It is that time of year again where people are busy buying presents, playing Christmas music, getting stressed, and being judged for using pagan elements.
Near as I can figure it, there are three sources for accusations of Christmas having a pagan origin or incorporating those elements: atheists, sanctimonious Christians, and pagans themselves. If a pagan had accused me of using elements of their religious activities, I didn’t know it. Normally, it’s the other two groups of tinhorns.
Professing atheists frequently exhibit both ignorance and bigotry when making accusations — which is both annoying and amusing when they do so on an article they refused to read that debunks their claims. Ironic, huh?
Self-righteous Christians also show ignorance, often acting like atheists in their caustic remarks. They, too, refuse to read/watch material that has a proper historical perspective, preferring instead erroneous traditions. Then they show that they have the “right” beliefs by bashing Christians who do celebrate, violating Colossians 2:16-17 and others. Pastor Sourjowels would be pleased.
What we do not experience is scorn from people who have some historical knowledge.
There are many myths about Christmas, such as Joseph and Mary being turned away from a hotel, the Magi showing up at the time of Jesus’ birth, and others. A few minor errors that most folks don’t know about are not reasons to reject celebrating Christmas.
We also give each other gifts to celebrate the ultimate gift of God, the incarnation of God the Son, the Creator, as Jesus. Also, because the real Nicholas was a gift-giver.
Some Christians say that we shouldn’t celebrate because we’re not commanded to. So? God gave us holidays (holy days), and people have instituted holidays and observances as well. Indeed, Hanukkah was not one of the original holidays that God commanded the Jews to keep, but Jesus participated (Christians can do it as well). There are a couple of Black Cat Appreciation days. Governments set up holidays. This child has set up Question Evolution Day on 12 February. Holidays and observances happen.
The early church was arguing about when to celebrate Easter back in the 2nd century, not if it should be observed. Similarly, Christmas was celebrated in secret (because of Roman persecution) at about the same time as Easter, and has also been celebrated ever since. Naysayers don’t have church history in support of their views.
25 December for the birth of Jesus has supporters and detractors, and unfortunately some get dogmatic about it. A popular belief is that this date was established to Christianize a pagan festival. Studying the Roman calendar, Saturnalia was over by the 25th. Another candidate was Sol Invictus for sun god worship, but that was established long after Christians were celebrating Christmas.
If y’all choose to not celebrate, great. But don’t pass judgment on those of us who do. In the same way, those of us who do celebrate should not look down on those who give it a hard pass. Both groups have freedom of Christian liberty. You savvy that, pilgrim?
The article linked below covers much of what I’ve touched on in detail, and some other items as well. The history is enlightening, to say the least.
Every year I get “love letters”—can I call them that? You know, those letters blasting me with the same old claims that “Christmas was pagan.” For some reason, I’m supposed to repent of not believing the pagans when they insist that their “holiday” is the true one. I’m chastised for not giving Christmas back to the pagans and locking myself in my house from the four Advent Sundays to the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not criticizing or poking fun at people for not celebrating Christmas, the resurrection, or their own birthdays. But I think it is wise to refute these claims from time to time as a reminder that pagans usually don’t get it right. Polytheistic and pantheistic pagans—including believers in evolution, Roman and Greek mythology, ancestor worship, Wicca, etc.—attack Christianity with fervor.
This child is often late to the party when it comes to reviewing books, movies, and videos. In this case, A Matter of Faith is a movie from October 2014. God’s Not Dead, which I have not seen, was released in March of that year. I watched this one on 30 April 2022.
Irrelevant, but a fun surprise for me is that it was filmed in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I know the area, having lived near there for several years.
Christian movies are like getting grub from the chuckwagon: depends on who is doing the cooking. The genre has a reputation for Pollyanna-style material and bad acting, and some of that is deserved. For example, the A Thief in the Night films that began in 1972 had a good message about the end times, but acting and production were often poor. If I recollect rightly, the last two were improvements over the first ones.
To be fair, the movie industry is known for being hostile to presenting Christians in a positive light, so enthusiastic Christians filmmakers work with low budgets and whomever they can get to work in front of and behind the cameras. Many are using actors who make no pretense at Christianity, but still do their roles in a professional manner.
Things are changing. While many Christian movies suffer from weak writing, it is incorrect to assume that if it’s faith-based, it’s going to be bad. Can’t be using the genetic fallacy and rejecting the entire genre, we have to judge them on their own merits.
