The Church Calendar v. Biblical Worship and Biblical History

This whole cyclical liturgical view of worship is wrong. Fesko writes albeit too briefly on this, observing,

The Church Calendar conflicts with the biblical view of worship and what the Reformed tradition calls the regulative principle. There is the constant theme in Scripture that God sets the standards for worship, not man (Deut. 12.32; Matt. 15.9; Lev. 10.1-2; 1 Cor. 14.1ff). For this reason the Westminster divines write that “the acceptable way of worshipping the true God is instituted by Himself, and so limited by His own revealed will” (WCF 21.1b). God has not instituted the Church Calendar. Paul exhorts Timothy to “preach the Word” (2 Tim. 4.2); he does not give him a schedule to follow. Moreover, the previously cited author claims that the Church Calendar would bring about unity that nothing else can bring about. If this was the case, why did God in all of His wisdom not command the Church to do this? Moreover, the argument that the entire Church body needs to follow the same schedule flies in the face of the occasional nature of the New Testament epistles. A Church Calendar will not bring about greater unity, only Christ can bring unity through the work of the Holy Spirit and the means of grace. If this is how the Church Calendar conflicts with the biblical view of worship, how does it conflict with the Bible’s view of history?​

Note the language that is used to describe the Church Calendar: “In the liturgical year the various aspects of the one Paschal mystery unfold. This is also the case with the cycle of feasts surrounding the mystery of the incarnation” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, p. 303, § 1171; emphasis). Notice that the church calendar operates on a cyclical pattern. It is ancient pagan religions that have a cyclical view of history: “The world-cycle runs its course, obeys it stars, absolves its round, and then the end links on to a new beginning, ushering in a repetition of the same sequence” (Geerhardus Vos, Pauline Eschatology, p. 334). A cyclical view of history is at odds with the biblical view, which is linear—a definite beginning and end, not an endless repetitive cycle. The Church should not expect “a quasi-consummation, which would bear on its face the Sisyphus-expression of endless toil” (Vos, Pauline Eschatology, p. 334). In other words, the Church Calendar repeats the same endless cycle, Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost, only to start over again with Advent. The biblical view, on the other hand, recognizes that the events of Christ’s ministry are in the past and that we are moving forward to a goal—the consummation of history, the return of Christ, the final judgment, and eternity with our triune Lord.​

God reminds us of this linear understanding of history, a beginning and an end, by the Sabbath. For example, the author of Hebrews writes: “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God” (Heb. 4.9). He reminds his recipients that just as God concluded His creative work and entered His Sabbath rest (Gen. 2.2; cf. Heb. 4.1-11), so too we must desire to enter God’s Sabbath rest. We get a foretaste of that final eschatological rest each and every Sunday. For this reason, OPC Minister and professor at Westminster Seminary, Richard Gaffin, notes that “the pattern of six days of activity interrupted by one of rest is a reminder that human beings are not caught up in a meaningless flow of days, one after the other without end, but that history has a beginning and ending and is headed toward final judgment and the consummation of all things” (“The Sabbath: A Sign of Hope,” OPC Position Paper, p. 6). In a sense, God has given the Church a calendar—observe a Sabbath rest and worship Him on this day (Exo. 20.8-11; cf. Acts 20.7; 1 Cor. 16.2). On the Sabbath we recall the great redemptive events of the past, namely Christ’s first advent, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension, and look forward to the consummation of the age and His second advent.​

Source: https://www.puritanboard.com/threads/real-easter-sunrise-services.92617/, Comment 5

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Liturgy Is Too Confining

Keith W.:

The liturgical calendar also has an accompanying lectionary – a set of verses tied to each Sunday of the year, and to the extra celebrated days of the year of that denomination. A lectionary might be on a one year cycle, a three year cycle, etc. A lectionary by definition does not include all parts of the Bible. (Maybe there are ones which do.) It does not even have to include a lot of verses gathered together coherently on the same subject. This practice is too confining to the person who wants to learn from all of God’s Word.

Source: http://www.puritanboard.com/threads/do-the-sign-of-the-cross-and-the-liturgical-calendar-violate-the-regulative-principle.91824/, Comment 9

Three Reasons Why Churches Should Not Follow A Church Calendar

Geneva OPC:

For these reasons, we do not observe the Church Calendar: (1) it is too intertwined with Roman Catholic teaching, which is at odds with the teaching of Scripture; (2) the Church Calendar conflicts with the Bible’s teaching that it is God who determines how He is to be worshipped, namely the regulative principle; and (3) it conflicts with the biblical view of history—a linear movement from beginning to end.

Read more: http://www.genevaopc.org/articles/means/45-why-dont-we-use-the-church-calendar.html

What is Idolatry if not This?

“What is idolatry, if this is not, to ascribe to rites of man’s devising, the power and virtue of doing that which none but He to whom all power in heaven and earth belongs can do?”

~George Gillespie, A Dispute Against the English Popish Ceremonies, p. 192.

Source: https://purelypresbyterian.com/2016/11/03/8-reasons-holidays-should-not-be-observed/

Purged Away From Divine Worship

“Ceremonies are unlawful, because they are monuments of by-past idolatry, which not being necessary to be retained, should be utterly abolished, because of their idolatrous abuse… All things and rites, which have been notoriously abused to idolatry, if they be not such, as either God or nature hath made to be of a necessary use, should be utterly abolished and purged away from Divine worship, in such sort that they may not be accounted nor used by us, as sacred things, or rites pertaining to the same…”

~George Gillespie, Popish Ceremonies are Proved to be Idolatrous Because They are Monuments of Past Idolatry (EPC 3.2), from Dispute Against English Popish Ceremonies, book III, ch. 2, pgs. 150-155

Source: https://purelypresbyterian.com/2016/10/31/monuments-of-idolatry-george-gillespie/

Read more: https://www.naphtali.com/articles/george-gillespie/holy-days/monuments-to-past-idolatry/

Dislike of the Purity and Simplicity

“Dislike of the purity and simplicity of the gospel worship is that which was the rise of, and gave increase or progress unto the whole Roman apostasy.”

~Puritan John Owen

Source: http://www.freechurchcontinuing.org/publications/articles/item/candles-up-preaching-down

When Candles Go Up

“When candles go up, preaching comes down.”

~Protestant martyr Hugh Latimer

Source: http://www.freechurchcontinuing.org/publications/articles/item/candles-up-preaching-down

HT: https://pilgrimsprogressrevisted.wordpress.com/2016/10/12/quote-of-the-day-hugh-latimer/