WHY THE CHURCH OF CHRIST DOES NOT OBSERVE CHRISTMAS
Some years ago I received a letter from a listener to the weekly radio program who asked me to explain why the church of Christ does not observe Christmas. This sermon is the answer I gave to that question.
I realize that there are many people in the world who regard members of the church of Christ as being very narrow-minded in our refusal to join with the denominational world in the observance of that holiday which was formerly known as Christ Mass Day, but is now generally abbreviated to Christmas Day. The question is often asked of us, “Do you folks not believe in the Bible account of the birth of Jesus?” When we reply that we do indeed believe every word of that divine record, we are then asked this question: “Do you not believe that the birth of Jesus is an event worth remembering?” There are several reasons why the church of Christ does not observe Christmas, and so I wish to mention some of them.
THERE IS NO DIVINE COMMAND OR PRECEPT
We believe that we must have a divine command or precept for all that we do in religion. We believe that we are not authorized to observe religious holidays that are not mentioned in the Bible for Christians to observe. There is no record in the Bible that any Christian ever observed a holiday in the memory of the birth of Christ. Although the Bible does tell us of the activities of the early church, it gives no hint that anyone in apostolic times thought of declaring a holiday to celebrate the birth of Christ, or that God wanted it to be celebrated. In fact, the Encyclopedia Britannica reveals that it was a good many years after the death of Jesus before a certain Pope conceived the idea of having a Mass to celebrate the birth of the Savior. To learn of the beginning of Christmas, we must go to the encyclopedia rather than the Bible, for the Bible is silent about the subject. Reading further in the encyclopedia we learn that the Pope who first inaugurated Christmas said, “We have a Mass for every saint, but there is no Mass for Christ.” He decreed that henceforth the 25th day of December each year would be observed as Christ Mass Day. For many years, in fact for many centuries, Christmas was strictly a Catholic holiday, but when various Protestant churches came into being, one by one they borrowed that holiday.
WE MUST SPEAK AS THE ORACLES OF GOD
The church of Christ does not observe Christmas because of the apostle Peter’s statement in I Peter 4:11, “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God.” We cannot speak as the oracles of God and speak of Christmas. Why? Because the oracles of God are silent about such a holiday. If the New Testament spoke of Christmas and we had the teaching that Christians in New Testament times observed that holiday, the church of Christ would do so now.
IS DECEMBER 25TH CHRIST’S BIRTH DAY?
I submit to you that a fourth reason why the church of Christ does not observe and celebrate Christmas is that no one knows that Jesus was born on the 25th of December. That particular day and month was arbitrarily selected by the Pope who inaugurated that holiday. Most Bible scholars believe that Christ was really born in the summer time, but the very fact that God was not pleased to reveal through His word the day or the month in which His Son was born is evidence that he did not expect us to reverence that day.
IT IS A CATHOLIC HOLIDAY
I have already mentioned that originally Christmas was called Christ Mass Day, having been inaugurated by the Pope. Protestant churches borrowed this day from the Catholic church. The church of Christ has never borrowed it. Let me say in this connection that nearly everything that it practiced in many Protestant churches has been borrowed from the Catholic church. Instrumental music, infant baptism, sprinkling, Christmas and Easter Day observance are just a few of the inventions of Catholicism which have been borrowed by Protestants. A number of years ago a priest friend of brother Carl Finley remarked that it was amusing to see Protestants borrow such things as Christmas and infant baptism from the Catholics and try to prove that the Bible mentions and commands such things. He added, “We practice them because our church councils decided that we should do so. We do not believe that the Bible mentions or suggests these things.” He explained that the Catholic church differs from many other churches in that it does not believe that it is necessary to prove by the Bible all things that they do. I think this priest had a greater respect for the church of Christ after learning that we do not take this inconsistent position of being opposed to Catholicism, but at the same time imitating and borrowing from these things invented by Catholicism, of which Christmas is one.
Should Christians observe Christmas? Religiously no! As a family, if they so desire. I think Paul deals with this in Romans 14:5-6, “One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let each man be fully assured in his own mind.” From this verse I can see nothing wrong with a family setting aside Christmas Day as a day to exchange gifts with friends and family. The wrong comes when we try to make it a religious festival and bind its observance upon others without authority from the scriptures. I am of the firm opinion that it should have no place in the church for which Jesus died.