Objections to Christmas Answered

Thanksgivings on Special Occasions - Third in a series

Christmas originated as a way of lifting up God's Son as the Light of the world, to counter pagan celebrations. In 320 AD Pope Julius set December 25 as the official date of Jesus' birth; then the Emperor Constantine proclaimed it as an ‘immovable feast’ in 325 AD —so it does not change in date from year to year as Easter does. Constantine also decreed that Sunday would be the Roman day of rest.

Not all Christians today nor across the centuries have seen Constantine’s proclamations as binding, yet even after 17 centuries some still are honored. The U.S. established Dec. 25th as a federal holiday in 1887 after 14 states had made it a legal holiday. All non-essential government offices, schools, banks and many businesses close, giving families an opportunity to travel and have reunions. A good thing!

Nevertheless, in Daniel, we read: And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand… (Dan 7:25) This prophecy seems to say that the Antichrist will have the power to change or to erase ‘immovable’ dates.

U.S. law notwithstanding, some still object to celebrating Christmas. They object to the mention of the “mass” in the word Christmas. Mass is the Roman Catholic term for communion. Yet we all understand that Christmas celebrates Christ's birth. We use common terms such as ‘baptism’ with other denominations despite each having specific connotations. We also accept and use the word Sunday which has reference to the sun god's day, associated originally with pagan worship, as Monday was the ‘moon's day’ and Tuesday was named for the god of war, and so on.

Many festivals were celebrated at the time of the 16th century Reformation such as the feasts of the apostles, of Mary and others, and practices had been added to church life that encouraged superstitions and heresy. It was time for purification and revival; the Catholics agree here.

The church has re-formed and evolved over time in its understanding and practices. For example, the Trinity was defined in the third century, definitions of heresies were added at various junctures, the "full humanity and full divinity" of Jesus was established in the 5th century, and some things that were not part of the New Testament church have become usual, such as church buildings, creeds and confessions, tiny cups and miniature crackers for communion, baptistries, Sanctity of Life Sunday, handbells, and thanksgivings on special occasions.

Many of us object to the debauchery—the “extravagant merriment… bacchanalian lasciviousness’ in the season of Christmas. Merchandising and retail mayhem, puddings and candies, liquors, parties, jingle bells, ho-ho-ho, Secret Santas, gaudy decorations and blending the secular with the holy. Yet, there is also the divine joy of Christmas hymns, caroling, special decor, worship and family gatherings.

Objections are sounded against “adding to the Bible”– which Scripture forbids – (Deut 4:2; Prov 30:5-6; Rev 22:18) and degrading the worship of God:

  • “All modes of worship must be expressly sanctioned by God's word, if they are to be considered legitimate. Since Christmas observances, and other ecclesiastical festivals, are not commanded in the scriptures, they fail to meet divine approval, even if there were no additional objections to them." (Presbyterian Heritage Publications)
  • “The sons of Aaron are … condemned for bringing strange, or ordinary fire to God's worship; as doing that which God had not commanded, and yet had not otherwise forbidden... And this is the very plea which we make against ceremonies of human institution, in God's worship." (William Ames (1576-1633), prominent English Puritan)
    • “The strange fire of Nadab and Abihu was fire that did not come from the brazen altar; therefore, it is a type of failing to worship God on the ground of the shed blood of Christ." (ref)

Celebrating the birth and incarnation of the Lord at a special time of year as a tradition does not add "strange fire" that is, a different definition of what it means to be saved. Rather, it focuses us even more on Jesus Christ as Lord, born of a virgin, the Word made flesh.

Despite the commercialization, Christmas offers opportunities for evangelism that don't exist otherwise, and helps to teach church history and important facts about Jesus. Any special church service such as on Christmas Eve or Day can become a time for outreach.

Not all Christians celebrate Christmas, and no one should be forced to. Each year I look forward to Christmas, and celebrating it does help me to worship.

This blog series will continue some time in the New Year, DV, Deo Volente, God willing. Merry Christmas!

Remembering God's Words

Remembrance and its opposite - Eleventh in a series

In the Bible we are told to REMEMBER God's words (Deut 6:8; Deut 11:18). Memorization or frequent reading are two ways to do that.

We are warned against adding to or subtracting from them (Deut 4:2; Deut 12:32; Rev 22:18, 19). Anyone who faithfully reads God's words and obeys them will have a good life no matter what his or her circumstances.

If someone is reading this post, murmuring, I have tried to read the Bible, but it makes no sense to me; I just can't understand it! —then get on your knees and cry out to God for help to read and to understand the Bible! You need the Bible to live; otherwise you will starve to death. (Mat 4:4)

Looking back, I have changed churches from time to time. If the church I was in did not lift up God's Word, after a time, I moved on. I recall a church where the preaching was inspired and I learned so much about the Bible. I felt amazed and encouraged after each sermon. But that pastor retired, others were hired, and over time, the Word was no longer the focus of the worship service. I could look around on Sundays and see that the sheep were hungry and tired. As we sat in the service, we felt cold and forlorn in our ruined pasture.

