The Christmas Spirit

It was my first Christmas season in Florida. Shortly after Thanksgiving, a father showed up to our Bible study, very discouraged. It was his daughter’s 11th birthday, and due to finances at home he did not have a single dime to buy her a gift. Several days later, I was surprised when his daughter called me at the church, asking to put an ad in the church bulletin. She was organizing a group at her school to collect Christmas gifts for kids who had no gifts. In talking to her, it was clear that she was excited about this, and she definitely was not thinking about any gift for herself. That really touched my heart. This child understood more than the meaning of Christmas. She understood the meaning of life! She was so busy thinking of others that she had no time to feel sorry for herself.

Image © Darrel Tank from

I appreciate the Christmas season as it helps me to see the good that is in people all year long. I’m sorry not everyone sees it that way.

Imagine this scenario. It’s a beautiful sunny Florida day. You call me and say, “William, let’s go to the beach and enjoy a beautiful sunset.” I respond, “No way! Don’t you know that some pagans worship the sun, therefore we should have nothing to do with it!” Would that be balanced thinking? Likewise just because some pagans a few hundred years ago celebrated the winter solstice around this time of year should not keep us from worshiping the Son on that day!

I have also heard that Christmas is a “Catholic” holiday. Does that make it wrong to remember Christ’s birth at this time? Not everything Catholics do or have done is bad. Catholics operate good hospitals all over the world where people of all faiths and beliefs receive compassionate care. If we are not Catholic does that mean that we should not have good hospitals just because they do? There are many good Catholics who pray every day. Should we refrain from prayer because Catholics pray? Of course not. So why should we refrain from celebrating a holiday that makes the whole world think of Jesus? Remember, like Christmas, Martin Luther’s origins were Catholic too, so as good Protestants should we reject him too?

We need to “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21) While Sunday observance opposes the Sabbath observance, celebrating Christmas does not oppose anything biblical.

Let us remember, that while Paul clearly taught that the feast days were no longer binding, but were a shadow of things to come (See Colossians 2:14-17), he still went up to Pentecost, as it was an opportunity for him to share Jesus with everyone. (See Acts 20:16 and 1 Corinthians 16:8) With the same missionary Spirit that Paul had, should we not also take advantage of celebrations that enable us to share Jesus, including Christmas and Easter? Remember too, that Jesus met people where they were.  He showed an interest in their secular affairs, so that He could reach their hearts.

The Spirit of Prophecy that rested upon Paul stays consistent as it rested upon Ellen White, who tells us Christmas serves a good purpose.

As the twenty-fifth of December is observed to commemorate the birth of Christ, as the children have been instructed by precept and example that this was indeed a day of gladness and rejoicing, you will find it a difficult matter to pass over this period without giving it some attention. It can be made to serve a very good purpose. –Ellen White, Adventist Home, Page 478

I believe that if Christmas was a day that we should ignore, that God’s prophet would have instructed us so very clearly. She does not instruct us to ignore this day. God gave her no such message.

Nor does the Spirit of Prophecy tell us that a Christmas tree within itself is pagan.

God would be well pleased if on Christmas, each church would have a Christmas tree on which shall be hung offerings, great and small, for these houses of worship. Letters of inquiry have come to us asking, Shall we have a Christmas tree? will it not be like the world? We answer, You can make it like the world if you have a disposition to do so, or you can make it as unlike the world as possible. There is no particular sin in selecting a fragrant evergreen, and placing it in our churches; but the sin lies in the motive which prompts to action, and the use which is made of the gifts placed upon the tree.  –Ellen White, Review and Herald, December 11, 1879 par. 15

Yes, we all know Jesus was not born on December 25. We do not need to celebrate it as Christ’s actual birthday. We celebrate the fact that Jesus became a man and died for our sins. Maybe Christmas was inspired by pagan motives. Joseph’s brothers had “pagan” motives when they sold him to the Ishmaelites. No matter. God used it for good and made Joseph a savior of his times. So today, we have an excellent opportunity to allow God to use a day set up by sinful mankind to turn peoples’ minds and hearts to the Savior. The original motives good or bad do not matter at this point. God can use it for good. This does not contradict Bible doctrine.

My mind goes back to another Christmas I celebrated with my church in Fort Worth Texas. Christmas fell on a Sabbath that year. My church decided to spend Sabbath feeding lunch to the homeless downtown. We had several kids of all ages with us. They were delighted to serve. Now, most of these families waited till sundown to celebrate Christmas and open their gifts, so even though it was late in the afternoon, these children had not opened their gifts yet. After we served and cleaned up I figured, and the parents figured too, that the kids would now be in a hurry to rush home in time for sundown to open their gifts. That is not what happened. These kids begged us to let them stay and serve the evening meal as well, even though another group was coming in to do that. The kids were so excited that they got to stay and serve total strangers instead of rushing home to open their gifts.

Friends the Christmas spirit these kids manifested, and the Christmas spirit of my Bible study student’s  daughter was not a pagan spirit. It was a spirit of self-sacrificing love, which is what true Christianity is all about!

When Joseph found out Mary was with child, he thought it was rather obvious she had an affair. Wouldn’t it seem obvious to you too? Joseph was wise to hold his peace and not say anything publicly against Mary. Good thing he didn’t say anything, because Joseph found out that what had happened was actually done by the Holy Spirit.

I am saddened when people judge the motives of people celebrating the Christmas Spirit, by calling them pagan, when in fact they are actually moved by the Holy Spirit celebrating the meaning of life which is Christ Himself.

*** Editor’s Notice ***

We welcome your comments in the spirit of the original post by William. Please feel free to share stories of a memorable Christmas that honored God in a time of fellowship or service.

Another good article on the subject is “Compassion and the Christmas Season,” by José Cortés, Jr., the director of Adventist Youth Ministries in the Atlantic Union.

We also recommend the Christmas message from the president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Ted Wilson in the Adventist Review: “A Christmas Greeting from Ted Wilson,” which includes some beautiful music.

Please note that we will not be publishing any more comments regarding Christmas being “pagan” or “Catholic” or any other reminder that Christmas is not a holy day. (Readers on this site already know that.) In most parts of the world December 25 is a public holiday, and we can choose whether to spend the time in a pagan manner or in a Christian manner. It’s all up to us. That’s why we ask for comments on how you have spent the season in a way that honored Christ in the past or even comments on what you plan to do this Christmas season.

What people did on any specific day hundreds or thousands of years ago does not have to affect us today. Even what others do today does not have to be a pattern for us. God gave us the power of choice so we might choose wisely.

Please consider that there is no way to eliminate everything from our lives that Satan has used for evil while we live on this earth. (The first thing Satan used with humankind is a fruit, with greater evil consequences for this world than anything he has used since.) Instead, we can rejoice that this is the day that the Lord has made and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24) So let us rejoice!



The Christmas Spirit — 68 Comments

  1. Good, Pastor! Everything originally belongs to God!, He is the Creator of music, plants, animals, food, clothes, ideas, humans, He has made all in the beginning, the Devil only mutates all, music, ideas, facts, etc. and try to use for his own worship, but nothing belongs to him and nothing soon he will be, so we need to rescue all from his hands, God our Creator made us free in Jesus to restore facts, ideas, the Truth, and use it to worship the only rightful owner of all: JESUS CHRIST!!!

  2. Dear William,

    I always appreciate your postings and the penetrating message, underscored by your comment, "It was a spirit of self-sacrificing love, which is what true Christianity is all about!" This is a true reflection of who God is, the origin of love.

    God's rich blessing on your work, through your witness and counsel. ulalei

  3. Christmas is coming: 2 Corinthians 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

    Mark 7:8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.

    Romans 12:2  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

    Should we not shout for joy, be glad and happy "every day" (John 3:16)? Do we set aside one day to "remember with thankfulness" God's gift to mankind?

    There is no command in the Bible from God, to celebrate His Son's birthday nor did Jesus Himself do so. The word "Christmas" does not exist in the Bible, but stems from Christ's Mass and is of pagan/papal origin. We say we are aware that Jesus was not born on December 25 yet we conform to the world, giving "human opinions" to justify our position on this issue.

