Is it two sides of the same coin?

(Lauri Jones) #1

Hello RZIM community. I’m in quite a conundrum. I hope by presenting the issue here I might obtain new insights on it.

The issue is, many Christians agree that just because the LGBT community has adapted the rainbow as their insignia, it doesn’t change the true meaning of the rainbow as Gods promise in Gen 9:12-15.

So on the other side of that coin…can the Christian community adapt pagan customs and change the true meaning of them? Such as Christmas and Easter.

Col 2:8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.

(Tim Ramey) #2

Lauri, that’s a great quandary that you present.

My immediate thoughts are that it is important, as Christians, that we don’t follow the ways of the world to try and reel them in. At the same time, Satan the great counterfeiter, tries to imitate the Creator. For example, the Lord created marriage and sex. Satan perverts love. God creates an awesome gorgeous sun. Satan has people worshiping the sun.

God created the rainbow and we use it to remember hHm. If the LBGT community perverts it, I think we keep it as part of the splendor of God.

(Lauri Jones) #3

Yes @tim, you are truly correct when you say Satan is the great counterfeiter. And we should certainly keep all of Gods promises. And it is the part in your kind response that states “Satan has people worshiping the sun” that I would like to address:

According to Alexander Hislops 1825 book The Two Babylons; and Author/Professor Walter J. Veith, PhD; just to name a few:
The symbols of what is now known as the Christmas tree and the Yule log started in Babylon. After Shem, (son of Noah) killed Nimrod (Hams grandson,) because of his evilness, Semiramis (Nimrods wife) said she became pregnant from a ray of sunshine. She gave birth to a son she called Tammuz (the sun god), whom she said was Nimrod reborn. So at the Winter Solstice (the shortest day of the year) on Dec 24 her followers were to burn a Yule (Chaldean for infant) log in the fire place, then replace it the next morning with a green tree to signify the rebirth of the “sun god”.

Now there are various sources with different versions. But every ancient nation has the same basic false gods under different names. After God confounded their language in Gen 11.

In Dt 12:28-32, God told His people to worship only in the ways He commanded, telling them “Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.” He explicitly ordered them not to copy or adopt the religious practices of the pagans, calling such practices “abomination [ s ] …which He hates.

Jesus never told His followers to celebrate Christmas or Easter, but He did warn us not to adhere to false, man-made religious doctrines: “And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Mark 7:7). Can this mean Christmas and other non-biblical religious holidays constitute vain or empty worship of Christ.

For those who insist “we’re doing it for Jesus” I postulate that the sons of Aaron thought they were doing God a favor, too, when they decided to add incense to their sacrificial smoke in Lev 10:1 Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them. 2 So fire went out from the LORD and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.

Since YHWH is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8), and since He TOLD us which Holy Days HE wanted us to keep, why would He be “tolerant” of our attempts to force man-made traditions on Him?

Martin Luther started the reformation movement by exposing the doctrines and dogmas created by the Roman Catholic Church; to realize the more accurate Word of God. We must continue this same work and completely come out of the lie of Christmas “Christ Mass”, among others, to the more perfect Will of God.

Rev 18:4 And I heard another voice from heaven saying, "Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.

And as always, we should all stand on Acts 17:11 These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.

(Carson Weitnauer) #4

Hi Lauri,

I think that any human activity could constitute idolatry. For instance, consider this quote:

1. Everyone worships. No one gets a choice about this. To be human is to be a worshiper. Some people worship a deity. Some worship other people. Most worship themselves. But everyone worships something, because everyone desires something and loves something and is devoted to something, and makes sacrifices for something by giving their time and attention and effort and resources. That is what it means to worship; everyone worships something. And the world is filled with liturgies that compete for your fidelity. Every day you are assaulted with competing visions of “the good life,” each offering a unique set of promises and rewards. “Do this, and you will be satisfied” is the hidden, wordless message beneath them all. “Here lies the path to joy.” And you will take one of them. You can’t help it. Everybody worships.

