The Argument against the “Roman Superstition”*

I took the expression “Roman superstition” from an article by Alexander Campbell, one of the most influential leaders among churches of Christ in the 19th century.  Notice that while referring to the date as the “Roman superstition,” he still felt comfortable to print an article about the birth of Jesus.  He recognized it as a tradition, yet not a sinful one.  I wish that mentality had flourished among churches of Christ.

If anyone can find a better argument against celebrating the birth of Jesus while others are doing it, let me know.  I am replying to what I could find.

The following is from a somewhat recent article (Nov 2009) from the Gospel Advocate, a publication out of Nashville, TN, that has a storied history among churches of Christ since 1855.  We receive copies thanks to a Christian 501(c)3 in Texas that pays to have 3 copies sent to most churches of Christ in the Northeast (and only supports churches/ministers that accept their creed). I wonder how many November editions have carried this same argument.

I commented on the article when it was published 2 years ago here at the blog, but will re-summarize everything.

Barry Baggott, in his article, “‘Tis the Season”

gives these reasons not to celebrate Christmas (by which he means, celebrating the birth of Jesus with hymns, readings prayers, etc.-Brian):

“We are not told to do so”

Do we need to be told to worship Jesus?  I understand he is dealing with specifics.  We were not told to emphasize the birth/incarnation on December 25th or on any particular day.  But why does that exclude doing what we are expected/commanded to do whenever we do it.  Just because some are doing it annually, why must we refrain at that particular moment?

We are told to worship Jesus.  Period.  When is it wrong?

“We have no Apostolic Example”

We have examples for worshipping Jesus.  Where does the Bible teach that it is right sometimes and wrong sometimes?

This section which includes the Reformation leaders reaction to Catholicism many holy days.  Fortunately, these same brethren are not aware of the full liturgical calendar or they would never allow us to talk about Jesus. 🙂

“We are following human tradition”

I believe this is where much of the reaction lies.  Some churches of Christ have allowed their teachings to be influenced greatly by what others do or don’t do.  We claim that the Bible is our only guide and source for Truth, for doctrine and practice, yet so often something is rejected because of who does it.  If someone doesn’t toe the line on the Holy Spirit, they are “pentecostal.”  If their view of baptism isn’t solidly in line with the editors, they are trying to be “baptist.”  If there is an appreciation of high church or mysticism, we are becoming Catholic.  I would love for my brothers to simply stick with the Word of God, as they claim, instead of worrying about what other churches teach.  Baggott refers to “the world” but means denominations, I assume.

Here is poorly reasoned statement:

“Another argument one hears is simply: ‘the birth of Christ is in the Bible, so that means celebrating Christmas is biblical.’  That same line of reasoning would allow one to say that “the Bible tells about the virgin Mary, so that means it is biblical to pray to her.’

There is no example of praying to Mary.  There are numerous examples of worshipping Jesus-as a baby and adult.  I wish he or the editor had thought about that argument a little longer.  The editor really should have kept that from the final version.

I truly hope there is a better reason out there for judging fellow believers as they rejoice over the Incarnation.

I will say more tomorrow about why I have rejected this view and finish up with some questions for those who hold to this view.


4 thoughts on “The Argument against the “Roman Superstition”*

  1. I’m not real happy with the idea of “everybody else is celebrating, so we should too.” Shouldn’t the question be asked, “Why is everybody else celebrating at this time”? That question needs a good answer, and I have yet to hear one. Why December 25? With almost universal acknowledgement that the date is wrong, why don’t Christians say, “This is important enough to fix”? And if it’s not important enough to fix, then it’s not important enough to preserve, either.

    I’m not an anti-Christmas crusader. I think that anytime the world is talking about Christ, that’s a step in the right direction. I guess I’m glad the world sees a bit of Christ in this season, but puzzled as to why the church insists on doing so.

    I’ll stick with the social Christmas, at least for now. I’m more comfortable with the world’s Christmas (minus the consumerism) than the church’s Christmas. To put it another way, I’m more comfortable with Dickens’ Christmas than the pope’s.

  2. brian

    cool, thanks for having a valid opinion and sharing it.

    my point thought point is, “It’s Jesus! timing is not that important”

  3. brian

    why? because radio stations are constantly playing hymns that lead me to worship and praise God for the incarnation. I wish they were played year round.
    constant reminders of what God did (without placing importance on when God did it) are everywhere
    I enjoy and appreciate the encouragement from unlikely sources and take advantage of it

  4. Pingback: Celebrating the Christian calendar |

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