    Placing a "Christian Tag" on Christmas, (Jesus' birth) does not make it holy, any more than Christians attending Church on Sunday, (Jesus' resurrection) makes Sunday holy.

    Sister White has "advised" us about the trees inside Churches, "not instructed" as implied, or her statement would begin with "I was shown." In Counsels on Sabbath School Work, page 84, Ellen White also wrote, "The Bible and the Bible alone, is our rule of faith."

    Taking note of the above statement, there is no commandment in Scripture, authorising "Christmas Trees" inside Churches or anywhere else, and the assistance provided to the poor should be ongoing.

    Mark 14:7  For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always.

    True, Sister White states, we can use this day to evangelise, however, I don't notice any "new members" being added after 25 December and many "Christamasses" have come and gone, with the same result.

    Every year we place Jesus back in the manger as a Baby when we should be constantly aware, that the "hour of His judgement is come" (Rev: 14:7).

    In many homes, the "traditional" ritual of setting up a Christmas tree with baubles and glitter and placing gifts under it, on the 25 December has been adopted, when in fact, the wise men fell down, worshipped and gave their "expensive" gifts to Baby Jesus.

    Matthew 2:11  And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

    Reminder: We are to obey a "Thus saith the Lord" or "It is written" if we are to gain victory over Satan and his deceptions.

    Remember, God placed His Gift "on the tree" - not under it, threfore, it is my prayer, that we follow the example of the wise men, by worshipping, communing and offering our gifts freely to God, not only on 25 December but daily, with joy and gladness.

    • I encourage people to do good everyday and Christmas day is no exception. I do not promote it as a holy day. I do not use Santa Clause or any fiction. I use it as a time to point people to Jesus just like I do every day. Nothing here contradicts the Bible or Spirit of Prophecy. We do not make ourselves more holy by condemning things that are innocent. The Pharisees thought they were more holy by the things they condemned and the rules that they made. There is no rule in the Bible or Spirit of Prophecy to abstain from doing good on Christmas. That is a man made rule which Christ never laid on us. Teaching that it is a sin to do good on Christmas is a man made tradition. The idea to go to a homeless shelter and feed the hungry was not pagan or sinful just because it was Christmas.

    • I am not entirely sure that the absence of any instruction in the Bible is a command to do or not do something. Granted there is no instruction to observe Christ's birthday. Nor is there any instruction about using electricity, amplifiers, electric lighting or even anything about riding to or from Church in motor cars.

      It is worth noting that when Christ was born, the shepherds were part of quite a celebration and also that the wise men from the east brought their gifts to Jesus. If celebration and gift giving were part of the orginal event of Christ's birth, then I think it does us well to creatively use our talents and skills to celebrate the beginning of Christ's earthly life. For too long Christmas has been ambushed by the commercial interests of those wanting to ensure they make a profit for the year and I believe that the time has come to recapture Christmas for Christ. Rather than dwelling on the largely forgotten historical connection with ancient pagan festivals, there is much that we can do to share the love of Christ at this time. Here are a couple of ideas:

      1) Christmas is one of the few times when people will actually listen to a Christian message. Our churches should be an open invitation for the unchurched to share in a Christ centered message a bit of good Adventist hospitality.

      2) Family reunions of take place at Christmas time. It is a good time to ensure that all family members are made feel welcome. Many of us have relatives who have left the church and Christianity but who still come home for Christmas. What an opportunity.

      3) There are often people who feel lonely at Christmas time. One of the great joys that we have had in the last few years has been to seek out those who are away from family and loved ones and invite them to be part of our family for the day.

      4) One does not have to bow to the temptation of commercialism in buying presents. We used to scratch our heads trying to come up with unique gifts for grandkids etc but now-a-days we find ourselves giving gifts of shared time. My two grandsons and I are going to spend the day before Christmas making muffins according to Grandad's secret recipe (downloaded from the Internet). Have you ever had the fun of having two small boys with chocolate chips, dried fruit, cherries, and cake mix? It is going to take a week to clean the kitchen afterwards, but I can imagine already the delight of family members receiving their muffin Christmas present. Shared experiences are of much more value than bought presents.

      5) Share in a community project. Communities often have projects around Christmas time to help needy folk and so on. One Adventist School that I was familiar with got all the kids to bring packets of non-perishable food. When they has collected it all, they called the Salvation Army and told them that they had some food to help them out with their Christmas appeal for the needy. The Salvation Army representative came around with a car to collect what he thought would be a boxful of food. He was highly embarrassed and at the same time delighted to have to call his office and ask them to send around the big van to the Adventist School as they had collected about half a tonne of food.

      There are countless ways to creatively claim back Christmas for Christ. We honour Christ by sharing his love with others and if it happens at that time of the year when even unchurched people are predisposed to think about Christianity, then so much the better.

  4. When I got converted was told we are not celebrating christimas but now I think things have changed and its confusing for some of us. But I like the comment of Harold it made me to be able to stand my grounds. Thank you

    • Dear Chuma,

      Could you please tell us where you were when you were told that Seventh-day Adventists do not celebrate Christmas? Who told you? Was it local people, or an evangelist?

      You see, Seventh-day Adventists have never had an anti-Christmas policy.

      We do, however, believe that we should avoid the commercial excesses of Christmas. We should avoid the self-focus and focus on Christ and the people He came to save. As Christians, we naturally do not let our children believe that there is a Santa Claus who knows when they've been bad or good and then rewards them for their behavior. (That's violating the first commandment and really giving a legalistic picture of God.) As in other areas of life, we stay away from false teachings and focus on sharing the wonderful news of the incarnation of the Son of God as Immanuel, God With Us!

      Jesus wants us to be in the world but not of the world. He wants us to be like leaven/yeast in the world. Thus we have some choices to make:

      1) We can make Christmas as much like the world as we can.
      2) We can pretend that Christmas doesn't exist and flee from any mention of Christmas, thus appearing to be long-faced spoil sports.
      3) We can make Christmas very unlike the world and demonstrate that real joy comes through Jesus Christ who became a human Baby more than 2000 years ago.

      Which approach to you think Jesus would take, considering how He related to people when He was on this earth?

  5. Harold, I love your comment about the greatest gift being on the tree and not under it.

    However I fail to see how 2 Corinthians 6:14 applies to Christmas. Would it also apply to the American Holiday of Thanksgiving and all other holidays?

    When you quote Mark 7:8 what command are we laying aside for tradition when we celebrate Christmas? I don't mean to be rude or disrespectful, but your comment about no Bible command to keep Christmas is ambiguous. There are no Bible commands to do a million things that good Christians do all the time, which do not contradict the Bible.

    Please remember, "Jesus saw in every soul one to whom must be given the call to His kingdom. He reached the hearts of the people by going among them as one who desired their good. He sought them in the public streets, in private houses, on the boats, in the synagogue, by the shores of the lake, and at the marriage feast. He met them at their daily vocations, and manifested an interest in their secular affairs. He carried His instruction into the household, bringing families in their own homes under the influence of His divine presence. His strong personal sympathy helped to win hearts.--The Desire of Ages, p. 151."

    While there is no Bible command to observe Christmas there is also no Bible command not to. However, as was clearly stated in the post, if it was so wrong, would God's prophet not have told us? Ellen White, God's prophet tells us how to celebrate Christmas. " Christmas and New Year celebrations can and should be held in behalf of those who are helpless. God is glorified when we give to help those who have large families to support."-Adventist Home page 482

    I can only speak for myself, but I cannot say in one breath that Ellen White is a prophet and in another breath say that God condemns the celebration of Christmas. I firmly believe in Ellen White as a prophet.

    Paul says in Romans 14:5 "One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day [alike]. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind." Now this is clearly not talking about the Sabbath as we know the Bible is clear that we should keep the Sabbath. It is talking about feast days and man-made holidays. Again, as was stated in the post Paul kept these days with the rest of the world as a way to share Jesus, even though there was no command to do so. There was also no command not to do so. Paul, by influence of the Spirit of Prophecy said let each man be persuaded in his own mind. If you do not want to observe Christmas fine. That is your own choice. But please do not judge and condemn those who do without being able to show from the Bible where it is wrong. 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us all our doctrines and reproofs must come from the Bible. While the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy warn against Sunday Observance and the Mark of Beast, neither the Bible or Spirit of Prophecy warn against observing simple holidays. To say Christmas is wrong is to contradict Ellen White, and I believe that Ellen White was God's messenger to His last-day church.

