No X-Mas trees for Bible believers?

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    Nov 15, 2008 12:35 PM GMT
    I am non-religious, so maybe I don't understand but regarding the Bible quote in red below...

    1) Should Christians be activists against x-mas trees otherwise they are denying their faith?
    2) It can be argued that these versus are part of a larger context, but don't select quotes get used against gays in this manner at times?
    3) Is this another part of the Biblical law that this variety of believer says that their messiah changed, even though it says that bit about the jots and tittles?


    I had never come across this before and thought it was interesting. I did not do a ton of research on the matter, but I did Google it and I realize that it is controversial.

    Jeremiah 10:1-4

    1 Hear what the LORD says to you, O house of Israel.
    2 This is what the LORD says:
    "Do not learn the ways of the nations
    or be terrified by signs in the sky,
    though the nations are terrified by them.
    3 For the customs of the peoples are worthless;
    they cut a tree out of the forest,
    and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel.

    4 They adorn it with silver and gold;
    they fasten it with hammer and nails
    so it will not totter.

  • NickoftheNort...

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    Nov 15, 2008 4:23 PM GMT
    One way of reading the verses you selected is as an admonishment against the creation of idols and not Christmas trees (though such an admonishment could have implications for decorating churches and similar affectations).

    Keep in mind that Christmas trees have Germanic roots: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_tree#Roots
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    Nov 15, 2008 7:54 PM GMT
    I was in the bookstore last night and there is a book called the "Purpose of Christmas". It says God gave us Christmas.

    The problem is God did not give us christmas. It is a pagan holiday that was adopted by the christians.
  • NickoftheNort...

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    Nov 15, 2008 8:09 PM GMT
    krush saidI was in the bookstore last night and there is a book called the "Purpose of Christmas". It says God gave us Christmas.

    The problem is God did not give us christmas. It is a pagan holiday that was adopted by the christians.

    It's good ol' sun worship, marking the the longest night of the year and the coming of an earlier dawn. Christianity retooled the clichés and claimed them for itself (a common practice for relative-late-comer religions). Jesus is not the reason for the season; his retconned birthday is simply Christian make-up on the old practices of humanity.
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    Nov 15, 2008 8:47 PM GMT
    Well, the book of Jeremiah was written before there even was this thing called Jesus. Also, the Christmas tree is a German cultural tradition. So the two are separated by a wide gulf of time and distance to really be related.
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    Nov 15, 2008 8:59 PM GMT
    Along this vein. It is well known that Christmas is hardly an early christian thing. Like most modern "Christian" holidays it was adopted and transformed from other cultures and paganism.

    Historically Christmas was as far as outlawed in the early U.S.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas#Reformation_into_the_19th_centuryIn Colonial America, the Puritans of New England disapproved of Christmas. Celebration was outlawed in Boston from 1659 to 1681. At the same time, Christian residents of Virginia and New York observed the holiday freely. Pennsylvania German Settlers, pre-eminently the Moravian settlers of Bethlehem, Nazareth and Lititz in Pennsylvania and the Wachovia Settlements in North Carolina, were enthusiastic celebrators of Christmas. The Moravians in Bethlehem had the first Christmas trees in America as well as the first Nativity Scenes. Christmas fell out of favor in the United States after the American Revolution, when it was considered an English custom.

    Also
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas#Christmas_tree_and_other_decorationsThe Christmas tree is often explained as a Christianization of pagan tradition and ritual surrounding the Winter Solstice, which included the use of evergreen boughs, and an adaptation of pagan tree worship.[48] The English language phrase "Christmas tree" is first recorded in 1835[46] and represents an importation from the German language. The modern Christmas tree tradition is believed to have begun in Germany in the 18th century[48] though many argue that Martin Luther began the tradition in the 16th century.[49][50] From Germany the custom was introduced to England, first via Queen Charlotte, wife of George III, and then more successfully by Prince Albert during the reign of Queen Victoria. Around the same time, German immigrants introduced the custom into the United States.[51]
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    Nov 15, 2008 9:04 PM GMT
    One religious organization I belonged to (that adhered more closely to Hebrew traditions) long ago characterized things like in Jeremiah as idols or totems. We would refer to stuff like that as Asherah poles ..

