You'd better not celebrate Christmas, little watchdawggie!Here’s a little quiz, prompted by a resurgence of ODM activity around a particular topic currently on the “let’s blow this out of proportion” list.

The Quiz:

  1. Should a Christian celebrate Christmas on December 25?
  2. Should a Christian celebrate Easter on the Sunday after the first full moon on or after the day of the vernal equinox (as it is currently celebrated)?
  3. Should a Christian run in a marathon?
  4. Should a Christian take any part in skits/plays/theater in which they pretend to be someone other than who they are, or they observe someone else pretending to be someone other than who they are?
  5. Should a Christian acknolwedge Valentine’s Day by doing something out of the ordinary in describing his/her love for their spouse?
  6. Should a Christian drink tea?
  7. Should a Christian play card-based games?
  8. Should a Christian ever use the word “fortunately”?
  9. Should a Christian refer to the first day of the week as “Sunday”?
  10. Should a Christian refer to the second day of the week as “Monday”?
  11. Should a Christian refer to the third day of the week as “Tuesday”?
  12. Should a Christian refer to the fourth day of the week as “Wednesday”?
  13. Should a Christian refer to the fifth day of the week as “Thursday”?
  14. Should a Christian refer to the sixth day of the week as “Friday”?
  15. Should a Christian refer to the seventh day of the week as “Saturday”?
  16. Should a Christian use a Julian calendar?
  17. Should a Christian enroll in a self-defense or martial-arts class?
  18. Should a Christian family give out candy to children who come to their door on October 31?
  19. Should a Christian participate in low-impact stretching exercises similar to those in Hindu yoga classes, while meditating upon scripture?
  20. Should a Christian walk through a physical maze or in a maze-like pattern while praying or meditating upon scripture?

Discussion:

If you believe in the standard “if something was derived from pagan roots, then Christians should avoid it”, then your answers to all of these questions should be “no”.

Today’s example in inconsistency in belief and practice, has an ODM writer on a radio program creating a strawman out of Christians practicing stretching exercises derived from yoga as if it were the sum total of their Christian lives and as if it were their means of spiritual fulfilment. You can listen, but he doesn’t say anything all that new – or all that true, for that matter.

In reality, no body position is ontologically evil, and meditating upon the Word of God while exercising in any body position is not evil. Walking in a maze-pattern is no more evil than walking in a straight line. It comes down (as so many things do) to the heart. If you are searching for God, the scriptures are the best place to go first, and the community which demonstrates His Word second. If you are looking for low-impact exercize, going to a Christian “yoga” class is not entering the house of the devil, regardless of what a pseudo “pastor” might say on a radio program.

Why this is again a repetitive issue of the past couple of weeks is anyone’s guess, but most likely due to the need to rally around the modern-day idol of John MacArthur. Regardless, it is important to guard our hearts against the work of the evil one – who can be found most anywhere – rather than trying to superstitiously avoid anything and everything “with pagan roots”…

“Answer” Key

For those of you with analytical/geekish tendencies, here are the pagan references to the questions above:

1. In part, the Christmas celebration was created by the early Church in order to entice pagan Romans to convert to Christianity without losing their own winter celebrations. Most of the most important gods in the religions of Ishtar and Mithra had their birthdays on December 25. Various Christmas traditions are considered to have been syncretised from winter festivals.

2. The English name, “Easter”, and the German, “Ostern”, derive from the name of a putative Anglo-Saxon Goddess of the Dawn (thus, of spring, as the dawn of the year) — called Ä’aster, Ä’astre, and Ä’ostre in various dialects of Old English and Ostara in German. About 200 B.C. mystery cults began to appear in Rome just as they had earlier in Greece. Most notable was the Cybele cult centered on Vatican hill …Associated with the Cybele cult was that of her lover, Attis (the older Tammuz, Osiris, Dionysus, or Orpheus under a new name). He was a god of ever-reviving vegetation. Born of a virgin, he died and was reborn annually. The festival began as a day of blood on Black Friday and culminated after three days in a day of rejoicing over the resurrection.

