Wayne (and everyone),
Sorry for such a long post. Especially since it will take longer to read than it took to write. It was mostly cutting and pasting on my end, which is basically all I have time for. (Sorry, also, that italics have fallen off foreign words.)
RE: plagiarism. I am not talking about any of the things you suggested. I am talking about your using other people’s exact words without attribution. Examples:
Wayne wrote:the Church at Rome, under Leo the Great (440/461), assumed the form and exercised the sway of an ecclesiastical principality. By way of an imperial manifesto (445) of Valentinian III, the Bishop of Rome was recognized supreme over the Western Church, and affected the authority and pomp of a spiritual sovereign.
James A. Wylie, in The History of Protestantism (1878) wrote:The Church of Rome assumed the form and exercised the sway of an ecclesiastical principality, while her head, in virtue of an imperial manifesto (445) of Valentinian III., which recognized the Bishop of Rome as supreme over the Western Church, affected the authority and pomp of a spiritual sovereign.
Wayne wrote:A century and a half later (606), this pre-eminence was decreed to the Roman Bishop in an imperial edict by Phocas.
James A. Wylie, in The History of Protestantism (1878) wrote:A century and a half later (606), this pre-eminence was decreed to the Roman Bishop in an imperial edict by Phocas.
Wayne wrote:Amama, an Archbishop of Mainz, lighting upon a Bible and looking into it, expressed himself thus: ‘Of a truth I do not know what book this is, but I perceive everything in it is against us."
Wylie, quoting Bennet's Memorial of the Reformation wrote:it is delivered by no less an authority than Amama, that an Archbishop of Mainz, lighting upon a Bible and looking into it, expressed himself thus: ‘Of a truth I do not know what book this is, but I perceive everything in it is against us.’”
[The missing double open quotation mark is several lines earlier, occurring at the beginning of Wylie’s quoting of Bennet.]
Note that in your mis-plagiarizing of Wylie, you have turned Amana into an archbishop.
An accessible link for Wylie is here: http://doctrine.org/?page_id=1955
; the original is available in Google Books. Several of these exact passages (and probably others) also appear in one of Ellen G. White’s books and were part of the plagiarism controversy surrounding her and her supposed revelations.
My strong advice (not that you asked for it) is that you go back into this article (and anything else you have written) and give proper attribution. I don’t believe you ALWAYS have to give FULL publication data on the Internet—in fact, I will take shortcuts below—but at least you need to cite the author and use quotation marks (or indicate that you are summarizing, as the case may be).
Moving to the other points:
Wayne wrote:never said observing Christmas was sinful.
You never “said” Christmas was sinful, in that you never wrote QUOTE Christmas is sinful UNQUOTE. But your frequent references to the traditions of men imply (at least) that following them is wrong. Wrong = sin for the Christian.
When I say you are in the minority, I was speaking of contemporary Christians. However, if you want to look at the history of the Church, consider that only portions of the church ever objected to the celebration of Christmas, and for most of those segments, their objections have long since died out.
Wayne wrote:the article (1) has several bad ideas. I am surprised you chose such an article to support your view point
I wasn’t sure whether this was supposed to be serious, funny, or both at the same time; but I got a chuckle out of it. I’m sure that most of you consider to be the bad ideas, I would consider to be the good ideas; and most of what you consider to be the good ideas, I would consider to be the bad ideas!
However, the reason I chose this article is the one I already stated; it is more “accessible” than the Hijmans piece. I thought it would be obvious (perhaps not a valid assumption on my part) that wherever there is a disagreement between the orlutheran piece and Hijmans, Hijmans is the more reliable source.
Wayne wrote:even your article (2) states Christmas started in Rome, and it started in the 330’s.
This is not correct.
Hijmans wrote:It was only in the 330s, apparently, that December 25th was first promoted as a feast day celebrating the birthday of Christ. Initially, this happened only in Rome . . . .
