Why Christians Should Reject the
"Christian" Church Calendar
There is nothing wrong with having a calendar to help us organize our schedules
and on which to write important dates. Often calendars have beautiful
photographs of nature or famous artwork. We should be thankful that time has
been ordered for us into days, weeks, months, seasons, and years.
However, in addition to this normal, “secular” calendar, there is another
religious calendar used by many who profess to be followers of Jesus Christ.
Some call it the liturgical calendar, the church calendar, or even the Christian
calendar. Where did such a calendar come from?
It should not be called a Christian calendar because it did not come from
Christ. God’s Word is all-sufficient and never-changing; nowhere in God’s holy
word do we find any mention of such a calendar, nor do we find any of the
religious holy days and seasons found on this church calendar. The truth is
that this calendar was a manmade invention of the Roman Catholic Church. It is
the Pope of Rome’s calendar. And it has been adopted and modified by numerous
other Christian groups, including the Eastern Orthodox, Episcopalians,
Lutherans, and Methodists. Even many Presbyterians and Baptists have adopted a
religious church calendar, despite the strong opposition of their spiritual
ancestors to such a calendar.
Many Protestant Christian groups long opposed the use of such a calendar because
it is a human invention, which imposes humanly-invented religious holidays and
seasons on God’s people, declaring them to be holy or sacred—set apart to a
The great Protestant Reformer Martin Luther voiced his opposition to the
observance of church holidays. He lamented, “. . . we have made holy days
unholy and working days holy, and do no service but great dishonor to God and
His saints with all our holy days.”
Martin Luther wrote in 1520:
Therefore He commanded also that the seventh
day should be kept holy and that we cease from our works which we do the other
six days. This Sabbath has now for us been changed into the Sunday, and the
other days are called workdays; the Sunday is called rest day or holiday or holy
day. And would to God that in Christendom there were no holiday except the Sunday; that the festivals of our
Lady and of the Saints were all transferred to Sunday; then would many evil
vices be done away with through the labor of the workdays, and lands would not be so drained and impoverished.
But now we are plagued with many holidays, to the destruction of souls, bodies
and goods; of which matter much might be said.
While later Protestants also did away with festivals in honor of the Virgin Mary
and Catholic saints, Luther’s point shines through the writings of
Presbyterians, Baptists, the Puritans, and many other Christian groups in
church history. They believed that there was no need for Christians to follow a
religious church calendar because under the new covenant God never declared any
day to be holy except for the first day of every week, Sunday, which is the
Lord’s Day. God says this day belongs to Him and therefore it is holy.
God is holy. Holiness is one of God’s perfections or attributes (Exod. 15:11;
Lev. 20:26; Josh. 24:19; Ps. 99:9; Rom. 1:4; Eph. 4:24; Heb. 12:10). Since God
is holiness itself, any holiness that exists in the world, any holiness that any
mortal creature possesses or any land or object possess, is derivative. Only
God has the power to declare a person, place, or object as holy.
Churches, apart from God’s Word, do not have the authority to declare something
to be holy. It is sinful to declare something common (i.e., not holy), if God
says it is holy. Likewise, it is sinful to call something holy, which God does
not call holy.
If we read through the New Testament, there are no holy days mentioned except
for the Lord’s Day, the first day of the week, which is the day in which Jesus
Christ was raised from the dead (Rev. 1:10; cf. Isa. 58:13-14; Matt. 28:1; Mark
16:9; Luke 24:1; John 20:1, 19; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2).
Yes, in the New Testament, we find no Christmas, no Good Friday, and no Easter.
There is no record that the apostolic church, as founded by Christ’s apostles,
observed any such days, nor is there any suggestion that they annually observed
Epiphany, Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Ascension Day, Pentecost Sunday, Trinity
Sunday, All Saints' Day, or Christ the King Sunday. Nor did they observe Mother's
Day, Father's Day, Children's Day, or Grandparent's Day on the Lord’s Day, as an
increasing number of churches now do.
If we read through the New Testament, there is no holy week, such as the modern
“Holy Week,” with special services spanning from Palm Sunday through Easter
If we read through the New Testament, there are no holy months. There are no
holy seasons such as Advent or Lent. And there are no holy years.
On the contrary, the Galatians were strongly reprimanded for departing from the
faith for following the teachings of the “false brethren” (Gal. 2:4) who had
infiltrated their church. These false teachers called the Judaizers were
teaching them they must observe the old covenant holy “days and months and
seasons and years,” which were all fulfilled in Christ (Gal. 4:10; Col.
2:16-17). Paul feared that the Galatians had failed to understand the Gospel
and that his work among them had been in vain (Gal. 4:11).
John Calvin, a founder of Reformed and Presbyterian churches, comments that
the false apostles Paul confronts in Galatians sought to fill the minds of God’s
people with “wicked superstitions.” Their observance of religious holy days and
seasons corrupted the worship of God, made void the grace of Christ, and
suppressed believers’ freedom of conscience. Calvin argued that the Gospel was
of no value anymore to those who consider “holy days to be part of the worship
of God just as the false apostles did.”
