Christian Apologetics Society

Jesus replied, "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God."
- Matthew 22:29

Isaiah 55:11
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it
Gen 1:3
Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light
Matthew 26:26
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body."
Malachi 1:11
My name will be great among the nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to my name, because my name will be great among the nations," says the LORD Almighty.
John 20:23
If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.
James 5:16
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
James 2:14
What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
Luke 20:38
For He is not the God of the dead but of the living, for all live to Him.
Rev 21:27
Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life.
1 Cor 3:15
If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
Psalm 51:5
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.
John 3:5
Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
Titus 3:5
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
1 Timothy 3:15
but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
Acts 22:16
And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

12 Days of Christmas Myth

Being close to Christmas, the ubiquitous 12 Days of Christmas urban myth is yet again making another round of the world. The basic allegation, like any good myth, has a central kernal of truth. The myth starts by citing the persecution of Catholics in old England. That much is true. The myth further claims that the song is a secret Catholic catechism due to the forementioned persecution of Catholics. This is were the fallacy occurs.

An examination of the twelve verses reveals no distinct Catholic teaching or doctrine, which is not found in any other Christian congregation. Yes, the song is doctrinely sound for Catholics, but it is also doctrinely sound for Anglicans, Lutherans and other non-Catholic Christian sects. Granted, most Oneness Pentacostals would likely take umberance with the three calling birds / Trinity allegory.

The fact that there are only twelve verses indicates the song could just as likely refer to the 12 months on the Western calendar. For example, five golden rings could easily represent May weddings.

The song is, in fact, an old English Twelth Night memorization and forfeit game which was popular several centries ago. Its a party game, not a secret catechism. That said, the underlying tune is not English, but French. As France was largely Catholic at that time, a case could be made for the song being Catholic on account of the underlying melody most likely being of French Catholic origin.

Related Posts:
Singing the Gospel of Luke
Baptists Don't Celebrate Christmas
Evangelical Christians Adopting Advent

Source: The Twelve Days of Christmas (song)

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6 Comments:

Blogger arah said...

Christmas' pagan origins

Few people realize that the origins of a form of Christmas was pagan &
celebrated in Europe long before anyone there had heard of Jesus
Christ.


No one knows what day Jesus Christ was born on. From the biblical
description, most historians believe that his birth probably occurred
in September, approximately six months after Passover. One thing they
agree on is that it is very unlikely that Jesus was born in December,
since the bible records shepherds tending their sheep in the fields on
that night. This is quite unlikely to have happened during a cold
Judean winter. So why do we celebrate Christ’s birthday as Christmas,
on December the 25th?


The answer lies in the pagan origins of Christmas. In ancient Babylon,
the feast of the Son of Isis (Goddess of Nature) was celebrated on
December 25. Raucous partying, gluttonous eating and drinking, and
gift-giving were traditions of this feast.


In Rome, the Winter Solstice was celebrated many years before the
birth of Christ. The Romans called their winter holiday Saturnalia,
honoring Saturn, the God of Agriculture. In January, they observed the
Kalends of January, which represented the triumph of life over death.
This whole season was called Dies Natalis Invicti Solis, the Birthday
of the Unconquered Sun. The festival season was marked by much
merrymaking. It is in ancient Rome that the tradition of the Mummers
was born. The Mummers were groups of costumed singers and dancers who
traveled from house to house entertaining their neighbors. From this,
the Christmas tradition of caroling was born.


In northern Europe, many other traditions that we now consider part of
Christian worship were begun long before the participants had ever
heard of Christ. The pagans of northern Europe celebrated the their
own winter solstice, known as Yule. Yule was symbolic of the pagan Sun
God, Mithras, being born, and was observed on the shortest day of the
year. As the Sun God grew and matured, the days became longer and
warmer. It was customary to light a candle to encourage Mithras, and
the sun, to reappear next year.


Huge Yule logs were burned in honor of the sun. The word Yule itself
means “wheel,” the wheel being a pagan symbol for the sun. Mistletoe
was considered a sacred plant, and the custom of kissing under the
mistletoe began as a fertility ritual. Hollyberries were thought to be
a food of the gods.


The tree is the one symbol that unites almost all the northern
European winter solstices. Live evergreen trees were often brought
into homes during the harsh winters as a reminder to inhabitants that
soon their crops would grow again. Evergreen boughs were sometimes
carried as totems of good luck and were often present at weddings,
representing fertility. The Druids used the tree as a religious
symbol, holding their sacred ceremonies while surrounding and
worshipping huge trees.


