“You Know it is Christmas (When . . .)” That is how an article in the English Churchman for 11 and 18 December 2015 began. It continued: “When All the Pharisees Come Out”. Amazingly, the article says that those who speak out against Christmas are legalists. The Bible does the opposite. Galatians 4:10 condemned those who kept special days as legalists, not those who refused to keep them! “Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.” It is not legalism or Pharisaism to hold tenaciously to only the worship which God requires in His Word. It is legalism to add to it, as Christmas does.
More Scripturally then, “You Know it is Christmas (When All the Breakers of the Second Commandment Come Out in Defence of a Pagan and Papist Human-Invented Feast Day)”.
Regrettably, but not surprisingly, the English Churchman article failed to mention the Second Commandment, which forbids “the worshipping of God by images, or any other way not appointed in His Word” (as the Shorter Catechism summarises the Bible’s explanation in its answer to question 51).
This principle, that the Church should worship only as God has expressly required in Scripture, known as the Regulative Principle of Worship, has been the Reformed understanding from the beginning. Sadly, it is a principle rejected by all the keepers of Christmas. The Lord has nowhere in His Word given the slightest intimation whatsoever that His birthday should be celebrated on any anniversary day, let alone on 25 December.
The incarnation of Christ is a glorious truth to be remembered and celebrated every day of the year, for the Son of God, manifest in the flesh, was born to die in the place of His people, to make an end of sin and to bring in everlasting righteousness. But specifically to celebrate His birth annually with this human invention of Christmas is a different matter altogether. It is equivalent to the “strange fire” offered by Nadab and Abihu in Leviticus 10 – condemned because they offered to the Lord that “which He commanded them not” (Leviticus 10:1).
Has God anywhere said in Scripture that He wants Christmas? No. Apart from it being a different day and month of the year, Christmas-keeping is no different to the wicked feast instituted by Jereboam in Bethel – “in the month which he had devised of his own heart” (1 Kings 12:32-33). That was Jereboam, the son of Nebat, who could hardly be mentioned in God’s Word after that without this shameful epitaph, that he made Israel to sin. This is what all Church leaders are doing today who lead the Church in this unrequired worship of Christmas.
Appallingly, the article says of “these Pharisees” (those who refuse to offer to God the worship of Christmas that He never commanded): “If they actually studied things a bit, instead of relying on some nutjob conspiracy theorist on a YouTube video somewhere, they would see that they are completely out to lunch on these matters”. So the English Churchman sweeps away the glorious attainments of the First and Second Reformations in Scotland. That should not surprise us of course, because with similar sentiments the Church of England deplorably swept out 2000 of its best ministers and theologians in the Great Ejection of 1662.
George Gillespie, whose achievements in study no one would dare to question and one of the Scottish commissioners at the Westminster Assembly, did not get his views from YouTube when he wrote in the seventeenth century:
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, etc. 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 symbolise with the idolatrous Papists, in the use of the same, without making ourselves idolaters by participation. (emphasis added)
No doubt the English Churchman would like to say that its back page was balanced, in that it also published a much smaller article, purportedly against Christmas, to justify their page title of “Contrasting Articles on the Subject of Christmas”. However, although that second article was by a minister of the Free Church of Scotland Continuing, it could hardly be called a robust and spirited defence of the Regulative Principle, and certainly was not an outright condemnation of Christmas-keeping.
Clearly, they have a well-made point who assert that the Free Church Continuing is indeed a continuation of the Free Church, not a new and reformed version with hardly any difference to the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland. Every 25 December is one of many reminders of how much the distinct witness of the FP Church is needed as much today as it was in 1893, and every day ever since.
Four new sermons setting out the Scriptural case against Christmas are now available on the site:
Rev Keith M Watkins