Reformation: Separating Christianity From Paganism
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2) The Protestant Reformation was the attempt to return the church back to its pure (spiritual) ways of the early church and faith initiatives to be returned to individual believers. The Roman Catholic Church was rapidly being corrupted by power and wealth, which caused great frustration among those who began to question and challenge the Catholic Church’s authority and doctrines.
In 1517, Martin Luther, professor and priest, began the challenge, and was supported by many. He touted that priesthood belonged to the believer and not to the religious hierarchy. Martin Luther translated the Bible into German, making it available to the common man to gain all priestly authority, through the Word of God. For this brave venture, the “Lutheran” Movement came about. Other groups of middle class, prosperous, freethinking, intellectuals participated in this reformed movement, by also challenging the Catholic Church. One well-known reformer was John Calvin.
Having a similar position as Luther, Calvin gathered protestant scholars and teachers who would take the movement back to their respective provinces and spread the reform. Hence, beginning “Calvinism” or the Calvin Reformed Movement. The Reformed Movement spread across North Germany, Western Germany, towns and cities in England, Scotland, Netherlands, France, Bohemia, Hungary and parts of Poland and Spain (Hodges, The Protestant Reformation).
In 1546, the papal party called a Council at Trent to answer the Protestant charges of ecclesiastical corruption and theological deviation. Strict discipline was re-imposed over the priests who remained loyal to Rome. The party condemned Luther’s teaching on divine grace and justification alone by faith. A campaign was readied to wipe out any "heretics" not willing to return to Roman discipline (Hodges, The Protestant Reformation).
Ulrich Zwingli, a young priest who was drawn toward Luther’s reform movement, began to establish Scripture as the sole religious authority for the Christian, in Zurich, Switzerland. He opposed the Lenten Fast, citing the lack of Scriptural warrant for the practice. In fact, Zwingli and the Swiss Reformed Party were strongly interested in reconstructing the organization and practices of the church around its original constitutional base, the Scripture. They wanted to strip away every feature of Christianity that was not supported by Scripture (Hodges, The Protestant Reformation).
John Knox, another Protestant Reformer, a “Calvinist,” and former Catholic priest, was displeased with the moral and spiritual corruption that had taken over the Catholic Church. Knox was a bright light for many countries including America. Through Knox, Presbyterian or representative church government was born, which became the source of inspiration for the new Democratic and Republican forms of government that led to the Constitution of 1789 supporting the new American Republic (Hodges, The Protestant Reformation).
In 1603, James Stuart of Scotland, somewhat of a Protestant Reformer, succeeded Queen Elizabeth. James I became instrumental to the Protestant Reformation. He sponsored a new English translation of the Bible (The King James Version) and strongly opposed any re-opening of England to Catholicism.
Nevertheless, after wars, rivalries and rebellions both Catholic and Protestant Churches continue to stand. Unfortunately, due to compromising Christians, Catholicism is blending with Protestant faith through celebration of Holidays, pagan customs and ignorance. The information provided on the Reformation was to reveal the great lengths true Christians rose, in order to freely worship God without the dictatorship of the Roman Catholic Church. For centuries, the Reformed Movement avoided celebrating and participating holidays and practices, because they knew the truth behind them. The seventeenth century Puritans of New England banned the observance of Christmas in 1659, throughout Massachusetts Bay Colony deeming it heathenism and papist idolatry. It was not until 1856 people in Boston began to recognize Christmas as a holiday and took the day off from working. This conformity took place less than a century and a half ago.
Before I move on to the final section of this chapter, I leave you with these words from a great man of God, Finis Jennings Dake, “How well does God liken Romanism to a whore, who professes to be the sole spotless bride of Christ, but in reality is the final great apostate religious system linked with the world and exercising power over the nations of the world under the ten kings until Antichrist comes to full power and destroys her in the
middle of the Week (Rev. 17:16-17)” (p. 821).
Holidays And Commercialism
“…Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.” (Matthew 15:6)
Celebrating these holidays are not acceptable to God. You cannot fit a holy God into an unholy custom. Paganism is wicked and of darkness. It was generated by Satan himself to deceive the world. It is not about your feelings and petty excuses that you do not celebrate the way the world does. You cannot keep Christ in something; He has never been a part of. It is impossible to worship God with falsehood all around you. How can you say you are recognizing Jesus’ birth by placing gifts you cannot afford for children/people who most likely have everything anyway, under a tree that symbolizes the pit of paganism? Where is God in that? How can you say you are worshipping the resurrected Savior, Jesus Christ by coloring Easter’s eggs, making chocolate bunnies and wearing Easter bonnets?
