Christianity and Christmas

The Holiday season has snuck up on us again.  A time of year when… well you know.  This was a popular video last year that made the rounds in our circles and since we are creatures who tend to forget, I thought it might warrant re-viewing.  It sums up the origins of many of the christmas traditions as we know them now and exposes where we got them from.  Some questions I thought we could ask ourselves after we watch are:

1) Should we “Christianize” a pagan Holiday?
2) If we do, should we leave out the old pagan elements?
3) How does God feel about us practicing pagan traditions to celebrate the miraculous birth of his son?
4) Are we “punishing” our children if we refuse to take part in a popular pagan holiday?
5) What is the difference between this and Halloween, another holiday that has its roots in paganism that was christianized (albeit based on a false doctrine) and is popular in the Christian world.
6) And last… Should we contribute to the obvious practice of covetousness that is associated currently with this holiday?

Any other thoughts?

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11 responses to this post.

  1. I did appreciate the question the speaker poses just before minute 33. He said something like this “the question for Christians is not so much whether to celebrate Christmas or not, or how to celebrate it, but why are we celebrating it. For what reasons do we have a tree, give gifts, or put up lights, etc.” I thought that was an excellent question, and one that all of us should ask.

    I thought the video was a bit heavy with incarnation language, but that aside, a good informative video.

    Reply

  2. Posted by C.L. Mareydt on December 3, 2007 at 9:10 pm

    … we all move from faith to faith …

    truth comes, line upon line, precept upon precept … etc.

    no xmas celebration, it is either in one’s heart to love & worship Jesus our Christ … or it is not.

    there is no amount of holiday cheer that can replace that!

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  3. interesting comment. Any thoughts related to the historical elements presented in the video?

    Reply

  4. This same blog entry is scheduled to post on kingdomready.org/blog tomorrow (thanks Smajda). The video is a bit long but very informative. I highly recommend it (though the first couple of minutes are a commercial).

    If one becomes convinced that X-mas is pagan, the next question is, “why should I, a sanctified person, rescued from the world, separated unto God’s purposes, keep a pagan feast?”

    It is also interesting to note that Christian never celebrated Jesus’ birth during the first three centuries. It only started when the pagan feast to the sun god was adapted into Christianity along with a slew of other “reforms” by Constantine.

    Reply

  5. I think one of the fundamental questions that comes up in situations like this and others is the “it doesn’t mean that to me” concept.

    For a Christian to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ in the “traditional” way it is done currently, if they become aware that the traditions that they keep have pagan origins, would it suffice to say “well, it doesn’t mean that to me?” To them the Christmas tree does not keep its original meaning but instead is a symbol of everlasting life through Christ because it is the tree that stays green all year long. The lights on the tree and in the window now reperesent Jesus as the light of the world. And so on….

    Thoughts?

    (As a side note, no matter what one thinks of this question – Santa is out of the question. Don’t lie to your kids. )

    Reply

  6. Posted by John Paul on December 7, 2007 at 10:54 am

    I had somewhat of an epiphany last night.
    What is the difference between Halloween and Christmas?
    I notice many similarities.
    1. Pagan high holiday
    2. both were “Christianized” by the church
    3. Both currently have pagan or otherwise customs that have there roots in ungodly ideas
    4. Both have become holidays that have been extremely commercialized and are practiced in a way that usually at best is on the edge of covetousness.
    im sure that there is more, but i haven’t had my morning caffeine Fix yet.

    The differences I can see are
    1. Halloween celebrates a false resurrection while christmas just has a bunch of rituals that honor other Gods and
    2. Christmas has the word Christ in it, and pretends to be about Jesus.

    It is this second difference that people cling to. I know so many christians that seriously reject Halloween but will continue to practice many of the traditions noted in this video to have roots in very devilish meanings.

    Why not start from scratch? Say to yourself I am not going to conform the this world and start building your personal holiday traditions from there?

    Jesus’s Birth, ok though it clearly didn’t happen this time of year, we can celebrate it together if we are keeping it about Christ.

    But with the other traditions ask yourself not so much if you want to get rid of your traditions, because you are a new person in Christ, you really taking on traditions all over again. So pick and chose which ones carefully and ask yourself if your really honoring Christ birth with them or if your honoring these old worldly traditions with pagan concepts in there origins.

    Again I think you should ask yourself overall though, What is the difference between this and Halloween?

    Reply

  7. Hey, no Christmas trees in my church this year.

    Someone quoted Romans 14 at me in regards to lettting them keep whatever Holiday they want to, as if Paul clearly had Christmas in mind. He was talking about holy days that Jews were keeping to enforce their “ergon nomou.”

    If we bash on against a pagan 3 headed God, why cant we carry that same zeal over to the pagan holidays?

    Dustin Martyr

    Reply

  8. John, I was thinking a similar way this week in relation to Halloween. I think as the video suggests, we should as “why” we do what we do. But as I mentioned above, the “it doesn’t mean that to me” question comes to mind.

    Is it wrong that for what the world calls “halloween” my kids dress up as Biblical characters and go out in the neighborhood for candy?

