One thing that the current UCG crisis points out is that you can justify almost anything, even when it comes to core doctrines like keeping the Sabbath holy. It is a remarkable trait of human nature to justify one’s behavior in spite of divergence from acceptable standards and practices. This happens even when the yardstick is human rules and laws, let along God’s perfect Law.
Joseph Tkach, Jr sent out a video that is so far off the mark that it is surreal. The entire video and transcript can be found on GCI’s website as “Is Keeping Christmas a Sin?” In it, he states:
In my younger days, I believed that celebrating Christmas was a sin. I wanted to let the Bible guide me in everything I did, and since I couldn’t find any command in the Bible to keep Christmas, I concluded that keeping it must be a sin.
Of course, it wasn’t very good logic, and it kept me from enjoying one of the most meaningful and joyous celebrations of the year.
After all, if we never did anything that isn’t specifically commanded in the Bible, we wouldn’t have Sunday school, children’s church, English language Bibles, printing presses, public address systems, fire alarms or charcoal grills. None of these are specifically commanded in the Bible.
If we avoided everything not specifically commanded in the Bible, we’d have to avoid celebrating Thanksgiving Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, anniversaries, the dedication of a new church building and even memorials for departed members of our congregations.
I’m afraid Tkach is the one who isn’t using very good logic here. As Robert Thiel points out in a recent post, these are pretty much red herring arguments. However, I’d like to do something a little different. Because, after all, the converse of the argument “if we never did anything that isn’t specifically commanded in the Bible, then …” is that “as long as it is not specifically forbidden in the Bible, then it must be OK.” Is that true? Is it even a relevant argument?
In that event, Dt 27 and Lev 18 forbids intimate relations with one’s stepmother, sister and mother-in-law. Apparently, one’s grandparent is OK.
Murder is an explicit command in the Bible. However, what if a person dies of natural causes? May we eat his or her flesh? After all, the word “cannibalism” is not in the Bible, and there is no verse that explicitly forbids it.
Drunkenness is condemned in the Bible. However, nothing is said about marijuana, LSD, crack or heroine. Therefore, partaking of these must be OK, right?
There is no command “Thou shalt read thy Bible daily” in Scripture, either. Of course, some would evidently agree that a converted Christian may neglect Bible study and still be a “true Christian”.
It is said in some circles, “Whatever is not forbidden is permitted.” However, some others cite a converse rule called the regulative principle which says, “Whatever is not commanded is forbidden.” These are two philosophies which are at odds with each other.
However, what is interesting about what Tkach is saying is that it ignores what God says about the whole matter. “Christmas” is a combination of the words “Christ” and “mass”, the latter meaning worship. What Tkach intentionally misses is that God states clearly how to worship Him in the Bible. Fire alarms and charcoal grills are not matters of worship.
In reality, the main issue with what Tkach is saying is the same that all of these mainstream churches fall into error with: They ignore the principle that “What is forbidden is forbidden”!
29When the LORD thy God shall cut off the nations from before thee, whither thou goest to possess them, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their land;
30Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them [i.e., don’t do like them!], after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise [but, I’ll justify it by saying "I’m doing it to please the real God"].
31Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God: for every abomination to the LORD, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods.
In the above, we see clear justification for the regulatory principle as it applies to worship. What God has not ordained as part of worship really is forbidden! We also see an explicit rule forbidding the use of pagan practices to worship Him! No matter which of the “forbiddence” rules you use, Christmas is a violation of it!
“But,” some will protest, “Christmas is so beautiful! All of the silver and gold decorations!”
1Hear ye the word which the LORD speaketh unto you, O house of Israel:
2Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.
3For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.
4They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.
5They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good. (Jeremiah 10:1-5, King James Version)
Again, what could be clearer? We are not to use pagan symbols in our worship of God! They do not honor Him! It really doesn’t matter if the above is a “Christmas tree” or not, because it is the same idea down to the details of decorating it with silver and gold!
“But, it has been our tradition for years!” some others will cry. So what? The Canaanites had a tradition of sacrificing their children. Did that please God?
Can you worship God in a manner that is totally worthless? Can your traditions actually break God’s commands?
6 He [Jesus] replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:
“‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
7 They worship me in vain;
their teachings are merely human rules.’
8 You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”
9 And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!
~ Mk 7:6-9 (NIV)
This has nothing to do with fire alarms or charcoal grills! This has to do with worshipping God as He prescribes.
If God is God, then doesn’t He have the right to choose how He is to be worshipped? If God is God, then wouldn’t He be the one to say what is right and proper?
At the risk of trivializing it, what if I come over to your house and trash the place? How would you feel? Honored? What if you had a rule that stated no alcohol was to be in your house? How would you feel if I brought you a bottle of wine? What if I brought over a bag of marijuana as a present? Would you feel honored? What if you were allergic to peanuts? How would you feel if I brought you over a large bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups? What would your reaction be to these things?
I don’t know about you, but I would be upset. It is my house, and I make the rules. If you cannot obey the rules of my house, you need to leave. It’s that simple.
If we understand this on a trivial human level, why do some struggle so much to see that God sets the rules for His house and His household? When you enter His house (Church), you are to conduct yourself within certain guidelines. Doing things He has forbidden is not pleasing to Him, no matter how much you try to dress up sin!
It ain’t rocket science, Joe!