Every year I feel the need to address those who say Christmas is pagan. An article, Choosing the Date of Christmas: Why is Christmas Celebrated on December 25th? came out of it a few years ago. I was going over some old posts on the matter, and I found an old quote of mine that I think gets at why many of us just aren’t concerned if Christmas is “pagan”. So this is my annual post about Christmas and paganism (I just hope some pagan didn’t say this somewhere!)
I think there are a few fundamental, philosophical, issues at stake here. For those who believe Catholicism and Mainline Protestantism have “pagan” roots, there seem to be two assumptions:
a) If something in Christianity is similar to, or even borrowed from paganism in some fashion, then the Christian practice is “pagan”
b) that any similarity between Christianity and non-Christian religions is a bad thing.
Personally I disagree with both assumptions, and therefore cannot agree with this author on a basic level. I don’t believe that borrowing elements from non-Christian religions is always bad. It could be bad (e.g. if we borrowed child sacrifice!), but it could also be a good development (e.g. Jews borrowing the idea of the resurrection of the dead from the Persians). The Bible says God used Cyrus to free the Jews from Babylon, so it isn’t out of the ordinary that God could use non-Christians or non-Jews to teach us a thing or two. I don’t see this as wrong, nor do I believe that Jews are pagans for believing in the resurrection of the dead. C.S. Lewis said something to the effect that since Christianity has a good deal in common with ancient religions, that means Christianity is *more* likely to be true, because these religions have prepared people for the incarnation. I also think it is naive to think there are any religions out there that have no outside influence.
In other words, there are major philosophical assumptions going on when someone claims a Christian practice or holiday “is pagan.” Thank God even pagans understood that murder was wrong, and when Christians say the same thing, it doesn’t become invalid simply because a pagan actually could discern certain truths from natural law.
Also, let me point everyone to an interesting Messianic pro-holiday blog, Precious Holidays, whose author stopped here a few weeks ago. Stop by and say hello!
Image taken by my mom at the zoo…I am not sure if a pagan ever took LED lights and bent them in the shape of a bear, but if he did, and worked at a zoo, he was pure genius!