The Christmas Question

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Christmas Question

By Larry R. Lasiter

© 2011

"When the Lord your God cuts off before you the nations which you are going in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, beware that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying ĎHow do these nations serve their gods, that I also may do likewise?í You shall not behave thus toward the Lord your God, for every abominable act which the Lord hates they have done to their gods; for they even burn their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods. Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it." Deuteronomy 12:29-32

"Thus says the Lord, ĎDo not learn the way of the nations, and do not be terrified by the signs of the heavens, although the nations are terrified by them; For the customs of the peoples are delusion; Because it is wood cut from the forest, the work of the hands of a craftsman with a cutting tool. They decorate it with silver and with gold; They fasten it with nails and with hammers so that it will not totter." Jeremiah 10:2-4

"Then the Lord said to me in the days of Josiah the king, ĎHave you seen what faithless Israel did? She went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and she played the harlot there.í" Jeremiah 3:6

"Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe." Jude verses 3-5

In our first text we learn that God does not want His children to worship Him using the same customs that the pagan nations used to worship their gods - even saying that those customs are an abomination to Him.

Our second text has been interpreted by some as describing the Christmas tree and itís decorations - some Bible translations use "tree" where the NAS that I quoted from uses "wood." But whether this Scripture is describing the Christmas tree or not does not take away from the point the Prophet is making - that God does not want us to "learn the way" the pagans worshiped their gods even saying that their customs are "delusion."

Our third text is one of many Scriptures that speak out against worship which involves the use of an evergreen tree. A "green" tree is a tree which remains green year round giving it the term "ever"green. The evergreen tree is an ancient symbol for wicked Nimrod who was a sworn enemy of God.

Our fourth text is an appeal from Jude, the brother of Jesus, who wanted to write a nice letter about our common salvation in Christ Jesus. However, the Holy Spirit compelled him to write that the Church must earnestly contend for the original Apostolic faith. We see that certain false teachers had infiltrated the Church and were teaching heresies which were contrary to the teachings of Jesusí Apostles.

I am not writing this article to point out the pagan roots of the observance of Christmas and the customs associated with the holiday - for more on that you can read my booklet "Where Did We Get Christmas?" or just check any encyclopedia. However, I would like to include a short statement before going on to my main point.

The celebration of the Saturnalia during the winter solstice was to honor Dies Natalis Solis Invicti which means "the birthday of the unconquered sun." The earliest historic record of December 25 as a Christian holiday was in 354 AD. According to a Roman document written in that year Catholic Christianity imported the Saturnalia festival hoping to take the pagan masses with it. Catholic leaders "succeeded" in "converting" to Christianity large numbers of pagans by promising them that they could continue to celebrate the Saturnalia as Christians.

The problem was that there was nothing intrinsically Christian about the Saturnalia. To remedy this the Church leaders named December 25 to be Jesusí birthday. The change was in name only as the new Catholic converts were allowed to observe the Saturnalia in the same decadent way - using the same pagan customs and practices. In return for ensuring massive observance of the "anniversary" of the "Saviorís birth" by assigning it to this resonate date, the Church agreed to allow the holiday to be celebrated more or less the way it has always been - with drunkenness, sexual indulgence, singing naked in the streets, etc.

I realize that Christmas, at least in America, is not observed like this today - I havenít seen any naked carolers lately - but I felt that it was important that we understand when, how and why the Catholic Church introduced a "Christianized" Saturnalia festival to the Church.

(1.) The primary purpose of itís introduction was not to follow an Apostolic teaching. (2.) The primary purpose of itís introduction was to bring the pagan masses into the Church. (3.) The pagan practices and customs were permitted to entice them to join the Church. (4.) Jesusí birth was assigned to December 25 because there was nothing "Christian" about the Saturnalia - and this date was already a holiday celebrating the birth of the unconquered sun-god which could easily be thought of as the "birth of the unconquered Son."

One of the glaring problems with all of this is that none of it is true. The pagans were not truly converted from paganism to Christianity - December 25 is not the birth date of Jesus - Jesus cannot be honored using pagan customs, nor can God be worshiped in a lie because, -"God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth" (John 4:24)

The Saturnalia is not the "Mass of Christ" (Christmas). And as most Protestants would affirm, the Roman Catholic Church had become apostate by this time and was not the "pillar" and "support" of the "truth" that the Church is called to be, -"I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long; but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth." (1 Tim. 3:14-15)

In fact the Roman Church, with the power of the Empire behind it actively persecuted the scattered few who refused to join their ranks. The "support" is the foundation which all true teachings are built upon - Jesus Himself is the living Truth and the Chief Corner Stone - a Stone which the builders rejected "then" and most still reject "now."