3. The god Pan was credited with the Athenian victory at Marathon, and the re-running of the “Marathon” became a means of glorifying Pan.

4. The theatre was born of pagan origins as a way of honoring the gods in the retelling of their stories – often in the nude. Additionally, the word ‘hypocrite’ is derived from the word hypokrites, which specifically described actors.

5. Every February the Romans celebrated a feast called Lupercalia to honor the god Lupercus so that no harm would come to the shepherds and their flocks. Also during Lupercalia, but in honor of the goddess Juno Februata, the names of young women were put into a box and names were drawn by lot. The boys and girls who were matched would be considered partners for the year, which began in March. As Christianity became prevalent, priests attempted to replace old heathen practices. To Christianize the ancient pagan celebration of the Feast of Lubercus, the church officials changed the name to St. Valentine’s Day.

6. The origins of the usage of tea come from China, possibly 2000+ years before Christ, and was considered to be a component of Zen Buddhist ritual.

7. Playing cards came from pagan Chinese practice, and are primarily associated with games of chance.

8. “Fortunately” is a word derived from the Roman goddess Fortuna, the goddess of luck. The word came about in giving homage to Fortuna, or “lady luck”, when something good happened to a person.

9. The name “Sunday” (Day of the Sun) apparently originated in pre-Christian Egyptian culture. In Ptolemaic Egyptian astrology, the seven planets, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, the Sun, Venus, Mercury, and the Moon, had an hour of the day assigned to each, and the planet which was “regent” during the first hour of any day of the week gave its name to that day.

10. Monday gets its name from the Moon, which in turn gets its name from Mani (Old English Mona), the Germanic Moon god.

11. The name Tuesday comes from Middle English Twisday, from Old English Tiwes dæg, named after the Nordic god Tyr, who was the equivalent of the Roman war god Mars.

12. The name Wednesday comes from the Middle English Wednes dei, which is from Old English Wodnes dæg, meaning the day of the Germanic god Woden (Wodan) who was a god of the Anglo-Saxons in England until about the 7th century. Wodnes dæg is like the Old Norse Oðinsdagr (”Odin’s day”), which is an early translation of the Latin dies Mercurii (”Mercury’s day”). Although Mercury (the messenger of the gods) and Woden (the king of the Germanic gods) are not equivalent in most regards, both gods guided the souls of the dead to the underworld.

13. The name Thursday comes from the Old English Þunresdæg, meaning “Day of Thunor”, this being a rough Germanic equivalent to the Latin Iovis Dies, “Jupiter’s Day”.

14. The name Friday comes from the Old English frigedæg, meaning the day of Frige the Anglo-Saxon form of Frigg, the Germanic goddess of beauty.

15. Saturday retains its Roman origin in English which is of the Roman god of agriculture Saturn. It has been called dies Saturni (”Saturn’s Day”), through which form it entered into Old English as Sæternesdæg and gradually evolved into the word “Saturday”.

16. The names of the months in the Julian calendar all derive their names from Roman gods and Roman Emprerors worshipped as gods.

17. Martial arts were derived from ancient pagan religious practices in multiple Eastern cultures, and still include breathing and focus techniques.

18. Halloween originated under the name of Samhain as a Pagan festival among the Celts of Ireland and Great Britain. Irish and Scottish immigrants carried versions of the tradition to North America in the nineteenth century.

19. Yoga, as developed by Hindus, may include “emptying the mind” and Eastern religious transcendental meditation, and came from pagan origins.

20. Labyrinths came from Greek mythology and were used by both pagans and the Catholic church in meditation.

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35 Comments(+Add)

1   Tim Reed    http://churchvoices.com
September 27th, 2007 at 10:30 am

When I saw the word “ontologically” I knew this was written by Chris L.

