This link below is a list of compiled statements from Ellen White about the subject of keeping holidays, especially Christmas. I feel she shares a nicely balanced viewpoint; while at the same time she warns of the damaging effects of pleasure seeking and frivolity that is associated with worldly holidays, she doesn't condemn simple, natural decorations which include evergreens as a Christian object lesson. Also she speaks of some spiritual problems that can be associated with things like gift-giving, but does not discourage gift-giving entirely, saying "It is right to bestow upon one another tokens of love and remembrance if we do not in this forget God, our best friend." This is typical of the moderate balance I find in all of her writings. Here are a few excerpts;
"We are rapidly approaching the season of the holidays, and many conscientious ones are now questioning what course they may pursue that will be pleasing in the sight of God. By the world the holidays are spent in frivolity and extravagance, gluttony and display. It is the prevailing custom at this time to make and receive presents. And it is no small burden upon the mind to know how to distribute these gifts among friends so that none will feel slighted. It is a fact that much envy and jealousy are often created by this custom of giving presents.
"Thousands of dollars will be worse than thrown away upon the coming Christmas and New Year’s in needless indulgences. But it is our privilege to depart from the customs and practices of this degenerate age, and instead of expending means merely for the gratification of the appetite, or for needless ornaments or articles of clothing, we may make the coming holidays an occasion in which to honor and glorify God.
"We advise all our brethren and sisters to make a decided reform in regard to these festal days. Those who appreciate the gift of God’s dear Son to save them from ruin, now have a favorable opportunity to give tangible proofs of their gratitude by rendering to God their thank offerings. Let old and young lay aside their mites as sacred offerings to God. If we would give to the cause of our Redeemer one-half as much as we have bestowed upon our friends, we would do much good and receive a blessing for giving.
"While urging upon all the duty of first bringing their offerings to God, I would not wholly condemn the practice of making Christmas and New Year’s gifts to our friends. It is right to bestow upon one another tokens of love and remembrance if we do not in this forget God, our best friend. We should make our gifts such as will prove a real benefit to the receiver. I would recommend such books as will be an aid in understanding the Word of God, or that will increase our love for its precepts. Provide something to be read during these long winter evenings....
"We need to think more of God and less of ourselves. If we would but think of Him as often as we have evidence of His care for us, we would keep Him ever in our thoughts, and would delight to talk of Him and praise Him. We talk of temporal things because we have an interest in them. -=-
"At the close of my long journey East, I reached my home in time to spend New Year’s eve in Healdsburg. The college hall had been fitted up for a Sabbath school reunion. Cypress wreaths, autumn leaves, evergreens, and flowers were tastefully arranged, and a large bell of evergreens hung from the arched doorway at the entrance to the room. The tree was well loaded with donations, which ere to be used for the benefit of the poor and to help purchase a bell. Except in a few instances, the names of the donors were not given, but appropriate Bible texts and mottos were read as the gifts were taken down from the tree. On this occasion nothing was said or done that need burden the conscience of anyone.
"Some have said to me, “Sister White, what do you think of this? Is it in accordance with our faith?” I answer them, “It is with my faith.” In Healdsburg, San Francisco, and Oakland, there are many things to attract our children; large sums are expended every year on Christmas and New Year’s in purchasing gifts for friends. These gifts are not generally satisfactory, for many receive presents that they do not need, when they would be glad to have some other article; some receive the same article from several different persons, and others receive nothing at all.
"I have thought that while we restrain our children from worldly pleasures that have a tendency to corrupt and mislead, we ought to provide them innocent recreation to lead them in pleasant paths where there is no danger. No child of God need have a sad or mournful experience. Divine commands, divine promises, show that this is so. Wisdom’s ways “are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.” Worldly pleasures are infatuating; and for their momentary enjoyment many sacrifice the friendship of Heaven, with the peace, love, and joy that it affords. But these chosen objects of delight soon become disgusting, unsatisfying."
Yes, Ellen White supports Christmas and so does the SDA church.
That's over simplifying things - it's not an all or nothing kind of thing. It is very clear both Biblically and in the writtings of Ellen White that we must avoid all things associated with idolatry, and find things that are better substitutes. If you read what she is saying, there's no way you can say she supports it all. I posted the above link and excerpts so that people may read and consider the whole picture of what she teaches about it, which is in accordance with Bible principles. May God bless you.
I agree, that is an extreme over-simplification to say that EGW and the SDA "support Christmas" and completely ignores the spirit of what she is saying.
If I may paraphrase from my understanding she counsels us not to embrace Christmas the way the fallen churches and the world does but at the same time she states that we should not ignore or waste the opportunites for witnessing at this time of year.
For example, in at least one place her counsel in regard to having an evergreen tree in the church begins with "if you must".
Nowhere does she validate 25th December as a date for the church to celebrate the birth of Christ rather, she advises that we make use of the time to witness. The above quotes are good examples of how she counterpoints what "the world" does qand what we should do.
Thanks, JohnB, I feel this is quite a good summary, in a nut shell; "If I may paraphrase from my understanding she counsels us not to embrace Christmas the way the fallen churches and the world does but at the same time she states that we should not ignore or waste the opportunites for witnessing at this time of year."
Hello Pastor T,
The post was mine. You're welcome to share it with anyone, and I hope it will be a blessing to them.
I didn't provide this post, but it is excellent.
How are you these days, Shannon? Hope everything is well for you. Take care.
Thanks, Jason. That's a good passage, I'd be interested in the reference. I'm just saying that her views are balanced because while she carefully teaches us about the dangers involved in typical Christmas festivities, she's not extremist about it and she encourages finding some less harmful substitutes, etc.