Here’s what happened that brought A Matter of Faith to my attention. YouTube recommends videos, so I looked. The entire movie is available there on a channel supposedly owned by the Christiano brothers of Five & Two Pictures who made it. It can be seen on the cutely-named Freevee (formerly IMDB TV), which is owned by Amazon (an Amazon account is required to use it, but not the overpriced Prime). It is also on Pluto and Tubi. Note that selections change, so it may not be on any of those tomorrow.
I went to IMDB and saw that it had a user review score of 3.7 out of 10. Atheists were out in force to vote the movie down. It’s who they are and what they do. Some were saying “worst movie ever made”, and one hatetheist equated it with ISIS propaganda (hyperbole much?), plus other extremely negative claims against Christianity — especially creation science.
After all, they are compelled to protect their fundamentally-flawed origins mythology because it is foundational to atheism. Many of the reviews did not show any knowledge of the movie beyond having watched the trailer, but yee haw boy howdy, they sure did use the word propaganda quite a bit.
One sidewinder said it had the “same merit as a Jonestown Koolaid commercial” and “I think the purpose of making this terrible movie was to try to enlist new members to a rapidly dwindling cult using hollow logic and citing mythical situations as “proof” to support their weak indoctrination attempt.” I could triple the length of this article by examining the false claims and blatant hypocrisy of many reviews, but we need to move on.
Rachel Whitaker was raised in a Christian home and she is going off to college. Her biology class is taught by Professor Kaman (Harry Anderson of Night Court fame), who has an agenda. He promises that if students attend the classes, they are guaranteed a passing grade. That’s a mite suspicious.
During her first few weeks, Rachel is too busy for church or reading her Bible. Professor Kaman, being the caiman that he is, makes bold evolutionary pronouncements with “evidence” that is strictly conjecture, and Rachel is accepting seeds of doubt.
Her father, Steven Whitaker, is upset that Kaman teaches evolution. (Where has he been? The secular science industry and academia are saturated with people who have a worldview based on atheistic naturalism for many years.) Steve visits the professor to respectfully complain about the evolution-only curriculum. Since the college needs a topic for an upcoming debate series, the professor cajoles Steve into debating him.
One trick is saying, “Evolution versus creationism“, and when -ism is used, it has a negative connotation for many people. That was the title of the debate. However (and this puts burrs under the saddles of fundamentalist evolutionists), both creationism and evolutionism can both be used. Indeed, many creationists have no problem with the word creationism.
A professor with training in evolutionism and a passel of experience in public speaking will debate an inexperienced parent of a student. Seems legit. Actually, biblical creation scientists have a difficult time in getting their secular counterparts to debate. Their challenges are declined or ignored most of the time. If Kaman wanted a hot topic for debate, he could have found several qualified creationists who would oblige.
Please pay attention. Although the professor is an atheist and evolutionist, he say, “I teach what my textbooks tells me to teach,” then praises evolutionary scientists. However, parents who take solace in the fact that there are Christian teachers in the public school system are deceiving themself. The reason is that, like Kaman implies, the curriculum given by the state takes priority.
Another student named Evan met Rachel and said that he had taken Kaman’s biology course. He pointed out that Kaman has an agenda and tried to get her thinking.
Rachel’s father wants to get is message out to Rachel and other students. She is appalled — appalled, I tell you — that her father is going to do the debate. Professor Kaman won’t change his beliefs. Also, it will “ruin me on campus!” Apparently nobody considered the possibility that if Steve pulled out, he would be labeled a coward and things would be worse for her.
A glaring error in the movie is that it was claimed that Kaman teaches that we evolved from apes. According to evolutionary beliefs, humans and apes evolved from a common ancestor. (The fact that our putative ancestors sure did look like apes apparently has no bearing on the situation.) The “evolved from apes” thing is something creationists should avoid.
Another weak point in the movie is something that should be discussed. Too many Christians and creationists attempt to defend our views with “memes” and clever sayings that would fit on bumper stickers, but are woefully unprepared in witnessing to atheists and evolutionists. These folks get slapped down by opponents who have learned their talking points and boilerplate rhetoric. Rachel’s father knew what he believed, but not why, and was unable to defend his position in the debate.
Kaman (if he had a first name other than Professor, I missed it) used rhetorical tricks including assertions, appeal to emotion, false definitions (including the common atheistic definition of faith), straw man, and more. He also used the category error of demanding scientific proof of God. While some may claim that the movie makers were creating a straw many with the way Kaman presented his arguments, other creationists and I have seen such things many times.
In addition, there are indeed professors who are openly hostile to Christianity and especially to creation. This Kaman jasper is a representation of many reports that drop down over the transom.
