Pastor and author Eric Geiger has weighed in on this year’s Christmas Sunday controversy, saying that he “feels sorry” for pastors and leaders who have been using the fact that their church is meeting on Christmas day to “show themselves more holy than the rest of us.”
Debate about whether churches are morally obligated to hold worship services on Sunday, Dec. 25 has been brewing for some weeks now, with some pastors denouncing the decision of others to offer online experiences or extend an invitation for church members to spend time with family in lieu of a in-person Sunday worship service.
“If crooked politicians command the church to close due to COVID-19, it’s considered unconstitutional tyranny and unbiblical (#ChurchIsEssential),” Dr. Josh Buice, founder and president of G3 Ministries, recently tweeted. “If Santa commands the church to close due to Christmas, the church is to cooperate in order to avoid legalism.”
Another pastor referred to the decision of churches not to meet in-person on Christmas as “tragically ironic.”
Geiger, who pastors Mariners Church, a multisite megachurch in Orange County, California, weighed in with his thoughts earlier this week in a social media post.
In his post, Geiger argued that much of the vitriol against churches like his, which will offer 24 in-person Christmas services across 7 campuses on Friday and Saturday instead of a Sunday morning service, arises in part from a misunderstanding of the Old Testament commandment to “remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.”
“The only one of the Ten Commandments NOT repeated in the New Testament with even stronger language is ‘remember the Sabbath and keep it holy,’” Geiger wrote. “‘Don’t commit adultery’ is now ‘if you look at a woman lustfully, you’ve committed adultery.’ And ‘Do not murder’ is now ‘if you hate your brother, you’ve committed murder.’”
Geiger continued, “For the Christian, Sabbath (rest) isn’t a day but every moment because every moment we are at rest because Jesus accomplished our salvation (Heb 4:9-10). So while we are wise to have days for rest, Sunday is not a ‘new Sabbath’ for Christians. Each moment is.”
“Christians have worshipped on Sundays for 2000 plus years because Jesus rose from the dead on a Sunday,” Geiger wrote. “Yes and Amen! But there isn’t a biblical command to gather on Sundays. I preach in Egypt in a few months to a church that gathers on Friday nights. We have been commanded to ‘not give up meeting together’ (Hebrews 10:25) but the day to gather has not been commanded.”
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“‘Some view one day as more holy than another and others each day the same’ (Romans 14:5),” Geiger quoted, highlighting that a difference of opinion isn’t necessarily a bad thing, “but the biblical emphasis is on gathering not when we gather.”