Question: Dear Mr. Luginbill, I have a question. In reading II Cor. 5:15-17, it seems to me that Christmas is not in line with worshiping Him in His spirit and His truth. From what I understand, it was entered into the Church because the pagans a century or two later had to have it in order to worship with the Christians. It seems as though it is kind of a veil pulled over our minds to worship Him in that way. It seems as though it may be foolish to Him to worship him in that way. I haven't kept Christmas in many years because I believe that. Please give me your input on this. Thanks again,
Response: Your Christmas question is an interesting one. As I tried to make clear in Part 5 of the Satanic Rebellion series, a late December birthday for Christ is actually more than likely (although we are one year off on the year, for Christ was most likely born in 2 B.C., and not 1 B.C. as the current calendar assumes). As to December 25th, that date does not apparently appear until the 4th century as the exact date of His birth (and there seems to be little justification for fixing any precise date of the month). As a cultural phenomenon, Christmas is amazing. It was not always so. Dickens had much to do with popularizing the holiday to the point that today it is celebrated worldwide, often with little or no true relation to Christ. I believe the fact that the date is definitely not given to us in scripture is significant (contrast our more precise knowledge of the dates of our Savior's crucifixion). Paul associates the observance of festal days (very much in the Judaizing tradition he was fighting against) with those whose faith is weak (Rom.14:5; cf. Gal.4:10; Col.2:16-17). On the other hand, in that same passage he enjoins those of us who understand these things aright to refrain from doing anything that would cause our brothers to stumble. Rudolf and trees and sappy songs and hyper-materialism at the mall and dysfunctional sentimentalism clearly have nothing to do with Jesus Christ, but there is also an element in the Christmas tradition that at least purports to relate to Him. So, to the extent that Christmas wins one soul to Christ, I am for it. However, to the extent that it distorts the Christian message, I am against it. My personal approach is to try and avoid giving offense, but also to try when opportunity offers to gracefully point out the underlying Christian realities that the holiday claims to advance. The problem with the institutionalization of Christianity that began in Rome and which has by now also sunk deep into the bones of traditional Protestantism as well is that it substitutes formalized rituals for true, active faith in God, that is, it puts "program" in place of true spiritual progress, and this is a large problem indeed.
Please have a look at these related links:
Culture and Christianity II
Culture and Christianity I
The few saved, the door in heaven, visions of heavenly realities, and Christmas.
Some questions about Nimrod and Christmas trees, Tongues, and Healing
Is it wrong for me to celebrate Easter?
Church: The Biblical Ideal versus the Contemporary Reality.
Yours in the Savior of the world,