Tough Questions Answered

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Should Christians Celebrate Christmas? Part 1

Post Author: Bill Pratt

Rockefeller Center Tree Should Christians Celebrate Christmas? Part 1There are many reasons why a Christian may not want to celebrate Christmas: it’s too commercial, it encourages greediness, it focuses too much on Santa Claus.  I want to consider another reason, which is that Christmas is based on pagan beliefs and influences, and that if we celebrate Christmas, we are celebrating a form of paganism.

The Christian Research Institute (CRI) published an article directly dealing with this topic, so I will use some of their thoughts as I proceed.

First, some argue that since the Bible does not command us to celebrate birthdays, then we shouldn’t celebrate Jesus’ birthday on Christmas.  CRI counters this argument with a couple of points.  “First of all, the fact is that the Bible says nothing against the practice of celebrating birthdays.”  Celebrating birthdays is nowhere forbidden, so we are not left with any explicit biblical command in the matter.  “Second, what the Bible does not forbid, either explicitly or by implication from some moral principle, is permissible to the Christian, as long as it is edifying (Rom. 13:10; 14:1-23; 1 Cor. 6:12; 10:23; Col. 2:20-23; etc.).”  In conclusion, there is no good reason, biblically, to not celebrate Jesus’ birthday, as long we do it in an edifying way.

What about the date of Dec. 25?  Isn’t it true that this is not likely Jesus’ actual birthday and that it was, in fact, the date of a Roman pagan festival in the fourth century?  In answer, we should first say that whether Jesus’ actual birthday was on Dec. 25 is not relevant to the celebration of his birth.  We routinely commemorate the birthdays of great individuals of the past on days that do not correspond to their actual birthdays (e.g., George Washington).  It is the intent to celebrate their births that really matters, not that we get the day correct.

Does it matter that Dec. 25 was a pagan festival?  It should be noted that the origin of the Dec. 25 date for Christmas is somewhat disputed and that at least one scholar believes it had little to do with pagan festivals.  However, the most common theory is that the purpose of the church in co-opting this date was to replace a pagan festival with the celebration of the birth of Jesus.  As the CRI article argues, the Christians were saying, “Rather than celebrate in immorality the birth of Mithra, a false god who was never really born and who cannot save you, let us celebrate in joyful righteousness the birth of Jesus, the true God incarnate who is the Savior of the world.”

Is it wrong to replace a pagan holiday with a Christian holiday?  According to CRI, this is exactly what God did in ancient Israel.  “Historical evidence shows conclusively that some of the feasts given to Israel by God through Moses were originally pagan agricultural festivals, which were filled with idolatrous imagery and practices.  What God did, in effect, was to establish feasts which would replace the pagan festivals without adopting any of the idolatry or immorality associated with them.”

Please read part 2 of this post where we discuss the jolly North Pole dweller himself, Santa Claus.


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Comments

  • Greg

    Billy,

    I was going to bring you a really great Christmas present Sunday but after reading your post i will return it to the Lexus dealership.

  • Boz

    the history of christmas and santa is very interesting, and very unclear. this article goes in to a lot of detail: Pdf 550kb:

    http://staff.kings.edu/davidjohnson/Sample%20Chapter%20_5_,%20From%20Whence%20Santa%20Comes.pdf

  • Mick Curran

    Happy Christmas, Bill. :)

  • Bill Pratt

    A Lexus might be particularly edifying to me right now. Bring it over….

  • Bill Pratt

    Thanks, Mick! Merry Christmas to you as well.

  • http://sandwichesforsale.blogspot.com DagoodS

    Thanks for the article, Boz. Very Interesting.

  • http://www.spiritualbiblestudy.com Bible STudy

    Christians should be Christians even on Christmas, standing fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. WE are not in bondage to celebrate Christmas, nor not to celebrate Christmas. We are free to live in Christ everyday.

  • Mick Curran

    Hey Bill,

    I’ve a question. How do you understand the word “celebrate” as you’ve used it in your title question? In other words, if the response to the question is, yes, Christians should celebrate Christmas, what in your opinion would/should that celebration look like?

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  • MO_7

    Peoples,

    It does not matter how we feel about Christmas or about any other thing that we do, it is not about us, it is what the Lord requires. He says in Deuteronomy 12: 2-4. That we should not worship Him the way that the pagans worship their god. Do you get that, it is what He desires, not what we like. You can not worship God with your pagan customs and symbols. It does not matter how you try to sanitize it. Would you celebrate your wife’s birthday on your former girlfriend’s birthday? Would she be OK with that? Would you take all of the things that remind you of your old relationship and make sure that they are now part of your marriage? Don’t you know that the Christmas tree represents the penis of the god Ra. Wake up people! It is NOT about you, but YHWH.

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