You've already abandoned the Sufficiency of Scripture, so that's hardly the issue. Now it's just about preference and tradition...hardly objective realms of discourse. Or maybe economics....letting people take all that time off work could get expensive! And we sure wouldn't want anything to hinder our profits because that's what's really important right?
Personally as I talked about in another article, I'd rather do it all. As I once again stood the other day in St. Michaels, the Byzantine Rite Catholic (or Uniate) Church, smelling incense, and feeling like I was in Ruthenia...I thought...I would love this! My flesh yearns for this.
But I'd have to abandon the Bible...no small issue.
It's both tempting and repulsive. I was trying to explain this to my kids as I showed them the iconostasis and explained how the area behind is like what?....they got it..."The Holy of Holies," one of them said. The Jewish-ness, the Judaizing of Catholic and Orthodox worship was quite clear to them. And then we looked at the Paganizing elements...the icon veneration, the altars, the chapel to the Virgin. We looked at the stained glass window of Sacralist heroes...Olga, Chrysostom, and the more nuanced Cyril and Methodius. Missionaries? Diplomats? Both? Another time.
So is recognizing 25 December and not the other holy days...an establishment, a state recognition of Protestantism? Low-church Protestantism? Would Colson's Evangelicals and Catholics together (ECT) alliance crumble in light of that, if it was ever formally stated? Would all the Baptists go for it? They celebrate Christmas but try telling them you celebrate Epiphany. They'll start hyperventilating.
Leaving Scripture behind we set a heavy and burdensome yoke on our shoulders. That's what all this leads to. Binding our consciences and actions to man-made rules and traditions.
Matthew 15 says:
8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
We are free, not under bondage. We are not under obligation to keep the Jewish days as we're told in Colossians 2:
14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.
Some invert this and use this passage for license to keep these very things but in a Christian form....we're not judged as we keep meats (as in Lent) or in drink (as in Baptist Prohibition) or in respect of a holyday (as in Christmas) or in the new moon (as in Easter) or of the Sabbath (as in Sunday or so-called Christian Sabbath)....
But the context is clearly a rejection of the Jewish particulars...they're fulfilled and gone. The Messiah has come! Good news indeed! We don't have to follow the Old Covenant Law any longer!
But likewise, our freedom extends to being free from the commandments of men as the Matthew passage teaches. We have a sure word that teaches us in 2 Timothy:
16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
Perfect or complete. Thoroughly as in nothing lacking. The Scriptures give us all we need. We don't need to make up new holydays in order to worship. They don't strengthen our faith. They don't aid us in worshipping God. Do you like it? Sure...these things are very pleasing to the flesh. I like Eastern Orthodox worship, but if I embrace it, I'm rejecting the message of these verses in the New Testament. Liking something, or feeling good about something is not a safe criteria to trust in.
Not adding to Scripture is trusting that God has (like He says here) given us ALL that we need. Colossians 2 again:
20 Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,
21 (Touch not; taste not; handle not;
22 Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?
23 Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.
All our innovations are nothing more than self-imposed religion, fleshly endeavours that seem wise but are at best misguided, and at their worst quite dangerous. In 1 Timothy 4.3 we read that worshipping God by abstaining (an innovation) from things He has not commanded us to abstain from...in order to worship. These flesh pleasing bodily exercises not only profit little...they can be demonic.
I'm subjecting you to ordinances some would say...thou shalt not celebrate Christmas, right?
No, that's framing it wrongly. I'm saying we're free from man-made traditions and if you understand that... it's glorious. I'm not the one trying to impose practices for worship, or give traditions authority. I'm saying...just follow the Bible, and if I do so...I'm free to refuse your innovations.
But I don't consider them a burden! That's how some argue. I enjoy it!
I would too, but it means turning aside from the Sufficiency of Scripture. It means that if we can do it because 'we like it' if 'liking it' is the authority...then Protestantism in every form is heresy. At that point the Church is either ruled by Magisterium deciding and interpreting tradition as in Roman Catholicism or...we might as well have a Charismatic free for all. Just do whatever you like. It's called every man doing what's right in his own eyes....it's nothing new.
Because if Christmas is right, then so is Epiphany, and you need not stop there. The Reformation was sinful and schismatic. I know Luther had no problem with Christmas. Luther's arguments regarding tradition and authority and contradictory and self-defeating. The Reformed saw this but now their descendants have largely abandoned several key planks of argument for what their Spiritual forebears were doing in the 16th century.
In the end, on a social level, I don't care what holidays people celebrate. In the Church I don't really care what individuals do in their homes. But in Church, in the fellowship, in the meeting...that's different.
Again I appreciate the Campbellite Church of Christ on this point. They wouldn't dream of introducing Christmas into the Church meeting...it's clearly not in Scripture. Individually, they do it at home. I agree it can be argued as being inconsistent, but if it's a form of hypocrisy...at least it's a more thought out, nuanced, and sensitive form. They have at least grasped a principle that many others have sold out to either cultural acquiescence, or the need for cultural relevance and transformation. And in other cases, as I said in another Christmas piece, they praise their forefathers and the confessions and creeds they produced (building the tombs of the prophets)...but then slay (abstractly) those who come today bearing their argument.
Evangelicals are right on one thing. Christmas is indeed a powerful symbol of much larger circles of conflict and argument. It's a small thing that points to larger issues. For them it's a focal point symbolic of the Culture War in its entirety.
To me Christmas represents (in one issue) the entirety of the primary theological conflict of Church history....the sufficiency of Scripture....the standard for authority...the Church's relation to the world, conquering? syncretizing? or living as Pilgrims?
I know 95% of the people reading this kept Christmas this year. Therefore I know most readers don't agree with me. That's okay. No one agrees with me 100%. But you must wrestle with these questions.
And for the handful of folks that agree...I hope you've found this helpful. There are MANY arguments to employ and angles to consider. The last time I 'did' Christmas was in 1994. I have no regrets and as the years pass I feel vindicated and I can assure you it's quite interesting (as an outsider) watching the whole frenzy descending upon American culture every year. I feel bad. I see a lot of people in terrible bondage.