Thus, he is addressing the date of Dec. 25 and Christmas as an official feast day, not other possible dates or types of Christmas celebrations. Also, in his footnote 8, he mentions the disputed claim that Dec. 25 was first calculated by Julius Africanus in 221.
Article (2) states that it was cosmic symbolism that inspired the Church leadership in Rome to pick Dec. 25th, the winter solstice, for the birthday of Christ (and the summer solstice for the John the Baptist) and that they were aware the pagans called this day the “birthday” of Sol Invictus.
. . . .
the author himself states that his thesis only raises doubts about the strength of the traditional view (pagan influence on Christmas) but not enough to dismiss the notions he was challenging
This is a bad mis-reading of the Chapter. I think these 5 paragraphs are key:
Hijmans wrote:It is usually suggested that establishing a feast day on the birthday of Christ became important as a result of doctrinal disputes concerning the human and divine natures of Christ. There had been numerous groups that argued for a strong distinction between the two. For example, in the second century the Basilideans taught that the divine Christ appeared on Epiphany to reside temporarily in the body of the human Christ. In their view, the date of birth of the human Jesus was of no interest, as he was only temporarily “host” to the divine Christ. Two centuries later the Manicheans went further, claiming that Jesus either was not born at all, or anyhow did not take flesh of the Virgin Mary, but simply appeared among men - on Epiphany. One can easily imagine how the feast of Epiphany could be linked exclusively to the divine aspect of Christ, which was somehow “revealed” on January 6th. If the church were to celebrate Epiphany only, but not the birth of Christ, that could be seen to emphasize that there was indeed a distinction of importance between the two natures of Christ, human (birth, unimportant) and divine (Epiphany, important). Developing a feast for the birthday of Christ was a reaction to these views, counteracting such dichotomies by stressing the importance of the physical birth of Jesus.
But why was the birth date set at December 25th, rather than March 28th, for instance, or one of those other dates previously proposed? As Heim (1999, 651) states, it is now almost universally accepted “que la date de Noël a été fixée au 25 décembre pour opposer les festivities chrétiennes aux festivités paiennes...”, the pagan festivities being those celebrating the winter solstice. According to the famous Calendar of 354, 30 chariot races were held on this day to celebrate the Natalis Invicti, that is the birthday of Sol Invictus. This feast of Sol Invictus, then, would be the festival that the Church fathers wanted to displace with Christmas. And indeed, ever since Usener’s studies of the feast of Christmas, the idea that December 25th was chosen as Christ’s birthday to counteract this important pagan festival has received wide acceptance.
. . . .
There can be no doubt that the church fathers who elected to celebrate December 25th as the day of birth of Christ were fully aware of the significance that day had in cosmological terms as winter solstice, as well as of any pagan festivals that may have been associated with it. The question is whether they chose it because of or despite that significance and, possibly, those festivities. If we ignore, for a moment, the two sources quoted by Usener – both will prove to be less conclusive than they may appear at first glance – and if we accept that the decision to celebrate Christ’s birth with a separate feast was primarily a post-Nicaean move designed to emphasize the incarnation of Christ - a move taken in the context of the struggle against the Arians and other, comparable groups - the adoption of December 25th as the birthday of Christ could be seen to be primarily an intra-faith (Christian versus Christian) polemical move, rather than an inter-faith (Christian versus pagan) one, with the initiative (and therefore the risk) on the side of those breaking with tradition, i.e. the anti-Arians. They would need strong arguments to defend their move against the inevitable opposition, and one can easily imagine the problems they would face if their main reason for choosing December 25th was the fact that it was the date of a dangerous pagan feast.
Of course, it remains equally possible that the move was initially a relatively insignificant, local development in Rome, which was not directed explicitly against the Arians or other Christian groups, and which for a significant time had little impact beyond the city. Seen from the Christian perspective, the latter scenario would leave more opportunity for the move to have been directed explicitly against a popular pagan feast or practice in Rome, in casu the celebrations in honour of Sol Invictus, with the prestige of Rome and her bishop contributing to the subsequent adoption of December 25th elsewhere. However, whichever scenario one considers intrinsically more likely from a Christian perspective on the choice, it is obvious that the nature of the pagan feast in honour of Sol which is recorded for December 25th will have played some role in the considerations, and it is to this that we must now turn.
