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Cross as pagan as Christmas


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I am responding to the article Pagan Ways On Pagan Days by Ormond Mayers in the December 25 edition of the SUNDAY SUN (Page 16A).
He argues against Christmas on account of its pagan origin. But there are many other things which can be traced back to paganism. For example, the cross atop churches, printed on Bibles and so on is a pagan symbol.
“The shape of the [two-beamed cross] had its origin in ancient Chaldea, and was used as the symbol of the god Tammuz (being in the shape of the mystic Tau, the initial of his name) in that country and in adjacent lands, including Egypt.
“By the middle of the third century AD, the churches had either departed from, or had travestied, certain doctrines of the Christian faith. In order to increase the prestige of the apostate ecclesiastical system, pagans were received into the churches apart from regeneration by faith, and were permitted largely to retain their pagan signs and symbols.
“Hence the Tau or T, in its most frequent form, with the cross-piece lowered, was adopted to stand for the cross of Christ.” (An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (London, 1962), W. E. Vine, p. 256)
Did Paul reject the cross because of its pagan roots? No, rather, he looked upon it as a reminder of what Jesus did for him.
“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18). He speaks of those who reject the gospel as “enemies of the cross of Christ”. (Philippians 3:18)
Those who argue against Christmas for pagan origins usually are not consistent in this logic, for they too accept a host of other practices linked to paganism. For example, marriage customs: “Although for Americans covering the bride’s face with a veil has come to represent innocence and purity, the practice was originally used in other cultures as protection from harm or molestation and was one of many rituals adopted out of concern for the happiness, safety, and fertility of the bride and groom.
“The current Western practice of having a bridal party to attend the couple evolved from a Roman tradition, in which the bridesmaids and ushers dressed exactly like the bride and groom, to protect the wedding couple by confusing evil spirits.” (Something Old, Something New – Ethnic Weddings in America, 1987, p. 8)
The custom of giving a wedding ring also dates back to the ancient Romans, and the wedding cake has its origins far back in time.
Does Mr Mayers reject these as well? I suppose he doesn’t even use the calendar.
“Our [Roman] calendar is not Christian in origin. It descends directly from the Egyptians, who originated the 12-month year, 365-day system.
“A pagan Egyptian scientist, Sosigenes, suggested this plan to the pagan Emperor Julius Caesar, who directed that it go into effect throughout the Roman Empire in 45 BC. As adopted, it indicated its pagan origin by the names of the months – called after Janus, Maia, Juno, etc.” (Journal of Calendar Reform, Sept. 1953, p. 128.)
Take Paul’s advice, “One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” (Romans 14:5)
No one is to judge us for celebrating or not celebrating a special day (Colossians 2:16-17); God leaves it up to us.
Did you know the Bible allows Christians to eat meat offered in sacrifice to pagan idols as long as the Christian eating the meat does so with a heart of gratitude toward God and does not cause a weaker brother to stumble by doing so? (1 Corinthians 8:4, 7-8)
There is clearly no good argument against rejoicing over Jesus’ birth, each one in his own way.
I don’t do it with pagan trappings, but if Osmond Mayers chooses not to be joyous over his birth, that’s his choice. I, for one, am glad that he was born.
• This article was submitted as a letter to the editor.