Jesus Wasn’t Born On December 25th

Your average cultural christian might be shocked by this statement, but any Christian who pays attention to their faith will not be surprised. Many, like myself, are agnostic about the exact date of Jesus’ birth, since it seems so hard to determine with any confidence as scripture doesn’t tell us.

I don’t see anything wrong with setting out a day to remember the birth of Jesus if you’re unsure of the day (Calm down, RPWers), that being said, there have been some persuasive arguments for an exact month, an exact day even, for Jesus of Nazareth’s birth.

I remain agnostic on this issue myself, however, I think if I were to take a side, I’d choose this one. Let me explain why.

The main source of research that is used for this view is a book by Dr. Ernest L. Martin titled “The Star of Bethlehem: The Star That Astonished The World.”

I read this book once I saw Dr. Michael Heiser recommended it on his website regarding the date of Jesus’ birth.

Dr. Martin spends the first chapter explaining astrological data suggesting the the star that the Maji may have seen which they thought indicated the birth of Jesus.

Roger Sinnot writes in an astronomical journal about the unusual collision between Jupiter and Venus stating that “The fusion of two planets would have been a rare and awe-inspiring event.”i

Such an event, we could reason, could have been very important to the Magi as they were professional astrologers. Do not confuse astrology with the type of “astrology” you may see today, like getting updates on your horoscopes from some website that gives your computer adware.

The Maji were not only astrologers but professional astronomers, not exactly the status quo of a new-age astrologer you may be thinking of. Matthew’s mentioning of the Magi and their symbolic interpretation of the star linking to the King of the Jews being born was Matthew showing scientific confirmation of his claims. ii The opinion of the Magi was clearly persuasive, as it troubled Herod and the people of Jerusalem in general. (Matthew 2:3)

The Star that the Magi presumably followed was called the Regulus, otherwise called “The Star of the Messiah.” The way the Regulus is positioned about the Leo lion constellation, seems to coincide with some biblical prophecy. (Genesis 49:10)


The overall claim is that the star does not necessarily have to be supernatural in origin, as if it was a star that appeared out of nowhere, but was a natural event that God used to signify the birth of the Messiah.

Though this view is accepted by platenieruims and the scientific community in general, there are some theological objections to this view that need to be considered.

In defense of the December 25th as the day that Jesus was born, I found one particular article that I found as a good defense against Martin’s claims in general regarding the day of Jesus’ birth. I have sought to bring forth the best arguments I could find for both sides of this argument, to start you on your journey of consideration and out of apathy towards the general time Jesus was born.

On this website, Martin’s work is critiqued as a biased and exaggerated opinion piece, who omits several important facts and “reads like a tabloid rather than serious academic work.” Clearly, the rhetoric is there, but how about the argumentation?

The author argues that Martin is guilty of special pleading, puts too much faith the science of astronomy knowing how the constellations would look 2,000 years ago and questioning the biblical interpretation of Martin on Revelation chapter 12.

Dr. Michael Heiser, in analyzing the critics has stated:

Martin’s thesis has, of course, been critiqued in some detail. There are problems, but none of them are insurmountable and can be rebutted with good evidence. This reality, along with the comprehensive explanatory power Martin’s work, as well as the date’s remarkable synchronicity with Jewish messianic symbolism and calendar, make Martin’s work persuasive to me

I will summarize the argument that is accepted by Martin, Hesier etc. by quoting Robert Rowe, Christian Apologist and a student of Physics at Edith Cowan University

  1. On the 12th of August in 3 b.c., Venus and Jupiter are in their first conjunction, visible low in the eastern twilight before sunrise. Both are moving eastward against the stars. This is what the Magi described when they met Herod [Matthew 2:1-2].
  2. On the 11th of September in 3 b.c., Jupiter and Regulus are in conjunction for the first time. It is on this date that Jesus was born. Thus, as Jesus began his ministry in October / November of 28 a.d., he was ~2 months past his 30th birthday, precisely as in Luke 3:23.
  3. On the 17th of February in 2 b.c., Jupiter and Regulus are in conjunction for the second time, as Jupiter is in retrograde motion.
  4. On the 8th of May in 2 b.c., Jupiter and Regulus are in conjunction for the third time.
  5. On the 17th of June in 2 b.c., Venus and Jupiter are in conjunction. They appear to merge into a single star low in the west at sunset. This is the Star of Bethlehem! By this time, Jesus is 9 months old.

