A Puritan Christmas

Posted by on Dec 16, 2006 in Blog | 24 comments

Any of you ready for a “Puritan Christmas”? Be careful now, because—some of you already guessed this—a Puritan Christmas is in fact—no Christmas at all. That’s right, as The Globe and Mail notes on its Facts & Arguments page, in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Britain, on Christmas Day the poor customarily went to the home of the richest person in town where they were given food and strong drink, resulting in jolly, though at times a bit tipsy, celebration (citing an article by Jeff Guinn in The Fort-Worth Star-Telegram).

The Puritans, however, set out to eliminate Christmas. When they took control of Scotland’s Parliament in the 1580s, they ruled that Christmas no longer existed. As can be imagined, this did not permanently settle the matter. Nevertheless, the anti-Christmas sentiment in England gained momentum, producing proponents such as Blue Richard Culmer, an ex-minister who smashed stained-glass windows of churches celebrating Christmas, and Praise-God Barebones, a street preacher whose message was that observing Christmas was tantamount to blasphemy.

In 1642, the article notes, “the Puritan-led English parliament asked citizens not to celebrate Christmas in any way, other than private respectful prayer.” Yet not everyone was prepared to abide by this ordinance. In 1645, then, Parliament went one step further, declaring that only Sundays were holy days. Unless Christmas fell on a Sunday, people must report to work. Consequently, “Christmas riots” broke out in the streets of London, with apprentices singing carols and kicking soccer balls. The riots were dispersed.

In 1647, the Puritans threatened to throw anyone celebrating Christmas in jail, but relented when this provoked large protests in Canterbury and other locations. The anti-Christmas laws remained in effect until 1660 when the monarchy was restored, yet it took almost another 300 years before Christmas became a full national holiday in Scotland in 1958. Truly a worthy entry into a book yet to be written—takers, anyone?—on The Christmas Wars or The Battle for Christmas (though I am aware by existing similar volumes). Was the Puritans’ zeal misguided?

In any case, as we fast-forward to our country in 2006, oddly enough, many conservative Christians have risen to advocate Christmas as an essential Christian outpost and bastion in an increasingly secular culture. We must “put Christ back into Christmas,” we are told, and reminded that “the first six letters of Christmas spell “Christ.’” Is this really a cause worth fighting for? And how can Christians in one age seek to outlaw Christmas and in another champion the cause of celebrating Christmas?

I could flesh out my own views on this in some more detail, but perhaps it is better to ask you what you think. Should we cast our lot with the Puritans or with modern-day Christian pro-Christmas advocates?

24 Comments

  1. The Bible does not support celebrating Christmas, so for Christians to fight for it is not a good idea. The Puritans were right on this, with the exception of jailing those who celebrate it. It has no place in the Christian church. We celebrate it today because of the traditions of the Roman Catholic church, which came from mixing Christianity with paganism. I always felt the demonic quite strongly during this season, and now that I know history better I understand why.

  2. I think Christmas is unchristian.Those who remain in the path of the Lord should reject it.The birth of Mythra has nothing in common with the faith that for once was given to the saints(Jude 3).We should listen to Paul in II Cor.6:15-18.Definetely Jesus is not the reason for the season.

  3. Something that was pagan with thousands of years of tradition was made Christian. Just like the peoples to which it was introduced. This is a good thing, and an amazing thing, especially since there was no printing, no one could read, and heading into these backwaters was done on foot. These early saints whp spread Christianity are to be commended!

    The arguments that “what sayeth the Word” are specious. The Almighty also did not instruct us on i-Pods, cooking with microwaves or even appendix removal. What He did leave us with was the Spirit of Truth who now lives in us, and a brain to use common sense. Resorting to written words without these is the height of arrogance, and has led to more human misery and death than can be imagined. Worse, it has held the Cross of Christ up to ridicule to a world that needs Him more than ever.

    The Puritans, and I fear many modern fundamentalists, are guilty of this hubris. Are they aiding the spread of God’s kingdom, or hindering it? We were told to look to the board in our own eye and not to judge for a very good reason. Any good in you was put there by God’s grace!

