by Steve Hale
Family reunions. The smell of holly and hot apple cider. Joyous singing. Sharing presents and love. Decorating the tree. Giving to others. Graciously receving what others bless you with. I love this season of year, as I am sure most of you do.
These, of course, are all festive considerations. None of us would be opposed to any of these beautiful things.
But, what about Christmas from a religious standpoint? Is it the Savior's birthday? If not, is it wrong to observe it as such? Why have some opposed the religious aspect of Christmas?
First, Christmas has a literal meaning: "Christ + Mass", which denotes a religious service in com- memoration of the birth of Christ. The mass is defined as: "the celebration of the Holy Eucharist."
The Holy Eucharist is when the Lord's Supper is taken, and interpreted as the bread and the fruit of the vine becoming the literal body and blood of Christ at the consecration of the mass. This view was adopted by the Catholic Church at the Council of Lateran in 1215.
Certainly we are agreed that such a celebration is not Scriptural. Rather than a new literal sacrifice, the Lord's Supper of the New Testament:
1. commemorates a sacrifice already finished ( Luke 22:19).
2. repeating Christ's sacrifice is sinful ( Hebrews 6:6).
3. the Lord's Supper is a memorial feast ( I Corinthians 11:25-26).
4. in relation to the fruit of the vine (i.e., in the mass) it is to be taken only by priests (Coun- cil of Constance, 1414).
5. both the bread and the fruit of the vine are to be given to all Christians ( Matthew 26:27; Mark 14:23; 1 Corinthians 11:28).
6. every Christian is a priest ( I Peter 2:5).
7. it is falsely taught that this "mass' involves the same sacrifice, only 'unbloody.'
a. A bloody one is the only one known ( Hebrews 10:4, 1 0; 9:22).
b. There is only one sacrfice of Christ ( Hebrews 10:12).
We must oppose these errors without hesitation. However, does that mean we must not do anything in regard to Christmas. Some brethren I love and respect believe any sort of celebration whatever would be wrong. We will examine this aspect next week.
December 25, 1988
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