"Mean": Adj. - 'humble, obscure, or lowly'


O Thou Who camest from above,
The pure celestial fire to impart,
Kindle a flame of sacred love,
Upon the mean altar of my heart.

Spiritual thoughts by
Daniel J. Clausen, author of HOW GODS ARE MADE

A division of Codex Spiritualis

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Should Christians Abandon Christmas?


Should Christians Abandon Christmas?


Disclaimer
I celebrate the birth of our Savior. This is not meant as a condemnation on any. I am a questioner by nature, and as such, I think about, and examine, many things that are perhaps taken for granted. My inquisitive spirit is not meant to be a slight or offensive to any, for my thoughts are often detached and without feeling. I know this is sacred ground to some. Consider these words a thought experiment. Rather than dismissing the matter before hearing it, just consider what I have written on its own merit. If it fails, continue on your way, without giving another thought. Please read the entirety of this entry so as not to misunderstand, misrepresent or unduly dismiss me. If after everything, I am still a fool to you, let it be so, only let us be kind to one another.

Should Christians Abandon Christmas?
The answer to that question will be one of your own conscience, and I will not force the issue. However, I will here make the case that we should, not only as individuals, but as the entire body of believers, abandon Christmas.

First, let me say what are not my main arguments – those things that historically have been used to malign Christmas, although these things perhaps ought to be considered as aggravating circumstances to the discussion, so I will briefly mention them. Each will play a role in the final conclusion, however.

  1. This is not a post all about the pagan roots of Christmas.
Its true, the season of the Solstice and its accompanying festivals and traditions have strong roots in European paganism, and have found their way into our cultural celebration of Christ's birth. Festivals like Saturnalia, Yule, and the birth of Sol Invictus, are the direct precursors to our modern festivities. To some, this argument is compelling, because it shows Christmas is a textbook example of SYNCRETISM, the melding of true belief, with pagan practices, creating an offspring that looks unlike the original parts.
The most common objection to this by Christians is, “Well, the Lord knows my heart, that I am worshiping Him. When I do those things that have pagan origin, thats not the reason why I do them, so my heart is clean.” I imagine the same line of thinking was used in the Old Testament by the Israelites who were worshiping the Lord by sacrificing in the pagan High Places, and in the Asherah Groves. The logic is the same, and the logic was condemned by the Lord. I would also add, that whenever I hear someone say “The Lord knows my heart,” it is really a silent admission that they know they do wrong, but do not have the will to change it. If your heart is pure, why not let your actions match?

  1. This is not a post all about the evils of Santa.
We know Santa is not Jesus, so I will not belabor the point. I will say though that there is a conspicuous coincidence that “Santa” is an anagram for “Satan,” just a remixture of the letters. Also funny that these seemingly undying individuals, are seemly ever present, examining our actions in a red suit, flying around at night with their horned minions and supernatural helpers. One, we Lie about, the other is the Father of Lies. Funny coincidence is all.
Funny that Santa, in his modern conception, is a creation of the Coca-Cola corporation. Corporations, which seem to dictate the will, whim, and tone of the Christmas season anyway.

  1. This is not a post all about the evils of Commercialism.
Commercialism is Americanism, it is the Spirit of the Age, there is no avoidance.


                                                      So What Is This All About?
This is about abandoning Christmas because Jesus Christ was not born on December 25th. I respect and admire the people who want to reclaim the “reason for the season,” however, its not an entirely true statement. The world is only taking back what was originally theirs (see reason #1). This holiday was co-opted by the Christians by executive decree of Constantine to ease the conversion of worshipers of Sol Invictus. The holiday is about Santa Claus now, Christmas Trees and presents. Its about fresh fallen snow, presents and candy canes. And presents. It has nothing to do with Jesus.


Two Traditions
The Bible speaks of two kinds of tradition, there are the “traditions of men”, which are spoken evil of, as a corrupting force to the word of God, and there is the “tradition of Christ and the Apostles,” which we are to hold onto for dear life. Christmas is a time where the two traditions meet and intermingle, creating confusion and misinformation. Do we, who are the worshipers of the God who “hates every false way,” not care if our lump is leavened?

Three Kings”
Not those three kings! In the books of Chronicles and Kings, there are basically three sorts of kings.
1. There are those who outright worship false gods.
2. There are those who worship the Lord, but do not tear down the high places or discourage sacrifice there.
3. And there are those who worship the Lord and tear down the high places and the groves, restoring the unmingled worship of God.
We sometimes wonder why the second group didn't go all the way, and we often admire the last group of kings and honor them for their bravery and greatness. But just think how difficult it really is to overturn long-held mixed practices? It is very difficult, and those who wish to cling to the traditions of men tend to get angry that you would even call it into question. We don't purposefully want to be those who despoil the populous, but neither do we want to be afraid to do so if it is the right thing to do.
Which sort of King will you be?

