by Dr. C. Matthew McMahon
I know that you would love a quick answer to the question – “Should Christians celebrate Christmas?” But most things worth understanding and knowing about are a little bit more complex than simply giving a yes or no answer. There are many articles and papers written to show that Christmas, and other holidays like Easter, are thoroughly unbiblical, and are intended to sway the Christian community away from practicing such “man-made holy-days.” No doubt the authors of such papers have the best interest of the Christian Church in mind, and are not simply jumping upon the bandwagon of “reformed thought” in order to add another notch to their theological belt. However, when these articles begin to substantiate the claim that Christians should have nothing to do with the holiday of Christmas, the weightiest arguments they bring forth are two fold: They, 1) appeal to the pagan roots of idolatry, and 2) the history and witness of the Christian Church. This is a mistake.
First, writers appeal to the pagan roots of the holiday as a means to deter Christians from practicing such abominable vestiges even though the a 21st century Christmas is not blatantly practicing the same rites as the Babylonians or druids of old once did. For instance, the Christmas tree is set up in some corner of the living room, decorated and lighted, and gifts abound and grow under the tree as December 25th draws near. The appeal is then made to Jeremiah 10:3-4 where idolatry is condemned. It says, “For the customs of the peoples are futile; For one cuts a tree from the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the ax. They decorate it with silver and gold; they fasten it with nails and hammers so that it will not topple.” Here we see idolatry based in the practice of cutting down, setting up, and decorating a tree. Or they quote Jeremiah 2:20, “For of old I have broken your yoke and burst your bonds; And you said, “I will not transgress,’ When on every high hill and under every green tree You lay down, playing the harlot.” Here the evergreen tree was used to promote false religion and idolatry. God was angered at the Israelites for their religious syncretism and their participation in these practices. Idolatry is certainly condemned by God and no Christian should ever be disobeying and transgressing the first table of the Law of God (commandments 1-4) by profaning the worship of God with idols.
The second appeal is made to the history of the church and its practices. Surely this is an important note to make, and that petition to such testimony is warranted. We could cite the reformers such as Luther and Calvin, the pastors of Geneva city-state, the Waldensen Confession, the Puritan Divines such as Edmund Calamy, Samuel Rutherford, James Durham, Increase Mather, Thomas Vincent, John Owen, Andrew Clarkson, Ebenezer Erskine, William Wilson, Alexander Moncrieff, James Fisher, John Willison, John Brown, Robert Shaw (and many more), The Westminster Confession, the Directory of Publick worship, The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland and their confession, and various other creeds and confessions. These diligent writers will make it known that the church did not practice this holiday until sometime after the 4th century, and show varied proofs that most opposed the practice altogether, condemning it out rightly being a violation of the worship of God and God’s expressed commands to worship Him in a specific manner.
So, here we see that the siege to discourage the practice and participation of the “holiday” Christmas is usually based on these 2 points.
Before I give my own view, I would like to address the two avenues above which are the usual lines of reasoning in dissuading Christians from partaking in the Christmas holiday…
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