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Given that the year is winding down to another Christmas celebration, to my brothers and sisters, I write to a commence a discussion on the Catholic celebration, Christmas, and their other activities and its implication to us as Seventh - Day Adventist. 

Question:

Given the fact that God condemns and speaks against this form of worship, Christmas, should Seventh - Day Adventist partake in it ? 

Additionally, should One partake in their events of lent, Easter etc?

In other words, We as Seventh-Day Adventist know the Scripture very well, and we know what Revelation 12, 13, 17 & 18 declare to us in respect to Satan ascribe worship through the Papal power; and, how the pope will seek to change laws and times, and blaspheme God. So I am arguing why are we still supporting catholic teaching by indulging in their practices and making excuses for doing so. If God said no - Do not be partakers of her sins...

“Come away from her, my people.

Do not take part in her sins,

or you will be punished with her.

5For her sins are piled as high as heaven,

and God remembers her evil deeds.

Why are so many of us are saying yes we know its not Jesus birthday, but we find it fitting to do x or y.... 

How can you know that these people's teachings are not of God or exalt Him, yet you indulge in their practices?

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Keith,
Stick to Christ and His word. If you ere, it will steer you back. Refuse to be put in the camp which am seeing developing here, " Leon camp or Jason camp" . It's unprofitable to ones Christian experience. Just be objective and side with no one but scripture. Others are bent on demonizing you. As long as it's not Christ, forget about them. If the highway or my way is their rule, that's enough proof of what spirit they have....
Mutinta

Jason,

1Cor.12:2 "you know that when you were PAGANS, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute Idols."(NIV)

Keith

Keith 

what do you understand by this text? 

That Christianity came from pagan roots, what else. Gentiles were not a religious group.

Keith

Like Jason I wonder how you can say that Christianity came from the pagans.

I always understood that Christianity takes its title from its Founder Christ. Have you new information for us on this please.

Forgive me, I was wrong. I really have no idea where Christianity came from. I'm sure it didn't come from sinners. I bet it started long before Paul.

But I do know if I spend any more time with you guys I won't be an SDA any longer, which would please all of you I'm sure.

When I said Christ died to save pagans, would you put that in context as to the fact if it were not for pagans, Heathens, sinners, Christ would not have had to die, when sinners, pagans accepted Christ, they became Christians.

However, I was speaking about Christmas, it started as a pagan holiday.an the only point I was making is that Christmas was not only Catholic in origin.

One question, are you guys at all interested is saving souls to Jesus, or do you want us to get lost?

Where Christianity  gets its title, and where it came from are two different things.

I have to be nuts to even dignify your remarks with an answer. No I don't like

to be wrong, but at least I do admit it when I am which is more than I see you guys doing.

I knew no matter what I would say would be wrong.

Steeped in tradition, lost to love.

This is kind of a "left field" thought, but an idea from the Book of Ezekiel comes to mind.

"Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,  
 Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations,  
 And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto Jerusalem; Thy birth and thy nativity is of the land of Canaan; thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother an Hittite. (Eze 16:1-3)

I understand that God is referring to the beginnings of the Jewish church...

I suggest that there is a relevant principle in this thought from 1Corinthians 10.

"Whatsoever is sold in the meat market, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake: For the earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof.

If an unbeliever invites you to a feast, and you are disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, EAT, asking no question for conscience sake.

But if anyone says to you, "This is offered in sacrifice to idols", do not eat for the sake of him that showed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof:

Conscience, I say, not your own, but the other [man’s]..."
(1Cor 10:23-29 kjv/williams)

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If we are bidden to join people at a gathering, and are served up things that are dedicated to idols, doesn't the Bible teach us here that we are free to partake? and that we should NOT feel obliged to ask questions about the things that are served to us?

But of course, if somebody points to the fact that all [or part] of it is dedicated to some pagan god, then we should abstain. But not for our own sakes. No, we should understand that the idol is nothing. Yet for the sake of the person that pointed to the fact, we ought to abstain. For us it should be irrelevant that it is dedicated to some pagan deity. Nevertheless, for him it is significant.

Now there is no good reason to have him stumble over us [since to him we give the appearance of condoning evil], and this might easily be avoided. If, that is, we are willing to take the humble ground.

It is lawful for us to partake, but it is NOT expedient. It is not helpful or profitable, and so we must take care in the presence of such people. There is no good reason for us to make them stumble over us and our liberty.

Things like Easter and Christmas certainly have Pagan roots, "but we know that an idol is nothing in the world" don’t we? (1Cor 8:4)

Scripture tells us that if we are "disposed [or inclined] to go", then go. But "be not afraid of them [i.e. the pagan gods to which those things are dedicated]; because they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good." (Jer 10:5) They are "nothing".

  • Wedding ceremonies themselves were also a pagan custom, and are not commanded in Scripture.

  • Funerals include pagan customs, too, based on erroneous ideas about the afterlife. Scripture says nothing about putting flowers on graves, etc.  Egyptian mythology said that the dead should be embalmed, and Joseph participated in this custom (Gen. 50:2-3) despite its pagan origin.

