FAQ More Frequently Asked Questions

Dear Pastor,

What do you know and think about the celebration of Christmas? Is it pagan? Is it okay to celebrate? I have a hunch you know more about this than what you have said from the pulpitů

All the history and debate on this issue reminds me of a person trying to get cooked spaghetti noodles back into the box like they had been originally.

I have read until my eyes are weary, studying this question. Do a search on the ‘net on this subject.

There are a number of things that are easy to see as having descended out of pagan religion, such as the yule log, gift giving, mistletoe, etc. (At one time the Catholic church banned gift giving at Christmas due to pagan connections!) Many websites give a list of pagan connections, but lack historicity for their claims—they are merely reciting a source from the 18th century, but not original sources! For instance, one site links Santa to Thor. In just one of their examples: “Thor’s color was red.” Then they show a picture of Santa in his red suit. So Santa is Thor, and Thor is Santa! But when you study Thor, you will find that his beard was red—he is not in a red suit. They make a whole pile of these connections. But I can’t find them when I study Thor!

It appears to me that for the most part, for most people, many of these traditions are simply seasonal decorations like pumpkins and cornstalks in the fall, and fresh flowers in summer.

Some of our early Christian forefathers (like the Puritans) did not celebrate Christmas and considered it more of the Pope’s error. Christmas had degenerated into drunken debauchery, and they were certainly right to oppose it. But at least one of the reformers, Luther, wrote Christmas carols. If you read just the Wikipedia article on Christmas, you’ll get a good start on the pile of spaghetti.

The birthdate of Christ is an interesting subject, with various authorities picking nearly every month of the year! One of the first challenges to the December 25th date that I heard as a new believer was “the shepherds were in their fields, so it was lambing time—March.” Coming from a non-believing home I thought, “You mean… this thing called Christmas ought to be in March?” Interestingly, the Bible does not give his birth date. If we’d needed it, he’d have given it. So…biblically, this is not a big deal to celebrate. His resurrection, as celebrated each week—now THAT is the thing to celebrate.

Okay, back to a March Christmas.... In Palestine, sheep were kept outdoors year ‘round. And if a shepherd didn’t want his wooly wealth to be carried off by thieves or eaten by wild animals, he had to be with them in the field. Year round. 24/7. Shepherds in the field mean… uh…nothing.

Those who would link December 25th totally to paganism ought to read how early Christians had calculated the birth of Christ from his conception, figured from Zachariah’s service in the temple, the feast time, and Elizabeth’s pregnancy. The date? December 25th. They knew that the pagans considered the “rebirth” of the sun at the winter solstice to be an expression of the strength of the sun…and were amazed that God would have Christ born at this time.

Okay, where does all this leave us? Is celebrating the birth of Jesus at Christmas really a denial of Christ as some claim, and a celebration of Nimrod of Babylon, and all his many incarnations, such as Thor? Is this really just the Feast of Saturnalia?

Methinks those who claim this paint with too wide a brush. Most sincere followers of Jesus know this time as celebrating the time of the birth of Jesus. They do not have one ounce of worship of Nimrod in them, and they are not in drunken debauchery. Further, they resist the materialism promoted at this time, and often seek to honor Christ with gifts to the unfortunate poor around the world.

The bottom line: if you are looking to celebrate or to see paganism in what is called “Christmas”, you’ll find it. If you are seeking Jesus and his life and message in Christmas, you’ll find it.

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17

There were a group of believers who began to be pretty uptight about requiring circumcision to be saved. Paul wrote to them,

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” Galations 5:6.

We could well apply this to Christmas, as in…

“For in Christ Jesus neither Christmas nor un-Christmas has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”

I hope this helps. God bless you!

--Pastor Burt

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Ellsworth Assembly of God
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  Ellsworth Assembly of God ~ 131 Beechland Road ~ Ellsworth, ME 04605 ~ 207-667-8998