2   Kevin I    
September 27th, 2007 at 10:30 am

And here’s the standard watchdog Christian approach to this, condemn the pagan origins things you already don’t do yourself, and either bring no mention to or dismiss the ones you’re already doing.

I remember on one ODM blog a while back there was a rant about people “throwing up the horns” at Christian rock concerts. They said because of the roots in this pagan spot or that, they couldn’t do it, but one person said it was okay at a Texas longhorn game because it’s meaning was changed, without accepting that the meaning at rock concerts had changed to, but alas they where into football but not rock concerts so they could make that jump..

3   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
September 27th, 2007 at 10:31 am

Actually, I had to look up that word the first time Neil used it here, and found it to be a lot more compact than the way I was trying to say the same thing…

4   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
September 27th, 2007 at 10:37 am

Something funny from the podcast:

Ken Silva: “I am not a fundamentalist, and neither is Dr. MacArthur”

It brought to mind another quote:

Richard Nixon: “I am not a crook”

5   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
September 27th, 2007 at 10:43 am

A moment of podcast irony

Silva: If Doug Padgitt can attack Christ’s teacher, like John MacArthur, we have a serious problem here. And I say we’re sacrificing our children through the fires of Molech to these guys.

6   Matt    http://matbathome.blogspot.com/
September 27th, 2007 at 10:47 am

My additional question:

Can Christians enjoy or participate in Olympics?

7   Joe Martino    http://joemartino.name
September 27th, 2007 at 10:54 am

I had a coach like Ken once. Didn’t know a doggone thing about baseball but he said the same things over and over again.

8   Sandman    
September 27th, 2007 at 11:05 am

Ken Silva: “I am not a fundamentalist, and neither is Dr. MacArthur”

I suppose that depends on which definition of fundamentalist is being used.

Silva: If Doug Padgitt can attack Christ’s teacher, like John MacArthur, we have a serious problem here. And I say we’re sacrificing our children through the fires of Molech to these guys.

I can’t cosign what Pagitt said during or after his “debate” with McArthur, but I’d be careful about putting JM on so high a pedastal. The higher the fall, the greater the damage.

9   Matt    http://matbathome.blogspot.com/
September 27th, 2007 at 12:17 pm

Another question:

What offends you more, the pagan religious roots of Christmas trees or the pagan sexual roots of Christmas trees? Christmas trees represented male genitalia.

In Germany and northern Europe, the practice of decorating coniferous trees originated in pagan times, when the trees were seen as phallic symbols representing the fertility of the nature gods. The practice was associated with the Winter Solstice (around December 21) which was seen as the date of the rebirth of the Sun God. Tree decoration was later adopted into Christian practice after the Church set December 25th as the birth of Christ, thereby supplanting the pagan celebration of the solstice.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_tree

10   Tim Reed    http://churchvoices.com
September 27th, 2007 at 12:21 pm

The standard is no longer Christ for the doggies. Its Johnny Mac.

11   Matt    http://matbathome.blogspot.com/
September 27th, 2007 at 12:39 pm

Tim Reed:

Exactly. If I got a nickel for every time an ODM quoted Johnny Mac, I’d be a rich man. Ken Silva’s argument for Christmas? Johnny Mac says it’s ok, therefore Silva says it’s ok.

12   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
September 27th, 2007 at 12:45 pm

You gotta give them a little bit of credit though – at least JMac (unlike Spurgeon) is still alive. What will they do if Johnnie is ever taken to task on the road to Damascus and repents of his slander and sins against the body of Christ?

With Spurgeon, Calvin and others, they can just rewrite history if their idols don’t fit the mold. Doing that with a live figure is a lot more risky…

13   Matt    http://matbathome.blogspot.com/
September 27th, 2007 at 12:48 pm

Walter Martin=2 divorces. How come Silva never complains about that? It’s not just a rewriting history, it’s an ignoring of history.