    I will celebrate the birth of my Saviour, and tell people why He came. It is good news! Not something to make people shake their heads at all too serious and gloomy fanatics. Merry Christmas to all!

  4. In the city of London things were even stricter as soldiers were ordered to patrol the streets, seizing any food they discovered was being prepared for a Christmas celebration.

  5. Thank you for this incredibly insightful discourse on this topic. I feel so often that I am a salmon swimming upstream in my interpretation of God’s Word on holidays such as Christmas. God bless you each and every one!

  6. I hate Christmas! It is just another work day for woman.

  7. Believe it or not, I personally make it a point to celebrate Christmas in July! I celebrate it on Dec.25, according to the Roman tradition (that’s probably why the Puritans didn’t like it…it had Roman origins) but as an Evangelical Christian, I am Bible-oriented. The Bible clearly shows that shepherds were asleep out in their fields with their flocks. In other words, it wasn’t dead of winter! Shepherds sleep in the fields with their flocks during the summer, not the winter! From the evidence given in the Gospels, we can see that Jesus Christ was actually born when the weather was nice…probably the summer…..and so, I make a point of Christmas in July. I play Christmas music, etc.
    I don’t fault anyone for their Christian beliefs and practices…they were doing what they thought to be right just like I am doing what I believe to be right.

  8. In response to David Lester’s somewhat enlightening post, a few points that may be worth pondering or investigating further:

    1. “December 25 is the pagan festival of Saturnalia.” Perhaps not. According to James Grout in his Encyclopedia Romana “The Saturnalia officially was celebrated on December 17 (a.d. XVI Kal. Ian.) and, in Cicero’s time, lasted seven days, from December 17-23.” See the following link:
    http://penelope.uchicago.edu/~grout/encyclopaedia_romana/calendar/saturnalia.html

    2. No one in this discussion has yet to provide evidence to counter the theory of William Tighe in the Touchstone article previously provided: http://touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=16-10-012-v. Tighe, a church history specialist at Muhlenburg College, PA (and a Ukrainian Catholic), provides strong evidence that Christians celebrated Jesus’ birth on December 25 BEFORE Aurelian established the Feast of the Unconquerable Sun on Dec 25 274 A.D. Indeed, according to Jack Finegan in the Handbook of Biblical Chronology, Hippolytus of Rome, writing around 244 A.D., said that Jesus’ birth “took place eight days before the kalends of January,” that is, Dec. 25. If Tighe is right, the New Catholic Encyclopedia is simply wrong.

    3. David provides an interesting argument that the birth of Jesus can be dated from Scripture. I would welcome the source(s) for it. But it does reach a different conclusion than a similar argument by Chrysostom in 407 A.D. The key is the dating of the “division of Abijah”. I hope to be able to research this further sometime.

    4. And I am grateful to David for reminding me of the association of “Easter” with Astarte, just one of the names for a pagan goddess who can be traced backward into the ancient Near East quite a way. I had forgotten that. I will try henceforth to call the annual celebration of the Lord’s resurrection “Resurrection Sunday.” But it is still not clear to me whether this annual Christian celebration IN THE CHURCH is regarded as worship “in spirit and in truth” by David and others.

    5. Even if Tighe is right that origin of the Dec 25 dating of Jesus’ birth “appears to owe nothing whatsoever to pagan influences,” it is obvious that public and private Christmas celebrations subsequently took on aspects of pagan winter festivals in the European cultures to which Christianity spread. These pagan influences have been denounced by Christian theologians and pastors at least ever since Tertullian early in the third century A.D.

    6. “True Christians will seek to worship God ‘with truth’ and avoid polluting their worship of Him with pagan festivals.” Obviously. But we must distinquish what Christians do in public and private life, from what the Church does in worship. At least in the churches I have attended over the years, I have not detected much, if any, pollution from pagan festivals in Christian Christmas worship services. And I detect NO such pollution in the fundamentalist Baptist and Reformed Episcopal Christmas services I have attended in recent years. Are we to abandon the celebration of the Lord’s birth in worship services simply because societies and even Christians in their private lives have succumbed to pagan influences?