Again, I do not think the evidence is strong enough to be dogmatic on this issue, It it quite possible that neither of us are right, that it’s not December 25th or September 11th. However, I find Martin’s arguments persuasive and if forced to choose a side I will defend Jesus being born on September 11th, though I have no problem with us celebrating it on December 25th for tradition sake.

i. Sky and Telescope, December, 1968, 384–386.
ii. The Star of Bethlehem, Chapter 2

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! 

Why You Should Stop Posting Blog Post Series (Part 2)

Blog Post series have been a popular trend for years, but I think it’s increasing, at least in my Facebook news feed it seems to be increasing.

A person who writes in series usually does this because they think they can draw more views to their blog. The readers of part 1 for example will be just so anxious to read part 2 of your scintillating content.

Another reason is perhaps the topic is a wide range of sub-topics and would make for a long post, however, a long post is better than seven separate 1,000 word fluff-filled surface level writing. You can fit the flow of the article without having to recap every new post to inform the person who clicks on part 2 that he now has to navigate his way to part 1 to understand the connection.

I personally will only read a series if the topic is very interesting to me, because I despise them. Just like the tactic to write a blog post that has “click next page” so the writer can boost up his views per visitor, series are used as a tactic to artificially boost your view count.

Fortunately for you, I will never write a blog series. You won’t have to wait a week to read part 2 than another week to read part 3, in which you will probably forget vapid writing and have to read part 1 again, more views!!

I know my audience, so I know you have all seen Shrek 2 where Shrek states to the people he just stole clothes from

“Thank you, gentlemen! Someday, I will repay you. Unless, of course, I can’t find you or if I forget.” (Do I need to cite this? I mean, you already own the movie on DVD)

May I suggest to you fine people, that there will be people who read part 1 with interest but never see part 2 because they forget? Sure, you can share the crap out of it, but you have to be really good for anyone to want to read part 2 on a topic, especially if it’s a well-covered topic covered by bigger names in one singular post.

Intentionally short posts are just as low-energy as long drawn out fluff posts.

Now, if you write blog series, I don’t hate you, I hate your sin.

Taqiyya: What I Say When You Disagree With Me

Dr. Yasir Qadhi and Dr. James White (video here)

Two learned men, one a Christian the other a Muslim, decide to sit down and have a discussion. The discussion helped both sides to better understand each other’s point of view, not for the sake of compromising either side, but to better comprehend that person’s reasons for believing like they do.

Of course, this type of thing is anathema to the discernment blogger era of professing Christianity. It’s like they’re taken aback that Dr. James White actually wants to treat a Muslim like an image bearer instead of a potential member of a terrorist organization.

You would think that Christians of all people would be able to understand that there are many doctrines that are disagreed upon within the realm of orthodoxy. So, when a Muslim disagrees with the interpretation of a text that is popularly seen as violent, hateful, or bigoted in any way, we should hear them out, it’s their book, not ours. The last thing on my mind is to think if they disagree with me they’re lying.

What about the Mosaic law that calls for the death of people for certain things? Not only do Christians disagree on which laws apply and when, they disagree on  the purposes and use. Yet, would you think it was fair if someone quoted a random verse from the old testament talking about the death penalty for say blasphemy and accuse you of wanting to do that to anyone you could if you had the chance?  Even better, I have a personal example of what I’m talking about.

I had someone quote this verse to me saying that Jesus taught violence

“But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.” (Luke 19:27 KJV)

Now, the average Christian will instantly see this as taken out of context. The Scriptures say Jesus is speaking in a parable here.(verse 11) So, this would be the equivalent of me calling Stephen King a murderer for all the dead people in his novels.

I think some Christians can get mixed up and misrepresent the Qu’ran, especially if we are just googling “evil verses in the Qu’ran” instead of doing our own research. We Christians, especially us of the Reformed variety, value context, so we should treat other religion’s holy books the same in that regard.

I want to know what the Qu’ran actually says, what the author’s intention was, and why my Muslim friend believes it’s claims. I’m not interested in fear-mongering or accusing them of lying, unless of course there is proof that they are.

It’s interesting to see the narrative change, one moment they’re lying, yet when the Muslims say Dr. White is helping Islam’s cause, they’re suddenly not lying. Awfully convenient that the Muslim is only telling the truth when you agree with him. They’re probably saying that because that’s what people with opposite positions do. If you know anything about religion or politics, you will know that is just rhetoric.

A couple of clarifications so you know where I stand. I think there are some verses in the Qu’ran that are exegetically indefensible, that are just either plain out wrong or evil.

