One certain extreme we take concerning the Church Calendar is to assume that it is so popish that it does not belong within the Reformed Church. In this view (taken by some in the Scottish Presbyterian tradition) the church calendar is just another imposition of tradition upon the modern church. Further, it opposes the reformational sola scriptura that we so cherish. The credibility of this position is that it takes extreme care in avoiding unbiblical observances of holy days and feasts. ((Galatians 4:10)) On the other hand, our ecclesiastical tradition was not invented ex nihilo. The church was built on the blood of the martyrs, says an ancient father. We rest on that blood and our faith is built upon the blood of the saints. We honor our church and we honor the saints of old as Hebrews honors the old patriarchs and men and women of faith. ((Hebrews 11))
I have argued that the church calendar should not be seen as a burdensome event/activity, rather that it is to supplement the only Biblical day we are to observe-the Holy Sabbath. Pastor Douglas Wilson has argued persuasively that we are not bound to observe any days outside the Biblical demand for Sabbath observance. In the words of Wilson:
As we seek to return to an observance of a Christian calendar, we need to be careful to avoid the mistake that our fathers made. In the course of the medieval period, the year filled up with so many saints days that they had the effect that barnacles have on a ship that at one time was swift. We do not want to make that mistake again. If everything is special, then nothing is special. If everything is set apart, there is nothing left for it to be set apart from. ((Douglas Wilson, The Sabbath Cornerstone))
The evangelical holy days ((Or feast days; see Johnson, pg. 104)) have been a joyful antidote to the anti-ecclesiastical tendency of our modern evangelical church. Nevertheless, we need to be cautious in how they are used. Though they can be of great benefit and spiritual refreshment, it can shadow our Biblical mandate to keep the Sabbath holy.
This warning issued by Wilson has other implications. For instance, we may say that all things are holy and sacred at the same time and the same place. But if we take that to its extreme, we will assume that the Lord’s Table has the same level of sacredness and importance as the reading of a novel. It is crucial that we properly emphasize that which is more sacred than others. The sacred vs. secular distinction is a myth popularized by Christian Gnostics, but to assume that the sacred and the secular are merged into one, is also dangerous. It would be akin to saying the law and gospel are one. The proper response is to say that they are united, but yet different. ((I am certainly by default opposing the Lutheran sharp distinction between law and gospel)) The Trinity is three persons and one essence, but these three persons though united are yet different; they share different responsibilities. ((This is diametrically different to Oneness Pentecostals who say that Jesus plays different roles as a man may play the role of a father, husband, and professional)) Hence, certain things are secular in one sense, but sacred in another, and other things (Eucharist) are fully sacred, though represented by earthly elements.
One final reason to be cautious about the abuse of the church calendar is that it may interrupt the faithful exposition of God’s entire counsel. In the words of Rev. Terry Johnson:
The church calendar interferes with regular, sequential expository preaching by continually thrusting forth calendar themes and corresponding lectionary readings. In such a setting sequential preaching will seem awkward and misplaced and will probably give way to the lectio selecta. ((Johnson L. Terry, Ed. Leading in Worship, pg. 103))
All these things serve as a reminder for the people of God who takes great pride in our historic and apostolic church, but at the same time need to carefully analyze all things through the lens of Holy Writ.