Category Archives: Traditions

Christmas Trees

CHRISTMAS TREES

The Christmas tree has been a part of Christmas for hundreds of years. But what
is its origin? Why are they used in observance of the birth of the Messiah? Is
there anything in the Bible about their use? In this brief overview we will attempt
to answer these questions. For a detailed study of this subject contact the office.

What is its origin?
The earliest origin of the “Christmas tree” comes from the fable of “St. Boniface”
(Bonifacious), who allegedly destroyed the great oak of Jupiter at Geismar in
Hesse, Germany, and supposedly built of the wood a chapel to “St. Peter.” The
legend says Boniface (actually, an early English missionary named Winfrid),
while traveling through northern Germany, found a group of heathens at their
sacred oak preparing to sacrifice little Prince Asulf to their god, Jupiter. Allegedly,
Winfrid stopped the sacrifice and cut down the tree. As the fable grew, the oak
allegedly fell, not without protest, and instantly a young fir tree appeared! Winfrid
told the heathens that the fir was the “tree of life” and represented Christ! The
pagans were delighted to believe in this new myth, which is an almost identical
replica of the ancient fable concerning the cutting down of a huge oak
representing the life and death of Nimrod (Tammuz, or the sun god), and the idea
that a young tree sprang out of the ancient log overnight, thus representing the
rebirth or reincarnation of Nimrod as “Tammuz,” or the god of the sun!

How did its use gain entrance into the Church?
The decorated Christmas tree may have originated with Martin Luther.
Legend has it that he was walking home one evening when he noticed the stars
shining brilliantly through some trees. It seemed like the stars had settled on the
boughs themselves. He cut down a small tree, took it home, and placed small
candles in metal holders on the branches. From this meager beginning, the
Christmas tree developed, complete with ornaments, garlands, colored lights
etc… German Lutherans brought the tree custom to America, much to the
consternation of early Puritans. Both in England and New England, the Puritans
were successful in banning such remnants of the Saturnalia from public view. But
eventually the Christmas tree, stocking and Santa Claus (borrowed from the
Dutch) became thoroughly entrenched in the American “holiday” tradition…

What does the Bible say about tree use in worship?
It is ironic that in Genesis (the first book of the Bible) in chapter 3, we see that
man’s very first act of disobedience toward his Creator involved a tree! Its also
fascinating that our SAVIOR was nailed to a cross made from a tree (Acts 5:30)
AND that in the very last book of the Bible (Revelation 22:14) we see the
significance of the tree. God created trees and HE has nothing against them
unless HIS people are using them improperly in worship. Especially when they
are used to replace TRUE worship of the TRUE GOD with practices that stem
from paganism. The Bible is replete with references of HIS displeasure with
these pagan practices. Here are just a few to consider:

  1. Deuteronomy 12:1-4 These are the statutes and judgments which you shall be careful to observe in the land which the LORD God of your fathers is giving you to possess, all the days that you live on the earth. 2You shall utterly destroy all the places where the nations which you shall dispossess served their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree. 3And you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and burn their wooden images with fire; you shall cut down the carved images of their gods and destroy their names from that place. 4You shall not worship theLORD your God with such things.
  2. 1Kings 14:22-24 Now Judah did evil in the sight of the LORD, and they provoked Him to jealousy with their sins which they committed, more than all that their fathers had done. 23For they also built for themselves high places, sacred pillars, and wooden images on every high hill and under every green tree. 24And there were also perverted persons in the land. They did according to all the abominations of the nations which the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel.
  3. Jeremiah 10:1-4 Hear the word which the LORD speaks to you, O house of Israel. 2Thus says the LORD: “Do not learn the way of the Gentiles; Do not be dismayed at the signs of heaven, For the Gentiles are dismayed at them. For the customs of the peoples are futile; for one cuts a tree from the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the ax. They decorate it with silver and gold; they fasten it with nails and hammers So that it will not topple.
  4. Ephesians 5:8-10 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9(for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. 11And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.

But that’s not how I look at a Christmas tree!
After looking at it’s origins and possible uses, we might be tempted to say “sure, I
understand that GOD would not want us to participate in practices where we
would worship a tree, but that’s not how I look at it’s use regarding Christmas. I
have my own perspective of what it represents.” That’s true. However, when we
consider how detailed GOD is in HIS WORD when HE was instructing Israel as
HOW HE was to be worshipped, are we so naive to think that now WE can
contrive methodology and practices that originate in pagan worship and “redeem”
them as practices that are blessed by GOD? Rather than being preoccupied with
“how we look at” shouldn’t we be more concerned with how “HE looks at it?” After
all, it is HIS SON that is to be remembered, isn’t it?