In 350, Pope Julius I declared that Christ’s birth would be celebrated
on December 25. There is little doubt that he was trying to make it as
painless as possible for pagan Romans (who remained a majority at that
time) to convert to Christianity. The new religion went down a bit
easier, knowing that their feasts would not be taken away from them.


Christmas (Christ-Mass) as we know it today, most historians agree,
began in Germany, though Catholics and Lutherans still disagree about
which church celebrated it first. The earliest record of an evergreen
being decorated in a Christian celebration was in 1521 in the Alsace
region of Germany. A prominent Lutheran minister of the day cried
blasphemy: “Better that they should look to the true tree of life,
Christ.”


The controversy continues even today in some fundamentalist sects.

3:45 AM  
Blogger Josh Gelatt said...

Your article is somewhat true. First, there hasn't even been "several hundred years" of Baptist history. We are only about 4 centuries into the movmement. Second, this was more of a Puritan thing, of which one major branch of the Baptist church was affected. Third, much of the anti-Christmas attitude was actually directly linked to the hostility between the Catholic and Protestant groups. Both bent over backwards to avoid looking like the other. Christmas, unfortunately, was seen as a "Catholic" thing (most likely because the celebration isn't based directly on Scripture and the Puritans held to what was called the Regulative Principle).

8:44 PM  
Blogger Timothy said...

Greetings, brothers! Peace be with you.

>Josh Gelatt said... "First, there hasn't even been "several hundred years" of Baptist history. We are only about 4 centuries into the movmement."

I agonized over how to phrase this. Based on your comment, I went back and double checked the meaning of "several." My dictionary says "any definite number more than 2 or 3, but not many." So 4 centuries qualifies as "several centuries", as would 3 centuries.

>Josh Gelatt said... "Second, this was more of a Puritan thing,"

No, the non-observance of Christmas was far more than a Puritan thing. The historical documentation is clear.

>Josh Gelatt said... "Third, much of the anti-Christmas attitude was actually directly linked to the hostility between the Catholic and Protestant groups."

While there was hostility between Catholic and Puritan, there was also hostility between Anglican and Baptist. Keep in mind that most Baptists in the American Colonies were from the English Seperatist movement. The English Seperatists were hostile to both Puritans and Anglicans.

>arah said..."Christmas' pagan origins"

Ah, yes. Another popular Christmas myth. Christmas does not have a pagan origin, but is of pure Christian origin. Christmas was developed by Christians for Christians.

I agonized over whether or not to allow your comment. Your comment is not a comment, but seems a plagarized tract from an uncited source. A quick google of "In Rome, the Winter Solstice was celebrated" lists dozens of sites with identical content. In the future, such comments will be deleted.

In the end Christian charity prevailed and I decided that your comment would be another opportunity for CAS to expound the truth.

Personally, I don't understand why any Christian would seek to prevent other Christians from worshipping the Son of God. If your prefer not to worship your Creator on December 25th, fine, but don't interfere with those Christians whom God has graced with a desire to worship Him.

>arah said..."So why do we celebrate Christ’s birthday as Christmas, on December the 25th?"

It's not because "the feast of the Son of Isis (Goddess of Nature) was celebrated on December 25." While that is a happy coincidence, its not the true reason for the season.

The true reason for why December 25th commemorates the birth of Jesus is because its about nine months after Easter. Nine months is the gestation period for a human, including God incarnate.

While soltice celebrations and ancient Babylonian feasts make great copy, overlooked has been the fact that Jews of ancient times believed that the great prophets died on the anniversaries of their births or conceptions. As Jesus died on Easter Sunday, the early Christians (Jewish converts) decided that Jesus died on the anniversary of his conception. Thus, nine months later would be Jesus birthday. Toss in the varying dates for passover and a changeover to the Gregorian calendar and you get Western Christians celebrating on December 25th and Eastern Christians celebrating on January 6th.

Calculating Christmas
William J. Tighe on the Story Behind December 25
http://touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=16-10-012-v

With a bit of bona fide research you'll discover that the Babylonian feast has long died out and was unknown among the early Christians and their fellow Jews and Greeks. You'll also discover that Christians had begun celebrating Christmas well before the pagan European Yule feasts.

God bless... +Timothy

10:34 PM  
Blogger Josh Gelatt said...

Timothy,

Thanks for the irenic and well-thought out post, and replies.