    • Dear Brothers and sisters,

      If Christmas can be celebrated, then how about Easter Sunday (Christ Resurrection), Palm Sunday, and all the Catholic Celebrations even though it is not stated in the Bible to do it. Why does Adventist doesn't celebrate these Christian celebrations? What so special about Christmas alone?

      Thank you..

      • Brother Peter, because I was raised Methodist and attended, as a teenager, the Catholic Church, I am aware of the supposed "holiness" that is attached by the Catholic Church (and some Methodists) to the days you ask about. In my 39 years as an Adventist, I don't think I've seen one Adventist consider any of those days "holy". But to talk about the things God has done for us, the Jesus commands us to do. Mark 16:15. We can preach the good news of His birth, and the month of December is as good a time as any. We can preach the good news of His death and resurrection at any time, including the time of the year when other churches preach it. Please, let not the abuses of others destroy your freedom to testify for the God you love and, by His grace, to draw others to love Him, too.

  6. I have seen more good things coming out of Christmas than bad. People reach out to one another, people attend church who normally would not. So yes, I believe in Christmas and I think it can be edifying. Many good things are done around that season, many are helped at least for that part of the year.

  7. we should remember that we shouldn t do as the world does and we dont need a certain day set aside by non belivers to do good to people. we should learn from Christ how he used to show good to people in everyday of his life

    • Amen Zintle! We should do good on every day. As is pointed out in the post, doing good to others is not just the meaning of Christmas it is the meaning of life. We should never stop doing good for others, even on Christmas day we should keep doing good to others.

  8. I'm really glad I read this. I have never really appreciated people who make a very big deal out of Christmas. I love that it's an opportunity to talk about Jesus without being judged but the trees and sleighs and santa claus have always bothered me. Something just felt "not right"' about it. I'm so happy that you've cleared things up. Thank you!!

  9. AS Paul says we must be persuaded in our own mind and not judge and condemn others. Romans 14. Many Christians who observe Christmas do not do so as a "holy day," any more than any other holiday.

  10. To me it is the time of year, at this time i feel happy to know that i have lived through another year. so for this i will be in a very thankful mood, every day above ground is a good day, but when it is the end of the year, that's even a better reason to be thankful.Not that i am not thankful throughout the the year. And i also love the atmosphere. P eople have a happier spirit, a more giving spirit. and if that takes christmas to do thaat, even if it's once per year, i love that..

  11. It is an opportunity to speak to Americans about Jesus and what he did for them. People that do not normally come to church do. It is a time of evangelism, a time to show the world the character and love of God. In the USA we are so busy with all we have and need to do to keep what we have that we don’t see our need for God. We have a small window when most minds are turned to God and I believe we need to seize it and let the world see His character and remind them He is coming for a second time. Please where ever you are strive to reach those that have left the church and those who do not know the Lord at all and I will do the same. Perhaps you will reach one of my relatives and I will reach one of yours. May the Lord Bless you and may you be a blessing to others.

  12. Thank you all for posting! I can clearly see two distinct views on the Christmas season.
    I think we all know by now that Christ was not born on Dec 25th. I am sure we are all clear on that. However one can’t help seeing that this is the only time of the year (and maybe Easter) that so many hearts are open to the gospel than any other time of the year. Why not make good use of the season to reach to those people who otherwise might be difficult to reach.
    In my country we would often make good use of a funeral service to preach salvation since that’s often the only and sometimes best time to reach some.

    So this year, like every other year, my house it not going to have a tree or decorations and no special preparations will be made for December 25th but I am not going to be a Grinch about the Christmas season. If there is ever a time to step up my game with the gospel, it would be now, when more people are willing to listen.

  13. It's a shame that issues which come up with Christmas or any other decidedly Adventist position bring out the condemning spirit. It's no wonder our youth get confused and leave the church.

    God help us all to love each other first and try to remember that the Holy Spirit convicts each person differently. We are all at various positions on our journey to the Kingdom. I am ashamed to be identified as Adventist while such horribly disrespectful ideas are presented.

    There is no reason we all have to agree. We are required to be respectful. God bless you, Pastor Earnhardt. Your job is vitally important and the attacks most disappointing.

  14. Thank you everyone for your comments. It is good to get views from all over the world. This helps keep up balanced as a church family.

    Harold, Thank you for your comments. You write very organized and clearly:

    "My response: 2 Corinthians 6:14 applies to any doctrine that conflicts with the fundamental beliefs of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. Other Christians as stated, have “Christianised” Christmas, and most of us follow suit. They have “sanctified” the 25 December treating it as a “special day” and so do we. If any person can point out in Scripture, where God has “set aside” this day for celebration, I will retract my statements."

    We do not sanctify Christmas. We do not call it a "holy day" any more than Thanksgiving which you say you observe. Can you show me where God has set aside the 4th Thursday of November as a day of celebration?

    As has already been pointed out by myself and others, we understand it is not Christ's birthday. We do not celebrate it as his birthday. We recognize that Christ became a man and dwelt among us. This we can celebrate on December 25 as well as the rest of the year.

    A friend of mine once asked me what was the most pagan holiday of the year. I guessed Halloween. He said, "No. Your birthday, because that's the only time it's all about you." He may have been half joking but he had a point worth considering. I like what our associate pastor here at Tampa First SDA Church does on her young daughter's birthdays. She has a party, but instead of accepting gifts for her daughter, she uses the birthday party to raise money and accept donations to help build a well in a third world country. So her daughter will be raised using her birthday as a way to help others instead of it being all about her. Likewise we can take advantage of a season (I say season as there is nothing magical about the day) to think of others and help others and get outside ourselves just like we should be doing every day all year long.

    We can make Christmas "all about Christ."

    • I am pleased that we can have such open-minded and analytical discussions. I am currently living in a country where some even think it a sin to sing 'christmas hymns/carols', especially at church. Some would rather rip the hymns out of the SDA hymnal (115-143). I think it is ridiculous. I too believe it is a great time to spread the gospel while the world is in its most receptive state. The world has materialized the whole idea of christmas. We have a great opportunity to provide a much better alternative i.e. spritualize it (if such a word is acceptable).

  15. My three year-old granddaughter is learning about Jesus, prayer and Christmas from her Catholic Great-Nonnie Schu and her ex-Catholic, Seventh-day Adventist grandmother and grandfather. If we didn't celebrate Christmas here in the USA, then my grandchildren would have less opportunity to learn about Jesus. God’s love flows thru anyone who will let it flow. There are many Seventh-day Adventists who have no love, except for themselves. It’s not the church we belong to that matters. It’s the God we serve and whether His love flows thru us. Anyone who unselfishly loves others, serves the one and only true God. One day soon, it will be made plain, whether we serve the God of heaven or the god of self. I look forward to that day. Thanks William for another great post and for being willing to write about sensitive issues.

  16. Most of us agree that Christ was not born on December 25th, but may I say there is no record to this? It is therefore a lie to say it is not December 25th, as equally lie to say it is.
    If we say the Bible and Bible alone, then be silent when the Bible is.

  17. Harold, could you please identify which one of the 28 Fundamental Beliefs that Christmas is in violation of? I looked and I could not find Christmas mentioned in any of them. I could not even find the word "holiday" in them.

  18. Nice explanation, it has helped me see how I can use this Christmas season to spread the message of Gods love in a special way. but we all as Christians and not only on Christmas day should remember to spread the message of Gods love love all year long Patrick,[Malawi]

  19. Thank you Bro.William Earnhardt for your lessons on how to show love. In my home we use the Christmas holiday time to sing praises to God for His Son Jesus, we also pass out Bible literature and more people except it because of their joyful spirit and we travel to visit family because we all have time off work. My boys never expect anything from me or others because we use this time to show love to others, and the gifts we receive were so needed because we are a low income family. I can't allow others to take these happy times and turn it into something sinful. I pray we all find joy in serving and living for Jesus.

