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Jehovah`s Witness/Follow Up on Christmas, From Brenton Hepburn

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Question
What follows, is a follow up to Mr. Hepburn's question to me, regarding the celebration of Christmas, sent to me on 1/1/14.

Unfortunately due to its length, I typed him a short reply just to keep from getting the continued notifications of an unanswered question, and I stated to him my intentions to answer him shortly.  Due to many circumstances, getting back to him simply slipped my mind, and after speaking with him again about the question, I have now taken the time to address it.  

What follows below, is what Mr. Hepburn sent to me, in a follow up question....

BEGIN:

Subject:
A hypothetical question part 2 a followup

Question:
FOR THE READER

This is a follow up to and answer  Derrick gave me on a question I asked him.  I have done it this way instead of the usual follow up because some time follow up questions are not seen on the forum with out people knowing there is a follow up.  The original question was a few days ago and can be found at http://en.allexperts.com/q/Jehovah-s-Witness-1617/2013/12/hypothetical-question.  

This is not a question per-say  but a reply to Derricks response  and hopefully clarification of why I asked the original hypothetical question.  I hope to show the reasoning’s  that we have gone through in looking at the ultimate guide, the Bible, to determine what Gods thoughts would be on subjects that did not exists when the Bible was written .

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Hi Derrick,

Thank you for the long answer.  You covered more that I expected and did not really cover what I was looking for. You never really gave any Bible principles on how you (or your church)  would respond to that situation.  Perhaps that was my fault for not being clear.

I understand why you could not completely respond to some of the questions because  you  - “believe it is based upon a false scenario as its foundation  - The idea of that question and this follow up, is to let readers see another side to the discussion.   I have several links here to a lot of information for the benefit of readers to look at as to how paganism influenced Christianity.  You might find them of interest as well.

Before I  go on I want to comment on a few small matters first that were of concern to you.

First,  I would like to reassure you that  I am not being  overly concerned with  you  ... “saying that a Christian can decorate their home with a tree “ ...  I am concerned with getting the truth of the matter – from GODS viewpoint – not man’s.   And, yes I agree with you, it is wrong for anyone here  on this forum who claims to be a follower of the Christ to be lying.

The illustration was not specifically attacking the Christmas tree, but, seeing you thought I may have been,  I will make a few brief comments.  I agree that in general practice there is nothing wrong with decorating a tree.  Personally I think decorated trees can be very attractive.  In the heart of the  capital city where I live, our major cultural boulevard  used to have decorated trees with lights all year round  ( I do not know if they still do I haven’t been to that  part of the city in many years).  In the town where I live there is a very large tree (I believe it may be heritage listed )  in the grounds of a stately old home (that is now cinema complex restaurant and offices) that is decorated with lights all year round .

Now in regard to Jeremiah 10:2-5 .  YES, I fully agree with you, that has nothing to do directly with Christmas trees.  It is all about idol worship as you go on to explain.

I do not read all the Questions and Answers that are posted here, and I did not recall seeing that particular discussion about Jeremiah 10.  

The connection that I would make with what is said there in Jeremiah, and the Christmas tree,  is that long before the idea of Christmas,  trees were being used in false religious worship.  I know today that the tree is not a symbol of “worship”, but,  it is used in a religious manner by many people throughout the earth.   The problem is, because it was used in pagan worship raises the question as to if it is OK to “Christianize” it.  That is, - is it wrong to take a pagan symbol that is/was used in religious worship and use it in a what many call a Christian celebration.?

That was  the whole point of my hypothetical question, is it wrong for a  follower of Christ who wants to develop the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16 “But we have the mind of Christ”)  to accept pagan teachings as part of of own culture.  What would Jesus have done?  Would he have accepted pagan ideas as part of the way to worship God?   Are obeying Gods requirements an option for us?  Why do we need to obey Gods standards?  Because it means our life (Hebrews 5:9 “eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;”)   Our worship is all in vain if we allow the ideas of men to influence us ( Matt 15:9 “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”)

Yes the hypothetical question was about “Christmas” and its customs, as much as it was about so many other doctrines that crept into the Christian way of thinking from the second century onward.   I now you will disagree with this,and that is your right,   but a careful study of history shows that Christmas, Easter, immortal soul, hell fire, trinity, etc. came from pagan origins, mainly from Greek philosophy

You gave 2 ideas as to how Christmas may have come about. The second one, I had never heard of before, that was interesting.  You agreed with the first one.

Personally I do not agree with the first one. We  obviously have different views on how certain customs were developed and came into the traditions of “the Church”. For the sake of readers,   I want to give a different, balancing, side of the discussion to  the readers.  Over many years I have read a lot of information about what scholars believe to have happened.  The evidence leans most strongly to ward the acceptance of the Saturnalia and other pagan ideas as a Christian celebration in order to please the people. (Make conversion easier)

The first evidence of the feast is from Egypt. About A.D. 200, from  Clement of Alexandria.
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03724b.htm    He is considerd by some to be the first Christan Philospoher to start intoduicng pagan ideas into “the  church”  Now that is an interesting subject to look at.  
http://www.coptic.net/articles/clementofalexandria.txt
http://orthodoxwiki.org/Clement_of_Alexandria
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04045a.htm
When The Greeks conquered Egypt  (circa 350 b.c.e.) the first Macedonian “Pharaoh” Ptolemy 1  wanted to unite the Greek and Egyptian cultures by combining several gods into one that all would be happy with, he in effect set himself up as a god like all the Pharaohs before him.  He created a new god “Serapis”   In the 2nd century AD Christians in Alexandria had adopted the icon of Seripas to represent Jesus.  That is an interesting read in history  of the journey as to how that pagan god become a symbol of “the church”  The icon was officially adopted at the council of Nicaea along with other pagan philosophies.

The history of Serapis is reflected in the “hypothetical question” I posted  “Serapis and Christ existed side-by-side and were frequently seen as interchangeable. Some early Christians made no distinction between Christ and Serapis and frequently worshiped both, “ http://dwij.org/forum/amarna/8_serapis_and_christianity.htm
Another site to read   http://platonism347.tripod.com/serapis_religion.htm    (The home page of that site is a must read on how the philosophy of Plato infected Christianity)
It is so sad the the link between Serapis and Jesus  of “the church” is historically so strong that many people now use this connection to calm that Jesus, as a person, did not exist until the council of Nicaea.  The pagan links  of many “Christian” ideas can not be ignored.   The word of God had been adulterated.
Here are a few  an interesting links for any readers to look at on other Christmas beginnings
http://www.simpletoremember.com/vitals/Christmas_TheRealStory.htm

http://www.history.com/topics/christmas

http://www.christianity.com/church/church-history/timeline/6000-1-bc/clements-da

By the way that web site that you pointed to was very informative,  it gives one of the Biblical ways of determining the birth of Jesus  in October, (The Bible shows that there are two other Biblical ways to determine that month as well )  That web site said nothing about the idea   that  - “Christians decide to have their own festival to SUPPLANT the pagan one,” .  

