Holy days are religious days (excepting the Lord’s Day)- like Christmas Day, Good Friday, and Pentecost Day- set apart by Christian churches annually to commemorate in worship certain events in redemptive history. The defense of holy days in Christian churches almost inevitably involves the advocacy of two contradictory positions:
Position #1: Holy days should be observed by Christian churches because…The reasons posited here are typically a variety of scriptural principles which they feel show ‘holy days should be observed by Christian churches.’ These principles often cited include the importance of the redemptive event, the duty to remember the redemptive event, the duty of Christian witness, as well as others. This position implies such holy day observance is commended or commanded by the Bible, albeit not explicitly. The logical conclusion of this position is that those who refuse to participate in holy day observance should be disciplined, exhorted, or at the least thought less spiritual than Christians that do participate. After all, if the holy day observance is implicitly commended by God’s word, who is man to refuse them?
Position #2: Holy day observance is a mere ‘circumstance of worship’. By ‘circumstance of worship’ is meant an aspect indifferent to the substance of worship which the churches may decide upon to carry out their overall mandate. An example of a ‘circumstance of worship’ is the setting of times by a church to gather for prayer during the course of the week. As a thing truly indifferent, an aspect may be altered without scriptural compromise. According to this position, those Christians who do not participate should not logically be disciplined, exhorted, or at the least thought less spiritual, because it is admitted that such holy day observance has not been commanded (either explicitly or implicitly) by scripture.
The advocacy of holy day observance resorts to Position #1 typically in order to defend having it faithfully every year, and having it on the same date every year. After all, Position #2 hardly provides a compelling basis faithfully to have observance of Christ’s birth every year on December 25, any more than it provides a compelling basis always to meet for a prayer meeting at 7 PM on Wednesday rather than 7:30 PM as the occasion may warrant. Indeed, if anything Position #2 provides a reason not to ALWAYS have it the same date every year. If a minister is preaching through the book of Luke, must he make sure to time his sermons so that he is preaching on Luke 2 in late December and Luke 23 by Good Friday? Must he interrupt his series through the book of Genesis in order to make sure to preach on Christ’s birth EVERY YEAR in late December? So Position #1 is resorted to make the case for the FAITHFUL annual observance of holy days.
However, Position #2 is typically resorted to by advocates of holy days when they are pressed. When pressed, advocates of holy day observance admit there is really no evidence the apostolic church observed these holy days. They must admit too their reasons are not sufficient to prove Christ’s birth should necessarily be preached on December 25 rather than August 25. Furthermore, the churches generally do not want to enforce the holy day observance among their members like Position #1 would demand.
So what almost inevitably happens in the defense of holy days is a subtle but real vacillation between two contradictory positions. But clearly two contradictory positions cannot both be right! Nevertheless, advocates of holy days are generally not even themselves aware of their subtle shifts in position as the situation requires.
The truth and reality is that neither Position #1 nor #2 is right.
Position #1 is wrong because holy day observance is neither explicitly
nor implicitly commanded in scripture. Position #2 is wrong because
holy day observance is not a mere circumstance of worship. It was
not an issue of mere indifference when holy days were observed in the church
at Galatia which were not commanded for the New Testament church.
(It was not treated like a decision by the elders at the church to
hold their Sunday morning services at 9 AM.) As the Apostle Paul exhorts:
"…how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire
again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years"
(Galatians 4:9-10). God does not want non-commanded holy days to
be imposed upon his people.