Friday, December 16, 2011

Christ and Christmas - A Biblical Perspective - Part I

Repoussé silver disc of Sol Invictus, Roman, 3rd century, found at Pessinus(British Museum) - Courtesy Wikipedia

It was about this time of year in 1974.  I was a key punch operator for Amfac Wholesale and Drug Supply Company in Oklahoma City.  My job was to prepare invoices for billing.  The key punch fields were limited and so instead of saying “Merry Christmas!” it said “Merry Xmas!”[1]  One of the employees, a ministerial student with the Christian Church, came running into my office very angry at me.  “How dare you take Christ out of Christmas!” he adamantly shouted.  No matter how I tried to explain my quandary, he just got even madder.  He was convinced that I had diabolically conspired to take Christ out of Christmas!

Seriously, was Christ ever IN Christmas to begin with!?  In short, no, Christ never was in Christmas.  There is no biblical reference to any kind of celebration of such a day anywhere in the New Testament.  Our Lord never commanded or even insinuated that such a celebration would be necessary or even allowed as a doctrinal requirement or a doctrinal option in collective worship.  Not only that, there is no apostolic command, no apostolic example nor any inference (necessary or otherwise) anywhere even remotely suggesting such a celebration.   Frankly, any congregation that adds such a doctrinal component to biblical worship will be in violation of the biblical pattern of “neither adding to nor taking away” from the Holy Spirit led New Testament directive.  This is a very serious matter for Paul told Timothy to “Follow the pattern of sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 2.15 ESV)  Any formal and collective worship outside of the pattern is an addition to that pattern.  Similar additions to God’s pattern have had disastrous results, just ask Nadab and Abihu, King Saul, etc.  Paul never celebrated Christmas, never asked anyone else to or even ever heard of such a practice!  At best the practice is extra-biblical and at worst…UN biblical.  In a formal worship setting, the celebration of Christmas is speculative, emotional and presumptive…and clearly outside of the “pattern of sound words.”

How did the celebration of Christmas ever even get started?  The 2nd century theologian Origen taught that Scripture has multiple meanings and individual interpretations.  This “allowed” the apostate church to eisegete (read into) fictional (allegorical) “meanings” into any and every passage.  With that false and presumptive foundation, the apostate church felt free to add, delete, change or modify any and every biblical passage it wanted to.  This suited it’s self-serving and pragmatic collective goals.  There is no evidence whatsoever that there was ever any observance of the presumptive day of Christ’s birth for nearly 400 years after the resurrection!  Everett Ferguson observes:

There were various…speculations about the day of Jesus’ birth, centering mainly on the spring, but for the first three centuries the church realized the day of Jesus birth was unknown and attached no theological importance to it.  There are accounts in the East of both the birth and baptism of Jesus remembered on January 5 – 6.  Christmas was a Western feast, first celebrated in Rome in the second quarter of the fourth century.  The date of December 25 was influenced by the sun cult, which was promoted by third-century emperors and continued to be recognized by Constantine.[2]

The cult to which bro. Ferguson refers is the cult of sol ivictus – “son un-conquered.”  The cult celebrated the supposed birth of the so-called “sun-god” on December 25, the day the Roman calendar was at the vernal equinox.  The apostate church began to celebrate the birthday of Christ on that same day due to a complicated formula.  Here it is:

  1. Christ died on March 25, according to apostate allegorical calculations
  2. In order for the life of Christ to be “complete” allegorically, the date of his conception and the day of his death had to be the same date, March 25
  3. “IF” Christ was conceived on March 25, nine months later would be December 25, the supposed date of his birth[3]
Whether or not the apostate church purposely chose December 25 to co-opt this pagan celebration into a “Christian” celebration cannot be precisely determined.  However, people who lived later would claim such.  Allegorical interpretation will always lead to presumptive conclusions with the “tail wagging the dog.”  Despite the facts as we know them pointing to a spring or fall birth, the Vatican chose December 25 to fit it’s allegorical puzzle, a classic case of round pegs being pounded into square holes.  TO BE CONCLUDED NEXT WEEK! - RM

[1] NOTE: The Greek letter “X” is pronounced “chi” and is the first letter in “Christ,” hence “X” is used to abbreviate “Christ” in “Christmas” (Xmas) and “Christian” (Xian). 
[2] Ferguson, Everett (Church History Vol. 1 – From Christ to Pre-Reformation, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 2005) pg. 252  (Emphasis added – RM)

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