.

–John Brown, of Haddington (minister and professor, Associate [Presbyterian] Burgher Synod), A Compendious View of Natural and Revealed Religion (1796).

We therefore condemn the following errors, and testify against all who maintain them:

1. “That any part of time is appointed in divine revelation, or may be appointed by the church, to be kept holy, in its weekly, monthly, or annual returns, except the first day of the week, which is the Christian Sabbath.”

–Reformed Presbyterian Church in America (Covenanters), Reformation Principles Exhibited (1806).

Those days which, by men now under the New Testament are called festival or holy days, have no warrant from the word, and are superstitious. Ex. 20:8; Matt. 9:14,15; 28:20; Col. 2:20-23; Matt. 15:7-9.

–Reformed Dissenting Presbytery, An Act, Declaration and Testimony, of the Reformed Dissenting Presbyterian Church, in North America (1808).

It is our duty to attend faithfully and industriously to that secular business which is incumbent on us, during the six last days of the week, and not to institute or observe sabbaths of human invention; that we may be prepared for the sanctification of the Lord’s sabbath. “Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work.” Gal. 4:10,11. “Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed labour upon you in vain.”

–Ezra Stiles Ely (pastor, Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.), A Synopsis of Didactic Theology (1822).

[The Waldenses] contemn all approved ecclesiastical customs which they do not read of in the gospel, such as the observance of Candlemas, Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and the feast of Easter. . . .

–William Sime, History of the Waldenses (1827).

This shews how little they understand the liberty of the gospel, who prescribe for the observance of Christians, a variety of holy days, which are unauthorized in Scripture, and are found in experience to be lost in idleness, or abused in folly. Such days, originating in secular policy, or superstitious excitement, may be marked by names and rites solemn and imposing; yet, wanting the sanction of Jehovah, and the animating breath of heaven, they are soon disregarded as empty forms, hated as encumbrances on public industry, and welcomed only by those whose situation makes them wish for a season and a pretext for amusement and dissipation.
–Henry Belfrage (minister, Associate [Presbyterian] Burgher Synod), A Practical Exposition of the Assembly’s Shorter Catechism (1834).

[M]en have no right to institute holidays, which return as regularly at certain intervals as the Sabbath does in the beginning of the week. This is an assumption of authority which God has not delegated to them. Holidays are an encroachment upon the time of which he has made
a free gift to men for their worldly affairs. . . .

–John Dick (minister, United Associate Congregation; professor, United Secession Theological Seminary), Lectures on Theology (1835).

We believe that the Scriptures not only do not warrant the observance of such days [i.e., “holy” days], but that they positively discountenance it. Let any one impartially weigh Colossians 2:16, and also, Galatians 4:9-11; and then say whether these passages do not evidently indicate, that the inspired Apostle disapproved of the observance of such days.

–Samuel Miller (professor, Princeton Theological Seminary, Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.), Presbyterianism: The Truly Primitive and Apostolic Constitution of the Church of Christ

[W]e testify against the celebration of Christmas, or other festivals of the Papal or Episcopal church. –Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland, Testimony of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Scotland: Historical and Doctrinal (1837).

It is notorious, that wherever other days than the Sabbath are religiously observed, there that holy day is less strictly observed than its nature demands–less strictly than it is generally observed by those who regard it as the only set time which God has commanded to be kept holy. It is also notorious, that holy days, as they are called, are times at which every species of vice and disorder is more flagrantly and more generally indulged in, than at any other time; so that these days are really and highly injurious to civil society, as well as an encroachment on the prerogative of God.

–Ashbel Green (minister, Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.), Lectures
on the Shorter Catechism (1841).

Stated festival-days, commonly called holy-days, have no warrant in the Word of God; but a day may be set apart, by competent authority, for fasting or thanksgiving when extraordinary dispensations of Providence administer cause for them. When judgments are threatened or inflicted, or when some special blessing is to be sought and obtained, fasting is eminently seasonable.

