Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Christ-Mass

I ran across these two quotes from one of the most respected historical Christian theologians and authors – Charles H Spurgeon.

“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).

“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.” (from Charles Spurgeon’s Treasury of David on Psalm 81:4.)

I found them very surprising, considering the source! A friend of mine recently did a little research on when the birth of Christ might have occurred by studying Scripture and she gave me permission to share it:

“’Luk 1:5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.’

“We know what ‘of the daughters of Aaron’ means, right? Elisabeth was a high priest’s daughter. Obviously Zacharias was a priest. What does ‘of the course of Abia’ mean? Who is Abia? Obviously a priest, but which one? Why does God even tell us about him at all in this passage? I won’t claim to know all the reasons why, but I do believe it at least helps us to ascertain when Messiah was born. I’ll show you how.

“1Ch 24:7 Now the first lot came forth to Jehoiarib, the second to Jedaiah,

“1Ch 24:8 The third to Harim, the fourth to Seorim,

“1Ch 24:9 The fifth to Malchijah, the sixth to Mijamin,

“1Ch 24:10 The seventh to Hakkoz, the eighth to Abijah,

“1Ch 24:11 The ninth to Jeshua, the tenth to Shecaniah,

“1Ch 24:12 The eleventh to Eliashib, the twelfth to Jakim,

“1Ch 24:13 The thirteenth to Huppah, the fourteenth to Jeshebeab,

“1Ch 24:14 The fifteenth to Bilgah, the sixteenth to Immer,

“1Ch 24:15 The seventeenth to Hezir, the eighteenth to Aphses,

“1Ch 24:16 The nineteenth to Pethahiah, the twentieth to Jehezekel,

“1Ch 24:17 The one and twentieth to Jachin, the two and twentieth to Gamul,

“1Ch 24:18 The three and twentieth to Delaiah, the four and twentieth to Maaziah.

“If you read that whole chapter, you will see that King David divided the high priests into sections. This helped determine when a certain high priest’s family would serve in the temple, to divide the work more evenly. You see that Zacharias is in the 8th section (Abijah, which is pronounced a-bee-yah in Hebrew, just like Abia in the Greek). There are 12 months in a year. There are 24 sections of high priests. That gives each high priest’s family about 2 weeks. The Biblical year starts in late March/early April usually. (Exo 12:2 “This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.” –The rest of the chapter describes Passover, which obviously normally happens in early April.) This loosely puts Jehoiarib and Jedaiah in April, Harim and Seorim in May, Malchijah and Mijamin in June, and Hakkoz and Abijah in July. Abijah is more in the second half of July or early August, specifically.

“Luk 1:23 ‘And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house. 24 And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived,’

“In Lev 15, it says that if you have relations with your wife, you’ll get struck dead if you go into the temple before the next sundown. So we know it’s been a minimum of 2 weeks since Zacharias and Elisabeth have been together. It’s not that far of a stretch to consider that they likely had relations when he got home, and that would have been when she conceived. This puts John the Baptist’s conception at late July/early August.

“Luk 1:26 ‘And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary…. 41 And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: 42 And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.’

“So we’re told that when Elisabeth is 6 months along, Mary goes to visit her. Elisabeth refers to the ‘fruit of [Mary’s] womb’ which means Mary has conceived. 6 months from late July is late December” (around Hanukkah/Christmastime; they sometimes intersect). ‘Considering that a pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks (closer to 10 months than the common count of 9), this puts John the Baptist’s birth right around Passover.’ We’re back at the first part of the Biblical year again. Since we know that Messiah was born 6 months after John the Baptist, then it’s more than likely that Messiah was born in late September/early October.

1135_Christmas%202007%20B%20010“Now, I’m sure you’re thinking, ‘DUH! I already knew He wasn’t born on December 25!” My question is, ‘Then why do you celebrate it on that date?’ I know the usual answer is, ‘Because we don’t know when He was actually born.’ That answer used to be good enough for me, but now I wonder why. I wonder why I never thought to ask who came up with that date.” Why don’t we just pick a date in September or October to celebrate His birth if we really want to do so? “If the study can’t be refuted, then there is no Biblical reason not to. In fact, there is no Biblical reason to celebrate it in December at all. There is only Catholic tradition. Doesn’t Protestantism pride itself on non-conformance with Catholic tradition?”

I happen to agree with my friend. Why don’t we, as Protestants, step away from the Catholic traditions? Why don’t we leave the Christ-mass to the Catholics? We hold to the claim of “Sola Scriptura!,” so why aren’t we? Just a little food for thought…and maybe a little fire under the pot.

Open-mouthed smile

If you are interested in learning more about these Catholic traditions, you can click the link to watch a video called Truth and Tradition.

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