  • Pagans created statues — of animals and people, both life-size and miniatures. They had statues in their flower gardens and statues in their homes. But statues have lost their "pagan" connotations because people do not believe in such gods and goddesses anymore.

  • Money has pagan designs on it. Some U.S. coins used to have the goddess "Liberty" on them. Dollar bills have an eye over a pyramid.

  • Pagans assigned days of the week to different gods, and we still use these names.

So the question arises, How careful must we be in weeding paganisms out of our lives? Where do we draw the line? The answer is, different Christians draw the line in different places. We need to allow some diversity on these issues.

Some conservative churches used to forbid wedding rings. Some forbid Christmas and Easter. They are careful to do what God says, and if God tells them to avoid paganism, then they carefully do it. Some are so careful that they err on the side of forbidding too much — but they err. They make commands about things that God doesn't command. That is a sin.

Example of the Corinthians

In the first-century Church, gentile Christians were told to avoid meat that had been sacrificed to pagan idols (Acts 15:29). However, Paul told the Corinthians that they could eat meat sold in the public market even though that meat may have been sacrificed to an idol (1 Cor. 10:25). He told them not to eat in the pagan temple. In other words, he told them to avoid blatant paganism, but they did not have to superstitiously avoid everything that paganism might have touched at some time in the past.

In Corinth, some Christians were more careful than others, and some more liberal than others. Paul told them they could eat the meat, but he also told them to be cautious about causing offense (verses 32-33). However, love does not mean that we all have to abide by the strictest person's conscience. No matter how many people think we ought to be circumcised and to keep the law of Moses, we don't have to (Acts 15). Even if some Christians think we should be vegetarians (and some do), we don't have to abide by their conscience (Rom. 14:1-8). Paul says that we have freedom, but we are to use our freedom in a sensitive way.

Now let us imagine a first-century potluck in the Corinthian church. Everyone has brought their food and everyone has eaten a little bit of everything. Suddenly some overly zealous convert, anxious to avoid the paganism he recently came out of, starts asking questions about the meat. The Smith family, he finds out, bought their beef from Marcus Agorus, and Marcus always has his cows killed at the temple of Zeus. The casserole has been tainted with pagan-tainted meat, and everybody has eaten some of it!

What should the zealous convert do with this information? Should he announce it throughout the congregation, leading to an ever-more-diligent search for pagan-tainted foods? Of course not. The sensible (and the Christian) thing to do would be to keep quiet — but overly zealous converts sometimes aren't sensible. Their zeal overcomes good sense, and although they think they are acting in love, they are actually causing an unnecessary and unhelpful disturbance with their "knowledge." That's what happens today when people preach that wedding rings are pagan.

It is possible to be too zealous in avoiding things that have connections with paganism. Yelling about idol-tainted meat doesn't do anything to strengthen anyone's faith in Christ. All it would do is cause doubts and irritations. That is basically what some people do in their vociferous condemnations of Christmas. People today generally learn about Christmas as a Christian custom, not as a pagan custom. It's like they saw the meat in the market and there was a sign saying "OK for Christians." So they bought it, and then someone comes along and tells them it was tainted.

Some people don't think that the example of meat can apply to holidays; some people do. So, they draw their lines in different places. People generally consider themselves as strong and others as weak, but how are the weak and the strong to get along with each other? Not by enforcing conformity, but by allowing some diversity.

When was Jesus born?

Some people have claimed that Jesus was born near the fall festivals. That is possible, but it is not proven. Luke 2:1-3 says that "everyone went to his own town to register." Why would "everyone" go to such trouble? Apparently it was required. However, it is not likely that Rome would risk a rebellion by requiring each person to go to his own city at the same time as the local religion required everyone to go to Jerusalem. Most likely, an empire-wide census would take several years, and would be administered locally, by local customs, taking into account local religious festivals.

Many people have objected to the idea that Jesus was born in December, since there were shepherds staying in the fields (Luke 2:8), and shepherds didn't normally do that in December. But the Jewish Mishnah Seqal. 7:4 reports that flocks were kept in the fields near Bethlehem, even in winter. The weather there is sometimes cold, but sometimes quite mild in December.  Of course, this doesn't prove that Jesus was born in December, but it shows that the chief objection to a December birth isn't conclusive.

In the early third century (long before Constantine), Julius Africanus and Hippolytus came up with December 25 as the date of Jesus' birth. They don't tell us how they came up with this date, but John Chrysostom does. His calculation may have been innocent, or it may have been contrived. We do not know what his motive was. Therefore, we cannot say that the December 25 date was contrived simply because a pagan festival already existed on that date.

When the church first began celebrating Christmas, it had nothing to do with trees and holly and reindeer. All those were added centuries later in northern Europe. The fact that non-Christian customs were later associated with the festival does not prove that the date itself originated in paganism. It may have been based on calculation instead.

