Christmas 2004

A Challenge

News 329

mentioning The Advertiser, December 15, 2004

You get those who WILL NOT HAVE Christmas.

They are too pure* , it seems, to lower themselves to this grossly exploited and sometimes feverish season of selling and buying, getting and giving, enjoying and considering family and the like.

There is nothing wrong with being sensitive about this. There is gross exploitation, and if you feel this more than the opportunity to attest Christ in whose name and honour it is held, this is your option; but we would hope you would find other means to carry on the testimony, since in this approach, you throw this one away freely!

However, there is a far greater reaction to Christmas now setting in. Nowadays there is a move to remove from one school in this land, any reference in school to it, making it in the classic secular fashion, a holiday season merely! There is everything wrong with that. We find this in The Advertiser, December 15, 2004 (p.18).

"A Melbourne Primary school, we are told, has "banned confused children from wishing each other merry Christmas. Instead they must say, "Happy holidays" . "  We are advised that traditional Christmas decorations, wrapping paper and so forth are banned. The report continues, "There will be no carols, although Arabic songs wil be among the choral offerings," and notes the subdued refusal of Melbourne City Council to sponsor a Nativity scene, declaring that this is "bureaucratic political correctness gone barmy." He makes the point that religious sensitivies of minorities in our midst "cannot be ignored", but adds that "this type of warped and offensive thinking should not be allowed to trample and compromsie the beliefs and background of the majority." Indeed, he declares that he would be astonished if locals, perhaps the Jewish quarter of Venice, left their religious traditions "in case they offended me", supposedly if he were to live there!

There are many approaches to Christmas, but apart from State suppression in terms of dictation from some platform of oppression, how many would indeed remove their norms in order to prevent some people who have come to the land, from feeling offended because this is a tradition in the place, perhaps relating to their very foundation. It merely means that not mere numbers, but fear of offence, perhaps all the more when it is backed by bombs from the offended, or may be, becomes an excuse for a change from part of the established nature of a country. It is however one thing to OPPRESS because of your beliefs, those who do not hold them; it is quite another NOT TO EXPRESS them, as if your heart were muzzled by machinations. "How weak is thine heart!" says the Bible at one point (Ezekiel 16:30), and it applies here.

Let us consider for a moment the background of this country, and these events, episodes in the light of it.


First, such celebration is part of the national heritage, and when it is removed, it is a partial divorce (in trend) from that heritage. Is THIS what the country wants ? The Bible and the Christ on whom this is built, as one have been a stimulus to good, a basis for belief, a source for our laws and for those of England which colonised this country, This has has been a stirring for nobility of character, love of heart and a yeast for restraint, kindness and understanding, when divorced, as it is meant by Christ to be, from any attempt at State rule or imposition. You do not HAVE to watch a scene, or ponder adornments.

Can people of other religions understand that they do not have in this land that background, on which it has to so large an extent been based ? Is this galling to them, that the land they find attractive, has had such a basis ? Is it frightful, frightening or terrible that what has so much to give them, has come about with such emphases, should be a site for such removal,  in order that they might consent to adopting a land they want so much anyway, that they immigrate to it just as it is, and has become ?

Multi-culturalism has much to commend it, in that it breeds tolerance, or seeks to do so, and understanding of the diversities which govern mankind. However, when this attitude to unchosen differences is in force, and so the attempt is made to prevent needless, not to say arrogant or foolish conflicts, that is one amiable thing. Yet the concept that this means REMOVING what we have, and freely present without any constraint, so that what others have CHOSEN who join our land, should not be offended, the case is manifestly different.

In a school, you could elect not to join in various activities; and when indeed the author was at Scotch College, Melbourne, there were those who CHOSE not to join in the Assembly each morning, since it had Christian ingredients. There was nothing spectacular about that; they wanted to be there, found some things undesirable nevertheless, and were given an option to avoid them. The nature of the School, however, did not change because some did not desire all its features; after all, they wanted what it had to give, and if in some things, they opted out, so be it. It continued. They stayed. They did not join in some things. Yet if the case goes further, and lest some be offended, what has a given nature, character, past and procedure, being desired, must yet change lest those who do not have to join in these things, should not like others having them, we are in a wonderland for sceptics, who can use this vague confusion for their extradition of Christ programs.

