Worshipping the Christmas Tree? Responding to the Anti-Christmas, Anti-Easter Cult

Is it sinful to celebrate the birth of Christ on December 25? A growing number of professing Christians are claiming it is, but their arguments are extremely poor.

Is it sinful to celebrate the birth of Christ on December 25? A growing number of professing Christians are claiming it is, but their arguments are extremely poor.

It’s that time of year again. Many Americans will be stressed due to a frenzied schedule of shopping, ugly-sweater contests, Christmas parties, baking, and family gatherings. Meanwhile, a small, but growing and increasingly vocal group of people are making their own mark on the holiday season. I call them the Anti-Christmas Cult. Oh, they also come out at Easter time.

To be fair, I don’t really believe these people have formed a cult, but this description does not seem too far from the mark when you witness the way many of them behave when the words “Christmas” or “Easter” are used. If you are not really familiar with this group, you won’t have to look hard to find them. Actually, they will make an effort to find you to tell you how pagan and evil it is to celebrate Christmas and Easter.

I work for a ministry that uses this time of year to share the good news that the Son of God became one of us so that through His sacrificial death, burial, and Resurrection, we could be saved from our sins. Every year in December we post articles that help clear up some of the misconceptions that people have about the birth of Christ as described in Matthew and Luke. We do not tell anyone that they must celebrate Christmas, but encourage those who decide to celebrate the holiday to focus on Christ rather than all the extra-biblical traditions. And every year dozens, if not hundreds of people jump all over our Facebook posts to tell everyone how pagan Christmas is and how sinful it is for people to celebrate the birth of Christ at this time of year.

Many of the attacks come from people involved in what has been called the Hebrew Roots Movement. These are not Jewish people, but professing Christians who have been caught up in the idea that Christians are supposed to follow selected portions of the Mosaic Law. It’s one thing to seek to understand Old Testament teachings to gain a deeper understanding of Scripture, but these people go far beyond that. Just as the heretical Judaizers of the 1st century added works of the Law to the gospel message (making it a false “gospel”), the Hebrew Roots Movement has added arbitrarily selected elements of the Law to the Christian message.

There are some really sad elements to this movement. First and foremost, many of the folks are in danger of denying the gospel because they behave as if a person can only be saved if he follows the Law of Moses—well, at least the portions of it that they highlight (primarily the Levitical feasts and dietary laws). A brief study of Galatians should disavow them of such legalizing practices, but sadly they ignore Paul’s plain instruction in this book (see especially Galatians 5:18 and James 2:10). Second, I believe they unwittingly disparage the Jewish people through their actions—they mispronounce and misspell Hebrew names while acting as if they are true Jews. Third, they use a vast array of fallacious arguments based on careless research and misinterpretations of Scripture.

Neo-Judaizers are quite vocal in their opposition to Christmas and Easter.

Neo-Judaizers are quite vocal in their opposition to Christmas and Easter.

One of the major claims of this group is that the Bible forbids the use of Christmas trees in Jeremiah 10. This notion is an absurd interpretation of a passage that speaks against the carving and decoration of wooden idols to be worshipped. I have never heard of a Christian worshipping a tree, and I have never put up a tree in my house, but that has not stopped these folks from accusing me of violating the supposed prohibition against Christmas trees in Jeremiah 10. [Update on 11/27/16: My wife found an artificial tree for $5 last year and has put that up. When I wrote the article two years ago, I had not put up a tree.]

I have written elsewhere to deal with many of the false claims and faulty arguments of this movement so I won’t elaborate on them here (see links at end of post for more details). I want to close this post by sharing a piece of satire I worked on with a friend a few years back. This is not directed at those who simply choose to not celebrate Christmas at this time of year; Christians have every right to not celebrate Christmas since we are not commanded to do it. But Christians also have the right to celebrate the birth of Christ on December 25 or on any other day of the year. This satirical article is directed at those who obnoxiously attack Christians with Jeremiah 10 whenever they hear the word “Christmas” uttered or see it posted in social media.

Seven Ways to Avoid Worshipping Your Christmas Tree
(A satirical critique of a fallacious argument against Christmas trees by Chuck and Tim)

Thus saith the LORD, learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.
For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.
They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good. (Jeremiah 10:2–5, KJV)

Right here in Scripture we see a clear condemnation of the abominable practice of decorating Christmas trees. Yet God is merciful. Repent, and you will be forgiven for your past transgressions.

However, the appeal to decorate a Christmas tree may be a strong one. In many cases, this pagan ritual has become so deeply entrenched in our family traditions that it can be hard to give up.