However, for the moment let us suppose that Christmas originated as a deliberate substitution for Saturnalia, a pagan holiday. Many of the people who attended church were recently-converted pagans. Some were not-yet converted pagans. They were attracted to the Saturnalia festivities, and sitting at home alone was not a desirable option when merrymaking could be heard in the streets all around. So, the theory goes, the church provided a clean alternative: going to church.

Would it be wrong to have a church service in deliberate opposition to Saturnalia? Of course not. There is no question of the church trying to worship God by the customs of the heathen — the church is fighting against the customs of the heathen. Only the date is the same, and there is good reason to have church services on that date, on which members can invite their unconverted friends and family into church and away from paganism. At some point, Christians could have made the comparison: on this date, pagans celebrate the birth of the sun god, but we are worshipping the sun of righteousness (Mal. 4:2). We can celebrate his birth, too.

That may have been the way Christmas started. Apparently in the early centuries it was primarily a church service. And the strategy seems to have been successful: no one celebrates Saturnalia any more. Christians don't observe Christmas in honor of the sun god, just as they don't worship the little figurines that they may have in their homes or gardens. Although December 25, like many other dates, was once used for idol worship, it isn't anymore.  

Consider the case of Christians in Korea, for example. December 25 was not a pagan holiday there. And yet Christians there now observe December 25. Why? Because missionaries introduced the holiday. For them, it has a Christian origin, not a pagan one. Should the scrupulous Christians go in to tell them that December 25 was once sacrificed to an idol and should therefore be avoided? That approach creates doubts, not dedication. It does not edify or encourage. 

Scriptures

Two scriptures have often been used to argue against Christmas customs. Jeremiah 10 has nothing to do with Christmas trees. That custom originated in northern Europe and had nothing to do with Jeremiah centuries earlier. Deut. 12:30 has also been appealed to, but the verse simply doesn't forbid everything the pagans did (for another article, click here.) God does not object to all worship practices of the pagans (such as prayer, sacrifices and temples), but only the abominations that they did in worship.

Basically, if it's wrong, it's wrong on any day of the year. That's the kind of customs we need to beware. But if a custom is harmless in July (decorating the house with colored lights, for example), then we needn't condemn it in December. We can't let centuries-dead pagans dictate what we can or can't do. They have no authority over our calendar.

Eastern Orthodox Christians observe January 6 as a festival for the birth of Christ. They were not influenced by Rome or Saturnalia. Does anyone feel a compulsion to dig into history looking for something bad about this day so it can be disqualified? Does anyone feel a compulsion to ask whether the date was once sacrificed to an idol? I hope not.

Let's summarize:

  1. It is not wrong to rejoice at the birth of Jesus.
  2. It is not wrong to do this every year.
  3. It is not wrong to add a religious festival.
  4. The date of Dec. 25 isn't necessarily pagan.
  5. Even if the date is pagan, it isn't automatically wrong to use things that used to be pagan, such as wedding rings, funeral customs, statues, and the names of days.

If the date is permissible and church services are permissible, but certain customs are not, then people ought to specify which customs are ungodly rather than just condemning everything associated with the date. If a fat man in a red suit is permissible, but fables about him are not, then we need to identify the sin without condemning the harmless. Of course, different Christians will draw the lines in different places, and we need to get along with each other. 

Conclusion

Paganism is an emotion-laden subject. Conservative Christians have a history of being dogmatic, legalistic, and of misusing the Scriptures when we argue our point. With that history, of course, it is impossible to discuss this subject without somebody disagreeing. Each person thinks himself to be properly balanced — but each person's balance point is different. Equally sincere people draw lines in different places. What then are we to do?

Should the church legislate about which practices are OK and which are not? That is not our commission. We are not in the Talmud business. Each Christian should draw his or her own lines, and be tolerant of those who draw different lines. Do not judge your brother, Paul says (Romans 14:5-13). That is one of the most difficult commandments in the entire Bible!

No one has to participate in Christmas or Easter, but we should not condemn those who do. Some will do it one way and some will do it another. Whether you participate or whether you abstain, do it all to the Lord, and let him be the judge. This is the Christian approach to the cultural situation today.

 And there are 56 shopping days left before Christmas

I quite like the comments on 1Cor 10.

"Some people don't think that the example of meat can apply to holidays; some people do."

I am among those that do.

In the same way that the principle of not muzzling the Ox working in the corn can be applied to tithe, etc.;so the principle of not being concerned about our food being dedicated to idols can also be applied to festivals, etc.

God had an alter built over the old alter of Baal, or I'm I mistaken.

I think you might be mistaken on this one Keith.

Of course it became common practice in the first centuries A.D. for various Pagan statues to become the Virgin Mary, etc., but I don't think we will find a Bible precedent for things like this.

Popery was built on a pagan base, yes; but in times of genuine reformation in Bible times, Pagan images and Pagan sites were completely destroyed. I understand that what could be burnt, was burnt; and the metals were ground to powder so that no fragments could be recovered and venerated. (2Chron 23:15, 3:7, 2Kings 23:6, etc.)

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