WCG/GCI on Origins of Christmas

Worldwide Church of God Transformed from Truth to Fairy Tales


The website of Grace Communion International (the group that temporarily ran the new WCG) had the following:

Have you ever wondered how Christmas came to be part of the annual Christian calendar? Here’s the fascinating story, which we begin with a surprising observation. Neither Jesus nor the apostles commanded or even suggested that the church should have a Christmas festival — and no evidence of such a celebration is in the New Testament…

Why Dec. 25?

One theory for the origin of Christmas is that it was intended to compete with or supplant the pagan celebration of the sun-god on that date. According to this hypothesis, accepted by most scholars today, the birth of Jesus was given near the date of the winter solstice. On this day, as the sun began its return to the northern skies, the pagan devotees of Mithra celebrated the birthday of the invincible sun. The cult was particularly strong at Rome when Christmas celebration arose.

The idea is that the church tried to counteract this pagan worship with its own celebration of Jesus’ birth. That makes good sense…

Birthday of Jesus?

Why wasn’t Jesus’ birthday celebrated earlier than the fourth century? One reason might be that neither the day nor month of Jesus’ birth is given in the Gospels or any other early Christian writings—and cannot be determined with any certainty…

The yearly Christian festivals remind us of the leading events of the gospel history, and beckon us to participate in worship of Christ.

So, let’s look at those points.

GCI is correct that:

  1. The date of Jesus’ birth is not mentioned in the Bible.
  2. No early Christian celebrated Christmas.
  3. Scholars recognize that December 25th was chosen to compromise with pagan sun god worshippers.

The original “yearly Christian festivals” included Passover, the Days of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, Trumpets, Atonement, Tabernacles, and the Last Great Day (see Is There “An Annual Worship Calendar” In the Bible?).  Most of which most who profess Christianity today either have never heard or know little about.

Historically of course, the true Church of God did not accept the adoption of pagan worship practices,  Whatever group that GCI is referring to as “the church” that adopted December 25th was not one that was faithful to the Bible or the practices of the original faithful Christians.

Furthermore, not only did Christians not celebrate Christmas, they also did not celebrate birthdays.  This, too, was a compromise with a pagan emperor who was a worshipper of the sun god Mithras–the one whose birthday was December 25th.

The Church of Rome also basically admits that date of December 25th was chosen as it was the pagan sun god Mithras’ birthday:

Mithraism A pagan religion consisting mainly of the cult of the ancient Indo-Iranian Sun-god Mithra. It entered Europe from Asia Minor after Alexander’s conquest, spread rapidly over the whole Roman Empire at the beginning of our era, reached its zenith during the third century, and vanished under the repressive regulations of Theodosius at the end of the fourth century…Helios Mithras is one god…Sunday was kept holy in honour of Mithra, and the sixteenth of each month was sacred to him as mediator. The 25 December was observed as his birthday, the natalis invicti, the rebirth of the winter-sun, unconquered by the rigours of the season (Arendzen. J.P. Transcribed by John Looby. Mithraism. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume X. Published 1911. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Natalis Invicti. The well-known solar feast, however, of Natalis Invicti, celebrated on 25 December, has a strong claim on the responsibility for our December date. For the history of the solar cult, its position in the Roman Empire, and syncretism with Mithraism, see Cumont’s epoch-making “Textes et Monuments” etc., I, ii, 4, 6, p. 355…The earliest rapprochement of the births of Christ and the sun is in Cypr., “De pasch. Comp.”, xix, “O quam præclare providentia ut illo die quo natus est Sol . . . nasceretur Christus.” – “O, how wonderfully acted Providence that on that day on which that Sun was born . . . Christ should be born.”…(Martindale C. Christmas. The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1908).

Notice that The Catholic Encyclopedia admits that December 25 was Mithras’ birthday and that pagan sun worship practices are tied into a reason for the December 25th date.

The old Worldwide Church of God used to realize the truth about Christmas, and not observe it.  Even though it knows some of the truth still about its origins, it has decided to compromise and accept a date that does not come from the Bible.

The closet legitimate date that the Bible seems to support for Christ’s birth would have been in September or October.  Because of the shepherds being out all night with their flocks according to Luke 2:7-17, this pretty much rules out the possibility of a late December date for the time of Jesus’ birth.

WCG/GCI’s fall on Christmas is simply one more proof that it has abandoned the Bible for non-biblical traditions.

Some articles of 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? Is December 25th Jesus’ birthday or that of the sun god?
Did Early Christians Celebrate Birthdays? Did biblical era Jews celebrate birthdays? Who originally celebrated birthdays? When did many that profess Christ begin birthday celebrations?
Do You Practice Mithraism? Many practices and doctrines that mainstream so-called Christian groups have are the same or similar to those of the sun-god Mithras. December 25th was celebrated as his birthday. Do you follow Mithraism combined with the Bible or original Christianity?
Is There “An Annual Worship Calendar” In the Bible? This paper provides a biblical and historical critique of several articles, including one by the Tkach 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.
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?
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Living Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions. Português: Qual é fiel: A igreja católica romana ou a igreja viva do deus? Tambien Español: Cuál es fiel: ¿La iglesia católica romana o La Iglesia del Dios Viviente? Auch: Deutsch: Welches zuverlässig ist: Die Römisch-katholische Kirche oder die lebende Kirche von Gott?
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?

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