Open thread Friday


 It’s the end of the week and up here in Canada, we have Boxing Day, a statutory holiday. I am very grateful for the time off after some hard work.  Last Saturday I started an open thread but actually like to start an open thread on Fridays,REGULARLY, if possible. Again, talk about anything you want as it pertains to spirituality, theology and/or religion. Did you celebrate Christmas—or you didn’t. What did you instead? How do you feel about the loss of Adventist scholar Samuele Bacchiocchi? It was so sudden and fast. Many of you know that I had posted coverage on his illness and then XHWA of  Escaping Armstrongism had immediately informed me of his passing the next day.  I was at my dad’s place near Belleville, Ontario  this past Wednesday through yesterday noon and I saw the documentary Zeitgeist. Controversial stuff. It was an attempt to disprove the existence of Christ and assert that pre-Christian pagan legends about a Virgin Birth are nothing new and Christianity was just copying them in the first place. Rebuttals anyone???  What ever you want to discuss! You know the rules for Open Thread: 1) As a religious/spiritual person—TEACH about your faith but NOT PREACH which INCLUDES spiritual death threats!  This also includes judging a persons eternal destiny. For example, “If you believe in what Trudeau said about getting government out our bedrooms, you are not really a Christian!“ You may feel strongly about an issue like that but I believe that is God`s perogative—NOT mine, NOT yours to judge somebody`s heart like that. Which leads me to number 2): Be passionate but be respectful and civil to everyone.  No negative personal attacks are allowed.  Stubborn willed manipulative offenders will have their posts automatically deleted without warning and without appeal.  My suggestions include: 1)Use capitalization appropriately. To use capitalization in all words sounds to us like you are shouting at us and not having a conversation. 2) Use lower cases appropriate. Meaning that if you don`t capitalize a single letter when appropriate makes it sound you are a lazy and proud of it youngster who believes that ignorance is a virtue and the world came into existence since 1981­. Otherwise, let`s get to round 2 for Open Thread Friday—with a lot more participants than last week I hope.


8 thoughts on “Open thread Friday

  1. Hi FT!
    I didn’t celebrate Christmas this year. I did return the merry Christmases and happy holidays …es. I didn’t feel at all compelled to educate anyone of their complicity in paganism. My usual response would have been, “Thank you, but I don’t celebrate Christmas.” Well, I don’t feel people who celebrate Christmas are going to burn in Gehenna fire.

    I felt slightly uncomfortable with the season yet. Saying merry Christmas back was odd. Sorta tingly. I don’t yet know what to make of it. Should I, shouldn’t I? My wife and I talked about it. We agreed that we are not comfortable with celebrating. However, we would like to get together with our families and have some sort of personal holiday together. Perhaps we’ll keep Festivus. 🙂

  2. On the virgin birth, you may want to check out Ben Witherington’s blog (, where he addresses the whole “borrowing from pagans” issue. I’ll probably be addressing his post in my own blog pretty soon, and I’ll include the link there. I think his approach has strengths and weaknesses.

  3. It takes a lot of time of getting used to XHWA. Though I am a little uneasy with some of the pagan trimmings and the crass commercialism that goes on with it, I see no problem in remembering the incarnation and the sincere worship of those who want to praise their Savior. Thus, I have a Third Way position based from this splendid article from Dr. Dwight Pryor, founder of Judaic Christian Studies at

  4. It does indeed require much time and rethinking to modify one’s approach to Christmas. HWA’s marketing department really did quite a number on all of us on that topic.

    This may be a bit offbeat, but there was a movie produced sometime during the past couple of years, called “Joshua”. Tony Goldwyn stars. It’s a “what if Jesus were amongst us today?” kind of movie. In it, Joshua (Jesus) visits several types of people who are worshippers. He really doesn’t trash them as HWA always did to those who disagreed with him. However, he does suggest a few “minor tune-up” modifications. Joshua assists people in “finding the love”, which when you think about it was what Jesus was really all about.

    We were handed a very rigid and legalistic system of showing love for Father God and Jesus Christ. Christmas was downed as being a time of drunken debauchery, greed, depression, and unhappiness. But, is it the sincere, mainstream Christians who are really participating in the debauchery? No. It’s the modern day heathens, the party animals, the “he who dies with the most toys wins” types who are doing all of that. Mainstream Christians are the ones telling us that “Jesus is the reason for the season”, or “put Christ back into Christmas”. They love Jesus, and whether or not His birth took place on Dec. 25, they are sincere in wanting to celebrate and commemorate the deep meanings behind His birth.

    The birth of Jesus Christ, God incarnate, was the singular most important event in history. The coming of Messiah was anticipated by the prophets, by the suffering Jewish and Israelitish peoples, and by wise men around the world. In fact, the wise men celebrated this event, as the gospels tell us. That a group could focus in on, and lift the apocalypse from the story of our savior, and use that as a manipulative tool to dominate fellow man, and to separate fellow man from his blessings, is a travesty. The true gospel is not that Jesus is going to return to set up some sort of Armstrongish/Orwellian nightmare “reward” for tithepayers, it is that Jesus Christ came to live within all of us, and to transform our sinful hearts so that we can properly love God and fellow man!

