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December 13, 2005


Josh K.

Great comments. I'm a grad. student at Oklahoma Christian, and we read Jaroslav Pelikan's Vindication of Tradition this semester in our Historical Theology class. He presents the best case so far for the use of tradition - in submission to scripture - in the life and doctrine of the church.



It is amazing it took me almost 20 years to discover the Christian calendar. It was never really talked about...Christmas and Easter were the only holidays we seemed to celebrate and we never talked about advent or lent during those times, that I can remember.

In fact I spoke to a prominent large Oklahoma youth ministry this past Sunday and out of about 200 plus students only 1-2 of them raised their hand when I asked them if they had ever heard of advent or knew what the season between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day was called. Most protestant evangelicals are not even aware of such taditions.



Great post, I have a question though. You are familiar with my back ground of the Assemblies of God. Outside of my own investigation into other denominational views and teachings it is never mentioned. I'm curious, and hopefully you can tell me, why my denomination and other similar denominations don't really recognize those dates?



I'm sure there is a much more thorough answer out there, and perhaps someone will offer it here. However, in my own early church experiences, much of what was rejected was done so because of the anti-Catholicism that still pervades Pentecostal churches.

Tim Sean


I fought the battle of church calneder with my forner pastor at our "mixed" Baptist church the last seven years. By mixed, I mean that our church is beginning to take on hints of a post-denominational flavor. Many of our younger "participants" come from a variety of denom. backgounds and could honestly give a shit about being baptist or methodist, etc. Now they may care about the specific theologcal issues, especially when it ends up effecting them personally in some way, but in terms of finding an insitution that lines up with all the right views, forget it.

So in that context I tried to get our traditional baptist pastor to consider giving the church calender some attention. My pitch to him was that it set the ebb and flow of our worship planning around the story of redemption instead of the calender created by Hallmark (Valentines, mother's day, etc). And it connected us to millions of other christians both protestant and catholic around the world.

His objection was essentially that it was too Catholic and it didn't allow us to follow the spirit (or the whim of the pastor is my cyncial interpretation of that answer). He has since retired and we follow the calender unofficially, sometimes more prominently than others. We are a part fo teh free church, afterall. We play by the rules when we want to. :)

I say the church calender was Catholic ( circa 6th century) before Catholic wasn't cool (cira 1535). But my pastor's answers are the basic reasons why many protestant evanagelical churches ignore such calender.


Greg, sometimes I swear you really are just one Alexander Schmemann book away from joining the Orthodox Church.
And to put in my Catholic 2 cents in, when he was Cardinal Ratzinger, the current Pope wrote, "The purpose of the Church's year is continually to rehearse her great history of memories, to awaken the heart's memory so that it can discern the star of hope." From the watchfulness of Advent to the promises fulfilled in Christ the King, the Church calendar allows us annually to participate in that larger story.



Thanks. I'll take that as a compliment since I'm most often impugned as too liberal or not Christian enough.

And, Tim, this is soooo well said: "My pitch to him was that it set the ebb and flow of our worship planning around the story of redemption..." Indeed.


I have no problem with tradition until it's set in concrete and refuses to hear anything but its own mandate. It, even as change, is too often no more than human nature following its own course......


Greg, I agree completely that a local congregation ought to have a good reason to abandon tradition or alter what has been traditional.

I will not assume that those megachurches who have decided not to meet on Sunday the 25th actually have a good reason for doing so, but I do not have to in order to say this: as I have expressed privately in an email that has not been acknowledged, your previous post on this topic crossed the line between rebuking a Christian brother and showing him contempt.

This entry is a marked improvement: why could this not have been your first public thoughts on the subject?

Or, given that you said what you said, why not even a mild acknowledgement that you let passion get in the way of the duty of brotherly love?

At any rate, I wonder at the implication of this paragraph:

"Now, you can hate tradition; you can say it's stupid to meet on Sundays; you can even insist that worship happens seven days a week (and I won't disagree with that), but you better have a good reason for abandoning the idea of meeting on the day that ought to proclaim to the world that we are resurrection people, citizens of a new earth, and servants of the Lord of all."

That you don't disagree with the idea that worship happens 7 days a week is hardly a ringing endorsement, but why this particular progression? Why say that one can hate tradition and "even" (your word) insist that worship is not limited to Sunday? Is the latter more extreme than the former, or am I simply reading too much into words written on the fly?

I'll reiterate that I agree with you: in the absense of a truly compelling reason not to meet to worship, I am deeply troubled by the decision of some congregations to cancel Sunday services this Christmas. But I'm fairly certain that your previous post does not further the "conversation" about tradition, and I reject the implication that it is extreme to believe that worship is not confined to a church calendar.



I'm not acknowledging your emails and will continue that practice. However, since your tone in this comment is so congenial, I won't delete it as I usually do with your comments.

I used the progression I did because many of the churches used the "worship happens seven days a week" argument to justify their decision to close up on Xmas Sunday. Of course it should happen seven days a week, but I notice most of them don't have their main worship service on Thursday. It was an argument from convenience in this case.

To further clarify, as you seem to read such vitriol into most of my comments, I am an external thinker. I put things out; people respond; I think things through based on their responses. I've never been the sit around and ponder type of thinker. Thus, my first words on a subject are a volley of sorts in hopes that someone will hit something back that helps me think through a position I might have wrong. I tend to rely on friends for that interaction, but the blog does have limited benefits. However, I occasionally encounter someone who prefers argument for the sake of argument to friendship or at least congeniality and usually ignore them.