    7. David writes “To a sincere Christian, Jesus Christ should be remembered every day of one’s life, not squeezed into a small part of the year by pagans who don’t believe in God or Jesus.” Obviously. Elementary. Amen!!! But I don’t think anything I or others have said in this discussion suggests otherwise.

    8. David does well to remind us of John 4:23-24, but I believe those verses do not carry the import he seems to find in them. They definitely do not mean “in spirit and strictly limited to only what is clearly commanded or exemplified in God’s written Word.” Jesus said “The hour is coming, AND NOW IS, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth.” But AFTER He said this, He and his disciples, and the apostles after the crucifixion and resurrection, continued to observe Jewish feasts and hours of prayer. So worship “in spirit and in truth” must mean something other than worship untied to holy places, holy days, and appointed hours of prayer, etc., unless we think that Jesus and the apostles didn’t worship the Father in spirit and truth. In his commentary on John, on the basis of textual echoes in that gospel, D. A. Carson interpets it this way: worship “must be ‘in spirit and truth’, i.e. essentially God-centred, made possible by the gift of the Holy Spirit, and in personal knowledge of and conformity to God’s Word-made-flesh, the one who is God’s ‘truth’, the faithful exposition and fulfilment of God and his saving purposes.’ (Forgive me, Andreas, for not citing your commentary. I don’t own it.)

    9. The basic issue as I see it remains unresolved, and probably will always remain so. The basic issue is not whether the contemporary celebration of Christmas, even by Christians privately and publicly, has become “polluted” with contemporary and ancient pagan influences. I can agree that it has. But the basic unresolved issue pertains to the worship of the Church. Does Holy Scripture limit our private and corporate worship to only what it explicitly commands or exemplifies? I don’t find such a restriction in Scripture. Others do, or think it is safer to adopt that attitude. I really have not been attempting to argue them away from that view. My main goal has been to suggest that other “sincere Christians” (I do not set myself up as an example), Christians who are indeed “interested in the truth” and “interested in what the Bible teaches”, have reached a different view on reasonable but perhaps not conclusive Scriptural grounds. If this can be granted, then Christians ought to have learned by now that they can argue vigorously, in the spirit and truth of their Savior, about non-essential matters of doctrine and practice without having to resort to ad hominem attacks, sarcasm, and questioning each others’ sincerity and faith. (I hope have not been guilty of such unbrotherly rhetoric in this discussion. If I have, please forgive me.)

    In the interest of avoiding “vain disputation”, a Scriptural injunction I have probably violated already, this will be my last post on this topic.

    Yours in God’s Son,
    S.N.D.

  9. I hope that all readers of this discussion will read in its entirety the previous post “Put Christ Back in Christmas?” and also the links to the Calvinist and Puritan articles relevant to this topic.

    I hesitate to argue publicly with a brother (or sister) in Christ who is undoubtedly a much better disciple than I, especially when I agree with so much of what he has written. I also hesitate to take issue with the Puritan tradition of the Faith (it is a tradition), which obviously provides valuable insights, examples, and challenges that all Christians need to consider.

    But a few dissenting and assenting thoughts:

    1. As I think I indicated in my first post, I do agree that most Christians (including me) celebrate the Lord’s birth in too wordly a manner. tpiecora had many excellent points on this subject. I have no interest in defending the secular Christmas, only the proper celebration of it by professing Christians.

    2. We part company primarily on the very old issue of HOW we should we should approach Holy Scripture to determine how it guides and limits Christian worship. Part of the Puritan approach, as I understand it, is that we should limit our worship to only what is clearly commanded or exemplified in the Bible. The problem is that probably none of us, even the Puritans and their doctrinal descendants, do that.

    3. As far as we know, New Testament believers worshipped only in houses. Neither Jesus nor the apostles commanded Christians to construct church buildings. The earliest Christians apparently did not see a normative precedent in the Jewish synagogue. A plausible case could be made that the Greek and Roman Christians who first built churches were following the precedent of pagan temples. So why did Spurgeon preach in a large church building?