The writer of the site did suggest that  “The theory went that Christians could get the heathen to convert by co-opting their holidays.”   but gives no real indication that it is just a theory, when the evidence shows otherwise</b>.   That being said I am not going to try to convince you  that your idea on Christmas is wrong.

Now all that being said.  The point of my “hypothetical question” is, that what I presented is what history shows actually happened.  It was a gradual introduction of “pagan” ideas” over a period of time.  That at some time both the pagan and the so called “Christianized” adoption of the pagan ideas ran hand in hand. There was a lot of divisive influences happening and that is possibly the main reason Constantine called the council of Nicaea, to unit his divided realm

When we  study the  of history of “the Church” we see that what I suggested by this question - Would you threaten those that did not comply with death or banishment?   - is what happened after  many of the  pagan ideas  were officially adopted by  “the Church”.  People were forced to believe or be banished, killed or live in secret  and fear.  That is a fact of history.

I can not give you examples right now of the top of my head without doing a lot of internet research but I want to mention that in watching various TV documentaries of people in South America and some African counties, various “Christian” groups (mainly Catholic) that have tried to make converts out of the native population, have let the “converts” continue practicing their old customs, and incorporate some of them into their  form of “Christian” worship.  That  (sort of) practice I mentioned in the “hypothetical question” is still happening .

History testifies that the first century Christians followed the council given them both by the Hebrew Scripture writers (old testament) and what the Jesus and the apostles taught.  Peter wrote that the first century Christians seems strange to the people of the nations - “Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you” 1 Peter 4:4 . -  Why is that?

The first Christians came  from the nation of Israel. Jesus was raised as an Israelite, so the teachings of Jesus, and the  first disciples were based on the Gods laws and standard that had been committed to writing.  Just as Gods original chosen people were told to be separate from the people around them -  [(“and separate yourselves from the people of the land, and from the strange wives.” Ezra 10:11 ).  Not only were they told to keep separate  form the pagan  traditions they were told to search for the LORD (Jehovah) Ezra 6: 21  “And the children of Israel, which were come again out of captivity, and all such as had separated themselves unto them from the filthiness of the heathen of the land, to seek the LORD God of Israel,”    All “the filthiness of the heathen of the land” was not listed, tat suggests a blanket band on all  “ heathen” customs. Now how would the first century Christians understand that council?]  -  The original followers of  Christ also stayed separated from the customs of the  nations around them, and where customs foreign to them were found, would they not search the scriptures to see what they could learn from Gods past dealings ?

When Isaiah was prophesying about Jerusalem future, and release for Babylon, God told the returning Jews “ Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing ; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the LORD.”  They were also told  “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found,”  (Isaiah 55:6 ) Babylon was known as a center of false worship.  The departing Israelites must leave behind them in Babylon anything having a taint of Babylon’s false worship. Since they carry the utensils  that came from the temple in Jerusalem, they have to be clean, not merely in an outward, ceremonial way, but primarily in their hearts (Isaiah 52:11 )  

This is echoed in 2 Corinthians 6:15-17    “15  And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16  And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17  Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate , saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing ; and I will receive you,”  Christ would have nothing to do with any thing connected to pagan worship. It was unclean .  A serious question is  - AT what point does it become OK to start touching the unclean things of Satan???

Reading through the Books of  Jeremiah and Ezekiel (at the time of Jerusalem destruction) we see that God was not please with the way that the Jews had incorporated all sorts of pagan rituals.  So the prophetic words of Isaiah was to remind the people not to get involved with any pagan practices.

In the prayer of Jesus recorded in John 17  he mentions that the disciples “because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15  I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. 16  They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. “ (John 17:14-17 )  The use of the word world there is  saying the disciples were not a part of the general populace that did not receive him. They had been taken out of that crown and left all the false  baggage of that life behind.  The general population would have a hatred for Christ followers because they had left the traditions of the world behind them (John 15 : 18,19 “18   If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19  If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.”)

Why were the Christians not to be part of the world and the things of the world ?

1 John 5:19 “the world lies in wickedness” That is Satan controls the thinking of those that do not want to follow the Christ. At what point do we start to let the things of Satan into our lives and not become contaminated to the point of displeasing God????

The 1st century Christians were also told that “ the world passeth away,”  and they were given this council regarding the things of the world  “15  Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17  And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” (1 John 2:15-17 )

We firmly believe that everything that is in the Bible is there for a reason. (2 Tim. 3:16, 17 ) If God punished the Israelites for slowly accepting pagan worship, the returning Israelites from Babylon were warned not to have any thing to do with pagan worship, the 1st century Christians were known for making a break from all pagan practices than why on earth would we want to introduce any of them again into any form of service to God?

2 Corinthians  6:15 tells us that there is NO conection between Christ and Satan “ And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?”

The “hypothetical question” I posed IS what happened during the “great apostasy” after the apostles had all died. (Acts 20:29, Matthew 7:15 2 Thessalonians 2:3 2 Peter 2:1 )

You mention  Romans 14:4-6 .  That is an interesting passage.  In context Romans it is discussing the Sabbath and if a Christian should set one day a week aside as sacred.  It highlights the fact that we all have a conscience. Our conscience should be trained by Gods word.  There were some that were new to “the way”  who cam from the Jewish system where the Sabbath was their custom.  Even though the Sabbath was no longer a Christian requirement it was not wrong as it had been instigated by God.  Paul is telling the Roman Christians that there is not longer a requirement to set day “X ” as a Sabbath. It is up to the individual to decide when and how they would set a time aside as sacred. The ideal thing would be, that every day be viewed as sacred so that our worship of God is continuous and not confined to just one day a week.

Our conscience  is not giving Christians licence to adopt pagan ways.  The date of December 25 and most of the customs were part of pagan worship of their gods.

You mention Psalm 118:24 and said - “I believe that every day is "the day that the LORD hath made", and Christians can "rejoice and be glad in it" ”.  ( Yes all days should be viewed with joy and as a day to worship [serve] God in a way HE accepts)  The reason you mentioned that is summed up in this statement “You also seem to think that a particular day becomes "tainted", if pagans have a bad celebration on that day ”   Your assumption there is not correct. We do not see the day of December 25 as being tainted.  What is tainted is the introduction of a pagan celebration and changing the name to try to make it acceptable to God.