So, what is the solution? To avoid driving a car, having a job, buying groceries, paying taxes? Even in attempting to opt out of the system, there will be alternative activities we must then participate in: riding a horse, planting our crops, avoiding the police. :slight_smile:

My question is: who is more powerful? The Creator and his purposes? Or pagan practices and their goals? I think the Holy Spirit working in the lives of Christians and the church can reorder and redeem our experience of time and space.

Similarly, I was lost and dead in my sin. But now, by God’s grace, I am using the same body, mind, and soul for God’s purposes.

Perhaps, historically, some annual holidays originally had pagan origins. But now, by God’s grace, we can use the same day to consecrate ourselves to God and serve his purposes. Why do the pagan gods get eternal lordship over a certain day of the year? I believe that Jesus is the Lord of history - the Lord of the Sabbath - and every day is dedicated to his glory.

So I would suggest there is a Christian freedom to particularly praise God for his incarnation, his crucifixion, his resurrection, his ascension, and his other great and wonderful actions and characteristics, on a regular basis - each Sunday or each year.

(Lauri Jones) #5

Hi @CarsonWeitnauer,

Thank you for your comment and your interest in this topic. I went to the link you recommended, about the shopping mall. And the scripture that I think applies here is Mt 22:21 where Jesus told the Pharisees to render to Caesar the things that are Caesars; But render to God the things that are God’s. It is true we have to live and survive in this world. And yes, the marketing industry does it’s job well. But I do not think that just because we go shopping it means we are idolizing the mall. And the author of that article has merit in his summary “Many people, even many Christians, spend their daily lives worshipping something other than Jesus. They give themselves to a vision of “the good life” that has little room for Christ and his kingdom.” In Rom 12:2 Paul tells us to not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Hopefully we all, as Christians, are searching for the more perfect will of God.

To answer your question “Why do the pagan gods get eternal lordship over a certain day of the year?” Pagan gods should never get lordship over any Christian life. But many who call themselves Christian do give place to them. Even the apostle Paul warned in Acts 20:29 "For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 “Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.” And in Php 2:12 Therefore, my beloved,…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;

I certainly do not want to become a victim of those wolves. But what if I have already? Then I definitely want to come to my senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will. (2Tim2:26)

I’m not clear on the “Christian Freedom” you speak of, perhaps you could send me scripture for that. But let’s do praise God everyday for all he has done and is doing.

Now the Grace that Paul speaks of in Rom 3:24-31 “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” he concludes in verse 31 “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.”

Grace is freedom FROM the sin nature; not freedom to sin.
Grace is the power to RISE ABOVE sin; not the freedom to stay in it.

Praise God our Heavenly Father for his Grace in sending us his Son for our redemption and only propitiation for our sins. May we all grow deeper and deeper in grace and faith and understanding every day.


(Carson Weitnauer) #6

Hi @Lauri,

I share with you a desire to flee from sin, not be a victim of wolves, and have freedom from the sin nature.

However, though we are aligned on those general principles, I am not yet convinced that they are applicable to the particular question of whether or not Christmas celebrations are sinful.

For instance, we’re agreed that just because we go shopping, it doesn’t mean we are idolizing the mall. My suggestion would be that just because we have a Christmas tree, doesn’t mean that we are giving allegiance to Semiramis. In my case, I’d never heard of her until I read your post.

Therefore, it is difficult for me to see how my own self-conscious worship of Jesus at Christmas time, and the remembrance of him through a Christmas tree in my house, has actually been a pagan practice. Does that make sense?

(Tim Ramey) #7

@Lauri @CarsonWeitnauer
Lauri, I so appreciate your heart that would not ever want to do anything to compromise your relationship with your Savior. It really is encouraging to me. However, I tend to agree with Carson’s point. The heart is really the issue and if we celebrate Christmas because we truly love Him but then find out that it started on as a pagan holiday doesn’t mean we are worshiping demons. Until you wrote it, I never heard of Semiramis either. In fact I don’t think many have but on December 25th they hear about Jesus. If we can take something that was meant to spread lies but we take it and use it for God’s glory, then He won.

Our lodge we run was painted in the 20’s. It is Cree Indian and the symbols are supposedly different gods of the Cree. However, folks come to see this painting that has stood up for almost a hundred years and when they come, we let them know about Jesus. What the enemy might have intended for darkness has been used for the Light of the glory of God.