    4. Very few Christians strictly follow the New Testament precedent in celebrating the Lord’s Supper. Paul explicitly said that at the Last Supper, Jesus broke bread, they all had a meal, and then they shared a common cup. Did even the Puritan’s celebrate the Lord’s Supper this way?

    5. Did the Puritans have special days to commemorate Good Friday or Easter? I really don’t know, but there are no commandments or precedents in the Bible to do so. The New Testament Christians worshipped on the first day of the week, we think to celebrate the Resurrection but also the Lord’s Supper. Does that mean that the only day on which we should have worship services or Holy Communion is Sunday?

    5. No, we don’t know when Jesus was born. I don’t think I have ever met an adult believer who thought it was Dec 25. But we don’t know exactly on what dates Jesus died and rose again. Christians in the second century tried to figure this out (see the Touchstone article), but even today we are not sure of the year and hence the date. Does the lack of “Scriptural warrant” (Spurgeon) make it sinful for Christians to commemorate Good Friday and Easter on days that are merely traditional, and of Roman Catholic origin?

    6. Don’t get me wrong. I do not believe that Christian liturgical calendars are authoritative. I only believe they were beneficial in pre-literate pagan societies and that they still are in increasingly pagan (and illiterate) societies. I have no quarrel with the doctrinal belief that it is best and safest to take a very restrictive view, as the Puritans did, of what Scripture commands and allows us to do in ordering the worship of the local church. I would only argue against an intolerance and demonization of Christians who have different views with reasonable (not compelling) bases in Scripture, some of which I tried to describe in my previous post. These kind of secondary issues are really underdetermined in the words God has written. Hence I would recommend Calvin’s latitude.

    So while I agree with much of what tpiecora says about the sinfulness of the WAY Christmas is celebrated, even by Christians like me, (ignoring his unfortunate ad hominem in the paragraph on syncretism), I disagree with what he says or implies about the sinfulness THAT Christmas is celebrated at all.

    Blessings,
    S.N.D.

  10. Let me say frankly that we should cast our lot with neither the anti-Christmas anticatholics nor the syncretic so-called conservatives who want one political party or the other (or both) to do the work and carry the load for those who are the disciples of Christ.

    Instead, we should simply seek to follow Jesus faithfully — and take every opportunity to declare Him publicly in the spirit which we are called to worship Him. That would be a spirit which has the fruits of love, peace, patience, kindness, goodnes, gentleness, self-control and, most importantly, joy.

    I find it bizarre that God saw fit for angels to declare at the birth of His son, “good tidings of great joy for all people,” and today we think somehow we can express joy without rejoicing and declare to all people in a way which is less than public.

    The worship of God is, by default, a task for His people, but not a task for our prayer closets. Every bit of His glory should be declared, in every way we can engage and imagine, including the days when even WAL*MART will close the doors.

  11. To those who are interested in the truth.

    December 25 is the pagan festival of Saturnalia. Saturnalia was (and still is) a pagan festival which according to the Encyclopaedia Americana (Vol.6, p.666) “…took place around the time of the winter solstice, when the days begin to lengthen, to celebrate the ‘rebirth of the sun’…The Roman Saturnalia, also took place at this time…”

    And, according to the New Catholic Encyclopaedia, “…the birth of Christ was assigned the date of the winter solstice (December 25 in the Julian calendar, January 6 in the Egyptian), because on this day, as the sun began its return to northern skies, the pagan devotees of Mithra celebrated the dies natalis Solis Invicti (birthday of the invincible sun). On December 25, 274AD., Aurelian had proclaimed the sun-god, principal patron of the empire and dedicated a temple to him in the Campus Martius. Christmas originated at a time when the cult of the sun was particularly strong at Rome” (1967), Vol.3, p.656.

    A simple examination of what the Bible reports indicates quite clearly when Jesus was born.

    In the Gospel of Luke; Luke reports that the Angel Gabriel first appeared to the priest Zechariah to tell him that his aged wife, Elizabeth was to have a son. Their son was to become John the Baptist. What is to be noted in this account is that Zechariah was serving as a priest at the time. In fact, Zechariah was serving as priest “…in the division of Abijah.” (Luke.1:5) This puts John the Baptists conception at around the time of late Spring, early Summer.