14   Joe Martino    http://joemartino.name
September 27th, 2007 at 1:01 pm

Personally at my wedding I refused to allow my wife to have bridesmaids. She wanted them but I told her that Mark Driscoll she needed to shut her hole and listen to me. I wasn’t going to have him call me a coward some day cuz I don’t agree with him. Bridesmaids have their origin in pagan worship: they were thought to keep demons away from taking the virginity from the bride. Heck, if the Puritans did it, it’s good enough for me.
As for the molechites that knock on my door at the end of October, why do you think God made paintball guns?!

Relax, I’m just kidding.

15   JohnD    
September 27th, 2007 at 1:09 pm

Ken states that he is NOT a fundamentalist? Why, Rick Warren said the same thing at the PEW forum back in 2005 (you can read it here), and was severely castigated by Ken and others for saying such a terrible thing. Oops!

16   Joe Martino    http://joemartino.name
September 27th, 2007 at 1:33 pm

Oh Man! I just got to listen to the podcast. That was good stuff.

Ken made some really good quotes! Really good stuff. I almost (almost) feel like going back through and ripping a few out of context and making a post about them.
“Our faith is a mystical faith!” Hasn’t Ken railed against that a few times?

17   Matt    http://matbathome.blogspot.com/
September 27th, 2007 at 1:46 pm

I’m listening to the podcast right now. I noticed they cut out this statement from John MacArthur:

Well, that would depend on how the yoga is conducted. If it’s just purely exercise and you’re a strong Christian, it probably wouldn’t have any impact on your faith.

18   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
September 27th, 2007 at 1:52 pm

Well, Yes, Matt – you don’t want to quote the prophet saying something you disagree with. I’m sure he didn’t mean it, anyway…

19   keith    http://fivepts.blogspot.com
September 27th, 2007 at 2:14 pm

That’s it! I’ve had it! First you kill off Santa Claus, then you totally foul up the whole Easter Bunny thing…who’s next?! The tooth fairy!!??? This Christianity thing is just too stinkin’ hard. I’m joining the Unitarians…at least there I can make up whatever I want to believe.

20   keith    http://fivepts.blogspot.com
September 27th, 2007 at 2:20 pm

John MacArthur said there’s a tooth fairy, so I believe it! (You can read it here)

21   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
September 27th, 2007 at 3:28 pm

A man walks with his Christian into a building with a sign that says “All Welcome”. As they get through the door they hear some sensual music, they are handed an alcoholic beverage, and they see a score of scantilly clad women dancing suggestively. The man whispers to his friend, “This place is pagan, what shall we do?”.

His friend leans over and says, “Ask no questions for conscience sake, please!”.

If you dig too deep we may be surprised at what was influenced by pagan and ungodly religions. Thomas Jefferson wasn’t an evangelical, and Ben Franklin would have made o nice post on CRN. Yea, that’s right, America has open theistic roots. We will see who really will take a stand for Christ in November 2008.

Ben Franklin = eyeglasses to see girls better
= Post Office for porno material
= Joining hands with the humanistic French

It gets rather absurd, doesn’t it? Straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel.

22   Houston John    
September 27th, 2007 at 3:39 pm

“no body position is ontologically evil, ”

Ever had an annual physical after age 50?

23   Houston John    
September 27th, 2007 at 3:43 pm

“Walking in a maze-pattern is no more evil than walking in a straight line.”

But this sidesteps the issue. “Why” one is walking in a maze or a straight line while praying is the issue and determines orthopraxy.

24   Houston John    
September 27th, 2007 at 3:49 pm

Two pagan holidays, one to Celebrate pagan deities’ birthdays and one to celebrate the god of the Dead. One is conscripted by Christians to celebrate the birth of Christ and His first coming, the other is conscripted by Christians, to . . . to . . .Oh wait. It WASN’T conscripted by Christians was it?

25   Joe Martino    http://joemartino.name
September 27th, 2007 at 4:02 pm

Rick,
Are you saying that how we vote will determine who is standing for Christ?

