Because He was born, I do not keep Christmas

Movie poster from the new film "Thor 3: Attack of the Sugar Plum Faries"
Movie poster from the new film “Thor 3: Attack of the Sugar Plum Faries”

I forgot today was Christmas.

Last night my family and I arrived home after a long drive, and early this morning I had to drive my son to work. As we were driving through town it was eerie and calm. The “school zone” light was blinking, but there were no children and no cars on the road, and I said, “Wow, it’s creepy! Like some sort of ghost town.” He responded, “Yeah, I wonder why it’s like this?” We half-jokingly speculated that everyone knew something we didn’t, considering biohazard accidents and the rest.

Then it hit us: Oh, yeah! It’s Christmas!

Actually, the whole reason I was even taking him to work is because his employer is in our Church and he, too, was working. Today Boy #1 was apparently going to be helping to clean up after a little local flooding from some rains this weekend.

It aided our ignorance that we were on the road for ten hours last night, coming in a bit late. The fact that it was Christmas Eve meant that many of our potential stops for dinner were closed, but other than that the normal things associated with the evening (comments on TV, etc.) weren’t there, allowing us to wake up in our little bubble of no-Christmas reality.

Every year (or, perhaps, almost every year) I try to write a bit about why I don’t keep Christmas. I’ll try to keep it quick and simple this year: It is because of the fact of the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, that I don’t keep Christmas.

I wholeheartedly do believe that more than 2000 years ago a child was born of a virgin in the “little town of Bethlehem.” That child was God Incarnate–He was the Living Word who had existed with the One we now call God the Father for all Eternity Past. The Word was with God and the Word was God. And then, all of a sudden, here He was, in mortal, vulnerable, human flesh: One of us. I believe that He lived a life in perfect obedience to God, that He taught of the coming Kingdom of God and that God commands repentance to be a part of that Kingdom, that He was executed unjustly, that His blood was shed for humanity’s sins, that He was raised from the grave, and that He is in Heaven now, at His Father’s right hand, interceding for the saints, living within converted Christians through His Spirit, and awaiting the moment when He will return to complete the work of destroying the works of the devil and bringing to complete fullness the Kingdom of God in the Creation.

I am a Christian, and I believe with my whole heart that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, my Lord and Savior, my High Priest, and my soon coming King.

Consequently, I do not celebrate Christmas.

The reason is simple: The Scriptures make it clear that Jesus Christ would not want me to do so. And if I seek to follow Him, I will not keep a tradition He would find displeasing.

That Christmas is a celebration of pagan origins is an undisputed fact of history. Even mainstream Christianity agrees. I’ve seen Dr. James Dobson agree. I’ve seen Dr. R. C. Sproul agree. What we now call “Christmas” was introduced into Christianity from pagan sources, well after the time when Christians were being warned to “contend earnestly for the faith once delivered” (Jude 3) due to the corrupting influences coming into that faith. From Christmas Trees to the gifts beneath them, from the wreath of holly on the door to the mistletoe above it, from the burning Yule logs in the hearth to the ornaments that reflect its light–all of them are customs originating in pagan observances and worship traditions. Even some of the most conservative of mainstream Christian scholars agree on these facts.

The relevant question is whether or not Jesus Christ cares.

That really is the question: whether or not we keep such customs — whether or not we accept a day bearing His name that represents an observance born of the heathen worship days and customs of Saturnalia, Bruma, Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, and the rest — really comes down to whether or not our Lord and Savior wants us to do so.

And our means for knowing whether He would want us to is the Word He has left us with, the Bible, and how His Spirit confirms that word.

From the Bible’s perspective, the facts are simple. Jesus Christ condemned violating God’s laws and commandments in favor of our traditions, regardless of how “religious” those traditions might be (e.g., Mark 7:6-9). God clearly does not want us to adopt pagan customs to worship Him (e.g., Deut. 12:29-31, Jer. 10:1-2).

