“Madonna and Child” by Bartolomé Esteban
“We celebrate Christmas,” writes the staff at the conservative Baptist website Cobblestone Road. However, “some Christians choose not to.”
“I’m not here to tell you that people who celebrate Christmas are going to hell,” writes author Hannah Jurgelis for the website Dreaming of Perfect. “I don’t think that this is a salvation issue. But, I do think that this is something that can cause people to think twice.”
“Nativity,” a stained glass window by Edward Burne Jones (1833-1898)
Christmas is an abomination in the sight of the Lord, writes Roanoke, Virginia, pastor Harry Bethel, “There is a season of the year during which there is more drunkenness and revelry, and voluntary indebtedness is more prevalent, than any other time of the year. What I am referring to is the Christmas season. Many well-meaning Christians display slogans such as ‘Let’s Put Christ Back Into Christmas’ or ‘Jesus Is The Reason For The Season.’ But the truth is that Christ never was in Christmas and it is not Jesus, but Satan who is the reason for the season. Should anyone question my devotion to, or love for, Jesus because of my attack on the widely accepted tradition of celebrating Christmas,” continues Bethel, “let it be known that I love Jesus Christ with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind, and all my strength. And the question that should be asked regarding the subject at hand should not only be what is wrong with celebrating Christmas, but also what is right with it?”
“Nativity” by Guido Reni (1575-1642)
“One day I happened to catch a TV preacher denouncing the celebration of Christmas,” writes seminary professor J. Hampton Keathley. “He was saying that Christ could not have born in December. He used some Old Testament passages to show how the Christmas tree was idolatrous -- that it is a pagan holiday.”
“Is the Christmas holiday rooted in paganism?” asks the Cobblestone Road staff. “Yes.” But that’s not the end of the argument. “Christians are not pagans and the Christmas holiday for hundreds of years been associated with the Lord Jesus. So how can we find balance? The Lord never instructed us to celebrate His birth. Most likely Jesus was not even born in the month of December. The Bible does not record what date Jesus was born. Nowhere in the Bible will you find a commandment to ‘celebrate Christmas.’ The Bible says that we are to remember the Lord’s death and resurrection.”
“Holy Family” by Giovanni Cariani (1487-1547)
“But even so,” Cobblestone points out, “we believe this time of year is one of the best times afforded to the Christian to share the Good News that Jesus saves! Since this is a Christian holiday, we can lift up the name of Jesus to a lost and dying world. Jesus is the Reason for the season! The greatest opportunity to share the Gospel message is now…why Jesus came– to save His people from their sins. The message of the manger must always point people to the Cross– the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
That’s not to say that Christmas hasn’t been twisted, even perverted, they admit.
Scene from the film “Nightmare Before Christmas”
“Gone are the days of holiday films inspired by blankets of pillowing snow and caroling door-to-door,” laments Drew Read, director of the Paul Anderson Youth Home in Vidalia, Georgia. “No, today the Christmas movie scene is characterized by death, adultery, strippers and other dark, nontraditional holiday ’themes’ highlighting loneliness, tragedy and feelings of worthlessness. Why have holiday films grown dark? Are movie-goers depressed? Should teens have to walk through a character’s journey with death, an affair and addiction to understand the hope of the season?
“What kind of effects is this ’seasonal content’ having on today’s youth?” asks Read. “Where has the message of redemption, hope and grace gone? How do parents fight the onslaught of negativity and ‘adult’ issues filling the theaters this season and get their kids back to embracing the hope found in a Savior’s birth?”
1960s Coca-Cola ad
“Hollywood, since the beginning, has sought to create ‘holiday tradition,’” writes the Cobblestone Road staff. “Santa traditions were recreated, laced with worldly songs and materialistic attitude ‘Remembering Jesus’ was taken out and ‘warmth and home’ were brought in– so much so that the suicide rate is very high at Christmas.” Due to unrealistic expectations, “people want to experience what they see in the over-the-top Christmas movies. Humanism has sought to kick God out of society all together. Even at Christmas, the manger scene which once was the focal point of the town square during Christmas is now considered ‘offensive.’ The Grinch is now the main attraction.”
“Annunciation of the Shepherds” by Horenbout
So, why shouldn’t Christians boycott the holiday? Why shouldn’t we stand holy, pure and aloof from the drunkenness and materialism and denial? “The Christmas season is a great opportunity for the Church to preach about why Jesus came to earth,” writes Cobblestone Road. “Many unsaved people who do not darken the door of a church all year long will come to church on Christmas. Hopefully, the pastor will preach a sermon on the Lord Jesus and His purpose for coming to earth to redeem His creation – sinful mankind. The purpose of any sermon is to bring honor and glory to the Lord Jesus Christ. A Christmas sermon should point people to their need of the Savior.”
“Should we play the part of Scrooge and say, ‘bah humbug!’?” asks Keathley. “Should we call attention to the fact that certain of our Christmas traditions such as the yule log, the decorated tree, and mistletoe each have their roots in pagan festivals? Should we assert that to celebrate Christmas is to promote paganism and materialism and thus is just not the biblical thing to do?”