    According to Luke chapter 1 and verse 26, the Angel Gabriel next appeared to Mary, to tell her that she was going to conceive and eventually give birth to Jesus. What is of interest here is that verse 26 tells us that it was in Elizabeth’s sixth month of pregnancy with John the Baptist that the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary announcing her pregnancy with Jesus. So, simply put, Jesus was conceived in Mary’s womb, six months after the “division of Abijah” or, we could say, Jesus was born 15 months after the “division of Abijah” (6 months + 9 months). The “division of Abijah”, (our starting point) the time of year in which Zechariah was serving as priest, was late spring, early summer. Jesus was thus born late September, early October. This ties in with the shepherds being out with their flocks at night. They certainly would not have been out at night with their flocks in the depths of winter.

    Jesus’ close companion and disciple, John (not John the Baptist) wrote at John chapter 4, verse 24, “…those worshipping him (God), must worship him with spirit and truth.” John also said at John chapter 8 and verse 32, “…you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

    Many will argue that their celebration of Christmas is their way of remembering Jesus Christ. Fair enough, that’s’ up to them. But a Christian should be interested in what the Bible teaches. The date of Jesus’ birth is irrelevant and not known. On the other hand, the date of Christ’s death is known and is of far greater significance. In fact, on the night before his death, after passing the bread and wine, Jesus Christ said “Keep doing this in remembrance of me”. (Luke 22:19) This is the only celebration Christ commanded his disciples to observe. He wasn’t referring to his birth when he said that. (This command should not be confused with the pagan celebration of the goddess Esther (Astarte) or Easter)

    To a sincere Christian, Jesus Christ should be remembered every day of one’s life, not squeezed into a small part of the year by pagans who don’t believe in God or Jesus. The real force behind the anti-God, irreligious band of pagans is of course Satan the Devil. (let us not beat about the bush!) True Christians will seek to worship God “with truth” and avoid polluting their worship of Him with pagan festivals. Doing so will free the individual of false teachings that go “contrary to the teaching” of God’s word. (Romans 16:17) The Truth will set and has set many people free of the stress and madness the materialistic festival of Saturnalia (’Christmas’) brings.

    With regard to SND comments above, Jesus observed the Jewish feasts because he was a Jew, brought up and bound under the Law given by God to Moses which included all the festivals God required Jews to observe. In contrast, faithful Jews and Jesus did not pollute their worship of God by celebrating festivals observed by pagan, non-Israelites such as the Egyptians and Babylonians.

    I suppose the issue is, on whose terms are you going to worship the Almighty and remember Jesus Christ? Terms laid down by God in his word the Bible, or on terms dictated by pagan, irreligious people who don’t believe in God or Christ.

  12. I am not sure if it was “Just a Guy” or someone else who injected his comments into this discussion. And I am also unclear about its relevance since the blog post from which it was taken deals with the contemporary “Christmas wars” in American society. While I see more significance in that public controversy than Just A Guy, it is not the subject of this discussion.

    I understood the subject of this discussion to be the much more significant debate within the Christian faith about the place of Christmas in life of the Church, the body of Christ.

    The only statement then in Just A Guy’s post that seems to me relevant to this discussion is the following: “why do you persist in the misguided notion…that a special season or dates on the calendar really connect to serious ‘biblical’ Christianity.” (subtle ad hominem deleted)

    To try to help Just A Guy find the answer to that very important question I will offer a few more amateurish thoughts.

    1. The Gospels clearly reveal that Jesus observed the Jewish feasts which commemorated the major acts by which God formed, rescued, and preserved the people of Israel. Jesus apparently saw value in observing such traditional “special season[s]” and “dates on the calendar.”

    2. The apostles and earliest Christians were Jewish too and followed Jesus in observing traditional Jewish feasts and even daily hours of prayer. They also did something quite revolutionary (and dangerous) in commemorating Jesus’ resurrection in weekly gatherings on the first day of the week, though as far as we know they had no explicit command from the Lord to do so.

