Ask Your Preacher
Is it wrong for christians to celebrate Christmas even though it was not Christ’s birthday?
Dear Feeling Festive,
Many people believe Christmas to be a spiritual holiday, but the Bible never commands us to celebrate Jesus’ birth on December 25th (the truth is, no one knows when Jesus was born, but it was most likely in the spring or summer because the shepherds were out – Lk 2:15). Christians are commanded to remember Jesus’ death every first day of the week (Acts 20:7, 1 Cor 11:24-25)… we are never commanded to remember His birth on an annual basis. Christmas is not a biblical holiday. There is nothing wrong with celebrating it as a family holiday, but it is wrong to teach that there is a biblical foundation to it. There are many holidays that people celebrate that have no Bible meaning to them – Thanksgiving, Memorial Day, etc. It isn’t wrong to celebrate holidays that aren’t found in the Bible. It is just wrong to try and turn them into something they are not.
My boyfriend calls me ‘Satan’ sometimes when he is angry with me. He also calls his mom ‘Lucifer’ because she has a mental condition and sometimes curses for no reason. So he said she is Lucifer for acting that way. I'm called Satan because I may say something that does not appeal to him, but I'm not cursing or name-calling. We are both christians so… I'm confused that he feels it is acceptable in the eyes of God that it is okay to freely use the word Satan towards my character. In the Bible, where can I find it that we should refrain from name-calling?
Thank you for your time.
Dear Disgruntled Girlfriend,
We feel pretty comfortable in saying that your boyfriend needs an attitude check – that is not the way to talk to people. God tells us to make sure our speech is “seasoned with grace” (Col 4:6). We are told to avoid all corrupt speech and to only say things that will edify the hearers (Eph 4:29). The apostle Peter commanded us to “refrain our tongues from evil” and “speak without guile” (1 Pet 3:10). Name-calling (especially referring to someone as the most evil being in existence!) is totally inappropriate. There is only one reference in the Bible to calling someone Satan, and that is Mk 8:33 when Jesus rebuked Peter by saying, “Get behind Me, Satan”. This was because Peter was commanding Jesus to not sacrifice Himself on the cross – a direct contradiction to God’s will (Mk 8:31-32). If the Son of God only used the term in the most extreme circumstance… we should be vary wary of ever using that sort of strong language.
I saw your post about “Temporary Leave”. About the guy in the Army, I thought it was a sin for someone to join the Army; they kill people for no reason; the Bible says, “Thou shall not kill.”
There is nothing wrong with being a soldier; some of the most faithful men in the Bible were soldiers and had to kill people in the defense of their country. David was a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam 13:14), and yet, David killed many people as a soldier. Jesus marveled at the faith of a centurion soldier (Matt 8:8-10). The first Gentile convert was Cornelius, a well-known Roman soldier (Acts 10:22). When a group of soldiers asked John the Baptist what they needed to do to live a faithful life, he told them to be honest and faithful… but he never told them to stop serving in the military (Lk 3:14).
Lord willing, most christian soldiers will never have to kill anyone, but if they did, it won’t be murder (read “Kill Or Be Killed” for more on that topic). Being a soldier is an honorable profession.
In your post titled "Cross-Referencing", you mentioned that some Catholic printers do reference apocryphal books. My original 1611 King James also has multiple cross-references to the apocryphal books… also, my Geneva Bible printed fifty years earlier. The reason for this was that the New Testament authors were quoting the Septuagint. Greek-speaking Jews in the Diaspora, and therefore, also the ancient church, used the Septuagint as authoritative Scripture. The New Testament writers used and quoted the Septuagint, which included what modern Protestants call apocryphal books. If a person says, “Our church is just like the first-century church,” then for that to be true, they’d have to use Bibles that include the Apocrypha. My question is: under what authority did printing companies remove the apocryphal books found in all christian Bibles up to the 1800's?
Dear Book Worm,
The Greek-speaking Jews never treated the apocryphal books as divinely inspired Scripture. Even though some apocryphal books were included in the Septuagint, they were never considered God-breathed Scripture. Printed Bibles include maps, commentaries, and footnotes… and yet, we don’t consider those things to be Scripture; in the same way, the Septuagint included apocryphal books that were never viewed as the Word of God.
It is well documented that Jews didn’t consider the apocryphal books to be authored by God. Josephus, a venerated Jewish historian, specifically stated that the apocryphal books weren't from God in his writing Against Apion. The Manual of Discipline in the Dead Sea Scrolls stated that the Apocrypha wasn’t inspired. To further prove the point, the Apocrypha itself says that it isn’t Scripture! The apocryphal book, 2 Maccabees, specifically says that it isn’t inspired by God in 15:38-39, and the author apologizes for any inaccurate information he might have provided. Though the apocryphal books are unique historical accounts, they are never quoted in the New Testament, and they were never accepted by the church or the Jewish community as divinely inspired text. That is exactly why it isn’t necessary that they be included in modern translations of the Bible – they aren’t Bible, just secular history.
Is it unsound for members of a congregation to have a potluck in their building, if it's not intermingled with the Lord's Supper, is provided by individual members, and not funded by the collection of the saints?
I know in 1 Cor 11:17-34, Paul gives instructions regarding the Lord's Supper, on how christians should conduct themselves, admonishing what was apparently a common practice of combining the Lord's Supper with a common meal. His final instruction was that if anyone was hungry, they should eat at home. Of course, this was within the context of their worship. What about if worship is over? I've always had the understanding that this was prohibited, but I'm currently in a congregation that practices this, yet they seem to desire to glorify the Lord in all things. I need to find an answer, so I can either participate with a clear conscience or kindly decline and hope to not become ostracized.
Dear Not Hungry,
The key to the whole issue is to remember what the work of the church is. The Bible specifically outlines three things that the church has a responsibility to do: care for needy christians (Acts 4:34), preach to the lost, and teach the saved (Acts 15:35). Anything that a church does with its financial assets needs to fit into one of those three categories. A congregation’s building is part of its financial assets, and that is why what happens in a church’s building has to be limited to those three areas.
Bible classes, worship services, etc. all easily fit into the work of the church… but what about a social gathering? The problem is that socializing is never shown to be part of the church’s work. It certainly is important for individual christians to spend time with one another… but that is a command to individuals – not the church. Individuals have a lot more freedom in what they do than the church does. Social gatherings in the church building simply don’t fit the Bible pattern of the church’s work. We aren’t condemning the attitude of these kind folks, but zeal isn’t the same as Bible accuracy (Rom 10:2). We here at AYP cannot find Bible authority for the church’s building, which is part of the church’s assets, to be used for a purely social gathering. Once we begin to do small things that don’t have Bible authority for them, we’ve cracked the door to more and more behavior that goes beyond what God has written (1 Cor 4:6).