However, I think we should address this Taqiyya thing as a innocent until proven guilty situation. I’m sure you could show me examples of someone admitting to do it, or you’ve have someone do it before. The issue is not that it happens, it’s that because it happens, you assume it always happens.
We should read sources from Islamic scholars because when we can understand the best they have to offer, we will be better equipped to handle objections. Under that Burka is an image-bearer who wants to believe in a creator. They were probably raised that way, all their family and most of their friends probably believe the same thing. Religion can mean a whole lot to people, and while obviously the Bible will offend them (1 Corinthians 2:14), we shouldn’t add to the offense with our rhetoric.

We should destroy arguments, not people. (2 Corinthians 10:5)

If you’ve made it through this article without calling me a heretic inter-faith islam sympathizer apostate, congratulations. Also, buy Dr. White’s book “What every Christian needs to know about the Qu’ran” for a highly informative summation of the very important differences between Islam and Christianity and why it matters.

Defending The Mother of God from Nestorians

“Mary is the Mother of Jesus, not God!”[1] says the evangelical, overreacting to popish claims. It really is a shame that anything that sounds remotely Roman Catholic is rejected, the point of the Reformation was not to get rid of everything the Roman church has done but to get rid of its excesses and perversions.[2]
We shouldn’t reject the work done by others just because they aren’t Christian or because they don’t agree with us in other areas. Jonathan Edwards writes

“[We don’t need to] reject all truth which is demonstrated by clear evidence, merely because it was once held by some bad man.”(Words in brackets mine, for context) [3]

So, because it is popular in Roman Catholic circles, Protestants of both the historical variety (Calvinists, Lutherans, and Anglicans) and non-historical Protestants, which I just prefer to call “evangelicals” for distinction sake, freak out when they hear some Calvinists or Lutherans say “Mary is the Mother of God” as if a bee had landed on them, or perhaps they touched soaked leftover food on a dirty plate in the sink.

MISUNDERSTANDING MOM

There are several misconceptions that occur when you say Mary is Theotokos, the most common objection in my experience is the misunderstanding that when we call her the Mother of God, that we actually believe that she predates God, or that she is the Mother of the Trinity. [4] This is not the case. The other common misunderstanding is what I quoted above, that Mary is only the mother of Jesus and not God the Son. Such a distinction misunderstands the hypostatic union, for a nature doesn’t have a mother, a person does. Jesus is one person with two natures, not two persons with two natures. The person who claims that Mary is only the Mother of Jesus is unwittingly treating the human nature as if it is a distinct person, which is an error rejected by Chalcedonian Christology. [5]In the Scriptures, for example, Luke 1:43, Elizabeth has no hesitation in correctly identifying Mary, we read

“…Why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (ESV)

Hmmm, that silly Elizabeth she must have been a papist! Or maybe she understood the ramifications of her statement.Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign.

Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14 ESV)

Immanuel literally means “God with us”(Matthew 1:23) So I have a question, did the divine nature enter the human body after Jesus was out of the womb? Be careful, as such reasoning is dangerous speculation. I hope you’re taken aback at the absurdity of the thought, Through the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35, Matthew 1:18) The one person of Jesus, consisting of two natures was in the womb of Mary, there is no reason to think otherwise.  It was not a mere human nature because a human nature is not a person.

NESTORIUS RISING IN PROTESTANT THOUGHT

In my experience as anecdotal as that may be, I am surprised by the number of Protestants who seem to knowingly or not, adopt Nestorian language and conclusions as a sort of overreaction to Roman Catholicism. I reject prayers to Mary, Alphonso Liguori’s statements “refuge for sinners” and “I worship thee” aimed towards Mary [6], Purgatory, Papal Infallibility etc. However, it is silly to discredit everything a Roman Catholic says because of these errors.Dr. James White in his book “Mary: Another Redeemer?” states

“Nestorius objected to the use of the word Theotokos….He quite rightly expressed concern that the word could be easily misunderstood……his denial of the propriety of Theotokos led him to insist that Mary was the mother only of the human”element” of Christ, which resulted in a functional separation of the divine from the human in Christ. The basic danger of Nestorius’ position then was that it led to a Jesus who was two persons with no real connection between the divine and human.”

Dr. White goes on to say

“Those who defend the use of the Theotokos did so by insisting that the Messiah was fully human and fully divine from the moment of conception” [7]

CONCLUSION

So, to conclude Jesus is one person, with two natures. Natures don’t have mommies, people do. Jesus has one mommy, is one person and has two natures. Are you following the line of reasoning now?  God the Son did not originate in or by Mary, but God the Son was in the womb of Mary.

NESTORIUS WILL NOT BE VICTORIOUS.