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asherah_poleAn Asherah pole is a sacred tree or pole that stood near Canaanite religious locations to honor the Ugaritic mother-goddess Asherah.[1]

    It was also a symbol of worship of the Hebrew Goddess Asherah, the consort of Yahweh, during the time when the Hebrews followed the typical pattern of Levantine worship, focused on an Earth Mother and her snake consort.[2] The role of the Asherah reflected in the texts was likely rewritten and reinterpreted by the followers of Ezra, upon the return of the Jews from captivity and the writing of the Priestly text.[3] Though there was certainly a movement against goddess-worship at the Jerusalem Temple in the time of king Josiah, it did not long survive his reign, as the following four kings "did what was evil in the eyes of the Lord" (2 Kings 23:32, 37; 24:9, 19). Further exhortations came from Jeremiah.

    Read the full article for Hebrew and Archaeological context.
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    Nov 15, 2008 9:05 PM GMT
    is an atheist (non-religious) quoting the bible and trying to use logic to catch religious people in a contradiction?

    the last thing that religious people are going to respond to is logic. i suggest tricking them into their non belief.

    christians as a majority have not even read their sacred book.
    atheists, agnostics, secular humanists, areligious, brights have most likely read it and do not believe because they have read it.


    festivus.jpg

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    Nov 15, 2008 9:24 PM GMT
    krush saidI was in the bookstore last night and there is a book called the "Purpose of Christmas". It says God gave us Christmas.

    The problem is God did not give us christmas. It is a pagan holiday that was adopted by the christians.

    The religious right also insists that God gave us marriage and defined it as one man and one woman (except in the case of Solomon and his 400 wives, or Isaac and Abraham with their multiple wives, but disregard that).

    Having once been religious and deferred to the Biblical interpretations of people who (it now seems) made up a lot of their opinions on the fly and without much rationality, I don't really care what the Bible says anymore. Any nutjob can look at obscure passages in the Bible (and they often do) and come up with the most novel interpretations.

    And people who tell you that their interpretation of the Bible is clearly correct are delusional. The very fact that no one has been able to come up with one clear interpretation of the Bible is manifest by the many dozens, if not hundreds, of different church denominations.
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    Nov 15, 2008 9:43 PM GMT
    Actually the Crucifix, the Statues of saints and martyrs, even the illustrations of people is idolatry in the Bible, same as in Islam and Judaism. icon_rolleyes.gif

    An example of Christianity assimilating local culture is what happened here in the Philippines. Where the original word for the creator - Bathala - was adopted by the Spaniards and turned into another term for God (even though Bathala was only one of the gods, and the original religions here were not exactly monotheistic except for the Islamic South). Various tribal festivals were transformed into Christian ones. The Sinulog festival for example became a Christian festival when the introduced the statue of the Sto. Niño (Baby Jesus) into the celebrations on account of a 'miracle'. The words Pit señor (purportedly a shortened form of the pidgin Spanish-Bisaya Sangpit señor, or 'help us sir') are chanted. It's quite unchristian actually, but they get away with it. icon_razz.gif
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    Nov 15, 2008 10:37 PM GMT
    krush saidI was in the bookstore last night and there is a book called the "Purpose of Christmas". It says God gave us Christmas.

    The problem is God did not give us christmas. It is a pagan holiday that was adopted by the christians.
    Christmas is NOT a pagan holiday. It was chosen to celebrate Christmas during this time of the year to counter the celebration to the gods for the winter solstice I believe. Christmas is specifically a Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. The timing to celebrate that birth can be argued but I think anyone who understand Christianity (which I personally feel is NOT most of the right wing Christians who think they understand it all) realizes the reason for placing it during the time when other gods were often worshiped, instead of focusing on the only God, as recognized by Christians.
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    Nov 15, 2008 10:44 PM GMT
    Sedative saidActually the Crucifix, the Statues of saints and martyrs, even the illustrations of people is idolatry in the Bible, same as in Islam and Judaism.

