I am a 50 year old man who has been in American Fundamentalism and then Presbyterianism for the last 25 years.
1. What is so important about the use of the Julian calander? In short, how does the use of a calander affect the salvation which Christ provided upon the Cross for sinners? If I am erroneous in my understanding of the date of Easter, does that in some way affect the heart with which I seek to serve the Lord? Did not our Lord say "man looketh upon the outward appearance, but God seeth the heart?"
2. I have a friend who is staunchly anti-Christmas. He is a member of the PCA church I left. He asked me some questions about the Orthodox faith and what the Orthodox do in regards to celebrating Christmas. His objection, and I imagine that you have heard this, is that we as Christians should not be using pagan worship symbols to worship our Lord's birth. How would you answer this objection?
3. I have heard it stated by some "learned men" that Shepherds don't tend their sheep in the dead of winter, therefore making it impossible that Christ's birth was in December or on the 25th. In addition to this, I have papers sent to me which indicate that all the atheist and pagan religions mark the date of the birth of their false gods as Dec. 25th. This is another reason my friend states that he does not want to co-mingle pagan worship dates with the celebration of the birth of our Lord.
The Faith which our Lord and Saviour has bequeathed to us is the road of the Gospel which leads us to the Kingdom of Heaven. According to the words of our Lord Himself, " I am the way, the truth, and the life", there is no other road that can lead us to God. He is the truth incarnate. We can find and can know the truth only by following the way of the Gospel which is revealed in His Holy Church. It is for this reason that St. Paul refers to the Church as "the pillar and ground of the truth" (Timothy 3:15). It is only within the Church that we can come to know Christ.
The Faith is the totality of the Truth of the Gospels. Many people claim that "truth" is relevant. If, however, we believe that our Saviour is the unique Revelation of the Truth, as He Himself teaches us many times, how can we accept the great lie of Ecumenism, that the Church has been divided? Where is the truth? John 18:37 - "To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice" - John 14:17 "Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you" - John 16:13 "When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come".
Referring to this Truth our Lord, speaking about His Second Coming, asked "Will I find the Faith?". (Luke 18:8). All English translations render this passage as "Will I find faith?". The original Greek has the definite article "the" before the word "Faith" indicating the uniqueness of "the Faith". Many have sought to distort the Faith and present it as the Truth. This is especially true in our days when the heresy of Ecumenism has openly proclaimed that the belief in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is not necessary for all.
Having the above in mind, we can easily understand why the Church rejected all those who sought to introduce "the New Calendar" into the life of the Church. This action was motivated solely by the desire to abandon the teaching that our Saviour is the unique revelation of the Truth and that His Holy Church is the unique depository of that Truth (1920 Encyclical of the Patriarchate of Constantinople). The Church rejected them as heretics not because she lacked love for men, but, on the contrary, because of excessive love for them, for outside the Truth, outside the Church there is no other road to the Kingdom of Heaven.
Allow me to bring forth an example of the end product of distorted truth. This example is that of a map. Let us assume that we needed a map to go to Dallas. A person we trust gives us a map that has been changed so that our destination appears in the wrong place in the map. Furthermore the roads we are told to follow lead not to Dallas but to some disease infested swamp. Following this distorted map can be catastrophic. Should we follow this map? Those who introduced and espouse the "New Calendar" wish us to believe that the great variety of world religions (maps) lead to the same "God". Many even claim that it is not even necessary to believe in "God".
The introduction of the "New Calendar" is not just a disagreement about 13 days. It is an attack on our Lord's teaching that the Truth and the Faith are One.
You ask: "If I am erroneous in my understanding of the date of Easter, does that in some way affect the heart with which I seek to serve the Lord"? If we read the History of the Church we will see that there are two types of error. One seeks to distort the teachings of our Saviour, the other is because of human frailty. If you were on a deserted island without a proper calendar and celebrated any of the Christian Feasts on an incorrect date, your error would not separate you from our Lord because you did not follow the proper map. You followed the correct map. You simply missed the best place to stop to rest and at. Pardon me for the use of worldly images but following the example of our Saviour, I believe that many times parables are still needed.
If you wish more information on this matter I recommend that you read "The Struggle Against Ecumenism". It can be ordered from St. Nectarios Press
I am leaving for Mt. Holly Springs, Pa. and Boston for a week. When I
I will try to answer the question on celebrating the Feast of the
of the Lord.