"I do not advise that we end the year on a somber note. The march, not the dirge, has ever been the music of Christianity. If we are good students in the school of life, there is much that the years have to teach us. But the Christian is more than a student, more than a philosopher. He is a believer, and the object of his faith makes the difference, the mighty difference. Of all persons the Christian should be best prepared for whatever the New Year brings. He has dealt with life at its source. In Christ he has disposed of a thousand enemies that other men must face alone and unprepared. He can face his tomorrow cheerful and unafraid because yesterday he turned his feet into the ways of peace and today he lives in God. The man who has made God his dwelling place will always have a safe habitation."1
Around this time of year, it is very common to hear the oft-repeated claim that Christmas is a pagan holiday and that Christians ought not celebrate it. Below, I have assembled resources that address some of the common concerns both Christian and non-Christians have around this time of year.
You can find answers to other common questions here.
As for me, in regard to Christians and Christmas, I believe what the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 14:5- "One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind" (ESV).
"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
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.
"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 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:
Jesus was an alien
Jesus was bodily resurrected
are the 12 facts (gotten from a presentation by Dr. Craig Hazen):
1.Jesus died by crucifixion [*** core
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
is a chart of 13 theories that attempt to explain the facts (again, credit is
given here to Craig Hazen for this excellent chart):