With that in mind, and with Scripture as our guide, here are seven principles you can use to continue decorating your tree, while preventing yourself from inadvertently worshipping it.

1. Know where your tree comes from.
The Bible specifically warned about one who “cutteth a tree out of the forest.” Therefore, you must obtain your tree elsewhere.
You certainly can’t risk buying one from a store. Who knows where those came from?
It’s probably best to just find a tree growing by the side of the road—far from a forest—and cut it down.

2. Cut it down the correct way.
The Bible also talks about pagans cutting down their trees “with the axe.” We must eschew this detestable instrument of demolition.
Stick with safer tools like chainsaws or laser beams.
Alternatively, you may avoid both of the pitfalls above by simply buying a fake tree.

3. Get a tree that talks and/or moves.
There is yet another advantage to purchasing a fake tree. Some of them come with a built-in speaker, allowing them to “sing” or “talk.” This would counteract the warning that trees “speak not.”
Other fake trees are mounted on a base that rotates, thus invalidating the warnings about their being unable to “move” or “go.”

Is this really what Jeremiah 10 speaks against? Only the Christmas tree is an idol that you worship.

Is this really what Jeremiah 10 speaks against? Only if the Christmas tree is an idol that you worship.

4. Be careful how you mount it.
This is one of the more important warnings. When the pagans get a Christmas tree, “they fasten it with nails and with hammers.” We must not do likewise.
Instead of hammers and nails, try using duct tape, glue sticks, or zip ties.

5. Mount it in the correct position.
The tools you use to mount your tree aren’t the only things that matter. The position of the mounted tree is also vitally important.
The Bible warns about trees that are as “upright as the palm tree.” Therefore, your tree should at the very least be mounted at a distinct angle.
But just to be safe, we’d advise mounting it completely sideways from a wall.

6. Decorate it properly.
This is probably the most obvious piece of advice, but it is extremely important. Whatever you do, do not place any gold or silver decorations on your tree!
All other colors should be fine, but there had better not be a scrap of silver tinsel on there!

7. Place presents carefully.
One final obstacle will stand in your way. When placing a present under the tree, you run the risk of accidentally bowing to it. This would be an unacceptable act of pagan worship!
Your best bet is to order presents online. Then, when delivery men show up, have them place the packages directly under the tree themselves. Thus, they will act as scapegoats, averting any wrath away from your own household.
However, you may at times have to place the packages yourself. If that is the case, I would advise holding the present behind you going backward to the tree with it, similar to how Shem and Japheth covered their father, Noah (Genesis 9:23, KJV).

We said we have seven principles for you, but we actually have one more: Learn to interpret your Bible in context.

Whether you choose to celebrate the birth of Christ on December 25 or choose not to celebrate it, serve the Lord wholeheartedly in whatever you are doing that day and every other day of the year.

Here are links to my responses to some of the other arguments against celebrating Christmas:

Common Misconceptions about Christmas
More Christmas Misconceptions—Part One
More Christmas Misconceptions—Part Two
Christmas Misconceptions: Legalism or License
Merry Christmas!

Thanks for reading!

About Tim Chaffey

I am the founder of Midwest Apologetics and work as the Content Manager with the Attractions Division of Answers in Genesis. I have written (or co-authored) several books, including In Defense of Easter, God and Cancer, The Sons of God and the Nephilim, and The Truth Chronicles Series (see the publications page for more details). Please note: the opinions expressed on this site are my own and do not necessarily represent the views of Answers in Genesis.

Comments

Worshipping the Christmas Tree? Responding to the Anti-Christmas, Anti-Easter Cult — 21 Comments

  1. Several years ago I realized Jesus didn’t ask us to remember his birthday or his crucifixion. Paul said during the “Last Supper” for Passover Jesus told his disciples to remember him with the cup and the bread. Of course it is wonderful to remember Jesus as the best gift ever given to this world!

    • Hi Marcia,
      It is true that Jesus didn’t ask us to remember or celebrate His birthday. Although the Bible tells us that plenty of people and angels celebrated when Jesus was born, so believers can certainly follow their example in celebrating His birth (even if we don’t know which day it was on).
      Also, as you mention, Jesus did say that we would remember Him through the ordinance of communion, however, Paul added, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26). So communion is not so much a remembrance of the “last supper,” but of His sacrificial death on the Cross. And of course, the apostles proclaimed the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus everywhere they went, so they obviously celebrated these events, and believers are free to celebrate them as well. And in this case, we do know the day that He rose from the dead, but I believe we should celebrate it every day.
      Thanks for reading!

