Gospel Gazette Online
Vol. 12 No. 12 December 2010
Page 14

Questions and Answers

Send your religious questions to rushmore@gospelgazette.com

Avoiding Evangelistic Oversight

Louis Rushmore, Editor

Louis Rushmore

How could preachers avoid “Evangelistic Oversight” (i.e., one-man rule) when new congregations are started by a preacher? This same question overlaps into the question: What if a preacher preached for just women, which was the only gender in that congregation at the time?

In a sense, the answer is the same when preaching for a congregation comprised of both genders, even if newly started, and preaching for a congregation of all women. There is a biblical distinction between instruction, congregational authority and gender roles. It is the responsibility of preachers to preach, and it is a congregation’s responsibility to rule itself – in fully developed congregations by biblically qualified elders.

A preacher is a herald (Vine’s) of divine revelation (Romans 10:13-15), and in that capacity alone, the Bible does not endow him with authority over a congregation to which he delivers God’s Word. If he presumes authority over a congregation, irrespective of his reasons or the circumstances, he goes beyond what is written in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 4:6).

Clearly, God wants congregations to be ruled by a plurality of men, who are elders selected by the congregation over which they are appointed and who meet the biblical qualifications of 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-11. However, it is equally clear from the early history of the Lord’s church in the Book of Acts that initially, especially at their commencement, congregations lacked elders for a time. Yet, those churches necessarily functioned for a time without elders, if only in selecting the time and place for assembly, but as likely also respecting the selection of persons to instruct it and attendance to the disposition of the collection funds. We may presume that in congregations in which men and women members were present, and where there were no elders, that male members (from which gender elders are selected) would take responsibility for the respective congregations. Obviously, a congregation of all women, though, would not have that latitude.

Works Cited

Vine’ Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words. CD-ROM. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1985.)


Celebrating Christmas?

Louis Rushmore, Editor

Greetings brother Rushmore, There is an issue that (in my opinion) is dividing the Church of Christ. One group believes in celebrating Christmas whereas the other one doesn’t. What exactly is Christmas? Is it Biblical? Can Christians celebrate it? Do you have any material that I could read on this issue? I hope and pray that you’ll be able to help me and others that have the same confusion. Stay blessed in the Lord. Isaac M. Manyike, Barcelona Church of Christ, Benoni.

First: Celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ is not taught anywhere in the Bible. Furthermore, the Bible does not indicate when Jesus was born. “The observance of Christmas is not of divine appointment, nor is it of N. T. origin. The day of Christ’s birth cannot be ascertained from the N. T., or, indeed, from any other source. The fathers of the first three centuries do not speak of any special observance of the nativity” (McClintock and Strong Encyclopedia). Therefore, the Bible does not authorize the religious observance of Christmas with its emphasis on the birth or nativity of Jesus Christ.

Second: The origins of many facets of Christmas predate the birth of Christ. In at least some instances, various practices later associated with Christmas were borrowed from paganism. Christmas evolved over the centuries, first being associated with the birth of Christ and referred to as Christmas in the fourth century A.D. (Quick History).

Giving of presents at the end of the year was noted early among the Romans, and gift-giving customs of peoples from Europe, the Mediterranean, North America and Latin America transferred to the observance of Christmas. The Yule log and tree associated with Teutonic nature worship (New Unger’s); German immigrants brought the practice of a Christmas tree to America in the 19th century (Dictionary of Christianity in America).

Third: The secularization of Christmas in America began in the middle of the 19th century, and Christmas has continued to become more secularized through the present. At least in many western nations, there are essentially two celebrations of Christmas, one religious and one secular (i.e., Santa Claus, gift giving, festivities). Especially the secular Christmas makes a significant economic impact on national economies; increasingly, the observance of secular Christmas also impacts the economies of nations that are markedly not under the influence of Christianity (Wikipedia).

Fourth: It would be sinful to add to Christianity a religious observance that is not authorized by the New Testament (Galatians 1:6-9; Revelation 22:18-19). However, it is a matter of personal opinion or personal judgment whether to observe the secular Christmas or holiday, and neither the practitioner nor the opponent of observing secular Christmas has any biblical right to impose his opinion on anyone else (Romans 14:1-23). Yet, Christians living in cultures where people living in those nations customarily may make no distinction between a religious observance of Christmas versus a non-religious, secular observance of Christmas or that holiday would do well to forgo observing even the secular holiday of Christmas (1 Corinthians 8:1-13).

Summary: The best response to this question of which I am aware and with which I wholeheartedly agree came from the pen of Wayne Jackson. Please see the complete but brief article at this URL: www.christiancourier.com/articles/316-may-christians-observe-holidays.

Works Cited

McClintock and Strong Encyclopedia. CD-ROM. Seattle: Biblesoft, 2006.

Dictionary of Christianity in America. CD-ROM. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1990.

Jackson, Wayne. “May Christians Observe Holidays?” ChristianCourier.com. 29 Dec 2010 <www.christiancourier.com/articles/316-may-christians-observe-holidays>.

New Unger’s Bible Dictionary. CD-ROM. Chicago: Moody P., 1988.

Quick History. 29 Dec 2010 <www.historyofchristmas.net>.

Wikipedia. 29 Dec 2010 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas>.


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