The Most Awkward Time of the Year

Jesus-Christmas

Merry Christmas! Perhaps the most uttered phrase on one particular day in history. It’s a beautiful time of the year. Snow falling in some places, lights being hung up in most places, and people choosing to be in a more cheerful mood towards one another. All of that combined creates for a touching time period. But in spite of it being touching, I’ll tell you why Christmas is the most awkward time of the year for me.

Jesus is the Reason for the Season

You’ve probably heard the phrase “Jesus is the reason for the season”. It’s a statement some Christians have used to counter the secular understanding of Christmas being about Santa Claus, reindeers, and presents. Another phrase people sometimes state is “Keep the Christ in Christmas”. That phrase is used to counteract the secular way some choose to say “Merry Christmas” by saying “Merry Xmas”. Just as a side note, it’s actually not secular. According to Greek, the “X” comes from the Greek letter “chi”, first letter of the Greek word “Χριστός“, which in English is Christ.

Putting that side-note aside, here’s what I want to pose for thought. Is Jesus the reason for the season? Does Christ have anything to do with Christmas?

2 Timothy 3:16-17

Before we get into that question, let’s read 2 Timothy 3:16-17. The verses state, “16 All Scripture is [a]inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for [b]training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” I think we’d all agree this verse seems to indicate scripture is very important. Not just a guideline, not just a suggestion, but an actual writing of what is correct, right, and Godly. We can perhaps all agree that what is and what is not in these writings should be taken seriously in how we think and act on our faith.

So getting back to our topic, I return to the questions I asked before the last paragraph. In looking to the scripture, which tells us what’s correct, right, and Godly, does Jesus have anything to do with this season? Does Christ have anything to do with Christmas? As far as I’ve read in scripture, the answer is no.

God, Jesus, and the apostles did not instruct to celebrate the birth of Christ on December 25th with the title of the date being Christmas. They never even instructed to celebrate Christ’s birthday in the first place. This tradition was all started by Catholics. For the record, I don’t state that in a derogatory way towards Catholics, I’m just stating the facts.

What’s the big deal?

Now some may ask, well what’s the big deal if I put up a tree, put up some lights, buy some presents, and choose to celebrate Jesus in this way? And that’s a very good question to ask. In response to that I would ask, should it not be important to do what God instructs of us to do versus holding to a tradition that was started by humans? Isn’t our faith about not conforming to the pattern of this world as Romans 12:2 expresses?

Jesus himself once stated in Mark 7:6-9, “He said to them, “Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.’ You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition”. Then he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition!”

Now I know what you might be thinking, and no, I’m not calling anyone a hypocrite, and I know Jesus was directing this to the Pharisees. I’m just pointing out that it mattered to Jesus that people don’t get caught up in keeping human traditions, and should focus on the commands of God. I think we can all agree that what matters to Jesus should matter to us.

It’s not just the son of God who was against unwarranted human invented ways of honoring God, but God himself. Leviticus 10:1-2 states, “Now Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, each took his censer, put fire in it, and laid incense on it; and they offered unholy fire before the Lord, such as he had not commanded them. 2 And fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord.” God killed people for worshiping and honoring Him in a way He didn’t command. I don’t state that to scare anyone, I just state that to point out how important this appears to be to God.

All of this is shown to us in scripture and we haven’t even gotten into evidence that points to Christmas having pagan origins. Do we really want to tie our Jesus to something that’s potentially based on the worship of a pagan god?

Scripture as the foundation

For me the big thing in all of this is God and His scripture. Do we take what His scripture states as the foundation of everything we think and do that’s right, correct, and Godly… or do we follow human traditions out of fear of not conforming to the culture and out of the phrases, “Well that’s the way we’ve always done things” and “But the Christmas holiday feels so special to me”?

If people just did things the way they’ve always been done or only based on how things feel, all Jews would have kept being Jews, no Gentiles would have become Christians, and Christianity might have never been anything more than a fringe cult.

This time of the year can be awkward as a Christian who doesn’t celebrate Christmas. I have friends who practice Christianity that celebrate the holiday. They enjoy getting to spend time with their families and have years of sentimental memories attached to Christmas. It’s the grand visual of bright lights, white snow, green trees, red decorations, and extra kind nature exhibited, that creates an unfortunately strong emotion fueled attraction that’s difficult to convince people to turn away from.

I’m never offended by anyone who tells me “Merry Christmas”, because I know they mean well. But it’s my hope and prayer that we all think more about how we choose to think and live our faith in the name of Jesus Christ. May we all continue to strive to make scripture the foundation of our faith.

Peace to you all in Christ.

Advertisements

107 thoughts on “The Most Awkward Time of the Year

  1. I absolutely agree! This is so right on! But, as I read what you wrote, I could not help but see the parallel to something the Lord has been having me write about, and that is the 501c3 church, which has partnered with the government in an unholy union and which has turned the church into a business, a marketplace, and how scripture forbids both of these and tells us we must come out from among them and to be separate. But, the vast majority of Christians hold on to the tradition of their institutional churches, some with steeples, and their denominations, and their marketing the church just like any other business, even though scripture is very plain that we are to separate ourselves from such a union as this.

    • Thanks, Sue! And that’s interesting about the 501c3. I’m only vaguely familiar with that being something churches have done to be recognized by the government as non-profit. Though I never pondered the idea of whether that’s something that follows within the bounds of scripture, just because I’ve never looked into starting a church before. But just off of my understanding of how churches were in scripture, to my knowledge I don’t recall a tie to the government either. And I agree about the unfortunate following of traditions with denominations and the recent trend of churches becoming essentially multi-million dollar businesses. Something that hopefully people may wise up and turn from someday.

      Peace in Christ

      • Yes, there is so much of that going on in today’s modern church. God is awakening many of us to the deceptions, and that is good, but many more need to be awakened.

  2. Good article, FBT! We certainly understand the feeling you describe, as we navigate through this time of year. Even unbelievers don’t approve of our decision to not participate in this holiday. And some Christians are more than a little upset with us about it. They look at us like we’re not real believers in some cases, like they do when we choose not to attend an institutional church on Sunday mornings (another topic). And of course some or most of the family are not happy either, since we did celebrate it for years before our eyes were opened, and then we slowly pulled out over a few years.

    Yes, we have just as many warm and deep memories of good family times and singing carols with friends and all that used to be a part of this holiday, but is it what God wants us to do? You make a good case even before considering the pagan roots, as you said, and it was those that took me past the tipping point several years ago. Truly, any reasonable person considering the evidence, to the world and even to many Christians this is not about Jesus, but about Santa and all the traditions that go with this.

    We had a neighbor a few years ago that had those blow-up decorations in his front yard that said it all. They had a Santa that must have stood 8 feet tall bobbing about in the front yard with all the traditional stuff, and on his roof was a tiny little nativity scene, almost unnoticed. But then, if Jesus wasn’t born on Dec 25 anyway, he really didn’t belong up there anyway did he? There’s so much more to say, but hopefully some will read what you wrote and ask God if this is really what he wants us to do.

    • Thanks, Rick! It’s unfortunate to hear that people aren’t as accepting of the different beliefs you all have. We can only pray their eyes will be more open to the truth someday. I haven’t pondered the institutional thing yet, but I can say I’m not necessarily a proponent of Sunday being the day Christians are supposed to congregate since there’s nothing instructing that in scripture. To my knowledge it seems more so that Christians met with one another daily (at least in Acts 2). But yes, such an important question most people don’t take seriously enough. Is this what God wants us to do? And discovering the pagan roots definitely was a strong factor in distancing myself from celebrating Christmas and even New Years. I’m not a fan of holidays overall to be honest.

      Haha, I’ve seen those before. I don’t understand all the time and energy in doing these things, but yes, I hope anyone who reads this will consult with God on this matter through prayer and His Word.

      Peace in Christ.

  3. Interesting thoughts. I’m not a particularly ‘Merry Christmas’ person myself, though I won’t object to a day off work. However, for a lot of churches they use this time very effectively as quite a lot of people are open to the message, and may even do something that they wouldn’t do any other time of a year – step into a church.

    • Haha, yes, I’ll take a day off if they’re going to give it to me too dasarkies. And I do understand that a lot of people that usually don’t congregate with Christians during the year end up doing so on holidays like Christmas and Easter. I can appreciate the plus in people potentially being more open to the Gospel message and living their life in dedication to it. Though I suppose this still puts us in a “do the ends justify the means” kind of situation. Something can result in a lot of good and still be wrong in the eyes of God. Something we all have to individually ponder perhaps.

      Peace in Christ

  4. I get you, and I like this post because it echos most of my sentiments about how Christmas has been turned into a commercial buying frenzy and satisfaction of giving ourselves all the things we want (and eat! lots of it) bordering on secularism. Of course, there is the giving and sharing part, but mostly, it’s all about what we wish to have. And this is why it’s the most exciting time for kids, but we adults have no excuse. Me, I kept it simple this year, I ate only till I’m full and the reason for my joy is because when Jesus was born, I was saved. And I thanked God for it, by the way. Merry Christmas!