  2. Actually, the gospel account indicates the season that Christ was bor. Witness the fact that the shepherds were in the field. Around the Jerusalem area there are no sheep grazing in the winter; and there is every indication that the census of Rome was timed for one of the Holy Days like the Feast of Tabernacles, when throngs crowded the towns around Jerusalem.

    There is also a timing calculation that I read some time ago based on the serving in the temple by the father of John the Baptist. That along with the months for John’s birth also supported a fall birth for Christ.

    The issue for me personally is not the date of Christ’s birth, but that the Eternal has His days that He prefers for His people to observe, because they define the plan of salvation. And any new moons and feasts are considered by Him an abomination. So, Christianizing a day or a place does not make it holy in the eyes of the Eternal.

    • Frank,
      There is no reason why shepherds could not have been tending their flocks near Bethlehem in the winter. We’re not talking about Wisconsin here. The average overnight temperatures in that region are not too cold for shepherds to spend the night outdoors. The Bible speaks of another shepherd who used to spend the night outside in an even colder climate. In Genesis 31:38–40, Jacob tells Laban that he had watched the sheep in the drought of the day and in the frost of the night. A simple check of the Weather Channel website can give you the average temperatures in December for Bethlehem.
      There is no reason why Rome would time their census to coincide with a feast of the Jews, although nothing would rule that out either.
      In my response to Anonymouse, I explained why the timing based on the order of Abijah fails. There is simply no way for us to know when his order would have come up. Also, there is no way to know how long after his service Elizabeth would have conceived, and there’s no way to know if Mary’s pregnancy was the full forty weeks. There are just too many unknowns to establish a date with any certainty based on these ideas.
      Since you repeatedly have referred to the festivals that God established in Leviticus (it’s okay to use “God” instead of “the Eternal”—the Bible does), I wonder if you have a problem with Hanukkah or Purim. They are festivals that were celebrated by the Jewish people during the New Testament, and Jesus may very well have celebrated them too, yet they were not established by God in the Old Testament.

      • Did you factor in saturnalia and nimrods birthday .. it’s not that it’s a sin it’s useless in God’s eyes. “filthy rags”

        • Ace,
          Saturnalia was from December 17-23, but it wouldn’t matter if it was celebrated on December 25th. Christians who celebrate Christmas are not worshiping the Roman god Saturn on that day.
          Please cite your source regarding Nimrod’s birthday.

  3. I have never celebrated Christmas; mainly because of the pagan traditions/origins. After all, December 25th is the celebration of the Winter solstice (originally). I’m assuming that you do know that Christ wasn’t born in the winter months at all.
    I’m not Jewish or Hebrew or anything like that; just a Caucasian American.
    I don’t wish to participate in any of the commercialization or hectic shopping or superfluous money spending etc….
    I choose to focus on Jesus daily though.

    Christ’s death is far more important than His birth in the long run. We should be spreading the GOOD NEWS of why He died for us most of all.

    • Anonymous(e),
      As I mentioned in the post, Christians are clearly not commanded to celebrate Christmas, so it’s fine if you choose not to do it. Although it would be wrong for you to assume that those who do celebrate it are necessarily caught up in any pagan traditions, hectic shopping, superfluous money spending, etc.
      The winter solstice occurs around December 21st not the 25th. I’m curious if it would be wrong for a person to celebrate their own birthday on December 21st since it is the winter solstice.
      How would I know that Jesus was not born in the winter months? Since the Bible doesn’t tell us when He was born, how could I know when it did not happen? There is nothing in the text that forbids a winter birthday, even December 25.
      Praise God that you focus on Jesus daily. That is the focus of my blog posts on Christmas (see links at bottom of the article). Whether one chooses to celebrate Christmas or not, Christians should be focused on the Savior at all times.
      Finally, we certainly should be spreading the good news that He died for us, but please don’t forget to include what happened three days later when He conquered death by rising from the dead. Too many Christians neglect this vital truth.

      • Thank you for your comments.
        I don’t believe it’s wrong to celebrate one’s birthday on the solstice. I know the exact day is the 21st but the celebration around Christmas (the 25th)started out with a lot of winter solstice traditions. Mostly pagan type things from what I have read over the years. This was a ‘holiday’ that was “christianized” over the years.