You made this important comment “b>It only matters that they are not going against the Scripture.</b>” In the context of Romans, keeping a Sabbath  was not going against any one of Gods requirement.   However what does the Bible principles show as to adopting pagan ideologies?  Is that “going against the Scripture”?  For us, Jws, the texts above show that God would not be please with any attempt to introduce ANY pagan rites into a Christian “celebration”.


You briefly mention that there seemed to be a similar situation to what I proposed  in the account of Paul on Mars Hill when he talks the the men of Athens about the “unknown god” that they worshiped.  It is true that Paul did not condemn them for  idolatry he tried to establish common ground. That is what I am trying to do, establish common ground on the basses of what the Bible shows is  GOD's attitude toward pagan idolatry.   We both want to follow  the Bible as our guide. So I am using what the Bible says to establish a pattern of what Gods attitude is.  Paul took the opportunity to suggest that there was a God that the men of Athens had not yet come to know, and he suggested it was the Almighty God that dwells in no human temple. And needs no idols to represent him.

Now historians are telling us that many of the Greek philosophies were cam to be introduced into the Christian ethos. SO my whole argement is, God showed that he was against  the practices of the heathen (pagan) nations that he called them unclean. AT various points in history different philosophies WERE suggested and introduced into Christianity.

Today we are far removed form many of the pagan religions. People have no concept of the pagan connection, and many will say “so what if there is a connection,we are not worshiping any of the pagan gods how can those pagan ideas harm us?”   Hence my hypothetical question as to how would your church  handle the idea TODAY if it was suggested by some of its missionaries that by mixing (introducing) some harmless  pagan customs the people of that land might accept what we teach. Would thyour church reject the suggestion?  That is what SHOULD have happened in the second and third and subsequent centuries but it did not. Instead of rejecting the idea of introducing pagaon thought they were adopted.  Now to day becase they have been around for so long most people reason “well it must be OK then”.

All Gods ways are perfect 2 samual 22:31 “As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler {or reifner} to all them that trust in him.”  If we trust in Gods ways he will refine our thinking.

Psalms 19:7 “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.”

James 1:25 “But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty,  and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”

Gods laws are perfect and his standards do not change “For I am the LORD, I change not;” (Malachi 3:6) So how is it ever OK to introduce the “unclean” thing into Gods ways?

Answer
What follows, is a response to Mr. Hepburn's follow up question above, which was a response to my reply to his original question......

http://en.allexperts.com/q/Jehovah-s-Witness-1617/2013/12/hypothetical-question.


Hello, Mr. Hepburn, and thank you for your own quite lengthy follow up, to my “long answer”.  Unfortunately, there is no way to respond to this subject in just a few paragraphs, and having seen my responses for many years now, you surely knew I would try to deal with it thoroughly.

At the outset, let me state that I respect you and your position.  I do not respect dishonest JWs, which there seem to be many, but I do respect you.  That is why I want you to know that none of my comments directed at you, are intended to be disrespectful or to be a smart aleck, but simply to get you to consider your position a little more thoroughly.  Like you, I am not trying to change your mind, or cause you to begin celebrating what the Scriptures nowhere command you to.

With that being said, if you did not like my previous “long answer”, you will probably like this one even less.

Also, I need to state from the beginning, that you opened up by basically accusing me of “not answering” what you were looking for.  On the other hand, I also recall numerous of my own questions to you, that you did not offer a reply for, either.  I am referring to this statement from you….

“Thank you for the long answer. You covered more that I expected and did not really cover what I was looking for. You never really gave any Bible principles on how you (or your church) would respond to that situation. Perhaps that was my fault for not being clear.”

After re-reading your charge here of my not answering your question, I went back and read my previous reply to your question, to see what I had missed.  As you, I have a tendency to be VERY long and thorough in my responses, and I generally want to make sure I answered the question asked.  If I didn’t, I wanted to correct that.  However, after looking back over my response to you, I believe that I did.  In fact, I broke down your questions one at a time, and answered each one directly.  I would ask that you read it again, and you will see that.  I am pretty satisfied with the way I answered your questions directly, although you are correct that I perhaps did give MORE than you asked for.  Again, being too long and thorough is a tendency that we BOTH can relate to, is it not?

But giving more than you asked for, certainly does not mean that what you asked was not addressed in the answer.  I believe it was.  If not, perhaps you can be specific as to what you feel was not answered.  As I said before, I believe your entire premise was basically based on a false scenario, and also, I do not believe it is a true parallel with what is happening with today’s observance of Christ’s birth.  Your scenario presents 2 celebrations going on simultaneously….Do people today still honor Saturnalia in this manner, alongside of Christmas?  

Perhaps re-reading the first answer might prove beneficial.  As you said, it was very long, which unfortunately, was necessary due to the nature of the question asked.  Perhaps you simply missed my answers, due to the length of it.  But they are there…In fact, they are there throughout the entire body of the answer.  

YOU:  “I understand why you could not completely respond to some of the questions because you - “believe it is based upon a false scenario as its foundation - The idea of that question and this follow up, is to let readers see another side to the discussion.” I have several links here to a lot of information for the benefit of readers to look at as to how paganism influenced Christianity. You might find them of interest as well."

I am happy to allow you to present your other side of the issue.  That is no problem.  As I told you the other day in a Private message, this is not a topic I have a great desire to debate, because I do not believe it is vital for a Christian to celebrate, or not celebrate, the birth of Christ.  I believe, although you do not, that Romans 14 certainly does have an application to this topic, in that we are to “let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind” , provided that there is nothing ungodly or idolatrous being done in the observance.  

The very fact that there are so many various and different ideas about HOW Christmas originated, and WHY December 25th was chosen, indicates that there is no unanimous consensus about it.  Basically, people who are against it, pick the version of “history” that they like, and promote it as the true one, and those who are for it, do the same.  But its interesting to me, that there is no unanimous factual opinion on it.  In my previous reply, I shared a link that gave an entirely different explanation for how December 25th was selected.  Now, I do not know that I hold to the view in that link, but there is a point in it that had merit….That the date was chosen at a time when it was not common practice for Christianity to “borrow” ideas from other cultures.  If that is true, it cannot simply be ignored or pretend that it isn’t relevant.

But at any rate, I believe whether or not a person remembers the birth of Christ in December, decorates their home with a tree (as many JWs certainly do any OTHER time of the year, minus the Christmas ornaments), or buys presents for their loved ones, has nothing to do with their standing with God.  Therefore, it is not a matter that I interested in a knock-down, drag out, debate.  I do not have to defend my actions to anyone, nor do you have to defend your choice not to celebrate, to me.  


