Monday, November 21, 2016

Celebrating Christian Holidays

It has been a growing trend for several years for certain groups of Christians to refuse to celebrate holidays like Christmas or Easter because they believe those days have pagan roots.

I think it's misguided to think the actions of some group of pagans in the past has corrupted a day God made for all eternity such that Christians can never celebrate anything on that day for fear of inadvertently celebrating something pagan. The same thing goes for inherently harmless activities like decorating a tree or having a game to find hidden eggs. The fact that these things might once have had a connection to some sort of pagan activity doesn't mean that people today have any sort of evil in their hearts or are worshiping a false god in doing them.

So, yes, it's somewhat true that many Christian holidays and traditions had some sort of pagan association at one time (though not all the rumors about this are true). That's not a problem. Christians went into new cultures and used their existing traditions to tell the Christian message instead of a pagan one. They redeemed days of celebration, as they redeemed the people, by converting them to worship the one true God.

Something similar was done by John and Charles Wesley when they took bar songs and used the tunes for hymns. The people were familiar with the tune, but now the song taught them about God and encouraged them to worship Him. Christians changing traditions of a pagan people to instead celebrate and teach about Christ is a good thing. A former pagan association to a day or activity doesn't contaminate the hearts of those who are actually worshiping and celebrating Christ.

Of course, if someone's conscience prevents them from celebrating Christmas or Easter because they believe it is wrong, then they should not violate their conscience. However, they can inform their conscience if they choose to. We are free in Christ and do not have to be bound by ideas of spiritual contamination by association. To the pure, all things are pure.

Christ came to earth as one of us and died in our place so that we can be reconciled to God. That's something worth celebrating. If that's what is in our hearts at Christmas or Easter or other holidays, then that's what we're celebrating, and no other tradition that may or may not have ever occurred on that day can corrupt it for us.

11 comments:

  1. Hi Lindsay,

    I don't disagree with what you wrote here but I am interested in what you think about celebrating the festivals described in the Bible (e.g. Leviticus 23) in place of Christmas and Easter. I believe that celebrating the feasts of Passover, Pentecost, Tavernacles etc. gives a great understanding of God's plan, both past and future and I don't think this can be said of Christmas and Easter. I am not trying to say that we are bound by law to celebrate the Biblical feasts, but feel that there is a lot value in freely choosing to celebrate them.

    Jacob

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    1. If someone wants to celebrate the Jewish festivals, I don't see why not. As you say, there is no requirement to do so. I would think, if the Jewish festivals were celebrated, that Christmas and Easter should also be celebrated (not replaced with OT festivals) because they are about events that are even more important than anything celebrated in the OT. The OT looked forward to Christ while Christmas and Easter celebrate His coming and His resurrection - the most important events in history. A group of holidays that leaves out a celebration of the most important events ever seems rather incomplete.

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    2. Hi Lindsay,

      I don't agree that the festivals described in Leviticus only look forward to Christ's first coming. Clearly that is part of what they do but it is not all as they also encompass Jesus' birth, death (which Christmas and Easter do celebrate) and look forward to his second coming (which is missed entirely by Christmas and Easter). For example the feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread and First Fruits were fulfilled by Jesus through His sacrifice at Passover, His burial at Unleavened Bread and His resurrection on the day of First Fruits. Also, the Festival of Tabernacles marks the season of Jesus’ birth and His future return and coronation.

      There is far more intricacy than I have explained here and I encourage you to look into this further as I believe the feasts have so much more relevance to God's plan for the world than Christmas and Easter. I'd be interested in your thoughts on this article:

      http://www.newlifefreo.com/pdfarticles/GodsStory-GodsFestivals.pdf

      Jacob

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  2. If you know that something is evil but yet you still choose t follow it then your heart is wicked and the truth is not in you. Easter for one is a lie because how can Jesus be in the grave for three days but yet easter starts at Good Friday to resurrection sunday. This is not three days. As for Christ mass this is a Catholic tradition that worships the death of Christ not his birth. The scripture doesn't tell us to observe his so called birthday. CHTISTMAS is pagan..Just like thanksgiving. Native Americans were slaughtered on thanksgiving and they still mourn about that..but yet in America when thanksgiving comes around people celebrate it as its some type of holy day. People are full of gluttony. This is Not PLEASING To The Lord. Seelnhim.for truth dear and don't follow the masses.

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    1. Celebrating holidays is not evil. If I believed it to be evil and did it anyway, that would be wrong. But it's not wrong and I don't believe it to be wrong.

      I agree that Jesus may not have been crucified on a Friday. We do know he was raised on a Sunday. The Bible doesn't tell us what day He was crucified. Different people have argued for either Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday and they all have some validity.

      https://www.gotquestions.org/three-days.html

      But regardless of what exact day Jesus was crucified or even when He was resurrected, celebrating His resurrection is a good thing and not evil. The same goes for the day of His birth.

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  3. Aren't we commanded to obey his word only? Easter has nothing to do with Christ at all. Neither does Christmas. Are you a disciple of Jesus Christ. May I ask how were you baptized?

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    1. Christmas and Easter have everything to do with Christ. Christmas is the celebration of Christ's birth and Easter is the celebration of Christ's resurrection. At least, that's what I and most Christians are celebrating on those days. And we certainly have freedom to celebrate days, as Romans 14 makes clear.

      Yes, I am a disciple of Christ and was baptized at age 9.

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  4. Jesus was in the grave for three days. How is it that he was crucified on a Friday and rose on a sunday? Is that three days? No ma'am it certainly is not. Also were you baptized in the name of Jesus for the remission of your sins or under the father, son, and holy ghost?

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    1. This is a bit off-topic, but I'll bite.

      In Jewish culture of the time, a part of a day is counted as a day. It was common to speak of "the third day" or "in 3 days" as what we today would say as "the day after tomorrow," regardless of what time of day it was when that was said. The notion of "three days" always meaning a full 72 hours is part of our culture, but not Jewish culture.

      I was baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I believe. I was 9, so may not remember the exact words used. But it really isn't relevant either way.

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    2. Actually it is relevant ma'am. We must firstly understand what baptism is for. Baptism is for the remission of our sins and it is what saves us 1peter3:21. We need to be baptized in Jesus name according to acts 2:38. Being baptized in the name of the father son and hold ghost are just titles. We are to be buried in the water in Jesus name.

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    3. The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are not merely titles, but individual persons of the Godhead.

      The rest of this topic is not something I will get into here. Our theology is obviously very different.

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