        I wanted to answer your question regarding Christ’s birth. Actually, we can prove he was born in the Autumn- probably Sept or early Oct sometime.
        Here are some links that will show the evidence of that.
        I believe it’s proof enough.
        http://www.cgg.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Library.sr/CT/ARTB/k/568/When-Was-Jesus-Born.htm

        http://www.ucg.org/bible-faq/which-scriptures-explain-when-jesus-christ-was-born

        http://rcg.org/questions/p002.a.html

        • Hi Anonymouse,
          Thank you for your civil reply. I appreciate it when people can discuss these matters without resorting to all sorts of name-calling. Regarding the timing of Christ’s birth, there are significant problems with trying to establish it based on when the order of Abijah served in the temple. Here is what I wrote in an earlier post on Christmas:

          Some have made a more elaborate claim based on the fact that Zacharias (the father of John the Baptist) was a priest in the order of Abijah (Luke 1:5). 1 Chronicles 24:10 states that the order of Abijah would be the eighth division to serve in the Temple. As such, we can calculate when Zacharias served. From this, it is assumed that his wife Elizabeth conceived immediately after his time of service, that Mary conceived exactly six months later, and that she had a normal-length pregnancy.
          In reality, none of these things can be known with any certainty. We cannot figure out exactly when the order of Abijah served at that time. The Temple was out of commission for roughly 70 years during the Babylonian captivity and again for a few years due to the desecration of Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Also, when the Jews returned after their captivity, they did not have all of the divisions of priests right away. In Ezra and Nehemiah, various lists are given of these divisions. In one, Abijah is not even listed, while it appears as 11th, 12th, and 17th in the others. Also, we simply cannot know the other factors listed above.

          The first link you provided claimed that this order was strictly kept from the time of David until the destruction of the temple in AD 70, but Scripture very clearly states otherwise. The post I linked to above also addresses the notions that it couldn’t have been in December because it was too cold, and the idea that it had to be at the Feast of Tabernacles. I find it fascinating that some of the people who are opposed to December 25th as the date of His birth push for late September. If He were truly born in late September (which we cannot know), then He would have been conceived in late December. So there would still be cause to celebrate at this time of year.
          The truth is that we don’t know what day He was born on, and it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that we seek to glorify Him in all the we do and say. If that includes celebrating His birth at a certain time of year, then do it as unto the Lord. If it does not include celebrating His birth, then continue to do all things unto the Lord.

      • Yes the Bible calls them pagan but let’s believe no brains here..wait why is Jesus not invited to most of his own birthday parties but fat Satan cause is.. that’s because there heathens involved in pagan worship…

        • This comment is irrelevant to the post. Guess what? A lot of people do pagan things on Saturdays and on Sundays, and on every other day of the week. Does that mean that we cannot worship God on any day of the week? But it gets worse for those of us who speak English. Every day of the week is named after a pagan god, so would that mean that we could never worship God? Of course not. The point of my post was to encourage Christians to serve God every day of the year, whether they choose to celebrate the birth of Christ (on December 25 or any other day) or choose not to celebrate the birth of Christ at all.
          Just because others might be distracted by Santa and other trappings does not mean that every Christian who celebrates the birth of Christ is guilty of engaging in pagan practices. How illogical.

  4. Once again with respect, I see a major issue has to do with your misunderstanding of the terms Jewish vs Israel; not unusual due to your more denominational approach rather than biblical approach, which you tout so well in your books. Fact is not all Israelites are Jews; and the book of Kings has “Israel at war with the Jews.” So, your quote of the Eternal about the children of Israel refers to ALL the tribes of which Judah is only a single tribe, one of twelve. So, those laws refer to all the tribes, of which my bet is you are a member of one.

    Second, your reference to Paul and Galations misses the context about justification. Being under grace does NOT mean you can go out and break the law again. You cannot go out a kill or commit adultery; yet, you write as though Christ has given you license under grace. You cannot have it both ways by saying to follow God but then allowing the keeping of days which offend Him. Seriously, you need to reconsider your words as you can mislead God’s children into error with too much denominational leaning.

    • Frank,
      Thank you for keeping this civil. In my experience, this is seldom done by those who disagree with me on this issue, so I thank you for that.
      That being said, your attempt to distinguish between Israel and Jew is inaccurate. Yes, there was a time during the days of the Divided Kingdom (after Solomon’s death) where Israel referred to the Northern Kingdom and Judah to the Southern Kingdom. However, following the exile to Babylon, these terms were really not distinguished. The term “Jew” is rarely used in the Old Testament outside of Esther, but it is frequently used in the New Testament to refer to all Israelites, regardless of which tribe they came from. Paul considered himself an Israelite, a Hebrew, and a Jew, because these terms were often used interchangeably. I’d be interested to know what “denominational approach” I am using and what basis you have for thinking that I am a member of one of the tribes.
      Paul’s main point throughout Galatians is that we are not under the Law. Those who are in Christ and free from the Law. Of course that doesn’t mean that we can go around murdering people or committing adultery. Those things were wrong before the Law of Moses (Genesis 9:6; Genesis 39:9) and they are also forbidden for Christians, but not because we are under the Mosaic Law. It’s simply that those things were also included in the Mosaic Law, along with 611 other commands. Do you keep all of them? If not, then as James wrote, you are guilty of breaking them all.

