Monday, December 6, 2010

That Was Then, This is Now

The evil "Nimrod Bush" (precursor to the Christmas Tree?)
I recently read an article entitled "The True Origin of Christmas" which asked this question: Can Christ be honored by Christmas? The author's answer was downright inflammatory. "Keeping Christmas dishonors Christ! He considers everything about it to be an abomination!"

The author went on to explain how the festival of Christmas developed from pagan holidays, specifically the Roman festival of Saturnalia, and was later appropriated by the Church. Using questionable historiographical methods, the author also tied the celebration of Christmas to Nimrod, child-sacrifice, cannibalism, and fertility cults. He revealed the nefarious origins of the Christmas tree and noted that the Bible condemns the celebration of birthdays.

Not many Christians are as extreme as this author in their opposition to Christmas; however, some Christians do refuse to celebrate it. In his article "The Menace of Chinese Food," James B. Jordan responds to this segment of Christianity by parodying its arguments against the holiday. Substituting the phrase "Chinese Food" for "Christmas," he shows the silly reasoning of those who object to Christmas because of its supposedly pagan beginnings. (Is it idolatrous to eat Chinese food simply because it was developed by members of an Eastern monistic religion?) Jordan argues that the historical origin of a thing in the past does not disqualify its use or observance in the present:
Arguments from history in this area are irrelevant, as well as erroneous. They are irrelevant because people do not observe Christmas with any view to its supposedly-pagan origins. The history of a word does not determine its present meaning, nor does the history of a custom determine its present meaning. People use the words “Saturday” and “Sunday” and “Monday” without any thought of the god Saturn or the sun or the moon. It would be preposterous to accuse people of idolatry simply because they use these words. Similarly, the only relevant question regarding Christmas is this: What does it mean to people now?
Maybe the festival of Christmas did develop from the Mesopotamian celebration of the New Year or from the Roman celebration of Saturnalia. So what? That was then, this is now. The Christ-child has come and cast down all principalities and powers. He has taken that day and made it into His day.  In past millennia, Marduk, Mithras, Kronos, and Saturn may have called the day their own, but I don't see their figurines in any nativity scenes now.

James B. Jordan goes on to show that the "original" pagan celebrations were simply twisted versions of symbols and celebrations that God had already established.  
All pagan feasting is a perverse replica of true Godly festivity. The pagan worship of the sun is a perversion of the Biblical analogy of the sun to Christ (Mal.4:2; Ps.19; etc.). The pagan recognition of the change in the year from dark to light, from death to life, at the Winter Solstice is but a perversion of the covenant truth found in the Noachic Covenant. What is wrong with reclaiming the Winter Solstice for Christ?

Approaching the topic from this angle, we can see that the pagans were the actual copycats (not the Church). God established the natural order (the sun, the seasons, etc.) to point to Christ, and fallen nations perverted what God had made in their own idolatrous festivals.

So, can Christ be honored by Christmas? Of course. It was His to begin with. 


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