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Xmas And Pagan Beliefs.

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  • Xmas And Pagan Beliefs.

    Usually around this time the internet is loaded with poor scholarship and poor logic concerning Jesus and Christmas. I am a bit surprised not to find posts like that here (but that is a good thing). Anyway, whether anyone celebrates Christmas or not makes no difference to me. However, when pseudo historians and scholars try to make connections which do not exist, that bothers me.
    Last edited by Origen; 12-18-2015, 02:32 PM.

  • #2
    I think there's something fatally wrong with someone who objects to celebrating the birth of Christ, as did the shepherds and the magi. Yes, you may object to commercialism and whatnot, but don't make appeal to stupid excuses like "Jesus wasn't born on Dec 25..." and stupid whining about pagan origins.

    Something is only wrong if it promotes paganism, not if it "comes from paganism." Those false Christians who refuse to celebrate something as totally wonderful as Christ's birthday or resurrection in any fashion are actually promoting paganism by trying to take Christ out of Christmas and taking Christ out of society. Of those people who complain about pagan origins, 99.99% of everything they do is of pagan origin. It's actually good to take something of pagan origin and redeem it for God, like the word "God" itself! And, much of what they complain about as having a pagan origin is just made up in their own little heads, or in the deceitful heads of someone they're following, in their efforts to have excuses to reject giving honor to God.

    Suppose something really has a clear and direct pagan origin, look at Paul in Athens in Acts 17, where Paul tells the very pagan Athenians that they've been worshiping God for centuries and just didn't know it, "What therefore you worship as unknown, him declare I unto you." Look at Paul quote a Greek poem about Zeus and apply it to God, "As even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are indeed his offspring.’"






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    • #3
      Originally posted by Cornelius View Post
      Suppose something really has a clear and direct pagan origin, look at Paul in Athens in Acts 17, where Paul tells the very pagan Athenians that they've been worshiping God for centuries and just didn't know it, "What therefore you worship as unknown, him declare I unto you." Look at Paul quote a Greek poem about Zeus and apply it to God, "As even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are indeed his offspring.’"
      This didn't settle with me rightly, Cornelius. I asked, how can someone worship God if they do not know Him? It doesn't appear to me that they did worship God but dedicated an altar to the Unknown. That seriously appears to encroach on false/idol worship if dedicated to an "Unknown God". It would be like having an altar to an Unknown God at the immigration office, and yet crediting everyone with having it for correct worship. I mean one can be guilty of idol worship towards the True God - look at the strange fire in Leviticus 10 or the destruction of the bronze serpent in 2 Kings 18:4, and the children of the devil John 8:44 without Christ. At the very least if they had any knowledge of the True God, they would break down the altars made to the others thereby following the regulative principal. Wouldn't that suggest today's Christians should do the same? Or should we embrace statues? It almost appears that your argument slams open the door for pagan or other idol worship?

      John Calvin answered my questions, and I'm just sharing his commentary with you for consideration. Perhaps I am not understanding you correctly, if not please elaborate.

      Acts 17:23:

      To the unknown God. I can well grant that this altar was dedicated to all strange gods; yet I cannot yield to that which Jerome saith, that Paul did, by a certain holy wiliness, attribute that to one God which was written of many. For seeing the superscription [inscription] was common in every man’s mouth, there was no place for subtilty, [craft;] why did he then change the plural number? Surely, not that he might deceive the men of Athens, but because the matter did so require, he said, that he brought doctrine concerning an unknown god. And after he hath showed that they are deceived, because they knew not what god thee ought to worship, and had no certain godhood in a great leap of gods, he doth now insinuate himself, and doth purchase favor for his doctrine. Because it was an unjust thing to reject that which was uttered concerning a new god, to whom they had already given over themselves; and it was far better first to know him, than rashly to worship him whom they knew not. Thus doth Paul return again to that principle, that God cannot be worshipped rightly unless he be first made known.

