Doctrines, Dogmas and Denominations cause Divisions!

Doctrines, Dogmas and Denominations cause Divisions!

There is nothing in Scripture which says, “Endeavouring to keep up your ecclesiastical arrangements for centralization;” but the exhortation runs thus: “Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit.” ~ Charles H. Spurgeon

A plague upon denominationalism! There should be but one denomination: we should be denominated by the name of Christ, as the wife is named by her husband’s name. As long as the church of Christ has to say, “My right arm is Episcopalian, and my left arm is Wesleyan, and my right foot is Baptist, and my left foot is Presbyterian or Congregational,” she is not ready for the marriage. She will be ready when she has washed out these stains, when all her members have “one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” ~ Charles H. Spurgeon

3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. ~ Ephesians 4:3-6

Jesus is NOT

9  God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord. 
10  Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 
11  For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. 
12  Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. 
13  Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? ~ 1 Corinthians 1:9-13

Soli Deo Gloria

The Devils Also Believe and Tremble

James 2:19  Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

C. H. Spurgeon

Strange Fire

Just recently the Grace to You ministry of Grace Community Church under the leadership of Pastor / Teacher Dr John MacArthur held a three day Strange Fire Conference in Southern California from October 16-18, 2013. While I have previously followed most of the speakers and do welcome the preaching against the false teachings of the Pentecostal / Charismatic / Word of Faith (PCWoF) movements, there still remains some teachings that I do not agree with. One teacher that teaches well is Justin Peters in his A Call For Discernment; I attended his conference that took place at KwaSizabantu Mission at Kranskop, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa in 2012. As early as August 5, 2013, I also got to hear of Conrad Mbewe of Zambia and also posted his blog-posting Why is the Charismatic Movement Thriving in Africa at my Luke 9:23 Evangelism blog.

Whilst I am NOT a Calvinist, and I am NOT an Arminian, I do see myself as a Biblist that believes what is written in the Holy Word of God, The Bible. In faith I take what is written therein to be the very Words of God and Truth for all teaching as it is written in 2 Timothy 3:16,17 ~

16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. ~ 2 Timothy 3:16,17

One of the most theologically sound teachings I heard from the Strange Fire Conference was the presentation by Dr Steve Lawson entitled The Puritan Commitment to Sola Scriptura. Agreeing with what was expounded, based on the five points of Calvinism, does not make me a follower of Calvin or should even term me a Calvinist – it can be seen from the Bible what is True. Instead of taking on the name of another man as a Calvinist (who incidentally had Michael Servetus murdered because of a theological disagreement), I do rather profess to being a follower, a disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ and therefore need not ascribe to any man’s doctrine to confirm what I believe. The litmus test is: Are you truly a follower after God’s Word – Sola Scriptura? Or is there Strange Fire even in what you believe? We read of the account regarding strange fire from the Holy Scriptures, as it is written in Leviticus 10:1,2 ~

1 And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not.
2 And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.

Now, whilst much can be learned from the preachers / pastors / teachers from the Strange Fire conference exposing false prophets (see Jeremiah 14:14; Matthew 7:15, 24:11,24; Mark 13:22; Luke 6:26; 2 Peter 2:1; 1 John 4:1), false apostles (see 2 Corinthians 11:13), false teachers (see 2 Peter 2:1) and healers – in a description wolves in sheep’s clothing (see Matthew 7:15) – we come to Scriptures that seem to be overlooked by the same main stream teachers that do expose error. If we are to hold to Sola Scriptura, then we are to teach accordingly in all matters the Word of God; this even includes the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ and His crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection. It is worrisome to see that Dr John MacArthur, who is an expository preacher, has ignored the Scriptures that give the very historical date that can be calculated of the birth of our Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ. It is sad that many believers still brandish the name “Christmas” around when this very word does not appear in Scripture. If anyone would want to refer to the birth of Christ, a more accurate way would be to refer to His nativity and not use the pagan infested word of “Christmas” – the mass of Christ with its pagan and popish traditions. As one of the most quoted preachers Charles Spurgeon preached on December 24, 1871, said, quote [writer’s emphasis in italics and bold]:

We have no superstitious regard for times and seasons. Certainly we do not believe in the present ecclesiastical arrangement called Christmas: first, because we do not believe in the mass at all, but abhor it whether it be said or sung in Latin or English; and secondly, because we find no scriptural warrant whatever for observing any day as the birthday of the Saviour; and, consequently, its observance is a superstition, because not of divine authority. [C. H. Spurgeon, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, 1971, pg. 697].

John MacArthur’s ministry promotes “Christmas” and along with it the purchasing of his books (even some having “Christmas” in the titles) and other materials as “Christmas” gifts (refer to the many times Carl Miller promotes the buying of “Christmas” gifts on the Grace to You radio show). To hold to Sola Scriptura in the Holy Word of God according to the Gospel of Luke which gives pertinent historical and Hebrew information, we can see that the Scriptures tell us that the birth of the Saviour of the world was at the Feast of Tabernacles (Booths). To preach and teach anything else is heresy. When the whole world appears to worship or celebrate the birth of Christ on December 25, discernment would warrant that we should test why Roman Catholics, New Agers, Pentecostals, Charismatics, Word of Faith, unbelievers, pagans, Christians and many other religious and cult groupings “celebrate” at this festival day. One should then ask the questions:

a) What has Christ and Belial in common? and

b) How can a Christian for the love of God mix His Truth with Satan’s deception?

What I have found really disturbing is how preachers would negate certain teachings or teach falsely to fit with the preachers’ dogma. A point in question can be seen from an extract from John MacArthur’s sermon The Announcement of Jesus’ Birth, Part 1 from July 11, 1999 which says, quote [writer’s emphasis in bold]:

And so typically shepherds would stay out in the fields on the elevated plain of Jerusalem, the mountain area near Jerusalem from April to November typically. That’s one of the reasons why people doubt that Jesus was born in December because typically the shepherds wouldn’t be there in December. Well you can’t really be dogmatic about that either, we don’t know what month it was. There is really no way to know. We don’t even know what year Jesus was born, somewhere between 6 and 4 B.C. He was born as we calculated the calendar back, we can’t be specific, we don’t have enough data for that. There’s no reason to believe it was December 25, that was invented in order to try to sanctify a pagan festival. They thought if they put the birth of Christ celebration on the same day as Saturnalia, the worship of the sun god, they could sanctify that and all they did was corrupt the celebration of the birth of Christ with all the Christmas legend. It backfired on them. But there’s no way to know when He was born. It is possible they could have still been out there in December, we don’t know that.

What Dr. MacArthur says is that “There’s no reason to believe it was December 25” and that the date was a “pagan festival” and further “But there’s no way to know when He was born.” All three statements are contradictory and therefore misleading and deceptive for we certainly can calculate when our Lord Jesus Christ was born if we will just believe the Scriptural text and do the math from the very pertinent information provided to us in the Scriptures. Here is an extract from a book writer wrote titled The Birth, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ [incidentally the Christian printers I approached would not undertake the project of printing the book – I guess it goes against the fabric of man’s traditions and customs – you can email me to obtain a pdf version] that reads as follows [Quote]:

To calculate when the course of Abijah would appear in the year we need to first understand the Jewish calendar. The time when Jesus Christ was born into this world, the Jewish calendar would be using the post exilic sacred months as recorded in the above diagram on this page.

The Jewish Calendar

MONTHPRE- / POST EXILIC OF YEAR SACRED / CIVIL MODERNEQUIVALENTMONTHS
Abib / Nisan

1 / 7

March / April

Ziv / Iyyar

2 /8

April / May

Sivan

3 / 9

May / June

Tammaz

4 / 10

June / July

Ab

5 / 11

July / August
Elul 6 / 12 August / September
Ethanim / Tishri 7 / 1 September / October
Bul / Heshvan 8 / 2 October / November
Chislev 9 / 3 November / December
Tebeth 10 / 4 December / January
Shebat 11 / 5 January / February
Adar 12 / 6 February / March

Therefore, the year would start off in the month of Nisan and the months were based on the lunar calendar of 30 days per month. This would therefore equate, according to the Jewish calendar, to a 360-day lunar year. In accordance with the course that the priests would appear in the Temple, the calculation would be:

24 Courses multiplied by 2 Temple duties a year equals 48 weeks, plus the three pilgrimage weeks which totals 51 weeks.

The 51 weeks equate to 357 days which fits within the 360-day lunar year calendar.

As a result of these calculations we can therefore see that the course of Abijah, i.e. the eighth course (1 Chronicles 24:10), would serve the tenth week during the first half of the year, as a result of the following:

  • Passover / Feast of Unleavened Bread were celebrated starting on 14th / 15th Nisan:

5In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD’S passover. 6And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread. 7In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.8But ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD seven days: in the seventh day is an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. ~ Leviticus 23:5-8

  • The Feast of Weeks [Shavuot (Pentecost)]:

15And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete: 16Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the LORD. ~ Leviticus 23:15,16

Zechariah had his vision while serving in the eighth course of Abijah, which fell in the tenth week of the year, calculating from the beginning of the sacred year in the month Nisan. As with the manner of women, let us add two weeks to comply with the purity laws (Leviticus 15:19,25) which would then bring the conception of John to be in or about the 12th week of the year. If John was born about thirty-nine weeks (nine months) later (for we are not sure of the exact day of conception calculated at about 39 weeks from Elisabeth’s last menstruation cycle) during the fifty-first week (12 + 39 = 51) that would bring us to the birth of John at the Passover festival. [Our present day calendar works on a 52 week year, but according to the Jewish calendar they were working on a lunar 360-day calendar, that equates to approximately 51 weeks.] The writer believes that in God’s providence John the Baptist was born at Passover at the very time that Elijah was, according to the Jewish tradition, supposed to appear.

Now, continuing and using the calculations in operation and the Scriptures told, God’s mandate is perfect and He is very specific about times and shadows of events to come (past, present and future), that His Son Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit six months (about 26 weeks) after John the Baptist’s conception. For we know that the Scriptures say that thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her” (Luke 1:36). This means Christ Jesus was conceived about the 38th week around the festival Hanukkah. This would also mean the Light of the world [see John 1:9] was conceived during the festival of lights! Conceived, not born in flesh entering into the world, as the Christmas holiday dictates – there is a huge difference here!

To fulfil prophecies, the prophecy would have to be fulfilled to the last detail and therefore it would be clear to understand in fulfilment of God’s prophetic Words, God would not generalize specifics as this would take away from His omniscient glory. To be precise in the prophetic Word given, God, being a God of divine order, would be exact and precise in bringing His Word to pass, just as the star (see Matthew 2:2) in the night sky appeared at the exact time He sent it to appear, and the angel Gabriel appeared at the exact time he was sent by God as His messenger, so too was the birth of His Only Begotten Son precisely when God chose for His Son to enter this world – on time to the last detail, as we read:

4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, ~ Galatians 4:4

Therefore, understanding God’s precise mandate and ordination of all things, Jesus was born thirty-nine weeks later (around week 76 from the beginning of our calculations at the preceding year’s month of Nisan; that is week 25 of the following year) which brings us to the time of the autumn (fall) Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) in the month Tishri (i.e. September/October). Is God giving us a Revelation of when He revealed Himself as His Son, conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of a virgin and entered into this world as the God-Man? – “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14) – “Immanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us” (see Matthew 1:23). [End Quote]

Birth of Christ

___________

From research we also notice that for about the first 4 centuries no such tradition of “Christmas” was recorded by the early Church celebrating the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ and we can also pick up that “Christmas” was not entertained by such men in later years as the Puritans, the Reformers, John Knox, the Scots, the English, by settlers of America and by Charles H. Spurgeon, to mention but a few.

