cent hits the T-fan

Because it's just not Christmas without a good bit of controversy here at the blog, and today's the last day of 2007, I'm going to comment on the comments a of a fella named Turretinfan (T-Fan for short) and his opinions about the celebration of Christmas, as summed up in his last comment on the subject here at the blog. He can have the last word in the meta after I give him the business here.

As we kick this off, let me say this: one is not a damned sinner if one doesn't celebrate Christmas. One is simply a killjoy – someone who is afraid of enjoying the Gospel because someone might confuse that with the sins of prostitutes, publicans or (in the case of T-Fan) Catholics.

Now, to contest that, he says this:
If your own weekly services are not really joyful, don't assume that the same is true for us.

I view your remarks on joy as base slander, though I'm sure you don't intend them that way.
No, I intend them to say that your view is top-heavy at best, and baseless at worst, seeing sin where there is none, and has stripped down the cultural implications of the Gospel to the place where every day is just its own thing – in spite of your protestations (below) to the contrary.

"Don't make me celebrate Christmas" is one of the most bizarre allegedly-theological conclusions that has come out of the so-called internet "puritan" movement.

However, in the spirit of giving T-Fan the last word, I offer him the opportunity to tell us how to make every day a celebration of the birth of Christ which is actually a "celebration" and not a "slogan".
I don't know from where you made up your list of other things we'd have to stop doing. Number 2 on your list (well, what would be number 2, if you numbered your list) is out, because (a) Rome itself no longer emphasizes Sunday worship, and (b) Scripture requires it.
For those who didn't follow the meta, I said this to T-Fan there:
Your post from Friday at 6:50 really stuns me. Here's a short list of things that we have to stop doing if we have to stop doing all the things "Rome" does to make sure we don't confuse people about what the Gospel is:

-- stop calling our list of holy books "the Bible"
-- stop worshipping on Sundays
-- eradicate all iconography of crosses from our architecture and art

Do those strike you are a little over the top? If so, why?
Now, in that, Rome authoritatively says this (esp. paragraphs 1166-1167) and this (esp. paragraph 1343) about worshipping on Sundays. And it is important to note that Rome views "Sunday" as beginning the night before, so services conducted anytime between Saturday evening and Sunday morning are wholly in-line with this catechetical teaching. That's half of his argument lost simply on misinformation.

As to his point of Scripture "requiring" Sunday worship, it does no such thing. Scripture underscores by repetition the relationship of the "first day" to Christ's resurrection repeatedly, but never mandates that the Christian assembly be made primarily on the first day. Moreover, Acts 5 indicates that the disciples were meeting "every day"; Acts 16 indicates that Paul and his traveling companions assembled on Saturday to pray (which you may dismiss as a remnant of their Judaism, but it speaks to when those first believers would join together as "not only on Sunday"); 1 Cor 11 makes no mention of how often the church is to come together for the Lord's supper, and certainly mentions no day on which to do so; likewise 1 Cor 14 does not name a day in which the church should assemble for preaching and edification.

Let me say this as carefully as possible: I am well aware that Dr. John MacArthur makes a very vigorous case for why we do assemble on Sundays for preaching and singing and "church" (to use short hand). But his argument there is anti-sabbatarian, and stands firmly on the ground that we are doing something in selecting the day which underscores what God has done and not because there is a scriptural command to meet on this day.

What this leaves T-Fan with is his affirmation and no evidence. Is it good to assemble on Sundays? I think it is – but since it is not commanded by Scripture, and it does lead to confusion with the Catholic rite which is conducted on the same day ever week, why do we not abandon that to avoid confusion with Catholicism?

I'd be interested in his explanation, if he has one.
As to Number 1, there is already a relatively clear notion in the public's mind that the "Protestant Bible" and the "Catholic Bible" are two different things. No real concern of confusion there.
I'd be willing to concede such a thing if that's what these different sets of books were called – on the cover or whatever. But that's not hardly the case.

