18th December 2011

Is The Christmas Tree Pagan?

“So the craftsman encouraged the goldsmith; he who smooths with the hammer inspired him who strikes the anvil, but…do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Isaiah 10:7, 10 (NIV UK)

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: “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 that might seem as though Jeremiah is describing Christmas trees. But as with so many mistaken impressions about the Bible, that conclusion ignores the context. Verses 2 to 4 of Jeremiah 10 are part of the larger context of verses 1 to 16, a condemnation not of the Christmas tree or trees of any kind, but of idols, which were typically carved from trees.

Notice verse 5 (NIV): “Like a scarecrow in a melon patch, their idols cannot speak; they must be carried because they cannot walk. Do not fear them; they can do no harm nor can they do any good.” Jeremiah is not talking about Christmas trees. He is condemning idolatry. The trees in Jeremiah 10 are cut down so that they can be carved into idols and decorated with gold and silver to worship heathen gods.

Jeremiah 10 condemns idols, not Christmas trees. And no Christian worships their Christmas tree. They worship the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, three in one, the only true God.

Regardless of whether a Christian decides to put up a Christmas tree or not, there is no need to labour under the false impression that Christmas trees are condemned in Jeremiah 10 or any other part of the Bible. For Christians, the Christmas tree is not an object of veneration. It’s only a reminder of the good things of God.

Prayer
Holy Father, we human beings can swing from extreme to extreme. But you created beauty, and we can rightly use beauty and symbolism to remind ourselves of you and of your glorious work of salvation, embodied in the first coming of your Son. And we pray this in his name and authority.
Amen

Study by Joseph Tkach

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