Would it shock you to learn that I, a Christian and a pastor, do not observe Christmas or Easter as Christian festivals? I make no special provision for these times, nor do I hold special services. Yet, I thoroughly enjoy the ‘Christmas’ period - which is unusual for someone who does not observe it! Let me unravel what may at first appear to be a most odd (some say 'heretical'!) situation...
I enjoy the ‘Christmas’ period simply for its cosiness. That's all. I enjoy it because, usually, I have time off from my work (but not my pastoral office, which is ongoing) and the family are all together - brought about mainly by the way the world seems to stop dead in its tracks! No, I do not like the drunken activities of many in society. No, I do not like the commercial rubbish which surrounds the Christmas period. Indeed, as a family, we stopped the sinful buying-in of rich stores of food which was really a waste and a shame. Nowadays, we buy-in the amount of food that is normally consumed in any other period.
As for buying presents, we have nothing against that. But, we certainly do not place ourselves in debt to buy presents for all and sundry, just because they buy presents for us! In fact, we told our extended families that we would not be buying them presents at Christmas-time anymore, because it gets out of hand. And they all agreed, with a sigh of relief! How many readers wish they could do this? You CAN! Just be honest. And, when anyone asks me “What do you want for Christmas?” I always reply “Nothing”. There is no real reason to buy presents, not even for birthdays! It is up to others what they do. (Note: I only use the word ‘Christmas’ because it is used universally and everyone knows what it is, even if their understanding is secular/pagan).
Way back, when our own children were very small, we never indulged them in an orgy of expensive toys at any time. Throughout the whole year we explained to them how everything costs money and that we had very little of it. Thus, they grew to understand the value of money and knew that we did not get things for nothing. Even as tiny tots they never used the blackmail so commonly seen in children today to get the toys they want. As a result, as grown men, they still display the same understanding and restraint.
We enjoy singing Biblical carol-hymns* (which are very few). We enjoy our Christmas dinner, too. But, we do not 'celebrate' Christmas, because it is not a Christian festival at all; it is a thinly-disguised pagan one, invented and propagated by the Roman Catholic cult. Jesus Christ could have been born anytime during the five or six months of winter. Fixing the date at 25th December was a concession by Roman Catholic popes to an existing pagan rite; it had nothing to do with the birth of Christ. Nowhere in scripture do we find any warrant for keeping a Christmas festival. So, why do so many churches do it? (* 2012 note: This was written 20 years ago!).
If we put that aside, can we legitimately call Christmas a Christian festival? I would ask you why you want a 'festival' and what is its meaning? I would also ask you if your festival can be supported by scripture and by a personal, deep-held conviction?
Paul tells us that each Christian must answer to his own conscience on matters of holy days. Thus, one man may count a certain day as 'holy' whilst another may not. The only holy day we must all observe is the seventh-day 'sabbath' (even this day must be properly understood). All other observations are up to the individual Christian. Even so, no Christian is at liberty to follow something which is clearly not appropriate to his standing as one saved by Grace.
Christmas is certainly not appropriate as a holy day! Firstly, it has no substantial link with Jesus Christ or His birth-date. Secondly, it is an invention of the Roman Catholic institution, a cult. Thirdly, (and the most important reason) the Bible itself does not require us to observe the day or the event. Certainly we are not instructed to 'celebrate' it or to hold a 'festival' or to call it an 'holy day'. Fourthly, the false 'love' which inevitably oozes from (often drunk!) people at Christmas is ludicrous, given their disregard or even hatred for each other at other times. Fifthly, to celebrate a holy festival which has no basis in fact or command, is to give a wrong impression to others; it also teaches as doctrine what is not doctrine. Knowing all that, can we honestly still 'celebrate' Christmas? Let us all get back to scripture.
But, what about Easter? Is this a genuine holy day? Easter is not a required observance either! It is yet another invention of Roman Catholicism, so, as a ‘feast day’ it has nothing to do with Christianity. It is, then, absurd for Christian leaders to publicly say that the world has lost the "true meaning of Christmas". It is equally ridiculous for them to talk of the "real meaning of Easter". Both are absurd! What on earth is the "real meaning" of Christmas and Easter (as feast days)? If these festivals are products of a cult and they have no basis in scripture, then all talk of their "real meaning" is spurious, irrelevant and meaningless.
Other so-called 'Christian' festivals are just as nonsensical. They keep people in bondage to priestly inventions and help Romanism to keep its power. Let us get back to what God's word says and leave the countless festivals to the cults!
Other Pastoral Concerns
I know that some folks get steamed up about Christians who adhere to Christmas as a celebration. Some even go so far as to say that these people ‘must be unsaved’. Oh dear! As both a pastor and a Bible researcher I know that this arises from a genuine desire to be scriptural. But, to make such harsh decisions is wrong. We must separate the content and aim of celebrating Christmas (etc.), from the idea of it as an holiday. (2012 note: Besides, those who ‘celebrate’ Christmas usually do so out of habit and poor teaching, not as a personal belief).
