But after Internet and Facebook became a part of our lives, we got our hands on various articles written by various authors about these religious days that are observed by the church. These special days are observed differently by the Eastern Orthodox church, The Roman Catholic church, The Protestant church and the various other denominations in Christianity. There are many denominations that do not observe any of these special days and the reason they give is that these special days have pagan origins.
If you are an active Facebook user, you might have come across FB posts of why we should not celebrate Christmas. People will argue for and against this statement. This usually happens during the month of December. After January, discussions on Christmas will die off and discussions on Valentines day will originate. Then it will be discussions on Lent and Easter where people will link Easter to a goddess called Ishtar.
Invariably these seasonal arguments around these special days were not even part of Christian discussion before the Internet era. But I find that with the advent of Internet and with lot of conspiracy articles that are spread around the Internet, people fall into different categories and hold onto certain Bible verses and argue tooth and nail considering their opinions as a Biblical conviction that is led by the Holy Spirit.
As a person who has been on both sides of this spectrum where I have been washed to and fro in the sea tide of such debates, I have reached a point on identifying what actually matters for my Christian faith and what does not matter.
What should a Christian do?
The cardinal rule that every Christian should follow in such a scenario is that we should be slow to listen, read extensively about a subject (Both conspiracy and Historical facts), then understand the intention behind each practice and take a stand after weighing all these in line with the contextual scriptural passages.
Let me state my statement of faith at this point of time so that you will understand my intention for this post. I believe in Salvation by Faith alone, I believe in the Trinity of God. I am reformed and I don't belong to the Roman Catholic Church. I am a Biblical Pentecost and I don't fall under the third wave Pentecostal movements. I believe that Jesus is the only way to Heaven and I believe that the elect will rejoice with him for ever in his kingdom and the reprobates will be sent to eternal damnation.
I have stated my faith extensively just for the readers to understand that my belief is an offshoot of my conviction from the above belief that I just stated. There are hundreds of articles that lie in the Internet that connect Christmas to Sun god's birthday. There are hundreds of articles that connect Eater to Ishtar. Now when we read all these articles, the first thing we should do is understand the intention of the author.
Most of the articles are written with an enmity against the Roman Catholic church. I am not a Roman Catholic because I clearly stated that I am a reformed Christian. But I will never throw the baby out with the bath water. I have carefully gone through the Christian Church history as a part of my theological study and I know the value of the Apostle's creed, Nicean council and also the Athanasian creed. So with this understanding, I automatically kick off any allegiance to Arianism as a cultist teaching. If any article has come from the haystack of an Arian follower (Non Trinitarianism is one of the aspects of Arian), I would immediately shun that article because the intent of the article loses its value. Similarly if an article is written just to prove the Roman Catholic church wrong, I would still take it only with a pinch of salt, because lot of Christian practices that we all follow is still an offshoot of the RCC. But I would never accept the Salvation by works teaching by the RC church and many other teachings of the RCC.
Now coming back to the topic on festivals, many of these festivals that are celebrated in Christianity have different cultural, demographic and Political origins. One of the greatest things that I learnt in my study is that Easter is not associated with Ishtar. A very good article on this subject is written here [ Ishtar is not Easter ]
Facebook is filled with debates on why we should celebrate Easter and why we should not observe the lent. But the underlying truth is that it is not compulsory to celebrate Easter and one does not lose salvation by being disciplined in food and prayerful observance. But to make it a cardinal rule saying that we would have salvation by doing this goes against the work of Christ on the cross. At the same time to fight against a person who observes lent with conspiracy theories does not hamper his faith at all. A person who is disciplined for 40 days may be having a healthy and Spiritual lifestyle compared to a glutton who fights tooth and nail against Easter.
The Apostles never sidelined from the great commission. Paul did follow some Jewish practices of tonsuring his head even after he was sealed with the Holy Spirit. He followed those rituals for Christ and he was clear in his mind. Romans 14:5 gives a tight slap across the face for all of us when we still fight for discussions regarding days and observances. Our faith does not take a back step by practicing these rituals and we don't fall out of his salvation plan by adhering to some of these practices.
I will certainly celebrate the resurrection of the Lord and I will definitely sing Carols for Christmas. I worship Christ and not some sun god. I proclaim that he is risen and I don't proclaim the resurrection of some ishtar goddess. When we juggle and struggle to comprehend the truth in the gospel and when we misunderstand these celebrations to religious pluralism, we become majoring in minor subjects. I have participated in debates for and against these two topic for the last 10 years and I have reached a point of ignoring and moving away from people who still hold on to certain topic like this without having a solid historic footprint in Church History.
Opinions should never be confused for convictions. I rest my case.
- Prason Christopher Robin