    • Glad you liked the post, mybicolblog. I wasn’t quite touching so much on consumerism or secularism, but more so that this holiday should not be celebrated at all as it seems to have no tie to Jesus or scripture whatsoever. I hope in that respect you may be open to pondering not celebrating the holiday in the future. But any day you’re thinking of Jesus is a good thing to hear.

      Peace in Christ

  5. Totally in agreement. Once people get to know their Saviour there should be little interest in the things of tradition. Jesus gave us a new command, that we love each other. We do that by putting them first after Christ in our hearts and in the way we treat them in practice. If we really love Jesus this should be out attitude in life.

    • Amen, Shirley Anne. I think if people were more willing to turn away from traditions, they’d realize they weren’t that special to begin with. Indeed, may we all love each other in treating each other well in honor to God.

      Peace in Christ

  6. Just curious, do you celebrate any of the “holidays” in the Bible? For most of my life my family did not celebrate Christmas or any other holidays, but for a few years we did celebrate the Festival of Lights. I haven’t done any studying about it and was just curious what your thoughts on it or other holidays are. And completely unrelated, what are your thoughts on the “church”? For years my family didn’t go to church either but had what we called “home fellowship” and I miss it so much! It was just like it sounds…families getting together in homes fellowshipping. With varying combinations of prayer, eating together, studying as a group, singing, and conversation. And though we didn’t have any kind of outreach “program”, it seemed like we were most effective then as we met people whether it was in the store, someone who came and installed our AC, or met at the gym we could invite for dinner. It was like ministry just came naturally.

    • Hi JessLeeAnn. Thanks for your questions. As far as holidays, I’m not really aware of any designated celebrations in scripture that Christians were instructed to adhere to. I’m only vaguely aware of different kinds of special time periods that were observed in the Old Testament, some of which we see carried on in the Gospels such as the feast of unleavened bread that Jesus and the Apostles celebrated together. I think if one wants to choose to uniquely honor God in choosing to observe these types of celebrations, then that’s a wonderful thing.

      I must say, reading what you and your family did was beautiful to read. It’s exactly the way things were done with the first Christians in Acts 2. As verse 46-47 states, “Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.” And as noted prior in verse 42, the first Christians were devoting themselves to the apostles teachings, fellowship, breaking bread, and prayer. This is true Christianity right here. To me these things perhaps created more of a sense of unity among the Christians at that time. Boy would that be a good thing to go back to.

      We do see some form of structure established with Overseers and Deacons later in the New Testament. So I have to figure with regular congregational meetings among Christians, these things have to tie in as well. But certainly the human traditions developed after the New Testament era with how people have chosen to conduct “church” have moved things in a direction far from how things were originally supposed to be.

      Peace in Christ

  7. Does the absence of a positive command necessarily imply a negative command? The Bible didn’t tell me to eat granola and yogurt at 11:30 am today, but I did anyways. Did I sin by doing so? I don’t mean to sound sarcastic, it is a very serious question and reflects two very different ways of viewing God. If one tries to limit one’s actions literally only to those things which are expressly commanded in the Bible, well, it’s unrealistic at best and a great way to live in continual fear and guilt at worst. But I believe we have freedom in Christ.

    • Hi Stephen. Thanks for your comment. I agree with you. The absence of a positive command does not necessarily imply a negative command. What I attempted to present for thought is a pattern of condemnation of people who do things in the name of God in disregard of God’s will. Would you concede that’s slightly different and a bit more specific from just eating granola or yogurt at 11:30 am as you did today?

      We definitely have freedom in Christ, and also that freedom is with the responsibility of obedience to God. Perhaps it’s important that we’re striving our best to be as cognizant and careful of understanding what God desires of us in His Word to live in honor to Him. There are verses that speak of sticking within the bounds of what scripture states if you’re interested reading them in a post I wrote on my blog once. https://factbasedtruth.com/2015/01/04/does-scripture-reject-eisegesis/

      Peace in Christ.

  8. A very thoughtful, well-written, and gentle article. Nice work.

    You are absolutely right that Christmas is primarily a Catholic feast day, the Feast of the Nativity. As a recent convert to Catholicism, I’ve found my old Protestant approach to the holiday has proved to be much more secular than I thought, leaving me in my own awkward position. Very little of what we have come to do in our modern practice focuses much on the reason for the season, and that’s if you even believe in the season at all, as you point out.

    As a Catholic, of course I do see value in traditions. I understand your position, but I might have a different take. You point out Aaron’s son’s doing what had not been commanded by the LORD, resulting in death. I would just point out that it does not say that they were put to death for following a tradition, but for going their own way. This seems more like Sola Sciptura to me, following your own interpretation of what God wants, rather than following a tradition. A tradition may have good or faulty foundations. A tradition started by God would have a firm foundation, whereas one started by men would be built on sand. I would find it difficult to believe that the Levitical priests were constantly reinterpreting Scripture freshly from generation to generation for guidance as to faith and practice, rather than following some kind of tradition that had come down with it, leading them to know exactly what was meant and how to follow it. In other words, they needed an authoritative, divinely-authorized tradition in order to faithfully interpret the commands of God, rather than making it up as they saw fit. Just a thought.

    • Hi Catholiccooties. Thanks for your comment. I appreciate you referred to my article as gentle. I shared this article on another site and a person took my words as being derogatory of Catholics for pointing out Christmas started with Catholicism. Though I later thought I probably could have worded my statement better and apologized that my intent came off as harsh.

      I appreciate you providing a thoughtful different perspective. It’s good to receive an intelligently challenging perspective such as yours to enhance my understanding or have further clarity of what my own beliefs are. With regards to Aaron’s sons, I agree with you that they were going their own way. I used that as an example of unauthorized worship being condemned. While I don’t title myself a sola scriptura person, I do acknowlege that I put what’s stated in scripture first before anything else guides me in my beliefs.

      What gives you confirmation that an authoritative divinely-authorized tradition is in fact divinely-authorized?

      Peace in Christ

      • That is unfortunate. The inability to talk directly about a topic often stifles productive conversation, but that is the world we find ourselves in. I applaud you for your calm reaction.

        What gives me confirmation of divine authoritative tradition? That is a good question. It is fair to ask about proofs, I think, anytime we are talking about matters relating to faith. The short answer is that, in my opinion, Scripture dictates it and reason demands it.

        In the latter case, in my way of thinking, reason demands that an authoritative tradition must accompany an authoritative text. The written word exists in a different dimension than our living reality. We cannot flesh out one from the other with the scant data from the impoverished form. It would be like trying to teach children to play sports by handing them the official rulebook of Major League Baseball or the National Football League. It would be like asking orphans to learn how to parent by reading Dr. Spock. If we are to learn how to be participants, in sports, in life, in faith, we need the word, the Scripture, the rule, AND someone who has received it, lived it, and can transmit it to us.

        As for it being divine, first of all, I find the Bible convincing. I find Jesus convincing. The reasons for that are many and nuanced, so I won’t try to give them here. Secondly, when I read the gospels, I see Jesus specially catechizing/equipping a group of successors, the twelve, for ministry. I see that He had to explain the Scriptures to them in order for them to understand them, just as Phillip later had to explain them to the Ethiopian Eunuch. I see Him giving the apostles authority and power. I see that they established churches with an authoritative tradition and structure, giving them rules unto hierarchy, governance, and conduct. I see Paul instructing in 2 Thessalonians to hold fast to the traditions. I assume that his few epistles are not exhaustive regarding this instruction.

        When I keep in mind that the early Church functioned not by written gospel, but by the preaching and transmitted traditions of the apostles, it is hard for me to put Scripture first before the tradition when seems that the tradition must have come first.

      • Thank you. It certainly does, and I applaud your calmness in communicating with me as well. I’m glad we can create an interesting conversation here.

        Hmm, as a person who has a degree in Philosophy, that’s an interesting philosophical proposition. It kind sounds very similar to the something came from something argument for believing in a divine creator. What I gather you’re essentially saying is that the material we have today may be so far off from the original, our best bet is to go by the handlers of the past who passed on these traditions. Do I understand you correctly?

        Funny enough, the very same verse you cite I also cite as well in my imploring of others to stick with what scripture states. What I find very convincing to me in forming my position is numerous verses that seem to indicate an encouragement of very closely following what was given in written word to us. I actually wrote a post on this once if you’d be interested in seeing a fuller expansion of my thinking. https://factbasedtruth.com/2015/01/04/does-scripture-reject-eisegesis/.

        Certainly the traditions did come first, but is it necessarily is so out of prominence, or is it possible that it’s just the order in which things would come? Like Moses being orally given the Law to him by God and writing it down.

      • Thanks for the link. I enjoyed reading through it, though I need to dig in a little deeper when time allows. What I intended to convey was that there is a tradition of interpretation, going back to the apostles. To innovate and try to interpret the Scripture differently than the apostles

      • I was trying to say, I need to read your article more in depth, but I already was struck with a few thoughts, that I will go ahead and share in case I am unable to get back to it.

        In the article, it seems that by the Scriptures you quote you are trying to build a point that the apostles handed on a tradition of Sola Scriptura, or Biblicism, to their followers. Given verses like 2 Thes 2:15 , “So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us,” it seems more likely to me that the apostles, having taught the Scriptures, are warning their followers not to go beyond what they have been taught – not to change the Scriptures either in word or intended sense – to not seek out novel interpretations or practices, but to stick to the traditions that have been handed down. The integrity of the text is preserved by the authority of the Church. It is precisely because of this special protection that the material we have today, rather than being far off from the original, is preserved in both content and meaning.