Factually, I can tell you that Ingram Books (the #1 distributor of books to retail, and the largest distributor of Christian books through its subsidiary Spring Arbor) carries in-stock over 4100 distinct bibles. Of those, 244 are designated "catholic" by CPC category, but only 100 actually have the word "catholic" on the front cover.

Whatever the "public" believes is "clear", what is true is that to say that someone wants to read the "Bible" is somewhat open to misunderstanding – at least as much as celebrating with parties and presents can be misunderstood to be bending a knee to Roman pontifical edicts. This is the root of my question to T-Fan, and it seems that he thinks that saying, "well, I think most people know the difference" is satisfactory for the Bible – that is, whether or not one has an actual Bible, which is a critical notion for those who espouse sola scriptura – but not satisfactory when it comes to celebrating the incarnation of Christ.

It's an interesting opinion. It needs some work to be credible. Especially when you tack on this bit of speculation:
Also, there is a problem that there is not really a substitute word in English. We could use the term "Scriptures" but that word is also used by the Catholics.
One would think that if the problem of confusion is such a massive issue as to impose upon one's conscience for the sake of not getting the Gospel confused, one needs to be a little more innovative. "Bible" only means "Book", and its Latin name – Biblia Sancta – means "holy book". We could call it the "Holy Book" with absolutely no innovative energy being expended – and doing that would follow the same premise as T-Fan's logic for abandoning Christmas.

I wonder why he doesn’t advocate for something like that? Could it be that he sees how preposterous that example is, but he can't bring himself to admit that abandoning Christmas is frankly the same kind of error in judgment?

See: what's at stake in these two first examples is the question of "what are the mediums of culture which exist for us to say what we mean rather than just mutter on in Greek?" When we say "Bible", people hear "holy book"; when we say Christmas, T-Fan says they hear, "holy day of obligation mandated by the Pope for the sake of performing the Mass," when in fact they hear, "Good tidings to you and all of your kin" – and we know this because they are out there buying stuff for parties and gift-giving, not staying at home fasting to make sure they can take the host on an empty stomach.
As to Number 3, I don't see any particular problem eliminating the iconography of the cross from our architecture. Our art? I'm not sure what you mean there. Plenty of both Reformed and Fundamentalist non-Reformed Baptistic churches avoid the iconography of the cross.
Since you don't know "what I mean here", let me work it out for you.

What we could do is canvass all the small, unintentional churches we can find – the ones which have a rented building that is in a shopping strip, or are in a temporary building which they are borrowing until they can buy a plot of land to build a worship center, and we could use that to say, "wow – there are no crosses on 95% of these buildings!"

Or we could look at 100 intentional examples of protestant architecture – places where someone built a church building for the sake of putting a church in it for the assembly of the believers. Like these:

Shadow Hills Baptist

First Redeemer

Or on the smaller scale:

You know: the cross. Not a crucifix with a shattered man on it: the cross. The most ancient symbol of our faith. Should we remove it from the public eye by removing it from our churches in order to make sure no one confuses us with those pesky Catholics?

It is your answer to that question, and the ones above it, which leads me to accuse you of mopery. So when you say this:
Your assertion, sir, that: "You are, in fact, wanting mopery in order to avoid popery. You want no sign that we smile, and no opportunity by which we can show people something they can taste and see as goodness -- especially if it's a time when they would have been enjoying themselves."

is false. I repudiate that sentiment, and if you continue to repeat your assertion that such is my position, you are illustrating that you are not hearing what I'm saying.
That's very daunting language, I am sure – the problem is that you do advance mopery – you advance the elimination of all kinds of cultural and social means of interaction in order to do what Jesus told us to do.
I'd encourage you to reconsider putting words in my mouth, let alone avatars in my avatar window.
There's no need to put words in your mouth: you say everything that needs to be said in order to discredit your view. The clowning merely points out that you are unwilling to see how bad your logic works out in real time and space.

Happy New Year – unless the Catholics are having mandatory mass tomorrow, in which case forget I said anything. We don’t want to be confused with them, right?