Why don't some Christians like Christmas? The Puritans banned it. Jehovah's Witnesses ignore it. In 1647, the English Parliament, denouncing it as a "time of wasteful and immoral behavior with no biblical justification," banned any Yuletide celebration, writes Chris Durston in History Today, replacing it with a day of fasting. Rioting broke out as pro-Christmas protests spread to several cities. For weeks, the city of Canterbury was controlled by rioters, who decorated doorways with holly and shouted Christmas slogans.
"Many feel that Christmas marks Christ's birthday and that it honors Him," writes Jerold Aust for Good News magazine. "After all, can 2 billion professing Christians be wrong?"
Hollywood actor Kirk Cameron agrees -- and on November 14 is releasing a new movie "Saving Christmas" that looks at today's war against the holiday by militant atheists, agnostics and secularists. But what about Christians who don't like Christmas?
"Some Christians don't observe Christmas, believing that Jesus didn't sanction it and that it dishonors Him," writes Aust. "Who is right—and why?
"One day, years ago, someone asked me why I kept Christmas. ‘The Bible says to keep it,’" Aust responded. "Somewhere in the Gospel of Luke, it speaks of the nativity scene. An angel told some shepherds that were keeping their sheep in the fields at night that the baby Jesus was born in Bethlehem. I think they went to see Jesus at that time.
“‘That was the first Christmas! And that's why I keep Christmas, because the Bible supports Christmas, the birthday of Jesus Christ.’
"That's not true and here's why," Aust's friend replied -- who went on to ask "just because some 2 billion people — roughly 1 billion Catholics and another billion in Protestant faiths — observe Christmas, does that make it right? Does it really matter one way or the other?
“But stop and ask yourself: Was Christ really born on Christmas Day? After all, the Bible nowhere tells us the day of His birth. In fact, most credible secular historical writings tell us that Christmas, more than 200 years after Jesus' death, was considered sinful."
Indeed, as late as A.D. 245,the early Catholic theologian Origen repudiated as sinful the very idea of keeping the birthday of Christ.
There is no biblical evidence that Dec. 25 was Jesus' birth date," says Aust. In fact, "the Bible record strongly shows that Jesus couldn't have been born then. For example, Luke tells us that the shepherds were keeping their sheep in the fields at night when Jesus was born. ‘And she [Mary] brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night’ (Luke:2:7-8
“But late December is Judea's cold and rainy season. Would shepherds actually keep their fragile flocks out in the open fields on a cold late-December night near Bethlehem?
“No responsible shepherd would subject his sheep to the elements at that time of year when cold rains, and occasional snow, are common in that region."
“Luke also tells us that Jesus was born at the time of a census ordered by the Roman emperor (Luke:2:1-3). The Romans were brilliant administrators; they certainly would not have ordered people to journey to be registered at a time of year when roads would have been wet and muddy and traveling conditions miserable. Such a move would have been self-defeating on its face."
Then , there is the problem that “if the Christmas holiday is an important celebration to honor the birth of Jesus Christ, why is it nowhere mentioned in the Bible? Why didn't Christ instruct His closest followers, His 12 chosen apostles, to keep Christmas? Why didn't they institute or teach it to the early Church?
“Most people never stop to ask themselves what the major symbols of Christmas—Santa Claus, reindeer, decorated trees, holly, mistletoe and the like—have to do with the birth of the Savior of mankind. In the southern hemisphere summer climate of December, few people question why they observe a Christmas with northern hemisphere winter scenery!
“The fact is, and you can verify this in any number of books and encyclopedias, that all these trappings came from ancient pagan festivals.
“Yet hundreds of millions of men, women and children unwittingly observe Christmas, not knowing or caring from where it came."
Kirk Cameron disagrees. "My hope for 'Saving Christmas' is that families all across the country will join with my family in putting Christ back into Christmas!" he told the Christian Post. "We are proudly going to put Christ back into Christmas and remind Christians why this is not only a holy day, but a celebration as well. I believe that families will love this movie!"
He says the film will provide audiences with a biblical basis for Christmas celebrations as well as the inspiration to stand by faith-filled traditions that culture looks to trivialize.
"Saving Christmas" will be released to theaters on November 14 for a special limited engagement release.