      • I would also contend, without meaning any offense, that, quite unintentionally, within the article you are actually doing precisely what you are telling us we should not do. That is, building a sense into the words that is unrecognized by the tradition and unintended by the writer.

      • “not to change the Scriptures either in word or intended sense” What do you mean here by intended sense, and what was your reasoning in using that phrase to replace the words stated in the text “by letter from us”, which sounds like it’s saying what’s written down in the text?

        And I don’t take any offense to that, because I definitely can always be mistaken in what I’m understanding in the words that I’m reading. How do you conclude those verses are recognized by the tradition and intended by the writer differently from what I understood?

      • I’m going to paste the verse here so I don’t have to jump around from tab to tab to see what we’re talking about.

        “2 Thes 2:15 , “So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us”

        By intended sense, I mean what we are meant to understand when we read a given verse, versus what is not meant. There are often multiple senses in which a statement can be taken, and often more than one of these senses are valid, while some are not. This leads to a lot of disagreement, even divisions, within the visible body of the Church, unless we have a way of preserving a unity of interpretation. So I would say Paul is saying we should not literally alter either what has been written (Scripture) or oral tradition, by going what has been transmitted by the apostles. That may be exactly what you are saying, too, I’m not sure. What I am also saying, though, is that such a command is impossible to obey without some means of preserving either the text and the tradition, and that they must necessarily go hand-in-hand, and cannot be separated from each other. In my view, the role of Scripture in relationship to the Church, while authoritative, is as a help to in her commission as “a pillar and bulwark of the truth,” while the Church’s relationship to Scripture is one of protector and guardian.

        As to how I conclude those verses are recognized by tradition and intended by the writer other than how you understood them, I consulted the way those verses have been understood historically and perceived a difference. For instance, in 1 Corinthians 4, I see that the phrase “to go what beyond is written” had an idiomatic meaning at the time and in the language that it was written and has historically been understood to mean something different than what we might derive from taking it at face value, as it seemed to me you were doing.

      • Ah, okay. Yes, I think we in a sense agree about not altering what has been given to us. And what do you understand historically is the way the verse in 1 Corinthians 4 was meant to be understood differently then how I took it at face value?

      • Well, I think it would be a drastic overstatement of my knowledge and expertise to claim that I have the historical understanding of the verse. Rather than try to tell you what it means, I would instead point out that a cursory Internet search pulled up alternative interpretations of these verses that appeared to be more historical, and perhaps more accurate, than the one given. I am unqualified to evaluate them without more examination.
        Specifically, that cursory search led me to believe that Paul was admonishing the Corinthians to not make up further distinctions among themselves, or the apostles, than what was called for in Scripture.

      • If we were to suppose that was the accurate conclusion that the verse was about “not making up further distinctions among themselves, or the apostles then was called for in Scripture”, does that seem to lend support to a pattern of consistent advocating of sticking to what scripture states as I suggested in the post I directed you to? Disregarding agreeing or disagreeing with the conclusion, can you see how it would look like to a person just seeing these things for the first time that there looks like a pattern here?

      • In regards to the first question, I would say it could, and that it clearly does to some people. And to the second question, again, yes, I can see how it could to certain people in certain places at certain times, but not to all people in all places at all times. That is why we have a universal Church to keep us all on the same page.

      • It’s not only fair, but necessary if one is to give her claims due consideration. Keep in mind, too, that there is room for development of interpretation, so long as it does not contradict that which has come before.

        It might seem out of place, but I am wondering if our discussion is about to steer into relativistic territory? I ask only because I would remind us both that relativism is a sword which cuts every which way. As truth is ultimately anchored on the person of Jesus Christ, I thoroughly reject relativism. If that is not where you were headed, I apologize.

      • Oh no, my intention in asking was to understand if you conclude everything that your church tradition tells you to conclude about scripture. Where do you see the line between “room for development” and “contradict that which has come before”?

      • Thank you for clearing that up. It may help guide my answers.
        That’s a good question, and one for which I may not have the best answer, but I will give you my take.
        How do I make a distinction between development of doctrine and contradiction?
        It would be necessary for me to be able to identify contradictions. Therefore, I would make that determination in the same way that you or anyone else does, except that I would also trust in the authority of counsels and the pope because of Christ’s promise to lead His Church into all truth. That may or may not seem circular, but I find that many things circle back to Christ and His promises. All things are anchored by Him.

      • What verse do you understand Christ’s promise to lead His Church into all truth to have been partially bestowed upon the authority of counsels and the pope? And I appreciate that you’ve patiently continued to answer all of my questions.

      • Absolutely. I very much appreciate your continuance in the conversation, as well. May God bless it and make it fruitful for both of us.

        Because Catholics tend to build less on individual verses and more on a holistic understanding of the Scripture, so to speak, taking account what was written before and what is written after, I will probably have to give you several verses which build that understanding, rather than one explicit ‘smoking gun’ verse. When you ask “what verse,” I might well respond, ‘All of them,’ because taken as a whole, from beginning to end, this is what we believe the Bible teaches. We see our Catholic faith reflected there, throughout. While this is true, and may in fact help us to wrap our minds around the issue, I will try to be more specific and, hopefully, more helpful.

        Although, in fact, when I reread your question, I perceive a nuance I missed at first. Am I correct if I say that you are not asking for verses identifying Christ’s promises to His Church, but instead verses that identify that Church with subsequent councils and popes? I ask because I do not want to gather verses that aren’t going to answer your question, nor do I want to expend energy answering a question you are not really asking.

      • “Am I correct if I say that you are not asking for verses identifying Christ’s promises to His Church, but instead verses that identify that Church with subsequent councils and popes?” Yes. And I agree, one should build their understanding on many verses and not just one. Forgive my stating the word “verse” rather than “verses” suggesting otherwise.

      • No worries. I just wanted to clarify what you were looking for.

        I had to go on a search for the following verses that fit the bill, but I have to admit there may be more and better verses regulating Church form and function. It’s a lot to read and consider, but I think we can both agree, we must be committed to spending a lot of time with the Lord if we want to understand Him.

        Hebrews 13:17  “17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls and will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with sighing—for that would be harmful to you.”

        We see here that there are leaders, which we must identify and submit to.

        Matthew 7:15-20 15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.”

        We are given a command here to identify false prophets, as well as a standard by which to judge the true and false Church. Of course, we will have to take other verses into account in identifying ‘good and bad fruit.’

        John 15:1-17  “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. 2 He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes[a] to make it bear more fruit. 3 You have already been cleansed[b]by the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become[c] my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

        12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I do not call you servants[d] any longer, because the servant[e] does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. 16 You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. 17 I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.”

        Much in these verses can be brought to bear on this conversation. We see Jesus identify Himself as the vine and His apostles as the fruit-bearing branches of the vine (v. 5). In order for these fruit-bearing branches to remain viable, i.e. fruit-bearing, they must remain attached to the vine (v.6). We see also that these branches are not self-chosen, but appointed (v. 16). We see promises given to this appointment, mainly that “the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name” (v. 16).

        Acts 1:15-26 “15 In those days Peter stood up among the believers[d] (together the crowd numbered about one hundred twenty persons) and said, 16 “Friends,[e] the scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit through David foretold concerning Judas, who became a guide for those who arrested Jesus— 17 for he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.” 18 (Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness; and falling headlong,[f] he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. 19 This became known to all the residents of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their language Hakeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) 20 “For it is written in the book of Psalms,

        ‘Let his homestead become desolate,
            and let there be no one to live in it’;

        and

        ‘Let another take his position of overseer.’

        21 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness with us to his resurrection.” 23 So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias. 24 Then they prayed and said, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which one of these two you have chosen 25 to take the place[g] in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.”

        We see here the principle of apostolic succession, whereas later on in Timothy (3:1-7) we see the establishment of Church hierarchy, including bishops and elders (or priests), and in Titus (1:5-9) we see directives to make these appointments according to apostolic precepts and authority, whereas in Matthew 16:18 we see Jesus’s promise that “the gates of hell” will not prevail against the Church that the apostles will build.

      • “We see here the principle of apostolic succession” Are you suggesting this succession continued beyond this point, and if so, where in scripture is that shown?

        “we see the establishment of Church hierarchy, including bishops and elders (or priests),” Do you think you’re inserting a word here “priests”, an idea related to your religious background, that isn’t stated in the verses?

      • 1. Well, yes, in terms of authority, and that is because reason demands it. Who else would be following all of these rules and instructions? How many times do we need to show it from Scripture to establish it?

        2. Not as far I know. You’re free to look into it, though.

        More in your next question.

      • I agree that these rules and instructions were passed down and meant to be continued to be passed to faithful men as 2 Timothy 2:2 seems to indicate, I guess what seems unclear to me is if the title of Apostle was bestowed beyond the originals and Apostle Paul. I guess when I asked of a verse, I was looking for something to the effect of Romans 1:1, “Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,” Do you see how it’s explicitly stated Paul was an Apostle in this verse? It’s not necessarily a number of times I’m looking for here, but just an explicit statement of what you’re asserting in your conclusion. Does that make sense?