You wrote: "No, the non-observance of Christmas was far more than a Puritan thing."

Perhaps I should have been more clear. Their continued influence (even within the seperatist sects) is perhaps a cause of this. They were a driving force that shaped much of the antebellum American religious landscape. Other than Puritan and post-Revolutionary American reaction against Christmas I do not know. Please direct me to other groups that rejected Christmas.

You wrote: "While there was hostility between Catholic and Puritan, there was also hostility between Anglican and Baptist"

As well as between the Anglicans and Puritans. The Puritans, and the Baptists that followed, both viewed the Anglicans as horribly "tainted" with Romanish thought and practice.

You wrote: "The English Seperatists were hostile to both Puritans and Anglicans."

True, to a large degree. The Congregationalists seemed to have better representation within and welcoming by the Puritan movement. Some Baptists did too, but not many. However, as documents such as the 2 London Baptist Confession clearly show, there was great similarity between the two theologically. The 2LBC is simply a Baptist restatement of the Puritan Westminster confession (I realize there was also, and is, a large strain of Arminian Baptists). In practice the two groups (Puritans & Baptists) were diverse with accompanying tensions, but their basic theological outlook was the same. Thus, many strains of Baptists "inherited" Puritan sentiments.

10:59 PM  
Blogger Josh Gelatt said...

Timothy & Aras,

I agree with Timothy that the statement "Christmas has pagan origins" is grossly misleading. While it is true that there were pagan feasts/celebrations that occurred at that time, the original creators of what we now celebrate as Christmas were intentionally making Christ the center of their world.

Tim, I do not agree that the pagan 12/25 celebrations and Christmas being on 12/25 are simply coincidences. Rather, it seems the Church took the Gospel of Jesus Christ to its logical and implied conclusion. They were simply attempting to make Jesus lord of everything (the Easter/9 months rational confirmed, rather than explained, their decision).

As pagans, their culture had formerly worshipped false gods and engaged in human-centered debauchery. Now as disciples of Jesus, they replaced their idols with the worship of the Christ and God-honoring activity.

I find the "pagan origin/Christian reforming" history of Christmas to be a beautiful testimony of the redeeming power of the cross.

I agree with Timothy, it is inconceivably that Christians would object to this.

As much as I love the Puritans, their vitroil against the Catholics blinded them to the power of Christmas worship.

11:07 PM  
Blogger Timothy said...

>Josh Gelatt said... "Please direct me to other groups that rejected Christmas."

In our earlier post, Baptists Don't Celebrate Christmas, we cited The American Christmas by James Harwood Barnett, where in he writes:

"In general, Puritans, Baptists, Presbyterians, and Quakers strongly opposed the religious observance of Christmas,..."

Presbyterians, also known as the Church of Scotland, were Calvinists. Their denomination has quite an interesting history.

>Josh Gelatt said... "Tim, I do not agree that the pagan 12/25 celebrations and Christmas being on 12/25 are simply coincidences."

A few thoughts here. First, I firmly believe that God has a perfect plan of salvation for each and everyone of us individually and for the world at large. That implies that nothing would truelly be "coincidence". I fully believe Matthew 22:29 and the power of God to change pagan celbrations to Christian celebrations.

Second, in the case of Christmas being set by Western Christians on December 25, I personally feel that God allowed this to occur and it is somewhat coincidental that in the West we celebrate the birth of Christ on a previous and a later pagan festival.

Adding more weight to the coincidental nature is that Eastern Christians (Melkites, Chaldeans, Copts, etc.) celebrate the birth of Christ on January 6, which does not coincide with any known pagan festivals. The difference in dates is entirely due to the problems in fixing the dates for Easter, which is also considered to date of Jesus' conception. Both the Western and Eastern Christ Masses are nine months after their respective historical dates for Easter.

The timing of Christmas is directly due to and based on the dates for Easter. It all goes back to ancient Jewish tradition that great prophets die on either tgheir day of birth or conception. Jesus died on easter Sunday, thus Jesus was conceived at the same time of year, thus Jesus was born on December 25 or January 6. (Keep in mind that our early Christian brothers lacked an assembled and cannonized Bible at this point in Church history. We take much for granted in the 21st Century.)

Since starting this thread, we have posted on Why Christmas Is December 25th. I recommend everyone read professor Tighe's research.

Thank you all for contributing to one of the better discussions we've had on CAS.

God bless... +Timothy

9:31 AM  

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