December 23, 2013

Nativity

Is Christmas Pagan? (Various Authors)

by Carlotta Morrow — Categories: Christmas — Tags: , , , Leave a comment

Below are excerpts from various websites examinig Christmas and whether it is pagan or not.
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Greg sets the record straight on some old rumors about the origin of Christmas and separates the concepts of the meaning of Christmas from the spirit of Christmas.

The question of whether Christmas is pagan enters into the idea of cultural practices.  Some have made the assertion that Christmas has pagan origins.  Christmas does not have pagan origins, but there are winter celebrations that are pagan.  There was, for example, a saturnal celebration around the time of Christmas that pagans celebrated, which was actually a temptation for Christians to participate in that had pagan content to it.  So the church changed the day that they celebrated the birth of Christ.  They used to celebrate it in the Spring.  But the church said, We can celebrate it any time we want.  Let’s celebrate it at the same time the pagans are celebrating their pagan festival.  It’ll act as a contrast to that pagan festival because our celebration is the birth of the God-man, Jesus Christ.  It has Biblical content.  Plus it will protect Christians from being wooed away by this other celebration to participate in what was a pagan celebration.

It was really a wise thing that they did and the kind of thing that many missionaries do even nowadays.  They take the momentum of a cultural practice–a cultural practice that may even have religious content to it, offensive religious content–and they redeem that for Christianity.  They redefine what people have been doing.  They reinvest it with new meaning.  They capture the cultural form and they reinvest it with spiritual meaning.

By the way, there is an example of this in the Bible.  Circumcision was practiced by the Egyptians before it was practiced by the Jews.  It was a cultural practice which had some religious significance.  God captured the practice, gave it to Abraham, reinvested it with new meaning and it became a religious rite for Abraham to worship his creator.

continue article on Greg Koukl’s website: Stand to Reason

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As a young Roman Catholic, Christmas was my favorite time of year — filled with magic and meaning. The birth of Christ played a role in this festal feeling, but so did Santa Claus and all the more temporal pleasures of the season. As I grew older, I not only lost faith in Santa Claus but in Christ as well. The residual sentiment I retained for Christmas was hard to justify.

After I became a born-again Christian, I welcomed the opportunity not only to recapture the spirit of the season, but also truly to appreciate, for the first time, its spiritual significance. I did enjoy a couple of meaningful Christmases. Then I started witnessing to Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Time and again the Witnesses would cite the Trinity and Christmas as clear proof that “Christendom” had lapsed into paganism. The Trinity I could answer for biblically, but Christmas was harder to defend. It was certainly not a holy day instituted in the Bible. And pre-Christian, pagan Rome had indeed observed the Day of the Invincible Sun on December 25. In fact, in many ancient cultures, customs and festivities later associated with Christmas (e.g., Yule logs, mistletoe, and even the giving of gifts) were observed in honor of the sun god’s resurgence at the winter solstice.

Continue article on Christian Research Institute’s site: Equip.org

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There is no doubt that many of our present-day Christmas-New Year customs have little relevance to Biblical Christianity. Such things as the commercialism, the drunkenness, the highway deaths, and the general letdown in morals that have come to be associated with the so-called “Holiday Season” obviously have no basis in New Testament Christianity. The same is true of the Christmas tree, the holly and mistletoe, the Santa Claus myth, and similar more pleasant Christmas traditions.

As a matter of fact, many of these things seem more properly associated with the festival of Saturnalia, and other similar periods of feasting and revelry which were almost universally practiced in the ancient pagan world near the end of the year than they do with Christianity. There is in fact much historical evidence that these were pagan customs which became grafted on to the modified forms of Christianity that began to be prominent in the centuries following the apostolic age.

There is no indication in the New Testament that the early Christians observed Christmas at all. Furthermore, many authorities believe now that Jesus was born, not in the winter, but more probably in the early fall. It is not surprising, therefore, that there have been various groups of Christians, both in the past and in the present, who have reacted against Christmas and New Year celebrations so vigorously as to reject them altogether and to prohibit their members from taking any part in them.

Continue reading article by Dr. Henry M. Morris of Institute of Creation Research at the BereanPublishers.com

© 2013, Carlotta Morrow. All rights reserved.

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