The following series of articles also appear in the Friday edition of the Sentinel Echo Newspaper and the Saturday edition of the Corbin Times-Tribune.
The Origin of Christmas
“…from heaven or of man?”
I prayerfully offer the following articles for your personal study and consideration regarding the holiday called ‘Christmas’. I have tried to provide accurate information from secular history. To ensure, that, I will give the source(s) from which I quote. I realize that many are sensitive to any writings on this subject that are not positive and that do not advocate a continuation of present practice. That is not the purpose for which I write. I do not question that Jesus is the Christ, or that the Bible sets forth that He is the Son of God, the Savior of the world, man’s Redeemer, or that He is King of kings and Lord of lords. It is not the giving of gifts that I question, or the happy associations we may have with our families and friends. Such things can be right at ANY time of the year (or we could make them wrong at any time of the year). Such things are not going to be the focus of this material. It is to separate myth from truth on the origin of Christmas. What does the Bible and secular history reveal? Has God commanded that the birth of Jesus be observed as a religious act of worship? The historical facts and the evidence from the Bible contained in this material speak for themselves. If there is any perversion of either the internal or external facts, such perversions will be publicly retracted and correction made, as it is not my intention to set forth error on the matter.
I only ask that you give consideration to the evidence and base your convictions on Scripture, not on tradition. If the Bible sanctions the celebration of the birth of Jesus as a religious observance, then it is not an option. If not, then we ought not to do so, for such will not be by faith, and “whatsoever does not proceed from faith is sin” (Rom. 14:15).
“…this do, in remembrance of Me…”
His Birth or His Death?
If Jesus’ birth is due religious observance at all, the Bible would give information concerning the matter. Where do we find this information in the bible? The Bible does not inform us as to the birthday of the Christ, nor does the Bible authorize us to observe the birthday of the Christ. If so, where are the passages? I am not saying by this that the Bible does not contain the record of Jesus’ birth, for it does (Matthew 1 & 2; Luke 1 & 2). But do these accounts teach that Christians are commanded to worship/celebrate Jesus’ birth? Does the Bible instruct us to remember His birth or His death, burial, and resurrection? In connection with His death, we find such words as “THIS DO, IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME”! (Luke 22:19; 1 Cor. 11:24-25) Yet, notice how Satan has succeeded in having this act “UN-REMEMBERED”! This observance is called the Lord’s Supper, and it is a memorial meal, to be eaten on the first day of every week. Is it? Does YOUR church do so? No, we find that it is observed monthly in some churches; quarterly in others; even yearly by some churches and on Thursday evenings! The very thing that has a command is ignored, and instead an observance of an event without a command for observance is done! Why? Because of uninspired denominational creeds! Those creeds call the Lord’s Supper a “Christian Sacrament” and group it with baptism as a rite for a Christian. (Incidentally, this adds to the misunderstanding about the purpose of water baptism. Baptism in water is not for a saved person; it is a command to the sinner as a part of the new birth-see John 3:3-5. The reason is explained in Romans 6:3-5, 17-18. There we see that baptism conforms to the burial of Jesus, and as such, is a part of the “form of doctrine” that is to be OBEYED). As you don’t bury a living person in the physical sense, you don’t baptize a “new creature” in Christ. It is AFTER baptism that one is raised in newness of life. The “old man” is the one crucified; not the one “freed from sin”.
Since we do not find a “this do, in remembrance of Me” in regard to remembering Jesus’ birth in the Bible, to do so does not honor Christ. We should not allow our children to be misled into thinking the Bible teaches something it simply does not teach. I am not trying to discourage the worship of God thru Christ in these articles; for I want very much just the opposite! But to do that which the Bible does NOT command is sin! Zeal without knowledge does not accomplish God’s righteousness. We are not to worship as WE see fit, but as God has commanded! Notice Romans 10:1-3: “ Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” Let us take care that in our zeal for God and Christ that we do not act in ignorance and without regard for what God has commanded.
Consider this statement from McClintock and Strong's Encyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. “The observance of Christmas is not of divine origin. The day of Christ's birth cannot be ascertained from the New Testament or, indeed, from any other source." This is definitely a statement of facts.
As stated earlier; the birth of Jesus is recorded in the Bible (Matthew 1 & 2; Luke 1 & 2). But do these accounts point to the month, day and/or year of His birth? The answer is clearly NO, there is no indication whatever in these texts as to the day, month or year that Jesus was born.
Without a doubt then December 25 was a date set by man, not by God. The evidence is overwhelming to the effect that Christmas was not even among the earliest festivals of the apostate Roman Church. Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. V, p. 642, 1960 ed., declares: “Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the church, and before the 5th century there was no general consensus of opinion as to when it should come in the calendar, whether on January 6, March 25 or December 25.” This same authority states that “the exact day and year of Christ’s birth have never been satisfactorily settled” (p. 643).
How then did the date of December 25th come to be chosen? What factors influenced the decision and who made the decision? These questions will be answered in next week’s article.