      • Sure, it makes sense. But what verse says all doctrines must be explicit in Scripture? Don’t we see instead that Jesus had to explain the Scriptures to his Apostles (Luke 24:27,44-47), just as the apostles subsequently had to explain them to the rest of the Church? And that the Ethiopian eunuch had to have the Scriptures explained to him by Phillip (Acts 26-40)? That is the only manner of faithfully receiving Scripture that I actually find in Scripture. So where in Scripture does it say that this manner of communicating the Scripture changed to one of deciphering them for ourselves, rather than receiving them from those who also received them?
        As far as explicit goes, how can you be sure that what seems explicit to someone else will seem explicit to you, and vice versa? Are the same things supposed to jump out from the text at all Christians, in all times, in all cultures and in all languages? Perhaps sometimes a doctrine is explicitly present, just as the coming of the Messiah was explicitly present, but we need to have our eyes opened to it so that we may understand. And then once we determine what is explicit, how do we weigh importance? We need help sometimes in understanding what the text is trying to tell us, especially if we’re all going to comprehend what’s important.

      • 2 Timothy 3:16 states, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;” This verse seems to suggest to me that scripture can correct. If scripture can correct, then perhaps it also suggests one can read for themselves for proper understanding, and certainly we can all learn from one another as well through open discussion of these verses. This might be putting us back in a circle, but I have a hard time thinking that the Catholic Church has received all of these accurate understandings of the faith brought down to them straight from the apostles, straight from Jesus, when it seems a lot of the traditions followed are not found in scripture. The pope, praying to Mary, confessionals, etc. Do you understand how it would seem more believable to a non-Catholic (i.e. myself) that the Catholic Church have had these traditions accurately explained and passed down to them from the beginning of the times of Christ if more of those traditions were actually found in scripture?

        Hmm. Just to clarify what I mean when I use the term “explicit”, I mean expressed in exact words. Example, is there a verse that expresses in exact words that Jesus’s mother was Mary. Yes. Matthew 1:18 states, “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit.” Birth of Jesus Christ, His mother Mary. Do you see what I mean by in exact words?

      • Aren’t all of those examples in 2 Timothy 3:16 examples of someone using the Scripture to guide someone else: teaching, reproofing, correcting, training? They don’t sound like go-it-alone kind of verses. And that is precisely how the Catholic Church uses them: to teach, reproof, correct, and train.

        It is always easy to second-guess God for doing things the way that He has done them, regardless of which set of beliefs we are talking about. I know exactly how hard it is to believe that God did things the way that Catholics claim He did them. I was raised as a passionate Protestant and anti-Catholic, and even after leaving the Christian religion entirely, I thought Catholic was the last thing I’d ever be. It took a miracle to put me where I am today. I still had to realize that a lot of my perceptions and presumption about what Catholics actually believe and practice were incorrect. In other cases, it required deep reflection, prayer, and patience. In any case, you are correct, some doctrines have developed into their present shape over time, though their roots always go back to the origin, and are always developments of Scripture, if not found their in plain language. If you read the Bible with passion and zeal for two thousand years, you’re simply going to mine more salient points, to have more insights, than someone who is just beginning to read it. On all the major points, I think you would find Catholics believe what they have always believed: God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

        Yes, absolutely, I see what you mean by exact words. I believe what 2 Timothy 3:16 says, though. All Scripture is inspired and profitable, including the bits that might not seem explicit or immediately clear. When I was a Protestant, I read the Bible as if much of it was filler. We don’t want to disregard anything, though, and I have been very pleased and surprised at the way the Church brings the whole of the Scripture to life.

      • Sure, people can guide other people with scripture. But I guess the question is is that a denial of people taking their own time to understand scripture as well? I’m not sure I see that verse speaking against that. But I agree it’s important to consider the thoughts of others as well.

        So how do you understand the traditions of Catholicism which I mentioned as being rooted to the origin being scripture?

        Glad that we understand each other on that point of exact words. And what pleased and surprised you in the way that the Catholic Church has brought the whole of Scripture to life?

      • Well, if you want to establish it as scriptural, shouldn’t a lack of examples, as well as the presence of contrary examples, speak against it? We don’t see examples of people understanding Scripture for themselves. We see understanding flowing out from Jesus, to the apostles, to the disciples, then out to the world (John 20:21). Note in Romans 10:14-15 the inverted example of the way the true gospel spreads:

        “But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? 15 And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!””

        Note here that the apostle is writing to the Church, not the other apostles. Then note the proper order proclaimed by the apostle: first those who bring the truth must be sent (the apostolic mandate), then they must proclaim it, then it must be believed. There is nothing about Bible study in there. You see, the hunger to learn more about Jesus from the Bible first comes from believing – through the preaching of the Church. Now you might say, I came to faith without the preaching of the Church. But I will maintain that you did, for if the gospel had not been preserved and promulgated by the Church, you would have never heard it. Now if you have heard it and believed, you ought to also believe in those whom were sent to bring it to you. Why believe the message and disbelieve the messenger?

        At the same time as we see the spread of the true Gospel, we also see the emergence of counter-gospels and heretics that must be rejected. In any case, people should indeed take their own time to understand Scripture for the exact reason that they want to come to an accord of understanding regarding the person of Jesus Christ with the messengers He sent, keeping in mind the words about Bible study found in Acts 8:31 “‘How can I (understand) unless someone guides me?'”

        You asked: “So how do you understand the traditions of Catholicism which I mentioned as being rooted to the origin being scripture?”

        Many volumes could and have been written on this topic, so I will not try to squeeze several books worth of material in here. If you would ask me about one particular tradition or doctrine that troubles you, I could give you an example that might demonstrate how the others would be established in a similar way.

        We understand each other on the point of exact words, though I disagree very much with the idea, for several reasons, including the fact that the words of Jesus Himself were often quite obscure and had to be carefully explained to those closest to Him. The idea that the Bible is an ‘easy read” is counter-scriptural. What pleased and surprised me about the Church was its ability to make sense of those obscure (to me) parts of the Bible that had previously escaped me, as well as to bring greater light to the whole of God’s plan. It is a much more intricate and learned document, fitting of divine inspiration, than is often perceived.

      • “We don’t see examples of people understanding Scripture for themselves.”

        What would you make of the Bereans reading through scripture to make sure what Apostle Paul was teaching them was accurate in Acts 17:11?

        “Why believe the message and disbelieve the messenger?”

        I hope this question doesn’t sound like I’m going in a circle, because I’m really trying to keep our conversation from circling back around to the same points, but am I not believing the messenger by believing so much in the message i.e. scripture?

        “If you would ask me about one particular tradition or doctrine that troubles you”

        Praying to the saints and the concept of a pope would be ones I find seem problematic to scripture. What does your tradition teach you in tying those teachings as true to scripture?

        I would agree scripture is complex in nature at times, and takes careful reading to understand certain parts. “What pleased and surprised me about the Church was its ability to make sense of those obscure (to me) parts of the Bible that had previously escaped me,” What’s an example of one part of the Bible that had escaped you but the Church made more clear to you?

      • I would make of it exactly what it says. What would it make the Bereans if they had disagreed with Paul? Would they have still been Christians, in full communion with Paul and the other apostles? Or would they have been in broken communion with Paul?

        The message cannot be greater than the messenger. If I write you a letter and you understand me to mean something other than I meant, you cannot use the letter to tell me my intent. I have authority over my intent. Rather, you would have to ask for my help in understanding the letter. This does not diminish the letter, it simply recognizes the proper role of message and messenger.

      • I would suggest it’s not whether the Bereans disagreed with Paul, it’s whether scripture disagreed with Paul, which is what they were checking to see if he was accurate in his teachings. And it’s interesting also that this was before he had written any letters, so wouldn’t it seem your analogy is out of place with this particular passage here?

      • That’s an interesting question. Are you suggesting the apostles didn’t have authority over the churches they founded? Again, what would it have meant for the Bereans if they had concluded scripture disagreed with Paul?

      • I’m suggesting their authority was subject to the scripture. And if the Berean could check him according to scripture, would that not suggest scripture is more objective than subjective, and therefore less a matter of agreement or disagreement?

      • Well, I’m a little hesitant to comment on that, but that there is evidence to suggest that is not entirely the case. The apostles, Peter especially, had the power to ‘bind and loose.’ This is why worship was moved from Saturday to Sunday, the Lord’s Day, Christians were not required to be circumcised, changes were made regarding dietary restrictions, etc. There is also the fact that the apostles eventually added to Scripture, indicating they had the right to at least ‘add to’ Scripture. If the early Church had rejected this right, they would have been at odds with Scripture by virtue of rejecting the apostles and Christ through them. This the apostolic mandate from Luke 10:16: ““The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.” Just as those who reject the legitimate successors (“the sent”) to the apostles reject all of the above.

      • “This is why worship was moved from Saturday to Sunday, the Lord’s Day,”

        You might be surprised to know that I actually don’t believe in a mandate of Sunday worship. But that’s another topic…

        “There is also the fact that the apostles eventually added to Scripture, indicating they had the right to at least ‘add to’ Scripture.”