–Robert Shaw (minister, Free Church of Scotland), An Exposition of the Confession of Faith (1845).

The observance of them is will-worship, and will tend to the decline of religion. (4.) Christmas, or the Nativity, is unauthorized. The time is utterly unknown, being left in impenetrable darkness by the Holy Spirit in the divine records; and no doubt this was done because the knowledge of it was unnecessary, and in order to repress will-worship. In a word, while fast-days are appointed on account of the duty to be performed, in set days, or periodical days, the duty is observed on account of the day; and therefore the day must be of divine appointment, or it is sinful.

–Abraham Anderson (minister and professor, Associate Presbyterian Church), Lectures
on Theology (1851).

To those who believe in this form of regimen [keeping the Sabbath as a holy day of rest] it forms “the golden hours” of time; and finding no command nor fair deduction from Scripture warranting them to keep any other day, whether (in honor of the Saxon goddess Eostre, that is, the Prelatic) “Easter,” “the Holy Innocents,” or of “St. Michael and all the angels,” they believe that “festival days, vulgarly called holydays, having no warrant in the word of God, are not to be observed.”

–Alexander Blaikie (minister, Associate Reformed Church), The Philosophy
of Sectarianism (1854).

No human power can make it unlawful for men to pursue their industrial avocations during the six secular days. The New Testament plainly discourages the attempt to fill up the calendar with holidays, Gal. 4:9-11; Col. 2:16-23. Even days of fasting or thanksgiving are not holy days; but they are a part of secular time voluntarily devoted to God’s service. And if we are to perform these things at all, we must take some time for them. Yet none but God can sanctify a day so as to make it holy. The attempt to do this was one of the sins of Jeroboam, 1 Kings 12:33.

–William S. Plumer (professor, Columbia Theological Seminary, Presbyterian Church in the U.S.), The Law of God, As Contained in the Ten Commandments (1864).

In keeping the last day of the week as a day of religious observance, the Jews, by the very act, expressed their religious acknowledgment of God, who had appointed it, and did an act of worship to Him as its author, in the character of one Creator who made the heavens and the earth. In keeping the first day of the week now, Christians, by the very act, recognise Christ as the author of it, and do homage to Him as the one Redeemer, who on that day rose from the dead, and secured the salvation of His people. . . . And who does not see, that upon the very same principle the observance of holidays appointed by the Church, as ordinary and stated parts of Divine worship, is an expression of religious homage to man, who is the author of the appointment,–an unlawful acknowledgment of human or ecclesiastical authority in an act of worship. In keeping, after a religious sort, a day that has no authority but man’s, we are paying a religious homage to that authority; we are bowing down, in the very act of our observance of the days as part of worship, not to Christ, who has not appointed it, but to the Church, which has. We are keeping the season holy, not to God, but to man.

–James Bannerman (professor, New College, Free Church of Scotland), The Church of Christ (1869).

Festival days, vulgarly called holy days, having no warrant in the word of God, are not to be observed.

–Synod of the Associate Reformed Church in North America, The Constitution and Standards of the Associate Reformed Church in North America (1874).

The [Dutch] Reformed churches had been in the habit of keeping Christmas, Easter and Whitsuntide [Pentecost] as days of religious worship. The synod [Provincial Synod of Dordrecht, 1574] enjoined the churches to do this no longer, but to be satisfied with Sundays for divine service.

–Maurice G. Hansen (historian, Reformed Church in America), The Reformed Church in the Netherlands (1884).

To take the ground that the church has a discretionary power to appoint other holy days and other symbolical rites is to concede to Rome the legitimacy of her five superfluous sacraments and all her self-devised paraphernalia of sacred festivals. There is no middle ground. Either
we are bound by the Lord’s appointments in his Word, or human discretion is logically entitled to the full-blown license of Rome.

–John L. Girardeau (professor, Columbia Theological Seminary, Presbyterian Church in the U.S.), Instrumental Music in the Public Worship of the Church (1888).

