The celebration of Christmas is often a matter of debate and unhappy discussion among believers. Four years ago, I wrote a post called ‘Christmas – to celebrate or not,’ where I mentioned what John MacArthur and John Piper thought about this celebration. I also discussed what my own father (GB) believed. In this post, I’d like to include something from R.C. Sproul’s thinking.
The most common argument against the celebration of Christmas is to do with its pagan origins. R.C. Sproul turns that very point around when he answers the question “Is the celebration of Christmas a pagan ritual?”
It just so happens that on the twenty-fifth of December in the Roman Empire there was a pagan holiday that was linked to mystery religions; the pagans celebrated their festival on December 25. The Christians didn’t want to participate in that, and so they said, “While everybody else is celebrating this pagan thing, we’re going to have our own celebration. We’re going to celebrate the thing that’s most important in our lives, the incarnation of God, the birth of Jesus Christ. So this is going to be a time of joyous festivities, of celebration and worship of our God and King.”
I can’t think of anything more pleasing to Christ than the church celebrating his birthday every year. Keep in mind that the whole principle of annual festival and celebration is deeply rooted in ancient Jewish tradition. In the Old Testament, for example, there were times when God emphatically commanded the people to remember certain events with annual celebrations. While the New Testament doesn’t require that we celebrate Christmas every year, I certainly see nothing wrong with the church’s entering into this joyous time of celebrating the Incarnation, which is the dividing point of all human history. Originally, it was intended to honor, not Mithras or any of the other mystery religion cults, but the birth of our King. [Used with thanks from ligonier.org]