Saving Christmas From Christians

It seems that every December we see an influx of anti-Christmas posts, whether it be from fundamentalists or strict RPW proponents. Usually they will make arguments against Christmas from their strict view, by saying that either celebrating Christmas isn’t biblical or that Christmas is pagan and therefore should not be celebrated.

Such argumentation cannot be logically consistent, however, because pagans throughout history have co-opted many things, a good example is the triquetra. Some conspiracy theorists think that the triquetra  is three 6’s rather than something early Christians used to represent the Trinity. (To be fair, a 2CV argument against the Triquetra would be different.)


The days of the week you observe are all based on pagan names, the planets that you acknowledge are based on pagan names, we cannot escape the pagans. That being said, there is a difference between taking a pagan concept, renewing it to the glory of the Lord and participating in outright paganism, though the detractors seem to say that they’re one in the same.

My assertions are

1.) Christmas is not a clear-cut case of pagan origins.
2.) Even if it was, it is not necessarily a sin to observe it.

We will start in order. How good is the evidence for Christmas having pagan origins? Well, it’s about as good as the atheist memes that compare Horus to Jesus.

The Anti-Christmas argument is framed like this

1. Pagans did X
2. Christian Practice Y is similar to X
3. Therefore, Y is Evil.


An example given by InspiringPhilosophy in his video is a bonfire. Odds are, you or your church groups have started a bonfire, roasted some marshmallows and had a good time. However, if someone were to come up and say “You need to put that bonfire out, because pagans used bonfires for their rituals.” How would you respond? Hopefully you would say that your bonfire is not built with the intent to worship a pagan god, rather it was for other reasons, like fellowship or just a night to hang out with friends. This response recognizes that sometimes motivation matters more than the act itself.

Another point is that pagans adopt all types of symbols in their worship throughout the time of their existence. Even in the time the Bible was written, they used “King of Kings” a term given to Jesus, to apply to secular kings in royalty worship among other things. (1 Timothy 6:15, Revelation 17:14, Revelation 19:16)

What is it about symbols that brings about an inherent evil in their use because an evil person used them? We even see this in secular society. The Swastika, used by Hitler and his Nazi Regime is widely recognized as a hate symbol now, because he co-opted it. However, the swastika predates Hitler, he didn’t invent it. It actually was a symbol belonging to the Hindus. In fact, swastika comes from sanskrit and means “conducive to well being”. In the Hindu belief system, it is a reference to a clockwise symbol, representing the sun, prosperity and good luck while the counterclockwise part of the design represents night. A similar idea is that of the Yin Yang, so imagine if Hitler co-opted the Yin-Yang instead of the Swastika, we’d have a lot less 40 year old men and women with yin yangs tattooed on them, that’s for sure. Instead, we’d have people, not affiliated with nazi ideology, with swastikas, because it’d be a religious/mystical tattoo rather than a hate symbol at that point.  

Now, this doesn’t mean I think we can take back the Swastika and act like Hitler never happened (though in places where Hinduism is the majority this should be fine) but to recognize that the symbol itself is not evil, it’s what you mean when you represent that symbol that matters. Typically, at least in america, when sporting the Swastika as a tattoo or T-shirt, this usually refers to some white pride, white power nationalism and racist beliefs. This is not what the Hindu means. The anti-Christmas argument, if it were consistent, would have to condemn the Hindu for using the Swastika, even though they predated Hiter’s use of it and don’t mean the same thing when they use it.

We also see that biblical writers used pagan books in their writing of scripture. Scholars, such as Paul Overland, in his work “Structure in the wisdom of Ammennope and Proverbs” shows that the writer of Proverbs was clearly influenced by the writings. Now, does this matter? No, not really. But it should matter to the anti-christmas crowd, if they were being consistent with their argumentation.

It reminds me of when Augustine cautioned the people to stop ignoring the pagan scientists, because despite their rejection of Yahweh, they understood some of his truths about the universe.