    No, they in and of themselves are not considered idolatry unless they are a replacement for God. The use of crosses, etc are means by which Christians recognize and remember the crucifixion and other biblical events. These icons are for recollection and reflection while worship the one true God.
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    Nov 15, 2008 10:55 PM GMT
    Jeremiah 10:1-4 is clearly talking about making idols of wood, as narrated by the line which reads that a craftsman shapes it with a chisel. In Isaiah 44:9-20 is a discourse about a foolish man who cuts down a tree, he then cuts the trunk in two, and use one half as fuel to cook his meat and to give warmth. The other half he carves into an idol, falls before it and cries "Deliver me, for you are my god!" The prophet then comments that he could not discern between the wood from the same tree he burnt and the residue he made into a god. Where is the connection with all this with the Christmas tree?
    Jehovah's Witnesses teach that celebrating Christmas is forbiddeen among them because of the tree "which is decked with silver and gold".
    The Christmas tree is not decked with silver and gold, but tinsel and lighting, and it bears absolutely no resemblance of the idol depicted here, where clothes and jewellery was meant to endow the carving with supernatural powers.
    Christmas was originally a pagan festival of Saturnalia, which, I think, is a celebration of the start of the sun making a comeback. It was the Church in Rome which adopted the festival and turned it into a festival of the birth of Jesus Christ in the 4th Century or later.
    The issue with Christianity has no bearing whether the tree should be set up for Christmas or not. Christianity is about believing in Jesus Christ as Saviour, whether we celebrate Christmas or not.
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    Nov 16, 2008 12:26 AM GMT
    thanks NotThatOld for that clarification. This is the problem with selecting quotes of scripture without researching the surrounding text and the culture of the times. Unfortunately many listen to things like this and then think that it's true because it came from someone they respected. Nice job explaining it.
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    Nov 16, 2008 4:40 PM GMT
    Not really. The Brass Serpent excuse now?

    There is no one section that clearly defines idolatry; rather there are a number of commandments on this subject spread through the books of the Hebrew Bible, some of which were written in different historical eras, in response to different issues. Taking these verses together, idolatry in the Hebrew Bible is defined as either:

    * the worship of idols (or images)
    * the worship of polytheistic gods by use of idols (or images)
    * the worship of animals or people
    * the use of idols in the worship of God.

    In a number of places the Hebrew Bible makes clear that God has no shape or form, and is utterly incomparable; thus no idol, image, idea, or anything comparable to creation could ever capture God's essence. For example, when the Israelites are visited by God in Deut. 4:15, they see no shape or form. Many verses in the Bible use anthropomorphisms to describe God, (e.g. God's mighty hand, God's finger, etc.) but these verses have always been understood as poetic images rather than literal descriptions. This is reflected in Hosea 12:10 which says, “And I have spoken unto the prophets, and I have multiplied visions, and by the hand of the prophets I use similes.”

    The Bible records a struggle between the prophet's attempt to spread pure monotheism, and the tendency of some people, especially rulers such as Ahab, to accept or to encourage others into polytheistic or idolatrous beliefs. The patriarch Abraham was called to spread the true knowledge of God, but the prophetic books still reflect a continuing struggle against idolatry. For example, the Biblical prophet Jeremiah complains: "According to the number of thy cities are thy gods, O Judah" (2:2icon_cool.gif.

    The Bible has many terms for idolatry, and their usage represents the horror with which they filled the writers of the Bible [Adherents of Jewish faith maintain that the Torah is the literal and eternally binding word of God]. Thus idols are stigmatized "non-God" (Deut. 32:17, 21 [1]; Jer. 2:11 [2]), "things of naught" (Lev. 19:4 et passim [3]), "vanity" (Deut. 32), "iniquity" (1 Sam. 15:23 [4] ), "wind and confusion" (Isa. 41:29 [5]), "the dead" (Ps. 106:28 [6]), "carcasses" (Lev. 26:30; Jer. 16:1icon_cool.gif, "a lie" (Isa. 44:20 et passim [7]), and similar epithets.