    3. So the devotional practice of Jesus himself, the apostles, and the earliest church set more than ample biblical precedence, I think, for Christians to observe days and seasons that commemorate God’s saving acts, especially the saving acts of His Son.

    4. I also would repeat the point in my previous post: that the liturgical calendar of days and seasons that gradually developed in the early Church and that commemorated events in the Savior’s life had significant teaching and evangelistic value in a pre-literate society. It is simply arrogant for later Christians blessed (and sometimes cursed) with the printing press, radio, TV, and internet to disparage this early means of conveying the gospel and edifying believers, especially when the early Christians who observed such days did so at risk of much more than crude criticisms in a blog.

    5. There are, I think, even deeper biblical reasons for the Church’s observance of special days and seasons. The Church in the first centuries undoubtedly misinterpreted Holy Scripture in a multitude of ways (but the Church has always done so, we see through a glass darkly), but they did have a deeper appreciation than modern evangelicals generally do of the clear New Testament teaching that God’s Son became incarnate, lived, suffered, died, rose from the dead, and ascended for a much wider purpose than saving the souls of the elect (though that is central to His purpose). He did this to redeem and renew all of creation in all its dimensions – including TIME. But exploring the ramifications of this biblical teaching requires more time and space than I should take. I have already taken too much.

    Have a joyous Christmas.

    Yours in God’s Son,
    S.N.D.

  13. Another thought:

    On the popular belief that the Lord’s birth was on December 25th to “Christianize” a pagan festival, see the following intriguing article from Touchstone magazine. The author presents strong evidence that it was the other way around.

  14. A few thoughts:

    As a Protestant evangelical who deeply appreciates the contributions of the Puritans to the Faith, I would agree that they had important insights but do not think they had a monopoly on sound doctrine and faithful practice.

    We must remember, I think, that Christmas and other Christian celebrations became part of the Christian liturgical calendar in an age long before the printing press. These were an effective way of witnessing to non-Christians and reinforcing biblical history and teaching to Christians in non-literate societies. Should we throw away books now that we have TV? Obviously not. Then we should take care how we evaluate the practices of devout believers originating in generations before the widespread availability of books.

    ALL forms of Christian proclamation and witness, even expository preaching from a pulpit, are flawed and subject to corruption and misuse from our sinful nature.

    Perhaps Christians err not in celebrating Christmas, but in celebrating it incorrectly, conventionally, half-heartedly, trivially, and far too lavishly. In the best liturgical Christian traditions, Advent, the four weeks prior to Christmas, were a time of solemn preparation for the Lord’s coming. The joyful celebration did not begin till Christmas Day and lasted for twelve days!!! How might we evangelicals, I wonder, impact our culture if we still honoured the Lord’s birth according to this older Christian wisdom?

    And even if we celebrated the Lord’s birth more robustly (but less materially), we should remember that we have paid only half the respect due the Incarnation. At Christmas we celebrate only the Incarnation made manifest. How great a failure is it, I wonder, that Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox underemphasize, and we Protestants almost totally ignore the Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary on March 25, the day when we should loudly celebrate the “grand miracle” (C.S. Lewis) of the Incarnation itself!!!

    No, Jesus didn’t explicitly command us to celebrate His birth. He did command us to celebrate the Lord’s Supper. Are we as faithful in doing even that as often, reflectively, and reverently as we should? Acts indicates that the Jerusalem church met and worshipped on Sunday, undoubtedly in celebration of the Resurrection. But that practice is nowhere explicitly commanded. How impoverished the Church would be if she limited her worship to only what was explicitly revealed and clearly exemplified in Holy Scripture. Perish the thought, we might have to get rid of electric guitars.

    But blessings to all as you remember the Saviour’s birth in the way you think the Spirit leads.

    S.N.D.

  15. The real question should be what does the word of God say on the subject? If indeed it was a pagan festival that was “converted” to Christianity, does the word of God support such a practice? By example, from God’s word, is it ok to take something from the worship of false gods and cleanse it and make it useable in the worship of Yahweh? I have yet to find such an example.