        We might be circling back to our earlier disagreement on 2 Peter 1:20 on this understanding, because we had a disagreement on whether the verse was talking about the interpretation of scripture, or the creation of scripture, and if one were to conclude as I have it’s the latter, it was the Apostles that added to scripture yes, but it was the Holy Spirit working through them. And if that being the case, then technically the right was the Holy Spirit’s, not theirs. And their claims of operating out of the Holy Spirit would be believed by their performing of miracles, therefore the early Church was able to accept their future writings and seemingly explicitly follow their writings going back to the verse references I’ve mentioned that seem to instruct that to be the way to do things. But still, as Paul was teaching to the Bereans, they were allowed to make sure he was accurate to scripture, which again circling back to whether my latter understanding is correct, would be the Bereans checking Paul is accurate to the authority of the Holy Spirit, and thus God. And the Holy Spirit operating through Paul would make sure he said the right things that proved him to be right.

        For the record in talking about miracles and the Holy Spirit, I’m not a Pentecostal of any kind. Far from it actually. But this concept of miracle proofing authority seems to be all throughout scripture, and interestingly it seems to be in the passage of the verse you just cited to me. Jesus states in Luke 10:13 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had been performed in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.” “And in the very next verse it was expressed, “17 The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.””

      • “You might be surprised to know that I actually don’t believe in a mandate of Sunday worship. ” It does. But you are right, there is no need to get bogged down in that now.

      • Sorry, I missed the bottom half of your comment somehow.

        Praying to the saints is tied to scripture through teachings that we are all one body and that we ought to pray for one another in all things, and that the prayers of the righteous are powerful and effective. It is in direct obedience to James 5:16, and follows the examples of the Psalms in exhorting the occupants of heaven to action. We believe that the saints in heaven are the most righteous of all because “nothing unclean can enter heaven” and because we see examples of the heavenly saints praying to God in Revelation. We are all of one body and death does not part us, so we see no problem with asking glorified saints to pray for us, just as we all ask for prayers from each other here on Earth. There is evidence that the same practice was prevalent in the early Church, so it is a scripturally-supported practice that is continued to the present day.

        The concept of the pope is based upon authority. God the Father gave the Son all authority, who in turn gave it to His apostles, and especially to Peter, as seen in Matthew 16:18-19 and in the clear role of leadership Peter takes after the resurrection and later in the book of Acts. The fact is that the Church was a physical entity at the time of the apostles. I do not know where a scriptural basis can be identified for assuming it became other.

        There are almost too many to count, but some examples of parts of the Bible that had escaped me that the Church made more clear: the correlation between the days of creation and the things that were made; some of the Marian and Christological ‘types,’ such as the Ark of the Covenant being the dwelling place of the Lord (just as Mary’s womb would be) and Isaac, carrying the wood of his sacrifice on his back, and Abraham saying “The Lord will provide the sacrifice;” as well as the covenantal theology found from beginning to end. Not to say that these are things that a dedicated Bible student wouldn’t eventually uncover, but how much better to be guided than to stumble forward blindly?

      • “and follows the examples of the Psalms in exhorting the occupants of heaven to action.”

        “and because we see examples of the heavenly saints praying to God in Revelation”

        Just for the sake of full understanding, which verses do you reference in support of these statements you made?

        “The concept of the pope is based upon authority.” But is there a verse in scripture instructing there to be a pope? In your paragraph it seemed you were giving just a reasoning that necessarily follows a pope being a part of the church.

        “Not to say that these are things that a dedicated Bible student wouldn’t eventually uncover, but how much better to be guided than to stumble forward blindly?

        Are we agreeing here that a person can read scripture and come to understand what it means on their own time along with seeking guidance from others who may have more knowledge and understanding?

      • I don’t have time for the legwork tonight on the bible verses, but perhaps tomorrow.

        Yes, the verses about Peter being the rock on which the church is built, the verses about Peter being handed the keys, Jesus telling Peter his role is to strengthen his brethren, the leadership role that Peter takes after the Resurrection and the Ascension, and the example of appointment of successors are verses, among others, instructing there to be a pope.

        I’m not sure if we’re agreeing or not. Who are these people who may have more knowledge and understanding and why would we want their opinion?

      • “instructing there to be a pope.” But is there a verse that states the word “pope”? I’m honestly not aware of one, which is why I ask.

        “Who are these people who may have more knowledge and understanding and why would we want their opinion? ”

        I think you would regard knowledge of Greek, historical context, etc as important, just as I believe it was you that mentioned to me that Greek and historical context in understanding verses that you deemed I was taking out of context.

      • The word ‘pope’ simply translates to ‘papa,’ and is of no importance. It is a term of endearment. What is important is that the pope is a bishop, which is indeed scriptural. Specifically, he is the bishop of Rome, who has historically been viewed as the successor to Saint Peter, who in turn is held by tradition and history to have been the first bishop of Rome. And while there may be no scriptural reference to the role of the bishop of Rome, there is ample evidence that the early Church consistently deferred to the bishop of Rome and considered him the rightful successor to Peter and inheritor of the promises of the ‘keys of the kingdom of heaven.’ We also believe that those things which are determined to have always been believed by all Christians everywhere hold special weight because of the promises of Christ to His Church, and are a good standard for faith and practice.

        I do indeed regard knowledge of Greek, historical context, etc as important. I thought perhaps you were agreeing with me that we might need even more help than that in deciphering some of the more cryptic passages of Scripture. In such a case, I just wondered how you might propose to evaluate one authority or ‘expert’ against another.

      • “And while there may be no scriptural reference to the role of the bishop of Rome, there is ample evidence that the early Church consistently deferred to the bishop of Rome and considered him the rightful successor to Peter and inheritor of the promises of the ‘keys of the kingdom of heaven.’”

        What do you reason that Apostle Peter allowed this kind of critical information to be left out of scripture? I can understand the value of historical documents, but I usually use that as an additional reference to something that’s already built on a foundation of what’s communicated in scripture.

        “In such a case, I just wondered how you might propose to evaluate one authority or ‘expert’ against another.”

        I evaluate things based on the evidence provided. The meaning of the Greek, the writings of people of that time which these commentaries reference in understanding the historical context, and above all else, what all of scripture communicates on whatever particular topic or theme is being discussed in a particular passage.

      • “What do you reason that Apostle Peter allowed this kind of critical information to be left out of scripture?”

        It was not left out of Scripture, if you know how to look for it. What will help us in this case will be understanding the Scriptural and traditional roots of Jesus’s statement about the ‘keys of the kingdom. There was a clear understanding among Jewish believers of what the ‘keys of the kingdom’ meant namely a kind of dynastic authority. Jesus was naming Peter his prime minister, a royal position that would have been well known to the intended Jewish audience for Matthew. I don’t have time to read it and summarize it right now, but there is a treasure trove of information here, in case I can’t get back to it: http://www.catholic-pages.com/pope/hahn.asp

        “I evaluate things based on the evidence provided. The meaning of the Greek, the writings of people of that time which these commentaries reference in understanding the historical context, and above all else, what all of scripture communicates on whatever particular topic or theme is being discussed in a particular passage.”

        Do you give all commentaries equal footing, or do you tend to favor some over others? Do you read Catholic commentaries or only Protestant ones?

      • I have some additional thoughts and scriptures to share with you now, but I will wait so you can have a chance to respond first. However, I think it is important we get to these additional things, so hopefully we will not be long in continuing this conversation.

      • Thanks, I appreciate it!

        Please read and consider Ephesians 4:10-13:

        10 He (Christ) who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things.) 11 The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.”

        If you will read and carefully consider this quotation, it is a very explicit statement on the manner in which the Church equips itself for ministry. Let’s break it down.

        What is the Church’s function? To ensure “the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God” as well as guiding believers “to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.” It is to guide us and mold us as Christians.

        How is it equipped in order to fulfill this function? Through “the gifts he gave.”

        What are the gifts? That “some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers”

        So let’s bring it all together. How do we become both properly informed about, as well as conformed to, the image of Christ, in other words to “the measure of the full stature of Christ”? Through His gifts to the Church, namely apostles, prophets, evangelists, and teachers. (To note, the Church usually refers to these gifts as ‘charisms.’ There is nothing in there about going it alone, Sola Scriptura, reading the Bible for ourselves. The Church forms us and informs us. You may or may not agree, but that is what the Bible says.

      • “There is nothing in there about going it alone, Sola Scriptura, reading the Bible for ourselves. The Church forms us and informs us. You may or may not agree, but that is what the Bible says.”

        Yes, I don’t disagree that we all shouldn’t all be together in trying to understand the scripture. As far as the reading the Bible ourselves point, I’ll have to see what you say on the Berean verse I pointed to you in my other comment. Because it seems to suggest people making sure things are right according to scripture. And there were a number of verses I pointed to you in my post I directed you towards (that I believe you only addressed one of the verses) that seem to suggest (which you may think it’s just my preconception, but we all can develop preconceptions including yourself that we do our best not to be bias towards), that people need to make sure anything is right according to scripture.