Yes, says Bethel, “We don't need Christmas. Beloved brother, if you have been dishonoring our Lord and our God by participating in the pagan, heathen practice of celebrating His birthday (so-called Christmas), then I implore you to repent, stop doing it, and ask God to forgive you. Jesus is God incarnate; that is, He left heaven and came to earth (miraculously born of a virgin), but He did this to die for your sins and mine, that we might be given eternal life and saved from our sins which includes coming out of the Babylonian world system and not participating in her pagan, heathen practices! Jesus is not 2,000 years old, He is eternal, without beginning or end; He was not created, He is the Creator!”
All of this is a bit over the top, writes Keathley. “It is said that because the birth of Christ has been commercialized and secularized the real meaning of the season been lost. For the most part this is true. Even the story about the birth of Christ is often distorted, mocked, or misrepresented. The meaning of Christmas is said to be the spirit of giving. However, the giving of the Son of God who became the babe of the cradle that He might become the man of the cross and one day reign on earth with the crown is forgotten, rejected, or ignored.
“Nativity” by Adriaen van der Werff (1659-1722)
“If we use this argument as a legitimate reason for discarding the entire celebration of Christ’s birth at Christmas, it would follow that we would end up having to throw out everything–even our Bibles and our wives or husbands. Why? Because Satan and man distort and ruins everything in life–the Bible, sex, marriage, the church, food–everything. Name one thing that Satan doesn’t ruin. We don’t throw things out just because the world misuses or distorts them.
“In Titus 1:15 the Apostle Paul warns against those who see evil in almost anything and condemn it. For these people, a lot of things have the appearance of evil, but purity is first of all a matter of the mind and conscience, not merely the external. ‘To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled.’
“The Nativity” by Lorenzo Lotto
“Just because the world distorts something,” writes Keathley, “that does not make it evil if we avoid the distortions and use it as God intended or in a way that does not go contrary to God’s character and holiness.”
“Here in the U.S., there is a war going on against traditional Christmas observance,” writes Ariel bar-Tzadok. Not your traditional defender of Christmas, bar-Tzadok is an Orthodox Jewish rabbi. “As a simple human being dedicated to serving God, I applaud my Christian neighbors in their pursuits of our common spiritual/moral endeavors.
“I do not have to believe in Jesus Christ, or Santa Claus, to welcome, encourage and support these beliefs in my Christian neighbors, who hold these beliefs so dear to themselves.
“The Adoration of the Shepherds” by Antoine and Louis Le Nain (1600-1648)
“Christmas is supposed to bear a message of peace on earth and good will towards man. This is a universal message that all should embrace, regardless of one’s personal beliefs about Jesus.
“Christmas Tree and Manger Scenes are reminders to Christians about all that’s right about their faith,” writes Rabbi bar-Tzadok. ”These religious symbols do not divide, they unite! Christmas Trees and Manger Scenes may not be expressions of my faith, but they are an expression of a faith, a faith that has the potential to be right and good for all.
“Why then is there such an attack on these Christian symbols of what is right and good about Christianity, and equally an attack on what is right and good about the Christian people who so love and embrace these symbols?
“The Nativity” by Sandro Botticelli (1444-1510)
“Why the intolerance? Why the cultural and historical revision? Why? I’ll tell you why! Because, as a proud American of the Jewish faith, I have lived my life experiencing such intolerance towards my own religious expressions. I recognize intolerance and prejudice when I see it.
“The assault on Christmas is not just an assault on symbols, it is an assault on all things Christian,” continues the rabbi. ”All things Christian include, the Bible, the Jewish Bible, and thus by extension, anything and everything Jewish. (Rev. 12:17)
“Therefore, an attack on Christmas is an attack on everything that the Biblical tradition stands for, regardless of the many ways there are to walk the Biblical path, in accordance to the Word of God.
“Why the intolerance? Because today, the attack of intolerance is not limited to Jews and Judaism, it has now come to include attacks on Christians and Christianity. Everyone who stands up for the Bible, is being attack by everyone who stands against it. It really is as simple as this!
“This is a cultural conflict over the soul of a nation, and of a culture. In this battle, in my opinion, all those who wish to walk the path of the Bible as they see fit, must put all our differences aside, and stand united against a greater common ungodly foe!
“We must unite in the spirit of the universal Biblical message of peace on earth, and good will towards all.
“The Virgin and Child with Two Angels and St. John the Baptist” by Sandro Botticelli
“Therefore, even though Christmas is not my holiday, I believe that each of us should do our share to support and encourage our Christian neighbors in their celebration of it.
“Support your local public domain Christmas Tree or Manger display. If your local town does not believe it to be politically correct for religious expressions to be on public property, stand up and loudly disagree!
“Proclaim that you, as a non-Christian, are very much happy with, and desirous of traditional American Christmas expressions, and the more public they are, the better it is for everyone!
“So, allow me, as a proud, practicing American Jewish Orthodox Rabbi, wish to all my Christian neighbors a sincere and warm Merry Christmas.
“And, to all my Christian neighbors who embrace Christmas, please allow me to echo the sentiments of many ministers and pastors. Keep the focus of this holiday on God, on the Bible, and on peace on earth and good will towards man. Differences of doctrine do not matter when unity of morals and righteousness takes precedence.
Vintage Christmas card
“If we embrace this together," writes the rabbi, "I believe that we will all be taking a great step forward in being a witness to the true power and spirit of our blessed God and Creator!
"Merry Christmas! And Happy New Year!”