  16. Was Christ born on Dec. 25th? I must quote Deuteronomy 29:29 “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: But those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.”

  17. Seeking to honor Christ at ANY time of the year shouldn’t ever be mocked. There are many things that the Puritans have decided are “proper” ways to worship God. Those who came before us with their “truths that were set before us” are not infallible nor are they always correct in their vain presumptions. Plain history and traditions are NOT Scripture. I think people miss the point in grace and freedom of worship. Obviously, there are very specific areas and manners where the Lord has told us we are not to worship Him. Other areas of His birth are not forbidden anywhere in the Scripture. Anymore than the manners of observation of communion (i.e. The Lord’s Supper). There are a myriad of ways that people practice communion, including the time of year. Worshipping the Lord in Spirit and Truth and fulfilling the New Commandment are mandates as a believer/regenerate/elect. To assume people who “observe” Christmas are participating in worship like the pagans or are getting drunk with the pagans and not redeeming the time (ANY TIME) because the days are evil to spread the Truth of the Gospel is wrong. In any area that pagans worships, such as many churches that fill our country, should we stop going to church buildings and singing because they do it in the name of their god. More time should be spent in prayer and supplication for those lost souls that are perishing without a preacher of the Gospel and less condemning those who in their hearts are truly worshipping the One true God.

  18. Christ-mass is nothing more than popery and paganism dressed in the garb of chirstianity. There is much to be learned from the history of christ-mass and its acceptance into mainstream society. Christ never mentioned that we should remember his birth only “remember” His death. As the true believers/regenerate/elect (not to be confused with all the others that claim the faith or the name of God) we should honor those truths that were set before us by those who (Calvin,Edwards,Pink,Spurgeon and the like) know much better than the fluffy candy coated feel good ridiculous excuse of a gospel that is pathetically spit out today. For those who have ears let him hear. God is not mocked. Why? Because He is not given to our weakness or frailties that might humanies Him. He is God and the only way He can communicate with us is by lowering Himself. His ways are not our ways.

  19. Why are they against Christmas? They therefore don’t believe in the birth of Christ? I wonder what’s their happiest celebration and to whom do they offer it for.

    The Puritans remind me of those people who passed laws regarding the killing of all disciples. Also, they remind me of those previous leaders who persecuted male babies because they were afraid that someone good will soon overthrow them from their position.

    It’s not wise to think about self-vested interests. Christmas isn’t the time to think about yourself; rather it’s the time to think about thanking our Great Friend Above for all the blessings that come our way.

  20. So… I know your question relates to life in an arguably post-christian West, however, it is a question my family has been considering for over a year now. We live in North India, where I have been told innumberable times about how “Christmas” is the Christian festival wherin people get drunk, are sexually promiscuous and engage in extreme materialistic consumption. While the latter may be true, most Hindus do not believe me when I tell them that we do not get drunk on Christmas; and that, too, Jesus would not approve of such things. Still, regarding Christmas and the way people around the world perceive it, we often wonder if believers should jettison the whole thing. Perhaps the Puritans had some wisdom behind their thinking, if indeed they when to far.

  21. Our minister preached a sermon this Christmas Eve on The Law of Christmas in which he pointed out the pagan origins of Christmas and then told us that the worst thing about Christmas is not commercialism, or materialism, but legalism: the law of Christmas teaches us that we must work for our gifts by being good, and that Christmas is not about giving or receiving gifts: it’s about exchanging them.

    And woe betide you if you give someone a gift of lesser value, or if you forget someone who remembers you.

    He concluded by asking us if Christmas needs converting to something that emphasises God’s grace.

    I’m not a big fan of Christmas, but I wonder what the rest of the congregation thought?

    A few days ago, we were listenng to a radio program of listener requests, and the presenter had put together some requests with a Christmas theme. I thought the first one was especially appropriate: it was from Handel’s Messiah and was the chorus “All We Like Sheep” !

  22. As one who thinks the Puritans had the Biblical view on this, I thank you, Andreas, for posting this provocative piece.

  23. Or, are the additional options? That is, is this a false dilemma?

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