22 December, 2006

Christmass in the 1660s

This is what you would have seen in New England in the 1660s if you were about town during the Christmass season.


Anonymous said...

Hmmm... a law passed against something that falls under Christian liberty. Kinda like Prohibition. That's really too bad, and totally misses the point of Romans 14. Turretin has an applicable quote:

"Hence we cannot approve of the rigid judgment of those who charge such churches with idolatry (in which those days are still kept, the names of the saints being retained), since they agree with us in doctrine concerning the worship of God alone and detest the idolatry of the papists."

Droll Flood said...

Go on to read in the section concerning holidays etc. in Turretin. If I rightly remember, he basically says it would be better just not to go down that route. Keep that which God has commanded rather than setting up non commanded things which given human nature will probably supplant God's commands.

We distinguish, however between the belief in the doctrine of the incarnation and birth THAT blasphemously named holiday.

Droll Flood said...

Concerning the post's picture, do you think that Hallmark would take up printing that one as a card? I would love to send that one to my relatives. Also to Rev. Miller.

Anonymous said...

"The question is not whether anniversary days may be selected on which either the nativity, or circumcision, or passion, or ascension of Christ, and similar mysteries of redemption, may be commemorated, or even on which the memory of some remarkable blessing may be celebrated. For this the orthodox think should be left to the liberty of the church. Hence some devote certain days to such festivity, not from necessity of faith, but from the counsel of prudence to excite more to piety and devotion. However, others, using their liberty, retain the Lord's day alone, and in it, at stated times, celebrate the memory of the mysteries of Christ... ...we deny that those days are in themselves more holy than others; rather all are equal. If any sanctity is attributed to them, it does not belong to the time and the day, but to the divine worship. Thus, the observance of them among those who retain it, is only of positive right and ecclesiastical appointment; not, however, necessary from a divine precept."

So... Turretin had no problem with Christians observing Christmas.

Andrew Duggan said...

Just because Turretin might not have completely thought it out doesn't mean observing Christmass is OK. He fails to take into consideration the fact that stating the 25th of December is the anniversary of Christ's birth is necessarily a violation of the 9th commandment, since those making such a statement do not (and cannot) know that to be true.

Considering that Christ through his servant the prophet Jeremiah (Jer 10:2-4) specifically forbids engaging a big part of what people do in observing the day, perhaps it might be wise to follow his advice. Nate had a nice posting last year about it.

Life is really better without all the idolatry. See it's not I that charge these people with idolatry, it's Christ himself. (Ex 20:4-6) Not only that but he goes on warn us that we persist in hating him in this way within 3 to 4 generations he's going to be done visiting that iniquity, and that's when they get turned over to the more vile types of lifestyle (c.f. Rom 1).

So Mark, Do you think that Christ the judge will be OK with the excuse that Turretin thought it was OK? Do you really want to tempt God with that kind of sophistry?

James w. Lanning said...

nobody's going to take any five schillings from me, not even if i wear a santa costume to church.

Nate said...

I think that if you use the Romans 14 argument for Christmas in our culture- it does not work in the 1660s.

It would not have been a liberty issue then since it was so closely tied to the Papal church. It was not as cultural, it was religious.

Also remember that Christian liberty is defined as liberty to do WHAT IS COMMANDED in the word of God. Liberty is not defined as able to do whatever is not forbidden.

Anonymous said...

Whoa... Andrew, Turretin didn't say Christ was born on Dec. 25, merely that it was alright to commemorate His birth on that date. The Christians who chose that date used some wrong formulas, but they no more lied than I lie when I get a math problem wrong.

Note also that I didn't say that it's alright just because Turretin approved. You're really most uncharitable in your judgements, I'm afraid. For the rest of your objections, read this.

Nate - I understand the Puritans' reasoning. I think it was an overreaction, but I can easily see myself doing the same, so I bear them no grudge. But the papal associations aren't an issue today, either.

As far as liberty goes - we're not commanded to drink, but it's allowed.

Nate said...

I mean that Christian liberty is used differently than the doctrine was originally formulated.