The objections are: first, that this countenances ‘will-worship,’ or the intrusion of man’s inventions into God’s service; second, it is an implied insult to Paul’s inspiration, assuming that he made a practical blunder, which the church synods, wiser than his inspiration, had to mend by a human expedient; and third, we have here a practical confession that, after all, the average New Testament Christian does need a stated holy day, and therefore the ground of the Sabbath command is perpetual and moral.

–Robert L. Dabney (professor, Union Theological Seminary, Virginia; Theological School at Austin, Texas; University of Texas; Presbyterian Church in the U.S.), “The Christian Sabbath,”
in Discussions, Vol. 1 (1890).

[T]hose who quote those portions of Scripture in opposition to the idea of a divine obligation on Christians to observe the Sabbath are found for the most part, in one section of the Church, and as members or dignitaries therein they are very far from being consistent. Their reasoning on behalf of their theory and their practice are diametrically opposed. If the Apostle Paul were permitted to revisit earth, we might imagine him addressing them somewhat after the following manner:–‘Ye men of a half-reformed Church, ye observe days and times. Ye have a whole calendar of so-called saints’ days. Ye observe a Holy Thursday and a Good Friday. Ye have a time called Easter, and a season called Lent, about which some of you make no small stir. Ye have a day regarded especially holy, named Christmas, observed at a manifestly wrong season of the year, and notoriously grafted on an old Pagan festival. And all this while many of you refuse to acknowledge the continued obligation of the Fourth Commandment. I am afraid of you, lest the instruction contained in my epistle, as well as in other parts of Scripture, has been bestowed upon you in vain.’

–Robert Nevin (minister, Reformed Presbyterian Church in Ireland and editor of the Covenanter Magazine in Ireland), Misunderstood Scriptures (1893).

Q. 49. What are some of the festival seasons of the Church of Rome?

A. They are very numerous; among them the following are the most prominent: –Christmas, Lady Day, Lent, Easter, and the Feast of the Assumption.

Q. 50. What is the meaning of Christmas?

A. It is a festival held on the 25th of December, in honour of the birth of Christ. On this day three Masses are performed: one at midnight, one at daybreak, and one in the morning.

Q. 51 When was this festival introduced?

A. The spurious decretals attributed its institution to Telesphorus, Bishop of Rome, in the first half of the second century; but the Fathers of the first three centuries make no mention of it.

Q. 52. What is its most probable origin?

A. That it was not Christian is manifest from the fact that the day on which the feast is observed could not have been the day of Christ’s birth, inasmuch as from December to February is the cold and rainy season in Palestine, when the shepherds could not have been “keeping watch over their flocks by night.” The festival is to be traced partly to the tendency in the fourth century to multiply such seasons, and, by introducing a festival for each period in Christ’s life, to complete “the Christian year,” and partly to the growing tendency in the church to conciliate the heathen by adopting their religious customs.
Q. 53. Are there any features in the Christmas festival that point to a Pagan origin?

A. There are several: the name, the time of its observance, and the ceremonies associated with it.

Q. 54. Explain these features in detail.

A. The name “Yule Day,” given to Christmas, is Pagan. According to some the word Yule is derived from huel, a wheel, and was meant to designate the Pagan sun feast in commemoration of the turn of the sun and the lengthening of the day. According to others it was the Chaldee name for “infant,” and was meant to designate the feast in honour of the birth of the son of the Babylonian Queen of Heaven. The time indicates a Pagan origin, for it was at the time of the winter solstice that the Pagan festival just referred to was celebrated. The ceremonies of the “Drunken festival” of Babylon have their counterpart in the wassail bowl and the revels that in
all Popish countries have been characteristic of Christmas.

Q. 55. Is this festival warranted in Scripture?

A. No. The Scriptures are silent regarding the day and month of Christ’s birth, and it is admitted by the best writers that the precise day cannot now be ascertained from any source. Christ commanded His disciples to commemorate His death, but He gave no command concerning His birth.