  20. Please do not forget that there are those of us who choose not to celebrate but do not judge others and still enjoy the spirit of the season. My wife and I encourage the coming together of family and the focus on Christ. However, it is obvious that it is not His birthday just like it is obvious that Santa will not buy us gifts. We promote the truth without judgement.

  21. Harold wrote: Every year we place Jesus back in the manger as a Baby when we should be constantly aware, that the “hour of His judgement is come” (Rev: 14:7).

    When I came into the church, it was legalism I was exposed to:the end of all time is here (which I already knew, even though I hadn't been a Christian for 10 years), and do everything right, don't be involved with family, cut off from former friends, don't laugh and have any fun because the hour of His judgement is come, wear your hair a certain way and your skirts a certain length well below the knee, (and never wear any kind of pants), eat only 2 meals a day, swim (actually jump in the water) with your long dress, spank your child for normal child-like behavior, don't talk to the guys, etc. I could give many more examples of methods to control. That took all the joy I had out of my life.

    I find there are many in our church and world that try to rob us of our joy and that's what I see with some of those responses to this post. Our son and family are not Christians. Our home is theirs (they live in Manhatten, NY, and spend much time here) and they want a tree so we have one. We are all continually bonding through these experiences and our love is growing. Our 3.5 year old granddaughter, Lily, gave us tremendous joy because she loves the tree and simple decorations. Lily learned about Jesus this Thanksgiving from my mom and for years she has been hearing how we go to "church". So when we picked up my Mom from church, I asked Lily if she wanted to see the church. And she was so happy to see it and I showed her the manger and told her baby Jesus wasn't in it until the time comes for Christmas day. I know Jesus wasn't born on Christmas but I will use the concept to help others know that God is real and alive.
    Thanks again for the courage to respond so well to some of the posts.

    • Thanks, Jane, for bringing that excellent article to our attention. I recommend that all our readers take a look at it, because it includes some great suggestions on how to make Christ the center of Christmas.

  22. Harold, you said,

    "In many of her devotionals, we read of Sister White advising and addressing some issue quoting Scripture, to encourage brothers and sisters in the faith. It is only when she states, 'I was shown' that we need to accept what God has shown her. A very good example is our Health Message." I believe using that as a litmus test for determining whether or not what Ellen White says is inspired is problematic for several reasons.

    In the entire Conflict of Ages series of books, the phrase "I was shown" is never used. That series includes The Great Controversy, Desire of Ages, Patriarchs and Prophets, Prophet and Kings, and Acts of the Apostles. According to your prescription then nothing she says in those books is inspired. Yet in the introduction to The Great Controversy Mrs. White wrote, "As the Spirit of God has opened to my mind the great truths of His word, and the scenes of the past and the future, I have been bidden to make known to others that which has thus been revealed--to trace the history of the controversy in past ages, and especially so to present it as to shed a light on the fast-approaching struggle of the future" (GC xi.2; If God opened up her mind including historical scenes and bidden her to pass that information on then as far as I am concerned what she says in those books is inspired.

    We know that the Old Testament prophets used, "Thus says the LORD" or just "says the LORD" as a formula to enforce a message but nothing like that is used in the New Testament. In fact, there are only a few places in the New Testament beyond the Gospels where a vision is even recorded. Certainly the book of Revelation is one of them and Peter's vision of the sheet coming down while at Joppa. Paul also recounts a vision he had of Christ on the Damascus road but besides those times I can't remember any other place where a vision by one of the apostles or disciples is mentioned. So what do we do with 2 Tim 3:16? Obviously one doesn't have to have a vision in order for their writing to be inspired. Even Luke tells us that he got his information from other human sources and compiled that together when writing his Gospel (Lk 1:1-3) and I don't think any of us would be comfortable discarding his Gospel because of that.

    Bible writers often quoted each other along with outside sources (often secular) and even the pagan king, Nebuchadnezzar, had some of his writings in the book of Daniel (Dan 4). In the book of Ezra we find entire letters and decrees quoted. Is this not also part of scripture and inspired of God?

    I feel that we set ourselves up for a lot trouble when we go about slicing and dicing up the writings of prophets. "Believe in the LORD your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper" (2 Chr. 20:20 NKJV). I believe that holds for Ellen White as well. Let's keep her writings in tact!

  23. Every year we have this great debate about the origins of Christmas, often to the detriment of spreading the gospel. I agree that there is a lot of commercial exploitation of Christmas. For example, the red Santa, so popular around shopping centers began as a a Coca Cola advertisement in the late 1920s. However we need to be careful that we do not bury an opportunity to witness very effectively for Christ at one of the few times a year that people may actually think about Christ.

    If, when people are disposed to think about Jesus, they hear Christians promoting the idea that Christmas is a pagan festival, they are going to get a very mixed message. While there is much that is wrong about modern commercial Christmas, there are indeed opportunities for Christian witness that does not point to old pagan practices.

    In our household, Christmas has always been a time to reaffirm family relationships. It is a convenient time of the year when the family can get together to enjoy one anothers company. There are family members who no longer worship with us, who will happily come to a family gathering to enjoy family favorite foods and to take part in family worship. No one can predict the importance of these gatherings. I grew up where our extended family, many from overseas would meet and enjoy and share. The sense of belonging to a family of wonderful Christians was reinforced in me and is something that I want to continue to give to my own family.

    Currently I am having a great time with my grandchildren. I have bought them a kite for Christmas. They do not know that yet. they know that it is 30 metres long and 2 metres wide. We have paced out the distance across the front garden and up the road. My grandkids and I are having a great time talking, communicating and bonding. There are opportunities to share values and experiences. And when the Christmas present is opened it will be a "sharing present". Grandad and his two grandkids spending time together flying the kite. Who said I am giving them a kite for Christmas. I am giving myself a great time with two very precious boys and that is going to last well beyond December 25. Who wants to smother that sort of experience with talk of pagan festivals. Get real! Jesus came to fly kites with me. I want to share that experience with others. There is a way to celebrate Christmas. Forget the baggage and make Christmas Christian by sharing and telling the Gospel and reaching out to warm the hearts of those who need Christ the most.

    • Couldn't agree with you more Maurice, Christmas is a family time when we can share our love for Jesus and each other.

  24. It seems to me that a lot of people are entrenching themselves back into a type of fortress mentality over Christmas similar to what Stephen Terry describes ( which is basically what the Jews did after the Babylonian captivity. They realized that they had brought all that trouble on themselves because they didn't listen and follow God but instead ran after other gods and forgot about His commandments and laws.

    In an effort to stop that from happening again groups such as the Pharisees chose to enclose the law in a set of regulations that would ensure that they would be kept. They also pretty much isolated themselves from the world around them as is shown in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk 10:30-36) and treated everything outside the confines of Judaism as unclean and therefore not to be touched (see Peters experience with Cornelius Acts 10 and what he told the Jerusalem council Acts 11:1-12). That greatly affected the way they viewed other people and dictated how they treated them and was the reason why they erected the physical barrier in the temple keeping the gentiles away from the inner court where the altar of burnt offering was. That placed an immense burden and hardship on the gentile who wanted to make an offering to God since he had to get a Jew to present the offering for him. On the other hand, Jesus often set a good example of His attitude toward the gentile in His intercourse with interested Gentiles including the Samaritans as can be seen in his discussion with the woman at the well (Jn 4:5-27).

    Paul being a Jew who lived in Gentile territory seems to have had the same attitude toward the Gentile pagan world. We can see this in his instructions he gave to the Corinthian church concerning the problem of frequenting the meat market in Corinth.

    The situation in most pagan cities of his time was that the pagan temple occupied a very visible, prominent position in the city. In order to support the temple financially they had meat markets beside the temple where they sold the meat that was offered for sacrifice. The problem with the Corinthian church was that it, like most of Paul's churches, was split into two groups--one Gentile, who saw the temple and its services as meaningless, and the other Jewish, that considered the temple and everything with it unclean and strictly taboo.

