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:

Because He Is Risen, I Do Not Keep Easter

I see that the Church has kindly reposted a commentary I wrote on Easter! I really liked that one. I’m not always the biggest fan of my own writing, but I tried to make that one simple and straightforward, since I thought that would be the best way for it to have its intended impact. Here are the first few paragraphs:

Because He Is Risen, I Do Not Keep Easter

I believe in the risen Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior of mankind. I believe that after His crucifixion on Passover, He was three days and three nights in the heart of the earth—as He said He would be. I believe He was then resurrected by His Father, restored to the glory He had with His Father before the world was.

He was the perfect Passover Lamb. He also became the perfect wave sheaf offering, accepted by His Father as the first of the firstfruits. In His resurrection, I see confirmation of the promise made to all those who truly follow Him that they, too, will one day be resurrected to live forever as He now does.

Consequently, I do not keep Easter.

Read the rest here: “Because He Is Risen, I Do Not Keep Easter”

It was actually a commentary that was conceived as a post on my blog. That remains one of the benefits of this blog, which is the chance to write without the pressure of being as polished as I would strive to be for one of our Church publications or websites while still staying in a “writing mode” and being able to ruminate with pen and paper (well, keyboard and LCD screen) in such a way that I can explore some topics I might write about in the future. I’ve said before that I don’t have a “dog in the hunt”, as it were, concerning my blog, and if it interfered with the other work I have to do or was somehow unhelpful, I’d be content to stop doing it. But this is one way in which I’ve found it really helpful.

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?)

Because He is risen, I don’t keep Easter

None for me, thanks. (Image via Wikipedia)

The title may sound strange to some, and, while it is not intended to be, the following content may be offensive. But I hope it is at least clear, and I will try to make it brief (which, for me, is quite a challenge).

I believe in the risen Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior of mankind.  I believe that after His crucifixion on Passover, He was three days and three nights in the heart of the earth as He said He would be.  Then I believe He was resurrected by His Father, restored to the glory He had with Him before the world was.  He was the perfect Passover Lamb.  He also became the perfect wave sheaf offering, accepted by His Father as the first of the firstfruits.  And in His resurrection, I see confirmation of the promise made to all those who truly follow Him that they, too, will one day be resurrected to live forever as He now does.

Consequently, I do not keep Easter.

This probably seems contradictory, given that Easter is ostensibly about celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  However, any unbiased look through the history of the day, accentuated by its current customs, demonstrates that it is a custom of pagan origin, introduced into “Christian” worship long ago as more and more began failing to “contend earnestly for the faith once delivered” (Jude 3).

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).  Consequently, as a follower of Jesus Christ and a believer in the power and truth of His resurrection, I cannot observe Easter.

We have a recent commentary on this subject that some might appreciate: “Easter Bunny or Eostre Hare” by Roger Meyer.  Also, I express essentially the same principle concerning observing Christmas in several past posts (the most recent were, I think, “Christmas and God’s Opinion” and “Why I don’t keep Christmas, stated briefly”).

There is certainly much more that could be said.  We could speak of ancient Polycarp and Anicetus, of Polycrates and Victor, and of how the churches of the East strove to maintain the Christian keeping of Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread and the teachings of the apostles (as Polycrates wrote, concerning the apostles Philip and John and others who “always observed the day when the people put away the leaven”) versus the corruption of Rome and those who wished to introduce blends of Christian doctrine with heathen practice.  The history of it all is fascinating reading, to be sure.

But history isn’t Scripture.  And it is the Bible and the word of Jesus Christ that compels me not to keep Easter.  My human mind comes up with lots of reasons to ignore the scriptures and to discount the scriptures (Jeremiah 17:9 has a lot to say about that), but every argument I have ever heard–whether from others or my own imagination–is always rooted fundamentally in human reasoning that, ultimately, contradicts God’s Word. And I am told that “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:4-5).  I cannot honor Christ by disobeying Him.

So, it may seem contradictory given popular “Christian” culture and practices, but I see no alternative.  I do passionately believe in the risen Christ.  Therefore, I cannot keep Easter.