It used to be free to believe what the Bible says.

Now it is free from what the Bible does not forbid.

As for a Puritan over-reaction: I do not think so. They were under much persecution for their Puritanism and they were being forced to obey papal observances. The Mass of Christ went out with all of the other Saint's Day.

I agree that Puritan Christmass is different than current American Charles Dickins Christmas observance that the Victorians popularized though.

Again, I love you Mark.

Nate said...

As for the article- does your RPW red flag go up with this first paragraph?

"Well-meaning brothers are "concerned" that we have a Christmas tree in the foyer of our church, light Advent candles in December, and decorate the church with garland and holly for the season. Yes, we do these things."

Again, Still love you Mark- as well as the rest of my Christmas observing Christian brothers and sisters.

Droll Flood said...

"It used to be free to believe what the Bible says."
-Now concerning certain amendments in our government's damnable make-up...

Nate said...

I. The liberty which Christ hath purchased for believers under the gospel consists in their freedom from the guilt of sin, the condemning wrath of God, the curse of the moral law;[1] and, in their being delivered from this present evil world, bondage to Satan, and dominion of sin;[2] from the evil of afflictions, the sting of death, the victory of the grave, and everlasting damnation;[3] as also, in their free access to God,[4] and their yielding obedience unto him, not out of slavish fear, but a childlike love and willing mind.[5] All which were common also to believers under the law.[6] But, under the new testament, the liberty of Christians is further enlarged, in their freedom from the yoke of the ceremonial law, to which the Jewish church was subjected;[7] and in greater boldness of access to the throne of grace,[8] and in fuller communications of the free Spirit of God, than believers under the law did ordinarily partake of.

II. God alone is Lord of the conscience,[10] and hath left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men, which are, in anything, contrary to his Word; or beside it, if matters of faith, or worship.[11] So that, to believe such doctrines, or to obey such commands, out of conscience, is to betray true liberty of conscience:[12] and the requiring of an implicit faith, and an absolute and blind obedience, is to destroy liberty of conscience, and reason also.

III. They who, upon pretense of Christian liberty, do practice any sin, or cherish any lust, do thereby destroy the end of Christian liberty, which is, that being delivered out of the hands of our enemies, we might serve the Lord without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.

IV. And because the powers which God hath ordained, and the liberty which Christ hath purchased, are not intended by God to destroy, but mutually to uphold and preserve one another, they who, upon pretense of Christian liberty, shall oppose any lawful power, or the lawful exercise of it, whether it be civil or ecclesiastical, resist the ordinance of God.[15] And, for their publishing of such opinions, or maintaining of such practices, as are contrary to the light of nature, or to the known principles of Christianity (whether concerning faith, worship, or conversation), or to the power of godliness; or, such erroneous opinions or practices, as either in their own nature, or in the manner of publishing or maintaining them, are destructive to the external peace and order which Christ hath established in the church, they may lawfully be called to account, and proceeded against, by the censures of the church.[16] [and by the power of the civil magistrate.]

Anonymous said...

I don't see anything in decorations that violate the RPW. It's not as though they're part of the worship service.

As for the WCF:

The (q) reading of the Scriptures, Preaching, and (r) hearing the word of God, teaching and admonishing one another in Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual songs, singing with grace in our Hearts to (s) the Lord; as also the Administration (t) of Baptism, and (u) the Lords Supper are all parts of Religious worship of God, to be performed in obedience to him, with understanding, faith, reverence, and godly fear; moreover solemn humiliation (x) with fastings; and thanksgiving upon (y) special occasions, ought to be used in an holy and religious manner.

Notliberal said...

Christian liberty does not give us the right to sin against God. In terms of worship, we are required to do what scripture requires of us and we may not add or detract from that. In terms of culture, we're not supposed to engage in pagan customs and are to destroy that which is pagan. The entire Xmas celebration is rooted in pagan rites and rituals. I don't see how we can celebrate this day according to scripture.

Andrew Duggan said...

