“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”
Last year’s Christmas season was a great time for me, only that there was so much fuss about whether or not Christmas should be celebrated by Christians. Some took it upon themselves to go dipping their hands into the unknown history of speculations in search of arrows of condemnation to shoot at those who chose to celebrate. But in this article I wish to talk on that issue and bring it into clear light lest the coming Christmas season be ruined again. I shall therefore be presenting the points of those opposed to the celebration of Christmas and give a response to it as to why their argument is not only inadequate, but outrightly absurd and uncalled for.
Christmas: A Celebration Of Nimrod’s Birthday
“And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth.”
“Nimrod was born on the 25th of December” is by far the most absurd anti Christmas argument I’ve heard. How do people know that he was born on the 25th of December? They just bring up one funny photo of an old artefact and say that is Nimrod. Because they have such a photo they think anything they say should be believed as accurate. The exact day of birth of Jesus, David, Abraham is not known, despite the thorough tradition of keeping genealogy of the Jews, yet the exact day of Nimrod’s birth is known by these super guys. That’s pretty wonderful.
The thing that baffles me about these people is that when they’re told Jesus was born on 25th December, they rightly refuse to accept that as true not seeing enough evidence for the claim. They’d ask you the intelligent question, “where is it written in the Bible?” Very good. But when they are told Nimrod was born on 25th December, despite not having any evidence apart from the photo of the artefact of a funny looking head of which we don’t know whether it is even a representation of Nimrod, his brother, his father, or somebody else entirely, maybe it is even the funny head of the person who first put forward the argument, yet they believe. The Bible did give an account of Nimrod’s birth but remains silent on the day of his birth. Yet when this our friends who acted intelligently before are told that Nimrod was born on the 25th of December, they forget to ask this time, “where is it written in the Bible?” I don’t understand why they do this but I’ll leave it at that.
Observing Times Is Evil
“Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.”
(Galatians 4:10 – 11)
Another argument against Christmas which I heard is that it is wrong to keep days, months, times, and years. This they claim misquoting and misapplying the verse above. But Paul is quite clear that he’s not condemning the practice itself but the fact they sought justification by these things. The people who encouraged the Galatians to observe days claimed that they were required to do these things in order to be Christians which is entirely false. This is what Paul was condemning.
To be sure about the fact that there’s nothing wrong in keeping days in itself, Paul himself kept days. It is written, “For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia: for he hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost.” (Acts 20:16). He also said himself, “But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost.” (1 Corinthians 16:8). Read also Acts 18:21. If it was the keeping of days in itself that was evil, the day of Pentecost too should not have been kept by the apostle. It should even have been overlooked and not be mentioned in reference to a date of an appointment or coming event.
Furthermore, Christ himself observed days. He observed the Passover, and indeed it was on the day of the Passover (the observance of the day that the Israelites came out of Egypt) that he introduced our holy sacrament of the holy communion. For it is written, “And he said, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples.” (Matthew 26:18). Note the word “KEEP.” He kept the passover. He also said later on, “And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer.” (Luke 22:15). This is Christ himself speaking and expressing his earnest desire to keep that day.
So it should be clear that keeping dates is not evil in itself. It is when we do it thinking that by it we are justified that such hope in mundane things becomes wrong, else Jesus would not have kept the day of Passover. Even actual good works become evil when we put our hopes of salvation on them. Not that the good became evil but the misplaced hope of salvation in it make it bad. Let us be careful the way we judge others. We may be “holier than thou,” but can never be holier than he. If he kept the day of Passover, we must not attribute sin to the deeds of the holy One.
The Real Origin Of Christmas Celebration
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”
Certainly the claim that Nimrod was born on the 25th of December is founded on fallacy and it is not the true origin of Christmas. Now here’s the truth about how Christmas came about. What we have good records of is that 25th of December was the pagan holiday of Saturnalia. This was done in honour of Saturn their god of agriculture. But it was later changed to Christmas by Emperor Constantine when he got converted to Christianity.