(Lauri Jones) #8

Hi Carson and Tim,

The Bible doesn’t tell us to celebrate Jesus’ birthday; it doesn’t even tell us when he was born. I think there is a reason for that.

But it does tell us to celebrate Gods ordained feast. And they are a rehearsal of Jesus’ mission. Now that would be an awesome testimony for God, they way he asked us to.

Why don’t we celebrate Jesus the way God tells us to?

It would be a real blessing if either of you could please give me scripture that lends to your way of thinking about Christmas.

(Tim Ramey) #9

@Lauri @CarsonWeitnauer
Lauri, thank you sincerely for stretching my way of thinking. What articles you gave me as well as your position on the feasts have not made me feel like defending my thinking but has expanded it. I trust that our dialogue with be realized as team members, examining what is our All together.

Why don’t we celebrate Jesus the way God tells us to is a central question that we should put before us all of our lives. I can get wordy and don’t want to do so here but I’ll throw these verses out there that came to my mind as a result of your question:

1Co 5:7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed.
1Co 5:8 Let us, therefore, celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

(Jimmy Sellers) #10

You have piqued my interest. What ordained feast are you referring to? OT feast days or what we consider to be NT ordinances, baptism, last supper and maybe foot washing?

(Lauri Jones) #11

Yes! Thank you Brother Tim, we are all members of the one true Christ. With the same spirit we are one. As it is written in Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.
You are certainly my friend.

In 1 Corinthians 5 Paul is telling the church to purge out all the leaven (sin) from the church. And even though he is not there physically he is with them spiritually, and he has already ‘judged’ the one that has caused the whole church to be leavened. But even in Paul’s actions to ‘hand him over to Satan’ it is for the good of that one ‘so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.’ For God judges those who are outside the Church. Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person.”

So we are to put out ALL the leaven and not let it dwell among us as we have already been unleavened because of Christs’ (our Passover) sacrifice. Then he tells us, therefore, now we can ‘celebrate the feast’ with the unleavened bread of ‘sincerity and truth’ as it should be.

But have we first examined examined the in-ward man. To ask ‘why do we do the things we do?’ Are we truly doing it for God? Or are we doing things because that’s the traditions we have been raised with and were taught that it was for God? Our Parents and ancestors are only human too. We all make mistakes. But a personal relationship with God requires we take responsibility for ourselves, our own actions and our own reasoning. Even at the risk of being alienated from our families. Jesus said “who is my mother and brothers?” But Paul says to counts it as blessing when we are railed against and persecuted.

Wow, ok, I’m getting a little carried away. But thank you so much Tim for that scripture. It has really blessed me. I keep you in my prayers always.

(Lauri Jones) #12

Hi Jimmy,

Thank you for joining in the conversation.

While I’m still new to the idea, and am personally researching it, I was speaking of “Gods feast”. The ones he ordained in Lev 23. These are the ones Jesus himself observed along with the Apostles and the Early Church.

As I understand it, Jesus has fulfilled the first four of those feast, and there are still three that He will fulfill. I want to understand those feast since my Savior is at the heart of everyone of them. They tell of his first coming, his work on earth, and his second coming. And God says to observe them.

(Jimmy Sellers) #13

Thanks for the clarification. I think you might find this link helpful in your studies.

and this link I like because it does a good job of outlining Leviticus regardless of your position on the need to keep the Feast days.

I would be in the camp of those that don’t see it as necessary but I would temper my view with

The observance of feast days was not just a Jewish practice is was part of the 1st century culture. You have to remember that there was no shortage of gods, temples, cults or days to celebrate.
Hope this helps.

(Lauri Jones) #14

Thank you Jimmy, I your link was very helpful.

Can someone please tell me which of these laws this verse is talking about?

Mt 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.

Moses Law. First five books of OT
Ten Commandments. Ex 20
Gods Feast Days. Lev 23

Or if there are any more laws I may have missed.

(Tim Ramey) #15

Lauri, I take a little different approach to this question, as it seems I’m always different! But I feel the verse you put from Matt 5:17, is talking about all of the chapters that you listed. Why? Because Heb 8:10 say, “This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”

Heb 10:16-17 says it again ““This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,” then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their misdeeds no more.””