In the Scriptures we find clear condemnation of adopting the practices of heathen cultures and worship traditions for the sake of worshiping God. It doesn’t make a difference if we claim to be worshiping God instead of the false gods for which those practices were originally designed. Consider Deut. 12:31a, “You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way…” and Aaron’s comment in Exodus 32:5b, where Aaron declared time set aside to worship the golden calf idol a “feast to the LORD (YHVH).” Attaching God’s name to something He forbade and choosing to worship Him with those practices did not make them acceptable in God’s eyes.

Such commands stand between us and the Christmas celebration. And what did our living Lord and Savior tell us? Does He give us permission to set aside those commands so that they are no obstacle between us and the traditions we want? No, He did quite the opposite. He condemned such choices: “For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men…” (Mark 7:8). Jesus loved God’s commands, and He taught His followers not to lay those commands aside in order to keep traditions we think are better.

God commands not to worship Him through the practices of the pagans. Jesus condemns laying aside those commands for the sake of our traditions, however well-loved they may be.

Consequently, as a follower of Jesus Christ and a believer in the fact of His birth to a virgin so long ago, I cannot observe Christmas.

I know many who do, to be sure. My mother, until she died, kept Christmas. She didn’t understand what I and those who worship God in my Church have mercifully been shown. I know that she will have an opportunity in the future to learn, and I am thankful for that. I do not judge the sincerity of those who do keep these days — many of them do so with a passion and a zeal that I look at as an example to me, personally. But good intention does not excuse those who know better. And–through no wisdom or intelligence of my own, to be sure!–I know better.

I choose to worship Jesus Christ. I want Him to see in me, however imperfectly, someone He would see as a disciple–as a Christian. So I do not keep the day the world has attached His name to. I do not observe Christmas.

And I’m happy that way. Even if He had not provided other, biblical Holy Days to observe (and thankfully He has), I would still be happy. For although Christmas is generally understood and experienced as a day of joy for those who keep it, there is a profound joy I never would have accessed had I not learned the blessing of stepping away from Christmas and toward Christ. And in His mercy, He helped me to do that.

I know some who come across this post will find it offensive. It isn’t meant to be, and, yet, at the same time I would simply challenge you to make it a profitable offense and begin studying the matter. You might be surprised by what you find, but not all surprises are a bad thing. And it will be a more life changing surprise than anything you found under the tree this morning.

If you’ve got the courage, check out these magazine articles and explanatory booklets:

For those interested in past blog posts on the same or similar subjects, here are some:

Oh, Christmas Tree! Oh… oh my…

Today’s Tomorrow’s World commentary, “Green Trees and Jesus,” brought the carol referred to in my title to mind. Worth a read! Here’s the first paragraph:

Green Trees and Jesus
by Gary F. Ehman

Looking back over the years, it has become evident to me that the gap between what the Bible says to do, and what its alleged followers actually do, has reached near absurd proportions…

Read the whole thing! You may not look at Christmas trees quite the same way again.

Tis the season…for a national curse?

Toronto Eaton Centre at Christmas, with Swarov...
Wow -- when Christmas Trees attain hyperspace, we know we're in trouble... (Image via Wikipedia)

Every year around this time (rather unfaithfully, methinks), I try to explain why I don’t observe Christmas. Here’s a parade of past attempts:

(Warning: I didn’t actually check those links, so some of them might be “Here’s a link to a post I did a couple of years ago” posts.)

This year, though, I’ve decided to make my life easier and to take advantage of the great commentary we have on the Tomorrow’s World website at the moment: “This the season — customs with a curse” by Mr. Davy Crockett.

Here’s the tiny first paragraph:

Tis the season … a time for beautiful music, lovely pageantry, parties, fun and family time, the annual bedlam in shopping malls, specialty stores, discount houses and now the Internet. [Read more]

To read more, just click “Read more”! To not read more, then don’t click “Read more.” (It’s nice when things are straightforward, huh?)

