Merry Mithras, by any other name;

For hundreds of years before Christ, people worshipped the sun. In the north as winter approached the people, fearing that the sun had forsaken them they offered sacrifices and worship and it always seemed to work because the sun god relented and the days started to get longer. This time of solstice became memorialized with its own official season culminating with an observation of the longest day of the year with the solstice celebration. In different parts of the world this celebration took on different forms. In the north according to the Wicca tradition the holiday is called Yule or Yuletide. The Yule log, a log brought into the house during this season, made way to the Yule tree. This was an evergreen cut down and not a potted plant. The tree like the Yule log represented eternal life. The evergreen was used by the Celts and the Egyptians alike. Even in Asia the evergreen was used in worship as a symbol of life continuing on even when other trees looked dead the hope of life could still be seen in it green branches. In Wicca, called the "Old Religion", the major characters worshipped are Mother Nature, Father Time and the Baby Sun God. Sounds familiar doesn’t it.

O’ Christmas Tree O’ Christmas Tree

Some how we think that our cherished evergreen is a symbol of God’s everlasting life or the "tree of life" of the Bible. In fact this tree (the one we decorate and put our presents under) is described as a pagen act and symbol in our Scriptures.

Jeremiah 10:1 Hear ye the word which the LORD speaketh unto you, O house of Israel:

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.

Jeremiah 10:3 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.

Jeremiah 10:4 They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.

Jeremiah 10:5 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.

The "signs of heaven" that scared the heathen was the waning of the sun. The days got shorter and the nights longer and the heathens thought their beloved sun god was mad at them.

The Saturnalia

Probably the most influential winter solstice celebration on the early church in Antioch was the Saturnalia. This celebration spread from Greece to Rome and influenced the entire area where Christianity was trying to take a foothold. The worship in Greece of the god Saturn (the seed sower) the god of agriculture took place in December from the 17-23rd. It was a time of care free merry-making. Gifts were exchanged and even slaves were temporarily set at liberty. This celebration was overseen by a character known as the "Lord of Misrule" in the Roman Empire.

Merry Mithras

In Persia, Mithras, the god of lights (associated with the sun), and his worship Mithraism, competed with Christianity directly. Mithras’ birthday was also celebrated at the same time as the late winter solstice, December 25th.

These pagan holidays and the worship of their gods (many with mother and son deities), became a much looked forward to time in the Roman Empire because they were so much fun. A time of drunkenness and sexual immorality where many wore masks to hide their identity. A time when slaves, commoners and dignitaries alike mingled and exchanged favors. It can be compared to the Mardi Gras in New Orleans and Festival in Rio all rolled into one.

At the time of the early church the church at Jerusalem came under tremendous persecution. Some of the leaders decided to flee the country to keep from being stoned or crucified. Among these fleeing Bishops was Saint Nicolas one of the seven of Bishops of Jerusalem. Nicolas made his way back to Antioch and stayed to lead a congregation there. These followers became known as the Nicolations. This cult practiced the doctrine of Gnosticism. and enjoyed the finer things of life; delicious foods, good wine, carnal and sensual pleasures. They embraced the speculations of Pythagoras and Plato and adjusted scripture to these teachings. Knowledge rather than faith was the key to salvation and few people qualified. This doctrine was open to the influence of the natural sciences. Earth, wind, fire, astronomy, astrology and the like were the fare of social discourse. It is no wonder that Jesus shows his displeasure at this cult in his letters to the Churches in the Book of Revelation.

Revelation 2:6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 2:7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

Revelation 2:14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. 2:15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.

One of the letters is addressed to the church at Ephesus and the other to Pergamos. The near proximity of Antioch to these cities is the main reason for the obvious friction between these churches and the cult of Nicolas. What practices were being taught by the Nicolations? Whatever it was caused Christians to fall prey to grievous sin. A true stumbling-block of subversion.

Young’s literal reads as follows:

Revelation 2:14 `But I have against thee a few things: That thou hast there those holding the teaching of Balaam, who did teach Balak to cast a stumbling-block before the sons of Israel, to eat idol-sacrifices, and to commit whoredom; (2:15) so hast thou, even thou, those holding the teaching of the Nicolaitans -- which thing I hate.

Darby’s 1890

Revelation 2:14 But I have a few things against thee: that thou hast there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a snare before the sons of Israel, to eat [of] idol sacrifices and commit fornication. 2:15 So thou also hast those who hold the doctrine of Nicolaitanes in like manner.

What was it that constituted the "teaching of Balaam"? According to the Old Testament Balaam showed Balak that the men of Isreal could be seduced by pagan women and the salacious traditions of their holidays. Numbers 25:1, "And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab."