      But here may a question be moved: how he saith that God was worshipped at Athens, who doth refuse all worshippings which are not agreeable to the prescript of his law, yea, he pronounceth that all that is idolatry which men invent without his Word? If God allow no worship but that which is agreeable to his Word, how doth Paul give this praise to men, who did dote without measure that they worshipped God? For Christ, in condemning the Samaritans, is content − (290) with this one principle, in that they worship God without knowledge, ( John 4:22 ) and yet they did boast that they worshipped the God of Abraham. Then, what shall we say of the men of Athens, who, having buried and quite put out the remembrance of the true God, had put in place of him Jupiter, Mercury, Pallas, and all that filthy rabble? I answer, that Paul doth not in the place commend that which the men of Athens had done; but taketh from their affection, though it were corrupt, free matter for teaching.
      God bless,
      William
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      • #4
        Originally posted by Origen View Post
        Usually around this time the internet is loaded with poor scholarship and poor logic concerning Jesus and Christmas. I am a bit surprised not to find posts like that here (but that is a good thing). Anyway, whether anyone celebrates Christmas or not makes no difference to me. However, when pseudo historians try to make connections which do not exist, that bothers me.

        Hey Origen,

        Glad to see you. I laughed while viewing the video because I have fallen into this trap in the past, making an argument in response to an online historical account that was made some time after the allegation. It is important to fact check and at least clarify dates. Believe me, it would have saved me much time and embarrassment.

        God bless,
        William
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        • #5
          Originally posted by William View Post
          . I asked, how can someone worship God if they do not know Him? It doesn't appear to me that they did worship God but dedicated an altar to the Unknown. That seriously appears to encroach on false/idol worship if dedicated to an "Unknown God". It would be like having an altar to an Unknown God at the immigration office, and yet crediting everyone with having it for correct worship. I mean one can be guilty of idol worship towards the True God
          The Athenians accused Paul of teaching a foreign god. But, Paul replied, "I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this [God] I proclaim to you. The God who made the world..."

          However it sits, Paul tells them that they have been worshiping God. But, there are several points to remember: First, this was not an idol, but an altar. Second, it was not dedicated to any specific false god. Third, it is Paul's style to be conciliatory. Forth, the Athenians were excusably ignorant (Acts 17:30). I don't believe this passage can be read correctly with any meaning other than Paul is using the Unknown God to refute their claim that he was teaching a foreign god.

          The altar was not dedicated to all strange gods. It was dedicated to <definite article> God <singular>. What's more, the Greek word for God (Theos) is used, not the Greek word the NT uses for false gods (daimonion, divinities). I don't see any basis for the claim that worshiping the unknown God shows that the Athenians were deceived. The fact this God was "unknown" shows there was no deception.


          A statue of Mary is an idol that is otherwise necessarily not God. And, God has been revealed to us so, so if we worship something unknown, it necessarily isn't God. In 2 Kings 18 Hezekiah destroys things that necessarily were dedicated to false gods.


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          • #6
            Originally posted by Cornelius View Post
            Paul is using the Unknown God to refute their claim that he was teaching a foreign god.
            If we just leave it as this I will agree that Paul used ignorant worship of an Unknown God, but it was not right worship any more than the poets ascribed affection to Zeus in writing and God counted it adoration for Himself. My point in bringing up the bronze serpent was to demonstrate that even though God instructed the construction of it that people wrongly worshiped Him through it. I don't see how anyone could reject this point, and not apply to it the Athenians but only excuse them for ignorance. That, however, does not make right worship or indicate any knowledge of the True God. If anything can be said there are some possibilities that make more sense as to the inscription.

            This altar would be nothing more than to acknowledge a God of others that has yet to reveal Himself to them.

            In John 8:44 though the Jews worship the True God through Scripture, without Christ they were children of the devil, for without - even the demons believe in the True God, but our God is One - James 2:19.