YOU:  “First, I would like to reassure you that I am not being overly concerned with you ... “saying that a Christian can decorate their home with a tree “ ... I am concerned with getting the truth of the matter – from GODS viewpoint – not man’s. And, yes I agree with you, it is wrong for <b>anyone here on this forum who claims to be a follower of the Christ to be lying.”

Glad to see that you are sick and tired of the JW liars here.  So is everyone else, pretty much.  But Brenton, since you are in the same religion as some of these people, can you provide some insight (perhaps in another post), as to what has influenced their thinking to the point that they feel their actions are justified?  I mean, how does ANY so-called Christian, ever believe that lying is okay, or will be rewarded by Jehovah God?

Now, back to your statement….I am glad you are concerned with getting “GOD’S VIEWPOINT” on the matter.  And Mr. Hepburn, the way we do that, is by opening the pages of the Scriptures.  Not by listening to man, or by letting a group of men be our conscience…but by opening the Scriptures.  The danger is, when we confuse the viewpoints and the rules of men, with those of God…Basically, “going beyond the things written”.  

That is why I asked you previously, the following questions….

“Again Sir, it depends on what they are doing, and why. Obviously, if sexual orgies are part of the ritual, then they would have to stop that altogether. If merely decorating a home was done, then please tell me why they cannot decorate their homes with Christ-honoring, or non-religious decorations, once becoming Christians? I would like to see your Scriptural evidence of this.”

And this one….

“By the way, Mr. Hepburn....When Jews in Bible times converted to Christianity, were they COMMANDED to refrain from any and all of their former observances, or customs? Or were they simply to not try and impose those practices on the Gentiles?”


YOU:  “The illustration was not specifically attacking the Christmas tree, but, seeing you thought I may have been, I will make a few brief comments. I agree that in general practice there is nothing wrong with decorating a tree. Personally I think decorated trees can be very attractive. In the heart of the capital city where I live, our major cultural boulevard used to have decorated trees with lights all year round (I do not know if they still do I haven’t been to that part of the city in many years). In the town where I live there is a very large tree (I believe it may be heritage listed ) in the grounds of a stately old home (that is now cinema complex restaurant and offices) that is decorated with lights all year round .

Now in regard to Jeremiah 10:2-5 . YES, I fully agree with you, that has nothing to do directly with Christmas trees. It is all about idol worship as you go on to explain.”

Glad we have established that you do not feel it is wrong to decorate a tree, and that you realize that Jeremiah 10 is NOT referring to a Christmas tree.  You would be amazed how many of your JW counterparts, yes even some here, show extreme ignorance on this matter.  I am not surprised that your understanding is on a much higher level than that.  Its what I would have expected.

I can remember a couple year’s back, that my mother put a few pumpkins on her front porch in the fall of the year, and some JW made a comment on FB to her, about it being wrong to do so, and how pumpkins should be abstained from because of their connection to Halloween.  Not Jack-O-Lanterns, mind you….But PUMPKINS!!  A perfectly legitimate member of the squash family, well-known for its beauty as well as healthful eating qualities, is now “tainted” by Halloween.  Unfortunately, this is the kind of mentality that some of your people get into, because of the extra-biblical teachings and yokes placed upon them, from your Organization.  Not saying the Organization itself claims that pumpkins are bad…Only that the rules they HAVE set, have caused some JWs to go off the deep end.  There is nothing with decorating your home with a pumpkin, any more than there is, a tree.

But again, we shouldn’t worship these objects, or use them in any part of any ritual, to honor a false “god”.  I think we agree on that.  And even if you could somehow trace back using pumpkins as decorations, to some kind of pagan festival, it would still not make it wrong to use them for decorations.



YOU:  “The connection that I would make with what is said there in Jeremiah, and the Christmas tree, is that long before the idea of Christmas, trees were being used in false religious worship.”

But you just previously said that you know that Jeremiah is NOT speaking of anything directly related to the Christmas tree.  And actually, Mr. Hepburn, I have to disagree with your above comment just a little.  There is NO connection between the passage in Jeremiah, with a Christmas tree…either directly, or indirectly.  In fact, the passage itself does NOT show that “trees were being used in false worship”, except in the very broad sense that the idol was MADE from a tree (as are houses, but no longer look like trees when completed), and the idol was what was worshipped.  But when the idol was completed, it did not any longer look like a tree.  It bore no resemblance to one.  It simply was made from a tree.  But the idol was the problem…not the cutting of the tree and decorating it.

See above statement about tracing back the origin of using pumpkins as home decorations.  And I might also add, that something being done by pagans in the past, does not automatically mean it is done for the same reason today, or that doing it today, means we are guilty of pagan practices.  I think Jehovah knows the heart well enough to know what our motive is for doing something.

YOU:  “I know today that the tree is not a symbol of “worship”, but, it is used in a religious manner by many people throughout the earth. The problem is, because it was used in pagan worship raises the question as to if it is OK to “Christianize” it. That is, - is it wrong to take a pagan symbol that is/was used in religious worship and use it in a what many call a Christian celebration.?”

That’s just the point, Mr. Hepburn….There is no need to “Christianize” a tree, because it was never “UN-Christianized”.  As I stated before, pagans misusing a legitimate creation of God, does not taint the creation itself, or mean that Christians cannot use it.

You mentioned sun worshippers.  My wife and I have taken a couple of cruises, and also like to go to the beach each year.  Every evening, we walk out to the beach, and watch the sun set over the water.  Now, not once have we ever even thought of doing an act of worship to it.  Nor do we believe the sun is a “god”.  We do believe it is a beautiful creation of God, and to be enjoyed.  Are you telling me, that because the people in this tribe you are talking about, worshipped the sun and gave it too much honor, that we can’t enjoy it in a legitimate way?

I don’t think you are, but why not be consistent?  I mean, the sun has been used by pagans as an object of worship, and has been the center of many ungodly and idolatrous practices.  So, why is it not forbidden for us to enjoy?  Why shouldn’t we just NOT walk down to the beach at sunset, and instead, refrain from the whole experience?

And Mr. Hepburn, I was extremely disappointed in the number of MY questions that you did not choose to answer, either.  I made a point about cats, which was a valid point, and an almost perfect parallel with your religion’s teaching on Christmas trees.  It is well-known that cats were regarded as deities, and were given honor.  They were adorned, and statues were made to them.  

Mr. Hepburn, in light of these pagan practices regarding cats, s it wrong to go into a souvenir shop and buy a cat figurine and decorate a home with it?  Please tell me why, or why not.

YOU:  “That was the whole point of my hypothetical question, is it wrong for a follower of Christ who wants to develop the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16 “But we have the mind of Christ”)to accept pagan teachings as part of of own culture.”

Pagan TEACHINGS, or legitimate practices that some pagans abused, Mr. Hepburn?  Please be a little more clear on what you are asking.