“So why did the Scots ban Christmas? Depending on which site you visit, the blame generally seems to lie with John Knox and dates range for 1562 to 1583, even though he was dead in 1572. What is certain is that with Cromwell and the Puritans, the rest of Britain took on the Scottish policy and Christmas was banned in 1644, being changed by parliamentary decree to a fast day rather than a “popish holiday”.

Charles II restored Christmas in 1660. Unfortunately for America, the Puritans took their anti-Christmas beliefs to America with them. Christmas was banned in Massachusetts in 1659, with the law remaining on the statute books for 22 years, which is strange as the same state was the first one in the US to make Christmas a legal holiday in 1856.

Pennsylvania and New England resisted Christmas celebration too for long periods.”

___________

Spurgeon also said, quote: “When it can be proved that the observance of Christmas, Whitsuntide, and other Popish festivals was ever instituted by a divine statute, we also will attend to them, but not till then. It is as much our duty to reject the traditions of men, as to observe the ordinances of the Lord. We ask concerning every rite and rubric, “Is this a law of the God of Jacob?” and if it be not clearly so, it is of no authority with us, who walk in Christian liberty.” (from Charles Spurgeon’s Treasury of David on Psalm 81:4.)

“Knox believed in the Regulative Principle of Worship, that anything offered to God in Worship should be fully and unequivocally sanctioned in Scripture. Needless to say, because there is no ‘Christmas’ in the Bible, and because we are to do nothing to diminish God’s commands in worship, Knox had no time whatsoever for a Christmas festival, or any other religious festival. He wrote . . .

“That God’s word damns your ceremonies (referring to Christmas and the other Roman Catholic inventions), it is evident; for the plain and straight commandment of God is, ‘Not that thing which appears good in thy eyes, shalt thou do to the Lord thy God, but what the Lord thy God has commanded thee, that do thou: add nothing to it; diminish nothing from it.’ Now unless that ye are able to prove that God has commanded your ceremonies, this his former commandment will damn both you and them.”

See Deuteronomy 4:2, 12:32 ~

Deut 4:2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.

Deut 12:32 What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.

(Quote from John Knox’s History of the Reformation in Scotland (Ed. by William Croft Dickinson; New York: Philosophical Library, 1950), Vol. 1, p. 91.)

So is there Strange Fire being offered to God contrary to what He has commanded? I do think so – it is worship of God not as God has commanded! What Scripture does tell us, and Sola Scriptura for that matter, is that we are to remember the death of our Lord Jesus Christ until He returns at His second coming, as it is written:

19 And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.
20 Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you. ~ Luke 22:19,20

and

23 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:
24 And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.
25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.
26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come. ~ 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

And then, to cap it all off, here is a disturbing teaching that John MacArthur teaches regarding the taking of the mark of the beast. MacArthur says that a person could take the mark of the beast and still be saved. If he holds to this teaching, he is misleading people due to the fact that the Scriptures teach that those that take the mark of the beast are damned to the lake of fire for they worship the beast. This is what the Holy Scriptures – Sola Scriptura – reads in Revelation 14:9-11 ~

9 And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand,
10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.

Since the same sermon [Q&A session] remains up on the Grace to You website and has not been removed; and it appears that MacArthur has not recanted his early teaching on this issue nor publically repented for this false teaching, there is Strange Fire in John MacArthur’s ministry that is heresy and goes against the Word of God! Here is a video that deals specifically with this issue:

In closing, another thing that is disturbing is that the Grace to You ministry is not satisfied with tithes and offerings, the selling of books, CDs, DVDs and other merchandise, but they also request people to partner with them and to donate to their ministry. It’s a very prosperous ministry, akin to the prosperity preachers’ ministries of TBN, and yet they could not answer a call for some financial help on June 6, 2011, nor even having the courtesy of answering the email. I am reminded of the words of the Lord Jesus Christ ~

35 I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. ~ Act 20:35

SOLI DEO GLORIA

Open-air Preaching

A SKETCH OF ITS HISTORY AND REMARKS THEREON

By Charles H. Spurgeon

GHSTHERE ARE some customs for which nothing can be pleaded, except that they are very old. In such cases antiquity is of no more value than the rust upon a counterfeit coin. It is, however, a happy circumstance when the usage of ages can be pleaded for a really good and Scriptural practice, for it invests it with a halo of reverence. Now, it can be argued, with small fear of refutation, that openair preaching is as old as preaching itself. We are at full liberty to believe that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, when he prophesied, asked for no better pulpit than the hillside, and that Noah, as a preacher of righteousness, was willing to reason with his contemporaries in the shipyard wherein his marvelous ark was builded.

Certainly, Moses and Joshua found their most convenient place for addressing vast assemblies beneath the unpillared arch of heaven. Samuel closed a sermon in the field of Gilgal amid thunder and rain, by which the Lord rebuked the people and drove them to their knees. Elijah stood on Carmel, and challenged the vacillating nation with “How long halt ye between two opinions?”

Jonah, whose spirit was somewhat similar, lifted up his cry of warning in the streets of Nineveh, and in all her places of concourse gave forth the warning utterance, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” To hear Ezra and Nehemiah “all the people gathered themselves to “ether as one man into the street that was before the water gate.” Indeed, we find examples of open-air preaching everywhere around us in the records of the Old Testament.

It may suffice us, however, to go back as far as the origin of our own holy faith, and there we hear the forerunner of the Saviour crying in the wilderness and lifting up his voice from the river’s bank. Our Lord Himself, who is yet more our pattern, delivered the larger portion of His sermons on the mountain’s side, or by the seashore, or in the streets. Our Lord was to all intents and purposes an openair preacher. He did not remain silent in the synagogue, but He was equally at home in the field. We have no discourse of His on record delivered in the chapel royal, but we have the Sermon on the Mount and the Sermon in the Plain; so that the very earliest and most divine kind of preaching was practiced out-of-doors by Him who spake as never man spake.

There were gatherings of His disciples after His decease, within walls, especially that in the upper room; but the preaching was even then most frequently in the court of the Temple, or in such other open spaces as were available. The notion of holy places and consecrated meetinghouses had not occurred to them as Christians; they preached in the Temple, or in such other open spaces as were available. but with equal earnestness “in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.”

It would be very easy to prove that revivals of religion have usually been accompanied, if not caused, by a considerable amount of preaching out-of-doors, or in unusual places. The first avowed preaching of Protestant doctrine was almost necessarily in the open air, or in buildings which were not dedicated to worship, for these were in the hands of the papacy. True, Wycliffe for a while preached the Gospel in the church at Lutterworth; Huss and Jerome and Savonarola for a time delivered semi-Gospel addresses in connection with the ecclesiastical arrangements around them; but when they began more fully to know and proclaim the Gospel, they were driven to find other platforms.

The Reformation when yet a babe was like the new-born Christ, and had not where to lay its head, but aOpen-air 1 company of men comparable to the heavenly host proclaimed it under the open heavens, where shepherds and common people heard them gladly. Throughout England we have several trees remaining called “gospel oaks.” There is one spot on the other side of the Thames known by the name of “Gospel Oak,” and I have myself preached at Addlestone, in Surrey, under the far-spreading boughs of an ancient oak, beneath which John Knox is said to have proclaimed the Gospel during his sojourn in England. Full many a wild moor and lone hillside and secret spot in the forest have been consecrated in the same fashion, and traditions still linger over caves and dells and hilltops where of old time the bands of the faithful met to hear the Word of the Lord.

It would be an interesting task to prepare a volume of notable facts connected with open-air preaching, or, better still, a consecutive history of it. I have no time for even a complete outline, but would simply ask you, where would the Reformation have been if its great preachers had confined themselves to churches and cathedrals ? How would the common people have become indoctrinated with the Gospel had it not been for those far-wandering evangelists, the colporteurs, and those daring innovators who found a pulpit on every heap of stones, and an audience chamber in every open space near the abodes of men?

All through the Puritan times there were gatherings in all sorts of out-of-the-way places, for fear of persecutors. “We took,” says Archbishop Laud, in a letter dated Fulham, June, 1632, “another conventicle of separatists in Newington Woods, in the very brake where the king’s stag was to be lodged, for his hunting next morning.” A hollow or gravelpit on Hounslow Heath sometimes served as a conventicle, and there is a dell near Hitchin where John Bunyan was wont to preach in perilous times. All over Scotland the straths and dells and vales and hillsides are full of covenanting memories to this day. You will not fail to meet with rock pulpits whence the stern fathers of the Presbyterian church thundered forth their denunciations of Erastianism, and pleaded the claims of the King of kings. Cargill and Cameron and their fellows found congenial scenes for their brave ministries amid the mountains’ lone rents and ravines.

What the world would have been if there had not been preaching outside of walls, and beneath a more glorious roof than these rafters of fir, I am sure I cannot guess. It was a brave day for England when Whitefield began field-preaching. When Wesley stood and preached a sermon on his father’s grave, at Epworth, because the parish priest would not allow him admission within the (so-called) sacred edifice, Mr. Wesley writes: “I am well assured that I did far more good to my Lincolnshire parishioners by preaching three days on my father’s tomb than I did by preaching three years in his pulpit.”

Wesley writes in his journal, “Saturday, 31 March, 1731. In the evening I reached Bristol, and met Mr. Whitefield there. I could scarce reconcile myself at first to this strange way of preaching in the fields, of which he set me an example on Sunday; having been all my life (till very lately) so tenacious of every point relating to decency and order, that I should have thought the saving of souls almost a sin, if it had not been done in a church.” Such were the feelings of a man who in after life became one of the greatest open-air preachers that ever lived!

Open-air 2Once recommenced, the fruitful agency of field-preaching was not allowed to cease. Amid jeering crowds and showers of rotten eggs and filth, the immediate followers of the two great Methodists continued to storm village after village and town after town. Very varied w ere their adventures, but their success was generally great. One smiles often when reading incidents in their labors. A string of pack horses is so driven as to break up a congregation, and a fire engine is brought out and played over the throng to achieve the same purpose. Hand-bells, old kettles, marrowbones and cleavers, trumpets, drums, and entire bands of music were engaged to drown the preachers’ voices.

In one case the parish bull was let loose, and in others dogs were set to fight. The preachers needed to have faces set like flints, and so indeed they had. John Furz says: “As soon as I began to preach, a man came straight forward, and presented a gun at my face; swearing that he would blow my brains out, if I spake another word. However, I continued speaking, and he continued swearing, sometimes putting the muzzle of the gun to my mouth, sometimes against my ear. While we were singing the last hymn, he got behind me, fired the gun, and burned off part of my hair.

After this, my brethren, we ought never to speak of petty interruptions or annoyances. The proximity of a blunderbuss in the hands of a son of Belial is not very conducive to collected thought and clear utterance, but the experience of Furz was probably no worse than that of John Nelson, who coolly says, “But when I was in the middle of my discourse, one at the ouside of the congregation threw a stone, which cut me on the head: however that made the people give greater attention, especially when they saw the blood run down my face; so that all was quiet till I had done, and was singing a hymn.”

I have no time further to illustrate my subject by descriptions of the work of Christmas Evans and others in Wales, or of the Haldanes in Scotland, or even of Rowland Hill and his brethren in England. If you wish to pursue the subject these names may serve as hints for discovering abundant material; and I may add to the list The Life of Dr. Guthrie, in which he records notable open-air assemblies at the time of the Disruption, when as yet the Free Church had no places of worship built with human hands.

I must linger a moment over Robert Flockhart of Edinburgh, who, though a lesser light, was a constant one, and a fit example to the bulk of Christ’s street witnesses. Every evening, in all weathers and amid many persecutions, did this brave man continue to speak in the street for forty-three years. Think of that, and never be discouraged. When he was tottering to the grave the old soldier was still at his post. “Compassion to the souls of men drove me,” said he, “to the streets and lanes of my native city, to plead with sinners and persuade them to come to Jesus. The love of Christ constrained me.”

