The Easter season – is this celebration Biblical?

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Galatians 4

Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? 10 Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. 11 I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.

1 Corinthians 11

23 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: 24 and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. 25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.

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As we approach the Easter season, please take time to sample the testimony of the Church of Jesus Christ on manmade holy days. Please go here to read the rest of “Deconstructing Krismass” from which these quotes on holidays were copied (Mint, Anise and the Cumin blog). 

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“To take the ground that the church has a discretionary power to appoint other holy days and other symbolical rites is to concede to Rome the legitimacy of her five superfluous sacraments and all her self-devised paraphernalia of sacred festivals. There is no middle ground. Either we are bound by the Lord’s appointments in his Word, or human discretion is logically entitled to the full-blown license of Rome.”

–John L. Girardeau (professor, Columbia Theological Seminary, Presbyterian Church in the U.S.), Instrumental Music in the Public Worship of the Church (1888).

Festival days are an entrenching upon God’s prerogative: for none can appoint an holy day, but he who hath made the days, and hath all power in his own hand, which is clear; first, from the denomination of them in both Testaments; in the old they are called the solemn feasts of Jehovah [Lev. 23:1; Ex. 32:5], not only because they were to be kept to Jehovah, but also because they were of his appointing.”

–John Bernard (Nonconformist minister, England), The Anatomy of the Service Book (1641).

“It is not a work but a word makes one day more holy than another.

“There is no day of the week, but some eminent work of God has been done therein; but it does not therefore follow that every day must be kept as a Sabbath. The Lord Christ has appointed the first day of the week to be perpetually observed in remembrance of his resurrection and redemption. If more days than that had been needful, he would have appointed more. It is a deep reflection on the wisdom of Christ, to say, He has not appointed days enough for his own honour, but he must be beholding to men for their additions. The Old Waldenses witnessed against the observing of any holidays, besides that which God in his Word hath instituted. Calvin, Luther, Danaeus, Bucer, Farel, Viret, and other great Reformers, have wished that the observation of all holidays, except the Lord’s Day, were abolished. A Popish writer complains that the Puritans in England were of the same mind. So was John Huss and Jerome of Prague long ago. And the Belgic Churches in their Synod, Anno 1578. … All stated holidays of man’s inventing, are breaches of the Second and of the Fourth Commandment. A stated religious festival is a part of instituted worship. Therefore it is not in the power of men, but God only, to make a day holy.”

–Increase Mather (Nonconformist minister, New England), Testimony Against Prophane Customs (1687).

“When it can be proved that the observance of Christmas, Whitsuntide, and other Popish festivals was ever instituted by a divine statute, we also will attend to them, but not till then. It is as much our duty to reject the traditions of men, as to observe the ordinances of the Lord. We ask concerning every rite and rubric, “Is this a law of the God of Jacob?” and if it be not clearly so, it is of no authority with us, who walk in Christian liberty.”

–Charles Spurgeon’s Treasury of David on Psalm 81:4.

“I would to God that every Holy-day whatsoever beside the Lord’s Day, were abolished. That zeal which brought them first in, was without all warrant of the Word, and merely followed corrupt reason, forsooth to drive out the Holy days of the Pagans, as one nail drives out another. Those Holy-days, have been so tainted with superstition that I wonder we tremble not at their very names.

“See the place, Oecolampadius (in Isa. 1:4), thinketh that no wise Christian will condemn us. I never heard wise man yet, who did not judge that a great part at least of other feasts besides the Lord’s Day should be abolished.”

–William Ames (Nonconformist minister, exiled to the Netherlands; professor of theology at Franeker), A Fresh Suit Against Human Ceremonies in God’s Worship (1633).

“Q. 3. May not the Popish holy-days be observed?

“A. The Popish holy-days ought not to be observed, because they are not appointed in the Word; and, by the same reason, no other holy-days may be kept, whatsoever pretence there be of devotion towards God, when there is no precept or example for such practice in the holy scripture.”