It was well known in the church even before this time and there are clear evidences that long after Constantine, that 25th of December was not believed to be the day of birth of Jesus. That 25th of December was the birthday of Jesus was not in any way in agreement to the assumptions of Bishops at this time, before this time and long after this time. So it couldn’t have been that Constantine established Christmas to celebrate the birthday of Christ. The people in his time did not see it that way, and the people for unknowable amount of time after him did not see his decision concerning Christmas that way. So why do we claim it is that way? To take Christmas day to be the birthday of Christ is therefore a departure from what Constantine the Great and bishops of his time intended.
Rather than what these people claim, his decision was a way of saying, “Seeing we now know that there is no god such as Saturn, therefore we cannot have a day to celebrate a non-existing god. For this reason this day shall now be used to the honour of the Living God by celebrating the incarnation of Jesus the manifestation of the True God.”
The wisdom of this decision is profound one. We know that nature is repulsive to vacuum, and for this reason the pressure (force) to fill vacuum in our atmosphere is great. This phenomenon is true and the same with almost all parts of life. To leave one bad habit and not fill up its space with a good one could see an addict eventually go back to his bad habit due to the pressure of not filling the vacuum. If people have been accustomed to celebrating at a particular time of the year known for abundance of food which prompts celebration, to just say that they should not celebrate at all may not be effective. So it was great wisdom on the part of Constantine not to cancel the celebration outrightly, but to convert it from the foolish celebration of a non-existing god to the celebration of the incarnation of the One, True, and Living God.
For this reason, contrary to what many suppose, Christmas (i.e. as celebrated by the church) is not a celebration of the birthday of Christ but of the birth of Christ. Not the celebration of the day that he was born but the celebration that he was born. Such is not a thing that should attract condemnation of any kind.
To condemn this is just like condemning someone who was an idolater and used to read a book of magic, as he was trained and accustomed to do, for one hour every 6pm. But after his conversion to the faith he says he can no longer be reading this book of magic but would instead dedicate this same time to the reading of the Bible. Condemning Christmas is just like condemning this person for reading the Bible at the same time of the day saying he’s reading the Bible to the honour of the Living God and to shame of the abandoned god. Such condemnation is not only absurd but silly, yea indeed evil. It is equally silly and evil to say that people are celebrating the birth of Christ in honour of Nimrod or some strange god. If they celebrated it as a birthday, it would have been kind to correct it lovingly, not to be condemning people and even digging up lies to condemn people.
We should be well aware also that people easily misconstrue our Sunday worship to be the same as Sabbath and seek to apply the laws of Sabbath to it. They think it is a breaking of God’s command to work on Sundays. But Saturday, not Sunday, is Sabbath. It is this wrong interpretation that make some say it is wrong to worship on Sundays. They’ve forgotten that we are not under the law and do not observe Sabbaths. The right name for Sunday is the “Lord’s day,” not Sabbath. We therefore worship on Sunday not because it is Sabbath but because it is the Lord’s day. But this error is rife both now and in the past. For this reason, if people could make mistakes about two days of the week, it is also understandable why people could see Christmas as a celebration of the birthday of Christ rather than seeing it as a celebration of his birth. Therefore seeking to correct the error regarding Christmas by condemning the celebration is like seeking to correct the error of taking Sunday to be the same as Sabbath by condemning Sunday worship. This error we find in the Seventh Day Adventists. What ought to be done rather is to correct error that people should celebrate Christmas as a celebration of the birth of Christ and not his birthday.
Now What Is The Celebration About?
“When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.”
“Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.”
(2 Corinthians 9:15)
Now, let is even come to the celebration itself. How is Christmas celebrated by the church? I know many people celebrate it in many ways. Businesses make the best of it to make sales, people use it as a period for partying, revelling, pursuing all manner of pleasure, and what have you. But how is it celebrated by the church?
When people say celebrating Christmas is wrong I get puzzled. What I know is that there’s a Christmas service held in which there’s a special emphasis on the birth of Christ, children act drama of his birth, etc. Outside church service, Christians use the opportunity of the holiday to visit one another, they share gifts, eat rice, and drink Malt. What else do Christians do during this period of the year? Drink blood of slain animals? Spend the night in the graveyards making enchantments? Of course not. So what is bad in these things that Christians do that should attract the condemnation of any rational being? Nothing absolutely.
What’s With The Santa?