Neither the hostility of the police, nor the insults of papists, Unitarians, and the like could move him; he rebuked error in the plainest terms, and preached salvation by grace with all his might. So lately has he passed away that Edinburgh remembers him still. There is room for such in all our cities and towns, and need for hundreds of his noble order in this huge nation of London—can I call it less?

No sort of defense is needed for preaching out-of-doors; but it would need very potent arguments to prove that a man had done his duty who has never preached beyond the walls of his meetinghouse. A defense is required rather for services within buildings than for worship outside of them. Apologies are certainly wanted for architects who pile up brick and stone into the skies when there is so much need for preaching rooms among poor sinners down below. Defense is greatly needed for forests of stone pillars, which prevent the preacher from being seen and his voice from being heard; for high-pitched Gothic roofs in which all sound is lost, and men are killed by being compelled to shout till they burst their blood-vessels; and also for the willful creation of echoes by exposing hard, sound-refracting surfaces to satisfy the demands of art, to the total overlooking of the comfort of both audience and speaker.

Surely also some decent excuse is badly wanted for those childish people who must needs waste moneyOpen-air 4 in placing hobgoblins and monsters on the outside of their preaching houses, and must have other ridiculous pieces of popery stuck up both inside and outside, to deface rather than to adorn their churches and chapels: but no defense whatever is wanted for using the Heavenly Father’s vast audience chamber, which is in every way so well fitted for the proclamation of a Gospel so free, so full, so expansive, so sublime.

The great benefit of open-air preaching is that we get so many newcomers to hear the Gospel who otherwise would never hear it. The Gospel command is, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature,” but it is so little obeyed that one would imagine that it ran thus, “Go into your own place of worship and preach the Gospel to the few creatures who will come inside.” “Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in”— albeit it constitutes part of a parable, is worthy to be taken very literally, and in so doing its meaning will be best carried out.

We ought actually to go into the streets and lanes and highways, for there are lurkers in the hedges, tramps on the highways, street-walkers and lane-haunters, whom we shall never reach unless we pursue them into their own domains. Sportsmen must not stop at home and wait for the birds to come and be shot at, neither must fishermen throw their nets inside their boats and hope to take many fish. Traders go to the markets; they follow their customers and go out after business if it will not come to them; and so must we. Some of our brethren are prosing on and on to empty pews and musty hassocks, while they might be conferring lasting benefit upon hundreds by quitting the old walls for a while, and seeking living stones for Jesus.

I am quite sure, too, that if we could persuade our friends in the country to come out a good many times in the year and hold a service in a meadow, or in a shady grove, or on the hillside, or in a garden, or on a common, it would be all the ketter f or the usual hearers. The mere novelty of the place would freshen their interest, and wake them up. The slight change of scene would have a wonderful effect upon the more somnolent. See how mechanically they move into their usual place of worship, and how mechanically they go out again. They fall into their seats as if at last they had found a resting place; they rise to sing with an amazing effort, and they drop down before you have time for the doxology at the close of the hymn because they did not notice it was coming.

What logs some regular hearers are! Many of them are asleep with their eyes open. After sitting a certain number of years in the same old spot, where the pews, pulpit, galleries, and all things else are always the same, except that they get a little dirtier and dingier every week, where everybody occupies the same position forever and forevermore, and the minister’s face, voice, tone are much the same from January to December -you get to feel the holy quiet of the scene and listen to what is going on as though it were addressed to “the dull cold ear of Death.”

As a miller hears his wheels as though he did not hear them, or a stoker scarcely notices the clatter of his engine after enduring it for a little time, or as a dweller in London never notices the ceaseless grind of the traffic; so do many members of our congregations become insensible to the most earnest addresses, and accept them as a matter of course. The preaching and the rest of it get to be so usual that they might as well not be at all. Hence a change of place might be useful; it might prevent monotony, shake up indifference, suggest thought, and in a thousand ways promote attention and give new hope of doing good. A great fire which should burn some of our chapels to the ground might not be the greatest calamity which has ever occurred, if it only aroused some of those rivals of the seven sleepers of Ephesus who will never be moved so long as the old house and the old pews hold together.

Besides, the fresh air and plenty of it is a grand thing for every mortal man, woman and child. I preached in Scotland twice on a Sabbath day at Blairmore, on a little height by the side of the sea, and after discoursing with all my might to large congregations, to be counted by thousands, I did not feel onehalf so much exhausted as I often am when addressing a few hundreds in some horrible black hole of Calcutta, called a chapel. I trace my freshness and freedom from lassitude at Blairmore to the fact that the windows could not be shut down by persons afraid of drafts, and that the roof was as high as the heavens are above the earth. My conviction is that a man could preach three or four times on a Sabbath out-of-doors with less fatigue than would be occasioned by one discourse delivered in an impure atmosphere, heated and poisoned by human breath, and carefully preserved from every refreshing infusion of natural air.

I once preached a sermon in the open air in haying time during a violent storm of rain. The text was, “He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass: as showers that water the earth,” and surely we had the blessing as well as the inconvenience. I was sufficiently wet, and my congregation must have been drenched, but they stood it out, and I never heard that anybody was the worse in health, though, I thank God, I have heard of souls brought to Jesus under that discourse. Once in a while, and under strong excitement, such things do no one any harm, but we are not to expect miracles, nor wantonly venture upon a course of procedure which might kill the sickly and lay the foundations of disease in the strong.

Do not try to preach against the wind, for it is an idle attempt. You may hurl your voice a short distance by an amazing effort, but you cannot be well heard even by the few. I do not often advise you to consider which way the wind blows, but on this occasion I urge you to do it, or you will labor in vain. Preach so that the wind carries your voice toward the people, and does not blow it down your throat, or you will have to eat your own words.

There is no telling how far a man may be heard with the wind. In certain atmospheres and climates, as for instance in that of Palestine, persons might be heard for several miles; and single sentences of wellknown speech may in England be recognized a long way off, but I should gravely doubt a man if he asserted that he understood a new sentence beyond the distance of a mile. Whitefield is reported to have been heard a mile, and I have been myself assured that I was heard for that distance, but I am somewhat skeptical. Half a mile is surely enough, even with the wind, but you must make sure of that to be heard at all.

Heroes of the Cross -here is a field for you more glorious than the Cid ever beheld when with his brave right arm he smote the paynim hosts. “Who will bring me into the strong city? who will lead me into Edom?” Who will enable us to win these slums and dens for Jesus ? Who can do it but the Lord? Soldiers of Christ who venture into these regions must expect a revival of the practices of the good old times, so far as brickbats are concerned, and I have known a flowerpot to fall accidentally from an upper window in a remarkably slanting direction. Still, if we are born to be drowned we shall not be killed by flowerpots.

imagesCAWFJZUYUnder such treatment it may be refreshing to read what Christopher Hopper wrote under similar conditions more than a hundred years ago. “I did not much regard a little dirt, a few rotten eggs, the sound of a cow’s horn, the noise of bells, or a few snowballs in their season; but sometimes I was saluted with blows, stones, brickbats, and bludgeons. These I did not well like: they were not pleasing to flesh and blood. I sometimes lost a little skin, and once a little blood, which was drawn from my forehead with a sharp stone. I wore a patch for a few days, and was not ashamed; I gloried in the cross. And when my small sufferings abounded for the sake of Christ, my comfort abounded much more. I never was more happy in my own soul, or blessed in my labors.”

I am somewhat pleased when I occasionally hear of a brother’s being locked up by the police, for it does him good, and it does the people good also. It is a fine sight to see the minister of the Gospel marched off by the servant of the law! It excites sympathy for him, and the next step is sympathy for his message. Many who felt no interest in him before are eager to hear him when he is ordered to 1eave off, and still more so when he is taken to the station. The vilest of mankind respect a man who gets into trouble in order to do them good, and if they see unfair opposition excited they grow quite zealous in the man’s defense.

As to style in preaching out-of-doors, it should certainly be very different from much of that which prevails within, and perhaps if a speaker were to acquire a style fully adapted to a street audience, he would be wise to bring it indoors with him. A great deal of sermonizing may be defined as saying nothing at extreme length; but out-of-doors verbosity is not admired; you must say something and have done with it and go on to say something more, or your hearers will let you know.

“Now then,” cries a street critic, “let us have it, old fellow.” Or else the observation is made, “Now then, pitch it out! You’d better go home and learn your lesson.” “Cut It short, old boy,” is a very common admonition, and I wish the presenters of this advice gratis could let it be heard inside Ebenezer and Zoar and some other places sacred to long-winded orations. Where these outspoken criticisms are not employed, the hearers rebuke prosiness by quietly walking away. Very unpleasant this, to find your congregation dispersing, but a very plain intimation that your ideas are also much dispersed.

In the street, a man must keep himself alive, and use many illustrations and anecdotes, and sprinkle a quaint remark here and there. To dwell long on a point will never do. Reasoning must be brief, clear, and soon done with. The discourse must not be labored or involved, neither must the second head depend upon the first, for the audience is a changing one, and each point must be complete in itself. The chain of thought must be taken to pieces’ and each link melted down and turned into bullets: you will need not so much Saladin’s saber to cut through a muslin handkerchief as Coeur de Lion’s battle-axe to break a bar of iron. Come to the point at once, and come there with all your might.

Short sentences of words and short passages of thought are needed for out-of-doors. Long paragraphs and long arguments had better be reserved for other occasions. In quiet country crowds there is much force in an eloquent silence, now and then interjected; it gives people time to breathe, and also to reflect. Do not, however, attempt this in a London street; you must go ahead, or someone else may run off with your congregation. In a regular field sermon pauses are very effective, and are useful in several ways, both to speaker and listeners, but to a passing company who are not inclined for anything like worship, quick, short, sharp address is most adapted.

In the streets a man must from beginning to end be intense, and for that very reason he must be condensed and concentrated in his thought and utterance. It would never do to begin by saying, “My text, dear friends, is a passage from the inspired Word, containing doctrines of the utmost importance, and bringing before us in the clearest manner the most valuable practical instruction. I invite your careful attention and the exercise of your most candid judgment while we consider it under various aspects and place it in different lights, in order that we may be able to perceive its position in the analogy of the faith. In its exegesis we shall find an arena for the cultured intellect, and the refined sensibilities. As the purling brook meanders among the meads and fertilizes the pastures, so a stream of sacred truth flows through the remarkable words which now lie before us. It will be well for us to divert the crystal current to the reservoir of our meditation, that we may quaff the cup of wisdom with the lips of satisfaction.”

There, gentlemen, is not that rather above the average of word-spinning, and is not the art very generally in vogue in these days? If you go out to the obelisk in Blackfriars Road, and talk in that fashion, you will be saluted with “Go on, old buffer,” or “Ain’t he fine? My eye!” A very vulgar youth will cry, “What a mouth for a tater!” and another will shout in a tone of mock solemnity, “Amen!” If you give them chaff they will cheerfully return it into your own bosom. Good measure, pressed down and running over will they mete out to you. Shams and shows will have no mercy from a street gathering.

But have something to say, look them in the face, say what you mean, put it plainly, boldly, earnestly, courteously, and they will hear you. Never speak against time or for the sake of hearing your own voice, or you will obtain some information about your personal appearance or manner of oratory which will probably be more true than pleasing. “Crikey,” says one, “wouldn’t he do for an undertaker! He’d make ’em weep.” This was a compliment paid to a melancholy brother whose tone is peculiarly funereal. “There, old fellow,” said a critic on another occasion, “you go and wet your whistle. You must feel awfully dry after jawing away at that rate about nothing at all.” This also was specially appropriate to a very heavy brother of whom we had aforetime remarked that he would make a good martyr, for there was no doubt of his burning well, he was so dry.