    With this background in mind let's hear what Paul has to say:

    Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one.
    5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords),
    6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.
    7 However, there is not in everyone that knowledge; for some, with consciousness of the idol, until now eat it as a thing offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled.
    8 But food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse.
    9 But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak.
    10 For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol's temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols?
    11 And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?
    12 But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.
    13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble. (1 Co. 8:4-13 NKJV)

    Even though there is a very good lesson for us here concerning our relationship to one another in the church I wish to focus on how Paul related to things offered to idols because if there is anything that would have defiled a person handling offerings to pagan gods would have been it.

    Notice that he says that those who thought in terms of food offered to idols had a weak conscience - meaning that they couldn't get beyond the thought that what they were handling was something demonic. They didn't have the knowledge that, "an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one." To Paul, eating meat offered to an idol didn't defile the person. In a certain sense it is much like what Jesus taught concerning eating without first going through a ritual hand washing, "Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man" (Matt. 15:17-20 NKJV).

    This attitude toward defilement afforded Jesus a clear conscience when dealing with Gentiles and those infected with various diseases including leprosy. That was also the reason why Paul had no problem associating with Gentiles (Gal 2:11-14). Unlike the Pharasaical Jews, He didn't view Gentiles as unclean, even while he recognized their worship services as worthless with respect to his salvation. I really don't think it would have bothered Paul to enter a pagan temple as long as he didn't worship the god it contained.

    Paul was practical and had an ambition to reach the untouchable with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But he understood that many didn't see things that way and when confronted with a different attitude he thought, "For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some" (1 Co. 9:19-22 NKJV).

  25. Thank you Harold for your explanations. I don't find them 'judging' or 'condemning at all. It is the truth. We can give all justifications to continue our traditions, but for me, if it doesn't glorify God, I wouldn't want to have anything to do with it. Also I think that we parents teach selfishness unintentionally to our children when we shower them with gifts on Christmas instead of teach them to give Christ the gifts as what the magis did. I agree with others that we can use this holiday to reach out to unbelievers but to follow the tradition within the adventist homes (christmas gifts, tree, materialistic celebration) is something we should pray about if indeed acceptable to God or not. We can justify as much as we like/can but .... God cannot be mocked. Blessings and love to all, Gilda

    • Dear Gilda,

      I believe that we are all agreed that if it doesn't glorify God, we don't want to do it.

      The challenge is how to glorify God in the Christmas season and every other day of the year. Christmas appears to be a legal holiday in almost all parts of the world. Thus it is hard to ignore, and Ellen White acknowledged that fact in her counsel. And she gave some good counsel on how we can honor Christ in the Christmas season. See "Ellen White's Statements on Christmas."

      You note correctly that we can unintentionally teach our children selfishness by showering them with gifts, instead of teaching them to share. Do you have any positive suggestions regarding how we can teach our children to share?

      Do you have some modern suggestions to add to those Ellen White gave a century or more ago?

  26. It is good to stay away from the Christmas celebrations and what is being done with respect to dressing up the tree is akin to what God spoke about in JEREMIAH 10: 1-5:

    Hear the word that the Lord speaks to you, O house of Israel. 2 Thus says the Lord:

    “Learn not the way of the nations,
    nor be dismayed at the signs of the heavens
    because the nations are dismayed at them,
    3 for the customs of the peoples are vanity.[a]
    A tree from the forest is cut down
    and worked with an axe by the hands of a craftsman.
    4 They decorate it with silver and gold;
    they fasten it with hammer and nails
    so that it cannot move.
    5 Their idols[b] are like scarecrows in a cucumber field,
    and they cannot speak;
    they have to be carried,
    for they cannot walk.
    Do not be afraid of them,
    for they cannot do evil,
    neither is it in them to do good.”

    • Dear Janine,

      I am familiar with the passage in Jeremiah, and it is helpful to read the whole chapter in order not to be misled.

      Reading the whole chapter, we find that this is part of a delightful poetic contrast between idols and the great God of heaven. Referring to the same idols as verse 6, the passage continues in verse 8:

      8 They are both stupid and foolish;
      the instruction of idols is but wood! 9 Beaten silver is brought from Tarshish,
      and gold from Uphaz.
      They are the work of the craftsman and of the hands of the goldsmith;
      their clothing is violet and purple;
      they are all the work of skilled men. 10 But the Lord is the true God;
      he is the living God and the everlasting King.

      So this is a passage describing gold-plated idols whose basic shape is made from wood. The contrast is between idols made by skilled craftsmen and the one who is the Maker of all.

      Please go and read the chapter for yourself. It seems to me that to apply this passage to evergreen trees brought inside houses for a temporary decoration (like big bouquets) is altogether missing the point of the Scripture.

      May you be blessed as you worship the Maker, rather than the things that are made! 🙂

  27. The Real and the Counterfeit.

    Are some throwing out the real because there is also a counterfeit?

    What really made me think about this is when some members refused to come to church in December because we sing songs about Christ's birth at that time!

    Why would anyone object to singing songs about Christ's birth in December? So much so that they won't even come to church?
    What event in earth's history had the whole choirs of heaven singing in joyful praise over the fields of Bethlehem? Even if they don't think Jesus was born in December, why would they think it wrong to sing songs of His incarnation?

    I did a little research on the subject and found some very interesting things.

    FIRST -- Jesus could very well have been born in December

    There is a mathematical way to try to understand when Jesus was born, though it’s not conclusive on a date.

    Zacharias (John the Baptist's father) was serving in the temple during the course of Abia. (Luke 1:5) He is told by an angel that his wife would have a son. (1:13) Elizabeth conceives shortly after. (1:24) Six months later the angel tells Mary she will conceive. (1:26,36) Mary stays with Elizabeth for three months till John is born. (1:56) Jesus is born six months after John the Baptist.
    So the Bible does give some rather definite time here.

    So when was Zacharias in the temple?
    Well there are TWO possibilities.

    The priests of the 8th course of Abia served in the 10th week (end of May/June) as well as the 34th week (late Sept/Oct) each year. So adding at least two weeks for conception to occur John was probably born either in March (around Passover time) OR early in July.

    Add six months to that would place Jesus birth either in
    September (the seventh month of the Jewish calendar) OR late December (about the time the world celebrates Christ's birth.)


    Now someone will probably say, BUT sheep weren't out in the fields in December. But that isn't totally correct, in fact as I researched this out I found some VERY interesting things.

    Jesus' birthplace was Bethlehem as Micah 5:2 prophesied and as the Gospels of Matthew, Luke and John confirm. (See Matthew 2:1,5-6,8,16; Luke 2:4,15; John 7:42)

    Although the New Testament does not tell us where in Bethlehem Jesus was born, the Old Testament gives us some insights.

    Micah 4:8 states, "And thou, O tower of the flock, (Hebrew: Migdal Edar) the strong hold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem." Thus the Old Testament clearly states that the Messiah would be born at the "tower of the flock".

    Migdal Edar was an actual tower about four miles south of Jerusalem and just north of Bethlehem where the sacrificial lambs were raised for the temple services.

    The Tower of the Flock was used for birthing ewes, and the surrounding fields were where these shepherds grazed their flocks. These shepherds customarily kept their flocks outdoors twenty-four hours a day every day of the year, but brought the ewes in to deliver their lambs where they could be carefully cared for.

    There are many who believe the "barn" that Jesus was born in was this Migdal Edar.
    The shepherds knew where to look for the "babe wrapped in swaddling clothes laying in a manger (or stable)
    Jesus was born "the Lamb of God" in the place where the little sacrificial lambs were born.

    When the angelic announcement came, these shepherds knew exactly where to go, as Luke 2 indicates, for the sign of a manger could only mean their manger at the tower of the flock! The directions they were given would never have been so readily understood unless it was the right manger and the right shepherds!

    There is NOTHING devilish in remembering and celebrating Christ's birth! It's one of the greatest events in the course of salvation history, and yes, it could have taken place in December.

