Special Report: “God Bless Us, Every One”
Vol: 75 Issue: 24 Monday, December 24, 2007
I admit that, when it comes to ‘religion’ I am a pretty informal kind of guy. That is to say, I don’t give much credence to religiosity, unless it has some concrete Biblical foundation to stand on.
That said, I see this whole Christmas controversy as a trap, but it is really a trap set for Christians — and one they willingly charge into.
In the first place, there is zero Scriptural support for either celebrating the Lord s birthday or birthdays in general. Birthday celebrations are a Western cultural thing inserted into Christianity by the Roman emperor Constantine and his successors.
Many Christians who refuse to celebrate Christmas rightly point out that Christmas, as we celebrate it in America, is a largely British cultural transfer. All it s traditions and trappings are of pagan origin.
As a Christian feast day, December 25th has no Scriptural date, no Scriptural season, no Scriptural mandate, and no Scriptural support of any description.
There is no more Bible support for celebrating Christmas than there is for celebrating Labor Day.
It was an arbitrarily selected date on a calendar for what were then-political purposes. But since it isn’t really the Lord’s Birthday, why shouldn t Christians celebrate along with unbelievers?
And since Christmas Day is a Western cultural holiday with zero Bible to back it up, but only the declaration of some long-dead Pope that it denotes the Birth of Christ, why should Christians be forbidden to enjoy the traditional celebration?
Paul was anticipating exactly this kind of disagreement within the Body of Christ when he wrote;
One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. 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. (Romans 14:5-6)
If a Christian wants to set aside December 25th as the Lord’s Birthday, the Bible says that day is given to the Lord. If not, then, not.
Christmas isn t like Easter. The Vatican didn t set the date for Easter, God Himself did — and He preserved its exact date down through the centuries through the Hebrew calendar.
The Lord Himself commanded us to commemorate His death and Resurrection through the Lord s Supper.
The Pope invented both the date and the proscribed celebration method of the Birth of Christ. Charles Dickens refined the Pope s idea and America s view of Christmas is more reflected by Ebenezer Scrooge than the Birth of Christ.
If there were a shred of Scriptural support for celebrating the Birth of Christ on a particular day or even Scriptural support for celebrating it on one day above others then I would agree that the Church should restore it to its original meaning.
But December 25 has no original meaning — beyond that assigned it arbitrarily sometime in the fourth century as a cultural celebration timed to coincide with the Roman feast of Saturnalia.
Therefore, Christmas Day is a cultural celebration adopted from a variety of religious traditions, and only loosely based on an actual historical event.
Assigning it religious significance finds no support in Scripture, although it does serve once per year to remind the world of the arrival of the “Joy to the World” — the historical physical birth of Jesus Christ as God Incarnate.
In my household, it is a special day — and we solemnly retell the Christmas story as part of our family tradition.
But it is by His Death and Resurrection that we are saved. His Birth is but the beginning of the narrative that leads to that ultimate Truth.
All the Jewish feast days are prescribed in the Old Testament, including details like the proper date on which to commemorate the event.
The exact day on which Easter Sunday falls is based in Scripture and is the only Christian feast day preserved through the centuries — relative to the Feast of the Passover.
If Christmas had its roots in Scripture, we d know what day to celebrate it on, too. Since it doesn t, there are no Christian rules, other than cultural ones, concerning its celebration.
Those rules concerning Christmas that appear to be Christian were added by the Vatican centuries, four hundred years after the fact, by human religious decree.
So I celebrate Christmas the way my culture celebrates it, the same as I do the 4th of July or Labor Day. I enjoy all the traditional trappings I grew up with.
But I keep in mind that it is a Western, cultural celebration that predates Christianity and one that simply co-opted the Birth of Jesus instead of Saturnalia as the reason for the season.
It is a day, and Paul said that esteeming a day or not esteeming a day was irrelevant to the day itself.
As to how to commemorate it, Paul said, Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.
I esteem Christmas as a cultural acknowledgment of the Birth of my Savior, but I don t raise its observance to the level of Scriptural obedience.
Whether or not Jesus is the reason for the season for somebody else is irrelevant.
He is for me, but for me, He is the reason for everything, not just Christmas. Even the word ‘history’ means “His Story.”
So, no matter how (or if) you choose to celebrate, I pray that you all have a wonderful, Spirit-filled and joyous Christmas, with family and friends and kids and fun.
And may God bless us, every one.