It will be very desirable to speak so as to be heard, but there is no use in incessant bawling. The best street preaching is not that which is done at the top of your voice, for it must be impossible to lay the proper emphasis upon telling passages when all along you are shouting with all your might. When there are no hearers near you, and yet people stand upon the other side of the road and listen, would it not be well to cross over and so save a little of the strength which is now wasted?

A quiet, penetrating, conversational style would seem to be the most telling. Men do not bawl and halloa when they are pleading in deepest earnestness; they have generally at such times less wind and a little more rain: less rant and a few more tears. On, on, on with one monotonous shout and you will weary everybody and wear out yourself. Be wise now, therefore, O ye who would succeed in declaring your Master’s message among the multitude, and use your voices as common sense would dictate.

In a tract published by that excellent society “The Open-Air Mission,” I notice the following:

QUALIFICATIONS FOR OPEN-AIR PREACHERS
  1. A good voice.
  2. Naturalness of manner.
  3. Self-possession.
  4. A good knowledge of Scripture and of common things.
  5. Ability to adapt himself to any congregation.
  6. Good illustrative powers.
  7. Zeal, prudence, and common sense.
  8. A large, loving heart.
  9. Sincere belief in all he says.
  10. Entire dependence on the Holy Spirit for success.
  11. A close walk with God by prayer.
  12. A consistent walk before men by a holy life.

If any man has all these qualifications, the Queen had better make a bishop of him at once, yet there is no one of these qualities which could well be dispensed with.

Should A Christian Celebrate Christmas?

There is no Biblical warrant, precedent, nor precept for remembrance of the day of Christ’s birth as a day of special religious celebration. This is not to say that we shouldn’t remember Christ’s birth and its significance, but for religious commemorations or celebrations, we must have Biblical command or precedent! The fact of the matter is this — the early church did not celebrate Christ’s birth, but such celebration only came into the church with the “Christianization” of pagan rites as Catholicism was made the state religion by Constantine in the fourth century A.D. Since the Word of God does not support the tradition of Christmas, a Christian’s conscience ought not and must not be bound.

The following outline describes the origin of Christmas (with its associated pagan customs, symbols, and terminology), details the Scriptural support against celebrating Christmas, attempts to show that celebrating Christmas violates the spirit of every one of the ten commandments, attempts to demonstrate that celebrating Christmas does not fall in the realm of Christian liberty, and attempts to debunk eight of the major rationalizations Christians put forth for celebrating Christmas.

I. The Origin of Christmas

  • A. Long EvolutionChristmas customs are an evolution from times long before the Christian period — a descent from seasonal, pagan, religious, and national practices, hedged about with legend and tradition. Their seasonal connections with the pagan feasts of the winter solstice relate them to ancient times, when many of the earth’s inhabitants were sun worshippers. As the superstitious pagans observed the sun gradually moving south in the heavens and the days growing shorter, they believed the sun was departing never to return. To encourage the sun’s return north (i.e., to give the winter sun god strength and to bring him back to life again), the sun gods were worshipped with elaborate rituals and ceremonies, including the building of great bonfires, decorating with great evergreen plants such as holly, ivy, and mistletoe, and making representations of summer birds as house decorations. The winter solstice, then, was the shortest day of the year, when the sun seemingly stood still in the southern sky. Observing the slowdown in the sun’s southward movement, and its stop, the heathen believed that their petitions to it had been successful. A time of unrestrained rejoicing broke out, with revelry, drinking, and gluttonous feasts. Then, when the pagans observed the sun moving again northward, and a week later were able to determine that the days were growing longer, a new year was proclaimed.
  • B. Not Among the Earliest Christian FestivalsChristmas was not among the earliest festivals of the Church. It was not celebrated, commemorated, or observed, neither by the apostles nor in the apostolic church — not for at least the first 300 years of church history! History reveals that about 440 A.D., the Church at Jerusalem commenced the celebration of Christmas, following the lead of Roman Catholicism (see I.C.). [It was sufficient for the early Christians that Jesus, their Lord and saviour, had been born. They praised God that Jesus Christ had, indeed, come in the flesh. The day and the time of His birth had no relevance to them, because Jesus was no longer physically on earth. He had returned to heaven. And it was the risen, exalted Christ whom they looked to, and that by faith — not a babe laid in a manger. Jesus Christ is no longer a baby; no longer the “Christ-child,” but the exalted Lord of all. And He does NOT somehow return to earth as a baby every year at Christmas-time — though this is the impression given even in certain hymns sung in Protestant services.]
  • C. The Role of Religion in Ancient RomeSeemingly forgotten is the essential role religion played in the world of ancient Rome. But the Emperor Constantine understood. By giving official status to Christianity, he brought internal peace to the Empire. A brilliant military commander, he also had the genius to recognize that after declaring Christianity the “state” religion (Constantine forced all the pagans of his empire to be baptized into the Roman Church), there was need for true union between paganism and Christianity. The corrupt Roman Church was full of pagans now masquerading as Christians, all of which had to be pacified. What better way than to “Christianize” their pagan idolatries. Thus, the Babylonian mystery religions were introduced by Constantine beginning in 313 A.D. (and established a foothold with the holding of the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D.). The Constantine-led Roman Church was more than willing to adapt and adopt pagan practices in order to make Christianity palatable to the heathen. Constantine used religion as a political tool, totally devoid of any true spirituality:

– Pagan rituals and idols took on Christian names (e.g., Jesus Christ was presented as the Sun of Righteousness [Malachi 4:2] replacing the sun god, Sol Invictus ).

– Pagan holidays were reclassified as Christian holidays (holy-days).

– December 25th was the “Victory of the Sun-God” Festival in the pagan Babylonian world. In the ancient Roman Empire, the celebration can be traced back to the Roman festival Saturnalia, which honoured Saturn, the harvest god, and Mithras, the god of light; both were celebrated during or shortly after the winter solstice (17th – 23rd December). To all ancient pagan civilizations, December 25th was the birthday of the gods — the time of year when the days began to lengthen and man was blessed with a “regeneration of nature.” All of December 25th’s Babylonian and Roman festivals were characterized by 5-7 day celebration periods of unrestrained or orgiastic revelry and licentiousness.

December 25th was particularly important in the cult of Mithras, a popular deity in the Old Roman Empire. Robert Myers (a proponent for celebrating Christmas) in his book Celebrations says, “Prior to the celebration of Christmas, December 25th in the Roman world was the Natalis Solis Invicti, the Birthday of the Unconquerable Sun. This feast, which took place just after the winter solstice of the Julian calendar, was in honour of the Sun God, Mithras, originally a Persian deity whose cult penetrated the Roman world in the first century B.C. … Besides the Mithraic influence, other pagan forces were at work. From the seventeenth of December until the twenty-third, Romans celebrated the ancient feast of the Saturnalia. … It was commemorative of the Golden Age of Saturn, the god of sowing and husbandry.”

In order to make Christianity palatable to the heathen, the Roman Church simply took Saturnalia, adopted it into Christianity, and then eventually many of the associated pagan symbols, forms, customs, and traditions were reinterpreted (i.e., “Christianized”) in ways “acceptable” to Christian faith and practice. (In fact, in 375 A.D., the Church of Rome under Pope Julius I merely announced that the birth date of Christ had been “discovered” to be December 25th, and was accepted as such by the “faithful.” The festival of Saturnalia and the birthday of Mithras could now be celebrated as the birthday of Christ!) The pagans flocked into the Catholic places of worship, because they were still able to worship their old gods, but merely under different names. It mattered not to them whether they worshiped the Egyptian goddess mother and her child under the old names (Isis and Horus), or under the names of the “Virgin Mary” and the “Christ-child.” Either way, it was the same old idol-religion (cf. 1 Thes. 1:8-10; 5:22 — Paul says to turn from idols, not rename them and Christianize them). Roman Catholicism’s Christmas Day is nothing but “baptized” paganism, having come along much too late to be part of “the faith once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3).

  • D. “Christianization” of Pagan Customs, Symbols, and TerminologyChristianity had to undergo a transformation so that pagan Rome could “convert” without giving up its old beliefs and rituals. The actual effect was to paganize official Christianity. “‘A compound religion had been manufactured, of which … Christianity furnished the nomenclature, and Paganism the doctrines and rights.’ The idolatry of the Roman world, though deposed from its ancient pre-eminence, had by no means been demolished. Instead of this, its pagan nakedness had been covered with the garb of a deformed Christianity” (W.E. Vine). Pagan customs involving vestments, candles, incense, images, and processions were all incorporated into church worship and continue today.
    The following customs and traditions associated with Xmas all have pagan/heathen origins. (“Xmas” is the more preferable form for the day, since it at least leaves the name of our saviour out of the heathen observance.) Naturally, Christians would not keep these customs for such evil and perverse reasons, but the fact of their origins remain — “the customs of the people are vain” (Jer. 10:3), and should be carefully considered by all who know and love the Lord:

1. The blasphemous “Christ’s Mass” shortened to “Christ-mas” — The Roman Catholic “Christ’s Mass” is a special mass performed in celebration of Christ’s birth. In this mass, Jesus is considered both the priest and the victim, represented by the Catholic priest who offers Him as a sacrifice each time the mass is performed. In offering this “sacrifice,” the priest believes he has the power to change the bread and the wine of the Communion into Jesus’ literal flesh and blood, requiring the people to worship these elements as they do God Himself. This is obviously a denial of the gospel, and thereby, a false gospel (a re-doing of the sacrifice for sin — Heb. 9:12, 24-26; 10:10,12,14). Yet, many who cry out all year long against the blasphemous Roman Catholic system, at year-end embrace Rome’s most blasphemous abomination of them all — Christmas!

2. Nativity Scenes (tainted with paganism) — Nearly every form of pagan worship descended from the Babylonian mysteries, which focus attention on the “mother-goddess” and the birth of her child. This was adapted to “Mary-Jesus” worship, which then easily accommodated the multitude of pagans “converted” to Christianity inside Constantine’s Roman Catholic Church. [If anyone were to erect statues (i.e., images) of Mary and Joseph by themselves, many within Protestant circles would cry “Idolatry!” But at Xmas time, an image of a little baby is placed with the images of Mary and Joseph, and it’s called a “nativity scene.” Somehow, the baby-idol “sanctifies” the scene, and it is no longer considered idolatry!] (cf. Exo. 20:4-5a; 32:1-5; 9-10a)

3. Christmas TreeEvergreen trees, because of their ability to remain green throughout the winter season, have long symbolized immortality, fertility, sexual potency, and reproduction, and were often brought into homes and set up as idols. The full mystical significance of the evergreen can only be understood when one considers the profound reverence the ancient pagans had for all natural phenomena — “To them, Nature was everywhere alive. Every fountain had its spirit, every mountain its deity, and every water, grove, and meadow, its supernatural association. The whispering of the trees … was the subtle speech of the gods who dwelt within” (W.M. Auld, Christmas Traditions). This is nothing but nature worship or Animism.

The custom of bringing the tree into the home and decorating it as is done today has legendarily been attributed to Martin Luther. In truth, the modern custom has been lost in obscurity, but almost every culture has some such tradition. For ages, evergreen trees would be brought into the house during the winter as magic symbols of luck and hope for a fruitful year to come, It may also be that the star with which many of today’s trees are topped did not originate as a representation of the star that the wise men followed, but rather a representation of the stars to which the ancient Chaldean astrologers looked for guidance.

