The Church View:
Sunday, the first day of the week, is the day of worship, and you are commanded to attend church on that day. The birth of Jesus is to be celebrated on Christmas Day, and the death of Jesus is to be celebrated on Easter Day.
The Bible View:
Saturday is the seventh day of the week, and mankind is commanded to rest on that day. There is no command to gather at a building for worship on any day any where in scripture. There are specific days in the Old Testament, called festivals, or high Sabbaths, which the members of the nation of Israel are commanded to observe. There are no indications that the members of the first church observed these days. There are no commands to observe either the birth or death of Jesus.
This section contains only the three most prominent church holy day contradictions, Sunday, Christmas, and Easter. The pages needed to describe the number and diversity of celebrations not sanctioned by scripture, but honored by the different Bible based religions, would require another entire book.
The space required to describe the celebrations actually sanctioned in scripture is one sentence. Quite simply, not a single one of the High Sabbaths commanded by God to be observed is honored by the mainstream Christian Church.
The weekly day of worship, Sunday, and the two yearly holidays, Easter and Christmas, observed by the church have no foundation in scripture. They are, in fact, the creations of men and condemned by God.
The Sabbath and Sunday
· The question of the why we are commanded to rest on the Sabbath, but don’t, is very simple. God commanded the seventh day of the week as a day of rest. The church outlawed resting on the seventh day.
· Thereason why we gather to worship on Sunday, though there is no scriptural edict to do so, is equally simple. God did not declare any day as a day to meet and worship. The church declared the first day as a day to meet and worship.
· The Bible is very clear about the sanctity of the Sabbath, not as day of worship, but a day of rest.
· Constantine the Great changed the day of rest on March 7, 321 AD by declaring, “All judges and city people and the craftsmen shall rest upon the Venerable Day of the Sun.”
· From the Council of Laodicea in Phrygia Pacatiana 364 A.D, Canon XXIX.: “Christians must not judaize by resting on the Sabbath, but must work on that day, rather honouring the Lord’s Day; and, if they can, resting then as Christians. But if any shall be found to be judaizers, let them be anathema from Christ.”
These verses are a direct condemnation of the actions taken to outlaw the Sabbath by the early church:
♦ Exodus 20:8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: 10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: 11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
♦ Hebrews 4:4 For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. 5 And in this place again, if they shall enter into my rest. 6 Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: 7 Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. 8 For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. 9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God
Christmas is not only a big advertising opportunity today; it was actually created as an advertising campaign. There is no biblical edict to celebrate the birth of Jesus and certainly it is clear that he was not born at the time of the winter solstice. The celebration of the winter solstice has been a part of most ancient cultures throughout history. The celebration of this event is actually an advertising campaign used by early church leaders to lure non-Christians into the church.
· The Mesopotamian culture, thousands of years before the birth of Jesus, had winter solstice that included many of the trappings of Christmas. These included the 12 days of Christmas, the bright fires, the Yule log, the giving of gifts, carnivals, parades with floats, carolers, the holiday feasts, all dedicated to the god Marduk.
· The Persians and the Babylonians celebrated a similar festival called the Sacaea. Part of that celebration included the exchanging of places, the slaves would become the masters and the masters were to obey.
· Scandinavian cultures celebrated the winter solstice including a festival called Yuletide including a feast, which would be served around a fire burning with the Yule log. They also decorated trees with fruit.
· In Scandinavia, during the winter months, the sun would disappear for many days. After thirty-five days, scouts would be sent to the mountaintops to look for the return of the sun. When the first light was seen, the scouts would return with the good news. A great festival would be held, called the Yuletide, and a special feast would be served around a fire burning with the Yule log. Great bonfires would also be lit to celebrate the return of the sun. In some areas people would tie apples to branches of trees to remind themselves that spring and summer would return.
The most direct relation these winter solstice festivals have to what is now called Christmas is the Roman celebration called Saturnalia, which took place on December 25th. The Roman festival marking the “birthday of the unconquered sun, Natalis Solis Invicti”; celebrates the winter solstice, when the days begin to lengthen. The problem for the early church leaders is that Saturnalia was in direct competition with the church, right on their home turf, Rome.
Many campaigns were launched to outlaw and eradicate this pagan practice, but this proved to be a difficult task. The lure of such interesting celebrations to Christians alarmed the church to such a degree that they took a step that forever changed the face of Christian practice. They decided that by integrating the previously forbidden customs into a new celebration honoring the Christian Son of God, they would lure the pagans into the Christian fold.
In 137 AD the Bishop of Rome declared for the first time that the birth of the Christ Child would be celebrated and the Bishop of Rome, Julius I, ordered the date of December 25th as the official day in 350 AD. Saint Boniface substituted a fir tree for the pagan oak in the eighth century as a symbol of faith. Martin Luther fostered the Christmas tree cult by using a candlelit tree as a symbol of Christ’s heavenly home
This is one of the many examples of the church adopting ancient traditions to worship God, an example of the practice Jesus specifically condemned:
♦ Mark 7: 7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. 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. 9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.