What is this power of God's Word to satisfy? How are we filled and made whole by it? Why is it described as "alive" by the author of Hebrews? (Heb 4:12) Or, do you not consider it to be upbuilding and dynamic? But if it is not, why do communist nations forbid its presence? Why are those who smuggle it in or share it in those nations killed or jailed? What sort of threat does it pose to those in control?

It is God's Word! It trumps every other power on earth or in the heavens. It gives truth, instruction, revival, reason, help, comfort, inspiration, guidance, courage and hope. It tells what has been and what will be; it is unbreakable, authoritative, strengthening, eternal, enlivening, and it has power to free us from enslaving habits, thoughts, emotions, moods and memories.

In my 20s I came across five reasons why we need the Bible (though I cannot tell you where I found this list):

Nature's revelation is not enough… A supernatural revelation is needed to show:

  1. The character of God.
    We can glean some insights about God's power and moral essence from his creation, but it takes the fulness of actual communication to reveal his holiness, justice, mercy and love.
  2. The origin of man.
    The confusion of ancient and modern theories proves the need for man to know his lofty origin.
  3. The origin of evil and death.
    Man needs to understand why he is sinful and why evil and death abound.
  4. Man's purpose.
    Man needs to understand why he was created and the provisions for his redemption.
  5. Man's destiny.
    Man needs to know what lies beyond death.

If we will not remember God's words, we should fear because neither good intentions nor claims of ignorance will excuse us. (Lev 5:15, 17) Likewise in society, have you run a stop sign? You did not see it, or perhaps were not aware it required you to stop? If apprehended, you will nevertheless be fined.

Have you trespassed God's word? You have been apprehended. Run to Christ for mercy.

Enjoying Zion Now

A stronghold overtaken - Seventh and final in a series

Throughout history we see man's desire to conceive of Jerusalem and Zion in a romantic light. The beautiful hymn, Jerusalem epitomizes that tendency:
Bring me my bow of burning gold! Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold! Bring me my chariot of fire!
I will not cease from mental fight, Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem In England’s green and pleasant land.

The lyrics, by the poet William Blake, well express the heart's desire to realize God's kingdom on earth. This is right, yet the superhuman opposition we confront casts us upon the mercies of God. He alone gives us strength to capture and build Zion, surrounding us with chariots of fire in our deepest distress. (2Ki 6:17)

Though at first David had some romantic notions about bringing the ark to Zion, he learned it could only be so if he fully obeyed the Word.

Once the ark was at rest in Zion, David sought to build a house for God, but this desire was not granted. The reason was given:
Thou hast shed blood abundantly, and hast made great wars: thou shalt not build an house unto my name, because thou hast shed much blood upon the earth in my sight. Behold, a son shall be born to thee, who shall be a man of rest; and I will give him rest from all his enemies round about: for his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quietness unto Israel in his days. (1Ch 22:8-9)

God accomplishes his work over many generations. First the man, Abraham, then the family, then the nation, then the Exodus, then establishing proper worship, then taking the land, then building Zion and bringing in the ark, then building the temple, then its reconstruction, then the birth of Christ, and always the ups and downs, the trials and failures on the way to the heavenly Jerusalem.

In this final post of the Zion series, I would like to mention the importance of church attendance. Today in America, though 73% identify as Christians, only 55% have attended a church service in the last six months, and only 31% attend once a month or more. (BARNA)

Christians have good reasons to attend church:

  • Obedience to Scripture. (Heb 10:25)
  • Corporate worship in heaven is described in the Revelation; we learn and prepare here to take our place there. (Rev 5:8-14)
  • Angels are appointed to watch over the churches; this proves the local churches are a network critical to God’s plan and work. (Rev 1:20)
  • God’s message for us as Christians may be heard in church. (Mat 18:20)
  • Society needs our witness. (Mat 5:14-15)
  • The church is a place for marriage and for funeral services, confirming God’s ownership of our lives.
  • Weekly worship helps us to keep the commandment to rest on Sunday and to maintain a focus on the Lord. (Ex 20:8; Isa 58:13-14)

And there are many other good reasons.

I was glad when they said unto me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’ Our feet have been standing within your gates, O Jerusalem! …For my brothers and companions’ sake I will say, ‘Peace be within you!’ For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek your good. (Ps 122:1-9)

As we worship with fellow Christians on Sundays, we are taking our place in Zion until the heavenly kingdom comes.

Below is a video that relates the character of the local church in its singers. We will find friends at church, learn to love difficult ones, and find help in time of need.

Attention Readers

Have you visited the Biotech Blog on this website? Find information and resources to help you think about biotech as a Christian.

During the summer of 2017, I explored the topic of kidney donation. Is it right for a society to permit that? To encourage it? What do you think? Read the Live Kidney Donation Series!

Should you sign your driver’s license to be an organ donor? Is cremation OK with God? Do these practices undermine the Christian doctrine of the Resurrection?

Learn more. The conscience cannot function without facts.


Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. -Mat 5:14

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