To make this debate simple, let me classify the two opposing argumentators as ?Christmasphobians? and ?Christmasphilians?. The word ?phobia? is a Greek word meaning ?hatred or dislike of something.? Thus, ?Christmasphobians? are those who dislike and condemn the feast of Christmas; whilst ?Christmasphilia? is derived from the Greek word ?philia? which denotes ?love for something.?? Therefore Christmasphilians? are those who accept the Christmas feast and love to celebrate it.? (That is why I find it queer for supporters of Hearts of Oak football club to loudly say:? ?Heartsphobia ? Heartsphobia?.? Do they want to say that they hate Hearts of Oak?? If they really love Hearts, they should say: ?Heartsphilia ? Heartsphilia, and call themselves: ?Heartsphilians?. Hearts leaders, correct this ?Heartsphobia? mistake.)
Now to my main argument.?? Christmasphobians cite several reasons for condemning the celebration of Christmas.? They argue, first of all, that the celebration of Christmas, the birthday of Christ, is always associated with the two evil birthday celebrations showcased in the Bible, during which bloodshed occurred.
The first one, Christmasphobians quickly indicate, was the case in which the imprisoned chief-baker of Pharaoh (the king of Egypt) was hanged.?? Pharaoh was then celebrating his birthday (Genesis 40 : 20 ? 22) And the second, was the beheading of the imprisoned John the Baptist, which act occurred at the request of King Herod?s own daughter, when he, the king, was celebrating his birthday.
Christmasphobians, some of whom are said to be Christians, contend that the two instances in the Bible continue to spew forth bloodshed memories each time Christmas is celebrated as the birthday of Christ.? Thus, it is argued that if it is admitted that ?all scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching in righteousness? (2 Timothy 3 : 16), the gory scriptures about? Pharaoh?s and Herod?s birthdays should teach us to avoid celebrating Christ?s birthday because it seeks to always endorse and extol the killings of the previous birthday celebrations in the Bible.
Some Christmasphobians who are more metaphysically inclined go even further to argue that the same ugly sceptre of bloodshed which became associated with Pharaoh?s birthday, and later with king Herod?s birthday, has stridden down the years from the olden times to haunt the modern-day celebration of Christ?s birthday, to the extent that during Christmastide every year, there is spiritually-caused physical bloodshed, with many souls perishing in lorry accidents and premature death. So Chrismasphobians sloganeer that ?no Christmas, no sudden deaths; and cancel Christmas to save souls?!
Against this charge, Christmasphilians or Christmas lovers hold three simple arguments.?? One, the citing of the one-time blood-spilling birthdays of Pharaoh and Herod as occurrences that still remit evil influences on modern-day Christmas is, to say the least, a ridiculous, infantile superstition.? How can the so-called remission of evils be logically proven?? it is asked.
Two, Christmas is rather the time for the teaching of the scriptures? righteousness.? It offers the opportunity to rather condemn the two previous birthday celebrations? unrighteousness of blood-spilling so to teach the love of Christ.? Three, the frequent accidents that occur at Christmastide are, if examined spiritually, caused by Satan in order to cast a slur on the sacredness of Christmas and to discourage its celebration.? Thus, Christmas is essentially a holy feast hated by Satan because it glorifies the Lord Jesus.
Christmasphobians quickly put forward another birthday argument.? They insist that the method of celebrating Christ?s birthday amounts to the continuation of pagan practices of the olden times.? The interesting Jehovah?s Witnesses booklet ?Reasoning from the Scriptures? quotes from ?Zeit and Welt? to pronounce on this point: ?The various customs with which people today celebrate their birthdays have a long history.? Their origins lie in the realms of magic and religion.? The customs of offering congratulations, presenting gifts and celebrating ? complete with lighted candles ? in ancient times were meant to protect the birthday celebrant from demons and to ensure his security for the coming year.? Down to the fourth century, Christianity rejected the birthday celebration as a pagan custom.?