    Just because the devil has loaded it down with everything imaginable to get people's minds off of Christ during this time (and he is frantic about this because more people think about Christ during December than any other time of year)

    Does that mean we should stop celebrating Christ coming to earth to take upon Himself humanity -- Our Emmanuel -- God with us, at a time when many people are most receptive to the message?

  28. may God richly bless you for this wonderful comment, we are kingdom bound, we cannot do as the world does, we cannot follow their step, we are the light of the world, we need to convert the world, not the world converting us. GRACE! GRACE! Brethren it is time to wake up, Lord is calling us , we need to hear His voice and obey. THIS IS A PAGAN HOLIDAY, WE NEED TO STEP BACK, PRAY ABOUT IT, DO NOT LET IT BE AN IDOL ( IDOL ANYTHING THAT GETS BETWEEN YOU AND GOD), LET'S US MAKE SURE THERE IS NOTHING BETWEEN. BE BLESSED.

  29. Let everyone be persuaded in their own minds...

    Personally I think there are many far more important and far graver effects of paganism on the church to be found-not the least of which is often found in our views of God eg. As an angry being who must be appeased.

  30. Let God judge our motives but I thank you all for your input. It helps me understand the whole meaning of the holiday. And as for me and my family, this holidays (new year & Christmas) I will use these days to evangelize to everyone that I come in contact with just like the rest of the days of the year. "Letting people know that God had come as a baby, and died for us to be able to be with Him in eternity."

  31. Mrs White has much to say on Christmas. If we take the time to read what she says, rather than hearing what others have selectively quoted, you get the impression that she is very level-headed about the whole issue. While she condemns the excesses and extravagances that have become part of Christmas, she also accepts that we can use the time effectively in a Christian way.

    I was indeed surprised to read what she says about Christmas trees:

    God would be well pleased if on Christmas each church would have a Christmas tree on which shall be hung offerings, great and small, for these houses of worship (a reference to giving to the building of new churches). Letters of inquiry have come to us asking, Shall we have a Christmas tree? Will it not be like the world? We answer, You can make it like the world if you have the disposition to do so, or you can make it as unlike the world as possible. there is no particular sin in selecting a fragrant evergreen and placing it in our churches, but the sin lies in the motive which prompts to action and the use which is made of the gifts placed upon the tree. {Adventist Home 428.1}

    There are many more quotes that I could give. My overall impression is that Mrs White is telling us to seize the day as an opportunity to share Christ. I believe that the challenge has been given to us to create our own Seventh-day Adventist tradition for a Christ centered Christmas.

  32. Jotha, I am confused! You said, "I am a strong supporter of Ellen G White" then in the same sentence you write that she, "is definitely wrong on that Christmas comment."

    If you are "a strong supporter of Ellen White," do you believe that she is a prophet and that God spoke through her?

    If she really is a prophet inspired of God, then why are you so ready to discard what she says because of a dream that Satan could have very easily given you as he has done with so many others? After all, he was easily able to cause a live vision of a snake in the presence of Moses, Pharaoh, the priests, and many others in Pharaoh's court (Ex 7:10-12). He also was able to cause a vision of Samuel to appear to the medium at Endor and even mimic Samuel's voice which Saul recognized (1 Sam 28:11-19); something which God commanded His people never to do (Deut 18:10-12).

    It seems to me that the heart of the issue is where we get authority from. As Isaiah said, "And when they say to you, 'Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,' should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living? To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them (Isa. 8:19-20 NKJV). I think the reason why Isaiah said this is because it is all too easy for us to be led astray by visions and apparitions. Because of these things I feel that our faith must be grounded solidly on the Bible rather than a feeling or vision or some other thing like stigmata. If a vision is backed up by scripture as it was with Ellen White's visions then we are safe to follow them otherwise we need to be ware for the devil is seeking to destroy us and he will do it any way he can.

    • Brother Tyler;
      thank You for your comment, when I say that I am a strong supporter of E G White that does not mean if she says something silly or something the bible does not say , I would go ahead and listen to it.

      Be blessed

      • Jotha,

        From your remarks it seems that you only accept Ellen White's counsel when she writes something you happen to agree with, and you disregard whatever you don't agree with.

        That seems to be strange "support" for Ellen White, and it is a dangerous way to relate to prophets -- whether biblical or more modern.

  33. Dear Jotha,

    Do you believe that your dream is more authoritative for Seventh-day Adventists than the counsel by Ellen White? If so, how can you say that you "strongly support" her?

    Do you believe that all dreams come from God? Is it possible they may come from another source?

    Scientists recognize that the brain can create dreams without our conscious input from fragments of information and memories stored in our brains. Could this have happened to you? Is it possible that in your brain there was a bit of stored information about a tree being an idol? If so, where did that bit of information originate?

    I agree that, if you are inclined to worship green trees, you should not have them in your house or on your property. But that doesn't necessarily mean that all other Christians should avoid green trees or Christmas. We have a choice in what we do with Christmas. May your choice be guided by the Holy Spirit.

    • Thank you for your reply, Yusuf.

      As you must surely know, the passage you quoted from Jeremiah is incomplete and it is clear from the full passage that it does not and cannot apply to Christmas trees, unless you are inclined to bow down and worship Christmas trees. See my previous reply.

      As for science, I was not proposing that science is infallible. However, it can help us gain insight into our bodies, and one of those insights includes the fact that dreams are not necessarily from God or from the devil but are commonly derived from information stored in our brains. If you have better information regarding dreams, please share. (By the way, what is your area of scientific expertise?)

      I hope we can agree that we can choose how to relate to Christmas. You have apparently chosen to completely ignore it, and so have some others who have commented. And that is fine. However, their choice need not be a standard for others to follow. I think that Ellen White's approach is more balanced, but that doesn't make your choice wrong.

      Ellen writes much about the excesses of Christmas, and that's why it's worthwhile to read all she says thoughtfully. At the same time, however, she acknowledges that it's not really practical to ignore the season, especially with children in the family. Such wonderful balance in the counsels from the messenger God was pleased to give to our church!

    • Dear Inge;
      No, I do not think dream is more authoritative for Seventh-day Adventists than the counsel by Ellen White, but I do not also believe what written in the "Adventist Home" is from E G White neither, if it is hers, maybe at that time she has not yet received the lights concerning this like eating pork etc....
      I am someone that is able to discern God's voice and the devil's. and that particular one was directly from God, you do not have to believe, because you want to follow the majority [edited]

      Be Blessed and have a great sabbath.

      • Dear Jotha,
        The passages William quoted in the article above were first published in the Review and Herald in December 1879 and December 1884. When the editors indicated that the material was written by "Ellen G White," I believe they knew that it was from her. Furthermore, it was not early in her career (as in her eating pork before she knew better), but when she was a respected leader in the church and her counsel had already guided the church through many difficulties.

        Thus, whether you admit it or not, you accept your dream as having more authority than the counsel of Ellen White.

        Your remarks also seem to indicate that you believe all dreams are supernatural and are therefore either from God or from Satan. This is not necessarily so. They may be the result of the food you ate just before retiring. There is no "science of dreams," but we do have some idea that the brain appears to put together information that is already stored in one form or another. So dreams may be just the product of our own unfettered imagination while we are asleep.

        I would also like you to seriously consider this: Many people have gone astray listening to a voice they sincerely believed to be God's. Sincerity does not save us from deception when we have the opportunity to know the truth as the Bereans learned to know it. Some have listened to the voice of an evil spirit, believing it to be the voice of God. We can praise God that they were delivered from such deception.

        Finally, I can not tell you what to do on December 25th. It is between you and God. By the same token, how you choose to regard the day and how others choose to spend it should not be a guide for our other readers.

        God has given us the kingly power of choice. On any day of the week or any day of the year, we may choose to honor Him or dishonor Him. What others have done in the past or choose to do now need not affect us.

        We can rightly say on any day of the year, "This is the day that the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it" (Psalm 118:24) - including on Christmas day. 🙂 I choose to rejoice!