The first decorating of an evergreen was done by pagans in honour of their god Adonis, who after being slain was brought to life by the serpent Aesculapius. The representation of the slain Adonis was a dead stump of a tree. Around this stump coiled the snake — Aesculapius, symbol of life restoring. From the roots of the dead tree, then comes forth another and different tree — an evergreen tree, symbolic to pagans of a god who cannot die! In Babylon, the evergreen tree came to represent the rebirth/reincarnation of Nimrod as his new son (Sun), Tammuz. In Egypt, this god was worshiped in a palm tree as Baal-Tamar. (Heathen people in the land of Canaan also adopted tree worship, calling it the Asherah — a tree with its branches cut off was carved into a phallic symbol.) The fir tree was worshiped in Rome as the same new-born god, named Baal-Berith, who was restored to life by the same serpent. A feast was held in honour of him on December 25th, observed as the day on which the god reappeared on earth — he had been killed, and was “reborn” on that day, victorious over death! It was called the “Birthday of the Unconquered Sun.” Thus, the annual custom of erecting and decorating evergreen trees was brought down to us through the centuries by the pagan Roman Catholic Church — the paganism of Tammuz and Baal, or the worship of the sun, mingled with the worship of Aesculapius the serpent. Whether erected in private homes or churches, decorated or not, the evergreen tree is a glaring symbol of this false god.

The Old Testament warns at least ten times against the practice of decorating evergreen trees for purposes of idolatry and false worship. “For the customs of the people are vain: ‘for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.” (Jer. 10:3,4.)

4. Christmas WreathsIn pagan mythology, evergreen means eternal life and a never-dying existence. Made from evergreens, Christmas wreaths were most frequently round, which symbolized the sun (just as do halos in most religious art). Hence, the round Xmas wreaths stand for an eternal sun, a never-dying or self-renewing sun. In addition, the round form can also relate to the sign of the female, which stands for the regeneration of life. Because of these pagan associations, the Christian church was initially hostile towards the use of wreaths and other evergreen derivatives. But in the same way it Christianized other pagan traditions, the church soon found a way to confer its own symbolic meanings. For example, the sharp pointed leaves of the “male” holly came to represent Christ’s crown of thorns and the red berries His blood, while the “female” ivy symbolized immortality (Sulgrave Manor, “A Tudor Christmas,” p. 6). Such wreaths now not only adorn churches at Christmas time, but are also appearing during the Easter season.

5. MistletoeThe use of the mistletoe plant (which is poisonous to man and animals) can be traced back to the ancient Druids. (The Druids were pagan Celtic priests who were considered magicians and wizards.) It represented the false “messiah,” considered by the Druids to be a divine branch that had dropped from heaven and grew upon a tree on earth. This is an obvious corruption of God’s prophetic Word concerning Christ, “the Man the Branch,” coming from heaven. The mistletoe symbolized the reconciliation between God and man. And since a kiss is the well known symbol of reconciliation, that is how “kissing under the mistletoe” became a custom — both were tokens of reconciliation. The mistletoe, being a sacred plant and a symbol of fertility, was also believed to contain certain magical powers, having been brought to earth from heaven by a mistle thrush carrying it in its toes (hence the name). It was once known as the “plant of peace,” and in ancient Scandinavia, enemies were reconciled under it (yet another reason why people came to “kiss under the mistletoe”). It was supposed to bring “good luck” and fertility, and even to protect the house in which it hung from witchcraft.

A kiss is also something which is, at times, associated with lust. So the practice of “kissing under the mistletoe” also had roots in the orgiastic celebrations in connection with the Celtic Midsummer Eve ceremony. At the time the mistletoe was gathered, the men would kiss each other as a display of their homosexuality. (The custom was later broadened to include both men and women.) Kissing under the mistletoe is also reminiscent of the temple prostitution and sexual license proliferating during Roman Saturnalia.

6. Santa ClausSanta Claus or “Father Christmas” is a corruption of the Dutch “Sant Nikolaas.” (“Saint Nicholas” was the 4th century Catholic bishop of Myra in Asia Minor, who gave treats to children; he was canonized by the Roman Catholic Church, “regarded as a special friend and protector of children.” The red suit comes from the fact that Catholic bishops and cardinals in Italy wear red.) Santa Claus was also known as “Kriss Kringle,” a corruption of the GermanChrist Kindl— Christ Child. This has to be one of the most subtle of Satan’s blasphemies, yet most Christians are unaware of it.

Originally, the Santa Claus concept came from the pagan Egyptian god, Bes, a rotund, gnome-like personage who was the patron of little children. Bes was said to live at the North Pole, working year-round to produce toys for children who had been good and obedient to their parents. In Dutch, he was called “Sinter Klaas.” Dutch settlers brought the custom to America. In Holland and other European countries, the original Santa Claus was actually a grim personage who traversed the countryside, determined to find out who really had been “naughty or nice.” Those who had been acting up were summarily switched. The association of Santa Claus with snow, reindeer, and the North Pole suggests Scandinavian or Norse traditions of the Yuletide season. [In Babylonia, also, the stag (reindeer) was a symbol of the mighty one, Nimrod. The symbolism of antlers worn on the head of a noble leader would demonstrate his prowess as a hunter, and thereby, influence people to follow him.]

Santa is the blasphemous substitute for God! He is routinely given supernatural powers and divine attributes which only GOD has. He is made out to be omniscient — he knows when every child sleeps, awakes, has been bad or good, knows exactly what every child wants (cf. Psa. 139:1-4). He is made out to be omnipresent — on one night of the year he visits all the “good” children in the world and leaves them gifts, seemingly being everywhere at the same time. He is made out to be omnipotent — he has power to give each child what each one wants. He is made out to be a sovereign judge — he answers to no one and no one has authority over him, and when he “comes to town,” he comes with a full bag of rewards for those whose behaviour has been acceptable in his eyes.
Santa Claus has become one of the most popular and widely accepted and unopposed myths ever to be successfully interwoven into the fabric and framework of Christianity. It is a fact that Christ was born, and that truth should greatly rejoice the heart of every Christian. But the Santa Claus myth distorts the truth of Christ’s birth by subtly blending truth with the myth of Santa Claus. When Christian parents lie to their children about Santa Claus, they are taking the attention of their children away from God and causing them to focus on a fat man in a red suit with god-like qualities. All of this teaches the child to believe that, just like Santa, God can be pleased with “good works,” done in order to earn His favour. Also, they teach that no matter how bad the child has been, he will still be rewarded by God — just as Santa never failed to bring gifts. Even in homes of professing Christians, Santa Claus has clearly displaced Jesus in the awareness and affections of children, becoming the undisputed spirit, symbol, and centrepiece of Christmas.

7. Christmas Eve“Yule” is a Chaldean word meaning “infant.” Long before the coming of Christianity, the heathen Anglo-Saxons called the 25th of December “Yule day” — in other words, “infant day” or “child’s day” — the day they celebrated the birth of the false “messiah”! The night before “Yule day” was called “Mother night.” Today it is called “Christmas Eve.” And it wasn’t called “Mother night” after Mary, the mother of our Lord — “Mother night” was observed centuries before Jesus was born. Semiramis (Nimrod’s wife) was the inspiration for “Mother night,” and “Child’s day” was the birthday of her son (Tammuz), the sun-god!

8. Yule LogThe Yule log was considered by the ancient Celts a sacred log to be used in their religious festivals during the winter solstice; the fire provided promises of good luck and long life. Each year’s Yule log had to be selected in the forest on Christmas Eve by the family using it, and could not be bought, or the superstitions associated with it would not apply. In Babylonian paganism, the log placed in the fireplace represented the dead Nimrod, and the tree which appeared the next morning (which today is called the “Christmas tree”) was Nimrod alive again (reincarnated) in his new son (sun), Tammuz. (Still today in some places, the Yule log is placed in the fireplace on Christmas Eve, and the next morning there is a Christmas tree!)

Today’s Yule log tradition comes to us from Scandinavia, where the pagan sex-and-fertility god, Jule, was honoured in a twelve-day celebration in December. A large, single log was kept with a fire against it for twelve days, and each day for twelve days a different sacrifice was offered. The period now counted as the twelve days between Christmas and Epiphany was originally the twelve days of daily sacrifices offered to the Yule log. (What, then, are we really doing when we send “Yuletide greetings”? Are we really honouring Christ by sending greetings in the name of a Scandinavian fertility god? These are the same customs being practiced today as in ancient paganism! Only the names have changed.)

9. Candles Candles were lit by the ancient Babylonians in honour of their god, and his altars had candles on them. And as is well known, candles are also a major part of the ritualism of Roman Catholicism, which adopted the custom from heathenism. Candles approached the Yule log in ritual importance. Like the Yule log, they had to be a gift, never a purchase, and were lighted and extinguished only by the head of the household. Such candles stood burning steadily in the middle of the table, never to be moved or snuffed, lest death follow. The Yule candle, wreathed in greenery, was to burn through Christmas night until the sun rose or the Christmas service began (Sulgrave Manor, “A Tudor Christmas,”p. 9). Obviously, candles should have no part in Christian worship, for nowhere in the New Testament is their use sanctioned.

10. Giving of Gifts The tradition of exchanging gifts has nothing to do with a re-enactment of the Magi giving gifts to Jesus, but has many superstitious, pagan origins instead. One prominent tradition was the Roman custom of exchanging food, trinkets, candles, or statutes of gods during the mid-winter Kalends (the first day of the month in the ancient Roman calendar). This custom was transferred to December 25th by the Roman Church in keeping with the Saturnalian festival and in celebration of the benevolent St. Nicholas. [Is it not the height of ridiculousness to claim that giving one another presents properly celebrates Jesus’ “birthday” (not that there is anything necessarily wrong in giving each other presents)? But what are we giving Him, if indeed we are specifically celebrating His incarnation?]

11. Christmas GooseThe “Christmas goose” and “Christmas cakes” were both used in the worship of the Babylonian “messiah.” The goose was considered to be sacred in many ancient lands, such as Rome, Asia Minor, India, and Chaldea. In Egypt, the goose was a symbol for a child, ready to die! In other words, a symbol of the pagan “messiah,” ready to give his life (supposedly) for the world. This is obviously a satanic mockery of the truth.

12. Christmas HamHogs were slaughtered and the eating of the carcass was one of the central festivities of the Saturnalia. Each man would offer a pig as a sacrifice because superstition held that a boar had killed the sun deity Adonis. Hence, the tradition of the Christmas ham on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

13. Christmas StockingAccording to tradition, a poor widower of Myra, Turkey, had three daughters, for whom he could not provide a dowry. On Xmas-Eve, “Saint Nicholas” threw three bags of gold down the chimney, thereby saving the daughters from having to enter into prostitution. One bag rolled into a shoe, and the others fell into some stockings that had been hung to dry by the fire. Hence, the beginning of the tradition of the “Christmas stocking” or “boot.”

14. Christmas Cards The first British Xmas card can be dated back to 1843. The first cards featured pictures of dead birds! Evidently, the popularity of hunting robin and wren on Christmas Day made the dead bird image an appropriate one for “holiday” cards. Often the text of the cards would also have a morbid tone. Later, the cards displayed dancing insects, playful children, pink-cheeked young women, and festively decorated Christmas trees. The first actual Xmas cards were really Valentine’s Day cards (with different messages) sent in December. Mass production of Xmas cards in the United States can be traced back to 1875. Initially, the manufacturers thought of Xmas cards as a sideline to their already successful business in playing cards. But the “tradition” of sending cards soon caught on, leading to a very profitable business by itself.

15. Christmas Carols What do you suppose the reaction would be by a church’s leaders if its pastor were to propose that the following hymns be introduced into the church to commemorate the birth of Christ? The tunes are quite lovely.

Hymn #1 A hymn by a Unitarian (rejects the Trinity and full deity of Christ) minister that does not mention Jesus Christ and reflects the liberal social gospel theology of the 19th century.

Hymn #2A hymn by an American Episcopal priest, the fourth verse of which teaches Roman Catholic superstition about Christ coming to be born in people during the Advent season.

Hymn #3 A song, the words by an Austrian Roman Catholic priest, the music by a Roman Catholic school teacher, containing the Roman Catholic superstition about halos emanating from holy people, with no gospel message.

