Sunday, 23 December 2012

The Roots of Christmas Part 3

It was the Emperor Constantine who proclaimed the Edict of Milan in 313 AD. This decree granted religious freedom to all, a move that would lead to the marriage of church and state. Previous emperors had persecuted the believers of Messiah. Constantine, however, declared Christianity the state religion and all Romans  were from then on, Christians. 
Years later, Christians faced a trouble from within: the Arian controversy (forerunner of Jehovah's Witnesses and other cults) began and threatened to divide the church. The problem began in Alexandria, it started as a debate between the bishop Alexander and Pastor Arius. Arius proposed that if the Father beget the Son, the latter must have had a beginning, that there was a time when he was not, and that his substance was from nothing like the rest of creation. The Council of Nicaea, a gathering similar to the one described in Acts 15:4-22, condemned the beliefs of Arius and wrote the first version of the now famous creed proclaiming that the Son was "one in being with the Father" by use of the Greek word "homozygous."
Thus the Nicene Creed:
"Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate, was made man, was born perfectly of the Holy Virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit."
Since the Messiah was now seen as both human and divine, it was decided by church leaders that Hiss birth must be celebrated.
Just like the Greek, Norse and Roman gods.
At the same time, the church was having a hard time getting pagans to accept Messiah and decided to use their pagan celebrations  and customs as a way to teach about Messiah. Some call this redeeming the pagan holidays or using for teaching spiritual truths. Others call it borrowing, bait and switch, tricking or stealing.
Take your pick.
However, that isn't what Jeremiah 10:2-5 says:
Thus says the LORD, "Do not learn the way of the nations, And do not be terrified by the signs of the heavens Although the nations are terrified by them"
So the evergreen became the Tree of Life or the Christmas tree. Holly and wealth’s reminds one of the crown of thorns Messiah had pressed upon His head, etc.
And the 25th of December became the birthday of the Son of G-d.
25th is also the birthday of the Persian sun-god Mithras. While in Iraq, Mark met a family who celebrate this day with the same abandonment Christmas is here in the States and one is hard press to see the difference between their celebration and the church's.
There isn't one.
Around 350, Pope Julius decree that the church would celebrate Messiah's birth on this date, to replace the false sun-god and worship G-d the Son. Another interesting fact about Christmas; Yule and Yule time.\
Yule is the Chaldean name for 'infant or little child.' In ancient Babylon, the 25th of Decmeber was known as Yule day or the birth of the promised child day.
On this day, the birth of the incarnate sun, which appeared as a baby child to redeem a world bound in darkness....
Sound familiar?
It was an essential belief of the Babylonian religious system, that the sun god Tammuz was also worshipped as the god incarnate or promised baby son of Baal, who would be the Saviour of the world.
Many believers did not buy this reasoning, seeing it as the mixing of the holy and the unholy. Many Jewish believers saw this as the worship of another g-d and wanted nothing to do with it. Sadly, the holiday that was meant to bring unity  became a divider between the Greek believer and the Hebrew believers.
In fact, this began the acid test of belief in Messiah: those who did not celebrate Christmas were considered non-believers.
There was even a time when England (1644), New England and other places where Christmas was forbidden by law because of the drunkenness and violence connected with the day, which harken back to its Roman roots.
Many believers rejected the celebration because it was regarded as a pagan holiday. The English Puritan even regarded the day as the work of satan. Even Martin Luther and John Calvin rejected the Day.
However, in later years, Martin Luther would embrace it and bring back its Norse roots.
It wasn't until the 1800's that Christmas would become a national holiday and soon after started to be in embraced as a Religious celebration.
Today's Christmas is thanks in part to the influences of Martin Luther, Prince Albert's German influence on the Victorian era and Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol.

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