        But the way that passage seems to me is that yes, some were apostles (Like Paul and Peter), some were prophets as 1 Corinthians 14 talks about how they should conduct themselves, and finally we have evanagelists, teachers, and pastors. And it seems all below the Apostles are guided by their written words in scripture. As I asked in my other comment which I’ll look forward to your answer in that comment, if I’m believing the message (scripture), am I not believing the messenger it came from?

      • It seems all below the apostles were guided by Scripture? Why does it seem that way?

        In life and in Scripture, if you want to teach, you accompany. That is the principle of parenthood. That is why Jesus lived, slept, ate, and drank with the apostles from the beginning of His ministry until the end. That is why, when possible, the apostles spent long periods of time with the churches they established before moving on to new ones. The faith is not transmitted in text. It is transmitted in living tradition.

        By the same principle, students go to universities to learn instead of libraries. It is why mammals stay with their young instead of abandoning them. Christ wanted the apostles to be like Him. The apostles wanted their disciples to be like them. The very best way to get someone to imitate you is to be with them. You don’t write a book and hope for the best.

        It seems that we are able to agree in large part, but are not quite reaching the same conclusions. I hope that perhaps what I said about the Bereans will show you what I mean about messages and messengers.

      • “Why does it seem that way?” I think it’s a reasonable inference since the Apostles were stated first in the passage. It seems to perhaps follow along with the fact that prophets are to subject themselves to the instruction given by Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians, pastors are to adhere to the instruction given by Apostle Paul in Timothy and Titus, etc.

        “The faith is not transmitted in text. It is transmitted in living tradition.”

        2 Thes 2:15 “So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.”

        This verse is one example of what seems to be the faith (which if by faith we’re defining that as the teachings of Christianity we’re supposed to follow) being transmitted by letter. It seems to clearly state “by letter from us”, which would thus indicate by text. Is there something I’m missing in this verse?

        “It seems that we are able to agree in large part, but are not quite reaching the same conclusions. ”

        Yes, I do think we’re agreeing mostly. I think perhaps we’re understanding the idea of adhering to an authority differently. If I’m not mistaken, you seem to be expressing the view that because I try to understand scripture myself, along with seeking guidance from others, that I’m adhering to my own authority. For myself, I view that by trying to following scripture accurately to the text, I’m by default adhering to the authority of the Apostles, and thus adhering to the authority of God/Christ whom gave them their authority. And you speak of necessary unity needed within the church, and I think it seems there is that unity under the teachings given by God to the Apostles and to the other authors of the writings we have in scripture. Do you see what I’m saying?

        Though interestingly, I wonder if it really necessarily follows that unity means no disagreement among one another. What do we make of the example in Romans 14 where some people viewed one day above another while another person views all the days being alike, and Paul instructs every person having to be convinced in their own minds. Does this suggest that there can be differences even within a unified front?

      • Yes. You are missing the words ‘tradition,’ ‘word of mouth,’ and ‘or’ in 2 Thes 2:15. It says what you were taught, whether by word of mouth or letter. This seems to indicate some of what they were taught was by ‘mouth’ and not by letter. But you automatically throw out what they were taught by ‘word of mouth.’ Why? It also indicates that they are to hold to the TRADITION. A tradition is not a text. Traditions relate to life, whereas texts belong to the abstract. If the text is to be brought out of the abstract, it needs a tradition. We have to get what’s on the page off of the page and into our lives. It wouldn’t have been enough for Jesus to simply die in a story. He died in the realm of the real, in the same realm our salvation belongs to.

        Don’t you imagine there were many Jews at the time Jesus lived making the same kinds of arguments about Him? He could not, can not, simply be identified by the Scripture. Flesh and blood does not reveal Him. But His sheep know His voice. I would suggest to you that if you would open yourself to the voice of the Church, you might well find it is the same voice. For indeed, it is the same body.

      • I looked into the Greek on that word “tradition”. The Greek word here is paradosis. It means, “transmission, i.e. (concretely) a precept; specially, the Jewish traditionary law:—ordinance, tradition.” What is a precept? According to the dictionary a general rule intended to regulate behavior or thought.

        Rules can be given from the mouth of someone, or the text of someone, which seems to be what this verse is expressing. And it would seem perhaps with the fact that the apostles were around at the time, some of them would of course get this information by word of mouth when the Apostles were there or others spreading it to new people in the area after they left, which would be before they wrote that letter, and now also by text with this letter. To say a tradition is not a text would seem inaccurate to the translation we have here.

        And I’m wondering if in your statement if you’re suggesting that the Apostles said one thing by word of mouth and another thing by writing? Wouldn’t that cause a lot of confusion and division if that were the case? Some people proclaiming to believe what they thought they remembered hearing vs some people proclaiming to believe the things that are written down. Would it seem more conducive to unity that the same teachings written be the same exact same teachings that were spoken?

        And then to go back to the text and understand the verse in context, what tradition is possibly being specifically referred to? I think perhaps the previous verse give us a big clue. “It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The tradition perhaps being referred to to be given by word of mouth or letter seems in context to be the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And it would seem to negate it being what I’m presuming you conclude tradition to be the traditions of the Catholic church? But please clarify if I’m misunderstanding you.

        “He could not, can not, simply be identified by the Scripture.” Jesus seemed to identify himself in the scripture in this verse in which he quoted the Old Testament.

        “For I say to you that this which is written must still be accomplished in Me: ‘And He was numbered with the transgressors.’ For the things concerning Me have an end.” (Luke 22:37)

        And Jesus quoted a lot of other Old Testament verses. Wouldn’t that seem to suggest Jesus understood the importance of the authority of scripture?

        “I would suggest to you that if you would open yourself to the voice of the Church, you might well find it is the same voice. For indeed, it is the same body.”

        But what if the voice you’re listening to isn’t the same voice? And I understand you could probably turn around and ask the same question of me. And I can only say what gives me more confidence on my side than yours, is that I see more evidence of exact words in scripture that supports what I understand to be the way we live our faith, versus your understanding of things, and also less evidence disputing my way of understanding as opposed to more that I see disputes yours.

        Which maybe that’s my own bias, because we can tend to emphasize things more that support our thinking once we’ve come to a conclusion. But I really have tried my best to pull back my own bias and hear out your perspective with an open mind and not an immediate thought of disputing what you’ve said. Because I believe in the importance of being flexible enough to change your mind for the sake of a more accurate truth. And I exercised my open-mindedness by asking you questions for more understanding of what you believe and how you believe it through the scripture.

        And there were points in this conversation I have thought, hmm, “You made a good point there”. But ultimately perhaps what it comes down to is we both have an “affectionate connection”, for lack of a better term, of what we truly believe to be the TRUTH that we’d been searching for and finally reached. You expressed in the way you stated that your Catholic Church had explained things in a way that you never comprehended before. And for me, learning to read scripture in context and exactly as it’s stated explained things in a way that I never comprehended before and that I connected with as well.

        It’s in our individual connections, that it seems no amount of facts I could give you or facts you could give me would probably change either of our minds. I don’t say this to end our conversation, because I’ve been quite enjoying this discussion we’ve been having. It’s just to reflect an awareness of where we seem to be at here.

      • Paradosis. I really like that definition and thank you for sharing it. Transmission is a great word. Culture is said to be transmitted.

        The body of Christ is a culture. A family, even. Families have structure. Headship. Something to think about.

        In any case, it would seem odd to refer to the traditions that were taught by mouth or letter if what was meant was mouth and letter, and even odder if it was the same thing. Doesn’t it make more sense to think the apostles transmitted some things by letter and others by mouth and that both are important? Isn’t that the plainer meaning, even if it isn’t immediately apparent to you why the tradition would be transmitted this way?

        I agree, btw, that the tradition is the gospel of Jesus Christ. What does the gospel mean to you?

        I did not mean to say that Jesus could not identify Himself in Scripture, but that there is a leap that has to be made at a certain point from the page to the heart, the leap that Peter made when Jesus said, “Who do you say that I am?” and Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the son of of the Living God.” Why do we believe any of these things, after all? It is those individual connections you are speaking of, the Holy Spirit working in our lives and in our understanding.

        I’ve enjoyed the discussion as well. If there are times when I haven’t been as patient as I should have been, I thank you for putting up with me. It has been a good discussion, even if the scope has perhaps gotten a bit out of hand. That may just be the nature of the beast, but if we could manage to steer it back as much as possible to one issue at a time (don’t ask me how), it might make it easier to prolong the conversation.

      • Apologies, overlooked this last comment.

        “Families have structure. Headship. Something to think about.”

        I agree. We might perhaps just view what that headship is a little differently.

        “In any case, it would seem odd to refer to the traditions that were taught by mouth or letter if what was meant was mouth and letter, and even odder if it was the same thing. Doesn’t it make more sense to think the apostles transmitted some things by letter and others by mouth and that both are important? Isn’t that the plainer meaning, even if it isn’t immediately apparent to you why the tradition would be transmitted this way? ”

        Ah, thank you for correcting my misquotation. What we read in this verse are two different avenues of communication. I don’t think there’s disagreement between us on that point I would guess. There’s not more detail in this verse of some teachings being in one avenue of communication, and separate teachings being in another avenue of communication. I would think we’d be in agreement again in the sense that we both can see and read with our eyes that the exact words of “different traditions by mouth and different traditions by letter will be given” is not stated in the verse in those exact words or a similar exact wording. This next point is probably where we’ll disagree. I would think if it were the case as you conclude, it would have been stated explicitly, where as I guess from your last comment you view it as implicit enough in the text to be considered explicit in conjunction with your overall view on this topic. But I see we agree that this is in reference to the Gospel of Christ.

