But scholars and pastors say the observance of Epiphany
, along with some other seasons of the liturgical calendar, are enjoying a comeback in Baptist and other Protestant churches, albeit gingerly in some places.
And Eastern Orthodox Christians, for whom Theophany is of major importance, say they are often mystified why more Protestants, especially evangelicals, would not follow suit given the holiday’s focus on Christ’s public declaration of ministry.
“For the first time in human history, God as three persons reveals himself,” said Savas Zembillas, metropolitan bishop of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Pittsburgh. “That for us is a revelation of the holy Trinity and at the same time it is Jesus’ public debut – when he began his public ministry.”
Suspicion of observances like Epiphany has been especially strong among many American Protestants since the anti-Catholic fever that swept the nation in the 18th and 19th centuries, said Richard Wilson, professor of Christian theology at Mercer University in Macon, Ga. While British Baptists were more open such celebrations, those in North America and in nations missionized by them came to see them as unbiblical.