The Christmas Tree
The single most recognizable symbol of Christmas, the Christmas tree, is not only an ancient winter solstice symbol; the use of it for the purpose of worship is specifically condemned in scripture:
♦ Jeremiah 10:2 Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. 3 For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. 4 They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. 5 They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.
Houses decorated with greenery and lights, gifts given to children and the poor, decorating evergreen trees as symbols of survival, fires and lights, symbols of warmth and lasting life, the Yule log and Yule cakes, mistletoe, holly, and virtually every aspect of the modern Christmas celebration are not biblical in origin. They are instead a cleverly contrived collection of ancient winter solstice customs and commercial promotions used to hold church memberships high and gain great profits for Big Business.
There is no biblical edict to celebrate the crucifixion or resurrection of Christ on a particular day with worship services. Easter was first created during the First Council of Nicaea, in 325 AD, which was the first ecumenical4 conference of bishops of the Christian Church convoked by the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, just 13 years after his “conversion” to Christianity following the Battle of Milvian Bridge in 312AD. Constantine declared Easter would replace the Hebrew Passover and be observed the annual Sunday following the full moon after the vernal equinox. This coincided with the date for the ancient day to honor Eostre, a goddess of spring and renewal.
In his letter after the First Council of Nicaea Constantine stated: “… it appeared an unworthy thing that in the celebration of this most holy feast we should follow the practice of the Jews, who have impiously defiled their hands with enormous sin, and are, therefore, deservedly afflicted with blindness of soul. … Let us then have nothing in common with the detestable Jewish crowd; for we have received from our Saviour a different way.” (Eusebius, Life of Constantine)
From a letter to the bishops who were not present at the First Council of Nicaea Constantine stated: “It was, in the first place, declared improper to follow the custom of the Jews in the celebration of this holy festival, because, their hands having been stained with crime, the minds of these wretched men are necessarily blinded. … Let us, then, have nothing in common with the Jews, who are our adversaries. … avoiding all contact with that evil way. … who, after having compassed the death of the Lord, being out of their minds, are guided not by sound reason, but by an unrestrained passion, wherever their innate madness carries them. … a people so utterly depraved. … Therefore, this irregularity must be corrected, in order that we may no more have any thing in common with those parricides and the murderers of our Lord. … no single point in common with the perjury of the Jews.” (Theodoret’s Ecclesiastical History)
Pope Gregory I, 540 – 604 AD, verified the practice of the conversion from Passover to Easter in a letter to Saint Mellitus, who was then on his way to England to conduct missionary work among the heathen Anglo-Saxons. The Pope suggests that converting heathens is easier if they are allowed to retain the outward forms of their traditional pagan practices and traditions, while recasting those traditions spiritually towards Christianity instead of to their indigenous gods, whom the Pope refers to as “devils”. “to the end that, whilst some gratifications are outwardly permitted them, they may the more easily consent to the inward consolations of the grace of God”. (Bede’s Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum, “Ecclesiastic History of the English People”)
It would have been suicide for the Christian missionaries to celebrate their holy days with observances that did not coincide with celebrations that already existed. To save lives, the missionaries, in a devious clandestine manner, spread their religious message slowly throughout the populations by allowing them to continue to celebrate pagan feasts, but to do so in a Christian manner. Even the name of the ancient celebration, Eastre was adopted and eventually changed to its modern spelling, Easter.
All aspects of the modern celebration of Easter have their origins in ancient fertility rights, including Easter “sunrise services”, Easter eggs, Easter bunnies, and the time it is celebrated. Constantine was even responsible for starting the traditional Easter Parade when he ordered every citizen to wear his or her best clothing to observe the Holy Day.
The Easter Egg
The Romans, Gauls, Chinese, Egyptians, and Persians all cherished the egg as a symbol of the universe and the rebirth of the earth. During many rite-of-Spring festivals, the egg represented the long, hard winter was over; the earth burst forth and was reborn just as the egg miraculously burst forth with life. Egyptians and Greeks buried eggs in their tombs to ward off evil; pregnant, young Roman women carried an egg on their persons to foretell the sex of their unborn children. A Roman proverb states, “All life comes from an egg”. The myths of several Eastern and Middle Eastern cultures maintain that the earth itself was hatched from a giant egg.
The Easter Bunny
The name Easter is derived from Oestar, or Eostre, a goddess of spring and renewal. The rabbit or hare was the symbol of fertility, new life, and of the moon in ancient Egypt. Also the ancient Egyptians called the hare Wenu, an insignia of the rising of the sun, Ra, and of the resurrecting powers of Osiris. The Germans brought the symbol of the Easter rabbit to America. It was widely ignored by other Christians until shortly after the Civil War. In fact, Easter itself was not widely celebrated in America until after that time.
The Vernal Equinox
In the Greek mythology, Demeter and Persephone convey the idea of a goddess returning seasonally from the nether regions to the light of the day. This is in conjunction with the vernal equinox, March 21, when nature is in resurrection after the winter. The festival of Eostre was celebrated at the vernal equinox, when the day and night are of equal duration.