Perhaps you would expect the church’s leaders to be very upset. It might surprise you to learn that they were upset when they suspected that the pastor might somehow prevent them from singing them. You see, those three hymns were already in the church’s hymnals! The pastor did not have to introduce them. The three theologically incorrect “Christmas carols” referred to above are It Came Upon the Midnight Clear, O Little Town of Bethlehem, and Silent Night.

  • E. European Xmas Traditions In the early days of Christianity, as it moved north and west into Europe, many pagan celebrations were encountered. For example, in the late-6th century in England, the Angles and Saxons were found celebrating Yule. The Christian evangelists thought they would fail in any attempt to rival, suppress, or stamp out such long held customs, so they simply adopted popular dates for their own “special rituals and hallowed services.” In other words, it was easier to establish a festival celebrating the birth of Christ if it conveniently coincided with an existing popular feast day. In this way, the pagan peoples (albeit potential converts to Christianity), could continue with their usual celebrations at this time of year, but the reason for the merrymaking could be redefined and attributed to Christ’s birth rather than to pagan rituals. As paganism eventually died out and Christianity became widespread, Christmas became more associated with its religious foundations than any others (Sulgrave Manor, “A Tudor Christmas,” p. 2).

It was left to the Puritans to denounce everything. For them, Christmas was rightfully part popish, part pagan, and was forbidden to be kept as a holiday or feast day. The attack began in 1644 when the Puritans controlled the Parliament; December 25th was changed to a Fast Day. By 1647, even the Fast Day was abolished as a relic of superstition, synonymous with the Church of Rome. No observation on December 25th was any longer permitted, but the day was to be observed as a normal market-day. Christmas was accurately depicted by such names as the Profane Man’s Ranting Day, the Superstitious Man’s Idol Day, the Papist’s Massing Day, the Old Heathen’s Feasting Day, the Multitude’s Idle Day, and Satan-that Adversary’s-Working Day. In those days, any Christmas celebrations would be broken up by troops, who would tear down decorations and arrest anyone holding a service. Some who celebrated it in Europe were also thrown into prison. Because of the riots that broke out following the banning of Christmas, the celebrations and revelry were restored in 1660 by King Charles II, a Catholic (Sulgrave Manor, “A Tudor Christmas,” p. 3).

  • F. American Xmas Traditions America’s settlers (the “founding fathers” of so-called “Protestant America”) rightfully considered Christmas a “popish” holiday. In fact, it was only in the early 1800s that several founding members of the New York Historical Society “invented” Christmas. Before then, it was illegal in colonial Massachusetts to even take December 25th off work. Christmas was forbidden as “unseemly to ye spiritual welfare of ye community.” (It was banned in Massachusetts in 1659, and this law remained on the books for 22 years. In Boston, public schools stayed open on December 25th until as late as 1870!) It wasn’t until 1836 that any state declared Christmas a holiday (Alabama), and then there were no more state declarations until the Civil War. It was not until 1885 that all federal workers were given Christmas Day off. The so-called Xmas customs and traditions were later concocted more for commercial purposes than for religious.

Quoting from a 12/23/83 USA TODAY article about Christmas: “A broad element of English Christianity still considered Christmas celebration a pagan blasphemy. The Puritans, Baptists, Quakers, Presbyterians, Calvinists and other denominations brought this opposition to early New England and strong opposition to the holiday lasted in America until the middle of the 18th century.” Henry Ward Beecher, a Congregationalist, wrote in 1874 of his New England boyhood:

“To me Christmas is a foreign day, and I shall die so. When I was a boy I wondered what Christmas was. I knew there was such a time, because we had an Episcopal church in our town, and I saw them dressing it with evergreens, and wondered what they were taking the woods in the church for; but I got no satisfactory explanation. A little later I understood it was a Romish institution, kept by the Romish Church.”

II. Scriptural Support Against Celebrating Christmas — Unacceptable Worship

  • A. 2 Chron. 33:15-17 The Israelites had kept the old pagan form (the high places of Baal), but had merely introduced the worship of God into that form — a refusal to let go of pagan worship forms (i.e., God was to be worshiped in the Temple, not on the high places). This was unacceptable worship because the right object of worship was mixed with wrong forms of worship; i.e., the mixing of godly worship with ungodly form. [Likewise, is not the celebration of Christmas the taking of a celebration established by pagans and for pagans, and then introducing the worship of Christ into that pagan form?]
  • B. Deut. 12:29-32God warned His people Israel to destroy all vestiges of pagan worship that they found in the “Promised Land.” Not only did God want to prevent His people from being enticed to worship false gods, but He specifically revealed that He did not want His people to worship Him in the same manner in which the heathen worshiped their gods. We know, therefore, that our Lord is displeased by practices which profess to honour Him, but which are copied from the tradition of false religions. The command here was to worship God only in His way, i.e., do only what God commands — not adding to God’s commands nor taking away from them. [Is not “putting Christ back into Christmas,” worshiping “the Lord your God their way”? Is there any command in the Bible to give special reverence to the Scriptural account of Christ’s birth more so than to any other Scripture, let alone even a suggestion to celebrate or commemorate His birth in any way whatsoever? God never intended for His people to be imitators of the pagan customs of the world, but has called us to be separate and set apart.]
  • C. Lev. 10:1,2 Nadab and Abihu offered strange fire to the Lord. [Is not the celebration of Christmas, with all its pagan symbols and forms, a “strange fire” unto the Lord, and is not this form of worship contrary to God’s commands?]
  • D. 1 Sam. 15:1-3, 7-9, 21-23Saul disobeyed God’s prophet in order to worship God in his way. [Is not the celebration of Christmas one of man’s ways of worshiping Christ? There is no Biblical command to offer worship in this manner.]
  • E. 2 Sam. 6:2-7 David attempts to transport the ark on a “new cart” instead of using the rings and poles as the Law required (Exo. 25:12-15). Additionally, the “transporters” of the ark were not even authorized to carry it (1 Chron. 15:2, 13-15); i.e., the ark was not only transported in the wrong way, but was transported by the wrong people! [Is not the celebration of Christmas the wrong way (pagan forms and tradition) with the wrong people (the heathen of the world join right in with the professing Christians)?]
  • F. 1 Ki. 12:26-33In order to unify the northern ten tribes of Israel, ungodly King Jeroboam set up pagan idols, not in place of God, but as new focal points for directing worship to God. He even instituted a new festival on a new day; i.e., a new religious holiday of his own choosing. Even though the true God of Israel was still to be the object of worship in the new religious holiday, both the holiday and the worship were not authorized by God nor accepted by Him (1 Ki. 13:1-3; 15:29,30). Why? Because the concocted mixture of error with truth constituted false religion! [Is not the celebration of Christmas a religious holiday of man’s own choosing, replete with pagan symbols and forms, all under the guise (by sincere Christians at least) of worshiping the one true God and Saviour? But does not this worship form and system still constitute false religion, and thereby, make it unacceptable to God? And besides, where in the Bible do Christians have the right to add a new holy day to the so-called Christian calendar, any more than King Jeroboam had the right to add a new holy day to God’s theocratic calendar?]
  • G. 1 Cor. 8:4-13; Rom. 14:1-13; 1 Cor. 10:14,18-21These passages concerning Christian liberty are discussed in more detail under Roman numeral IV. [Christian liberty can best be defined Biblically as “the freedom to engage in practices not prohibited by the Scriptures or denying oneself what is permitted (i.e., a moral choice of self-discipline) in order to be a more effective witness for God.” So the question must first be answered, “Is Christmas permitted?”] Briefly, some claim that Paul is teaching that the participation in pagan forms condemns no one, and therefore, participation in Christmas and its forms, even though arising out of pagan idolatry, is inconsequential. Paul nowhere approves participation in acts of idolatry, of which the participation in the pagan forms of Christmas comes dangerously close to doing. Instead, Paul is speaking of the liberty to continue in Jewish days of worship/festival that had been previously ordained under the Jewish law. There is certainly no liberty to bring outside pagan forms into the church’s worship services. Likewise, there is no liberty to Christianize Babylonian/Roman pagan holy days as special days.
    Christians in the first century churches had the liberty to observe Old Testament holy days and feasts (days that had previously been revealed by God) if they were so immature as to do so. The weaker brother, Paul wrote, was at that time not to be censured for continuing to attach some importance to the Old Testament holy days, as a clear knowledge of their abolition in Christ was not yet given to him (the weaker brother). But to observe a pagan holy day is something this passage does not sanction. They certainly did not have the liberty to regard Babylonian/Roman pagan holy days (days that were invented by the devil) as special days. Again, that would have been idolatry, worldliness, and perhaps even a form of Satan worship on their part. Therefore, how can the observance of Christmas Day, or any other Babylonian/Roman Catholic holy day, be a matter of Christian liberty?
  • Yet when some of us refuse to regard the pagan holy days as special days, we are the ones often referred to as the “weaker brother” in this matter! Are we opposed to such days because we are “weak in faith”? Faith would be defined as believing what the Word of God says about a matter and acting upon it. It was by faith that we stopped regarding pagan holy days as special days. Would we be more mature Christians if we would start regarding such days again? It would certainly be much easier on us and our families.

III. Christmas and Violation of the Ten Commandments (reverse order)

  • A. Do Not Covet Children learn to covet the gifts of others, to drool over the Christmas catalogue, to drag their parents endlessly through toy stores, all in the name of “the Christmas spirit.”
  • B. Do Not Bear False Witness “Jesus is the reason for the season!” is the Christian battle cry to “put Christ back in Christmas,” when in actuality, there is not only no Biblical warrant for Christmas, but its roots are in pagan worship systems. Nevertheless, professing Christians lie to their children about Santa Claus, the supernatural, sorcerous false “god” of Christmas, whose “gospel” is one of works salvation along with unconditional acceptance and rewards. Parents lie to their children for years about the god-like character of Santa Claus, in effect asking them to trust in a false god and a lie, and then don’t understand why later in life their children won’t believe and trust in the true God, Jesus Christ.
  • C. Do Not Steal Christmas spending patterns could never stand the test of Biblical stewardship; Christians “steal” the Lord’s resources by lavishly spending money on worthless and useless trinkets (in many cases); and withhold resources from those in need, while at the same time claiming to never have enough money to buy good Christian books, pay for home schooling, or buy Bible helps for their children. (Christians could also be helping the spiritually needy by giving them tracts, books, etc.) We “steal” from our families what they need and what we owe them in order to buy gifts for those who don’t need them.
  • D. Do Not Commit AdulteryAt this “special” time of the year, lustful thoughts are actually encouraged; e.g., teens are allowed to go to parties and stay out later, thereby having temptations put in front of them that otherwise wouldn’t be there. Christmas parties for adults also encourage evil thoughts through the use of the mistletoe, etc. (According to Matt. 5, such thoughts constitute adultery. At the very least, spiritual adultery is encouraged by the “season.”)
  • E. Do Not MurderEnvy and hate of my brother (which, according to Matt. 5, is equal to murder) because he has more than me or because he receives a larger Christmas bonus than me, is encouraged at Christmas time. We also tend to spiritually sacrifice our children to the “god of Christmas” via greed, selfishness, etc.
  • F. Honour Father & Mother Christmas gift-giving is not an honour to parents; the term “exchanging” gifts (i.e., giving in expectation of a return) is a dead give-away of the mockery associated with this tradition.
  • G. Remember the Sabbath & Keep It Holy Although we recognize that the Lord’s Day is not the “Christian Sabbath,” clearly the Lord’s Day is to be kept for worship and observed as such. Yet when Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, or the day after Christ-mas falls on a Sunday, most churches adjust the Lord’s Day to accommodate Christ-mas, usually by cancelling the regularly scheduled Sunday evening service. Most of its members are too busy or too tired to attend services anyway.
  • H. Do Not Take the Lord’s Name in Vain “Christ” and “mass” are two words that are totally opposite from one another, and to connect the two is to blaspheme the name of Christ. By taking a pagan celebration, “Christianizing” it, and calling it a celebration of the birth of Christ, is most certainly taking the Lord’s name in vain. (A good example of the willingness of the professing church to profane the name of the Lord would be the title of a popular children’s Christmas concert production — The Divine Ornament. Imagine, identifying our Lord with a pagan ornament to hang on a pagan tree! What insult! What blasphemy!) In addition, some professing Christians use religion (“Christ’s birthday”) as a cloak to cover the evils of covetousness, idolatry, greed, immorality, etc. — all excuses to give vent to evil lusts.
  • I. Do Not Make Yourself Any Carved ImageNativity scenes, “pictures” of Christ, Christmas cards with “pictures” of Jesus, etc., all violate this command. God has given us His Word, not images, to teach us about Christ (1 Pe. 1:23; Dt. 4:12, 15-19).
  • J. Have No Other gods Before MeThe “god of Christmas” is an idol! Looking to Christmas season for happiness, joy, and fulfilment, rather than through a pure, personal, and Biblical relationship with Jesus Christ, is idolatry.