YOU:  “What would Jesus have done? Would he have accepted pagan ideas as part of the way to worship God?”

Again, a false scenario….That is not what anyone is advocating.  We do not worship the tree, Sir.  It has no part of our worship….none.  It is a nice decoration in the home, at the time of year that we remember the birth of Christ.  If I ever catch anyone in my home doing, as Rando says, “an act of worship to it”, then I will put a stop to it.  You have my word.

Also, I have a real problem with invoking the “What would Jesus have done” question, here.  That is, unless you can show us a recorded instance in the Scripture that shows Jesus “doing” something in a similar circumstance, that would give us some proof of this.  Otherwise, its simply an opinion of what Jesus “would have done”.  As for false worship, I think we know what Jesus would’ve done, or at least what position He would’ve taken on it.  But I simply do not see in Scripture, where Jesus concerned Himself with the types of decorations in a person’s home…especially when the decoration was a legitimate creation of God in the first place.

YOU:  “Are obeying Gods requirements an option for us?”

Of course not.  Who said they were?  But what “requirement” are you referring to, that would prohibit us from putting a tree in our home, or honoring the birth of Jesus Christ?  If you could supply that one verse, it would probably end this discussion.

YOU:  “Why do we need to obey Gods standards? Because it means our life (Hebrews 5:9 “eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;”) Our worship is all in vain if we allow the ideas of men to influence us (Matt 15:9 “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”)

Mr. Hepburn, with all due respect, but I cannot think of a religion that teaches more “doctrines of men” as if they were commandments of God, than yours.  Honestly, I can’t.  I could give you a list of things which SHOULD be up to a person’s own conscience before God, that a JW can be disfellowshipped for.  I am not talking about obvious sins….LYING, adultery, stealing, fornication, homosexuality, etc.  I am talking about things the Bible says nothing about, nor indicates anything about.  

But I don’t disagree with your statement in the least.

YOU:  “Yes the hypothetical question was about “Christmas” and its customs, as much as it was about so many other doctrines that crept into the Christian way of thinking from the second century onward. I now you will disagree with this,and that is your right, but a careful study of history shows that Christmas, Easter, immortal soul, hell fire, trinity, etc. came from pagan origins, mainly from Greek philosophy”

You are correct…I disagree with this, at least on most of the things you listed.  As I cannot seem to get poor Rando to understand, I do not use or prefer the term “Easter” to honor Christ’s death.  I believe it is correctly translated in the KJB as such, because it referred to the pagan observance of Herod.  He cannot grasp that simple concept, and you have seen a great deal of lying and twisting from him, as a result.  But that is another topic.

As for the Trintiy, conscious existence after death, etc, you would have a point if those things were not taught in the Bible.  Unfortunately for your attempt to attribute them to pagan origins, we would say the pagans borrowed and corrupted those concepts.  Was Paul a pagan for teaching that he would be with Christ upon death, and for encouraging other Christians with that same hope?  I think not.  Paul did not believe in your JW teaching of soul-sleep, Mr. Hepburn.  And as for the Trinity, if the JW religion ever wants to start arguing that one successfully, then they will have to do several things….

1.  Stop the willful lying, twisting, and misrepresenting of the teaching, as we see here every single week.

2.  Come up with a good explanation for WHY 3 Persons are called “God” in the Scriptures, yet are clearly shown to be distinct Persons, but yet the Scriptures maintain that there is only one true God.  Something better than retranslating the problem passages, or explaining them away.  And unfortunately, that is all we ever see.

But we are getting off topic, I believe.

YOU:  “You gave 2 ideas as to how Christmas may have come about. The second one, I had never heard of before, that was interesting. You agreed with the first one.”

Yes, and I probably should have been more clear in stating that there are actually MORE than just these 2 ideas.  The second one was a new one to me, but certainly interesting and worthy of consideration.  The first one is the one I think is the most likely, but yes, there are others as well, including the one you hold to.  I am happy to allow your links to post, and at the end of the writing, I will post a few of mine, as well.  

My interest again, is not to debate this topic with you or tell you why you SHOULD celebrate Christmas.  Celebrating doesn’t make you any more spiritual, nor does my celebrating make me any less spiritual.  I am merely happy for everyone reading, to see both sides.

YOU:  “Personally I do not agree with the first one. We obviously have different views on how certain customs were developed and came into the traditions of “the Church”.

Brenton, I think the bigger issue is, that you CARE more about how things were developed.  I know that I detest anything that is part of false worship, but I do not believe that honoring Christ’s birth or decorating a tree, does that.  Regardless of whether some pagans centuries ago did it, as part of their false worship.  I serve a God that knows the heart, and again, many examples were given above, of practices that you would have no problem with, yet have their origins in pagan worship.  And many more will be posted later on in this reply.  

But be consistent, is all I am asking.

You seem more concerned with what WAS or might have possibly been….I’m more concerned with what IS.

You know, our wicked and secular society today, is waging war on Christmas.  It is now viewed as “Christian” in nature, and nobody (other than cultists or religious Pharisees, including some Independent Baptists in my own group) connects it with what pagans did centuries ago.  Many places are trying to change the name of it, to remove any mention of Christianity.  One school principle in the State of Texas, even went so far as to forbid students from wearing red or green, during the Christmas season.  SERIOUSLY??  Now colors are too “Christian”?  

The point is…There is no longer a pagan connotation to the celebration, as practiced today.  And any attempt to say for a certainty that it originated here, and in this manner, is speculation.  I can say with a clear conscience, that there is nothing in my home at Christmas, or any actions that we commit, that I would feel the need to change, if I knew Jesus was coming to my home in the flesh.  I believe He would know that He was the focus of it, and that I am grateful for the fact that He was born, because without His birth, there would not have been a death.

Mr. Hepburn, I was honestly surprised when I read a comment you made back in December, something to the effect of “His birth was not important…Only His death was important” .  I know that is not a direct quote, and I do not have the exact quote in front of me.  But I believe that is an accurate description of what you said.

YOU:  “For the sake of readers, I want to give a different, balancing, side of the discussion to the readers. Over many years I have read a lot of information about what scholars believe to have happened. The evidence leans most strongly to ward the acceptance of the Saturnalia  and other pagan ideas as a Christian celebration in order to please the people. (Make conversion easier)

So, you also acknowledge that there are several theories as to the origins, making it far from unanimous?  That is interesting, and it seems you are simply accepting of the “majority opinion”, which to me, means nothing.  

And even if it is the correct one, it really has nothing to do with a Christmas tree today, or honoring the birth of Christ Jesus.  Even the early leaders of the Watchtower, would agree with my statement.