        “What does the gospel mean to you?” As I understand it it’s the story of Christ and the story of God’s kingdom being established through Christ. What does the gospel mean to you?

        “It is those individual connections you are speaking of, the Holy Spirit working in our lives and in our understanding.”

        So we have two different individual connections to essentially the same idea. In your view, do you see my connection as not really connected, and as a result in eternal danger? (And I won’t take offense if that’s your view)

        “I’ve enjoyed the discussion as well. If there are times when I haven’t been as patient as I should have been, I thank you for putting up with me. It has been a good discussion, even if the scope has perhaps gotten a bit out of hand. That may just be the nature of the beast, but if we could manage to steer it back as much as possible to one issue at a time (don’t ask me how), it might make it easier to prolong the conversation.”

        Glad to know you’ve enjoyed this conversation as well. It’s been a very spirited and intellectual discussion. And I’ve considered your words to have been patient and respectful, and I hope in as much as it’s been my intent as we’re communicating through text and unable to convey tone that my words in being challenging and direct, have also been soft and respectful. And yeah, I can see how our conversation has gone into a lot of different directions, perhaps just what happens eventually with different thoughts and questions always popping up. But we can try to keep things issue by issue.

      • “I agree. We might perhaps just view what that headship is a little differently.”

        What is your view of headship in the family of God?

        “we both can see and read with our eyes “different traditions by mouth and different traditions by letter will be given” is not stated in the verse in those exact words or a similar exact wording.”

        By different traditions would you say you mean something like ‘in opposition to each other’ or something more like ‘harmonious but diverse?’

        “What does the gospel mean to you?”

        I agree with your comment about the story of Christ and the establishment of God’s kingdom through Christ. We may have already touched on this before, but what would you say can be known from Scripture about the nature of God’s kingdom?

        “In your view, do you see my connection as not really connected, and as a result in eternal danger?”

        I believe passing judgment on the condition of another person’s soul violates the commandment not to judge. Freedom and danger go hand-in-hand, though, and sin generally has the habit of clouding our vision and judgment. That applies equally to everyone.

      • I’m not sure if it is clear why I answered your question with those verses, but I hoped to establish a few points. Namely, that the apostles established churches, that the promises extended to those churches were provisional (they had to continue ‘in the vine’), that the apostles continued to govern these churches with authority after their establishment,and that they appointed successors (Matthias, Timothy) who were to follow according to apostolic instruction and example. I would ask in return, which verses do you think preclude the legitimate exercise of decision-making authority by future apostolic councils and popes?

      • Are you stating that Matthias and Timothy were appointed as apostles, and that there are apostles that continue to this day? And as far preclusion of decision-making authority, for myself, I’m not aware of any verses that explicitly state the establishment of a pope. While I do agree there is an authoritative structure in scripture laid out of how churches should be established, what I still question is whether it seems that all of that is subject to the scripture, and that thus it seems we’re subject to the authorities who properly dispense the scripture which they are subject to as well. Does that make any sense?

      • 2 Peter 1:20, which says that no Scripture is of private interpretation, as well 1 Corinthians 1:10 which tells us to be of one mind and heart and to have no divisions amongst us, would seem to preclude your interpretive authority.

        I understand what you’re saying. But there have always been authorities that were subject to the authority of Scripture.

        Have you considered where you get your Scriptures? Who closed the canon and how and where was it decided? What authority did they have to do so? Where was that authority in Scripture? Where do we see in Scripture which books to include and which ones to exclude?

      • 2 Peter 1:20 is a really interesting verse. One which I can’t say I have a full understanding, but here’s what I’m seeing. I think the part where it says prophecy in that verse is an important part of that verse. The verse states in my translation at least, “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation,” The Greek word translated to prophecy here is prophēteia. According to Strong’s Definitions, that word means prediction. Thayer’s also mentions it meaning discourse.
        Now the Greek word translated to interpretation in that verse is epilysis, which means explanation/application. So looking back at the verse it would seem it’s stating, no prediction/discourse of scripture is a matter of one’s own explanation, for no prediction/discourse of scripture was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. Does this seem like it’s more talking about the creation of scripture was not based on man’s explanation, but it was the Holy Spirit moving them that gives us this creation of scripture we have?

        With regards to 1 Corinthians 1:10, in context the divisions being spoken against seem to have been one’s of choosing which person to listen to more, whether it was Apostle Paul, Apostle Cephas, or Christ himself. The thing that they were seeming to be called to be of one mind about was the gospel. After Apostle Paul condemns their divisions of who to follow/listen to more, 1 Corinthians 1:18 states, “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void.” Does that seem to make sense connecting the verse you referenced with the verses around that verse?

        If those verses were to be understood as the case as you state, would that not seem to preclude anyone’s interpretative authority including the one you just gave me in question of my interpretative authority?

        Those are all fair questions which I’m humble enough to say I don’t have a complete answer on. I do know in 2 Peter 3:16, Apostle Peter appears to confirm Apostle Paul’s letters as scripture, “as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.” The Apostles reference the Gospels a lot, which one could suggest affirms the four Gospels that we have, I believe if I’m not mistaken the travels that Paul went on in Acts are referenced in His letters, and Jesus and Apostles reference a lot of the Old Testament, which maybe affirms some of those books as well. I throw that out merely as a suggestion, and one which I’m aware how much of a stretch that is.

        I look forward to hearing your response to those thoughts.

      • I probably should’ve made sure I had time to answer both threads of this conversation at once, but I wanted to let you know I intend to read through this and respond, as well.

      • I’m not really sure how helpful I can be with these scripture verses as compared to someone more qualified, but I’ll try to give it a go. It is very labor intensive for me, though, as I am -not- a Bible scholar or anything close, so, regretfully, I cannot commit indefinitely to the required expenditure of time.

        In response, to 1 Corinthians, I agree with your conclusions about it referring to believers identifying as followers of particular apostles, but why would we necessarily limit the application of this ‘being of one heart and one mind’ to this one particular instance, especially given that earlier in 1 Cor 1:2 we see Paul’s address: “To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord[a] and ours,” along with Jesus’s prayer in John 17: “20 I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us,[f] so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me”? It seems pretty explicit here that this is a universal call for unity.

        As for 2 Peter 1:20, it seems like a pretty good example of why interpreting Scripture really isn’t as straightforward as some make it out to be. Different translations seem to give different interpretations, with people who are far more qualified to have an opinion than me coming down on different sides.
        It seems to me that prophecy/discourse refers to the general contents of Scripture, so that it seems to me to be say “no Scripture is of private interpretation.” I understand what you mean, but does the word ‘interpretation’ make sense in the context you are positing? It would seem to require something more like ‘origin’ than interpretation. ?

        One could use cross-reference as a litmus test for scripture, but some books would fail to pass this test, whereas other books, such as those in the deuterocanon which seem to be quoted by Jesus and the apostles, would possibly have to be added. This seems to me like an inadequate explanation for the contents of the canon.

      • I agree that scripture seems to express a desire of unity. I guess the question we have between us is what is that thing that unifies us all. Of course we’ll agree it’s Jesus first and foremost, but do you see how one would think that a central text that we all read and we all try to follow is something that unifies us all as well?

        I’ll admit that that verse wasn’t as clear cut to me as the previous verse. Though I have seen commentaries written by people of more knowledge of Greek language than me side with what I’m seeming to see. But let me ask a question of your conclusion. If I’m understanding your conclusion of no private interpretation meaning no one can examine scripture for themselves, does it seem to negate any point of a laymen person having scripture at all? In other words, does it seem like it leads to a conclusion of there being no point in reading it at all if the people in leadership who have had the accurate understanding passed down know it the way it’s supposed to be known?

      • Sure, one _could_ think that. And Scripture does help to unify us in important ways. When I look at the Gospels, though, I see Jesus commissioning a church, not a text. Of course His promises to be with the Church to the end of the age also extend to Scripture, but that Church, in the Apostles, had the authority to first extend and then permanently close Scripture. I would also point out that if it is only a text that we have in common, then our unity becomes a very spiritualized/symbolic reality. If this unity is merely things held in common, the apostolic exhortations to excommunicate would seem a bit weakened as well.

        I do not mean that no private interpretation means no private study. But in fact that is what you had for long periods of time, before the invention of the printing press and the common availability of Bibles, when many people were illiterate: leadership with an accurate understanding passing it down. It goes all the way back to Old Testament practice.

        What I am saying is that when we read a community document, if our goal is participation in a community, we ought to be seeking congruity with the understanding of the greater community, in this case the greater Body of Christ, when and if at all possible. How else would we know that we had the proper understanding? And while it is entirely possible that we might not see what the greater community sees, would we come to a different conclusion than the greater community and still regard ourselves as part of it? Or, failing to come to the same understanding, would we instead consider ourselves as part of something new and different?

      • “but that Church, in the Apostles, had the authority to first extend and then permanently close Scripture. ” What do you mean here by permanently close Scripture?