IV. a Christian’s Decision to Celebrate Christmas–is it Christian Liberty?

  • A. Romans 14:1-13This passage is speaking of Jews who were observing the Old Testament Jewish holy days/festivals and dietary laws even though they were now believers in Christ; but they were also judging their Gentile brothers-in-the-Lord who did not observe the Jewish customs. Likewise, the Gentile Christians were judging their Jewish brothers who were seemingly caught-up in ceremonial law. Paul was thusly saying, “To you Gentile Christians — leave the Jewish Christians alone, because they are not violating any Scriptural commands by their actions (i.e.,it’s a “disputable” matter [doubtful or grey area] and not a moral issue). To you Jewish Christians — it’s okay for you to observe the Jewish festivals and dietary laws because they were given by God in the Old Testament, and thereby, are considered to be previously approved worship forms, but don’t judge your Gentile brothers because there is no Biblical command for either of you to continue to observe these things.” (Actually, it wasn’t “okay” [see IV.C. below], but Paul allowed it as an act of an immature/weaker brother [see II.G. above].) If a moral issue is involved (i.e., a practice that is covered in Scripture), then this passage and its application to Christian liberty (i.e., the freedom to engage in practices not prohibited by Scripture) would obviously not apply. The celebration of Christmas appears to be such a moral issue, because it is not only not from God, but is from ancient paganism itself!
  • B. 1 Corinthians 8:4-13The Gentile Christians, who had been raised in an idolatrous system, were having a problem with the their Jewish brothers who were eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols. (Apparently, this was the only “healthy” meat available.) Similar to the Romans 14 passage above, Paul says that eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols is not a moral issue, and thereby, is not prohibited. However, Paul does not say that it is okay to go into the pagan temple itself; in fact, in other passages (1 Cor 10:14, 18-21), Paul specifically prohibits getting involved with the pagan feasts. In other words, it’s not a moral issue to partake in the byproducts of a pagan religious system (note, however, that there is no indication here that the Jewish Christians were using the “idol meat” as part of their worship), but it is not okay to partake in the religious system itself (because the corrupt character of the participants would be harmful for believers). Rather, we must be separate from the worldly system (2 Cor 6:14-7:1). Therefore, when items (byproducts) associated with a pagan religious system not only develop religious associations of their own, but have been integrated into what would otherwise be true Christian worship (as the celebration of Christmas has clearly become in our culture), then we should pull away from them so that there is no confusion over our allegiances.
  • C. Galatians 4:9-10; Colossians 2:16-17Both these passages of Scripture refer to the Jewish holy days under Old Testament law. If Christians were not even to observe the Old Testament holy days — days which did have divine sanction, for a time — they certainly don’t have the liberty to observe pagan holy days!
  • D. James 4:11James is saying that Christians may only judge a brother on matters determined in God’s Word (i.e., moral issues). If a matter is not covered in the Word, then these are matters of Christian liberty (Rom.14:1-13,1 Cor 8:4-13). He who judges in these areas of Christian liberty is judging and condemning the Word of God as being an imperfect standard to which the judge, thereby, refuses to submit. Since we have clear Scriptural precept that condemns the things that go on around December 25th in the name of Christ, the celebration of Christmas does not appear to be a matter of liberty, but one of moral conduct.

V. The Right Response

  • A. Quench Not the Holy Spirit (1 Thes 5:19-22)Test all things against the Scripture and line-up beliefs and actions with what is true (i.e., do not treat with contempt the Word of God). If one is convinced that to celebrate Christmas is sin, then he and his family must not compromise with the world or the church by participating in any Christmas celebrations (Rom. 14:23).
  • B. Avoid Traps of the Devil:

1. Lack of ZealOne who never considers why he does certain things, but he just does them because he always has or because his parents always have; one who acts on emotions rather than on facts.

2. Lack of TruthOne who does things for good reasons and right motives (i.e., plenty of zeal), but not in truth.

  • C. Realize that Christians Celebrating Christmas as the Day of Christ’s Birth Makes No More Sense than Adding Any of the Following Days as Special Days of Christian Celebration:(Remember, The Bible’s focus on the birth of Christ is for the sole purpose of documenting his virgin birth, his incarnation, and the fulfilment of His prophetic Messiahship. Like the tongue-in-cheek suggestions below, one must also remember that there is no Biblical warrant, precedent, nor precept for the remembrance of the day of Christ’s birth as a day of special religious celebration.)

1. Baptism CelebrationWhy not have three days of swimming parties in the summer in order to celebrate/symbolize Christ’s three days in the grave? We could even pick a time based upon our speculation of when John the Baptist baptized Jesus!

2. Ascension Celebration Why not have one day set aside every year for hot-air balloon rides in order to celebrate Christ’s ascension to heaven?

3. Miracle Celebration There is considerable Biblical focus on Jesus’ miracles (even more than on his birth), so why not have one day set aside every year to celebrate the first of Christ’s miracles? And since that was the turning of water into wine (Jn. 2), why not have “Christian” wine-tasting parties?!

  • D. Avoid the Rationalizations that:

1. “Christmas Provides a Festive Time to Share the Gospel”– One cannot take something condemned in God’s Word and “use it” to spread the Gospel; neither will God bless it to spread His Word. Unacceptable worship and the “mixing-in” of unholy/pagan forms is surely not the normal means through which God blesses the faithful. Satan works to blend together his system with God’s system, because when unacceptable worship (paganism) is blended with true worship (God’s truth),true worship is destroyed.

In fact, any time one mixes pagan ideas and practices with the pure religion of Christ, it is condemned in Scripture as the heinous sin of idolatry! God has always detested taking those things dedicated to idols and using them to worship Him. [In fact, this “special time of the year” is probably more a hindrance to the receptiveness of the gospel message than a help. Much of the celebration observed by our contemporary society deludes people into assuming that God is pleased, when in reality, He is offended by false religion, pseudo-worship, and alien philosophies. The ecumenical spirit and counterfeit “love” under the guise of “peace and goodwill among men,” dulls one’s sensitivity to his desperate need to repent of sin and be reconciled to a holy God.]

2. “Christmas is Merely the Honouring of Christ’s Birth”– Someone says, “I know Christmas is of pagan origin, but I still think it’s not wrong for a church to have a special time for honouring Christ’s birth.” But since when did Protestants believe that Christians have the right to add to the Bible? Is the church a legislative body? Are we to follow the Bible in our faith and practice, or the thinking of fallible men? If we have the right to add a special holy day to the Christian economy, then we can add 10,000 other things. Then we will be no better than the false cults and the Roman Catholics who follow heathen traditions! [Celebrating Christ’s birth is a form of worship. But since Christmas is a lie, those who celebrate it are not worshiping in “spirit and truth” (Jn. 4:24).]

3. “All I’m Doing is Putting Christ Back into Christmas” The modern conservative cry to put Christ back into Christmas is absurd. As detailed earlier in this report, Jesus Christ was never in Christmas. It’s a lie to say He was. He has no part in a lie. When anyone takes the truth and mixes a lie with it, they no longer have the truth. They have changed the truth into a lie. Neither is it possible to take a lie and mix enough truth with it to change the lie into the truth. You still come out with a lie. One may say, “Well, I know it’s not the truth, but I’ll put Christ back in Christmas and glorify God in it then.” No, you won’t. Christ never was in Christmas. You cannot change a lie into the truth. It should in reality be Baal-mass, Nimrod-mass, Tammuz-mass, Mithras-mass, or Mary-mass. Christ-mass is a lie. Why use a lie as a good time for a cardinal truth (the incarnation) of the Christian faith?

4. “I’m Using Christmas to Witness for Christ, Just Like the Apostle Paul Did”Some say that all they are doing is taking the “truth” from Christmas (i.e., the incarnation of Christ) and “cultivating” it as the Apostle Paul did (Acts 17/Mars Hill), taking the opportunity of the season to witness to a lost world. This would be fine if these Christians were actually doing only as Paul did. Paul, in addressing the Greek philosophers on Mars Hill, proclaimed to them that their “unknown god” to whom they had erected an altar, was none other than “the God who made the world and all the things therein.” Paul was not intimidated by the pagan surroundings and symbolisms, nor did he berate the Greeks for their error, but merely showed them the truth of the gospel of Christ.
But do Christians really use the “opportunity presented by the season” in the same way as Paul used the opportunity of the pagan altar? Do Christians personally stand in front of their home-town public displays of Xmas (Nativity scenes, etc.) and preach the gospel? To paraphrase Paul, do they say: “Men of Indianapolis, I see that in every way you are very religious; what you worship as something unknown, I am going to proclaim to you”? Do they come out of the public schools where they have just attended their children’s Xmas programs and preach to the attendees about the true God who has been grossly misrepresented in the program they have witnessed? Hardly. Even to most of those who understand the true origin of Xmas, this “unique time of year” means inviting unbelievers into their homes to gather around the Xmas tree, are only using pagan forms and the pagan festival season as an opportunity to witness. If Paul meant this in Acts 17, he would have met the people in the Athenian temple or in his or their homes, gathering around their idols which he had Christianized and was now using as a part of his worship.

Most of the people who decorate their homes and churches with Xmas trees, holly wreaths, Nativity scenes, etc., all supposedly to be used as “opportunities” via “Xmas coffees,” neighbourhood “grab bag” gift exchanges, Xmas concerts, etc., are convinced that they’re doing God a service. And since they are not involved in the crass secular “commercialization” that the world revels in, but have instead “put Christ back in Xmas”, they reason that all is Biblical and pleasing to God.

5. “It Doesn’t Mean Anything to Me”Many Christians who routinely make a habit of picking-and-choosing which Biblical commands they will obey or not obey, have likewise carried this practice over into a justification for celebrating Christmas. They claim, “but the Christmas tree, mistletoe, Santa Claus, etc., don’t mean anything pagan to me, so I’ll exercise my Christian liberty and partake in all of it.” Obviously, if one were to take such a cavalier approach to the physical world (i.e., “I can drink rat poison because I choose not to regard it as poison”), it would likely lead to a quick physical death. Why then do Christians think they can avoid spiritual harm by ignoring God’s spiritual warnings?