At any rate, below are the links you provided, followed by the ones I will provide for the readers’ to research, if they are so inclined.

YOU:  The first evidence of the feast is from Egypt. About A.D. 200, from Clement of Alexandria.
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03724b.htm He is considerd by some to be the first Christan Philospoher to start intoduicng pagan ideas into “the church” Now <b>that is an interesting subject to look at.</b>
http://www.coptic.net/articles/clementofalexandria.txt
http://orthodoxwiki.org/Clement_of_Alexandria
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04045a.htm
When The Greeks conquered Egypt (circa 350 b.c.e.) the first Macedonian “Pharaoh” Ptolemy 1 wanted to unite the Greek and Egyptian cultures by combining several gods into one that all would be happy with, he in effect set himself up as a god like all the Pharaohs before him. He created a new god “Serapis” In the 2nd century AD Christians in Alexandria had adopted the icon of Seripas to represent Jesus. That is an interesting read in history of the journey as to how that pagan god become a symbol of “the church” The icon was officially adopted at the council of Nicaea along with other pagan philosophies.

The history of Serapis is reflected in the “hypothetical question” I posted “Serapis and Christ existed side-by-side and were frequently seen as interchangeable. Some early Christians made no distinction between Christ and Serapis and frequently worshiped both,“ http://dwij.org/forum/amarna/8_serapis_and_christianity.htm
Another site to read http://platonism347.tripod.com/serapis_religion.htm (The home page of that site is a must read on how the philosophy of Plato infected Christianity)
It is so sad the the link between Serapis and Jesus of “the church” is historically so strong that many people now use this connection to calm that Jesus, as a person, did not exist until the council of Nicaea. The pagan links of many “Christian” ideas can not be ignored. The word of God had been adulterated.
Here are a few an interesting links for any readers to look at on other Christmas beginnings
http://www.simpletoremember.com/vitals/Christmas_TheRealStory.htm

http://www.history.com/topics/christmas

http://www.christianity.com/church/church-history/timeline/6000-1-bc/clements-da

By the way that web site that you pointed to was very informative, it gives one of the Biblical ways of determining the birth of Jesus in October,(The Bible shows that there are two other Biblical ways to determine that month as well) That web site said nothing about the idea that - “Christians decide to have their own festival to <b>SUPPLANT the pagan one,”</b> .

The writer of the site did suggest that <b>“The theory went that Christians could get the heathen to convert by co-opting their holidays.” but gives no real indication that it is just a theory, when the evidence shows otherwise . That being said I am not going to try to convince you that your idea on Christmas is wrong.

Now all that being said. The point of my “hypothetical question” is, that what I presented is what history shows actually happened. It was a gradual introduction of “pagan” ideas” over a period of time. That at some time both the pagan and the so called “Christianized” adoption of the pagan ideas ran hand in hand. There was a lot of divisive influences happening and that is possibly the main reason Constantine called the council of Nicaea,to unit his divided realm

“When we study the of history of “the Church” we see that what I suggested by this question - Would you threaten those that did not comply with death or banishment? -is what happened after many of the pagan ideas were officially adopted by “the Church”. People were forced to believe or be banished, killed or live in secret and fear. That is a fact of history.”


But you asked me personally that question, Mr. Hepburn, and I replied that I would not threaten anyone with banishment or death.  Was the question directed to me, and what I would do?  There are a lot of things that happened historically in the name of religion, that I would not be a part of.  But just as those things have no bearing on what I would personally do, neither do they prove or disprove the rightness or wrongness of a certain teaching or practice.  

Like the recent posts from Rando about showing where some Baptist preachers somewhere molested children, and trying to show this is a result from their belief in the Trinity.  This is one of the most common, and ridiculous, debate fallacies that exists….Making an illogical and irrelevant connect between two unrelated topics.  Child molestation has gone on in ALL groups, including yours.  In fact, some of the most disturbing cases of such molestation, are in JW and Catholic religions.  Michael Porter is one of the most inhumane and sickening examples of such that I have ever read, and he was a JW, and repeated his offense time and time again.  I guess because Porter was a non-Trinitarian, that must’ve been what caused it.  If we use Rando’s logic, that is…

And by the way, Mr. Hepburn, religious extremists exist in many religions.  I have no doubt that if people like Rando, DW, or some other JW readers of this board were the rulers of this country, I would probably be in prison, or dead.  No doubt in my mind about it.  I’ve already been told by one JW, that he is looking forward to “spitting on my carcasse”….all because I do not accept the JW Organization as God’s sole channel of communication.  So, the idea of religious extremism, is not unique to non-JWs.


YOU:  “History testifies that the first century Christians followed the council given them both by the Hebrew Scripture writers (old testament) and what the Jesus and the apostles taught. Peter wrote that the first century Christians seems strange to the people of the nations - “Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you” 1 Peter 4:4 . -Why is that?”

Mr. Hepburn, it probably would’ve been better if you had put the above Scripture in context, rather than simply using one little line from part of the verse.  Had you done so, you would see from the preceeding verses, that it is referring to acts that are “sinful” (v. 1), following the “lusts of men” (v. 2), and wild partying involving sinful acts such as drunkenness, idolatry, sexual depravity” (v. 3).  I think when you place verse 4 in its proper context, you would see that.  And I believe I stated in my first reply, that if prior celebrations involved these types of behaviors, then it would have to stop after becoming a Christian, did I not?

That is the danger in simply trying to make a verse fit a preconceived belief or idea.  I think we are supposed to read the verse to derive the meaning out of it, instead of imposing a meaning into it.

So, I believe this point is irrelevant to decorating a tree, which you yourself have now acknowledged is not inherently sinful.


YOU:  “This is echoed in 2 Corinthians 6:15-17  “15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,” Christ would have nothing to do with any thing connected to pagan worship. It was unclean . A serious question is-AT what point does it become OK to start touching the unclean things of Satan???”

There is no “point that it becomes OK to start touching the unclean things of Satan”.  However, the flaw in your logic is, that a tree is not an “unclean thing of Satan”…It is a creation of God, to be enjoyed and used, despite what pagans did with it.  If you really want to take this to its logical conclusion, then you cannot turn around and validate the decorating of a tree year round in the town you mentioned, because as you want us to believe, the very act of decorating a tree with lights, etc, comes from paganism.  

Either its okay to decorate a tree apart from any pagan observance, or its NEVER ok.  Take your pick, but you can’t have it both ways.


YOU:  “Why were the Christians not to be part of the world and the things of the world?”

Mr. Hepburn, in your daily life, do you ever use or do ANYTHING at all, that has roots in paganism?  The days of the week, the months of the year, wedding ceremonies, wear black to a funeral, etc.?  Do you use a spoon or a fork when you eat?  Research the origin, and please tell me what happened to “touching the unclean things of Satan”, since pagans actually used these items in their religious ritual far before they became common-place?