But Christimasphilians ask, ?How can the celebrants of Christ?s birthday who do not believe in gods to protect them, but believe in Christ for their salvation and security, be linked with the practice of old-time paganism??
Christmasphilians argue further that in matters of religion, it is the belief of the heart in the type of the supernatural being one communicates with that determines one?s bearing as idolatrous or divine ? worshipper, but not essentially the customs or mode employed in worshipping.? For instance, so it is argued, if Christians today are using African drums like dondo, fontromfrom, or tambouring to worship God in the church (instruments which were in the past used to worship Tigare or Brekune gods) does it mean that Christians are worshipping gods for using such drums?
In like manner, so the argument goes, what is wrong in adopting the old-time pagan culture of exchanges of gifts, and sending of congratulatory messages of, say, ?Afenhyia pa o ? or Merry Christmas??? And what?s wrong if these are followed by the celebration of Christmas in sober joyousness and gaiety which are merely acculturational (enhancing the jollities of this customary feast) but which are in no way aberrational (intending to paganise it into immoral orgies)?
It is therefore concluded by Christmas celebrants that it is not the cultural derivations of Christmas celebrations that matter, but its spiritual and moral dimensions steeped in devotions to Christ that count.
In relation to the idolatry question is the Christmasphobians? predilection to link the 25th December birthday of Christ to the alleged 25th December birthdays of several gods of ancient times, a seemingly vicious logic intentionally concocted to desecrate or nullify the divine hallowness of Christmas.
On this issue of date of birth, the New Catholic Encyclopaedia is often quoted by Christmasphobians: ?The date of Christ?s birth is not known.? The gospels indicate neither the day nor the month.? According to the hypothesis suggested by H. Usener? and accepted by most scholars today, the birth of Christ was assigned to the winter solstice (December 25 on the Julian calendar)? because on this day, as the sun began its return to the northern skies, the pagan devotees of Mithra celebrated the ?dies Natalis solis Invicti (birthday of the invincible sun)
In his book, The Mystical Life of Jesus, Dr Spencer Lewis writes that for several centuries 25th December was celebrated by the ancient Egyptians as the birth date of their gods Horus and Osiris; and by the Greeks as the birth date of the gods Hercules, Baaches, Adonis etc.
The conclusion of Christmasphobians is that since the birthday of Christ was a mere imitation of the birthday of the gods, and since some ?Christian customs are thought to be rooted in this ancient pagan celebration?, Christmas is paganistic and therefore it is not of God but of Satan.
But this argument was disproved by St John Chrysostom who, according to his undisputed divine revelation from fasting and prayers, established that the December 25 date was the correct birthday of Christ.? So in AD 386, St Chrysostom declared: ?It is now ten years since the day (the exact birthday of Christ) was clearly known to us?.? After all, if the birthday date of Christ was coincidentally coeval with the superstitiously presumed birthday of some gods, what is wrong with it?? Does the coincidence paganise the birthday celebrations of Christ? No. Not all.
And if by Christ?s own words, ?Whatsoever thou shalt bound on earth, shall be bound in heaven? (Mathew 18:18), the Christian community worldwide has instituted Christmas celebrations to rejoice over Christ?s birthday, can?t God approve of it?
It is my contention that Christmas is blessed by God, and is celebrated even in heaven by angels (Luke 2:14), therefore Christmas is of God and never of Satan.? On this note, I say ?Merry, Merry Christmas? to all readers of this column.
In respect of the congratulatory messages (both e-mail and mobile) that have started pouring in over my upcoming 75th birthday celebrations on Tuesday, December 23, 2014, I wish to express my heartfelt thanks to all my concerned readers and lovers.? God bless all of you.? I also thank God for sustaining my life up to this mature age.? May God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be always glorified and praised.? Hallelujah, Amen!
BY Apostle Kwamena?Ahinful