[1] Bible.Org “Should we worship Mary?”
[2] Shameless Popery “Did Luther Want To Start His Own Church?”
[3] Jonathan Edwards: A Life by George Marsden p. 443
[4] Wordofhisgrace.org “Was Mary the Mother of God?”
[5] The Definition of Chalcedon (451 A.D.)
[6] Visits to the Most Holy Sacrament: And The Blessed Virgin Mary by St. Alphonsus Liguori, p.25
[7] Mary: Another Redeemer by James White p. 47

The Chain That Cannot Be Broken

 “Give up my chain, never.” – J. Cole

Many Christians read this verse with great comfort and joy, but some believe that this sequence of actions can stop, that some people could be called but not justified, that some who are justified will not be glorified in the end, These verses are commonly referred to as “The Golden Chain of Redemption” and it would seem some Christians and Pelagians  think this chain can be broken. 

Foreknew?

First, I want to note, that Romans 8:28-30 is continuous, and is clearly focused on the same audience all the way through, there are no shifts, and no indication that any of these actions mentioned are somehow separated from one another. 

Foreknew – This is where the big debate is over, what exactly does “foreknew” mean? 

Foreknowing here is an active verb, and is personal, God is foreknowing persons in Romans 8, a specific people. A parallel is Jeremiah 1:5, God knowing the prophet before he formed him in the womb, Romans 8 is not just for Paul’s audience as some who cannot escape the inevitable continuity of the chain suggest, When Adam ‘knew’ his wife in Genesis 4:1, the passage is clearly not telling us that Adam merely acknowledge the existence of Eve, for she conceived by this knowing, which implies intimate knowledge. Likewise, in Romans 8, God’s foreknowing is intimate, it’s personal, it is not merely the foreknowing of actions. 

Paul keeps up with the theme in Romans 11, when speaking about God not rejecting his people whom he foreknew, and he then cites an OT prophet speaking about the murder of God’s prophets, God responded that he kept 7,000 that wouldn’t bow the knee to ba’al and Paul ties it in to a remnant that would be saved by God’s grace, again personal. Peter, in 1 Peter 1:20, speaking of Christ, mentions that he was foreknown before the foundation of the world, Do you think this is merely saying that the Father knew of Christ’s existence or what he would do? Another example: 

Hear this word that the Lord has spoken against you, O people of Israel, against the whole family that I brought up out of the land of Egypt: You only have I known of all the families of the earth, therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.                     (Amos 3:1-2 ESV) 

The Arminian would not foolishly say that God doesn’t know any other families here, so what does God mean? He’s speaking personally again., why else is he singling them out here? 

When God and foreknow are together in scripture, it is always personal. 

The Arminian will say that God is simply foreknowing that they would react positively to a resistible  prevenient grace, this however is an assumption on the text and not from the text itself. I challenge the Arminian to substantiate their belief in a conditional election based on a positive action of acceptance of God’s grace. 

I’ll leave you with two very good quotes on this subject by men much more learned than me

 Faith cannot be the cause of foreknowledge, because foreknowledge is before predestination, and faith is the effect of predestination. ‘As many as were ordained to eternal life believed,’ Acts 13:48.* Neither can it be meant of the foreknowledge of good works, because these are the effects of predestination. ‘We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works; which God hath before ordained (or before prepared) that we should walk in them;’ Eph. 2:10. Neither can it be meant of foreknowledge of our concurrence with the external call, because our effectual calling depends not upon that concurrence, but upon God’s purpose and grace, given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, 2 Tim. 1:9. By this foreknowledge, then, is meant, as has been observed, the love of God towards those whom he predestinates to be saved through Jesus Christ. All the called of God are foreknown by Him, – that is, they are the objects of His eternal love, and their calling comes from this free love. ‘I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn thee,’ Jer. 31:3. [1]



“as to know is often to approve and love, it may express the idea of peculiar affection in this case; or it may mean to selector determine upon….The usage of the word is favourable to either modification of this general idea of preferring. ‘The people which he foreknew,’ i.e., loved or selected, Rom. 11:2; ‘Who verily was foreordained (Gr. foreknown), i.e., fixed upon, chosen before the foundation of the world.’ I Peter 1:20; II Tim. 2:19; John 10:14,15; see also Acts 2:23; I Peter 1:2. The idea, therefore, obviously is, that those whom God peculiarly loved, and by thus loving, distinguished or selected from the rest of mankind; or to express both ideas in one word, those whom he elected he predestined, etc.” [2]

[1] Robert Haldane, Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans, p. 397.

[2] Charles Hodge, Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, pp. 283, 284. Italics are his.