Submission to The Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities - Why We Should Keep Good Friday and Christmas as Public Holidays: 28 June 2012
We are concerned that two of the most important Christian Holidays of the Calendar year may be removed as a result of a meagre four complaints!
Christian holidays are only 2 (or 14.3%) out of a total of 14 holidays. The other 12 holidays (85%) are all Secular holidays. Secular Humanism should be considered as a religion, which seems to be unfairly favoured by the SA government. A referendum would be the most democratic way to canvass public sentiment on this issue of public holidays.
" Holy Days "
The very name holiday means " holy day " . Most holidays have religious significance. The events that a society chooses to centre its holidays around speak volumes about the religious worldview and value systems of that society.
History is His Story
The Christian view of history is linear. Unlike Eastern religions which hold to re - incarnation and have a circular view of history, or atheists who believe that " you have come from nothing, you ' re going nowhere, life is meaningless " , Christians believe that History is His story.
God is sovereign over time and space. At one point in history, God created the world. At another time He judged the world in the Flood. At the appointed time, Christ came and died for our sins. Three days later He rose from the dead. Forty days later He ascended into Heaven. Ten days after that He sent the Holy Spirit upon His disciples at Pentecost. One great day He will return to this earth and judge the nations. History has a goal. Time has meaning. Our calendars should reflect that.
A Christian Calendar
It is appropriate that the biggest and most important holiday event of our calendar year is the one that commemorates the Incarnation of Christ, when God took on human form and was born in Bethlehem. Christmas celebrates the greatest gift of all, the advent of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is the reason for the season. Wise men still seek Him. " For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life " John 3:16. Many millions of people give gifts on Christmas Day to celebrate the official birthday of the King of kings, and out of gratitude for the great gifts He has given us. This is also the busiest and best time of the year commercially for retailers and also for charities.
The second most important Christian holiday is Good Friday, when we solemnly remember the Atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ, His great sacrifice on the Cross of Calvary. He suffered, bled and died for our sins. He endured the punishment we deserved - so that we could enjoy the reward that only He deserves. We should be sombre, quiet and thoughtful on Good Friday as we meditate upon the love of God, His holiness, His hatred of sin, His justice and His Atonement on the Cross of Calvary. This should inspire us afresh to repentance, thanksgiving and consecration. " In view of God’s mercy… offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God… " Romans 12:1
The third great Christian holiday event is Easter Sunday. Resurrection Sunday is a joyous celebration of the victory of Christ over death, hell and the grave. Jesus is Risen from the dead. He is alive forever more. Death is defeated. Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. Christ Jesus was " …declared with power to be the Son of God by His resurrection from the dead " . Romans 1:4. In Jerusalem there is an empty Tomb. " He is not here; He has risen! " Luke 24:6 " …raised to life for our justification " Romans 4:25
The Great Commission
The fourth most important event in the Christian calendar is Ascension Day. Forty days after Resurrection Sunday we celebrate the Ascension of Christ into Heaven. He is alive forevermore and He is exalted and enthroned at the right hand of God the Father, Almighty. He is above every other name and authority in Heaven and on earth. Jesus is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. We have an Advocate in Heaven. He hears our prayers. He will crush all His enemies. He will come again. Therefore, we must go and make disciples of all nations.
" …All authority in Heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations… teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you… " Matthew 28:18 - 20
South Africa’s Christian Heritage
South Africa owes its greatest freedoms, productivity and economic prosperity to Christianity.
The Christian work ethic made South Africa one of the most productive nations in Africa.
It was Christians who were (and are) at the forefront of opposing racism and promoting true Biblical reconciliation.
The Protestant doctrine of the Priesthood of all Believers became the foundation for modern representative republics. The equality of all men before God and the Law underlined the absolutism of monarchs and rulers who set themselves above the Law.
Instead of the prevailing "Rex Lex" (the king is the law), Christians have championed "Lex Rex" (the Law is king). No one is above God's Law. Jesus Christ is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Everyone is under God's Law. Sola Scriptura eroded the foundations of ecclesiastical and political totalitarianism. The Protestant emphasis on the Priesthood of all Believers and the supreme authority of Scripture led to the concept of representative government and constitutional authority as the supreme law of the land.
By emphasising the Biblical doctrine of Faith as a gift of God, the Reformer Martin Luther provided the Theological foundations for religious liberty and freedom of conscience.
Freedom of Speech
The doctrine of Sola Scriptura led to constitutionalism. The Priesthood of all Believers led to the concept of representative republics and democratic forms of government. Religious liberty and freedom of conscience led to freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of association and all the other out-workings of political and social freedom.
We pray and trust that the Commission will honour the Eternal significance of Easter and Christmas, and South Africa’s great Christian heritage, and keep Good Friday and Christmas Day as public holidays. We further urge that Ascension Day (40 days after Easter Sunday) be recognised as a public holiday.
Mrs Dorothea Scarborough
Dr Peter Hammond