Jesus did something similar when He overturned the moneychangers tables at the temple. Those men didn’t just show up that weekend deciding to change money. They were there for hundreds of years, as barrier to the worship of God, forcing people to use Temple Currency to buy sacrifices at incredible exchange rates. People always look to make money off of pure, innocent worshipers, but Jesus would have none of it. Is not Christmas, in many ways, a way to make money off of worshipers? Does it not make money a barrier to God? How many people, when financially struggling, feel they have had a “bad Christmas” because they couldn’t afford many, or expensive gifts? But in that day, He overturned that long-held tradition at the temple, establishing an new order of freedom to worship, apart from financial gain. He says, "Come and worship, no matter how much you have."


Abandon Christmas

That is why I suggest we follow the earliest traditions and modern scholarship, and re-establish the birth of Christ at its rightful time, and celebrate it, unencumbered by worldly tradition, in a way that becomes Christians.


Instead, we carry on trying to clarify the confusion of the season. 
Instead, we give credibility  and ammunition to those who say “Christianity is just a repackaging of pagan practices.” They point to our holidays as a means to make their point.

One thing I've learned, is when you're wrong, just admit it. Why maintain the ruse to our detriment? Christ has nothing to do with it. Let them have it.

Sometimes, the best thing to do in a battle is to regroup at a more defensible position. Why defend an open field with many flanks, if you can take the defensible high ground?
Why fight commercialism?
Why confuse our most meaningful traditions?
Why defend a date that has no history upon it?
Why contend with a vicious worldly spirit?
Why receive the blows of critics at their rightful accusations of pagan origins?

The question is, Why are we fighting for a lie? If it were His birthday, and we were looking to keep it pure and worshipful, I can understand fighting with all our might. But its not. Why defend it?

"Therefore, from the birth of Christ to the death of Commodus are a total of 194 years, 1 month and 13 days. There are those who have calculated not only the year of our Lord's birth, but also the day. They say that it took place in the 28th year of Augustus, on the 25th of Pachon [May 20], others say he was born on the 25th day of Pharmuthi [April 19 or 20]." Clement of Alexandria, 195 AD.

Modern scholarship supports this early claim.
I suggest, we Christians, as a whole, move the celebration of Christ's birth to the Spring, where we may worship Him "in Spirit, and in Truth." For this season does *not* represent the Spirit of God, nor is there Truth in it. Let us re-establish a Spirit of love and thankfulness, having our homes filled with brotherhood and unity rather than trees and tinsle. Let our heads be crowned with remembrance rather than Santa hats. Let our own songs and hymns of praise ring, unclamored by the cacaphony of "jingle bells." Let us not lie to our children about the existence of Santa, but extol to them the truth of Christ our Savior.
For Christ was born in a desert, not during quaint New England snowfall. No true Christian tradition would be affected by such a move except for the time practiced. Due to its pagan origin, the Christmas festival was banned in Massachusetts between 1659 and 1681 by the Puritans as an illegal observance.
In changing our day, we solve all problems have to contend with.

We no longer have to fight for attention amid the other holidays and their activities and practices.
We become pure in our worship, untainted by the leaven of syncretism.
We silence the critics who point out our error.
We establish truth and history as the basis for our practices.
We no longer have to clarify our position to others during the season.
We get the birth of Christ on our own terms, able to establish our own godly traditions, rather than man's.

Let them have their holiday.
Let us be the sort of Kings that tear down the high places and establish the true worship of God.
Let us establish the birth of Christ on our own terms, on truth, and with love.

Thanks for listening, and if you disagree, let us be kind.
I've never heard anyone else suggest this. I've only heard of not celebrating at all.

If you think it has merit, Share it!


Lastly, some parting quotes from Tertullian about Saturnalia, the precursor to Christmas.

"On your day of gladness, we Christians neither cover our doorposts with wreaths, nor intrude upon the day with lamps. At the call of public festivity, you consider it a proper thing to decorate your house like some new brothel . . . We are accused of lower sacrilege because we do not celebrate with you .. the holidays in a manner forbidden alike by modesty, decency and purity." Tertullian, 197 AD.

"The Saturnalia, New Year, Midwinter festivals, and Matronalia are frequented by us! Presents come and go! There are New Years gifts! Games join their noise! Banquets join the din! ... For even if they had known them, they would not have shared in the Lord's Day, or Pentecost with us. For they would fear, lest they should appear to be Christians. Yet, we are not apprehensive that we might appear pagans!" Tertullian, 197, AD.