    Pagan idols are described as being made of gold, silver, wood, and stone. They are described as being only the work of men's hands, unable to speak, see, hear, smell, eat, grasp, or feel, and powerless either to injure or to benefit. (Ps. 135:15-1icon_cool.gif

    Idols were either designated in Hebrew by a term of general significance, or were named according to their material or the manner in which they were made. They said to have been were placed upon pedestals, and fastened with chains of silver or nails of iron lest they should fall over or be carried off (Isa. 40:19, 41:7; Jer. 10:14; Wisdom 13:15), and they were also clothed and colored (Jer. 10:9; Ezek. 16:18; Wisdom 15:4).

    At first the gods and their images were conceived of as identical; but in later times a distinction was drawn between the god and the image. Nevertheless it was customary to take away the gods of the vanquished (Isa. 10:10-11, 36:19, 46:1; Jer. 48:7, 49:3; Hosea 10:5; Dan. 11:icon_cool.gif, and a similar custom is frequently mentioned in the cuneiform texts.


    I don't know about being recollection and worship but I've certainly seen how much Christians venerate images. The Shroud of Turin? The Lady of Lourdes? The Holy Trinity? The countless madonnas, icons, sto. niño's, relics, crucifixes, which are worshiped as though they themselves are the Gods. Even going so far as to assign personalities and specific miraculous qualities to the statues themselves (like the case of the Black Nazarene in the Philippines which hundreds of thousands of people venerate here, or the Wailing Wall of Jerusalem, etc.).

    I don't frankly care, but who's really guilty of picking and choosing passages to suit your purpose? The worship of anything manmade or consecrated by man, be it symbolic or not, is expressly forbidden in the Bible, the Judaic Scriptures, and the Koran.

    Oh well, carry on then.
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    Nov 16, 2008 4:55 PM GMT
    Do many Christians actually not follow the practice of not having xmas trees or Xmas at all? I don't know any who believe that. Halloween, on the other hand, I've met many who are horrified about that particular holiday.
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    Nov 16, 2008 6:10 PM GMT


    Here's some history.

    Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ and was moved to Dec 25th for two reasons.

    1 Christ's birth date was thought too close to the date of his crucifixion, and, and to the dates of Herod's birthday etc. That bothered a lot of early Christians.

    2 Romans celebrated the sun with Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, when days began getting longer again. This we know happens on Dec 21. Calendar shifts make the date change. When many converted to Christanity, it was considered easier to accomodate the change by simply celebrating things Christian on traditional holidays, rather than forbid those festivities and create a hostile environment for conversion. There was one exception made. Hallowe'en was celebrated on New Year's eve and that horrified the early clergy, who decided to move it well away from Christmas.

    Bill and I watched a two hour documentary on this on The Knowledge Network years ago.
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    Nov 28, 2008 1:38 AM GMT
    Christians didn't just steal pagan holidays for no reason. In early Rome, when Christianity was outlawed, Christians wanted to celebrate their holidays without fear of persecution...so they masked them in what were, at the time, common pagan holidays celebrated in Rome. Even Easter is supposed to be a celebration of fertility...which explains the eggs and the bunny. It was obviously a lot easier to just keep them where they were once Christianity was legalized. So, I just wanted to clarify that...I also wanted to just remind everyone that just because someone does or doesn't hold a belief doesn't make them ignorant or stupid people. Every group has extremists...Christians, Muslims, even atheists. Lets just make sure we're being tolerant while having this quite interesting conversation. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
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    Nov 28, 2008 1:51 AM GMT
    I have no dispute with the notion that Christmas is an appropriated holiday from the "pagans" and that the actual birthdate of Christ is entirely unknown.

    Nevertheless, it's a custom from my childhood that I treasure, and that I wish to continue. Let it remain a celebration of the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. I can think of flimsier reasons for a holiday.
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    Nov 28, 2008 2:45 AM GMT
    My dad's a hardcore fundamentalist, and he strongly disapproves of Christmas trees. He's never cited Jeremiah for it, just that the tree has its roots in paganism.

    He also refers to Christmas as "Jesus' Birthday," since "Christmas" is "Christ's mass," which is too Catholic for him.