    I don’t have a tree in my house. I didn’t buy a single Christmas present this year. Other years, I have, depending upon the culture of those close to me at the time. But, I believe that anything which gets us thinking about Jesus is good, and helps promote the type of spiritual revival that is so badly needed by all of mankind. I have no problem wishing others a very Merry, and blessed Christmas!


  5. Remember that scene from Joshua about the law? Joshua said he never saw the law as something to be afraid of, to which the priest responds, “To those who transgress against God, God’s law IS something to be afraid of.” I wonder what the right stance on that is.

  6. James, my opinion is that Joshua’s remark is consistent with the New Covenant. Those under Christ’s blood, don’t need to fear the law, because they are forgiven. Those whose sins are not forgiven should be in fear of the law.

    I look upon the law as being structure. The formerly enslaved Israelites of Moses’ era needed structure and a concept of love, as they had no idea how to function in an environment of freedom. The law was a schoolteacher, kind of like a halfway house might be for offenders today who have just been released from jail.

    Certainly much could be written on this topic, but, using another analogy, penalties for breaking speed limits are in force to curtail the activities of those who would be inclined to speed. Non-speeders needn’t worry.


  7. Thanks for all the comments, everyone. I know I have friends.

    I will avoid Christmas (and Halloween, etc) until my conscience allows me to do otherwise. I feel very much like a first century Christian; someone to whom Paul was writing directly. I am dealing with a legalistic background, and others around me have more of a “Gentile” background, and we’re all trying to meet in the middle. I am having my eyes opened to the New Covenant. It’s amazing! But it’s hard to navigate for my natural tendency to slack off. I increasingly appreciate the authoritative structure of my former association since it nudged me regularly to keep up on my studies.
    I very much appreciate the COG7 in that they encourage people to take the time to study. They keep the Sabbath and actually set it aside, much like Armstrong taught, and that time is supposed to go towards study and good Christian deeds. I like that. It’s what I’m used to and it is comfortable. But the good deeds is a new twist. I’ve wondered if the “rest” wasn’t just carnal inactivity, but very much hard work towards helping others in a loving, giving, non-selfish sort of way.

    My opinion on the law is that I think the law question is sticky. We cannot know what the purpose of the law was without Christ. If we approach the law from a Moses perspective, we’re going to get it wrong. Take the Sabbath for example. The law literally says “rest” and it says do that one day. So the Moses perspective is to rest on the Sabbath. But physical inactivity cannot do anything truly beneficial. The “rest” from a Christ perspective is to rest from our selfishness and sin. He is our rest. And our rest is every day. So, that being said, Christ said He works and His Father works. We should also work, spending our “Sabbath” time working towards selfless goals. The Sabbath is hard work! But in that work there is a spiritual rest that no physical inactivity can come close to.

    There is a veil on the reading of the law, imposed by God Himself, when we approach it without Christ. No man can get around that, no matter how hard we try. No matter how many details the Jewish scholars know (brilliant, well learned, uber experts), there can never be a real understanding there because they approach it from the wrong angle. Christ gives us that correct perspective towards the law because Christ gives us God’s perspective as opposed to man’s. Armstrong was incorrect so often because he tried to force Christ back in to the human/Moses perspective on the law. Are the Jew’s wrong? I wouldn’t go so far as to say that. I think I would say the Jews are something more like “incomplete”. And even Christianity is incomplete, because as Paul said, we know in part and we preach in part. Completion can’t be met in these bodies and I think that is due in no small part to our inescapable need to be selfish because our physical bodies will always have physical needs. But we look to an even better, perfect understanding to come on that great day when our hope is fulfilled and we are changed.

    I don’t call down a curse on people for trying to be legalistic. I would say those who believe in legalism yet don’t fulfill that are the ones who are in trouble. But I do still agree with Byker Bob when he says legalism will never earn you what Christ gives for free. That is as true as anything. And that is the great failure of Armstrongism, in my eyes, in that they claim to keep the law, yet in many ways they do not. The law will not save them. Even less a partial keeping of it.

  8. I worked Thursday, producing the 11pm news.

    Our reporters did Xmas-related stories, but they weren’t blatant — one on holiday weekend speeding on the Interstate, one on a restaurant preparing meals for first responders, and one on a father’s return home two years after a bad car crash.

    My policy in December is to run the news we usually would run the rest of the year. I suspect most people don’t notice any difference.

    But during this month, I had a couple of opportunities to explain to people why I don’t keep Xmas. I explained there’s more Biblical evidence for Jesus keeping Hanukkah (John 10:22 and following) than keeping Xmas.

    I gave one of these explanations to a single mother with five children working at a convenience store, who wondered where she could get free Xmas gifts. You don’t have to keep Xmas, I told her. I don’t know what she decided to do.

    P.S. It was 58 degrees F. Thursday morning, so I went running outside. Ahhhhh….. :–>

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