–John M’Donald (minister, Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland; member, Scottish Reformation Society), Romanism Analysed in the Light of Scripture, Reason, and History (1894).

There is a ritualism against which George Gillespie delivered a destructive blow by his work on “English-Popish Ceremonies Obtruded on the (Reformed) Church of Scotland”–the ritualism of saints’ days and holy days–and in which he described these and other ceremonies as the “twigs and spriggs of Popish superstition.” These and other similar rites and ceremonies have been repudiated by the Presbyterianism of this northern kingdom without a dissentient voice for the last 300 years. . . . If a number of ministers in Presbyterian charges where no ritualism exists were to resolve to ritualise and Romanise their congregations, could they adopt better measures than those in operation by ritualists? Their plan of campaign would be marked by the following stages at considerable intervals:–adverse comments on the simplicity of the worship observed; . . . introduction of saints’ days and holy days, including Ash Wednesday, Maunday Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday; . . . Would they not be toying all this time with the trinkets of Babylon?

–Dr. James Kerr (pastor, Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland), “The Scriptural Doctrines Violated by Ritualism,” in Romanism and Ritualism in Great Britain and Ireland (1895).

[Things forbidden by the fourth commandment]: The erection and regular observance of other holy days. Had God seen their regular recurrence was desirable they would have been appointed. Their use has been spiritually damaging. They often become centers of ceremonialism and sensual worship.

–J. A. Grier, (professor, Allegheny Theological Seminary, United Presbyterian Church), Synoptical Lectures on Theological Subjects (1896).

There is no warrant in Scripture for the observance of Christmas and Easter as holy days, rather the contrary (see Gal. 4:9-11; Col. 2:16-21), and such observance is contrary to the principles of the Reformed Faith, conducive to will worship, and not in harmony with the simplicity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

–General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States (Southern Presbyterians), Deliverance on Christmas and Easter (1899).

Q. 7. Is it not a daring intrusion upon the prerogative of God to appoint as a stated religious festival any other day or season, such as Christmas or Easter?

A. It is an impeachment of the wisdom of God and an assertion of our right and ability to improve on his plans.

–James Harper (professor, Xenia Theological Seminary, United Presbyterian Church), An Exposition in the Form of Question and Answer of the Westminster Assembly’s Shorter Catechism (1905).

The observance of Holy Days had been rejected at the Reformation, and the people of Scotland desired no change [as mandated by the Perth Articles passed in 1618]. . . . An Order in June 1619 commanded universal obedience to the Articles. . . . So strong was the opposition that little impression was made by such proceedings. . . . The general result was that only a small minority, and these chiefly official persons, kneeled at Communion or observed Easter or Christmas; even this was due simply out of deference to the king’s wishes.

–Sheriff Orr, Alexander Henderson: Churchman and Statesman (1919).

Festival days, commonly called holy-days, having no warrant in the Word, are not to be observed.

–Associate Reformed Presbyterian Synod, Constitution of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (1937).

In former times the Reformed Presbyterian Church was solidly opposed to the religious observance of Christmas, Easter and other special days of the same kind. . . . [W]e should realize that we Covenanters, in opposing the observance of Easter and other “holy” days, are only holding to the original principle which was once held by all Presbyterians everywhere. It is not the Covenanters that have changed. . . . [T]he apostle Paul regards this observance of days as a bad tendency: “I am afraid of (for) you, lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain.”. . . Paul wondered what was wrong with their religious knowledge and experience, that they should have become so zealous for the observance of days.

–J. G. Vos (minister, Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America), “The Observance of Days” in Blue Banner Faith and Life (1947).

Here I am alone in the library and apparently everyone has gone from Machen Hall until Friday morning. Now it is 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday. You may think this dismal. Well, I love it. It is a delightful change from the usual stir. I have had two good days in the Library. Monday was taken up with committee meetings, forenoon and afternoon. I hope to be here all day tomorrow. I have not even accepted a dinner engagement for what they call ‘Christmas.’ I hate the whole business.