  34. I kind off get confused with the way we change things as adventists, when I became one we never used to celebrate christmass and I was taught why,

    can some one educate me on santa claus and the flying reindeers? Its clear this was a pagan rite which was passed in the church together with the worship of idols and the virgin mary,

    my point is let's be good to others all year round and not just in december and on a day with questions, christmass cerebration is a stumbling block to some of our believers and since I was taught not to celebrate then I don't think I can start now but I will strive to do my best to help others in need be it christmass or not,

    where in the bible did Jesus tell us to remember his birth? At least he said we should remember his death and ressurection, and why does christmass happen to fall on the day pagans celebrate the feast of unconqured sun?

  35. Dear Bupe,

    Thank you for commenting on our blog. It would help us to understand what you are saying if you would tell us from where you are writing. And where/when did you become a Seventh-day Adventist? Who taught you that Seventh-day Adventists do not celebrate Christmas? And what reasons did they give?

    Are you living in a part of the world where pagans "celebrate the feast of the unconquered sun" on December 25? It seems to me that if this is so, it would be a civic holiday, and it would be a very good thing to celebrate the Sun of Righteousness on that day, so the young people would not be tempted to join in the the celebration of "the feast of the unconquered sun."

    I also am not sure what you mean by "celebrate Christmas" -- especially when you write of Santa Claus and flying reindeer. Neither of those has anything to do with recognizing Christmas as a Christian. The "flying reindeer" were the fanciful invention of an American poet whose poem caught the imagination of the people, and reindeer became firmly embedded in Christmas traditions.

    We raised five boys, and we did not think it wise to tell them fairy tales or teach them to believe in Santa Claus or Easter bunnies. Instead, when they saw a man dressed up in a Santa suit around Christmas, I told them that it was a man dressed up in a funny red suit. "Isn't he funny?" When they ran across some of the traditions based on pure imagination, I told them the truth of how these practices began.

    We also created a few traditions of our own. One of them included the boys going out with their daddy on December 24 and finding and cutting a Christmas tree. (We were fortunate to live in a part of Canda where we could do that.) It was always something they looked forward to, and I remember them coming home with rosy cheeks and their trophy of "the tree." The simple decorations didn't cost much, especially when they were home-made, and the tree made the house smell a bit like the forest from where it came. It was a wonderful decoration when there were no flowers to bring in from the field or garden.

    Christmas Eve meant singing Christmas carols like "Away in the manger," and "Silent night," and reading the story of the the birth of Christ from Matthew and Luke. They could open one present - usually pyjamas or something similar. They also received some gifts on Christmas day. These usually included books and one major toy that could be used for creative play. (Lego blocks & metal Tonka trucks, for instance. None of this plastic push-button stuff that breaks in a day or two. By giving such easily destroyed gifts, we can unintentionally teach our children to destroy things.)

    Christmas dinners ranged from a simple fruit salad one Christmas to the typical vegetarian roast plus all the trimmings another Christmas. On the fruit salad Christmas, we spent the afternoon visiting poorer families and sharing gifts. It's one of the more memorable Christmases we spent.

    Of course, if you are happy to ignore the Christmas holiday and spend it like any other working day, that is certainly your privilege. And it may be that in your part of the world, Seventh-day Adventists have developed their own tradition of being against Christmas. But this has never been the position of the world church.

    I appreciate the wonderfully balanced counsel from Ellen White who recognized that such a big holiday is difficult to ignore, especially in a household with children. She gave some excellent council on how to make Christ the center of Christmas. I recommend you spend a little time reading her suggestions at

  36. I understand that Idolatry involves worshiping something other than God. "You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them . . ." (Exod. 20:3-5 NKJV).

    Who is worshipping the Christmas tree?

    I would like to see in the Bible where trees brought into a home or churches are automatically idols. Can you show me the passage please? Would it be any more of an idol than any other form of vegetation used for decoration in those places?

    I would also dearly love to see where Scripture says that Christmas trees are pagan or, for that matter, Christmas itself. Ellen White doesn't say that, but it seems you discount her counsel on the matter.

    Do you have more authority than the prophet who was inspired by God?

  37. Dear Bupe and Inge - a few paragraphs from Sister White on "Christmas"
    She states what I have been trying to get across, gifts were given to Jesus, where ever did we get this idea that we are to exchange gifts with each other on 25 December? I know where. Get all the details at the website below. God bless.
    See "Christmas is Coming"

    Jesus, the Majesty of heaven, the royal King of heaven, laid aside His royalty, left His throne of glory, His high command, and came into our world to bring to fallen man, weakened in moral power, and corrupted by sin, aid divine. He clothed His divinity with humanity, that He might reach to the very depths of human woe and misery, to lift up fallen man. By taking upon Himself man's nature, He raised humanity in the scale of moral value with God. Those great themes are almost too high, too deep, too infinite, for the comprehension of finite minds.

    Parents should keep these things before their children and instruct them, line upon line, precept upon precept, in their obligation to God--"not their obligation to each other, to honor and glorify one another by gifts and offerings." But they should be taught that Jesus is the world's Redeemer, the object of thought, of painstaking effort; that His work is the grand theme which should engage their attention; "that they should bring to Him their gifts and offerings. Thus did the wise men and the shepherds."

    The desire for amusement, instead of being quenched and arbitrarily ruled down, should be controlled and directed by painstaking effort upon the part of the parents.

    Their desire to make gifts may be turned into pure and holy channels, and made to result in good to our fellow men by supplying the treasury in the great, grand work for which Christ came into our world. Self-denial and self-sacrifice marked His course of action. Let it mark ours who profess to love Jesus; because in Him is centered our hope of eternal life.

    Thousands of dollars (in 1884) are needlessly spent every year in gifts to each other. That is means lost to God, lost to His cause. It pleases the vanity, encourages pride, creates all kinds of dissatisfaction, murmuring, and complaints, because perhaps the gifts are not just what was desired, not of the high value wanted or expected.

    FINALLY: "Turn the Current Heavenward"

    • Harold, as I read through all that Ellen White has to say on giving it is clear that the vast majority of her comments is directed to giving to Christ rather than to our friends. Her focus seems to be for us to give for the benefit of the Gospel and help people that actually need it, but she was also mindful of friends and family and didn't think that they should be neglected in doing all of that. Here are some things she says on that subject"

      While urging upon all the duty of first bringing their offerings to God, I would not wholly condemn the practice of making Christmas and New Years gifts to our friends. It is right to bestow upon one another tokens of love and remembrance if we do not in this forget God, our best friend. We should make our gifts such as will prove a real benefit to the receiver. I would recommend such books as will be an aid in understanding the word of God, or that will increase our love for its precepts. {RH, December 26, 1882 par. 18}

      The holiday season is fast approaching with its interchange of gifts, and old and young are intently studying what they can bestow upon their friends as a token of affectionate remembrance. It is pleasant to receive a gift, however small, from those we love. It is an assurance that we are not forgotten, and seems to bind us to them a little closer. . . . {AH 478.4}

      What we need is balance and for Adventists that is something that has always given us trouble. Many pastors have lost their families because they spent all their time with people outside their family and neglected their own. Jesus told the Pharisees, "you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone" (Matt. 23:23 NKJV). Both were to be taken care of not one to the exclusion of the other.

      To Ellen White, giving gifts to family and friends was not sinful, and I believe that she gave gifts to her children on festive occasions. What she does counsel us to do is to make the gift something that is useful and not to spend a lot of money on it. The world loves extravagance and will give costly gifts because of pride or to elicit some favor. Such things destroy the usefulness of man and cause him to become very selfish. So she counsels that we should look outside of ourselves and be a help to other people. But that doesn't mean for us to neglect ourselves either, "you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD" (Lev. 19:18 NKJV). There is equality there between us and our neighbor. One is not to be put down while elevating the other. So, the operative word here is proper balance; that is what we need in our church.

  38. Dear Yusuf,

    You wrote,

    1. For me and my house no Christmas, we do not celebrate it. Why, because its a time to drink, engage in immoral acts, release steam as they say I do not live in North America. Christmas for us is a drunken feast just worse than Friday (Sabbath night) and Saturday night.

    You do realize, I trust, that the same reasoning would prevent us from honoring the Sabbath from Friday night to Saturday night, don't you?