–Thomas Vincent (Nonconformist minister, London), An Explicatory Catechism: or, An Explanation of the Assembly’s Catechism (1708).

“We therefore condemn the following errors, and testify against all who maintain them:

“1. That any part of time is appointed in divine revelation, or may be appointed by the church, to be kept holy, in its weekly, monthly, or annual returns, except the first day of the week, which is the Christian Sabbath.”

–Reformed Presbyterian Church in America (Covenanters), Reformation Principles Exhibited (1806).

“[The Waldenses] contemn all approved ecclesiastical customs which they do not read of in the gospel, such as the observance of Candlemas, Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and the feast of Easter. . . .”

–William Sime, History of the Waldenses (1827).

“We believe that the Scriptures not only do not warrant the observance of such days [i.e., “holy” days], but that they positively discountenance it. Let any one impartially weigh Colossians 2:16, and also, Galatians 4:9-11; and then say whether these passages do not evidently indicate, that the inspired Apostle disapproved of the observance of such days.”

–Samuel Miller (professor, Princeton Theological Seminary, Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.), Presbyterianism: The Truly Primitive and Apostolic Constitution of the Church of Christ.

“It is notorious, that wherever other days than the Sabbath are religiously observed, there that holy day is less strictly observed than its nature demands–less strictly than it is generally observed by those who regard it as the only set time which God has commanded to be kept holy. It is also notorious, that holy days, as they are called, are times at which every species of vice and disorder is more flagrantly and more generally indulged in, than at any other time; so that these days are really and highly injurious to civil society, as well as an encroachment on the prerogative of God.”

–Ashbel Green (minister, Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.), Lectures on the Shorter Catechism (1841).

“[T]hose who quote those portions of Scripture in opposition to the idea of a divine obligation on Christians to observe the Sabbath are found for the most part, in one section of the Church, and as members or dignitaries therein they are very far from being consistent. Their reasoning on behalf of their theory and their practice are diametrically opposed. If the Apostle Paul were permitted to revisit earth, we might imagine him addressing them somewhat after the following manner:–‘Ye men of a half-reformed Church, ye observe days and times. Ye have a whole calendar of so-called saints’ days. Ye observe a Holy Thursday and a Good Friday. Ye have a time called Easter, and a season called Lent, about which some of you make no small stir. Ye have a day regarded especially holy, named Christmas, observed at a manifestly wrong season of the year, and notoriously grafted on an old Pagan festival. And all this while many of you refuse to acknowledge the continued obligation of the Fourth Commandment. I am afraid of you, lest the instruction contained in my epistle, as well as in other parts of Scripture, has been bestowed upon you in vain.’”

–Robert Nevin (minister, Reformed Presbyterian Church in Ireland and editor of the Covenanter Magazine in Ireland), Misunderstood Scriptures (1893).

“Q. 7. Is it not a daring intrusion upon the prerogative of God to appoint as a stated religious festival any other day or season, such as Christmas or Easter?

“A. It is an impeachment of the wisdom of God and an assertion of our right and ability to improve on his plans.”

–James Harper (professor, Xenia Theological Seminary, United Presbyterian Church), An Exposition in the Form of Question and Answer of the Westminster Assembly’s Shorter Catechism (1905).

[Rules that help distinguish between truth and lies, walking in divine truth promotes godliness] For example when debating whether to maintain Lenten Eve (Fat Tuesday), Epiphany (when the wiseman saw Christ), and other Roman Catholic holidays or to radically abolish them, some people may say yes and others no. However, the godly immediately know the right way, for they understand that Roman Catholic holidays have no basis in Holy Scripture and that regular observance of them offers occasion for much sin. The celebrations cause great disorder in the places or homes where they are observed and become a stumbling block to real holiness as they strengthen the old man. The godly swiftly conclude that Reformed Christians who would gladly abolish or ignore the feast days have the truth on their side.”

–Willem Teelinck [1579-1629], The Path of True Godliness, p. 101.

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