If I may, I would like to give you a quote I came across in my research, which I think says it best….

“It would be impossible to eliminate all things from our lives that have pagan origins, nor are Christians called upon to do historical, etiological or etymological searches in order to know what to accept or how to live. It is unreasonable to selectively designate certain things (holidays, for example) that have pagan origins as unacceptable, while casually accepting others (wedding ceremonies and calendars, for example). Instead, all things must be tested and then handled appropriately.”

Again…CONSISTENCY.

Regarding weddings, do Jehovah’s Witness also forbid and judge people for other things that originated in paganism, such as….the bridal veil, the “kiss”, keeping the top layer of the wedding cake (or wedding cakes themselves, for that matter) for a year, and then eating it on their anniversary?  How about cutting the wedding cake and feeding it to each other?  

Are JW women allowed to wear make-up, considering that the most famous such recorded instance of this in the Bible, was Jezebel?  One of the most evil and wicked women to ever live, we are told, used make up.  Why would the context even need to mention this detail, unless it is trying to “tell us something” about make up?  (I am applying the JW logic in that question, not my own). Using the JW logic on birthdays, should we also conclude that the “Bible is trying to tell us something about make-up”?  I mean, think about it….Are you aware of any place in Scripture, that women wearing eye make up is spoken of in a POSITIVE way?  Wasn’t wearing eye make up viewed as a sign of prostitution?

Now, don’t get me wrong…My wife wears make up, and I see nothing wrong with it, when done in moderation.  I am not scolding Christian women for doing it.  I am simply taking your logic, to its ultimate conclusion, and calling on you to apply your own logic consistently.  

But if you want to apply your own logic to make up…It is spoken of negatively in the Scripture, and has ties to immorality and paganism.  So, how do you justify a JW woman doing it, if indeed, the fact of anything having a pagan origin, or having NO Biblical command to do it, is automatically a prohibition of it?

Furthermore….

Do you own wind chimes, Mr. Hepburn?  Are you forbidden to, or do you judge others who own them?

What about embalming a dead body?  Wasn’t this an ancient Egyptian practice?

And again, I have to mention and ask you about, the dreaded cat….There is simply no disputing that one.  They were worshipped and venerated.  But, is it wrong for a Christian to own one, dress it up, decorate it with a collar, or to buy a little figurine of one?  Please answer that question, Mr. Hepburn, if you would, Sir.
 
And let’s not even mention the belief of your own religion’s founder, Charles Russell, that the Pyramids were the key to understanding Bible prophecy.  Can’t get much more pagan than that.

 

YOU:  1 John 5:19 “the world lies in wickedness” That is Satan controls the thinking of those that do not want to follow the Christ. At what point do we start to let the things of Satan into our lives and not become contaminated to the point of displeasing God????

Again, in light of the above list of “pagan” practices, you tell me.  My position has been, and still is, that we are not to do ANYTHING in honor of pagan “gods”, or with any thought of them.  Nor are we to commit any acts, or honor any customs, that are inherently sinful.  

1 Corinthians 10:31-  “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”

In context, this was talking about PARTAKING of and EATING meat, that had been offered to idols…Yes, in pagan worship.  Wouldn’t you just think that such would be forbidden?  Why not ask Paul the same question you asked me?…“At what point do we start to let the things of Satan into our lives and not become contaminated to the point of displeasing God????

But really, wasn’t Paul’s answer much more in line with MY position, than with yours?  Didn’t Paul here explicitly state that eating such meat was not wrong, merely because it had been offered to false “gods”, which really didn’t exist anyway?  The reason he gave for abstaining from it, was NOT because it was “tainted” by the pagan worship, but only if it could be a cause for stumbling a weaker brother.

What is the Biblical principle here REALLY teaching, Mr. Hepburn?


YOU:  “We firmly believe that everything that is in the Bible is there for a reason. (2 Tim. 3:16, 17) If God punished the Israelites for slowly accepting pagan worship, the returning Israelites from Babylon were warned not to have any thing to do with pagan worship, the 1st century Christians were known for making a break from all pagan practices than why on earth would we want to introduce any of them again into any form of service to God?”

Yes, and I also firmly believe that everything that is in the Bible, is there for a reason.  But that reason is NOT for you, nor your religion, to use it as a means to go beyond its intent, and pass judgment on others.  And again, I believe you failed to consider EVERYTHING that is in the Bible, on this subject…Such as the Scripture above.  Furthermore, I do not believe that Jehovah’s Witnesses abstain from all things that have roots in pagan worship or practice, as illustrated above.


YOU:  “Our conscience is not giving Christians licence to adopt pagan ways. The date of December 25 and most of the customs were part of pagan worship of their gods.”

I agree with your first sentence.  But again, do not your own people do this very thing, by permitting the things listed above?  Or can we simply pick and choose where we want to apply it, and judge everyone else who does it differently?


Now, what follows, are the links for the readers to consider.  Some of them are better than others, although I am enclosing a wide variety, merely for the information they contain.


http://www.str.org/articles/is-christmas-pagan#.UwEQ8rCYaUk

(NOTE:  In the above link, there are some statements I do not agree with, such as when the writer suggests that the Bible isn’t against smoking or drinking.  I believe that it is against smoking in principle, and against drinking in both principle and statement.  There is no Bible principle violated in celebrating Christ’s birth, however.  I enclosed the above link, for the information it contains, and do not necessarily endorse all of the statements in any of them.  Although, I do agree with many of the valid points it makes.  It is one of those articles where you have to “eat the meat, and spit out the bones“.)


http://www.livescience.com/25779-christmas-traditions-history-paganism.html

(The above link is a fairly balanced treatment of the subject, with some statements that agree with you, and some that agree with me)


The following link was, I think, from a Catholic perspective.  Again, I am listing it to let the readers see the merits of the various arguments, and weigh for themselves and their own consciences before God, if celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ and decorating a tree are, in fact, wicked and pagan practices.

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/2971709/posts


Another pretty balanced treatment of this subject, is found here….

http://www.gci.org/church/holidays/paganism



This next link, although written by a Lutheran minister, gave what I believe is a pretty good and balanced treatment of this subject.  Perhaps the best of all the links provided.  While again, not agreeing with every statement, I believe it presents a good and accurate approach, for the most part.

http://www.orlutheran.com/html/chrmas_pagan1.html


Its like this, Mr. Hepburn.  You want to know about whether or not pagan converts to Christianity should immediately stop any and ALL customs that they had, prior to becoming believers.  Scripturally, if they were doing something sinful (sexual orgies, human sacrifice, etc), then that would obviously have to cease.  Nor is it acceptable to take images of their previous false “gods”, and just say…”Well, we can let this idol represent Jesus, now”.

