Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Theologian R.C. Sproul on Christmas

"I can’t think of anything more pleasing to Christ than the church celebrating His birthday every year. Keep in mind that the whole principle of annual festival and celebration is deeply rooted in ancient Jewish tradition. In the Old Testament, for example, there were times when God emphatically commanded the people to remember certain events with annual celebrations. While the New Testament doesn’t require that we celebrate Christmas every year, I certainly see nothing wrong with the church’s entering into this joyous time of celebrating the Incarnation, which is the dividing point of all human history. Originally, it was intended to honor, not Mithras or any of the other mystery religion cults, but the birth of our King."1

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnote:
1. R.C. Sproul, "Is Christmas a Pagan Holiday?", Dec. 23th, 2016.

Related Posts

Christmas Resources from GotQuestions.org

A Christmas Testimony by Chad Vaughn 

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Christmas- Pagan or Not?

Does Christmas have pagan origins or not?  Today's post features 3 short and concise articles by apologist and speaker Lenny Esposito that consider this question historically and with up-to-date scholarship.

Esposito writes:

"The claim that the roots of Christmas are pagan is one I hear over and over again, especially in December. The idea isn't even new. The New England Puritans, who valued work more than celebration, taught such.  Puritan preacher Increase Mather preached that "the early Christians who first observed the Nativity on December 25 did not do so thinking that 'Christ was born in that Month, but because the Heathens Saturnalia was at that time kept in Rome, and they were willing to have those Pagan Holidays metamorphosed into Christian.'

When one digs into the actual history however, a much different picture arises. There are two ways to approach the question: one is to see how December 25 became associated with the Nativity, which is how the early church would have referred to the day of Christ's birth. The other one is to look at the celebrations of Saturnalia and Sol Invictus. Either approach shows the dubious nature of the claim that Christmas has pagan roots."

The articles are as follows:

Pt. 1- No, Christmas Is Not Based on a Pagan Holiday

Pt. 2- The Date of Saturnalia Doesn't Line Up with Christmas

Pt. 3- Christmas, the Solstice, and December 25th

For more on the date of Christmas, see this article by Andrew McGowan, originally published in Bible Review, December 2002.

Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Friday, December 07, 2018

12 Historical Facts About Jesus, 13 Theories to Explain

My wife recently shared this resource with me that was posted by the 1 Peter 4:12-16 Christian Worldview Blog back in November.  The chart was created by Craig Hazen of Biola University.  
The evidence for the resurrection of Jesus includes 12 facts agreed upon by scholars, both liberal and conservative. A reasonable approach is to evaluate those 12 known facts against 13 theories about what happened to determine each theory’s explanatory power (which of the 12 facts it doesn’t account for). The only 2 theories that account for all 12 known facts are:
  1. Jesus was an alien
  2. Jesus was bodily resurrected
Here are the 12 facts (gotten from a presentation by Dr. Craig Hazen):
1.    Jesus died by crucifixion [*** core fact #2]
2.    He was buried
3.    Jesus’ death caused the disciples to despair and lose hope, believing that his life was ended
4.    The tomb was discovered to be empty just a few days later
5.    The disciples had experiences which they believed were literal appearances of the risen Jesus [*** core fact #3]
6.    The disciples were transformed from doubters who were afraid to identify themselves with Jesus to bold proclaimers of his death and resurrection [*** core fact #1]
7.    This message was the center of preaching in the early church
8.    This message was especially proclaimed in Jerusalem, where Jesus died and was buried shortly before
9.    As a result of this preaching the church was born and grew
10. Sunday became the primary day of worship
11. James, who had been a skeptic, was converted to the faith when he also believed he saw the resurrected Jesus
12. A few years later, Paul was also converted by an experience which he, likewise, believed to be an appearance of the risen Jesus [***core fact #4]
Here is a chart of 13 theories that attempt to explain the facts (again, credit is given here to Craig Hazen for this excellent chart):