    Reply

  9. To celebrate or not to celebrate – Tis the question, is it not?

    The more we study our old and new testaments, the more we get to know God, our Heavenly Father. And the more we get to truly know and fear God, the more we want to obey Him; Find out what pleases Him; Try to avoid anything that would displease Him. Agreed?

    I personally think it all boils down to a “heart issue”. It seems to me, without any statistical number behind my assessment, is that God was most displeased and angry at His people throughout the O.T. due to idolatry. The Israelites continually left their 100% devotion to Him, to follow various gods of the people around them. Their hearts were committing adultry (and idolatry). When they celebrated those pagan holidays and feasts, it was because they bought into the false gods and false religion of the foreign countries. But God wanted their entire heart’s love and devotion.

    I think the issue is the same today as it was then. We are in a country who many worship another god besides the LORD GOD….many who worship none at all and declare themselves atheist. But for those whose heart is centered on Christ and celebrating not only his birth, but whose hearts are turned toward the return of their Lord Messiah to the earth, this can be a wonderful season to share the real Jesus to anyone who may be receptive to listen at this sentimental time of year.

    If Christmas only means spending lots of money that you don’t have on gifts or thinking about what you want to ‘get,’ then I do think one should slow down and ponder why you are doing what you are doing to celebrate this Christmas season. Just as the New Year causes me to contemplate my goals and the direction my life is going (which always has a spiritual slant and kingdom purpose at it’s core), Christmas can also cause me to slow down and ponder what Jesus’ birth has really meant to my personal life and what I can hope for when he returns to establish his father’s kingdom. When you have Christ in your heart, everything that you do, say, think is a holy and living sacrifice to him. My Christmas celebration is just that. My joy inside my own heart, the joy that I see in my little children, the fun we share as a family, as we decorate a fake tree, decorate cookies, or make poor attempts at gingerbread houses….it’s all a sacrifice of praise to my living savior. We sing to him. We sing about him. We memorize Scripture. We read His word. It’s all about the gift God has given us through His Son.

    Not to sound too cliche, but Christmas is in your heart, and perhaps it shouldn’t just be in the month of December, but more of a year-round holiday! Maybe I’m wrong, but I think God is totally pleased with how our family celebrates Him, honors Him, adores Him, and has accepted His only begotten Son as Christ/Messiah, and I’m taking advantage of this time of year to reach out and touch my neighbors! 🙂 Personally, I think we can catch more bees with honey, than vinegar….and my heart is wanting to touch that person for Christ, and as our family marched through the snow with our red wagon full of goodies for our neighbors last December, I believe it opens doors in THEIR hearts for Jesus to come in. He’s knocking, but I think he needs our hands and feet to deliver that message…that truth…that God made Jesus Lord and Messiah!

    Love, Joy, Peace to all!
    May God be blessed by our sacrifice of praise! 🙂

    Reply

  10. Posted by norm on December 9, 2007 at 9:53 am

    I too have considered this pagan based holiday, and my thoughts have taken me back to the third cent. church. True, Constantines influence had changed the outlook of the church. when he made Christianity the religion of the state. The christians of that time were not equipped to handle such an influx of humanity. As in this day, there were not enough leaders or teachers to exemplify the truth of Gods word concerning the reality of the coming kingdom and return of our messiah. I think the main reason for this was of the internal conflict of the church itself. Constantine, who was only interested in maintaining a unified empire was compelled to mediate in this church schism. As a result, is it really a wonder that pagan practices crept into church dogma? Paul in the first cent. church, though dealing with jewish traditional customs, wrote Romans ch 14, as a reminder and exhortation of our freedom in Christ, I think it still applies to us today especially when it comes to Christmas, afterall doesn ‘t Christmas mean Christ Mass?

    Reply

  11. Supposedly Christmas wasn’t generally celebrated in the United States before the Civil War, although it was pretty common in Europe. I had read once that many pastors had severe misgivings about the holiday but gradually were won over. Now look where we are – the day after Thanksgiving has been taken over by shopping for Christmas and many stores are considering running sales on Thanksgiving next year.

    One other thing I’ve noticed- there are quite a few believers asking themselves the same questions about this holiday – many more than just a few years ago. I really believe God is working to convict our consciences on it. Last year for the first time, we didn’t put up a tree – that caused quite a fuss in my household. This year – no lights, no decorations, no tree -and no fuss. We’ll have a family meal and the boys will get a FEW gifts – but I feel tremendously liberated to spend my time and money elsewhere – like in the Word of God – and it’s been great. By the way, I recognize that we have liberty on certain things and my position isn’t meant to judge or condemn others who choose to still celebrate this holiday. That being said, I believe there’s a reason that many of us are starting to squirm about things that wouldn’t have bothered us in the least 5 or 10 years ago, and that’s because we’re realizing the hour we live in and that our faith is manifested by our actions. We can all pay lip service to Christ and get away with it now. Not so later.

    Follow the link below for an interesting thread on the same subject at Revival School’s website. We’re not the only ones struggling with law versus liberty on this.

    Steve

    http://www.revivalschool.com/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=8476&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0

    Reply

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