            They seemingly had thrown sacrifices to all other gods to desperately seek relief from some plague sent in wrath from an other they did not know, lets set up an altar to cover all bases and see what happens - ignoramus


            Matthew Henry writes:

            To the God whom it is our unhappiness not to know, which intimates that they would think it their happiness to know him. Some tell us that upon occasion of a plague that raged at Athens, when they had sacrificed to all their gods one after another for the staying of the plague, they were advised to let some sheep go where they pleased, and, where they lay down, to build an altar, tō prosēkonti Theō - to the proper God, or the God to whom that affair of staying the pestilence did belong; and, because they knew not how to call him, they inscribed it, To the unknown God. Others, from some of the best historians of Athens, tell us they had many altars inscribed, To the gods of Asia, Europe, and Africa - To the unknown God: and some of the neighbouring countries used to swear by the God that was unknown at Athens; so Lucian... He was one whom they ignorantly worshipped, which was a reproach to them, who were famous all the world over for their knowledge. “Now,” says he, “I come to take away that reproach, that you may worship him understandingly whom how you worship ignorantly; and it cannot but be acceptable to have your blind devotion turned into a reasonable service, that you may not worship you know not what.”
            As to Henry's last point I agree and find it in concert with Calvin.

            As for me, I believe they had in much in common with right worship for the True God as whatever man may worship for religion's sake and still call it a True religion. I think Calvin touched upon this point when he called their affections corrupt, but acknowledged Paul used their affections for teaching. Merely having an affection for someone unknown to them was an opportunity to redirect and introduce them to the Logos - Proverbs 8.

            If anything this has been a learning experience, I now see why some OPC churches allow cartoons or visual illustrations of Jesus in teaching children, but dare I say or go as far as to say the same about the Catholics?

            God bless,
            William
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            • #7
              Originally posted by William View Post
              My point in bringing up the bronze serpent was to demonstrate that even though God instructed the construction of it that people wrongly worshiped Him through it.
              The bronze serpent necessarily wasn't God (as it was a creation of a man, and worshiping it was a violation of the Commandments they were given). Why is the Unknown God necessarily not God?

              John 8:44, given Christ's reasoning, the Jews didn't worship the true God because they had rejected Him (another illustration that Jesus is God).

              The demons don't worship God. They don't claim to.

              John 4:22, Jesus tells a woman that the Samaritans don't know what they worship, not that they're worshiping a false god. She believed they worshiped the God of Jacob and Jesus didn't correct her. Jesus goes on to tell her that the Jews and the Samaritans will soon worship the Father not at the Temple or the mountain, but in Spirit and Truth, implying that the Samaritans already worship the true God just as much as the Jews (i.e. they're both worshiping God, just from different locations). Jesus explains what she didn't know, that He's the Christ. Not knowing that Jesus is Christ doesn't mean someone's not worshiping God. But, rejecting Christ does mean someone isn't worshiping God. And, worshiping something known not to be God also means someone isn't worshiping God.

              Matthew Henry agrees with me. The reproach Paul is taking away is their ignorance of the God that Paul says they're already worshiping, “I come to take away that reproach, that you may worship him understandingly whom how you worship ignorantly." Indeed, this is what Paul says. Paul declares to them that the unknown God they have been worshiping is the God he's preaching. And, thanks to Paul, they can now understand the God whom they worship.

              It probably was a redirection, but Paul didn't present it as a redirection. Although, you really can't redirect from something unknown. More like redeeming something.
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              • #8
                Was the New Testament Influenced by Pagan Religions

                by Ronald Nash

                CRI Journal - CRJ0169A
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                • #9
                  Hmmm... This is definitely a hotly debated issue for years and years now. For me, what is wrong with celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ? I mean, isn't that the main focus of Christmas anyway? If you can set aside the stockings, the Christmas trees and the gifts, and you would see that we celebrate Christmas for Jesus Himself, what's so wrong with that? I guess because of all of these material things, the meaning of Christmas itself has gotten lost. And that's where the problem starts, when we start being confused on just what Christmas is all about.

                  Don't get me wrong, it's okay to have Christmas trees or stockings, but you have to remember why you're celebrating Christmas after all. Setting aside the real birth of Christ issue and the Saturnia issue, we have to understand that Christmas is all about Jesus Christ. Much as we celebrate the birthdays of our loved ones, we give them our full attention. Then, we have to do that as well with Jesus supposed birth date.

                  And even though it has no biblical origins, I think it's a form of respect and gratitude for our Jesus Christ. So long as we know why we're celebrating it and we don't get lost in all these rituals and material things, then we can enjoy Christmas and its purpose.
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