Where does God receive any glory? So what if you feel that there is no harm in these things and it is just in fun. God sees these things as abominable and He speaks against these practices throughout the Bible. Instead of teaching your children to worship and reverence God, you are teaching them to worship man-created idols, generated by Satan and to celebrate traditions that have absolutely no effect. This type of worship is empty and goes unheard. Do you really think that God is rejoicing you going into debt, by exchanging gifts that take you years to payoff? Can you honestly say that you are thinking about Baby Jesus when you slip a little rum in your eggnog, fruitcake or whatever else? What does kissing under mistletoe have to do with Christ? NOTHING! In fact, all that you put into these holidays, you gain nothing in return; except for the warm and fuzzy feeling that amount to absolutely nothing in the spirit realm. Remember, God is spirit; therefore He must be worshipped in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). Feelings don’t count!
In 1st Corinthians 10:14-21 (NIV), the Apostle Paul clearly warns the Corinthians to flee from idolatry, “Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry. I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation of the blood of Christ? And is it not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf. Consider the people of Israel: Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar? Do I mean then that a sacrifice offered to an idol is anything? No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too;
you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s Table and the table of demons. Are we trying to arouse the Lord’s jealousy? Are we stronger than He?” Are we stronger than the Almighty God where we can do whatever we please and He is satisfied? Although these idols and celebrations cannot harm us in the natural and they are fun to participate in, they still leave a window open for demonic activity. It is impossible to serve two masters (Luke 16:13). Ministries, Television Evangelism and Churches are flourishing because pastors and preachers are dancing around the truth. When you begin to teach the truth, less people will want to hear. The Bible speaks in 2nd Timothy 4:2-4 to,
“Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” This has happened and is happening today. Many ministries are gauging their success according to how many members, instead of how many are receiving the true Word of God. As an under-shepherd to Christ you are instructed to guide the sheep by the truth, not by the fact that many other churches and ministries are participating in such idolatries (1st Peter 5:2-4). Of course you do not want to be identified as a Jehovah Witness Sect, but it not about what people think; it is about what God thinks. Just teach your people the Word!
It is not God’s desire that Christians go into debt celebrating these commercialized holidays. It is the wicked one, the “world system” that desires us to spend, spend, spend. Have you not noticed that the holidays are becoming more flamboyant, more expensive and more godless each year? Advertisers are milking the consumers literally to death. Suicides rise during the Christmas holiday due to depression, stress and failure. There are increased automobile accidents, accidental deaths, robberies and murders. Do you really think that God is in this? Billions of dollars are being squandered on holidays that are not even recognized by God.
In a tract entitled The Plain Truth About Christmas, by Herbert W. Armstrong and John D. Keyser, they confirm that, “In our day Christmas has become a commercial season. It’s sponsored, kept alive, by the heaviest retail advertising campaigns of the year. You see masqueraded ‘Santa Claus’ in many stores. Ads keep us deluded and deceived about the ‘beautiful Christmas spirit.’ The newspapers, who sell the ads, print flowery editorials exalting and eulogizing the pagan season, and its ‘spirit.’ A gullible people has become so inoculated, many take offense when told the truth. But the ‘Christmas spirit’ is created each year, not to honor Christ, but to sell merchandise! Like all Satan’s delusions, it appears as an ‘angel of light,’ is made to appear good. Billions of dollars are spent in this merchandising spree every year, while the cause of Christ must suffer! It’s part of the economic system of Babylon!” (p. 12).
If you really want to get God’s attention, sow the money you would have spent on these holidays into your local ministry and start a food pantry, evangelism ministry, or some form of missionary work. It is the Christian’s duty to provide for the poor, take care of the widow and look after the sick. A weak church only does this within its ministry. A strong and prosperous church, regularly reach out to the community and surrounding areas. Through your efforts to build up the Body of Christ, God not only receives glory, but so do you by being an example of Jesus Christ. No, worshipping God is not about feeling; it is about obedience to His Word.
As Christians, let us celebrate those holidays that God would be pleased of. Let us no longer neglect Passover and the true days Jesus Christ died and resurrected. God has clearly identified Jesus’ death and recorded the time period in great detail in the Bible. We should no longer follow the world’s view, but succumb to God’s will found in the Word. Imagine, all Christians on one accord, in unity, worshiping and celebrating the
death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior without pagan influences: boy, would this tick the devil off. In addition, let us continue with the holiday of “Thanksgiving” by being thankful to God for all of His blessings and by exemplifying Christ in giving to the less fortunate (Psalm 50:14; 95:2; 107:22). Also, let us continue to remember our independence, our soldiers and our leaders by praying for them and/or their families on the set holidays (Romans 12:10; 13:1). And always remember that God instructs us to honor our fathers and mothers, so that our days on earth will be long (Exodus 20:12).
1. What are the holidays Christians should not celebrate?
2. What is the link between Paganism and Christianity?
3. What was the first practice that emerged from this forced-union?
4. Who is called the “Queen of Heaven?”
5. What was the purpose of the “Reformation?”