26   chris    http://agendalesslove.wordpress.com
September 27th, 2007 at 4:04 pm

Are you saying that how we vote will determine who is standing for Christ?

I vote for whoever Focus on the Family says I should vote for!

27   Houston John    
September 27th, 2007 at 4:06 pm

Proof by verbosity – The names of the days of the week are just that **names** a part of my language. I am not “celebrating” Thor’s Day just because it was named after him by some smelly Viking dude. The days of the week don’t fit into the general proofs of your argument in my opinion. However, just to be safe I propose the following substitutions be made:

Sunday = Christsday
Monday = Judasday
Tuesday = Paulsday
Wednesday = Petersday
Thursday = Johnsday
Friday = Barnabusday
Saturday = Trinityday

28   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
September 27th, 2007 at 4:09 pm

No, Joe, it was a joke about being in alliance with a “pagan” nation. FYI – I don’t vote, sorry.

29   Joe Martino    http://joemartino.name
September 27th, 2007 at 4:10 pm

Don’t be sorry. I just missed the joke that’s all. I thought I knew where you would stand on such a question, so the statement through me off.

30   Houston John    
September 27th, 2007 at 4:16 pm

I will vote for “Diebold”. They will determine all future elections anyway.

31   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
September 27th, 2007 at 4:23 pm

HJ,

You wrote:

The names of the days of the week are just that **names** a part of my language. I am not “celebrating” Thor’s Day just because it was named after him by some smelly Viking dude. The days of the week don’t fit into the general proofs of your argument in my opinion.

The name “Christian yoga” doesn’t mean that a Christian is celebrating or worshipping a hindu diety. The word “yoga” has becone, in the English language, synonymous with low-impact stretching into pretzel-shapes (believe me, it would be an ugly sight if I participated), rather than ‘mind-emptying eastern mysticism’.

We just happen to be about 600 years farther along with “Monday” as a word than we are with “yoga”… I, for one, would actually prefer that we call what is actually practiced in “Christian yoga” by some other name – just to clear up any confusion. However, as in previous discussions on this site (at least), even changing the name doesn’t seem to be enough…

As for “Labyrinth Walking”, I do much of my reading while walking (be it scripture, commentary or fiction) during my lunch hour. During warm weather, that means I can get a couple miles or more walking to downtown Indy and back before the end of lunch. During winter weather, though, having a path to tread in a large room – no matter the pattern – would be welcome to doing laps through the hallways…

32   Joe Martino    http://joemartino.name
September 27th, 2007 at 4:29 pm

Our church gives us a pamphlet of who the most liberal candidates are so that we can vote for them. (I’m kidding)

33   Houston John    
September 27th, 2007 at 4:30 pm

Chris L,

I agree with you on the Yoga. Streatch away! I’m just saying the days of the week analogy is flawed.

My point with the Labyrinth is it is the intent that is the determining factor. One does one hope to accomplish via the use of such devices. I think these things can be used “wrongly” depending on the intent.

34   iggy    http://wordofmouthministries.blogspot.com/
September 27th, 2007 at 4:57 pm

As an emergent we can only do write ins…

It has to be Tony Jones or Brian McLaren as Doug only wants to be vice president at this point.

I mean if I want to keep my membership in my local cohort and stuff…

Be Blessed,
iggy

35   Brant    http://www.branthansen.typead.com
September 30th, 2007 at 2:21 pm

This is a terrific blog entry. Thanks for the effort.

One Trackback/Ping

  1. Bullet Points - 9/28/07 » Nathan’s Blog    Sep 28 2007 / 11am:

    [...] This post from the guys at CRN.info was quite good.  It outlines all the different things we, as Christians, recognize that have pagan origins.  It’s funny, because the same people who say to stay away from this or that because it’s “worldly” don’t mind celebrating Christmas, Easter, or Valentine’s Day on the traditional days (all of which have pagan origins). [...]