Regarding the Roman Catholic Church, Calvin asked, “. . . what sort of Christ or
what sort of gospel does it retain? So far as respects the binding of
consciences, they enforce the observance of days with not less severity than was
done by Moses. They consider holidays, not less than the false apostles did, to
be a part of the worship of God, and even connect with them the diabolical
notion of merit.”
The observance of “Christian” holidays is even worse than some of the practices
of the Judaizers. John Calvin explained that the Judaizers and their followers
“wanted to observe days which had been appointed by the law of God” under the
old covenant, but today churches “command days to be kept as holy which they
have rashly stamped with their own seal,” but which God never instituted
in His Word.
G.I. Williamson, an Orthodox Presbyterian pastor, once pointed out:
. . . the people in Galatia could at
least prove that the days they observed had once been appointed by God.
Christians today cannot show that God ever appointed Christmas, Good Friday, or Easter. When Christ came,
the ceremonial system passed away. Included in the ceremonial system were
annual sacred days. For the Galatians to go on celebrating these days was, in effect, to act as if they
were still waiting for the Messiah to come. Yet even so they could at least
claim that the days they were observing originated by divine institution.
Christians can make no such claim for their
sacred days. If Paul, then, was afraid that he might have labored in vain among
the Galatians because of what they did, what would he say about people today who observe special sacred days
God never commanded?
The Christian’s conscience is bound to the word of God alone. In His Word, God
never told us that it is His will for us to remember annually certain events
from the life of Christ, nor to celebrate the lives of people on the Lord’s
Day. Such an idea of celebrating such holy days and seasons again and again
each year comes from the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church. It is arrogant and
presumptuous for men to think that God is pleased by such. It is legalistic for
churches to bind the consciences of Christians and pastors to observe such a
calendar in their worship or Christian life.
God told us that it is His will for pastors and teachers to proclaim “the whole
counsel of God” from Genesis to Revelation (Acts 20:26-27). He said that “all
Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable
for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2
Tim. 3:16, emphasis added). Churches that center their worship and preaching
around religious holidays found on liturgical calendars fail to proclaim “the
whole counsel of God” as God intended (Acts 20:26-27). Instead of proclaiming
God’s Word straightforwardly and giving due proportion to all its teachings,
they inevitably distort the Gospel by giving undue emphasis each year to the
particular events emphasized by their humanly-devised liturgical calendar. For
example, only a few chapters of the Bible teach us about the birth of Christ
(e.g., Matt. 1; Luke 1; Gal. 4:4; Rev. 12:13), yet most Christian churches
devote anywhere from one week to four weeks or more each year to consider
Churchgoers are increasingly Biblically illiterate because their pastors are
failing to teach them the whole word of God. Of course, we should not forget
Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection. But God says that ALL Scripture is
profitable for His children, and the Lord’s Supper is what He calls us to do in
remembrance of Him (Luke 22:19; 1 Cor. 11:24, 25).
Christians ought to reject the “Christian” church calendar because it is not of
Christ and therefore it is not of God. Instead, they ought to observe only the
sacred time that Christ commanded His followers to observe (Matt. 28:20; Exod.
20:8-11). Christians ought to embrace Sunday, the Lord’s Day, as the day
belonging to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is His day, and therefore it is a holy,
sacred time for all the faithful.
Of course, Christians are free to gather together for teaching, fellowship, and
worship every day of the week. However, only the Lord’s Day is sacred,
holy time for the Christian because it is the only time that God, who is
holiness itself, has set apart as holy.
people today claim that Jesus observed the humanly-ordained eight-day
festival of Hanukkah, basing their argument on John 10:22-31. In this
passage, the apostle John tells us that Jesus was present at the Feast of
Dedication in Jerusalem, which was during the winter. Jesus walked in the
Temple, and the Jews disputed with Him. Jesus responded to them, “But you
do not believe, because you are not of My sheep” (John 10:26). Then He
proclaimed Himself as the Savior of His chosen people. It is evident that
Jesus took advantage of the large gathering that surrounded this Jewish
religious holiday in order to preach a message that actually was very
condemning of the religious people of the day. The fact that Jesus was
present at this Jewish festival does not tell us whether or not He
celebrated the holiday. The Bible merely tells us that He was present at
this festival when many religious people were gathered at the Temple. His
other teachings regarding the Pharisees’ practices suggest that He would not
have approved of such a holiday (cf. Matt. 15:9; Mark 7:8, 9, 13).
Martin Luther, “To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation Respecting
the Reformation of the Christian Estate” (1520). See #18. Electronically
retrieved 29 January 2009 at
Martin Luther, “A Treatise on Good Works Together with the Letter of
Dedication” (1520). Electronically retrieved 29 January 2009 at
There is a notable exception, which is the remnant of the old covenant
holidays such as the Passover and Pentecost, which were still being obesrved
but were passing away.
John Calvin, Commentaries on the Epistles of Paul to the Galatians and
Ephesians, trans. Rev. William Pringle (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2003),
G.I. Williamson, “On the Observance of Sacred Days” (Havertown: New Covenant
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Bible Ministries. All rights reserved.