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#29918 Thu Dec 15, 2005 11:50 AM
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A good friend and atheist (you can call him Lanny) who regularly views this board has asked me to post this for discussion. He makes some very interesting observations. He has, as you can see below, began to read the Bible for himself. Though he does not desire to enter into this conversation, He has asked for your observations of his statements. With his permission I have formatted his post at appropriate places, i.e. bolding, italics, etc. and with Pilgrim's permission I have entered this post for discussion:

An Atheist Observing Christmas

Many so-called Christians, using Christmas (Christ’s birth) as a justification, have added foreign beliefs and practices to the worship of their God (Mithraism, etc). Several have combined pagan ideas, beliefs, and practices with Christianity without examining whether their God approves (Christmas is not commanded by their Scripture, it replaces a pagan holiday, the Christmas tree, the holly, the mistletoe, the yule log . . . are all relics of paganism). Christians without seeking their own Scripture, presume to add things to the worship of their God. However, their Scripture states, “What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it” (Deut 12:32). Christmas is a festival that has been added against the very Scripture Christians claim to believe? Is not syncretism the blending of a practice from paganism into the stream of Christianity?

Deuteronomy 13:1-18 defines the law regarding apostasy. Those who led others to worship other gods or adopt the practices of the nations around them were to be stoned! God nowhere in the Bible speaks of making Christmas a part of Christianity. He does tell Christians, though, not to add to His worship anything that is a tradition of the heathen. Moreover, when the so-called Christians added Christmas to Christianity, it had nothing to do with true Christianity at all. It was a ploy to win converts from paganism. It was a deliberate grab for power. From the beginning, Christmas, rather than promoting the true God of Christianity, has only led people away to a syncretistic belief system. The Old Testament has its golden calf and so-called New Testament Christians now have their golden trees!

How are Christians to celebrate Christ? By celebrating the Lord’s Supper they celebrate both the life and death of Christ. How can they celebrate Christ’s flesh and blood without celebrating Christ’s birth? The Bible has already given Christians its true holiday—The Lord’s Table. Why don’t they accept the Bible?

Galatians 4:9-11 says,

Quote
But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.
If an atheist can see this why don’t they?


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I think for a lot of people it comes down to tradition. Their parents did it and their grandparents did it. So they dont look into why they do things or if they are always right to do because they might rock the boat.

#29920 Thu Dec 15, 2005 1:27 PM
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That is exactly right, it is tradition. Luther's 8 Wittenburg Sermons said exactly the same thing about traditions. Traditions are good provided they do not go against the Gospel. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Christmas is a tradition. It can be celebrated in a Gospel-promoting manner. That is the way my family and my church celebrates it. That is the way Godly Christians should celebrate it.
Steve


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J. Edwards,

I think that the people in this forum would agree with much of what your atheist friend has observed. "Lanny" has more insight than many so-called Christians, and I admire him for his grasp of both Scripture and history.

But it comes down to this: am I dishonoring God by observing a holiday dedicted to celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ simply because some of the trappings (tree, holly, etc.) have a pagan origin, there is no commandment in Scripture to celebrate Christmas and yes, it has become grossly commercialized? I think not. The word "adiaphora" has been used in another post to describe the celebration of Christmas and that's exactly what it is. It's like eating meat sacrificed to idols in Corinth. If my conscience doesn't allow me to celebrate Christmas for the reasons your friend has articulated, well then I'll never celebrate Christmas again. But my conscience does in fact allow me to celebrate the holiday and enjoy it. So I'm going to sing carols, eat, exchange gifts, visit friends and family and even partake in an adult beverage and do it all to the glory of God.

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Exactly! And it is only the weak Christian, to use Paul's wording, who would be negatively affected and think it pagan for a celebration of Christmas.
This does not mean that those who do NOT celebrate Christmas are weak Christians! But to self-impose it to be a sin to celebrate Christmas....


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The Apostle Paul writes, "One person regards one day above another, another regards every day [alike]. Each person must be convinced in his own mind. He who observes teh day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God" (Rom. 14:5–6).

As long as the church is not requiring the celebration of Christmas, I see no problem with Christians celebrating it—provided, of course, that they are otherwise observing the law of God. There is nothing inherently wrong with hanging up colored lights or decorating conifers or giving gifts. But the Christian must not ever make these things the central focus; they are peripheral matters. The center is always Christ, whether or not we choose to celebrate the holiday.


