Trying to Get Rid of Holy Days for a Long Time

For real Christians it is clear that lovers of God should keep their hands of the many pagan feasts, like Christmas and Easter, which entered the Roman Catholic Church and several protestant churches.

Luckily we may come to see some changes in some protestant churches willing to debate the reason why to keep only to God given holy days.

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To remember

Reformed churches historically opposed to observing man made holy days such as Christmas and Easter.

on the continent left some holy day observance to Christian liberty in some of their confessions < compromise with stubborn people for sake of further Reformation, or because civil magistrates forced them to.

Gisbertus Voetius, (delegate to the Synod of Dordt), relates Dutch Church had been trying to get rid of holy days for a long time, but allowance of holy days by the synod was “imposed from the outside, burdensome to the churches,

In Why are Ecclesiastical Feast Days in our Church Order? Rev. Dr. R. D. Anderson gives

Article 65 – Ecclesiastical feast days
On Christmas Day, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Ascension Day, and at Pentecost the consistory shall call the congregation together for church services. The sacred events which the congregation commemorates in particular on these days shall therein be proclaimed
Already in 1573 we see the topic coming to the floor of the Particular Synod of North Holland, that year held in Enkhuizen.
Also decided in respect of feast days, that in common no feast days are to be held other than Easter (Sunday) and the day thereafter, Pentecost (Sunday) and the day thereafter, Christmas, and similarly New Year’s day and Ascension day.
The churches in South Holland were somewhat stricter. A year later their Synod gathered in Dordrecht
making the following pronouncement:
Respecting the feast days which are in addition to the Sunday: it has been decided to rest content only with the Sunday. Nevertheless, the normal material relating to the birth of Christ shall be handled on the Sunday before Christmas day together with an admonition to the people not to observe Christmas day. If Christmas day falls on a Sunday, the same material shall be preached on that day. It is also permitted to preach on the resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Easter Sunday and Pentecost Sunday, the which is left to the freedom of the ministers.
That seems clear enough. Behind the scenes, however, there was a political battle going on between the Roman Catholic forces and the Protestants. The celebration of these extra days came right in the middle of all that. It was the sort of thing that got people fired up. The Reformed churches needed to be careful to steer a righteous course between all manner of Roman Catholic superstitions which had become associated with these days and an over zealous extremism which could easily lead to political riots. We see that reflected in the decision of the Particular Synod of South Holland held in Rotterdam a year later:

As much as concerns feast days: The government shall be petitioned that they allow everyone to open his shop and to work 6 days in accordance with the 4th commandment of our Lord. And if the government desires to ordain any others besides the Sunday, the delegated ministers will petition parliament that they inform them in such a way that they may consider how much and how far one can permit in this matter, so that on the one hand people don’t fall into superstition as warned by Paul in Gal. 4, and on the other hand that people will not be led to fight too fiercely against the aforesaid government because of certain feast days.
Three years later a national synod was finally able to be held in Dordrecht. By this time it was slowly becoming clear that the political will to be rid of these extra feast days was weak.
On the 12th of July 1578 the government made a “declaration of religious freedom” in which the various Roman Catholic feast days were made compulsory for protestants. The synod in its response attempted to minimise the damage by steering the churches away from any special ways of celebrating these feast days, and keeping them as “normal” days.
1578 National Synod of Dort {Acta, Rutgers p.253 (art. 75, cap.4,23)}
It was indeed to be desired that the freedom from God to work 6 days be permitted in the church, and that only the Sunday be celebrated. Nevertheless since certain other feast days are maintained by authority of the government, namely, Christmas day and the day thereafter, likewise the day after Easter and the day after Pentecost and in some places new years day and ascension day; the ministers shall do their best to teach the congregation to transform unproductive and harmful idleness into a holy and profitable exercise by sermons especially dealing with the birth and resurrection of Christ, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and suchlike articles of the faith. The ministers of churches in those cities where yet more feast days are observed by authority of the government shall do likewise.
In the meantime all the churches shall work to make the use of all feast days except Christmas day (since Easter and Pentecost fall on Sunday) as normal as possible, and as soon as is fitting to abolish them.
By 1581 the goals of the churches had been reduced. It did not any longer seem possible to be rid of all the extra feast days.

 

Sadly, today, not only are many Reformed churches going back to observing Christmas and Easter, some are even beginning to observe Lent, Good FridayAdvent, etc. as well.

Exploring biblical worship from a Protestant Perspective “The Worship Blog” looks at

How little concern for the idea that what is done in the name of worship in so many churches has no warrant from the mouth of God! {About The Worship Blog}

Meg writes

The Scottish Presbyterians managed to remove observance of any pretended holy days other than the divinely prescribed Lord’s Day in their reformation. Indeed, the Reformed early on seemed ready to precede them in this; but due mostly it seems from desires of magistrates to preserve accustomed holidays, ie. days off for workers and servants, they retained various sets of days. This retained a set of other issues, and to ensure the riotous activities of the old days were not retained, the state churches prescribed that there be services and preaching at those times. {John Calvin and Holy Days}

In 1543–44 Calvin advised the church, that

“the observation of feast days was also to be rejected since it so easily led to superstition.”

“Calvin advised the ministers of Montbéliard to stand firm on these matters of principle but to yield wherever else their consciences would allow”. { Jill Raitt, The Colloquy of Montbéliard Religion and Politics in the Sixteenth Century (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 21.}

As an aside — The Reformed church of Montbéliard continued as best they could even when the rulers imposed Lutheran practices. Later, the oppressed Reformed churches of France, ruled by Roman Catholic magistrates which prohibited working on the pretended holy days,

“left unto the prudence of Consistories to Congregate the People, on such Holy-Days, either to hear the word Preached, or to join in common publick Prayers, as they shall find to be most expedient” (2nd Synod of Vitré, 1617).

American Presbyterians were opposed to the religious observation of Christmas and other ‘holy days.’  > Read more: https://www.naphtali.com/articles/chris-coldwell/the-religious-observance-of-christmas-and-holy-days-in-american-presbyterianism/

Read also: http://www.puritanboard.com/showthread.php/91380-Three-Books-on-quot-Christmas-quot-and-a-33-off-Black-Friday-Sale, Comment 25

The Worship Blog

Purely Presbyterian:

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. 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 worse disagreeable and bad situations

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3 thoughts on “Trying to Get Rid of Holy Days for a Long Time

  1. Pingback: 8 Reasons Christian Holidays Should Not Be Observed | Stepping Toes

  2. Pingback: The Anti-Reformation in Todays Evangelical Church | From guestwriters

  3. Pingback: Tekufat Tevet – Darkness, gold moon and Light to look forward – Immanuel Verbondskind – עמנואל קאָווענאַנט קינד

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