Christian Scholars Deconstruct Christmas

It’s Christmas time!

And the Compassionate Imams with their followers just can’t wait to showcase their “tolerance” in celebrating this festival of Shirk.

RELATED: Muslims, Before Celebrating Christmas, Think About What You’re Really Doing

As if endorsing the Christian celebration of their insults towards Allah and His Messenger ‘Isa (‘alayhi as’salam) wasn’t enough, the whole irony about Christmas is that, basically, honest Christian scholars themselves admit that they’re not even sure about… the date.

Uncertainty About the Date

Bruce Forbes, a Christian theologian, wrote a book on Christmas for the general public, released by the University of California Press. In it, he quite candidly admits that we’re not even sure of the birth date, but that clues from the New Testament point out that it can’t be during winter:

The gospels of Matthew and Luke provide no direct indication of a date for the birth of Jesus, and scholars have found no external forms of evidence, and no other traditions, to solve the mystery. In the second and third centuries some Christians tried to determine the date of Jesus’ birth, but their conclusions varied widely.

One hint that people often seized upon was that Luke’s gospel said the shepherds “were living in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night” (Luke 2:8). Does that point at least to a general season of the year and thus help narrow things down? Perhaps, but not much, because shepherds in the region tended their flocks outside for at least three seasons of the year, excluding only winter. With a variety of arguments to support their views, assorted Christians in the second, third, and fourth centuries argued for March 25 and 28, April 19 and 20, May 20, and November 18 as the birth date. If we ask about the specific day on which Jesus was born, the honest answer is that we simply do not know.[1]

Adam English, teacher at Campbell University, a private Christian institution in North Carolina, gives some examples of these Christian individuals or whole communities who celebrated the nativity on different dates, and among these is someone of the importance of Clement of Alexandria, the 2nd century theologian who is considered a Church Father and who chose the date of November 18.[2]

The Pagan Roots of Christmas

Many peoples, even laymen with no real interest in religious controversies, have heard of the theory that Christmas is an appropriation of a pagan festival, namely Saturnalia, the ancient Roman festival to celebrate Sol Invictus (Unconquered Sun) on the day of the winter solstice (with the decorated trees and so on).

Christian apologists respond that this is a modern interpretation and that pagans in fact are the ones to have copied Christians as they were supposedly getting too popular.

But, we’re not interested in these modern arguments and their counter-arguments.

RELATED: The Deification of Christ: Christian Misrepresentations

But, is this really a modern interpretation?

Let’s bring a pre-modern scholar, a 12th century Syriac bishop to be more precise, Dionysius bar Salibi, as quoted by Ramsay MacMullen, himself the leading contemporary American scholar when it comes to the interactions between Christianity and paganism:

The reason, then, why the fathers of the church moved the January 6th celebration [of Epiphany] to December 25th was this, they say: it was the custom of the pagans to celebrate on this same December 25th the birthday of the Sun, and they lit lights then to exalt the day, and invited and admitted the Christians to these rites.

When, therefore, the teachers of the church saw that Christians inclined to this custom, figuring out a strategy, they set the celebration of the true Sunrise on this day, and ordered Epiphany to be celebrated on January 6th; and this usage they maintain to the present day along with the lighting of lights.[3]

Basically, a pre-modern Christian scholar, who lived centuries before this debate, admits that setting the date as December 25th was all a strategy from Christians to gain followers. Compromising on Shirk/paganism seems to be a basic principle of Christianity.

RELATED: Explaining Christmas to Your Muslim Children

Christmas, The Cursed Gift

We will not discuss here how Christmas is about “drunken debauchery” or how it is one of the most poignant symbols of contemporary consumerism. Forget all of this. Dear Muslims, how can you celebrate a festival about which Christian authorities are not even sure of the date, but they are sure of its pagan roots?

Is your afterlife that inconsequential for you?

RELATED: The Unintended Consequences of Celebrating Kafir Holidays

Notes

[1] Bruce David Forbes, Christmas: A Candid History, University of California Press, 2008, p. 20.

[2] Adam C. English, Christmas: Theological Anticipations, Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2016, p. 71.

[3] Ramsay MacMullen, Christianity and Paganism in the Fourth to Eighth Centuries, Yale University Press, 1997, p. 155.

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Yalda

I found a very interesting connection between Christmas and winter solstice celebrations.

In Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Azerbaijan, they have a winter solstice celebration called Yalda night:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yalda

What is interesting, is that the word Yaldā, (Persian یلدا Yaldā) comes from the Aramaic word ܝܠܕܐ (yaldā), which means birth, and is a cognate to Arabic word وَلَد‎ (walad), and apparently Persian Christians used the term yaldā to refer to Christmas.