Kyle

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What a thoughtful and good observation your friend has, Joe. I do appreciate his perspective and he is right about how we should observe all of Christ in our celebration of the Lord's supper. We should also watch for the dangers of syncretism in our practices. These arguments are nothing new of course and I found the following article by JC Ryle to be quite compelling in my consideration of how I regard Christmas.

http://www.biblebb.com/files/ryle/what_think_ye_of_christ.htm


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Not all those who wander are lost
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Lanny, I address your points:
The Atheist’s Points:
1. Christians use Christmas as justification for....adding paganism to their observance of the “birth of Christ”.

I know of no Christian within my circle of influence who adds...a tree, holly, yule logs or anything else in any sense other than as tradition....with no meaning attached....or they are added with a Christian meaning attached. In any event they are “adiaphorous”. (things indifferent) The main intent of Christians that I know come to Christmas celebrating the birth of their Savior...through family gatherings and exchanging gifts, through worship on either or both Christmas Eve and Christmas day some also observing the Lords Supper.

2. Christmas has been added as a festival among Christians contrary to scripture.

No where in scripture are we commanded to not observe and celebrate the birth of our Savior. Every Sunday for the Christian is such a celebration, for not only the birth but also for the death and resurrection. To observe one day per year in memorial of our Saviors birth does not constitute the addition of an observance contrary to scripture. What you observe in Christians during Christmas is not the requirement of a ridgid unbreakable law...but an observance of a day that has been indelibly etched upon our hearts by our creator Himself.

Jer 31:33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Christian celebrate Christmas because God has filled our hearts to overflowing with love and gratitude for His salvation towards us. Truly the angelic host said...Peace one earth goodwill toward men. (Luke 2:13-14) Through Christ we are reconciled to God and He has brought to us not judgement...but goodwill and peace with Him...and for this we are eternally grateful and celebrate this Peace on Earth..Goodwill toward us that He has implanted in our hearts and brought to us on that first Christmas Day. This is what we celebrate!
Lu 2:11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

Jesus said: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” Mk 1:15

You may be confusing “Wall Streets” observance of Christmas with the real thing. Dig deeper!

Dave

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I believe God has been using it for generations.

How many people only go to church on Christmas and Easter?

How many of those people hear the gospel during these times?

It's all good. <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

Besides, I just couldn't bring myself to tell my kids, "sorry kids we're not going to celebrate Christmas." <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" /> That would be pretty hard. <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

As far as my tree...... I hate it. My wife makes us get a real tree every year and every year, I try to talk her into buying a fake one. Sure it smells good for the first couple of days, but the needles! UGH. But I have managed to get my outside decorations down to just simple wreaths.

We have been cutting a lot out and have been much more conservative when it comes to Christmas, so I do think that as we are conformed and sanctified more, we do focus on the reason for the season and all the extra's don't seem to matter as much anymore.

Christ has called to be radically different from the world, but not to seperate from it. So I do believe we should be celebrating during this time of year so that we can continue to be a light on a hill to all those around us.

Dave.


Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. - Galatians 2:16
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Quote
As far as my tree...... I hate it. My wife makes us get a real tree every year and every year, I try to talk her into buying a fake one. Sure it smells good for the first couple of days, but the needles! UGH. But I have managed to get my outside decorations down to just simple wreaths.

If you have a fir or a spruce, you can expect to have a lot of fallen needles and lots of OUCH!
I would suggest getting a pine tree, if you cut about an inch off the bottom of the tree with in an hour before you set it up and make sure it stays watered; needles should not be too much of a problem.
Sorry this information probably comes a little late for this year, but hopefully you will remember next year.

Merry Christmas

Tom

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Oh, I am so right where your friend is. I have struggled and struggled with ALL of Lanny's questions and I can not
reconcile the holiday to a Holy Day. Scripture does not tell us the day of Christ's birth. And sometimes, I think, what is NOT in Scripture is as important as what it.

For the sake of my sanity, and that of my family's, I observe Christmas as a time to gather family and friends close, exchange gifts, and (attempt to!) feed everyone well. But I can only observe it as a secular holiday, much like July 4th and Thanksgiving. I may be a weak Christian, and Christmas may indeed be my stumbling block, but I'd much rather walk around the block than bleed to death beating my head on it.

Thank God for all things, including the hard stuff!

May God bless you and your friend, thank you for sharing this, it is a great encouragement to me.

Hannahsmom


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