Christmas and God’s Opinion

It’s that time of year again!  Around this time each year I usually try to briefly explain why I don’t keep Christmas and why no followers of Christ should do so.  Mr. Wyatt Ciesielka has a commentary on the Living Church of God and Tomorrow’s World website today about the same topic: Not the reason for the season” (remember, you can subscribe to the commentaries and have them e-mailed to you every few days as soon as one is published).

For me, it’s a simple matter, and I will summarize it here very briefly.

Many people say that it does not matter if you keep Christmas or not.  I say this: Keeping Christmas only matters if God’s opinion matters. If you don’t think God’s opinion matters, then you are correct and keeping Christmas doesn’t matter.  If you do think God’s opinion matters, then it makes a real difference whether or not keeping Christmas matters.

That’s because the opinion of God the Father and Jesus Christ on the matter is very clear.  God’s Word tells us that He doesn’t want to be worshiped in ways that come from the pagans, even if the worship is supposedly directed at Him (e.g., Deuteronomy 12:30-32, Jeremiah 10:2ff).  Jesus Christ says that it is wrong to put aside and violate such commands from God in order to make room for our own traditions (e.g., Mark 7:6-13).

Therefore, if I am going to truly follow Christ as opposed to just calling myself a “Christian,” I must do as He commands and not put God’s commands aside to worship Him with a tradition that His Word forbids.

That Christmas and its symbols comes from pagan origins is agreed upon by a wide variety of authorities and is an almost universally attested fact.  It can be verified in any reference worth its salt.  So if I want to actually follow Christ, I cannot partake of Christmas.  If I claim to follow Christ and knowingly ignore His teachings on these mattes, then I face my Savior’s criticism: “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46).

It does occur to me that some may actually not be aware that Christmas comes from pagan, pre-Christian origins.  For those who would like to begin such an investigation into the origins of Christmas and its many “jolly” symbols for the first time, here’s a link to a brief video on the Discovery channel’s website to get you started (click on the picture):

[Click to go to Discovery web video discussing origins of Christmas]

History makes the origins of Christmas absolutely clear and incontestable.  The Father and Christ make Their opinion clear and incontestable.

Consequently, whether or not you keep Christmas only matters if God’s opinion matters.  Does it?

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Click here to read this booklet online or to order a free copy.For information about holy days that God actually does approve of (holy days He actually designed, Himself) check out our booklet: The Holy Days–God’s Master Plan.

Why I don’t keep Christmas, stated briefly

After my lengthy last post on what the Maya did & didn’t say about 2012, I’m a little blogged out!  Still, I mentioned in that post that I would try to maintain my tradition of posting about why I don’t keep Christmas, so let me do so here.  For once, I am going to try and be brief.

(For longer posts in previous years, you can click on these: 2006, “Christmas… WWJD?” 2007: “Christians Shouldn’t Keep Christmas” 2008: “Egg Nog, yes. Christmas, no.”  Also, I’ve referred to it in some other posts, which can be found with a search on the word “Christmas” – even better, search “Christmas” on the Tomorrow’s World site.)

History is clear that the celebration of Christmas and the season surrounding it is rooted in pagan, pre-Christian practices, adopted by the “Church” over centuries.  No one seriously disputes this, and it can be verified by even the laziest of Internet or encyclopedia searches.  The question is whether or not it is OK to worship God and Christ in this way.

And the answer is that it isn’t.  The commandments of God clearly stand in opposition to adopting pagan traditions to worship Him (e.g., Deuteronomy 12:29-31, Jeremiah 10:1-2), and Jesus Christ clearly condemns placing our traditions above obeying God’s commands (e.g., Mark 7:6-9).  The Bible is startlingly straightforward in this matter.

Therefore, stated briefly, I do not keep Christmas because I refuse to disobey Christ in order to worship Him.  To do otherwise would be nonsensical.

I know many who keep Christmas with the best of intentions.  But God is seeking those who are willing to worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24).  Kicking the Christmas habit is a great way to start doing just that.