The conflict in the area around Antioch was probably over celebrations like those of the Saturnalia that included feasting, drinking, gift giving and fornication which were never given up and eventually legitimized by the Catholic church under Constantine . The celebration of the re-birth of the SUN GOD and that of Mithras' birth became one. Eventually the date of Christ's birth was changed to match this December 25th celebration by Pope Julius I in the fourth century. I guess their logic is kind of like that of the liberal educators today that believe passing out condoms to High School students is alright because, "they are going to do it anyhow so at least we can keep them from having illegitimate children. Some how it appears that the revelers of today's holiday season are legitimized by a simple "MERRY CHRISTMAS". Its the Churches' answer to "Safe Mithrasing". Any way it is like "harvest festivals" some churches have on October 31 and "Easter Egg Hunts" on the church lawn.

When Jersalem heard that Jesus’ birth was to be celebrated on December 25, the day they knew as the official Roman Empires’ traditional celebration of Mithras’ birth, they rioted in the streets and considered it blasphemy.

The celebration of "Christmas" was outlawed in this country from its early colonization until the mid 19th Century. The first state to make Christmas a legal holiday was Alabama in 1836. Between 1850 and 1861, fifteen states (including Illinois, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Minnesota) followed suit.

Where's the fruit?

What is the test for judging if a thing is good or bad? The Bible says in Matthew 7:16-20, "Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them."

If we are to use this standard what are the fruits of the Christmas season? It is a fact that in this "holiday season" called Christmas there is the highest suicide rate than any other time of the year. Depression is at its highest, along with unwanted pregnancy (especially out of marriage), let us not forget Debt. More people go their deepest into debt from which some never recover in the need to buy gifts for people they don't even like. When was the last time you went to the typical office Christmas party? Hopefully is was a long time ago, but even if it wasn't, it probably looked like the ones I attended before I became a committed Christian. It starts out quite merry but all too soon people are getting drunk and acting unrestrained. Co-workers are sneaking off to locked offices or dark corners, "trying to get lucky", husbands cheating on wives and wives on their husbands. Of course what would a good party be if there weren't at least a couple of people puking in the stairwell. Then when the debauchery is over everyone drives home drunk or just passes out on the floor. I hope this sounds strange and unfamiliar to you. It's been about thirty years for me but I can still remember. This has been the usual way that this holiday has been celebrated for the last couple of thousand years and its no wonder that the early settlers of this country saw fit to make this holiday illegal. This "Christmas" thing has been repackaged many times throughout history yet there is no way for a "corrupt tree" to bring forth good fruit. Wouldn't life be wonderful if it was all like a Norman Rockwell Painting or a Hallmark Card, but we all know it is not.

When we reflect on the good times and good feelings we have had on the holidays it is only because we took the time to get togeather with loved ones. The truth be known, we could do it more often and at other times and the good times would be then. Caring for each other and showing our love is something the Bible says we should do all the time, not just on holidays set on published yearly calendars.

If the Christmas Tree is the most recognizable symbol of Christmas, Santa Clause is the most recognizable individual. This semi mythical character as we know him today is a fabrication of literature. The poem "Twas the Night Before Christmas" or (Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas) is the basis of this jolly fat man in the red suit. As are all the legends surrounding this character, no one is sure of its real source. The poem was anonymously published in the Troy [New York] Sentinel on December 23, 1823. Previously believed to be by Clement Clarke Moore, now some say it was by Major Henry Livingston Jr. Anyhow, Santa's legendary powers are very similar to those that we attribute to God and Christ only. He is "omnipresent" (visits every home and every child in only one night), "omniscient" (knows if you have been good or bad), answers prayers (has a list), and supernaturally gives gifts to men. As far as I am concerned he is a false Christ.

After having moved on in our pursuit to draw nearer to God, my wife and I heard from a couple in the Sunday School class we had attended in our previous Church. We inquired what the last Sunday School topic was and we were told that the entire morning had been dedicated to, "how to keep the children believing in Santa one more year". We were enraged and outraged to hear this from our friends. Unfortunately many Churches are so incredibly ignorant of the danger these types of teachings have on their children and their own credibility. What happens when they find out they were lied to about Santa Clause? Is that the time to tell them that God is everywhere and knows if they have been good or bad and that He has rewards to those who have been good? See, Santa isn't a harmless lie, it is just a lie. As with all of these holiday deceptions, their "tree" doesn't really have any "good fruit" on it and according to God's word they must be " hewn down, and cast into the fire".
Santa Clause, Christmas trees, Easter bunnies, Easter eggs, All Saints eve (Halloween), carved pumpkins and the like are not innocent idols they are just idols. God's word calls all idolatry, witchcraft, and calls us all to come out of these. It angers God for his people to do such things.
1 Samuel 15:23, "For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king."
2 Chronicles 33:6, "And he caused his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom: also he observed times, and used enchantments, and used witchcraft, and dealt with a familiar spirit, and with wizards: he wrought much evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger."
Galatians 5:19-22, "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."

I am tired of hearing from fellow Christians that the true meaning of Christmas is the birth of Jesus. For over a thousand years this lie has tried to take hold of the Christian world. There is no evidence that Christ has anything to do with this holiday, and it is time for lovers of the truth to stand up and tell it as it is. I am tired of fellow Christians after knowing the truth saying that they won't deny their children of this innocent fun.
Its "for the children" they say. Sounds familiar doesn't it.