I could go on with so many more verses but I want to just add Php 3:8-9 “Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own, based on law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith;”

Earlier Paul had said that he was righteous due to the fact that he was a Pharisee and under the law, blameless. But as it says above, whatever he gained was garbage.

Are we free to go out and do as we want because there is no law. No, we have it inside of us through the Spirit. Does that make sense? Do you see my point? Maybe you do but disagree which is OK. I’m just giving you my feedback.

As Matthew said, Jesus fulfilled the law. The law is in our our hearts and on our minds so that we don’t steal because of the punishment because we broke the law. Rather, in our hearts the Holy Spirit tells us that is not of Him.

I don’t mean to oversimplify your question but I believe that Jesus is the fulfillment of the law.

(Lauri Jones) #16

Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.

In the spirit of this proverb, this is how I read it:

Hebrews 10 is referring to the blood sacrifices that the Levite Priest offered for the sin of the people so they could come near and pray to God. But now that Jesus has offered himself once for all of us; we pray to God through the blood of Jesus. Therefore there is no more need for any further blood sacrifices.

Heb 10:6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure.

Heb 10:16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; 17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.

This is a quote in the New Testament that came from the Old Testament that God gave to Israel.

Jer 31:33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Gal 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
29 And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Believing Gentiles are now also Israel.

Lev 23:
1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts.

Col 2:16 Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.

These festivals are only shadows of things to come; these are prophecies and Christ is going to fulfill them. They all speak of Christ.

18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.

Do not let anyone confuse you and cause you to worship anything that is not Jesus. Because they are not holding fast to the head; and the head is from where the body grows, and that growth comes from God. Jesus is the head; the Church is the body.

Rom 2:13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.

(Lauri Jones) #17

The early church rejected all forms of syncretism because they were convinced that Jesus alone was God and the only way of salvation. Colossians firmly stresses this truth. Thus, as with the early church, so the church must not tolerate the syncretism of our day. We can tolerate genuine pluralism, the idea that the religions of the world can peacefully co-exist, but not syncretism, the idea that the beliefs of various religions can be mindlessly combined. Our society today wants a tolerance that mindlessly accepts all beliefs. This kind of tolerance is unacceptable to the Bible-believing Christian, or at least, it should be. There are two kinds of tolerance that are necessary, however. As Lutzer points out,
Let me be clear that tolerance can be defined in two legitimate ways. As mentioned in the first chapter, legal tolerance is the right for everyone to believe in whatever faith (or none at all) he wishes. Such tolerance is very important in our society, and we as Christians should maintain our conviction that no one should ever be coerced into believing as we do. Freedom of religion should not only be retained in Western democracies but promoted in other countries as well.
Second, there is social tolerance, a commitment to respecting all men even if we vigorously disagree with their religion and ideas. When we engage other religions and moral issues in the ideological marketplace, it should be with courtesy and kindness. We must live in peace with all men and women, even with those of divergent faiths, or those who have no faith at all. We don’t need any more self-righteous Christians who piously judge others without the humble admission that we are all a part of a fallen human race; we are all imperfect and we are all created in the image of God. Tolerance, like patience, is a fruit of the Holy Spirit.

(Kathleen) #18

Hi, @Lauri! I’ve really been appreciating the questions you’ve been asking. They’ve been challenging me to really examine the ways our local churches have become syncretised to the surrounding culture, so thank you! :slight_smile: As humans, we can’t help but be affected by the cultures we inhabit, so it can be quite tricky to get a handle on things, and certain things will continue to be massive blind spots.

I was intrigued by your last post and the article attached to it on the apostolic church, as I am often sad that in the evangelical traditions I’ve been a part of, we don’t keep the Jewish holy days. I think recognising and celebrating their fulfilment in Christ would be a visceral and powerful act of worship. By not understanding and recognising them, I think we do ourselves a great disservice.