I could say more, but I said I would be brief! 🙂  If you’d like more, check out the Tomorrow’s World website; you can browse around or use the search box at the bottom for a more direct approach to finding topics of interest, including a little dose of “yuletide truth.”

Egg Nog, yes. Christmas, no.

I do like egg nog.  One of the great things about this season (that is, about winter) is the presence of that wonderful concoction on our grocery stores’ shelves.  But I don’t like Christmas.  Yes, I am a Christian.  No, I do not like Christmas.

My apologies that I have been lax this year — normally I have a post or two about “Why I do not keep Christmas” or somethig of that nature, but things have been rather crazy this year and as my blogging, in general, has taken a hit, so has this particular flavor of post.

And today, I don’t plan to make up for it much, in that I have so much to do that I can not in good conscience spend much more time on this post than I have already.  So, let me take the easy way out, if you will.  First, let me link to some of what I have written in the past on the subject:

Then I have written a couple of posts that at least touch on the subject:

(OK, I included the last one only because I like the reference to the Andy Williams song.)

And — last but not least — let me link to a nice, recent commentary by Mr. Gary Ehman on the Living Church of God website that uncovers the truth and the lie about the “Rotund Red One”:

So, while I’m all for egg nog, Christmas is a “no no”.  I love and respect the living Jesus Christ too much to allow myself or my family to have anything to do with Christmas.

Have a great Thursday (and let’s just leave it at that). 🙂

Yes, Virginia, there are monsters under your bed

I have been wanting to comment on this for the last couple of weeks — at least since Macy’s reprinted it in an ad in the 11/9/2008 St. Louis Post-Dispatch — but perhaps it is good that I waited until my more sarcastic side was feeling less provoked.

Personally, I have always found the famous “Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus” response from the Sun’s editor back in 1897 to be very annoying.  Here is a little girl whose friends are trying to enlighten her, and the newspaper goes and mucks up the truth for her.  (Wiki entry, here; text online, here.)

Admittedly, I am surely stirred to some extent in my feelings of animus by my conviction that Christians shouldn’t keep Christmas, but I do believe that it is also the content of the essay, itself.  For example, consider this passage, where — after mentioning that believing in fairies is a pretty good idea, too — the editor writes:

“Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn?  Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there.”

Now, while I will grant the truth of the logic that failing to see fairies dancing on the lawn is, indeed, not proof that they are not there, I do take issue with the intent of the comment, especially in relation to discussing questions of proof and existence with a child.  After all, the following statement is just as rational:

“Did you ever see hideous and horrifying monsters hiding under your bed waiting for just the right moment to sneak out while you sleep and devour you in the middle of the night?  Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there.”

So — yes, Virginia, there are monsters under your bed.

Whew!  It feels good to get that off my chest…

New archaeological find reminds what Christmas IS and ISN’T…

Howdy!  Barely any time to write, but I knew that some of my regular readers would find this interesting.

Apparently an ancient Roman site related to the early corruption of Christianity has recently been discovered.  While I would argue that the corruption was already well under way by the time this building became important (e.g., 2 Thess. 2:7, Jude 3), it is still another clear demonstration of how Christmas has no place whatsoever in true Christianity.  You can read the article here:

Those who wrongly think that Christ would have anything to do with Christmas can ignore all the evidence they like, but things like this remind me that even “the stones cry out” on occasion (cf. Luke 19:40), and one day the truth will be unavoidable (Isaiah 11:9).

Twas the Night Before Mithras’ Birthday

Twas the night before Mithras’ birthday,
And all through the hotel room
Not a creature was stirring,
Especially if it relied on a wireless Internet connection…
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Greetings! My family and I are are halfway to Charlotte and spending the night here in a hotel where — horror of horrors — their wireless connection is down.

However, I am posting briefly ANYWAY to celebrate my discovery that WordPress allows posting from your cellphone!

I hope it is formatted well (if not, I will come back later and clean it up). And it will be a short one, as my thumbs are getting tuckered out!