–John Murray (professor, Westminster Seminary, Orthodox Presbyterian Church), “Letter to Valerie Knowlton, Dec. 24, 1958,” in Collected Writings, Vol. 3 (1958).

1. What was originally the conviction of the churches in regard to the holy days? The Reformers such as Calvin, Farel, Viret, Bucer and John Knox were opposed to observing the holy days.

2. What were their motives for this? a. That they were not divine but human institutions. b. That they brushed aside the importance of Sunday. c. That they gave occasion to licentious and heathen festivities.

3. What then did they prefer in regard to preaching the facts of Christ’s birth, death, etc.? That it be done on regular Sundays. On the Sunday before Christmas the Christmas story was preached, etc.

4. How is it then that the ecclesiastical synods still made provision for the observance of the holy days? a. They did so as a concession to the Authorities, which clung tenaciously to the holy days as vacation days for the people. b. The churches permitted the ministers to preach on these holy days in order to change a useless and unprofitable idleness into a holy and profitable exercise.

–K. DeGier (minister, Netherlands Reformed Church, the Hague; teacher, Theological School at Rotterdam), Explanation of the Church Order of Dordt (1968).

It is just this attitude of indifference to the Constitution that has brought us to the state we are in in the P.C.U.S. Whereas, earlier, as is reflected in the 1899 deliverance about Christmas and Easter, there was meticulous concern for staying with the standards, and the strict interpretation of Scripture on even such a matter as these two days. Now there is a complete reversal to the point of adopting the liturgical calendar of past tradition, without any Biblical basis.

–Morton Smith (professor, Greenville Theological Seminary, Presbyterian Church in America), How is the Gold Become Dim (1973).

Holy Days. The Free Presbyterian Church rejects the modern custom becoming so prevalent in the Church of Scotland, of observing Christmas and Easter. It regards the observance of these days as symptomatic of the trend in the Church of Scotland towards closer relations with Episcopacy. At the time of the Reformation in Scotland all these festivals were cast out of the Church as things that were not only unnecessary but unscriptural.

–Committee appointed by the Synod of the Free Presbyterian Church, History of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland. 1893-1970 (ca. 1974).

Recently denominations that never had calendars before were induced by the National Council of Churches to adopt the practice. . . . How can such non-biblical forms of worship be defended? The Puritan principle, that is, the Biblical command, is that in worship we should
neither add to nor subtract from the divine requirements. . . .[Professor] James Benjamin Green, Studies in the Holy Spirit (Revell, 1936), has urged Christians to celebrate Pentecost: “There are three great days in the Christian year: Christmas, Easter, and Whitsunday, and we are not true to our faith when we allow Whitsunday to fall into the background. . . . It has ranked with Christmas and Easter. The three together are the three throned days of the Christian year.”

It is amazing that a professor in a Presbyterian seminary should be so Romish and anti-Reformed. Scripture gives us our rules for worship, and, to repeat, from them we should not subtract, nor to them should we add. We should turn neither to the left nor to the right. Now,Scripture does not authorize us to celebrate Pentecost. The same is true of Christmas. It began as a drunken orgy and continues so today in office parties. The Puritans even made its celebration a civil offense. And yet an argument for celebrating Pentecost was, “Don’t all Christians celebrate Christmas and Easter?” No, they do not. My father’s family and church never celebrated Christmas, nor did the two Blanchard administrations in Wheaton College. But what about Easter? Surely we must celebrate Easter, shouldn’t we? Yes indeed, we should, as the Scripture commands, not just once a year in the spring, but fifty-two times a year.

–Gordon H. Clark (professor, Covenant College, Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod), The Holy Spirit (1993).