Thanks for the insight. As I went home last night recalling my college days at an Assemblies of God college it was difficult to recall any specific reason why they never gave much thought to the calender. There is no specific doctrine that says, "if it's catholic then it's bad" but it's certainly implied several times via text and speech. Granted I used to be a licensed minister with them so I am very fluent in their doctrinal beliefs. When I went to defend the catholics on a position a few weeks ago I got some, "evil eye" stares. It was pretty funny...I think they plan to have me stoned.


Greg, unless I am very mistaken, that comment was at most the second comment I've ever made on your blog.

It is, I grant, likely that people hide behind the idea that worship is possible 7 days a week. I am still at a loss as to how that justifies the implication that the idea is more extreme even than a contempt for tradition. You have justified the invocation of the idea, but not your criticism of it.

And I wonder how you distinguish between those who are trying to help you think through things and those who argue for the sake of argument. Is it that you don't like certain responses and decide to snub those who make them?

I certainly don't think I'm arguing for argument's sake: in both the email you ignored and in the comment above I emphasize that, on the basic issue of church on Christmas, I AGREE WITH YOU. It is just that I believe that the way you have presented your position is less than helpful in fostering communication.

You write, "I put things out; people respond; I think things through based on their responses."

Maybe you should consider the response I made in addition to those who find nothing wrong with what you wrote. Or, you should be more honest about deleting and disregarding responses you do not like -- and admit that purpose of this blog is not to sharpen your thoughts but merely to reinforce them.



Again, you want to argue about everything. I agree with you, but... And then it's a point by point disagreement, even about the number of posts to the blog. Good God. I've ignored you in part because of the relentlessness of your communication with me and with Bruce.

If you knew what I meant with the post, why the obsession about having me explain the selection of words, their order, the implications as you see them, etc.? If the post was clear enough for you to agree with the substance, why the anal retentiveness regarding justifying this or that triviality. Really, dude, it's my blog. If you don't like it, don't read. If you want to take issue with the substance of what I said, fine. Several people have. But I don't feel obligated to respond to everything you say. And as for your emails, I have no idea what they said. I stopped reading them after I emailed to tell you I wouldn't be continuing the conversation.


Greg, you should have been more clear that ending our conversation implied a complete severing of all lines of communication. Would it have been so hard to have said, "I would appreciate no further replies, and I have no intention of reading any that you send"?

Apparently so, so I will summarize what I wrote:

Your contempt for Christian conservatives is obvious, and it is in direct opposition to Christ's command to love.

Beyond what I wrote, it's clear that you and Bruce are a lot alike: you are both eager to say some really dispicable things about other Christians, but you are apparently incapable of bearing even an iota of criticism for it.

With that, I will leave you to protect the all-important command to celebrate Christ's birthday (a command I find nowhere in Scripture) while you ignore the irrelevant details.

Y'know, like loving your neighbor.


For several weeks now, my working hypothesis has been that it is impossible--not difficult, but impossible--for Person A to express disagreement with Person B over a matter that they both view as fundamental in such a way that Person B will view the communication as respectful.

I distinguish expressed disagreement from mere disagreement because with disagreement alone (like you have between, say, me and most people who frequent this site), there's not necessarily any impetus to hash out the details of the disagreement; it can be a kind of live-and-let-live arrangement where you sweep dissonant parts under the rug for the sake of making the places where you do agree as smooth as possible. With expressed disagreement, on the other hand, you inevitably run into the problem where A and B both disagree on position X, think the other ought to agree with them, and are compelled to say so. My claim is that this is impossible to do in a "respectful" way by most any common definition of respect (though of course some ways are considerably less respectful than others).

I don't quite buy this idea yet I don't think, but I'm at a loss for clear, tangible counterexamples. If it turns out to be right, or basically right, though, one corollary would be that complaining about lack of "respect" for opposing views serves very little purpose beyond distracting from the substance of what is necessarily already a difficult conversation to have.

Anyway, sorry to distract from the flow of the thread. Also sorry that I don't have anything to offer on the matter at hand.

Dallas Tim


So if I express disagreement to your working hypothesis - will you still respect me.

Reminds me of one of the "De-motivational" posters that says: "Compromise - Let's agree to respect each other's views, no matter how wrong yours might be."

I am still an inerrantist - I know that you are not. We've gone round and round before, but I took your comments as coming from an educated friend who had nothing personal against me. I still don't agree with you, but
I respect your right to both believe and to express what your beliefs are.

Merry CHRISTmas! (a respectful jab in your general direction)




Thanks for your comments. I think what I was trying to get at is that respectfulness cannot be derived from "substantial" comments themselves, only drawn from the parallel conversation that goes on between both parties about what the conversation is and means to them. In the absence of such a meta-conversation--something you lack between Greg and his local megachurches--it seems to me that there is nothing could say on the issue of celebrating Christmas that could be perceived as respectful unless readers were already somehow predisposed (whether by agreement with the stated views or prior knowledge of Greg's writing and character) to view them as such. It's a lot of space to say something as simple as "I'm not sure it makes sense to call Greg's comments respectful or disrespectful."

Merry Christ's Mass to you as well.


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