Mark, I think you misunderstood me. I don't think Turretin was stating that Christ was born on 25 December, that would be those who observe the day. My point is that one cannot observe that particular day in any sense and call it Christmas and not be in violation of the 9th commandment. If you want to observe it, you don't have to justify it to me, but you do have to justify it to Christ. In fact, every argument I have heard for observing that day can be summarized as follows: "Yeah, hath God said?..."

On a more fun note, Mr. Lanning, would you prefer the stocks? Better make sure that suit is warm.

Anonymous said...

Steve - Christ celebrated Hanukkah in John 10:22-23. Likewise, the Jews instituted Purim in Ester without a divine command. It's safe to say tht we have Biblical precedent for Holy Days. Though if you really want to get hung up on only doing what's commanded, find the verse that tells us to have a sermon in worship.

Pagan roots? You've been reading the liberal media too much. Again, the church fathers worked out Dec. 25 as the day of Christ's birth from a number of factors, none of them having to do with pagan roots. Solis Invicti didn't even come around until long after they'd decided Dec. 25 was Christ's birth date.

Andrew - regardless of Turretin's view, you'd be hard-pressed to find many Christians who think that Christ was literally born on Dec. 25. To repeat that is, well, a violation of the ninth commandment.

Nate said...

I am sure that you have looked at this: But here is an answer to both Romans 14 and the Purim argument:


Anonymous said...

Yeah... I'm rather wary of that approach to Romans 14. The CRC used almost exactly the same argument to justify women in office. I'd agree that services shouldn't be mandatory, but merely having services is hardly tyrannical.

As for Purim, it's worth bearing in mind that the church and state weren't as distinct then as they are now, so to compare it to Thanksgiving doesn't work. And yeah, Christmas is different from Purim. It's the principle that applies, not the exact particulars. Besides, Christ attended the non-ordained Hanukkah, which seems to me significant proof that "man-made" holy days are acceptable.

Andrew Duggan said...

Mark, Yes, I know most don't really believe that Christ was born on Dec 25th, but that doesn't keep them from saying it anyway. (c.f. Silent Night, O Holy Night, The First Noel, etc...) Most people who lie don't believe their lies, if they did, it wouldn't be lying (more like a mistake) or they would be psychotic. So is it your position that those who observe this day as Christ's birth are psychotic? That's what you seem to be arguing, and that's far less charitable than the other options. Or -- Are you arguing they are right and Christ was born on Dec 25th and he requires that his followers observe the day? However, if you think that trafficking "misinformation" about Christ is a matter of Christian Liberty there is really not much of a foundation for further discourse now is there?

I'm sure you think that it really shouldn't be such a big deal. Christmas like the riches of the rich young ruler is something that most people can't just seem to give up. Rather than being sorry they just convince themselves it's not something the Christ requires they "give up". After all, Christmas is fun, good food, beautiful music, fellowship and presents, what could be wrong with that? Compare: Gen 3:6

"And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat."

It looked good and fun, so it was easy to believe that God had not said "No."

Anonymous said...

Which of those songs says "Christ was literally born on Dec. 25"? Eh? Singing them on Christmas no more means that we believe Christ was born Dec. 25 then reading Christ's words "this is my body, which was broken for you" at the Lord's Supper means we believe in transubstantiation.

You seem awfully eager to judge those who celebrate Christmas, which is contrary to Romans 14 and Col. 2:16. Be thankful that Christ shows more mercy to you than you do to others.

James w. said...
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James w. Lanning said...
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James w. Lanning said...

i guess we're assuming that the anonymous guy is mark. k cool. what i don't like is this idea that there exists a "christmas", as if "christmas" were on some kind of universal calendar. there IS NO CHRISTMAS, it is a fabrication of man, dumpy white men to be exact. therefore you can't sing songs on "christmas" because it DOESN'T REALLY EXIST. you are singing songs on a random day of the year that generally isn't a sabbath day and in which case has no significance whatsoever above any other random weekday of the year.

a few rules: 1) if you really think "christmas" is something special, then you're wrong. it's nothing special. 2) celebrating "christmas" might be unreformed but it's not wrong. 3) none of you got me any gifts this year. what's up with that?