Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas is NOT a pagan holiday

I'm more and more convinced that rejecting Christmas as a pagan holiday simply because it replaced a pagan holiday is very wrong. As I said on my other blog about this a few days ago, it is Christ overcoming the world when this happens, quite the opposite of paganism being honored. The paganism is no longer there, Christ has conquered it. There is no one who celebrates Saturnalia on Christmas any more, or if there are some they are out on the fringe and have nothing to do with Christmas anyway.

Likewise, there is no one who celebrates Ishtar on Easter either. Perhaps it should be Passover instead but that's a controversy I'm not going to get into. Easter is now the Christian celebration of the resurrection of Christ. Until the owlish ones got all het up about the meaning of the term "Easter" most of us had no idea about its pagan origins and we were better off when we didn't. It's the Lord's resurrection now, that's how people experience it, that's what's in people's minds and hearts and I have to think God knows it and therefore accepts it.

Some Christians also deal with the pagan holiday of Halloween by substituting harvest concepts. Perhaps we should make it an all-out Day of the Harvest of Souls anticipating the Lord's return. This is a perfectly reasonable thing to do with a pagan holiday that we can't participate in.

It's a superstition to make so much out of the bare historical fact when what matters to God is what is ACTUALLY going on in people's minds and hearts -- THAT is what is ACTUALLY being celebrated. The ancient meaning of the date is now meaningless. Nobody would even remember it if it weren't for those who are trying to stumble us over it. It's just another day and if we celebrate Christ on that day then it is Christ's day, not some pagan god's.

I happened to hear R C Sproul talking on this subject over the radio recently. I couldn't find the actual talk online but I did find this brief essay by him on the same subject:
Is the Celebration of Christmas a Pagan Ritual?
from R.C. Sproul

That question comes up every year at Christmastime. In the first place, there’s no direct biblical commandment to celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25. There’s nothing in the Bible that would even indicate that Jesus was born on December 25. In fact, there’s much in the New Testament narratives that would indicate that it didn’t occur during that time of year. It just so happens that on the twenty-fifth of December in the Roman Empire there was a pagan holiday that was linked to mystery religions; the pagans celebrated their festival on December 25. The Christians didn’t want to participate in that, and so they said, “While everybody else is celebrating this pagan thing, we’re going to have our own celebration. We’re going to celebrate the thing that’s most important in our lives, the incarnation of God, the birth of Jesus Christ. So this is going to be a time of joyous festivities, of celebration and worship of our God and King.”

I can’t think of anything more pleasing to Christ than the church celebrating his birthday every year.
However, if the consciences of some tell them for the sake of Christ not to celebrate Christmas it seems to me that should be respected, according to scripture:
Romans 14:5 One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. 6 He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. 7 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. 8 For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's. 9 For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living. 10 But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
At the same time they ought to respect those who do celebrate Christmas for the sake of Christ since in our minds there is nothing pagan about it at all, and stop trying to prove that we're really celebrating something pagan. We're not and the accusation only distresses people who are also members of the body of Christ.

Jesus owns every day on the calendar and should be celebrated on every day.