6. “The ‘Connection’ Has Been Broken”– There are those who clearly recognize the pagan nature of the various Christmas worship forms and practices. Nevertheless, many of these Christians claim that because of the long passage of time from their pagan inception to the present (6000 years?), the “connection” to paganism has been sufficiently diminished to allow the adoption of these forms and practices into our Christian worship and celebration. While it may be true that most symbols have lost their original demonic meaning and significance in a modern society, it is strangely bizarre and ironic that Christendom seeks to commemorate Christ’s birth with the faded symbols of Satan. And even though some of God’s people may be naive and ignorant about the source of these things, surely God is not. Can such things please Him? And think about this — if it were possible to “disconnect” current practices from their pagan/occultic roots, why does Scripture not provide us any guidelines as to:

(a) how much time is necessary for the “neutralization”/disassociation process to occur; and

(b) which of the hundreds of ancient pagan rites would then be acceptable for adaptation into Christian worship (since some are obviously much more pagan/occultic than others)?

7. “There Are Hundreds of Other Items of Daily Life that Have a Pagan Origin”It is said, “Such things as the wedding ring, certain clothing customs, the modern division of time into hours and minutes, the names of the days of the week, etc., all have pagan connections in their origins, so isn’t it a contradiction on your part to say that their meanings have sufficiently changed while Christmas’s meanings have not?”

That’s not what we’re saying. We would ask the question back, “Which of these pagan items do we focus on to celebrate the birth of Christ? Or which of these is ‘Christianized’ and brought into our weekly worship of, or our daily devotion to, Christ, as you do with the pagan forms and traditions of Xmas?” The origin and meaning of a custom, tradition, or form does not take on significance unless it is somehow specifically incorporated into, or lined up with, our worship. As we have already detailed in the section on Christian liberty (Section IV.B.), these rings, clothing customs, etc. would be merely the byproducts of paganism, not paganism itself, and they have developed no religious connotations or associations of their own, as have the Xmas customs and traditions.

8. “Baptism (and Circumcision) Have Pagan Origins and God Still Gave Their Use in Scripture, So What’s Wrong With Using the Pagan Forms of Christmas?” This argument is frequently made by pastors who say that to be consistent, those who would have us forbid the forms, symbols, and traditions of Christmas should also be calling for us to abandon believer’s baptism; i.e., shouldn’t the would-be banners of Christmas be saying, “Since the ancient mystery religions practiced forms of baptism, therefore baptism is a pagan custom and should be outlawed for the believer in Christ”? This is a strange argument for anyone to make (and, in our opinion, reveals a low view of Scriptural admonitions). If baptism were absent from the Bible, as using pagan forms and traditions to celebrate or commemorate Christ’s birthday are absent, there would then be no Biblical justification for baptism. God has not commanded us to celebrate or commemorate Christ’s birth. He has commanded us to baptize (Matt. 28:19).

  • E. Abstain From the Observance of ChristmasWhat, then, ought to be the Christian’s response to this and other pagan and Roman inventions? It cannot be denied that they are pagan pure and simple, from beginning to end. God gives us specific instructions in His Holy Word: Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen … (Jer. 10:2). These words are perfectly clear. What rational options does a Bible believing Christian have?

VI. Conclusion

The very popularity of Christmas should cause the Christian to question it. Anyone and everyone can celebrate Christmas without question — outright pagans, nominal Christians, and even Buddhists and Hindus. If, in reality, December 25th was a date set by God to remember the birth of Jesus, you could be sure that the world would have nothing to do with it. After all, God has commanded one day in seven — the Lord’s Day — to worship Him. Does the world observe it? Of course not. As expected, the world loves Christmas, but hates the Lord Jesus Christ (Jn. 15:18, 23-25). It shuns anything pertaining to true religion. Shouldn’t the Christian be just a little suspicious of a celebration in which the whole sinful world can join without qualms?

One way to test the Scripturalness of our practices is to reflect on what we would expect missionaries to teach new converts in a foreign culture. With the Bible as their guide book they could start new local churches without importing American culture encumbered with Roman Catholicism, liberal Protestantism, and crass commercialism. Missionaries who have urged new converts to forsake all pagan superstitious relics have later been questioned about the apparent inconsistency of their own American Christmas customs. Nationals perceived them as idolatrous even though the missionaries were oblivious to that possibility!

When Christmas is exposed for what it really is, this angers people. It angers Protestant people! And there is reason why it does so. When the pagan celebration of Christmas is rooted up, and rejected, then what has become a Protestant tradition is, in effect, being rejected! And that is why people become angry. It began as a Roman Catholic holy day, and then it became a Protestant holy day. And if anyone dares show it up for what it really is, they face the wrath of the Protestant religious machine.

Christmas is a thoroughly pagan holiday — in its origin, in its trappings, and in all its traditions. Perhaps we should contemplate the words of the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon, delivered in a Lord’s Day sermon on December 24, 1871:

“We have no superstitious regard for times and seasons. Certainly we do not believe in the present ecclesiastical arrangement called Christmas: first, because we do not believe in the mass at all, but abhor it, whether it be said or sung in Latin or in English; and secondly, because we find no Scriptural warrant whatever for observing any day as the birthday of the Saviour; and consequently, its observance is a superstition, because [it’s] not of divine authority. Superstition has fixed most positively the day of our Saviour’s birth, although there is no possibility of discovering when it occurred. …

“It was not till the middle of the third century that any part of the church celebrated the nativity of our Lord; and it was not till very long after the Western church had set the example, that the Eastern adopted it. Because the day is not known, therefore superstition has fixed it; … Where is the method in the madness of the superstitious? Probably the fact is that the holy days were arranged to fit in with the heathen festivals. … We venture to assert that if there be any day in the year of which we may be pretty sure that it was not the day on which the Saviour was born, it is the twenty-fifth of December. … regarding not the day, let us, nevertheless, give God thanks for the gift of His dear Son.”

And from Dr. H.A. Ironside’s Lectures on the Book of Revelation (1920: p. 301):

“It is a lamentable fact that Babylon’s principles and practices are rapidly but surely pervading the churches that escaped from Rome at the time of the Reformation. We may see evidences of it in the wide use of high-sounding ecclesiastical titles, once unknown in the reformed churches, in the revival of holy days and church feasts such as Lent, Good Friday, Easter, and Christ’s Mass, or, as it is generally written, Christmas. … some of these festivals … when they are turned into church festivals, they certainly come under the condemnation of Galatians 4:9-11, where the Holy Spirit warns against the observance of days and months and times and seasons. All of them, and many more that might be added, are Babylonish in their origin, and were at one time linked with the Ashtoreth and Tammuz mystery-worship. It is through Rome that they have come down to us; and we do well to remember that Babylon is a mother, with daughters who are likely to partake of their mother’s characteristics …”

And, finally, from Alexander Hislop’s The Two Babylons: Or the Papal Worship:

“Upright men strove to stem the tide, but in spite of all their efforts, the apostasy went on till the Church, with the exception of a small remnant, was submerged under pagan superstition. That Christmas is a pagan festival is beyond all doubt. The time of the year, and the ceremonies with which it is celebrated, prove its origin.”

We can summarize by saying that nowhere in Scripture are we commanded to commemorate the birth of our Lord, and God the Father evidently deemed it unwise to make the date known. Hence, it will always remain unknown and is not to be ceremoniously remembered and celebrated. (In fact, God has warned us about getting entangled with any special days [Gal. 4:10]). Notice though, that we are commanded to remember Him in His death (but no special day was specified for this either):

“Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; this DO in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:18,19; 1 Cor. 11:23-26).

To commemorate His death is Scriptural. Any day of the year will do. To commemorate His birth is non-Scriptural, even extra-Scriptural (Deut. 4:2; 12:32; Prov. 30:6; Rev. 22:19), whether one chooses December 25th or any other day. If God had desired us to remember Christ’s birthday, He could have left us the precise date. But if He had, He would have vindicated every astrologer in the past 2,000 years. In occult circles, the anniversary of a person’s birth is the most important metaphysical day of the year. The Bible recognizes no such significance. It is intriguing that there are only two birthday celebrations recorded in the entire Bible and they were both those of ungodly kings — and both resulted in an execution (Gen. 40:16-22 and Matt. 14:6-10/Mark 6:21-27)!

The Apostle Paul says: “God forbid that I should glory in anything except in the cross [not the manger] of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Gal. 6:14). We find no salvation in the birth of the Lord Jesus by itself, for salvation was only made possible through His death (i.e., His shed blood) and resurrection. Our focus should be on the cross and our ascended Savior, not in a cradle.

Those who love Jesus should certainly rejoice that He was born and lived amongst us as a man. But if we truly want to glorify Him and bear testimony of who He is, we must stop marrying that blessed gift with the debauchery of paganism. If we want to honor His birth, let it be done as He would have done it: year-round unselfishly serving our fellow man as an unending act of love for our God. Let us put away all of the mixture of pagan customs and take up His mantle and His pure worship, and show the confused world that there is a difference.

BIBLIOGRAPHY/SOURCES

1. Assemblies of Yahweh. The Case Against Christmas. Sacred Name Broadcaster, Bethel, PA,23pp.
2. Becker, R.F. The Truth About Christmas. Chapel Library, Venice, FL, 36 pp.
3. Blanton, Raymond. The Christmas Lie. Highways & Hedges Tracts, Liberty, SC, 13 pp.
4. Buday, George. The History of the Christmas Card. Putman Pub., New York, 1954, 304pp.
5. Dager, Albert James. “The Origins of Christmas Traditions,” Media Spotlight Special Report Redmond, WA, 1985..
6. Dickey, D.J. & Shetler, Earl. “Should A Christian Celebrate Christmas?” Grace Reformed Baptist Church, Vernonia, OR, 10/89: three-part sermon series — each on a 90-minute audio cassette tape.
7. Dossey, Donald. Holiday Folklore, Phobias and Fun: Mythical Origins, Scientific Treatments & Superstitious “Cures.” Outcomes Unltd. Press, Asheville, NC, 1995 (paper ed.), 232pp.
8. Elwell, W. A. (Ed.). Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1984, pp. 218-221.
9. Halff, Charles. The Truth About Christmas. The Christian-Jew Foundation, San Antonio, TX, 13 pp.
10. Halff, Charles. “Is Christmas a Jewish Holiday?” Message Of The Christian Jew. November-December 1993, pp. cover, 1,2 & 7.
11. Helgerson, John C. Considering the Christmas Issue. The Church of the Open Bible, Burlington, MA, 12/31/90.
12. Hislop, Alexander. The Two Babylons: Or The Papal Worship. Loizeaux Bros., Neptune, NJ, 1959:Second Edition, 330 pp.
13. Kohler, John. Our Baptist Heritage. Heritage Baptist Church, Salem, IN, Vol. 2, No. 3, 11/92, 8 pp.
14. McCurry, Robert. The God Man Has Made. Heritage Press, Sharpsburg, GA, 8pp.
15. Pink, A.W. Xmas . Chapel Library, Venice, FL, 6 pp.
16. Schneider, Michael. Is Christmas Christian? Chapel Library, Venice, FL, 15 pp.
17. Spurlin, Ed. Where Is The Christ In Christmas. Voice in the Wilderness, Milford, NH, 11/92, 8pp.
18. Spurgeon, C.H. “Joy Born At Bethlehem,” A Sermon: Delivered on Lord’s Day Morning, December 24th, 1871. Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, pp. 697-698.
19. Unknown. My Lord Has Not Told Me To Do It: The Christian andChristmas. ” Chapel Library, Venice, FL, 4 pp.
20. Unknown. 10 Reasons Why Christmas Is Unscriptural. Chapel Library, Venice, FL, 8 pp.
21. (Vine, W.E.), Gospel Tract Publications. The Collected Writings of W.E. Vine, Volume 5. Glasgow, Scotland, 1986, pp. 436-439.
22. Willcock, Shaun. The Pagan Festivals of Christmas and Easter. Bible Based Ministries, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, 1992, 76 pp.
23. Wilson, Greg. Let’s Keep Christ Out of Xmas. Landmark Independent Baptist Church, Homestead, FL, 4 pp.

D.B.Dick

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