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December 21, 2011

CALCULATING CHRISTMAS: The Story Behind December 25

by William J. Tighe
Associate Professor of History 
Muhlenberg College
Allentown, Pennsylvania USA

This informative, five-page article first appeared in the December 2003 issue of Touchstone magazine (click on title above to read). In regard of this article, the following three examples verify anew the zealous strategies of non-Christians in striving to compete with Christmas, Christian academia, and a Christ-centered dating system:

1.  BC-AD versus BCE-CE: As an anti-historical act, the ultimate purpose of a BCE-CE (meaning "Before the Common Era" and "Common Era" respectively) alternative dating system is an attempt to make chronological dates more palatable to non-Christians.  This competing dating system is confusing at best. Moreover, it is promoted to appeal largely to the egos of the intellectual community as an "in-house" vocabulary.  They further argue that only 1 in 3 persons on this planet is a Christian, so they don't deserve a majority view. 

However, since there is no so-called "Common Era" in history, Common dating does not exist.  All in all, their dating system attempts to diminish the glory and majesty that belongs to Jesus Christ. Thus, with such an alternative, non-Christians supposedly do not even have to think about or be reminded of God the Son when dealing with historical time frames.  Such proponents, however, fail to realize or to give credit to Christianity for establishing the university and hospital systems that we highly appreciate and respect today. Therefore, Christians are not uninformed nor ignorant crackpots after all.

Truly, Christianity has transformed civilization, and Satan is not pleased with the results.  Alvin Schmidt, in his excellent book entitled "Under the Influence," correctly stated that, "Unlike the leaders of so many other religious movements, Jesus was no political figure; he had no connection with Herod or the Sanhedrin; he took no political action; his disciples were relatively uneducated.  Yet he conquered more millions than Alexander the Great, Mohammed, and Napoleon put together.  It all happened because his message and his physical resurrection transformed his early followers, who did not pick up the sword to defend themselves even during brutal persecutions, but rather went about spreading his love and the need for his forgiveness by word and deed to all--regardless of race, sex, ethnicity, poverty, or wealth."

2.  Feast of Dedication:  The apostle John, in John 10:22-39,  indicates that Jesus attended a Hanukkah (meaning "dedication" in Hebrew) festival of lights in Jerusalem. This festival is based upon Antiochus IV Epiphanes desecrating the Temple in numerous ways and even requiring that pigs be sacrificed to Zeus, by a Hellenistic priest, upon the altar as an utter insult against Judaism. Moreover, under the oppression of Antiochus IV, Jews were forced to eat unclean animals, scrolls of the Torah were destroyed, weekly Sabbath observance was halted, Temple gold was stolen, and male circumcision was forbidden. When the Temple was restored and rededicated, after three years of intensive abomination and desolation, there was only one flask of untainted oil left for the large menorah candelabrum to burn for one day, yet miraculously, it burned for eight days. This miracle gave them the additional time to provide a fresh supply of pure olive oil.

It is traditional for Jews to eat foods fried or baked in oil (preferably olive oil) during those festive days to highlight the oil miracle.  Unfortunately, SDA apologists desperately try to overlook the importance of this festival due to their faulty interpretation of Daniel 8:14.  Truly, it is safe to say that if William Miller had known biblical Hebrew there would never have been a Seventh-day Adventist.  Although Hanukkah has nothing to do with gift exchanging, but due to Jewish children being jealous of Christian children, many Jewish families now exchange gifts to somewhat compete with the grandeur of Christmas.

3. Kwanzaa: A Swahali term that denotes a week-long celebration that has become the newest attempt to mimic or replace Christmas.  Starting the very next day after Christmas, this latest celebration consists of carefully arranging mats, altars, lights, and fruit to honor a distinctive African culture.  Indeed, Christmas has an ever-increasing competition from an assortment of events that attempt to mimic its traditions.   The ultimate result, whether intentional or unintentional,  diminishes  the glory and majesty that belongs to Jesus Christ.  With these contemporary examples, it should not surprise us to learn that non-Christians have utilized similar strategies many centuries ago in regard to Christmas.  This fact is just opposite of what Seventh-day Adventism teaches about this festive season and the origin of the Lord's Day (Resurrection Sunday).

Feliz Navidad During this special time of the year, you can appreciate anew the dynamic voices of  the Three Tenors; namely, Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo, and Luciano Pavorotti that are easily accessible online.  I want to wish you all a very MERRY CHRISTMAS (Froliche Weihnachten) from the bottom of my heart. In spite of all the commercialization and the non-Christian competing factors of Christmas, Jesus Christ is still the reason for this festive season around the world. Indeed, this world is a better and brighter place as a result of Christmas. Wise men still adore Him! George W. Truett aptly stated: "Christ was born in the first century, yet He belongs to all centuries.  He was born a Jew, yet He belongs to all races.  He was born in Bethlehem, yet He belongs to all countries." Soli Deo Gloria!

--Dennis Fischer 

courtesy of

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