        What would you say makes you the most confident that the Catholic leadership you believe has passed down the accurate understanding to you is right? And as far as being sure we know we have the proper understanding of things, it seems like that’s the point of all us having scripture. Scripture seems to put in plain words what happened, what’s right, and what one should believe in. In instructing of all these things, does it seem like it’s the instruction guide of what’s to be properly understood?

      • What I mean is that the Church determined, by way of councils and popes, both that no more Scripture was forthcoming and which books belonged in it.

        “Scripture seems to put in plain words what happened, what’s right, and what one should believe in.”

        Seems to. Sure. Because that is your preconception.

      • That’s an interesting thing there. I’ve noticed before that Catholicism has more books as a part of their Biblical canon than Protestants do. As a person who has become knowledgeable of that tradition, what did you learn that made you understand those books as divinely written as well?

        And just to understand what you’re implying by stating “Because that is your preconception”, are you suggesting scripture doesn’t tell us what happened, what’s right and what one should believe in?

      • Well, I’m no expert on it, but from what I understand, those books were in the canon until Protestants started taking them out. We believe that they were part of the canon that Jesus would have used, so they are part of the acknowledged canon of the Church, in accord with early and continued Church practice.

        By ‘that is your preconception,’ I mean it is your preconception that all that is necessary or useful will be plainly evident in Scripture.

  9. I just wanted to comment on the “no holidays” conversation. We have ruled out Christmas, Easter, Halloween, 4th of July, and Memorial Day, but we haven’t addressed any of the others, though we have had conversations about some of them. I think Thanksgiving may be next on the chopping block for it is mostly about people stuffing their faces silly with food until they are uncomfortable and then watching ball games on TV. I see little evidence of it being truly about giving thanks to God, but maybe it has been for some people, and so they share a different experience. I have no issues with birthdays or Mother’s and Father’s days, if what truly takes place on those days is to give honor to those people; to give them a special day once a year, but I think it should be consistent with how we treat them throughout the year, or it is not honest, IMO. Anyway, this is still a work in progress.

    I know for me, because I was abused by my dad, that Father’s Day was always a struggle for me. All the cards talked about how wonderful my dad was, and all it did was just cause me more pain. But, then God healed the pain and I began to look at my dad as just an old man and not as the one who hurt me, and then I would either not send a card at all, or find one not having to do with Father’s Day. I think holidays can be particularly painful for those who have suffered abuse and loss, so sometimes they do more damage than good. I think it puts a lot of pressure on people that doesn’t need to be there, making them feel they have to express something to someone that is not true or that they don’t feel from their heart. Or, they feel as though they have to buy gifts for people they can’t afford or that people don’t really need. I think it is better to just do for others as God leads.

    • Yeah, it’s interesting looking at all of these different days, Sue. I suppose it’s a judgment call we all have to make for ourselves after much prayer, study, and reflection. I think I try to do my best everyday to love and honor God, and love people. It’s unfortunate to hear you went through a difficult experience with your father, but I’m glad God was able to heal you of your pain and you were able to give love to your father in spite of that. I completely agree that it’s best to follow the ways in which God guides us in how we should treat people. We can certainly never go wrong doing that, and hopefully our actions can do some good for drawing people closer to God. 🙂

  10. One big problem here is the deep seated need of mankind for ritual. Ritual tethers us to what we celebrate or worship or commemorate in a way that thinking and praying can’t. We aren’t angels – we have bodies. We need motions and schedules to imprint things into ourselves… Like a spiritual muscle memory. Drop that in a whole community and there will be widespread deadening of the spiritual sense.

    There is also a prob lemme of justice here, the main matter of religion. We owe it to God to celebrate the Nativity… especially if we celebrate our own birthday.

    And the historical/tradition issues, which have been brought up already. (I’m of the opinion, by the way, that Our Lord was indeed born on the 25th of December, as is Pope Emeritus B16 – who is no fool.)

    What do you think?

    • Hi Christian Renaissance Movement. Thanks for your comment. Do you think that we have rituals already given to us in scripture that we follow?

      For myself, I don’t really celebrate my birthday. I suppose I see my living daily in honor to Christ as an honor to his having existed. I view that since scripture never tells us when he was born, that seems to indicate to me that a day of celebration of Christ’s birth is insignificant to what God desires of us, otherwise it would seem He would have mentioned it and the apostles and Christians would have been noted to have celebrated it. Do you see how something not being mentioned or emphasized in scripture would make one thing that it wasn’t significant?

      Peace in Christ

      • “Do this in memory of me.” This is the Scriptural foundation. (Although not everything central to Christian life and worship is directly in Scripture… Why would it be? The Word was made flesh, not just more words.) The first Christians intuitively understood the link to the Sabbath commandment… This did feasts begin, together with their obligatory nature. People were gathering on Sunday to celebrate the Eucharist before there was a whole assembled Bible. Read Justin Martyr on the topic (First Apology I think).

        With the liturgical calendar, we constantly live in the life of Christ. We appropriate it as a rhythm, which educated and edifies us.

  11. As a disciples of Jesus, I agree that we not celebrate the ritual, traditions and excesses that leave Jesus aside. Study scripture, love people. But we need to also learn from Paul who said that he would become Jew to Jews, and Greek to Greeks (or non-‘belivers’) to win as many to Jesus, premise. If we educate about Christ to win sons and daughters to Him, a tree is just a tree. While the world did not celebrate the birth of Jesus until the Church “moved” the calender to align with pagan festivals, I think we can agree, God was using men’s shortcomings to advance His Kingdom. Peace.

    • In context, that verse you’re referencing seems to be Apostle Paul mainly emphasizing about how He voluntarily works for the Gospel without charging people. It’s a more of an example of sacrificing one self’s, not necessarily mimicking other people as you seem to have understood it. Enslaving himself to different groups of people to win them, but not enslaving himself to sin. And to what is sin, I conclude a celebration of an unauthorized holiday in honor to God. But everyone has to make their own conclusions.

      Peace in Christ.

  12. I believe it is OK to celebrate Christmas as long as we follow Scripture. The two aren’t mutually exclusive. The birth of Christ IS in the Bible, and gifts WERE given to Him. We can’t control how people celebrate it with lights and ornaments but we DO have the opportunity to get nonbelievers into a church and face-to-face with the Gospel (if the pastor stays on target). Don’t worry about the pagan aspect. It doesn’t mean anything.
    Merry Christmas.

    • Hi The Purging Lutheran. Thanks for your comment. Do you think our faith is a matter of just making sure whatever we’re doing is “okay”, or whatever we’re doing is honorable to God?

      Indeed, Christ’s birth is in scripture, but I’m not aware of the celebration of it annually being there, which is the point of contention. Gifts were given to Christ, but no examples of any annual holiday in scripture where people were giving gifts to each other seems to be in scripture.
      I agree, we can’t control people, we can only influence and hope they make the right choice. As far as opportunities for non-believers, I think people still have them without needing to tie a holiday with Jesus when it’s not in scripture.

      Frankly, I’m more concerned with what God thinks than the pagan aspect. The pagan aspect is more of a cherry on top proof that this all seems to be wrong in my conclusion. But I understand if your attachment to your joyful memories and enjoyment of the aesthetics and festivities makes you not want to give it all up. I would probably turn around and ask you though, does all of that really mean anything? Is it really necessary you celebrate Christmas? Questions we may disagree on, but everyone has to come to their own conclusion.

      Peace in Christ.

  13. 1. I hope my family continue to recognize Christmas at least yearly; I wouldn’t mind more often. Tradition? Yes. Tradition that sets a day (off work for most) when we can get together to celebrate the birth of the baby Jesus. Happy Birthday and all! Jesus is the reason for the season? Yes. Beyond that I point out that for him, We are His reason for the season. He came for our sakes. Christmas is a time when traditionally we all have an opportunity to voice whatever we want to, to other family members who sit for a time and listen. I’m surprised at how much sense some make during that “sacred” time.
    2. I believe we are much too short on following through on Deuteronomy 11:18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Good for a time when it is acceptable to hang out signs and decorate in any/many ways to remind people that Jesus was born.
    3. Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
    Yea for good deeds done during the Christmas season.
    THE PROBLEM WITH Christmas is that it doesn’t last all year. 😀

    I came over to say thanks for the like on ‘Tween God and Me. Got a bit carried away in the process, didn’t I? 😀

    • Hi oneta hayes. Thanks for your comment. And you’re welcome for the like. While I admire the good you highlighted that happens during the time period, I still don’t see that as negating the larger issue of why it seems wrong to celebrate this holiday. But I respect your disagreement.

      Peace in Christ. 🙂

  14. Hey FBT – I came over to thank you for the like and read your blog as well. I totally agree with you here. We have a hard time with all of the non bible based things that happen around Christmas time. There is also a lot of research and proof that Jesus wasn’t even born in December, but actually in Sept, which makes it even more awkward in my opinion.

    Thanks for being a beacon of truth!

    • Hi kellis. You’re welcome for the like, and thank you for reading and commenting blog. Indeed, it’s quite ironic people celebrate the birth of Christ on December 25th when it’s not even clear he was born on that date. Will continue to do best to strive to spread truth.

      Peace in Christ.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s