  5. With respect, I believe it is your arguments that are extremely poor. The Feasts of the Eternal are very clear; they define the process of redemption. It is also clear that the Eternal hates our feast and new moons. So, this whole idea that you can make anything kosher just because you put/keep Christ’s name in it is idolatrous to say the least; the Catholic Church used this very tactic to convert pagans, while merely changing the name of the statues.

    Remember that in the millennium that all nations that do not come up and worship during the Feast of Tabernacles will not receive rain. In that respect, the Feasts of the Eternal have not been abrogated by Him; including the Sabbath, which was Christ’s custom to observe.

    • Frank,
      The main problem with your argument is that the festivals described in Leviticus were for the Jewish people under the Law of Moses. Leviticus 23 begins with these words, “And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: “The feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My fests.”‘”
      I am not a Jew and I am not under the Mosaic Law. In your view, are Hanukkah and Purim okay? They were not commanded in Leviticus yet the Jews celebrate them. Jesus did not condemn the Jews for celebrating these days, and He probably celebrated Hanukkah.
      Also, do you keep the whole Law? James 2:10 says, “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.” The entire book of Galatians was written to show us that we are not under the Law. Paul made it very clear that we are not commanded to keep the festivals (Colossians 2 and Romans 14). Those who seek to place themselves under the Law must keep all of it. Thankfully, we have liberty in Christ.
      Finally, the reason the feasts will be observed during the Millennium is because the Millennium is primarily for the Jewish people. We are not in that dispensation at this time, and Gentile Christians are not required to keep the Levitical feasts.

  6. Interesting article… take the time to read my commentary on the subject… I will add your link of this article on my web page
    [Link removed for review purposes]

    Merry Christmas?

  7. Dear Tim –

    I’m sure you had lots of fun writing this post and, yes, some of the arguments against Christmas and Easter (“Ishtar”) are weak. But some deserve serious discussion. I’d appreciate your loving rebuke, or at least Christian balance, to the thoughts posted here:

    http://stevekerp.wordpress.com/2014/12/09/trivializing-christ/

    I’m not Hebrew Roots, nor am I a Judaizer. Most Christian ministries probably claim they use this season to point people to Christ. Many use this season to appeal for last-minute tax deductions via ministry support.

    Point people toward Baby Jesus in the manger is NOT pointing people toward Christ and, as you have previously pointed out, the thing we’re supposed to remember as the gospel is the death, burial and resurrection. Nothing in there about the birth and you know the early church didn’t deal with it.

    Very best,

    Steve

    • Steve,
      I would agree with much of what you wrote, except that the word Easter has nothing to do with Ishtar. This is a very common misconception. Easter is derived from an old German word (oster), which referred to the rising of the sun from the east. This came from an older Teutonic word (auferstehung) that meant resurrection.
      I’ll try to take a look at the link you provided in the near future. I agree that many ministries focus on fund-raising and point to the Child in the nativity scene rather than pointing people to the crucified and resurrected Savior. Although I think it is perfectly acceptable to celebrate the birth of Christ—the shepherds and angels sure did—and to praise God for the greatest gift ever given to man.
      God bless!

      • Are you telling me rabbits and eggs don’t have anything to do with Ishtar but they do with Christ jesus. Brother do not be decieved we must be concious to the devil devices.. I’m done paganism is real it’s in America and God is against it period.

        • Find me a primary source that connects Ishtar with eggs and rabbits. One of her symbols was a lion. Does that mean that Christians can’t refer to Jesus as the Lion of the tribe of Judah? The whole idea that the word “Easter” comes from Ishtar is nonsense. And even if it did, it wouldn’t matter because Christians celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ at that time of year. We should celebrate it every day of the year. If someone were to teach a child that the celebration is only about bunnies and eggs, then that would be wrong. If someone celebrates Christ’s victory over death at that time, then it doesn’t matter if they happen to eat a Cadbury Egg or two.

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