In that case, it is not tolerance, but submission if not coercion. What if a large body of satanists came
in ? Indifferent ? To mock God then is indifferent, and to mock what in the case of Victoria at the first was the officially and constitutionally preferred religion, is fine ? Why this change ? You do not have to mock the God of the Bible in order to be tolerant; nor do you need to make of Him a matter of national exclusion in order to be kind. To whom do you then wish to be kind ? to all ? to some ? to a State without any logically based ethical principles at all ? The jihad madness, spreading like a means for land grab, and quite explicitly in the case of bin Laden, as an expression of the longing to bring back Islam former land grabs, into play or force, or submission, may suggest to some that the time is long past for making a little honeyed joke of religion, and having courses on comparative religion with sickening avoidance of objective evidence, as if the whole thing were an exercise in platitude and an attempt to bypass reality.

If this nation tolerates such pre-emptive strikes against residues of its past, and say in a new Constitution, removes references even to God Almighty, constantly widening the gap between what we were and what this nation may come to be, then so be it, but let us face at least the facts. It will mean that it is BY CHOICE not becoming tolerant of all, but intolerant of the God of the founding nation, England, whose powers have been such a blessing to such a land to which so many so greatly yearn to come.

The character of the place then changes. It is becoming intolerant of such a past. It is changing its gears, if not indeed its means of travel. It is officially distancing any thought of calling on the God of the Bible in any calamity or challenge, and winding up its case to be governed wholly by man, the things man in general is willing to have, with some illogical limits put in for survival or some such rat-like selfish pre-occupation.

If this is the way this nation CHOOSES to go, in CHOOSING to be irrelevant to the Bible, to the God of the Bible, to Jesus Christ, not merely separating religion and State in the sense that you do not HAVE to follow Christianity but separating them in the sense that the State will CEASE ALL FAVOUR or PERMISSION in the end perhaps, for ANY Christian matters to inhere in any State matters, including schools: then consider well what you do.

 What then of this intolerance of the past, severance from the God of the Bible, insult to His face, change from the inception of the land and the God to whom Britain, by Constitution at least was committed in many ways, in terms of biblical Christianity - not to force it, but to honour it ? What then of the national basis or at least proclivity, in terms of which many made so much appeal in World War II, say at the time of Dunkirk ? To follow such a measure of divorce, then, would  become as much a choice as that of people to immigrate to the land which will thus change, and could well soon become very different, and with much less of appeal than when they first come.

It is not customarily realised, it seems, that the STABILITY back of TOLERANCE does not fail to come in a huge dynamic from Biblical Christianity, the Protestant faith which has been official in Britain for centuries. This is the case because - unlike sects such as Romanism, and pseudo-sects such as Islam, which has taken unbiblical bits from the Jews and later, and melded them with other claimed revelations into a book of their own, often offering force in the realm of faith (cf. Divine Agenda Ch. 6, More Marvels Ch. 4): the biblical faith REFUSES all force in the defence or implementation of Christianity (cf. Matthew 26:52ff., John 18:36).

It is for this reason that it has provided a basis for toleration and truth together. If you do not like it, you can lump it; but if you do take it, or awaken to it, then there is a moral basis, a righteous concept in such places as the Sermon on the Mount and the 10 Commandments, for law and for grace. In fact, the State is no place for the government by Christianity, since it is by nature amorphous; but it is a place where its standards, ideals and values in whole or in part can be received as sound and applied, as a basis for action, though bound on none as a belief to be followed.

Forget this, if you will; cut it out like a melanoma, not only - as is now and has long been the case - from any sense of imposition, but from being any part of the national composition available or impactive, by CHOICE, by imperial style law and fiat of the land, or vetoing of emblems of the past in this insidious and insipid spirit, and then what ?

Then you find a vacuum. What now is to rule ? Is it fear ? How choice a nation to be governed by the fear of trouble! Is it being like everyone else ? Which everyone, and how pervasive is your concept ? jihad purveyors ? murderers ? land grabbers ? soul twisters ? What sort of everyone ? an 'everyone' which is like a world which is geared to avoid offence to anyone because of the truth, the opposite of Christ, who caused offence because of verified, validated, demonstrable truth ? like a world prostituting itself for continuation ?

There is your option. If you sell your soul for something, say convenience or survival, then sold you are, you are anyone's meat;  and you will be!

