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Commentary: Is Christmas 'doubtful' à la Romans 14?
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Is Christmas 'doubtful' à la Romans 14?
By Dan L. White

The writer and his family live in southern Missouri, the buckle of the Bible belt. Mr. White and his wife, Margie, publish, a magazine of Christian exhortation.

HARTVILLE, Mo.--In the December 2004 issue of The Journal, Alan Knight had an article about the promotion of Christmas by The Bible Advocate, the monthly magazine of the Church of God (Seventh Day) from Denver.

When Church of God (Seventh Day) members complained that the church was promoting Christmas, the BA response was to "restate the church's objections to Christmas and Easter" and noted that it "defends the right of Christians to worship in ways not overtly commanded in Scripture; and suggests that the celebration of nonbiblical holidays by earnest, biblically committed believers may fall under the 'doubtful disputes' rubric of Romans 14."

Alan's article did not discuss a youth E-mail that was sent out by the church that was mostly about promoting Christmas.

It included: "People do a lot of celebrating during the Christmas season, and for good reason. But this year, as we approach the big day, let's take some time to think about what Jesus had to endure in order for us to be able to celebrate."

At the same time, a disclaimer was included that said that the church was not endorsing Christmas.

Bill Hicks responded to The Journal article in the March 2005 issue by complaining that Alan was not a leader in the CG7, thereby implying that lay church members should not comment on the church's conduct.

Mr. Hicks is a leader in that church, and his reply was rude, accusing Alan of lying, in contrast to Alan's article, which was courteous and factual.

The Denver CG7's promotion of Christmas was similar to that taken by the Worldwide Church of God.

"Every celebration, as well as every offering, is an expression of our love and devotion to God," WCG leader Joe Tkach Jr. wrote in 1998.

He continued: "Some days may be more practical for us than others, but in the spirit of Romans 14, I pray that we can avoid passing judgment on one another for what we each decide to do in connection with days of celebration. We must take care not to allow these occasions for celebration to become weapons for condemnation of one another. Let each of us learn how to celebrate 'unto the Lord' without passing judgment on one another."

Roy Holladay, former president of the United Church of God, once said in a Journal article that the Worldwide change was so deceiving because WCG members were being told that nothing was changing while everything was being changed.

That ties in tightly with Denver's promotion of Christmas, while saying the church had not changed its official teaching on Christmas.

Denver did not blatantly promote Christmas this year. And that, we might say, was a Christmas gift from The Journal.

Had it not been for The Journal, where a nonleader like Alan Knight could bring up the conduct of that church, I think that Denver would have been farther along in leading CG7 down the path of Balaam.

The Journal is the only COG publication that does not avoid the sins the churches hate to discuss, such as an evangelist's trysts, United not wanting its ministers to evangelize, and Denver's Worldwide tilt.

Once it is established that Romans 14 allows a Christian to observe Christmas, then it naturally follows that Romans 14 allows a Christian to observe Sunday.

I fully expect Denver to renew its quest to become more mainstream. But for now, because of Alan Knight and The Journal, the Christmas ornaments are boxed away for a while.

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