It shouldn’t be controversial to say that you agree with a pagan when they get something right. If a Pagan, who is otherwise heretical, says that Jesus is the savior of the world, you wouldn’t disagree with them because they said it, would you? Rather, you would find out their motivation for saying that in the context of the rest of their theology.

Paul’s use of the term “subjugation” in 1 Corinthians 15:25-28 was seen by the early Christians as partly to due with reclaiming God’s creation as his own. InspiringPhilosophy mentions an example of the obelisk at the Vatican, the obelisk was moved to Rome in 37 A.D. by Caligula and in 1586 Pope Sixtus christianized it by adding a cross to it and giving it a different meaning, that meaning being of man reaching up his hand to God, much like Peter, thinking he was going to drown before Jesus pulled him up. (Rome, Marcia B. Hall pg. 282)

Another argument made is the day itself, December 25th, was chosen as “Jesus’ birthday” in relation to the pagan celebration of Sol Invictus, which was only celebrated on December 25th. However, there are two problems with this. The first being that the earliest inscriptions of Sol Invictus do not mention a date that it was celebrated. The second problem is the first mention of it being dated was in 394 A.D. when Christians were already in power. It could be, that pagans moved their holiday to December 25th to combat the Christians. In fact, Scholar Thomas Talley argues just that, he argues that It is more likely that the Roman Emperor Aurelian placed Sol Invictus on December 25th to compete with Christianity  (Talley, The Origins of the Liturgical Calendar (pg. 88-91)  

A few side notes that I found interesting was that John Chrysostom says celebrating Christmas on December 25th was a long-time tradition (Homily on Christmas)  and that the Philocian calendar lists Christmas as a church holiday

You don’t have to celebrate Christmas, put let’s put the fake piety away and be a little joyful. 

Have a Merry Christmas! 







    



Inference To The One True Fraud: Book Review

What causes someone to plagiarize? Perhaps they aren’t creative enough. Maybe they were stuck and looked for an easy way to complete a project. Maybe they’re just lazy. Whatever the reason, Plagiarism should be taken as seriously as it is taken in Academia and schools in general. If you were caught plagiarizing in school, you’d receive a zero on that assignment. Why then do we tolerate plagiarism in Christian apologetics?

What I don’t mean



I do not use the accusation of plagiarism lightly and I do not have a wide definition of plagiarism either. In Christian apologetics, there are standard arguments that have been in use for years. So similar defenses or wording might occur when talking about things like the Kalam Cosmological argument.  But when you copy and paste sentences, paragraphs even, from apologists who are far more accomplished than you, you can’t be surprised when you’re caught.

While I’m sure there are other apologists guilty of this, I want to focus on one apologetics blog in particular. I’m not into subliminal disses, I’m usually pretty clear on who I’m talking about. In the same vein, I wish to call my Brother, the owner of CerebralFaith(who I will not link due to it being against Facebook’s community standards.) to honestly examine what I have to say.



Evidence of Plagiarism



I was a fan of Evan’s work at CerebralFaith. Sure, we disagree about a few things, but overall I thought he was a decent writer, the only thing I had really told him I didn’t like was his never-ending series and that he was a bit long-winded when he didn’t need to be. These criticisms were presented as friendly jabbing, not sincere insults.

In Inference to the One True God, In he were to cite properly, he’d be citing every page of his book with reasonable faith. That is a sign of being completely unoriginal as a researcher. He uses Craig’s language, such as often used phrases, which is another sign of being a copycat.  Pg. 17 Evan steals directly from Craig’s “three reasons” without citing Craig. He lacks citations heavily in his book, such as when he relays historical information about Einstein.

If you’re saying this on your blog, that’s one thing, but making money off someone else’s work.

I mean even his blog name sounds like a rip-off of reasonable faith.

You should be reading sources and building your argument based on them and build off them instead of finding a quote that supports what you want to say.

Here is a concrete example of plagiarism. The entire Kalam cosmological argument chapter uses Craigan language, examples, and defenses pretty much word for word. On page 79 of Inference to the one True God, Evan steals the values and duties defense, almost word for word, from Craig again.