“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
I heard some funny explanation of the origin of Santa Claus. I know we are prone to making such assumption when we’re sceptical about something. I for example enjoy listening to Enya, but wasn’t too sure if her music was suitable for the Christian ear. I remember listening to a track titled “Tempus Vernum.” I jumped to the conclusion that she was singing about something diabolic thinking Tempus meant tempest and Vernum is synonymous to venom, and because it was not English I concluded other words must be terrible. That made me stop listening to her song with resolve. I was so convinced about this, but one day, after, in the course of discussing with my friend, we talked about her songs. It told him her songs are horrible, but I thought it would be best to find out the exact meaning of Tempus Vernum so I could be sure of its exact meaning. To my great surprise I found that horrible “Tempus Vernum” simply meant “spring time.” I laughed at myself with a wide mouth.
So I know we can draw funny conclusions on things we are skeptical about, and so I’m not surprise when I saw a post that said the true meaning of Santa Claus is Satan Claws. But why Satan Claws? Why not rat claws? And what is Satan clawing? Then they post a photo of one blued skinned dude with stylish beards, that look like what you’d expect to see in Final Fantasy, and claimed that was Santa. That was so funny. The name Santa Claus however means Saint Nicholas, of which Claus is the corrupted version Nicholas.
Now, apart from taking Christmas day to be the birthday of Christ, Santa is the only major aberration from the Christmas celebration that I know. I am opposed to introducing Santa into the Christmas celebration by the church as there would be a conflict in the identity of the reason for the season. If we are going to be celebrating Christmas for any reason, we must put Santa Clause aside and focus on him of whom it was told that shall be called Immanuel.
The Benefits Of Marking Days
“And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.”
Keeping of days has the benefit of helping to keep the event being marked in the memory, lest we forget. It serves as a memorial. However, let me make one thing clear, to as many as read their Bible regularly, those things which are written in it cannot be forgotten. For in all the verses admonishing us to keep the things we’ve heard (in the written word) in constant reminder it is referring to doing so by consistently reading the Bible and not by marking days. The things we are to have in constant reminder are so much beyond what marking 365 days in a year could suffice. However, such memorial could be of help to those who are slack concerning the faith and even those who are not slack, for while they remember, they may as well have forgotten the essence of what is being marked. How many times have you experienced this profound joy in discovering something new when you put even something considered little from the scriptures into special consideration. So having a period of the year to bring to special reminder the birth of Christ is a great thing to do if it shall be well used. So let’s be clear in that.
Keeping of days has other benefits too, but Christmas has the major benefit of providing a good opportunity to share the gospel, and remind the world of her Saviour. When we celebrate it, it is a sign to the world to make them wonder and inquire about him who we celebrate. That provides us a good ground to share the gospel. It is only wisdom to try to keep and preserve the celebration of Christmas for this benefit than to throw it away on the baseless grounds that it is marked on the 25th of December.
“He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.” (Romans 14:6)
My conclusion on the matter therefore is that we ought not be judgmental on such issues. Romans 14 speaks clearly on how to handle such matters. It clearly says, “One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” (Romans 14:5). If any choose to celebrate, he does well and sin not. If another choose not to celebrate, he too does well and sin not. There may be sufficient reasons not to celebrate or join in the celebration, but never enough reason to condemn the celebration. So, while leaving it to the opinion of each individual to make up his mind, I will not take a stance for or against people celebrating Christmas. I am however strongly opposed to criticising or condemning those who choose to celebrate it. That is both unwise and unscriptural.
Furthermore, it is written, “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days.” (Colossians 2:16). Anyone who therefore lets anyone judge him in respect to celebrating Christmas knows little about the freedom he has in Christ. It may be said that what was written here are to those who say we need to observe days, etc. to be commended to God, but to condemn people in respect to days is just like flipping a coin. It is another side of the coin but it is still the same coin of unsound judgment. Let us not therefore let anyone judge us in respect to observing days but let us do that which we of our own selves are persuaded to do knowing it does not displease God.
So let their be no condemnation of marking the day, only let us strive to ensure it is done according to truth, in a godly way, used for a godly purpose, and done in the glory of God. I pray God will help us to be convinced aright on the matter in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Prayer: Dear Lord, it is your will for your church to be united on every issue. We therefore pray that you will help us to be united, according to your will, on the issue of Christmas to the glory of your name. Thank you for another wonderful year coming to a close. Be exalted now and always. Amen.