Christmas, Good Friday, and Easter are Romish sacred days. By this we mean that they have their source in Roman Catholic tradition, rather than in Scripture. . . . [T]here have been times in the history of the Reformed churches when the truth on the subject of sacred days received reverent attention. Already, before John Calvin arrived in Geneva at the time of the great Reformation, the observance of Romish sacred days had been discontinued there. This had been done under the leadership of Guillaume Farel and Peter Viret. But Calvin was in hearty agreement. It is well known that when these traditional days came along on the calendar, Calvin did not pay the slightest attention to them. He just went right on with his exposition of whatever book of the Bible he happened to be expounding. The Reformers, Knox and Zwingli, agreed with Calvin. So did the entire Reformed church of Scotland and Holland. At the Synod of Dort in 1574 it was agreed that the weekly Sabbath alone should be observed, and that the observance of all other days should be discouraged. This faithful Biblical practice was later compromised. But that does not change the fact that the Reformed churches originally stood for the biblical principle. The original stand of the Reformed churches was Scriptural. That is the important thing.

–G. I. Williamson (minister, Orthodox Presbyterian Church), On the Observance of Sacred Days (n.d.).

Do not allow your children to celebrate the days on which unbelief and superstition are being catered to. They are admittedly inclined to want this because they see that the children of Roman Catholic parents observe those days. Do not let them attend carnivals, observe Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras), see Santa Claus, or observe Twelfth Night, because they are all remnants of an idolatrous papacy. You must not keep your children out of school or from work on those days nor let them play outside or join in the amusement. The Lord has said, “After the doings of the land of Egypt, where you lived, shall ye not do: and after the doings of the land of Canaan, where I bring you, you shall not do: neither shall you walk in their ordinances” (Lev. 18:3). The Lord will punish the Reformed on account of the days of Baal (Hosea 2:12-13), and he also observes what the children do on the occasion of such idolatry (Jer. 17:18). Therefore, do not let your children receive presents on Santa Claus day, nor let them draw tickets in a raffle and such things. Pick other days on which to give them the things that amuse them, and because the days of Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost have the same character, Reformed people must keep their children away from these so-called holy days and feast days.

–Jacobus Koelman (who, it is reported, coined the term ‘Nadere Reformatie’), The Duties of Parents, p. 73

The practice of fasting was commanded by God; the determination of necessity, time, and circumstances was left to the church (Joel 2). Special days of thanksgiving are also commanded, the occurrence and frequency of which are to be determined by the church. There is no basis in the Word, however, upon which the church may legislate the observation of such days for subsequent generations. Such practices should be denounced and the church should not observe them. This is true also for our so-called feast days which ought to be eliminated. Regarding feast days consult Res Judicata by [Jacobus] Koelman, as well as his other scholarly and devotional writings. Other external religious ordinances and circumstances are principally commanded in the Word of God, the stipulations of which are left to each individual church, and consequently are alterable according to time and place. In doing so, however, all superstition must be avoided and such practices must not have an adverse effect upon doctrine and practice. Thus, the perfection of the rule of Scripture will not be violated, nor will the use of unwritten traditions be advocated.

–Wilhelmus à Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, Vol. I, pp. 38-39

[Rules that help distinguish between truth and lies, walking in divine truth promotes godliness] For example when debating whether to maintain Lenten Eve (Fat Tuesday), Epiphany (when the wiseman saw Christ), and other Roman Catholic holidays or to radically abolish them, some people may say yes and others no. However, the godly immediately know the right way, for they understand that Roman Catholic holidays have no basis in Holy Scripture and that regular observance of them offers occasion for much sin. The celebrations cause great disorder in the places or homes where they are observed and become a stumbling block to real holiness as they strengthen the old man. The godly swiftly conclude that Reformed Christians who would gladly abolish or ignore the feast days have the truth on their side.

–Willem Teelinck, The Path of True Godliness, p. 101

[T]he first Synod held at Dordrecht, in 1574, decreed (article 53), “concerning the feast-days on which, beside the Sunday, it has been customary to abstain from labor, and assemble in the church, it is resolved that we must be satisfied with the Sunday alone.

–David D. Demarest traces this history from the 1574 Synod of Dordt to the 1618-1619 Synod of Dordt, History and Characteristics of the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church (1856), pp. 173-175:

John Murray “I hate the whole business.


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