Merry Christmas, and if you remember the Christ, then you have some reason to be merry. If, however, you remember what He has done for this world, in offering Himself freely and BY DIVINE AND PRE-ANNOUNCED APPOINTMENT AT A GIVEN DATE (Highway of Holiness Ch. 4), with a pre-announced Gospel (SMR Ch. 9), in a pre-characterised Messiah, predicted ,by formal pre-declaration, to be rejected  by His own people, yet widely received by many in the Gentile world, then you avoid being irrational at least. If further, you receive Him as do millions who so receive Him, to pay for the sins justice cannot discount but which mercy can cover (Romans 3:23ff.), and to donate eternal life, beginning now, then you have a veritable peak for the stunning view of the sublime which God has given to those whose hearts He fills and governs, His children. Then you have more, but not less than reason for a Merry Christmas, to rejoice in spirit. Then you have experience based on revelation, reason and reality, in which you can as well NOT rejoice, as a bridegroom at last married after so many years, to the one he has loved.



*For the curious, it may be of interest to know in some reasonable measure the historical facts concerning the celebration of Christmas. This is taken from Ancient Words, Modern Deeds Ch. 11.

Anti-Christian news loves to make this sound pagan; but the evidence, as with Easter, attests significantly to the contrary, and it is substantial. Certainly, a pagan feast day COULD have been used for a very different purpose; but in terms of the Christian Church, the facts do not support such a declaration in this case. It is at best merely a 'punt', an ill-supported surmise.

As to the facts, it is demonstrable that there were many efforts to find a good way of observing recognition of Christ's birth on a day. Since the birthday was not known, there was a problem for those who wanted to celebrate its remembrance; and  strange and exotic procedures were sometimes used to try to 'determine' it. This led to a wide variety of customs in the early church, which the notable and voluminous Encyclopedia of Christianity, Schaff-Herzog, lists.

The first to determine the date, according to available evidence, appears the Christian Hippolytus, early in the A.D. 200's. His method was based on efforts to apply his thoughts of Christ's life as being exactly 33 years, the conception and death dates of Christ, both held to be March 25; and by taking 9 months from the latter, he came to December 25. That, according to the evidence, is how the matter began in the church, in one part of it; and this remained an option. Others had other approaches, with dates at Jan. 6 or April 18-19, March 28. The uncertainty of the actuality, as to date, made for multiplication of suggestions. Of course, as noted from Paul in Romans 14, and from Justin Martyr in the 2nd century, days were not held to be of special significance, necessarily, for all, and any could make a day of significance as a religious exercise without authority, like other personal exercises.

In the East, Jan. 6  as the day prevailed from as early as the first half of the 4th century, and Chrysostom indicates that Christ's birth on earth was not celebrated in Antioch until about 376, long after Constantine.

The earliest time of recognition of the Dec. 25 date clearly appears to be in the Philocalian Calendar, which related to times anywhere from 336 to 354.

The pagan festivities which had occurred on that day, and did, were not by any known evidence the cause of the selection of that date; and Hippolytus had his esoteric reasons for Dec. 25, as noted, built on his conceptions of history in this field, regarding the incarnation of Christ. The pagan idea, then, as Schaff-Herzog summarises, is not one which can be determined. The evidence is that long before a different ground arose for the date, and this appealed to some.

What we can say is this, that Christian leaders in the East (Mesopotamia) felt that those who had adopted this day were at fault, since unseemly frivolity was associated with it by those who publicly held it in pagan religions for their own purposes; for the same date was a national day after the horrid Bacchanalia, being its conclusion in the pagan Brumalia.

The evidence then is this: that December 25 was adopted from a Biblical basis, probably an erroneous idea added to the Bible, and that it gained some recognition along with other possible dates, eventually coming to be recognised and accepted by most, on a day which for different reasons was a popular public holiday. To go beyond this, is, as far as is known, to invent results without evidence.

What needs to be added for another reason is this: NO DAY other than Sunday, to follow, is authorised to be BOUND on ANYONE. The habits of some countries, like Rome in its day, to want to control Christianity have led to a secular Christmas season, often misinterpreted, more of an excuse than a reality for those, of course, who do not believe; and certainly it is not binding on any Christian religiously.

Justin Martyr's view is quite correct, a thing both chaste and pure; and in accord with Paul in Romans 14: no store is set on such things spiritually. That was the view from the first.

Biblically, things such as these have merely an optional place, for those who find it spiritually advantageous. For them, spiritual things may then be celebrated for spiritual reasons; and that is their own affair. There are advantages either way, and it is open.

Let us, in our present context, make an addition to this.

This option however is a personal one in the strictest sense; and the propriety of the availability of such an option at the national level is not lessened in its wisdom, by the fact that freedom in this matter is as real in the church as in the nation.