Plain Truth Ministries
PTM proclaims authentic Christianity without the religion.
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Check out the articles in the latest edition of Plain Truth Magazine.
Conflicting Covenants... When Did God Become a Christian? by Greg Albrecht: Jesus changed everything because everything needed to be changed— everything— including religion and its interpretation of God. This sad old world needed the good news.
See more articles in the latest edition of Plain Truth Magazine.
Why I'm an Atheist Who Believes in God by Frank Schaeffer: I do not always know if God exists. I do not always know he does not exist. What I know is that I see the Creator in Jesus or nowhere. What I know is that I see Jesus in my children and grandchildren's love.
In the Fall edition of Plain Truth magazine...
The God of the Damned —Do You Need a Beating? by by Bob Ekblad: People often interpret their experience of being judged, discriminated against and excluded…as synonymous with punishment and rejection by God. The Bible, then, is viewed as the law by which God and his law-enforcement agents judge the world. The Scriptures are often feared and avoided for the "Bad News" they are expected to contain, rather than welcomed as words of comfort.
Is Christmas Idolatry?
Q: My family and I observe Christmas. A friend of mine recently has decided to stop observing Christmas. I asked him why and he quoted Deuteronomy 12:30-31, saying that since many of the Christmas traditions have "pagan" origins, then we should not worship God in that way.
My feeling is that if he cannot in good conscience observe Christmas, then he shouldn't because "whatever is not from faith is sin." For my family and me though, I intuitively feel that worshiping Christ through Christmas is right and good. What is the proper understanding of Deuteronomy 12:30-31 as it relates to Christian holidays?
A: Christmas is just what you describe, a wonderful way to celebrate God's coming to us in the person of Jesus. It is his birthday. It is a way and a time to remember him. Precise Christmas customs and practices vary, and none are biblically absolute, but the celebration of Jesus' birth is absolutely central to the gospel. Without him we are nothing! Without his birth there is no cross, no empty tomb and no Second Coming!
Deuteronomy 12:30-31 is not a biblical reason to avoid celebrating the birth of Jesus. It is a prooftext that your friend has been provided that appears to give some justification to support the unbiblical idea that Christmas, the birth of our Lord and Savior, is pagan.
A principle key to understanding the Bible is to always consider and strive to perceive the original meaning of the passage in question. A biblical passage cannot have a meaning it never had.
That is, the original meaning must be determined first, and then the application of that passage to our lives should be/must be (if we are to rightly understand the word of God), built upon the original meaning God inspired to the original readers/hearers.
What did this passage mean? It is a passage warning the Old Testament nation of Israel against idolatry. Idolatry turns human hearts away from the one true God.
Does Christmas, the celebration of the incarnation of God in the flesh, turn human hearts away from the one true God or does it turn our attention to the one true God? How can someone call Christmas pagan when it is all about the one true God? There is nothing idolatrous about celebrating the birth of Jesus.
Further, not only is this passage condemning idolatry, but it is also condemning the immoral practices that often accompany it. In this case, the precise issue was the sacrifice of children to the gods of Canaan. Children were burned in the fire, with the presumption that the gods were pleased and appeased.
Those who condemn Christmas (and ironically Easter is often condemned by the same crowd) are not avoiding paganism, they are in effect, unwittingly turning away from the gospel of Jesus Christ. They do this by not only refusing to celebrate his birth and his resurrection, but by actually condemning these practices as pagan! This is thin ice for teaching and practices that claim to be Christian!