A modern example of his poor citation is his post on 2 Peter 3:9, where he cites Jim Boucher’s blog, but cites the homepage instead of the article in question.



Pride Goes Before the Fall



One of the best lines in Star Wars is delivered by the late Christopher Lee, who, reacting to Anakin’s claim that he was twice as strong as when they last met, said “Good. Twice the pride, double the fall.”

I do not wish to pick on the sins of my brother, nor do I wish to yeet the speck out of his eye while there is a plank in mine. That being said, I think it is fair to point out that Evan’s demeanor towards his brothers and sisters has grown progressively worse over the past couple of months.

It has become a trend for him to mistreat those who offer advice or constructive criticism. For example, Evan’s family suffered a tragedy, this is public knowledge and is shared on pretty much all of his social media accounts, so I do not think I’m crossing a line by mentioning it here. Here’s the thing. I’m all for helping out a brother or sister in need, especially when it’s related to a necessity, like being able to shower more than once a week. That being said, It was my contention as well as a few other good friends of Evan, that being a young able-bodied man, he should get a job to help support his family.

There is a nice way and a not-so-nice way to get that message across. I believe we did the former rather than the latter. If I wanted to be rude about it, I’d say, Evan, get a job, stop wasting your time writing articles no one reads when you could be making money and helping your family.

That’s not what I said though. I asked him about a job and if he had ever considered college, because after the age of 24, you can get the pell grant, which can pretty much cover 2 years at a community college.

Evan’s response to people offering this advice?


Now, this level of response seems to be coming from someone who was offended, wouldn’t you say? But what is so offensive about your friends suggesting you work? This is biblical advice. The Bible says

All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty (Proverbs 14:23 NIV)

For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat. (2 Thessalonians 3:10 NIV)

Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense. (Proverbs 12:11 NIV)

The NIV rendering of Proverbs 12, whereas other translations have “worthless pursuits”, I like the rendering of “those who chase fantasies.” Yeah, both mean the same thing, but you thinking you will have a career as an apologist is you chasing a fantasy, which is a worthless pursuit if you plagiarize and refuse to take any criticism.



Calvinist Conspiracy Theories



Much like Anti-Trump derangement syndrome, Calvinist derangement syndrome seems very real. After Evan’s blog was banned from being posted on Facebook, his immediate suggestion was that Calvinists were behind it. As if Calvinists really care about his free-to-write blogging platform. I know my fellow Calvinists are not known for being quiet when Calvinism is challenged, but to think that CerebralFaith was taken down because of some Calvinist getting mad at one of your posts seems to me to be a bit far-fetched. (If you can prove that it was, more power to you.)

Now, according to you, Facebook has not given you a specific reason on why you were banned. Well, I can assure you, that Mark Zuckerberg does not care about Calvinism, so it’s either you were rightly or wrongly banned for something else. Facebook claims you violated their community standards, so regardless of who reported you, let’s analyze the community standards to see if you fit.

After reviewing the community standards, I’ve found two areas that possibly were considered when your blog was banned. Those two things are spam and violation of intellectual property. You see, Facebook, much like original content creators, do not appreciate when someone steals content and acts as if they wrote it. The second one, I think, is more probable. Not because you’re innocent of plagiarism, but because spam is something that is easy to get in trouble for. I’ve been suspended from posting for “spam” before, it happens when you share the same link too many times in a certain time frame. I don’t know if you’ve ever been suspended from posting for spam before, but I imagine if you’ve done it a few times, a permaban of your URL could have been a reasonable solution for Facebook, though this is just speculation on my part.

So, instead of pretending this is a spiritual battle against your ministry (a.k.a. Free internet blog not associated with any ministry), think about this logically.

Do I think you should be silenced by Facebook? Absolutely not. I, however, do not appreciate you blaming calvinists for anything bad that happens to you, much like a hyper-pentecostal might blame the devil for everything. Are we really the devil in your head? Are we living rent-free up there next to Dr. Who and Pokemon? Think clearly about this.