Celebration Of Christmas:
Right or Wrong?
Bread Upon The Waters Ministry,
Note: This page is a special appendix to
"What's Worth Arguing About?"
I once received a letter asking me to send something, or post something to my Web site, about the meaning of Christmas. As it is, I was thinking of putting something about Christmas into my Web site, but hadn’t gotten around to it. So I wrote this in response. It was originally posted as an Online Newsletter. I decided at the time to post it permanently after the next Newsletter update, and here it is. The writer expected that I would post an article denouncing the celebration of Christmas. He got seriously disappointed. The following is what I posted in reply.
To begin with, I have long been fully aware that it is almost certain that Jesus was not born on December 25, just as He was not born on January 1 in The Year 1 on our calendar, which is, in theory, dated from His birth. I don’t think it matters. If there is one thing in the Bible that I am convinced has no spiritual or theological significance, it is anything having to do with dates or numbers; except possibly for when the Second Coming will occur. See:
When Will Jesus Come Again?
I am also aware that the celebration of Christmas originally replaced a pagan holiday, the Saturnalia. I don’t see anything wrong with that, and in fact I think it’s a good thing that it did. I mean, should we want people to still be holding that pagan festival? It was one of the most flagrantly sinful pagan festivals ever celebrated. We should be glad Christmas replaced it. It was a triumph for Christianity. By parallel, I know Christians who have a real problem with other Christians building large, elaborate church buildings and cathedrals. I see nothing wrong with it, and my response is that I would much rather see people doing that than, say for example, building nuclear weapons. That is to say, in both cases, building cathedrals and celebrating Christmas, there are far worse things that people could be doing.
One of the most perverse and dangerous expressions of the sin nature is people seeing evil where there is no evil. That kind of thing has gotten true saints of God burned at the stake. As Paul says in Titus 1:15, "To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure...". In other words, Christians who find fault with the celebration of Christmas are thereby revealing their own sinfulness and lack of faith. The Bible clearly relates fault finding to weakness in faith. See Romans 14:1-4.
I am fully aware of how much Christmas has been commercialized, but I am not disturbed at all about that. That's the real world, folks. As it says in Ecclesiastes 10:19, "A feast is made for laughter, and wine makes merry, but money answers everything." (Yes, that is in the Bible. If you doubt it, get your Bible and check it.) We're "spinning our wheels", that is, engaging in useless, futile labor, if we try to fight that. And the weight of the Scripture is that this is not evil in itself, contrary to what many Christians believe.
I am not, though, at all happy about the way Christ is left out of the celebration. That’s the only thing I do see as wrong; very wrong with the celebration of Christmas. Christians must be focused on the fact that Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ; and not, for example, the coming of Santa Claus. Remember, as the saying goes, that Jesus is the Reason for the Season.
On the other hand, the thing that impresses me favorably – very favorably – is the fact that Christmas is the biggest, most widely and intensely celebrated holiday on earth. There is a Scriptural meaning to that which goes all the way back to Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign…”. I see Christmas, like the A.D. on our calendars, as a sign from the Lord, as it also says in Isaiah 55:13, “an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off”. Therefore, Christians who oppose the celebration of Christmas are actually fighting God. Seriously so! We, on the contrary, should promote it, but again, put the focus on Jesus.
Opposition to the celebration of Christmas by Christians "accomplishes" four things:
1. It gives the people doing it reason to feel “holier than thou”.
2. It confuses and discourages Christians who want to celebrate Christmas but who also want to be obedient to God.
3. It causes needless discord and division in the Church. This is heretical.
4. It gives unsaved people good, honest reason to believe that Christians are a bunch of nuts, weirdoes and crackpots. Which is to say it is a bad testimony.
The same thing is true of objection by Christians to other celebrations and observances. Doing these things is sin.
Relevant to all this, and especially #4, we should remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 10:16, "Behold, I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore, be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves." See:
Report On The Stupider Effect
Overall, I believe that opposition to the celebration of Christmas on the part of Christians is an example of the problem addressed in my page,
“What’s Worth Arguing About?”
It is relevant and noteworthy that many of the Christians who are opposing the celebration of Christmas are also telling Christians that they should rigidly observe the Old Testament Jewish holy days and other Old Testament religious traditions, and should rigidly obey the Torah otherwise. They often say we should worship on, and only on Saturday, and they aren't all Seventh Day Adventists, either. This shows that these Christians are in fact a bunch of modern day Juda-izers and Pharisees. See Galatians 4 & 5.
If you are a Christian who wants to find fault with other Christians for celebrating Christmas, remember these two passages:
Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. (Romans14:4)
Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.
These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. (Colossians 2:16-17)
The bottom line is that judging people over the celebration of Christmas is an unscriptural practice.
The Right Thing To Do:
A few days before Christmas, as I was on my way home from my job, I encountered a group of Christians from a New York City church doing a relevant kind of public evangelism. There were a couple dozen of them there, singing Christmas Carols and handing out tracts in the vast Times Square subway station. They were using the Christmas season as an opportunity for outreach. While not condemning the secular celebration of Christmas at all, I believe that if Christians really want to do something about Christmas, they should do what those Christians were doing. It should be, for all Christians, a golden opportunity for a massive evangelistic outreach, accompanied by a season of prayer and fasting. See:
United Prayer And Fasting
If Christians took a really Christian approach to Christmas, every Christmas would produce a massive harvest of souls brought to the Lord. Yet there is no good reason why that should stop Christians from celebrating Christmas in the traditional way otherwise.
As for myself, I celebrate Christmas, and put quite a bit of time and money into it, and consider it all a blessing. I have been doing so since my childhood in a Born Again Christian home. Frankly, I enjoy seeing all the Christmas lights and decorations. I enjoy sending and receiving Christmas cards. I enjoy sending and receiving Christmas gifts. And everything else that goes with Christmas. I celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, God's greatest gift to mankind. That is something that deserves to be celebrated. I look forward to it each year. No fault-finding Pharisee is going to tell me to stop. See also Colossians 2:16.
You shouldn't let the Pharisees stop you either, any more than Jesus did.
See also: "Who Has The TRUTH?" (Guest Page)
Contact Author, William D. Brehm