Tkach: Are Christmas Trees Pagan?


Worldwide Church of God Transformed from Truth to Fairy Tales


The Worldwide Church of God just sent out an email of a commentary by its leader J. Tkach asking “Is the  Christmas Tree Pagan?”.  Here is how it starts:

SpOL119   Is the Christmas Tree Pagan?

Some Christians have thought that Jeremiah 10:2-4 condemns the Christmas tree. As a result, they’ve avoided Christmas trees, believing that to have one in their home would be a sin.

In the King James Version, Jeremiah 10:2-4 reads like this: “Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen…. 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. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.”

On the surface it might seem that Jeremiah is describing Christmas trees. But like so many mistaken impressions about the Bible, that conclusion ignores the context. Verses 2 through 4 of Jeremiah 10 are part of the larger context of verses 1 through 16, a condemnation not of the Christmas tree or trees of any kind, but of idols, which were typically carved from trees…

For Christians, the Christmas tree is not an object of veneration. It’s only a reminder of the good things of God.

While J. Tkach seems to indicate that Christmas Trees are not idols, that Catholics would say that about their statues.  Yet the New Testament is clear that Christians are to “not become idolaters as were some of them…Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry” (I Corinthians10:7,14). Trying to see how close one can come to accepting idols/icons does not seem consistent with that (or other) New Testament admonitions.

J. Tkach is correct that context is important.  But the context of Jeremiah 10 is not JUST idols, as he inplies, it is about avoiding pagan practices: “Learn not the way of the heathen“.  This is the context that Christians need to understand.

Yet, certainly having decorated trees as part of worship ceremonies is a heathen/pagan practice.  For Christians, Christmas Trees are a sign that many who professed Christ have compromised with paganism and prefer to accept traditions of men over the instructions in the Bible.  Decorated trees are not biblically a reminder “of the good things of God” as J. Tkach is now asserting.

Regarding some tree history, reported:

Christmas trees…during the Roman celebration of the feast of Saturnalia, Pagans did decorate their houses with clippings of evergreen shrubs. They also decorated living trees with bits of metal and replicas of their God, Bacchus. Tertullian (circa 160 – 230), an early Christian leader and a prolific writer, complained that too many fellow-Christians had copied the Pagan practice of adorning their houses with lamps and with wreathes of laurel at Christmas time…Many Pagan cultures used to cut boughs of evergreen trees in December, move them into the home or temple, and decorate them.  Modern-day Pagans still do. This was to recognize the winter solstice — the time of the year that had the shortest daylight hours, and longest night of the year.

Last year, LCG reported the following about Christmas Trees:

Saturnalia—the festival Christmas absorbed—even carries echoes of ancient child sacrifice! It sounds horrific that dolls were given as gifts as symbols or proxies of children burnt to pagan gods. Yet this practice echoes the modern tradition of hanging cherubs or human figures on Christmas trees! The ancient Greeks placed small masks called oscilla on branches, where they could twirl freely in the wind. Encyclopaedia Britannica explains that oscilla were small figures, most commonly masks or faces, that were hung up “as offerings to various deities.… The custom of hanging these oscilla represents an older practice of expiating human sacrifice” (ibid.). (Tomorrow’s World, “Christmas: Harmful for Children?”)

The connections with pagan practices are clear.

Yet getting back to WCG, another question that J. Tkach should be asking is,  “Are Christmas Trees ever endorsed in the Bible?”

And the answer is no.

So with Christmas Trees we:

  1. Clearly have a pagan symbol
  2. See a condemnation in the Bible of decorating trees associated with the worship of the true God, and
  3. Have a  human tradition that does not come from the Bible itself.

So, yes, Christmas Trees are pagan.  And true Christians should not utilize them in their worship of the true God.

Several articles of possibly related interest may include:

What Does the Catholic Church Teach About Christmas and the Holy Days? Do you know what the Catholic Church says were the original Christian holy days? Was Christmas among them?
Did Early Christians Celebrate Birthdays? Did biblical era Jews celebrate birthdays? Who originally celebrated birthdays? When did many that profess Christ begin birthday celebrations?
Is January 1st a Date for Christians Celebrate? Historical and biblical answers to this question about the world’s New Year’s day.
What Did the Early Church Teach About Idols and Icons? Did Catholic and Orthodox “saints” endorse or condemn idols and icons for Christians?
Tradition and Scripture: From the Bible and Church Writings Are traditions on equal par with scripture? Many believe that is what Peter, John, and Paul taught. But did they?
Is There “An Annual Worship Calendar” In the Bible? This paper provides a biblical and historical critique of several articles, including one by WCG which states that this should be a local decision. What do the Holy Days mean? Also you can click here for the calendar of Holy Days.
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?

Get news like the above sent to you on a daily basis

Your email will not be shared. You may unsubscribe at anytime.