10 comments:

  1. Your words fall on deaf ears, men love their traditions more then they love the Lord. Like the Catholics they will say that "this is the way the Church has been doing it for 100's of years, I don't care what the Bible says I follow the sacred traditions of the Church." They will say that this is not a salvation issue so it doesn't matter when and what we celebrate. They will despise you and hate you for even bringing it up. They will do or say anything to not have to obey the truth because the lie is so deeply ingrained that the amount of effort to correct it will cost too much, therefore no effort will be made at all except to come up with some lame brain excuse of why you are wrong. Kind of like the rest of Christendom where we accept the going to heaven part without accepting the holiness part. "Don't judge me!", we scream!! I love my lies!! I love my traditions!! Don't make me change for the love of God!! Just let me go to heaven peacefully!! Happy Ishtar,

    -Leon

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  2. Jesus wasn't born on Christmas, He was neither crucified on Easter, nor did the Holy Spirit baptize the church on our Pentecost. Still, I have no problem with invented dates to remember these events, since Scripture is not ordering us to celebrate them in the first place. We do not win anything with finding out the right date (which in all three examples are quite impossible) nor do we lose anything in celebrating the birth of Jesus in December or not celebrating it at all, just worshipping Him in our ordinary lives.

    I think it is strange that you start with saying that the article is not all about the pagan roots of Christmas when in fact that is what the article is all about. And I think it is completely wrong to equal Christmas celebration with idolatry. There is absolutely nothing in Christmas celebration that contains worship or rememberance of pagan gods. No one starts sacrificing to the sun god, no decorations reminds of it. The religious celebration on Christmas in the West contains 100% Jesus and 0% sun god, thus no syncretism exist.

    But does the date mean that no matter how much we celebrate Jesus it is an idolatrous syncretism? Of course not, when the Church started celebrating Christ on december 25th, it was not because they thought He was a sun god but because He triumphed the sun god. In Uppsala, where I live, one of Sweden's oldest churches is built upon the ground where a pagan temple once stood. Not because Jesus is pagan, but because Jesus defeated paganism.

    Scripture tells us not to judge each others because of holidays in Col 2. To condemn people because of dates is unfruitful. What is important to criticise however is consumerism, and I am surprised that you just say that there's nothing to do about it. All the article is about changing tradition but consumerism is immune towards that? I don't think Christmas celebration is idolatrous at all, but it is severely damaging to the planet and to the poor, see http://holyspiritactivism.wordpress.com/2012/12/25/merry-charismatic-revolutionary-christmas/ If it helps to get rid of this if we change Christmas date, then I'm on.

    God bless you!

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    1. Hey brother, Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I just wanted to clarify a few things from my post with you.
      1. I started the article saying its not about pagan worship, because its not, it was about moving the day. I said those factors were other things to consider in why we might do so.
      2. You seem to think I have judgement and condemnation in here. Im sorry if it came across that way, I tried to make it clear I hold no ill feelings. This is a pragmatic solution to certain problems, not a judgement on holidays.
      3. You repeatedly use the word Idolatry to describe my points, but I never once used the word. I didnt use it because I am *not* equating it with Idolatry. I equated it with the kings who worshiped the true God, but did not rid themselves of the remnants of the pagan practices. The point was, this is a modern day application of the same thing. The people of that time were not worshiping false gods. They were worshiping the true God in the same manner as the heathen worship the false gods. So youre right, for most Christians, its 100% Jesus, no sun god. But its 100% Jesus in the manner as to the sun god. This was not the why we should change though - the change is suggested to avoid the PERCEIVED CRITICISM from that conflict of interest.
      4. You say no decorations, etc, are reflective of paganism. This is something you perhaps should look into. As its not the main thrust of my argument, I wont present a whole case. Its moot, but almost everything that we identify with Christmas in America has pagan origins, with pagan symbolism.
      5. A. If Christmas started being celebrated on Dec. 25th as a means to show defeat over paganism, thats fine, a nice symbol. It doesnt make it historically accurate, which is the point of the post. It is still a fabrication.
      B. It maybe was a defeat on the surface, but the vestiges of paganism remained in the holiday, they just went underground. It is not so much a defeat, but an absorption.
      5. I didnt address the consumerism so much because I figured that is something *everyone* is frustrated with, even the well-intended heathen. The beauty of the move is that it removes it from the consumerist atmosphere, and allows us to establish our own traditions without the consumerism.
      6. Also, I thought that perhaps the atmosphere and practices are a little different in Sweden from America. I dont know if thats true, but it may account for some of our slight misunderstanding.


      I agree with you that the important thing is that we remember and acknowledge Him, all year round, and specific dates dont mean that much. 100% Im with you. As I said, I dont judge others regarding holidays either, it doesnt mean we cannot discuss the merits of practical solutions.
      Just remember, this was meant as a thought exercise to find practical solutions to the problems I enumerated. It disarms critics. It establishes us on truth. We escape the consumerism, and our practices become unmingled before the Lord. I can find no downside except for our fondness for our traditions.