    After all, according to your own words, it is also a "a time to drink, engage in immoral acts, release steam as they say." It is as true in North America as elsewhere.

    The bottom line is, as Tyler pointed out, that how we have a choice in how we spend our time - whether on Friday or Saturday or any other day, including such civic holidays as Christmas and Easter. We may choose to follow the world, or we may choose to honor God.

  39. More and more families that I am familiar with use Christmas to help the needy or serve meals to the homeless etc.

    Of course many people also look at Matthew 25:40 where Jesus says what you have done to the least of these you have done it unto me, so they give gifts as though they were giving it to Jesus. Just like when we pay our tithes and offerings at church, the money does not float up to heaven, but stays here and benefits pastors who represent Jesus and the poor who represent Jesus. In all these gifts Jesus says what you did for the least of these you did it unto me.

    I am not saying we have to give gifts. I am just saying I am not passing judgment on those who do. At the same time I have talked with people who told me they thought Christmas was a pagan holiday, and as we continued talking I found out from one of the spouses that the other spouse just did not like giving gifts, so as not to offend the people they did not want to give gifts to, it was just easier to say they thought it was a pagan holiday instead of reveal their true motives.

  40. It is true, that because most of the world think about Christ on Christmas, we can use the opportunity to witness about Him and His imminent return. However, the only thing Christ asked us to remember, apart from the Sabbath, is His death. (1 Cor. 11:26. As often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till He come.) You can dress up Christmas (Dec.25th) as much you want, it still remains a pagan holiday.

    • But communion is not an evangelism tool to reach the rest of the world with the gospel. It is only for the church. As a church we may not celebrate Christmas for ourselves but as an evangelism tool to reach unbelievers. Jesus sends us out to all the world. He does not expect unbelievers to show up at our communion services to learn about the gospel.

  41. One of the most perplexing issues in any forum such as this is that we each carry our own history and associations into the discussion. We all need to recognise that we do not know the history of the person with whom we are arguing.

    Christmas for me has always meant happy family gatherings. I am a 4th generation Adventist and the Christmas gathering was when we got to see Uncle Jim again, and taste Aunty Lou's wunderful family recipes. We sang, we played, we gathered under the huge old Norfolk Pine on Grandma's front lawn, and the adults watched our excitement as we kids opened out presents. Now that I am a grandparent myself, I understand their enjoyment. Being a farming family we were fairly flexible about the day we had these family gatherings. I remember that haymaking kept Christmas at bay until January 16 one year. We would always have family worship with the extended family. We would gather around the piano or reed organ and sing carols. Everyone sang.

    It was not until much older that I heard about pagan orgins etc, but by that time, Christmas was very much a great family occasion where I really learned the fun and joy of belonging to a wonderful Christian family.

    However I can well understand those who come from different backgrounds, who carry with them associations with pagan rituals or gluttonous excess. Christmas would carry for them bad memories and associations and I can understand their reluctance to participate.

    The Seventh-day Adventist church is a world-wide church and we recognise that many of us have very different backgrounds. That is probably why the church has very little to say collectively about how we should relate to Christmas. We need to be tolerant and understanding of one another. Now that is a gift worth sharing!

  42. Many people worship Pope so must we treat him as holy to win those who believe in him as a god? Lucky in my church xmas celebration is not an issue we see it as devil worship and we open pple's eyes about its danger.

    • Tembalani, I don't know from where you are writing. Perhaps Christmas is not a civic holiday in your part of the world, as it is in most of the world. Of course, if it is not a civic holiday, then the things we have suggested about how to relate to this holiday do not apply in your country. If it is an ordinary work day, then that's what it is.

      We want to encourage our readers to focus on Christ, rather than the pope. And on this topic, we encourage people to focus on Christ, rather than the devil.

      It is a truth that we become like the object of our focus. If we focus on Christ, we will become like Him. If we focus on the works of the devil, we are likely to become more like the devil. (He is called the "accuser of the brethren" in the Bible.)

      I would be interested to know from what area of the world you write. Do you personally have a history of devil worship on December 25? Do your neighbors? If you do, perhaps it would be a good idea to make it a special point to worship Christ on that day, to take your mind off the devil? (As I mentioned above, if Christmas is not a civic holiday in your country, then, of course, you would treat it as any other day.)

      You seem to suggest that in your church you "open people's eyes" to the "danger" of celebrating Christmas. Might it not be better to open people's eyes to the blessings of the gospel and the glories of the Kingdom of God? Think of the eternal consequences of your focus. Which focus is more likely to win people to commit their lives to Jesus Christ?

      Of course, there's nothing inherently wrong with treating Christmas as an ordinary day, whether or not it is a civic holiday. But where it is a civic holiday, it is a good opportunity to talk to people about Jesus.

      I wonder how the society around you views Christmas? Do people sing songs about Jesus, or do they not? Would they be open to hearing about Jesus at this time of year?

  43. Thank God I didn’t grow up in a household that rejected Christmas as a pagan holiday. Christmas in my SDA household was one of the most precious times of the year for me and my siblings. We exchanged gifts not only amongst ourselves, but gave special offerings to Jesus at church. I feel confident God made no mistake when He chose Ellen White to enlighten us in these last days. Ellen White was balanced in her views regarding Christmas and other special days and I have no hesitation taking the information in “The Adventist Home” on holidays and such, at face value.
    People who are very negative about Christmas give SDA’s a bad name, and instead of drawing people towards Christ, they overwhelm the young people. We should be careful about negative, sweeping statements we make public. It may be the means of repulsing and/or confusing a new convert.
    It would be very interesting to find out if these adults, who have decided that Christmas is a pagan holiday, celebrated Christmas as children.

  44. Yes, I celebrated Christmas as a child. Just only recently after so much study that I realized that Christmas is not for the children of God to celebrate just like the world celebrates it now. Last Christmas, we did'nt give gifts amongs ourselves in the family but gave what we can and collected money to feed the poor children in my home country. We told them who Christ is and took the opportunity to witness for Him. There are so many poor people around the world and so many needs that require our concerted help. Giving gifts to people that can also give me gifts on Christmas is superficial and a tradition I would stop. If we have money, we can donate or teach our children to donate to church building projects, buy Spirit of Prophecy books to give to friends or neighbors or send abroad where it is difficult to obtain them, give gifts or food to less privilege in our community, give to projects or entities like ADRA, and Adventist Frontier Mission to reach the unreach so we can hasten Jesus' return. We can be happy on this day just like any other day, but no pagan tradition to follow within our families which wastes our resources including time and also feeds our and our childrens' 'selfishness' whether we like it or not. But taking this opportunity outside our Christian family to raise awareness of who Jesus is and His good works I believe will glorify God. William, sorry if I sounded judgmental to you but I didn't mean it. My comments are written with a spirit of love. And Inge, sorry I responded only now as I was sooo busy and didn't have the time to follow the posts.

    • Thanks much for your reply, Gilda.
      What you suggest is right in line with what William tried to promote in his post - to uplift Christ at this time of the year.
      As Seventh-day Adventist Christians, we can choose how to relate to this public holiday, and treating it in the same superficial manner as the secular world is not fitting for us. And, of course, we are not to "promote pagan traditions."
      How we treat the season will vary from family to family, and a family with small children may treat it very differently from one with teenagers. And even Ellen White did not "wholly condemn" giving gifts to family and loved ones. But, as Christians, we keep Christ uppermost in all our activities.

  45. I am so sick and tired of this discussion among SDA, whether it is right or wrong to remember Jesus birth, and I would like someone once and for all explain why then do our conferences, GC offices, tv chanels etc have programs for that time of the year?

    Also what is wrong with remembering the day??? poor Jesus, Jews denied Him one way, and today we do the same thing another way.

    Also when are we going to sing songs about his birth??? in July??? People, move and serve your God and your churches where you and your families go to be served and spiritually fed, rather than sit and be cyber believers. In church elections last months it seemed people of God want everything and have time for anything, but not to serve God

    • As a matter of fact, I see no problem with singing these songs any time of year. A hymn is a hymn, no matter the reason for it being written.


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