I would also like to use this opportunity to praise the local Subway restaurant. In honor of Saturnalia, it seemed that virtually every other eatery in this Tennessee town was closed, and I feared my family and I might wither away in our van, never to be heard from again.

Thank you Subway! (Mmmmm… Teriyaki chicken…)

Have a safe night, and beware of jolly-looking men bearing gifts. I will likely stay up late tonight working on a script I’d like to tape this week while I am in Charlotte. Hopefully the residents around us here will keep their Ho Ho Ho-ing tonight to a minimum. 🙂

Christians Shouldn’t Keep Christmas

As I did last year at this time, let me keep my “Christmas tradition” and make an appeal to all out there who consider themselves followers of Jesus Christ: Don’t keep Christmas.  Jesus doesn’t want you to.

Not just, “Don’t make it so commercialized” or “Keep Christ in your Christmas” — I mean the whole thing.  Don’t keep Christmas at all.  Jesus teaches His followers not to.

I know — it seems crazy, right?

But the facts are available to anyone willing to look.  God clearly commands us not to use pagan practices to worship Him (e.g., Deuteronomy 12:29-32, “…You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way…”).  Also, Jesus Christ clearly condemns ignoring God’s commands so that we may keep our own traditions that may contradict those commands (e.g., Mark 7:5-13, “…All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition…”).

These things are hardly disputed.

Also, the pagan origins of virtually all things Christmas — the date, the tree, the gift giving, the holly, the mistletoe, the Yule log, et al. — are so well known that, again, they are hardly disputed.  (If this is a surprise to you, you might start poking around Wikipedia as a convenient start.)

So, how do Christians have a biblically-backed excuse to keep Christmas?  They don’t: (1) God commands us not to use pagan customs to worship Him, (2) Jesus said not to ignore God’s commands in order to keep our own traditions, (3) Christmas traditions are pagan customs.  Therefore, (4) ignoring God’s commands and keeping Christmas goes against the teachings of Jesus Christ.

I’m not saying that “Christian” meanings haven’t been attached to these pagan symbols.  Certainly, over the centuries (indeed, for almost two millennia) many pagan symbols have been overlain with Christian words and explanations.  Frankly, Israel did the same thing with the golden calf (Exodus 32:5), and we know how well that turned out. 🙂

God is clear: “You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way…”  In other words, “I do not give you permission to worship me in that manner, even if the worship is directed at Me.”  He isn’t talking about worshiping other gods, at least not directly.  He’s talking about worship towards Him that He is unwilling to accept.

We see in this the answer to the reasoning, “Well, I’m not worshiping a false God at Christmas, I’m worshiping the real God and Jesus.”  How can we worship God by disobeying Him?  How can we worship Jesus by ignoring His teachings?  God’s command clearly says not to worship that way even if the worship is directed to Him.

I’m also not saying that those who keep Christmas as a Christian holiday are not well-meaning.  For most I know, they are well-meaning people.  Yet, I’m not interested in being simply “well-meaning.”  I want to follow Christ.  I want to worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).  I want to build my house on the Rock, which requires hearing Christ’s words AND doing them (Luke 6:47-49).  I do not want to be of those who call Christ “Lord, Lord” but who do not do what He says, earning not His praise but His condemnation (Luke 6:46).

If you have kept Christmas up until now and all of this is new to you, I am not judging you.  That was me, once, too — decorating my tree, exchanging gifts, etc.  But thankfully, a time came when God — in His mercy — showed me the truth more clearly.  Someone explained to me the things I am explaining here.  And while giving up a cherished tradition wasn’t easy, my life and my walk with my Savior has never been the same since, and I would not trade that for anything — let alone for a cup of yuletide cheer.

Maybe you aren’t interested in hearing this.  The Bible does speak of a time when people will not be interested in sound teaching (2 Timothy 4:3), and I do know that learning that God is displeased with a tradition you may hold very dear isn’t the best news that you will hear all day.

But at the same time, maybe you will choose to follow Christ this year and not keep Christmas.  For the sake of your future walk with Him, I hope so.