John Calvin’s , Christmas Observance

By Bob Vincent

Many people who profess to be Calvinists are surprised to learn that while John Calvin was opposed to the bad things that have sometimes come to be associated with Christmas, he wasn’t against keeping the holiday as a celebration of the birth of Christ and saw it as a matter of liberty for the churches and the individual.

We can gain insight into Calvin’s views by reading two letters, one written on January 2, 1551; the other in March of 1555.  The relevant portions are below, followed by the full contents of both letters.  One may observe that Calvin’s understanding of the Regulative Principle of Worship is not so much focused on the kind of uniform, narrowly limited kind of worship that came to be the legacy of Puritanism, but on protecting the liberty of local congregations and individuals.  One must never forget that liberty of conscience, under the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ speaking in the Scripture, is a fundamental of fundamentals for John Calvin.

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