The Ancient Faith
CHRISTMAS AND ROMANS 14
The purpose of this article is not to give the history of Christmas, for that is a well-documented fact. Christmas is a combination of paganism, Catholicism and Christianity. The purpose of this article is to see if Romans 14, especially verses 5 and 6, will justify pagan holidays and thus Christmas.
In the New Testament, it is well understood that one is either by nature a Jew or a Gentile. It is also well understood that all Christians are one in Christ, regardless of their birth. However, and for the purpose of this article, it is important that one remember that Gentiles in early Christian usage were generally considered pagans, or idol- worshippers. Gentiles in the broadest sense, though, are non-Jewish people. All Cretians, for instance, were not liars, but the practice was so common among them that Paul agreed with one of their prophets that the Cretians were always liars (Titus 1:12- 13). And thus, too, because of their idol-worship, Gentiles were generally considered by Jews as pagans and heathens.
This brings us to the subject at hand, Romans 14 and Christmas. It is understood that Paul is addressing both Jews and Gentiles in Romans 14. Not wishing to misrepresent what anyone has written or said on this important subject, I will quote from what has been written. First, the verses under dispute are Romans 14:5-6a, which state: “One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it.” A brother, in defense of Christmas, wrote: “The sixth verse of Romans fourteen states that whichever decision he makes about esteeming a day is acceptable to God.” This assessment is correct, but only to the point that one remember that Romans 14 is dealing with matters that are not wrong in and of themselves, and thus before Romans 14 can be applied to Christmas it must be proved that Christmas is not wrong in and of itself.
The above writer did not seek to prove that Christmas was not wrong in and of itself. The writer stretched what Paul clearly had under consideration, things not wrong in and of themselves, to something that was far removed from Paul’s thinking, namely, Christmas. The above quoted writer, without any proof at all, says: “Therefore, it cannot be successfully argued that the days under consideration were Jewish holidays rather than pagan ones.” The writer’s conclusion was: “In view of these facts [that is, that it cannot be successfully argued that the days under consideration were Jewish holiday rather than PAGAN ONES], Paul’s express statement is that a brother with a strong conscience-one that is scrupulous but not unnecessarily so-may choose as an individual or a family to esteem one day above another- even Christmas.” The bold conclusion by the above writer was: “Having duly considered these matters and discovering no Hindrance, individuals may on their own private initiative engage in the celebration of Christmas or any other holiday.”
PAUL AND PAGAN HOLIDAYS
Christmas is a combination of paganism (idol-worship), Catholicism and Christianity. The above quoted writer agrees that there is a connection between Christmas and paganism but that “it cannot BE SUCCESSFULLY ARGUED that the days under consideration were Jewish holidays rather than pagan ones.” The above writer did not say that Paul included pagan holidays in Romans 14, which is what he should have been doing, but rather, he shifted it over and simply said that it cannot “be successfully argued” that Paul did not have pagan holidays under consideration rather than Jewish holidays. Where is the proof that Paul included PAGAN HOLIDAYS in what he wrote in Romans 14:5-6? What the writer succeeded in doing was stating, without proof, that Christians can, on the basis of Roman 14, observe any holiday, even a pagan one. But to observe a holiday is to observe all that goes with it, and all that goes with a pagan holiday includes idolatry, for all pagans were idol-worshippers.
What was Paul’s stand on paganism? Was he for or against pagan holidays? Is it an open question that cannot BE SUCCESSFULLY ARGUED? The first thing that the Holy Spirit, Paul and the brethren wrote the Gentiles in Acts 15 was: “That you abstain from meats offered to idols …” (vv. 20 and 29). “And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?'(II Cor. 6:16). And “how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (I Thess. 1:9). Or, 1 John 5:21, says: “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” Under the Old Covenant, which is, among other things, “written for our learning” (Rom. 15:4 and I Cor. 10: 1 l), we are told to “learn not the way of the heathen (Gentiles – nations) … for the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not, they are upright as the palm tree, but speak not; they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good” (Jer. 10: 1-51. Paul’s instructions to Gentile Christians in Ephesian 4:17 was, ‘”This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind.” The NIV says: “So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do …” James Moffat translates it: “Now in the Lord I insist and protest that you must give up living like pagans …” Or, the Amplified has it: “That you must no longer live as the heathen (the Gentiles) do …”
We have now SUCCESSFULLY ARGUED that Paul did not include PAGAN HOLIDAYS in what he wrote in Romans 145-6. WHY DO CHRISTIANS KEEP CHRISTMAS? One of the main reasons why Christians keep Christmas is because the world does. No Christian is keeping Christmas (literally, Christ-mass) because it is found in the Bible, for it cannot be found in the Scriptures, and the pagan and Catholic nature of it violates what is clearly taught in the Bible. If the world stopped observing Christmas, then Christians woyld stop, also. Or, if the world even changed the day Christmas is observed, some Christians would follow along. And the fact is, the whole world does not keep Christmas on the same day. The Roman church and the Greek Orthodox keep it on different days. And if Christians did no more than is found in the Scriptures relative to Christmas, they would do no more at Christmas time than they would do any other day of the year.
The subject has nothing to do with birthdays, giving gifts, or in the keeping of days that in no way violate the Scriptures. The reason why some feel compelled to prove Christmas by the Scriptures is because it is religious in nature, and deeply rooted in paganism and Catholicism. Until it can be successfully argued that one can keep a pagan holiday, no Christian should observe Christmas. From heaven this strong warning has been sounded: “Come out of her, my people, that you be not partakers of her sins, and that you receive not of her plagues …” (Rev. 18:4).
[This is from the December 1999 issue of the OPA]