Over the years as a pastor I have come to see there is no point in trying to bludgeon people into accepting the truth. All I can do is present it. The rest is up to the individual’s conscience and the work of the Holy Spirit. Should I cast these people out of fellowship or treat them with disdain? No, I must not.
Mostly, Christians adhere to Christmas, Easter, etc., because of poor teaching. Some do so because of ignorance. Others do so out of a genuine belief that we ought to celebrate these festivals. But, most celebrate a ‘belief’ that is not really a ‘belief’ at all, but a long-held misconception. As a pastor I must distinguish each kind of reason and apply a different answer to each! It is my task to guide the sheep – not to obliterate them! We should not assume that a misplaced regard for a festival is a sign of their unsaved state, or of a blatantly-paganistic mind!
Yes, those who keep to heretical beliefs even when shown the truth need a strict response. However, the rest usually have no idea what they are doing, so it is up to me to teach them. I know that no-one in our small church holds to these festival days as festivals, because I have taught them and they know my stance. They all share the same beliefs, because they are true beliefs held in their hearts.
We must also distinguish the notion of holding a festival and the use of Christmas trees, etc. This is an entirely different situation and must not be mixed with the aims! Almost no Christian who has a Christmas tree, etc., knows the origin of the practice. As with so many other practices, they need teaching… but we have no right to force them to obey. Only the Holy Spirit has the right and power to change minds and hearts. And what if the person has a tree simply because it is pretty? Is this not the same as the person in Jesus’ time who buys meat in the market that came from a pagan rite? We are told in that case that if we have a clear conscience and do not share in the rite, we do not sin! If a person has a Christmas tree because it is pretty, and does not share the pagan origins, is this not the same kind of thing? The question is rhetorical, for each will have a personal slant.
We must remember the New Testament teaching about the eating of meats, because its principles apply to many other situations, including the use of Christmas and Easter incidentals.
In Hebrews 13:9 we see that the heart is established with grace; not with meats. Jesus sat with sinners to eat meat (Mat. 9:10), because His aim was to teach God’s word. If we eat meat that causes a brother to be grieved, then do not eat it in his presence (Romans 14:15); the one who eats with the deliberate aim of causing offence is sinning (Romans 14:20). Whether we eat or not, neither will destroy God’s word (1 Cor. 8:8), but we should beware not to cause others to stumble. Do you understand the principles here? Use proper judgment, not judgmentalism.
“Let no man… judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath (days).” (Col.2:16). If we try to control the consciences of others, we become guilty ourselves, as verses 18, 19 tell us… in our warnings we are puffed up and try to divide the Body of Christ. This is why we may not accuse a Christian of not being saved, or wicked, just because he or she observes a fake festival! As verses 20, 21 tell us, if we are “dead with Christ” why are we so heated about ordinances (touch not; taste not; handle not). If someone genuinely believes they ought to observe the birth of Christ, then so be it, so long as they are able to differentiate it from the Romanist celebration.
There is an old saying… ‘oh that others would be as I am’!! How full of pride! If, by God’s grace and mercy, I have reached a more mature understanding of certain things, it does not give me the right to rip anyone else apart just because God has not yet instructed them in their souls. If the matter is utterly serious and cannot be set aside for now, then we must act. But, I hope the issue of festivals is now settled… even if some continue in their observance. Leave it to their consciences and to the Holy Spirit. Teach wisely and do not rant.
And remember this: the practice of attending Jewish synagogues for meetings continued in the Christian churches for about 300 years after Christ, even though Christ had done away with Judaism! Yet, they took part in Jewish rites and observances. Dare we assume that all of them were therefore unsaved... including some of the Apostles? Dare we utter such a startling declaration when we do not know each person and his heart? How, then, can we say someone who still observes Christmas as Christmas, is unsaved? Perhaps unwise – but unsaved? Beware!
SOME FOLK, THINKING I AM TOTALLY MISLED OR UNAWARE OF THE LITERATURE ON CHRISTMAS ETC., CONTINUE TO SEND ME ‘INSTRUCTIVE’ LEAFLETS, OFTEN BY THE TRUCK-LOAD… PLEASE, FRIENDS, I HAVE SEEN THEM ALL AND I NOW HAVE ENOUGH TO PAPER A WHOLE HOUSE WITH! THE ABOVE IS HOW I PRESENTLY THINK ON THE MATTER AFTER READING THEM ALL AND AFTER RESEARCHING THE WHOLE ISSUE PERSONALLY. DO NOT ASSUME I AM IGNORANT OF THESE SOURCES!
NOTE: For a more detailed treatment of Easter, see separate article (A-029)
© June 1992 (revised November 2013)
Published on www.christiandoctrine.com
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