I left out details that would spoil the movie for y’all, but there were a couple of surprises. One had the professor giving what was said in the debate some thought afterward. There is no “everybody gets saved, let’s have a group hug” ending, but there were some unexpected events well as a couple of things that could be predicted by viewers.
A Matter of Faith was recommended by Creation Ministries International, Answers in Genesis, and others. It has some flaws beyond what I have said, but my agenda is to encourage people who watch it and keep in mind some of the things I have said. Ask yourselves and each other questions. F’rinstance, how would layman Steve have fared against Kaman if he had prepared from the numerous materials available online provided by creationists? How about if he knew and used a presuppositional approach?
To make the movie more realistic, they could have done a full, formal debate. (It would also have been quite a bit longer.) I mentioned earlier that Rachel told her father that he would not change Kaufman’s views. That almost never happens in a debate, although it may happen later. Good debates are for each side to present their viewpoints, and to see if they can withstand scrutiny. If you can spare 2-1/2 hours, I highly recommend the “Does God Exist?” debate between Dr. Greg Bahnsen and Dr. Gordon Stein.
Again, I recommend that Christians and biblical creationists see A Matter of Faith. They can spot some flaws, and learn about doing apologetics. Also pay attention and notice that evolutionists live by faith themselves. A link to the video was posted here, but I had to remove it because the video is no longer available to the public.
Most Christians around the world celebrate the bodily Resurrection of Jesus from the dead on a day that is commonly called Easter. (And no, it is not a “pagan holiday”, nor is it wrong for us to celebrate. Read the material at the links here so you can savvy that, Sam.) Obviously, before he could rise again, he had to die. That day is usually called Good Friday, and many of us observe that day as well.
It seems strange that the day Jesus suffered the most horrible death known is called “good.” It was good for us, as this B.C. comic succinctly puts it. Got Questions explains:
Why is Good Friday referred to as “good”? What the Jewish authorities and Romans did to Jesus was definitely not good (see Matthew chapters 26-27). However, the results of Christ’s death are very good! Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” First Peter 3:18 tells us, “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit.”
Although mockers try to say that if the Crucifixion was on Friday and the Resurrection was on Sunday, that’s not three days. Cults also do this for some reason. I remember seeing a television show from one that made this claim. There are honest people who also have puzzled about how three days can be reconciled with Friday afternoon through Sunday morning.
It takes a little bit of homework. Hebrews had a different way of reckoning time. We use the Roman system where a day is split into two halves, but you may have noticed in your Bible that certain things happened at a certain hour, such as when Peter and John went up to the temple at the ninth hour (Acts 3:1), which was about three in the afternoon. Some Bibles render that as “three in the afternoon.”
I say about because they didn’t exactly have digital watches, or even grandfather clocks using weights and pendulums. So, an hour wasn’t. Not really, because hours were based on the amount of sunlight in the day. There were twelve hours in a Jewish day, but as for night, it seems that nobody cared very much; there were watches in the night.
With these things in mind, it should come as no surprise to learn that the Jews counted days differently as well. Modern tend to impose their own cultures, experiences, and opinions on texts of ancient cultures. Someone today, 15 April, could say, “I’ll see you in three days”, and the other person says, “Okay, this is Friday at noon. So I’ll see you…let’s see…Saturday, Sunday, Monday. We’ll meet here at noon on Monday. Bring burgers.”
By letting the ancient culture “say” what it means and not forcing our own views on it, we see there is neither problem nor contradiction. To read an explanation, saddle up and ride over to “Three Days and Nights.” Also, you may be interested in a free digital download pack of “The 10 Minute Bible Journey Easter Accounts.” Go through the purchase process at the Answers in Genesis online bookstore, but it really is free.
One of several schools that was founded on Christian principles but jumped the fence into apostasy, Harvard hired this “chaplain” pretends to be “good without God” and claims to be able to provide spiritual guidance to everyone. That’ll be the day! It has been clearly demonstrated that professing atheists are contumelious toward Christians, especially biblical creationists. They define “good” in a postmodern, relativistic way that fits the culture of the moment; whoever betrayed Jews to the Nazis was doing a good thing by Nazi standards.
Don’t be disunderstanding me here. Yes, there are atheists who have high moral standards, and may even have better conduct than some “Christians”. But as with science, logic, consciousness, love, goodness, and other things, they cannot give a coherent justification for morality. They believe everything came from nothing, yet mock the biblical Christian worldview, which is the only consistent and rational expression for human experience.
Goodness is not relative. Atheists, like other unbelievers, need to humble themselves and repent, making Jesus Christ the Lord of their lives.