Dear Mr. Armstrong
Frankly, I guess what I'm not seeing is how these practices are wrong, or offensive to God. I guess I would argue that I don't see any biblical evidence that God would be displeased with baptized believers celebrating the birth of His Son, regardless of whether or not that's in the singing of hymns, giving gifts, fellowshipping and sharing a meal with family and friends, and spreading good cheer...just because the time of year of this modern custom coincides with the time of year that pagans committed sinful acts centuries ago.
I understand your point of view completely. It is the precise reasoning followed by the Roman Catholic Church, and millions of adherents to the pagan practice of "The Mass of Christ." I have dealt with this same reasoning for more than 44 years now. I appreciate your letter, and will try to remember to do a bit of editing when I next reprint my "Christmas" booklet, so the point will be more thoroughly covered. God tells us "My ways are not your ways," and does not allow us to decide HOW to worship Him, only WHETHER. For centuries, man has invented his own concepts of "gods." I wrote my book, "The REAL Jesus," because the name "Jesus Christ" conjures up in the minds of millions a false Christ; a long-haired "hippie" who bears not the remotest resemblance to the real Jesus Christ of history; the living Christ Who now sits at the right hand of His Father, awaiting the time until His "enemies be made His footstool." The Real Jesus Christ was not born on December 25th. He did not die on "Good" Friday, and was not resurrected on "Ishtar" (pronounced "Easter") Sunday morning. He did not try to save the world then. He has not tried to save it since, and is not trying to save it today. He did not come to do away with the law. He did not die on a "cross." The Greek word is "stauros," which means an upright pale, or tree, and has no remote etymological connection to the Latin word "crux," from which we derive the English word "cross." This world gives lip service, and even emotional adoration and worship to a false Christ, who has been palmed off on unsuspecting nominal "Christians" by Satan the Devil himself, who is the great deceiver of all nations (Revelation 12:9), the "Prince of the power of the Air (Ephesians 2:2), and the "god of this world" (2 Corinthians 4:4).The word sin means "to miss the mark." It is true that "a miss is as good as a mile," especially when someone is shooting real bullets at you. The same holds true with God's laws. If we "miss the mark," by attempting to dress up rank paganism into "Christian" garb; adapt rank heathenism to so-called "Christian worship," God soundly condemns us.God said, "Learn NOT the way of the heathen" (Jeremiah 10:1-4) and then described a tree, cut out of the forest, anchored so that it "move not," and decked with silver and gold ornaments. God told the Israelites, "When the Eternal thy God shall cut off the nations from before thee, whither thou goest to possess them, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their land;
"Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou inquire NOT AFTER THEIR GODS, saying, 'HOW DID THESE NATIONS SERVE THEIR GODS? even so will I do likewise.
"Thou shalt not do so unto the Eternal thy God: for every abomination to the Eternal, which He hateth, have they done unto their gods..." (Deuteronomy 12:29-31).
For centuries, men have said, in effect, "How did the ancient Babylonians, Romans, Greeks, Germans, Nordics and Druids worship their gods of the sun, moon and stars; their gods Nirmrod and Semiramus, Isis and Osirus, Sol and Luna?" Let us DO LIKEWISE, only, let us do it in the pretense we are doing it in honor of the birth of the SON of God, not the rebirth of the SUN god!
Hence, December 25, at or near the winter solstice, when the heathen would pray to their nonexistent "Solis Invictus" to begin his northerly journey once more; adopting the pagan "Saturnalia" and calling it "Christian." Hence, bulbs and orbs on trees; the bulbs representing eggs and human procreative organs; the tree representing the myth of Nimrod's miraculous resurrection from a dead log, or the myth of "St. Boniface" rescuing little Wulfred at the "Sacred Oak of Jupiter." The mistletoe, a supposed aphrodisiac among the pagan Druids (therefore, the tradition of "kissing under the mistletoe"), the lighting of bon fires ("bon" coming from "bous," or "the Ox, a symbol of Horus), the cooking of the goose, since Juvenal, in Rome, said "Osirus cannot be pacified except by the cooking of a fat goose and thin cakes."
Every single accouterment attached to Xmas and Easter is pagan to the core.
Like the Ishtar celebrations, Satan has made it all a FAMILY occasion. God told Jeremiah, "Seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem?
"The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough to make cakes to the Queen of Heaven [Semiramus -- the mother/wife of Nimrod] and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger" (Jeremiah 7:17,18). The nostalgia of a man taking his kids into the woods to cut down and decorate a tree; of "mom" bustling about cooking Christmas turkey; the stockings and the fable (lie) of "Santa" -- the wonderful songs, gay colors, holly wreaths, together with an outpouring of gifts, all is fraught with "warm, family memories" which are quite powerful.
"Besides, we should not take all these things away from our kids, people reason. "What are you, anyway?" they ask me, "Scrooge?"
But man's excuses will not avail when God comes to judge the world.
God is not interested in man's human reasoning, but in obedience to His laws!
No, the excuse that we are "doing it all in the name of Christ" will not avail with Jesus Christ in the judgment. He thunders at us, "LEARN NOT THE WAY OF THE HEATHEN."
Finally, please do not think "Christmas" is somehow "threatening" to me. It is no more so than Chinese New Year, or the "year of the pig." No more so than "Ramadan," or "Oktober Fest." Paul said "the idol is nothing," and I know that the trappings of Christmas to not contaminate me, any more than meats which were slain in idolatrous ceremony were rendered unfit to eat.
I hope my somewhat lengthy reply will be helpful.
In Jesus' name,