The Reformists of the SDARM generally BELIEVE and TEACH:
- That birthdays are forms of pagan Baal worship – so can’t be celebrated. References to birthdays in the Bible are all negative.
- That Christmas is of pagan origin – so can’t be celebrated.
The Reformists are WRONG because:
- The Bible has no explicit prohibition against birthdays. The fact that a number of evil biblical kings did bad things on their birthdays is no proof of anything. The SDARM opposition to birthdays is class proof-texting out of context at its worse.
- The Bible actually speaks positively in some places of birthday-like celebrations. For example, in Gen 21:8 that Abraham had a great feast on the day Isaac was weaned. Similarly, Christ Himself received gifts from the Wisemen on His original birthday. Jewish bar mitzvahs are another well-known birthday-like celebration.
- Whilst Ellen White was rightly concerned about the over-commercialization of holiday celebrations (an increasing problem even today), she didn’t support the sort of extreme view the SDARM advocate either.
- Ellen White celebrated her own birthday from time-to-time, including having a special dinner and receiving presents.
- Even though Christian might be of pagan origins, it can be used to spread the Gospel amongst otherwise increasingly secular societies. Such opportunities should not be squandered, as Jesus’ parable about the ‘crafty servant’ in Luk 16:1-13 attest.
- Ellen White did not oppose Christmas – again, she merely wanted to safeguard against commercialization.
- Ellen White similarly acknowledged Christmas’ opportunity to tell others about Jesus.
- The SDARM simply make up man-made rules, which puts additional burdens on people that makes life all that bit more less enjoyable or happy. Jesus actively condemned this sort of Pharisaic behavior in passages such as Matt 23:2-4,15.
- celebrations, including birthdays, had become too commercialized;
- children should recognize their birthdays, and it should become a day of thanksgiving, but it should be a day of thanks to God rather than one of selfish self-indulgence;
- there is no positive obligation to celebrate holidays;
- we can make our own holidays, which is very different from saying there should be no holidays;
- the problem with holidays is they are often too devoted to selfish gratification, which like Job is a question of moderation rather than absolute prohibition.
- avoided situations where others could parade her on her birthday, again perhaps for fear of it attributing to a cult of personality;
- may have forgotten her birthday, but others didn’t, and her friends and family in effect through a surprise party-dinner for her, with a large gathering of people and nicely prepared meal;
- did receive gifts on her birthday, including a ten-dollar gold piece and a rocking chair, which she graciously accepted.
- Christmas celebrations, including a Christmas tree with gifts, can be used as useful Christian lessons, much like Paul and the innovative Christians;
- the issue was not Christmas per se but rather the consumerist manner by which it was being kept; and
- keeping Christmas was not obligatory, but it can be kept if done in the right way.
- Jesus’ birth was celebrated, and He received gifts – even if we don’t know exactly when that date was (Matt 2:1-12).
- The only account of Jesus’ boyhood was His visit to the Temple for the feast of Passover at the age of 12, a precursor (according to many Jews) of the modern bar mitzvah celebrating a boys entrance into manhood (Luke 2:41-52).
- Jesus’ first recorded miracle was at a wedding feast in Cana (John 2:8-11), an apparently frivolous act if one thinks about it, compared with his other meaningful miracles of healing the sick or feeding the poor.
- Jesus so loved to hang out at the parties of sinners, the Pharisees called Him a drunken and a glutton (Matt 11:19; Luk 7:34).
- Jesus’ disciples were criticised for not fasting as John the Baptist’s disciples did. Jesus made clear that there is indeed a time for fasting and mourning – but sometimes there is a time for joy and celebration (Matt 9:14; Mar 2:18).
- When Mary Magdalene spends money on oil, which she applies with her hair to Jesus, the disciple Judas (in typical Reformist sour fashion) complains of its frivolity, which could have been better spent on the poor. However, Jesus sees through the false self-righteousness, declaring that this gracious act be told whenever the Gospel is declared. One will note that the same person who was fist to complain about Mary’s actions, citing supposed reasons of religiousness, was in fact the very person who was soon to betray Jesus (John 12:1-8).
- One of the only ordinances introduced by Jesus to replace the Jewish feast days was the Lord’s Supper, occurring at a Passover Feast. Unlike the modern Catholic Eucharist, the original Lord’s Supper was not the high liturgical ritual it is today but was a communal love feast. This is why Paul was later concerned with inhospitable table fellowship between Jews and Gentiles (Gal 2:11-14), as well as disparities in food between rich and poor, and the behaviour of such eating (1 Cor 11:21).
- When Jesus tells the parable of the prodigal son, the father (who represents God) reacts to his son’s return by instantly calling for a feast to celebrate (Luk 15:23). It is only the ‘good’ son who (again in typical Reformist sour fashion) complains and chooses to isolate himself in self-righteous pity (Luk 15:29-32).