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Thread: The Babylonian origins of Christmas

  1. #11


    Concerning the adoption of pagan customs into Catholicism, it's called "inculturation". Contrary to popular polemics, this does not negate Christian truth when one actually bothers to understand the mentality behind this, as summarised by John Paul II - when commenting on the evangelizing work of Ss. Cyril and Methodius:
    "The Gospel does not lead to the impoverishment or extinction of those things which every individual, people and nation and every culture throughout history recognizes and brings into being as goodness, truth and beauty. On the contrary, it strives to assimilate and to develop all these values: to live them with magnanimity and joy and to perfect them by the mysterious and ennobling light of Revelation."
    -- Slavorum Apostoli
    We Catholics don't tell people to give up their native cultures and customs, but rather to transform them with the truth of the Gospel.

    Not only that, Pope Gregory the Great even decreed that any custom that didn't contradict Christian teachings could and should be preserved. I mean seriously, what's so un-Christian about decorating a tree?

  2. #12
    On a mission Array Usehername's Avatar
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    May 2007


    Quote Originally Posted by ajblaise View Post
    I don't blame them. It challenges the whole basis and authenticity of the religion and it really takes the rug from out under biblical literalism.

    It kinda sucks that you can't talk about it without being a 'hateful atheist' to a lot of people; the most distrusted minority group in the US. Because it's super relevant history.
    Where do you live that you can't talk about it? It doesn't challenge the whole basis of the authenticity of the religion at all. You either had a moment of lazy thought when you posted this, or you misunderstand some of the most elementary points of Christianity.
    *You don't have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.
    *Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason once accepted, despite your changing moods.
    C.S. Lewis

  3. #13
    Iron Maiden Array fidelia's Avatar
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    May 2009
    1w2 so/sx


    It's not tree decorating that was the problem at the time, IMO, but rather the association in the common people's minds with the worship of various pagan gods or goddesses during those festivals that had been a part of their culture.

    I think Christian missionaries at times went so far in the other direction that they associated European dress, surnames and so on as equivalent with Christianity itself and that was wrong. However, I would argue that any customs, ceremonies and traditions that are associated with the old religion that people have turned from ought to be abondoned if they are going to adopt Christianity. All throughout the Bible, this point is emphasized over and over. It makes it clear that idols, images, and old holy places and altars must be destroyed. Whenever they were not, it always became a problem.

    There used to be such emphasis on separation that even Christian denominations saw each other as competition and did not cooperate together, which was very destructive. However, the move towards ecumenicism today has blurred the line of what is tolerance of other's belief systems and what is the adoption of them.

  4. #14


    The logic behind inculturation dates back to the Apostles, when they determined that Gentile converts need not submit to Hebrew customs but could follow the faith in accordance with their own cultural traditions. Then there's also Pentecost, which made clear that the Gospel could be preached(and adhered to) in any language. That's a major thing that seperates Christianity from both Judaism and Islam, in that we don't have a sacred language - other than in liturgical contexts. This was all very key in both the spread of Christianity itself and with the long-term preservation of certain cultural traditions within those societies that adopted Christianity.

  5. #15
    Minister of Propagandhi Array ajblaise's Avatar
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    Aug 2008


    Quote Originally Posted by Usehername View Post
    Where do you live that you can't talk about it? It doesn't challenge the whole basis of the authenticity of the religion at all. You either had a moment of lazy thought when you posted this, or you misunderstand some of the most elementary points of Christianity.
    For something to be authentic, it can't have been copied. The Christmas tree isn't a big deal, but if the key concepts and themes that are central to the religion, like the virgin birth, the 3 day resurrection, the Messiah, the 3 wise men etc... are all found in earlier works, then you can't exactly claim authenticity. Right?

  6. #16


    Religions and cults throughout the ancient world borrowed off each other all the time. No real point in making that argument. Then there are significant differences between pagan accounts of virgin births and whatnot with the Christian version. Not only that, Christianity asserted that these events actually historically happened.

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