Christmas

While we celebrate the baby Jesus in a crib with the sound of stable animals and a choir of angels, let’s just for a moment ground ourselves in the reality of that event. From where does Christmas originate, what does it mean and how should we respond to it?

Christ’s birth is in direct fulfilment of ancient Bible prophecies which include: Gen. 3:15 that he was born of the seed of woman, Isaiah 7:14 of the virgin birth; Isaiah 11:1 that he would descend from the line of Jesse (king David); Micah 5:2 that he would be born in Bethlehem; Matthew 2:18 (Jeremiah 31:15) that (Satan through) Herod would slaughter all the children in an attempt to kill the Christ child. All these prophecies were made many hundreds of years before Jesus was born. They stand as undeniable Holy Spirit inspiration of the Bible text and further evidence that God revealed himself through Jesus of Nazareth.

Considerations.

Not wishing to be ‘humbug’ in celebrating Christmas; theologically it has many problems, that might make one hold this celebration with a fairly loose grip or indeed dispense with it entirely! 

There is no celebration of the birth of Christ in the Bible, it is not of Biblical / canonical concern. The celebration originated in human tradition hundreds of years after the life of Christ.

Jesus was not born on December 25, this was the birthday of Mithras*, the pagan god of light. This period was the ancient Roman festival of Saturn, a period of general merrymaking, gift giving and of wild revelry or indulgence. The god of Saturn was called Saturnalias hence the coined "a saturnalia of shopping”. After the Roman emperor Constantine converted to Christianity, in 325 AD, he re-assigned the calendar date to mean the birthday of Jesus, God of light. On account of Constantine's actions many Christian’s today make the assumption that God wants us to celebrate the birthday of Christ! 

However, the scriptures do not tell us to celebrate the birth of Christ, but to celebrate His death and resurrection. Not once a year at Easter, instead on frequent gatherings through the Lord's Supper, (Acts 20:7); when we meet to partake the Eucharist, take the bread and wine.

There is much criticism and severe warning that can be brought to our 'manmade’ celebration of Jesus Christ’s apparent birthday, that conflicts with the evangelical argument for its use to communicate the gospel.

Primarily we must consider John’s prologue, that Jesus Christ is the one God who came as a flesh sacrifice for mankind. He is the mighty God, so to give God (the Alpha and Omega) a birthday flirts with blasphemy. Or, to give his flesh vessel a birthday detracts from his deity reality. In truth and practice the Christmas we celebrate today bears a much closer resemblance to the Roman festival of Saturn, a period of general merrymaking, gift giving and of wild revelry and indulgence.

So how do we navigate Christmas, with family expectations, tinsel and treats, Santa, mistletoe and figgy pudding, with its underlying occult and pagan foundations?

1) Communicate Biblical truths to friends and family.

2) Communicate the gospel, we are called to share the good news everyday not just for Christmas.

3) Celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ the Messiah everyday.

4) Practice the eucharist (taking the bread and the wine).

5) Avoid plunging heart and emotion into manmade falsity and blended religion.

6) Don’t just say nothing, the Bible teaches us that evil prospers when good people do nothing.

7) The best practise is probably to avoid it altogether. 

Theologically ‘Christmas' is syncretism* and abhorrent to God, because it is a blending of religions, ideas and philosophies and the changing of dates.

See related topics:

Christology

Deity of Christ

Divine Nature

Easter

Exegesis

Hermeneutics

Trinity

Syncretism* is the amalgamation or attempted amalgamation of different religions, cultures, or schools of thought. This practise is repeatedly condemned by God concerning His ways and laws in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.

Mithras* was worshipped in ancient Rome as a god of light, truth, and honour and the central figure of the cult of Mithraism. He was also associated with merchants and the protection of warriors. Mithraism was the main rival to Christianity in the first three centuries AD. The festival date was 25th of December.

Christmas* An annual Christian festival celebrating Christ's birth, held on 25 December in the Western Church.

Examples of pagan god’s birthdays honoured on 25th December

Attis (Roman pagan religion) son of the virgin Nana, was sacrificed as an adult in order to bring salvation to mankind. Died around March 25, after being crucified on a tree. Then descended for three days into the underworld. He arose on Sunday, as the solar deity for the new season. His body was symbolically eaten by his followers in the form of bread. Worship of Attis began in Rome circa 200 BC.

Saturnalia a Roman seven-day celebration starting December the 17th. Marked by unrestrained revelry and often licentiousness; an orgy.

The Roman Emperor Aurelian (270 to 275 CE), aimed to increase unity within the Roman Empire by establishing Sol Invictis (the Unconqured Sun): the supreme god of the Empire. He set December the 25th as Natalis Solis Invicti (The Birth of the Unconquered Sun) circa 274 CE. It is a celebration that continues today by Neopagan followers of the reconstructed Roman neopagan religion, Nova Roma.

Dionysus (Greek Pagan Religion), viewed as the son of Zeus, the Father God, is another savior whose birth was observed on December the 25th. Worshipped throughout the Middle East and Greece. Jerusalem being the centre of its worship in the 1st century BCE, ancient coins have been found in Gaza with Dionysus on one side and JHWH (Jehovah) on the other. Again his flesh and blood were symbolically eaten in the form of bread and wine. This religion too has been reconstructed in recent decades by Hellenic Neopagans.

Osiris (Egyptian pagan religion) celebrates his birth on December the 25th and by the end of the 1st century BCE spread to the Roman Empire. Osiris worship continues today among followers of Kemetism a Neopagan revival of ancient Egyptian religion.

Mithra-s a Persian god-man and savior who’s worship was common throughout the Roman Empire, particularly among civil service and military. A competing religion with Christianity until the late 4th century CE when Constantine made Christianity the state religion. Mithra was apparently born on December the 25th circa 300 BC. His birth was witnessed by shepherds and by Magi bringing gifts. This date was celebrated as the "Dies Natalis Solic Invite," The "Birthday of the Unconquered Sun." Some followers believed that he was also born of a virgin and that during his life, he performed miracles, cured many illnesses, and cast out evil spirits. Furthermore, it is beleived that he celebrated a Last Supper with 12 disciples and ascended to Heaven at the time of the spring equinox, about March 21. His birth as the "Sun of Righteousness" was celebrated on yes… December the 25th.

To end, it is clear that considering the 25th of December, the birth dates and attributes of pagan gods were shared among various religions through history. These where quenched and buried by the Roman empire converting to Christianity in the first century. None of these religions however, originate in the earliest ancient semetic prophesies given by God to man in Genesis the original story. 

So with understanding, sensitivity and a worshipful heart to the one true God we must navigate as if passing through this world and especially through this curious time called Christmas. Everyday including the sincrenistic 25th of December we proclaim Christ’s death and resurrection and the hope for glory at the resurrection to come. 

Resurrection

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