I had the privilege of celebrating the Passover feast with some Messianic Jews for a couple of years, and it made the whole Easter story come alive! I am unfamiliar with how a Jew keeps the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) nowadays, but I believe the evangelical church could do with at least one dedicated day to prayer, repentance and fasting. (I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks that!) I even worshipped in Scotland for several years among some Free Churchers who revolutionised my shallow view of the Sabbath! I am so thankful for those opportunities! Which other ones have I missed?

Unleavened Bread - Yes! Celebrating God’s provision in the wilderness.
First Fruits - kind of like Thanksgiving…without the emphasis on gluttony and consumerism and more about giving away (sacrificing) the best that He has provided for us
Weeks, Trumpets, Tabernacles - don’t quite understand these off hand, but it looks like it has something to do with thanksgiving for and dedication of the rest of the harvest… Will have to go back and look at the diagram @Jimmy_Sellers posted. :slight_smile:

But I wanted to go back and engage a bit with your initial question:

At the risk of going all philosophical (to many, that means ‘nonsensical’!) on your question, I wanted to throw out there that, when dealing with symbols, the concept of ‘true meaning’ can be a bit slippery, as objects often have multiple symbolic meanings…all of which are subjectively true. For example, you mentioned the rainbow…

In our Judeo-Christian tradition, God attaches significance to the rainbow (an object/thing) by declaring to Noah (and to humanity) that it a sign of His covenant with the inhabitants of earth to never flood the earth to that proportion again. Therefore, when we see a rainbow, we, as Christians, can (among other things) be filled with deep gratitude that God will not judge us in that same manner ever again. Yet to other cultures who would not have heard/grown up with this story, the rainbow may mean other things.

Yet, despite it’s many symbolic meanings, what is true is that the rainbow is an arch of colours visible in the sky, caused by the refraction and dispersion of the sun’s light by rain or other water droplets in the atmosphere. The LGBTI+ community can if they want to attach meaning to the rainbow (for them, a symbol of diversity), but that does not (like you said) take away from the meaning we attach to it as Christians. However, because the rainbow flag of the LGBTI+ movement has such a presence in our modern western culture and less people are ‘Biblically-literate’, the rainbow is more often associated nowadays with that movement rather than God’s covenant.

Now, applying that same principle to the celebration of ‘holy days’, with the day being the object, the question is: Is there an actual, objective, overall ‘true meaning’ to the day? That is, is there something going on that is ultimately true despite what symbolic meaning is attached to it?

My short answer: no. A day is a day, and meaning (and customs) are attached to it by different people. That doesn’t mean that any certain day has an ultimate meaning. As @CarsonWeitnauer asked earlier…

Similarly, a tree is a tree. If a culture at one point in history attached meaning to a certain tree (let’s say, a fir tree), that meaning does not hold true for every person. A tree is a tree and it only holds meaning if you attach meaning to it.

Just as I do not believe that when the LGBTI+ community flies the rainbow flag that they are, unbeknownst to them, worshipping and glorifying the God of the Bible, I do not believe that when I am celebrating with a feast on Christmas Day, that I am, unbeknownst to me, worshipping some god of the sun.

However, I do very much understand your concern with syncretism, and I am now hearing your question as: Can the Christian community adapt pagan customs and change the meaning of them without it being syncretism? Or, Are Christmas and Easter essentially pagan celebrations blended with a little Jesus?

To the first question: yes, I believe it is possible to adapt a custom and change it’s meaning to point to Christ without it being syncretism, but it does greatly depend on what that custom is! I imagine there are many customs one wouldn’t want to adapt. However, syncretism is still happening even in the western world where ‘paganism’ isn’t as big anymore. I am thankful that I have never seen easter eggs or the easter bunny in my church on Easter Sunday, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it has been done! (One can insert other cultural equivalents in other parts of world…)

But my understanding is that, though the Christian ‘holy day’ celebration and the pagan ‘holy day’ celebration may have similar symbolic meanings (and may even be, by design, in close proximity on the calendar!), what they are celebrating is distinct. Syncretism may be (or have been) a temptation, but it is not inevitable.

This is such a good question to ask, and it’s made me reflect on a number of different things! Thank you! :slight_smile: Need to think some more…

What most worries you about syncretism?

(Tim Ramey) #19

Lauri, you need to back up a few posts to where you answered mine.