However, let’s just say that part of their religious customs involved meeting yearly at a nice restaurant, reserving a special room and offering a prayer to their false god, discussing their worship to it, and then eating a nice meal.  Upon becoming followers of Christ, would it be inappropriate for them to carry on their prior tradition of eating at this same restaurant, reserving this same room, but now, praying to the God of Heaven, and rejoicing together in their salvation, and then eating a nice meal?

I think not, and I believe you are sensible enough to agree.  Basically, they are doing the SAME thing that they did before, but with a different focus.  And the reason its permissible, is that the activity in and of itself, was not wrong.  It was the way it was being misused.  

Of particular interest, Mr. Hepburn, was a statement found in the above link, with I believe mirrors the logic that you and other Witnesses attempt to use, but do not apply consistently across the board.  I quote…..“We worship our God on Sunday, which in Roman times, was the day dedicated to the Sun-god. Does that make our worship on Sunday pagan? Perhaps we should worship on Saturday. But that day in Roman times was named in honor of the god Saturn. Would that make our festivals on Saturday pagan? Of course not. But this is the kind of faulty logic used by the "Christmas is pagan" crowd.”

Now, as I recall, the Kingdom Halls have their main meeting and Watchtower Study on Sunday, do they not?  So does my church.  You are aware, are you not, that there are groups that claim this practice originated in paganism?  I believe there is Biblical justification for meeting on Sunday, however, we both must be honest and admit that there is NO SCRIPTURAL command to do so.  Basically, the same argument that you use against Christmas.  

How about music in the service?  Every Kingdom Hall I have ever attended, has music.  Normally played through a sound system, however, I was in one Kingdom Hall that actually had a piano.  However, the Church of Christ group would point out that there is no command in Scripture TO use musical instruments.  However, this argument falls flat, as there is no command/principle that would prohibit it, either.  

Another quote later in this same article, that I thought was interesting, is this….

“Is everything that was once used by paganism centuries ago, now off limits when Christians apply them to Christmas or other Christian festivals? Are we prepared to strictly apply that to everything we do? Why can't we use some of the same words, symbols or customs, which long ago ceased to be used in the worship of false gods? We need to remember that before pagans coopted them centuries ago, God had given many of the things used in custom, as good gifts to be enjoyed by his people. Why then can Christians not redeem these good gifts for their use as they celebrate Christmas?”

Think about what you are saying, Mr. Hepburn.  By taking the position that you do, you are basically saying that NOTHING that has ever been misused by pagans, is appropriate for a Christian to use.  That is a tough position to take, or defend, in my opinion.  That is why your original question about the heathen tribes, could not be given a simple answer.  There are simply too many angles that need to be considered.

In closing, I will simply close with this question.  By what Scriptural authority, do you disregard the clear and simple command found in Romans 14:4, 5, 10-12?.…

“Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.”

One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.”

“But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.

So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.”

Especially when you are doing it, based on condemning a practice for which you have no verse prohibiting the practice, either in statement, or in principle?

This is sort of what is meant by the statement about teaching for doctrines, the commandments of men.

What is obvious, however, is that there is no solid proof of ANY of the proposed theories.  Some have more merit than others, and some are questionable.  However, what a Christian is to consider, is whether or not his current practice is one that is Scripturally forbidden or frowned upon, and whether pagans misusing something centuries ago, automatically means that Christians are “bowing down” to paganism if they utilize these things in a God-honoring manner.

And by the way, for all the JWs here lately who have been accusing us of following “Roman Catholic teachings”, but who themselves hold to Friday as being the day of Christ’s death, well, you might want to research where that particular notion came from, as well.  Just saying….

In conclusion, Mr. Hepburn, you have every right to decide not to set aside a day for the remembrance of Christ’s birth.  That is your privilege, and has no bearing on your Christian life.  However, neither are those who do choose to do so, any less of a Christian for doing it.  The only ones violating Scripture here, are the ones who are ignoring the command to not make “observing days”, a means of judging other Christians, and instead, letting God be the Judge of their heart, and their actions.  

Jehovah`s Witness

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Derrick Holland

Expertise

I was raised in the religion known as Jehovah`s Witnesses for 13 years. Since becoming a born-again Christian, I have researched extensively this religion, especially their doctrines and their history. I can answer questions about their doctrines from the perspective of Biblical Christianity. To be clear: Jehovahs Witnesses is the religion of my upbringing, though I myself was never baptized into the religion, nor have I ever been considered as a Jehovahs Witness.

Experience

29 years of Biblical research into the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith, and how they differ from the teachings of the Watchtower.

Organizations
I would advise each questioner to this forum, to carefully READ the profiles of the various volunteers. There are several such as myself, who are not practicing JWs, but will provide you with an accurate and honest answer, regarding JW teaching. If we don't know the answer, we will try to research and get it for you. There are also some excellent practicing JWs here, who also endeavor to give you a factual and honest answer, based on their point of view. I believe by getting both points of view, the questioner can weigh the evidence for themselves, and make an informed decision. Unfortunately, there are also 3 here who claim to be JWs, but do NOT give honest, or well-researched answers. They will tell you only what they want you to believe, and they often hide facts about the history of their religion, as well as print untruths about other people's beliefs. This is done in an attempt to deceive the unsuspecting reader. It can be easily seen who these 3 are, simply by reading the public posts and "answers" which they write. Their posts will normally be filled with personal attacks, and if you question them about some teaching or aspect of the Watchtower that makes them uncomfortable, they will often reject your question, question your motives for asking it, tell you that you have been reading "apostate" sites, or turn the conversation into an attack on another expert. These ones are better avoided, as there is nothing to be gained by way of positive discussion, as they are not interested in intelligent conversation, or honest dialogue. If after reading the forum, you still have any questions as to who they are, just ask me, and I will be happy to tell you. And I can also provide documentation of their willful dishonesty. One thing is for certain...in a forum where people from both sides claim to be "Christians", there should never be any willful lying. Such ones only create a distraction in the forum, and provide nothing of any real value.

Education/Credentials
High School, some college. Studies of God's Word, the Bible, and how it compares to JW theology. I have found my own personal study and experiences to be far more valuable than any formal education or training. The Bible message is clear...Salvation is ONLY through and by the shed blood of Jesus Christ, and no religious organization has a thing to do with it. While attendance at a Bible-preaching, Bible-believing church is a must for spiritual growth and fellowship, no church can grant salvation to its members. Nor is joining a particular group a prerequisite for being saved.

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