      Btw, I read the holyspiritactivism blog last night when it was posted in the facebook forum. I love it. Thanks for sharing.

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    2. Thanks for your clarifications! I see now that I read your blog post too quickly and misinterpreted it a bit. I actually agree to a large extent. But even though you don't equal Christmas with idolatry, you equal traditions with worship, and this I believe is where the logic fails. You say that celebrating the birth of Jesus on December 25 is like worshipping the Lord without destroying the pagan remnants. But there are no remnants after sun god worship. You apply this mainly to a date, but Scripture doesn't talk about dates when concerning pagan remnants but idols, temples and other material worship things.

      I think my main concern is that even if you don't want to condemn people, you're saying that Christians who celebrate Christmas in december have the same logic as the Israelites who worship the Lord on the pagan High Places, and "such logic is condemned by the Lord". But while God had told us to worship Him, He has not told us to celebrate Christmas and especially not which date we should do it. I'm convinced that He doesn't care if or when we celebrate the birth of His Son. My question to you is why you want to celebrate Christmas in the first place when it's not ordered in Scripture?

      There's a lot of problems to adress in the Western church. Almost none practice economic equality like in Acts 2:44. Few are leading people to Christ. Signs ad wonders are rare. These are issues that we need to focus on. If and when we celebrate Christmas is unimportant, in my opinion, so we shouldn't criticise people for this. It falls into the category of Col 2:16-17 pretty well.

      God bless you!

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    3. I also want to add that personally I would have no problems with changing the Christmas date to spring and get rid of participating in consumerism that way. Again, I agree with you to a large extent. What I don't like is arguing that traditional Chrstians behave like Israelites who worship in pagan places.

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    4. Everything from Christmas trees to gift giving to gingerbread men, wreaths, lights, etc, have pagan origins and symbolism. It isnt even so much the day that has the pagan connotations. A Day is a Day. It's the traditions that were carried with the day. So youre right, the scripture doesnt mention dates as being bad, but practices. These are practices.

      You are also right in that there are many lost doctrines, attitudes and ways in the modern church compared to the scriptures and the early church. Youre right there is plenty of other things to address - but then again, yesterday was Christmas, so I did a blog about Christmas. So did you. :) We take opportunity where we can.
      Again its not a criticism, its a plan for collective correction. If we moved the date of Christ's birth, Christmas would still be there, but as its own holiday, with Santa, presents and christmas trees. It would divide the spiritual from the trivial. There is no criticism in encouraging people to embrace the spiritual rather than the trivial. The video on your blog made the very same plea. :)
      But as you said, I think we are in pretty extensive agreement. And I am happy to know you are fighting for many of the other, more weighty issues... the very ones that are dear to me, being Christian nonviolence, caring for our brothers in common goods, and seeing the power of God manifest to establish His word and Kingdom. God bless you brother Micael.

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  3. Dan,

    Well done! Now if we can get christians to stop all of the other traditions of man, maybe a church with influence, power, and holiness might appear. What are the chances of that? We as a church, would need to give up medicine, and trust in God. The disease is far greater than santa and is rooted in idolotry, fear, weak preachers, diseased preachers, and unbelief.

    Good Job Dan! God be with you and for you!~Bill

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  4. Do we actually know the day of the birth of Jesus? Clement gives two possibilities, a month apart. If modern scholarship finds he was on the right track, does it narrow it down to one of those dates?

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    1. We do not know the actual day. Clement, in giving the two dates, seems to favor the first, because he goes.[paraphrase].. "Yeah, and there are other guys who think its April 20th."
      Either way, my proposal is for the Spring. We could choose either date, and could say that it is at least based on SOMETHING.
      Again, just admit its an approximation, no need to carve its authority in stone. The main benefit is escaping all the issues that our current celebrations give us. Thanks for the comment!

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  5. Dan, I respect and appreciate all of your time and efforts that you put in to challenging modern Christians. Unfortunately, I have to agree with the statement about people loving their traditions more than the Lord. I love the challenge to disconnect from anything that poses compromise. Bill and I have been speaking about that a lot lately. It's not the popular thing to do, even amongst Christians, however, it's not Christians whom we will be giving an account to. The whole harvest party that Christians put on around Halloween is no different. If the harvest were to be celebrated, I believe it would be more at the end of the month of September (however, I am no scholar). Compromise is found all through the church and that is why modern christianity is so watered down and unbelievers are not lined up to hear about our Savior anymore, never mind the fact that a lot of Christians are mentally, emotionally, etc. worse off than the unbelievers. It is only the 100% unadulterated Word of God preached in truth that will manifest change. Keep speaking the truth, do not be discouraged by the statements that no one wants to hear it. Be encouraged and know that you are supported in doing what is right before the Lord. God bless you all!!! -Christina

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