Of course I take your reply in the spirit of Proverbs 27:17. Maybe you are correct as I admit that I sense that I’m in the “leper colony” on issues. Maybe it is because I don’t have the Biblical scholarship that so many in this Connect group exhibit. I do appreciate that we don’t have to agree to respect each other. In fact, I feel that, though I enjoy it when another says “Amen” to what I’ve said, it actually takes more maturity as believers to disagree realizing that Jesus is our focus.

Having said that (longwinded), I stand by the scriptures I gave as an underscore to what the Matthew 5:17 verse says, that Jesus did not come to abolish the 10 commandments, to destroy the Pentateuch but rather, He fulfills them. So we can ignore the laws and feasts? No, because Jesus said that He’d send His Holy Spirit. We don’t need the 10 commandments to tell us that to commit adultery is wrong, to lie is against the law - we know it because of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said to the Jews that you say it is wrong to murder, I tell you that you are committing murder to think ill of someone. The Holy Spirit convicts - even in someone who doesn’t believe in Him.

It’s not a sin to smoke a cigarette but it is if the Holy Spirit tells you not to. 1Jn 2:26-27 “I write this to you about those who would deceive you; but the anointing which you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that any one should teach you; as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie, just as it has taught you, abide in him.” Sure, maybe the deceiver is the anti-Christ but fortunately, Jesus’ Spirit will teach us.

It is so hard for me to be concise as I think of numerous scripture that talks Jesus as the fulfillment of the laws. John 1:17 “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”

I feel that the answer to your categories and festivals is answered in Jesus. I find Romans is a book devoted to that subject.I think that, when you quoted Romans 2:13, you needed to look at all of the verses surrounding them. Here they are:

Rom 2:12-16 “All who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.”

We still prefer the law - just tell me what I have to do. The Lord says that it is a matter of the heart - it’s written there, not on tablets of stone.

Lauri, I appreciate your drive for seeking the Truth rather than simply being defensive about your position. I’d love to be in a room with some of us tossing this issue of the law and festivals around. I’m not good at evaporating the verbiage and have only the important words surface. But I do hope that I have not lost your respect for I appreciate what you post. It gives me a lot to think about.

(Carson Weitnauer) #21

Hi @Lauri,

I think you may find Vince and Jo’s discussion of this question on an Ask Away podcast helpful: Discuss: Why We Still Believe in Santa

To your question, “It would be a real blessing if either of you could please give me scripture that lends to your way of thinking about Christmas.”

I think the main point of difference that we are having is that the argument, to me, looks like this:
Premise 1: The Bible tells us to avoid sin, idolatry, paganism, etc
Premise 2: The celebration of Christmas amounts to pagan idolatry
Premise 3: Therefore, we should not celebrate Christmas.

I agree with you, wholeheartedly, about Premise 1. The Bible verses that you have cited, and of course there are many others, make this point quite clearly.

But where we disagree is that I do not see the connection between the verses cited and the celebration of Christmas.

At the same time, I do see the connection between the verses cited and the celebration of, say, Pagan Yuletide.

If, by “Christmas”, we mean participation in an explicitly and intentionally pagan worship ceremony or tradition, then this seems to be forbidden by the Scriptures.

But, if by “Christmas”, we mean the remembrance and worship of Jesus, then this seems to be encouraged by Scripture.

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

If I am decorating my house, or reading the Bible passages about Jesus birth to my children, or giving them a present to teach them about grace, and so on, in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him, then I believe that these traditions are a way of honoring God.

Finally, I think that Tim and others have wisely acknowledged that we need to respect one another’s conscience on this matter.

As we read in Romans 14:

1As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. 2One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. 3Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. 4Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own mastera that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

5One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. 8For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. 9For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

10Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; 11for it is written,

“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
and every tongue shall confessb to God.”

12So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.

In Romans 14:5, Paul says there is liberty for Christians. It is okay for one Christian to esteem some days as being special for the celebration of God in a particular way. And it is okay for another to esteem all days as being alike. And it is okay for us to each be fully convinced in our own mind.

But, as we see in Romans 14:10-12, we don’t need to judge one another for this difference, because that role is reserved for the Lord.