Those who tried to reform the church in the 16th and 17th century did an effort to go back to the biblical Truth and to the early followers of Jesus.
For centuries there had always been true followers of Christ, who did not believe in a triune god and did not want to partake in the heathen festivals of their region.
The pastors who came from the Roman Catholic church, like Luther and Calvin, did an effort to bring the focus back onto the Word of God, but never managed to go so far with their Reformation that their followers would come to agree to only keep to the days given by God. Today we can only notice that lots of their hopes and teachings are gone away, and that we can see again protestant churches with statues or graven images and traditional rites and festivals.
The writers who try to promote Presbyterian perspectives, as summarized in the Westminster Standards bring a summary of Reasons Against Holy Days, one of the five points of dispute written by David Calderwood and the General Assembly of the Kirk of Scotland in 1618 when King James forced the Kirk to adopt the Five Articles of Perth.
1. “Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work” (Ex. 20:9).
six days of work = a command or as permission
some feel they have a moral right to have the day off from their employer + wrongly think the employer would be infringing on their Christian liberty if forced to work on one of these holidays
2. Only God can make a day holy
Man made holy days + ceremonies = > Assigning spiritual significance to something Scripture doesn’t = epitome of will worship (Col. 2:23), i.e. idolatry.
Human beings have no authority to sanctify a day,
we must worship God how He has told us He wants to be worshiped
Unbiblical ceremonies = lighting of candles, waving of palm branches, + certain decorations with intended religious significance = violate Regulative Principle of Worship + subvert headship of Christ over His Church.
Occasional days of public fasting or thanksgiving
lawful + necessary, upon special emergent occasions, to separate a day or days for public fasting or thanksgiving
3. No one but God has ever appointed a holy day
= days of civil mirth + gladness > not a religious holiday, rather = civil celebration
The Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah)
commemoration of rededication of the second Temple in Jerusalem during the Maccabean Revolt in the inter-Testamental period
> unduly instituted + ungroundedly
Pharisees added many festivals without divine warrant > feasts of the Tekuphas (equinoxes) and the Feast of Xylophoria, <= Feast of Dedication = Pharisaical tradition.
Jesus’ presence in Jerusalem during the Feast of Dedication
4. Annual holy days were part of the Ceremonial Law and abrogated with it
observation of days served to the people of God for a typical use and a rudiment of religion.
To substitute other days in place of the Jewish, a Christian Pascha [Easter] and Pentecost for the Jewish, is but to substitute rudiments + elements to the Jewish, and not to chase away, but to change the Jewish holy days…
Jews had no anniversary days
observation of anniversary days = pedagogical, rudimentary + elementary, + consequently ceremonial
5. Jesus Christ has not instituted any other holy day but the Lord’s Day
no Christian holy days other than the Lord’s Day, the Christian Sabbath
Holy days in the Early Church
conflicting accounts in the Early Church about where Pascha, or Easter, comes from.
Some reported that Philip + John kept the 14th day of the month (ed. = 14 Nisan), and others that Peter kept the first Lord’s Day after the 14th day of the month, which turned into a long lasting controversy.
6. Specific dates
If God wanted religious festivities for events of Christ’s life = would have recorded exact days of the year that those events took place
7. Even things indifferent, when they are abused and polluted with superstition, ought to be abolished.
Things indifferent, when abused + polluted with superstition, ought to be abolished
8. That which has lawfully been abolished cannot be received and put in practice again
After the attainments of the Protestant Reformation, wherein the Reformed Church cast off the superstitious, idolatrous, and arbitrary rituals and holidays of the Papal Antichrist, how can we justify slipping back into a lukewarm position?
Followers, protestors and reformers
Trying to Get Rid of Holy Days for a Long Time
Reformed churches have historically been opposed to observing man made holy days such as Christmas and Easter. Even the Reformed churches on the continent, which left some holy day observance to Christian liberty in some of their confessions, did so because of either compromise with the stubborn people for the sake of further Reformation, or because the civil magistrates forced them to (c.f. John Calvin and Holy Days). Gisbertus Voetius, a delegate to the Synod of Dordt, relates that the Dutch Church had been trying to get rid of holy days for a long time, but the allowance of holy days by the synod was “imposed from the outside, burdensome to the churches, in and of itself in an absolute sense unwelcome; to which Synods were summoned, compelled, and coerced to receive, bring in, and admit, as in the manner of a transaction, in order to prevent…
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