This article is written as a response to the article which was written in the December issue of the Beacon Lights entitled “Definition of Christmas.” That article began with the question, “Who needs a definition of Christmas?” After reading the article, I felt it necessary to present what I believe in the true definition of the word Christmas. My point in this article is nor to give a detailed history of the origin and practices of Christmas, but to find quotations from other writers, including our Reformed fathers, on their ideas of just the name “Christmas.” After all, this was the thrust of the article in the December issue of the Beacon Lights.
John Calvin, in his “Institutes of the Christian Religion,” presents in great detail the origin and practices of the “Mass.” Remember now, this word “mass” was given good connotation in the December Beacon Lights. If one is interested in reading what Calvin says, you can find it in Book IV, Chapter XVIII, of his “Institutes.” Just a couple of quotes from him should be sufficient. He says, “As so the origin of the name “mass” I have never been able certainly to ascertain,” but then he implies very strongly that even from the beginning, its nature and practices were wicked. Here is another quote which I think sums up Calvin’s view of the Mass: “the supper was altogether buried when it was turned into the Mass.”
Let us now turn to Lord’s Day of the Heidelberg Catechism, Q & A 80. I will not quote this; I trust you will look it up and read it. I would like to quote Ursinus himself says about this question and answer in his “Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism,” He says, “We reject the idea of the mass and also the term itself, for the reason that it does not belong to the Lord’s Supper, which has nothing in common with the mass, although some of the ancient writers employed the term. Nor is there any necessity that we should use the term, inasmuch as we have other words which express this mystery in a more striking manner, which are extant (still existing) in the Scriptures which call it the Lord’s Supper, the table of the Lord, the breaking of bread.”
I will now quote from R.F. Becker. In his pamphlet entitled “The Truth About Christmas,” he says the following: “The name Christmas, this very name is an abomination to our Holy God. The reason for this is that the word Christmas is an unholy and pagan combination of the two words “Christ” and “Mass”. It is the teaching that the “mass” is not a mere representation of the sacrifice of Christ, but that it is a continuation of the same offering, as the priest commands our Lord Jesus to come down from glory and become a piece of bread.”
Here is a quotation from a Dr. W.R. Crews. He says, “Have you ever thought even the word “Christmas” is not pleasing to God? Sometimes in referring to Christmas I simply say “X-mas.” Christmas is a compound word meaning “the mass of Christ.” The Romish Mass is the saying or chanting of prayers for the dead. The precious and holy Name of Christ should not be associated with the diabolical and unscriptural practice of the “Mass.”
Rev. Gordon Girod, pastor of Seventh Reformed Church of Grand Rapids, says, “The Mass is a later development and one may add, a perversion of the Lord’s Supper as it was celebrated by the Apostolic Church.”
Who needs a definition of Christmas? I would answer, that we as individuals, and as churches would do well to think about the above quotations and not dismiss them as made-up or somebody’s radical ideas. Christmas! Truly this word should make us sit up and think of what this word REALLY means. Then we as God’s children would not even use the word. Birth of Christ? This is an occasion for great rejoicing. For God came into our flesh, and became sin for us. And through His death and resurrection and ascension, and by His Holy Spirit poured out upon us, we are saved from death. Glory to God for all His benefits.
Let us never associate the birth of our Saviour with the pagan term and practices of “Christmas.”