(For a more comprehensive study on Christmas and the practices surrounding it,
as well as studies on other holidays, go to the Media/Teaching page and select the series entitled Fables, Myths, and Traditions.)

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A Hard Pill to Swallow

A Hard Pill to Swallow

As our nation debates whether to say Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas, I
would like to offer yet another view. May I begin by saying that I am a believer in Jesus
Christ. He is my soon coming King. Although I fail Him daily, He is the one that I long
to please in all that I do. Having said this, you will probably be surprised to learn that I
don’t celebrate Christmas. After the initial shock to such a statement, the obvious
question that anyone would ask is this: Why? Why would someone who loves the Savior
not participate in this beautiful time of pageantry, color and music, much of which
celebrates the birth of the King he worships? Why would such a one turn away from a
day that has brought so many precious memories with family and friends throughout their lifetime? One whose children heard about the birth of the Messiah year after year and would shout “Happy Birthday Jesus!” before anyone could open presents. One whose
home was decorated beautifully with greenery and Christmas trees in practically every
room. I loved Christmas! In my heart and mind, Jesus was the reason for the season.
This is the message that many of us have been taught regarding December 25th.
With all of that said, imagine the shock of discovering that this holiday you have
cherished your whole life actually has nothing to do with the Savior you worship. In fact,
you find out that it’s roots run deep in the occult, something that you are to abhor as a
believer in Jesus Christ. You feel hurt, angry and deceived all at the same time. You
wonder why nobody told you. You feel like a fool for the times you agreed with those
who said “Let’s put Christ back in Christmas!” because you know now that He was never
there to start with. And the worst part of all is wondering…how do I respond to this? Do I
just ignore these things and continue on as before? Do I stop celebrating Christmas
altogether? If I do, what will people think? What will my Christian brothers and sisters
think? Believe me, I know that what I’m declaring to you is a bitter pill to swallow.
Most Christians are able to handle hearing about Halloweens roots in the occult
and maybe we can even accept that Easter has pagan ties (hence the bunnies and the
eggs) but we don’t want to hear this stuff about Christmas. It’s the most wonderful time
of the year, so the song goes! However, the all-important question that the followers of
the babe in the manger must ask concerning this celebration is this: Is Jesus pleased?
I mean, if we are truly honoring Jesus’ birth, and He really is the reason for the
season, isn’t it critical to make sure that He is pleased with what He observes? To find the
answer we will have to see what God’s word says concerning the issue, since we know
that obedience to the Father and His word will most definitely be pleasing to the Son. In
Deuteronomy 12:4, God commands His people not to worship Him with pagan things.
Notice that He didn’t say “not to worship pagan things” but “not to worship Him with
pagan things”. You see, we as believers in Christ are not to take items that are used in
false worship systems and incorporate them into our worship of the LORD. This is called
syncretism. God hates syncretism! Most of us have never imagined that many of the items used in the celebration of Christmas actually have ties to occult worship. However, this is true! Since it is true, can God really be happy with His children mixing trees, yule logs, Santa Claus and mistletoe into the worship and adoration of His Son? The Apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 6:16-17 that believers should have no part with idols and that we are to come out from among those that do. Just on a personal level ask yourself this question: Would you enjoy your birthday party if it were celebrated on the wrong day… everyone but you received gifts… and the decorations offended you? It sounds like “a great time is had by all” except the guest of honor! Isn’t that what happens at Christmas? We love the decorations and we love all the gifts and we have even decided the day of His birth! In reality, isn’t Christmas really a whole lot more about us than Jesus? Like me, most of you have celebrated this season without knowing where it came from. You have innocently thought that you were observing the birthday of the Son of God. The sad fact is that it has nothing to do with Him. May I ask you the same question that I asked myself after hearing these things; how will you respond? You can pass it off as the words of some fanatic who wants to see a demon in every corner or you can find out for yourself if these things are so. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ and you find these things to be true, seek the LORD regarding what to do. After all, pleasing Him is what really counts!
In conclusion; I know that saying, “Christmas has nothing to do with Jesus” does
not have the same ring to it that “He’s the reason for the season” does, but it rings with
something that the last statement cannot….truth!

Written by Jim Denman 12-14-05

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