Everything we know about the birth of Jesus we know because the Apostles recorded it in the Gospels. Gabriel the angel coming to Mary and telling her that she was going to bear the Son of God - the journey to Bethlehem where the child was born in a lowly manger - the angels announcing His birth to a group of shepherds in the fields - the Magi who traveled from the East to honor Him as a King - Herodís plot to kill the child to preserve his own throne, etc. We know these historical facts because the Holy Spirit inspired the Apostles of Christ to record it in written form.

These men were specifically chosen by the Father to be the Apostles of Christ who were ordained to take the Gospel message and the teachings of Christ to the world, establishing congregations along the way, - "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you;" (Matt.28:19-20)

These men lived with Jesus during His ministry here and loved Him with all of their hearts. I must emphasize here that no one has ever loved Jesus more than His Apostles, and no one has ever desired to honor Him more than them. I say this because, of all their love for Jesus they did not celebrate His birth. One must wonder why.

 Those who celebrate His birth today say that they do so because they love Him and want to honor Him - yet, those closest to Him - those who actually wrote the accounts and details of His birth, didnít celebrate His birth. In fact, no one celebrated His birth for more than three hundred years after the Church began and even then the purpose was to "convert" pagans not to truly honor His birth - His "birth" was assigned to "Christianize" the pagan festival.

Even today, honest Bible students understand that the season, practices and customs associated with the observance of Christmas are not very "Christian." This is why we hear "letís remember the reason for the season" and "letís put Christ back in Christmas." Most Christians know that the practices and customs do not really point to or magnify Jesus, though many strain to make connections.

When you compare the Passover observance with Christmas observance it becomes painfully evident. Jesus told His followers to keep the Passover and instructed them in how to do it. The Passover is observed on the anniversary of the very day that Jesus was crucified. The wine represents Jesusí Blood which was shed for our redemption and the bread represents His Body beaten for our healing and crucified for the penalty of our sins. Jesus introduced foot washing to teach His followers to be and remain humble servants of one another. And regarding the Passover, Jesus said, -"Do this in remembrance of Me."

The practices and customs in Christmas observance cannot be so easily connected to Jesus. The winter solstice, December 25 -the practice of bringing an evergreen tree into your house and decorating it lavishly -placing gifts under a tree - the hanging of the mistletoe - the burning of the yule log - a time for family - stringing your house with lights - hanging stockings - a jolly old elf named Santa who brings gifts to the good children of the world - a flying sleigh pulled by flying reindeer - Yule Tide season - twelve days of Christmas, etc.

You may consider Christmas observance as harmless fun, but it really is a difficult stretch to make the case that all the fun stuff you are doing for yourself and your family is primarily to honor Jesus - which is why Christians constantly tell each other -"Donít forget the reason for the season!"But honestly, isnít the reason today basically the same as it was when the Roman Church introduced it - as a way of "Christianizing" the things people are already doing or want to do?

I know that some Christians who do not celebrate Christmas use Scriptures in which God forbids adding or taking away from anything that He has commanded - but we should be careful to not be so strict in our application of that fact. Hanukkah and Purim which are not named among Godís appointed times but were added later, were observed by Jesus and His Apostles. Of course these were not considered "Holy Days" but as national commemorations relating to Israel. In America we have similar commemorations in Independence Day and Thanksgiving.

Personally, I am convinced that todayís Christmas observance is nothing but a more morally acceptable Saturnalia with the name of Christ attached to it. I am sure in my own mind that God hates the customs used in the observance of Christmas and that He is not pleased or honored by the practice.

But what if someone celebrated the birth of Jesus in a completely different way and on a date which is not associated with the birth of a pagan god - would that be wrong - could that honor the Lord? The thought that would go through my mind is "why didnít the Apostles commemorate the birth of Jesus?"

All I know about the event is what they recorded for me but they received it face to face and directly from the Lord. Even so, they never observed the day of His birth. They loved Him with all of their heart and desired to please and honor Him - yet they never observed the day of His birth. They had the authority to bind whatever they were moved to on earth and were promised that it would be bound in heaven - yet they never observed the birth of Jesus.

I sometimes wonder, did the subject ever come up? Surely it must have - I mean, it is the event when God came in human form as a tiny baby - an event announced by a star in the heavens and the singing of angels - yet the Apostles never observed His birth. One may argue that the Apostles didnít give a command to not celebrate Jesusí birth - that may be true, but sometimes silence can be deafening.

 

 

 

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