Why does Christianity have the traditions that it has even though they are not in the bible?

Asked by Coralie

it clearly states in the bible that the sabbath is the seventh day of the week which is a saturday and yet someone changed it sunday the first day of the week now who and why did they do this? also why do people celebrate christmas and easter when there is nothing in the bible that says anything about these celebrations i have been born and bred in this life and these questions are starting to arise


To answer the question briefly: there are many traditions within Christianity, such as Christmas and Easter, which are man-made, in that the Bible does not say how, when or where (or even if) we should celebrate them. Every tradition must be assessed to see if it is helpful and useful, or whether it goes against Scripture. We have much freedom to keep the helpful and useful traditions, and we must get rid of traditions that are not.

As Christianity is 2000 years old, a number of traditions have been developed by various people in various churches down through the ages. We need to examine and assess every man-made tradition, to see if it is in line with what the bible teaches (even though the bible might not mention the tradition), and make sure that it does not contradict what the bible says. But just because something is a man-made tradition does not necessarily mean that it is wrong, or that we should get rid of it: the bible is silent (or does not say much) on a lot of issues, such as what sort of building to meet in, or what exactly to do in church, and it is only natural that we figure those things out. We have freedom to keep, or even ‘make’ traditions, as long as they are helpful and do not contradict Scripture in any way. And, of course, we can also get rid of traditions that are no longer relevant.

Now to take your question of the Sabbath versus Sunday. Already in the New Testament, the day after the Sabbath (ie. what we call Sunday) was considered to be the ‘first day of the week’: check out Matt. 28:1, and Luke 24:1. 

As for meeting on Sunday, already in the NT we seem to find Christians meeting together as a church on the first day of the week (ie. Sunday). Whilst not a water tight case, it does seem that Acts 20:7, and possibly 1 Cor 16:2 refer to Christians gathering together as a church on the Sunday. But by AD 115, Ignatius, a Bishop, was saying to Christians to meet not on the Sabbath, but on the Sunday (what he call’s the “Lord’s Day” – the day when Jesus rose from the dead).

Christmas, as you know, celebrates the birth of Jesus. Now the Scriptures don’t reveal the birth of Jesus, and does not require any such celebration. By the late 4th century AD, churches were celebrating Christmas, but at different dates depending on what church you went to. December 25th became the date due to it coininciding with the pagan festival Saturnalia and the winter solstice (you might want to Wikipedia those), and so the church of the time offered the people a Christian alternative to the pagan festivals. The church also reinterpreted many pagan symbols and practices in a way acceptable to Christian practice. This has basically stuck with us, and I think people celebrate it because it is a great reminder that Jesus came into the world.

Easter was the commemoration and celebration of Christ’s death and resurrection, and this was picked up by early Christians, so that by the early 300’s AD, there was already a fixed date on which to celebrate it Since that time, many popular (pagan) customs have been added, reflecting pagan spring folklore (eg Easter eggs and bunny). Again, we celebrate it because it is still a helpful reminder of the great events of Jesus crucifixion and resurrection, nothing more.  Because it’s not in the bible, so we don’t have to celebrate it…although many find it helpful and encouraging. 

Hope that helps.

Answers are kindly provided by our friends at Christianity.net.au

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