. . . .
The only other reference to a solar festival on December 25th is Julian’s Hymn to King Helios, and as we have seen, it too is not without problems. In particular, Julian tries rather too hard, and with untenable arguments, to convince us that the winter-solstice Sol-agon had been celebrated in Rome since Numa. This suggests that the opposite may have been true and that a festival for Sol on December 25th was actually quite new. This could explain the anomalies of the entry for December 25th in the calendar of 354, as it may then be a later insertion into the existing template for the calendar. It would also explain why December 25th was the sole festival of Sol to fall on an astronomically significant date. None of this tells us when the natalis invicti of December 25th entered the Roman calendar, but on this evidence we must acknowledge that it is a real possibility that it did not do so until after the bishop of Rome first celebrated Christmas on that day - a pagan reaction to a Christian feast, perhaps, rather than vice versa.
[emphasis original; footnotes omitted].
I have included the fourth paragraph above to “play fair”: it is POSSIBLE that the December 25th date was of local Roman origin, and IF SO, it is POSSIBLE it was directed against the pagan Sol Invictus celebration.
When one reads the Chapter in its entirety, especially the portion preceding the last paragraph I included above, this double possibility seems less likely than the other two possibilities: the choice of Dec. 25th was chosen to settle an intra-Church dispute or it was celebrated first and the PAGANS responded to IT.
Wayne wrote:The author focuses on influence, or lack thereof, of Sol, not Saturnalia. Saturnalia is mentioned only once in the article and it admits that Dec 25th falls at the end of the Saturnalia. Further, the author himself states that his thesis only raises doubts about the strength of the traditional view (pagan influence on Christmas) but not enough to dismiss the notions he was challenging. No need to refute what the author admits, especially since he does not address Saturnalia.
Again, I think you mis-read Hijmans and missed the point. Hijmans did not say that his thesis only raises doubts about pagan influence on Christianity.
What he actually wrote was:
Hijmans wrote:It was not my aim to prove that notion wrong, but just to show that it would be wrong to expect that our interpretations of the material evidence would be in line with that notion.
However, “that notion” was NOT about pagan influences on Christmas. “That notion” was the following:
Hijmans wrote:We devoted considerable attention to the broader religious backdrop, but only as much as was needed to demonstrate that the notion of a far-reaching solarisation of late Roman religion is less firmly established than often thought.
About the supposed pagan influence on Christmas, Hijmans wrote much more strongly:
Hijmans wrote:And so I reversed the rhetoric, and sought to explain away the star witnesses for that view, such as the contention that Christmas originated in response to a dangerous pagan festival for Sol . . . .
(Furthermore, even regarding “that notion,” Hijmans is summarizing what he has done up to that point. He then goes on to say other things.)
So what you would need to refute is 1) that he has weakened the views about solarisation of late Roman religion (although no one here probably cares much about that in general); 2) what he wrote about Christmas, AND 3) that the conventional academic wisdom is that Christmas was an attempt to “take over” the feast of Sol Invictus, i.e., the feast of Mithras, NOT an attempt to “take over” Saturnalia.
And I think this explains why we have been talking past each other about Mithras. There are two distinct issues going on. First, whether the 25th is connected to Natalis Invicti (feast of Sol Invictus/Mithras), and second whether Saturnalia activities crept into Christmas. In other words, you weren’t talking about Mithras/Sol Invictus, but you should have been. The creation of a feast day for Christ’s birth is ALL that can be laid at the feet of “The Roman Church.” And that debate is related to Mithras.
The Church had long railed AGAINST Christians adopting the customs of the Saturnalia. Tertullian (160-225) did so in “On Idolartry,” for example--long BEFORE the feast day adoption. Thus, Christians adopted Saturnalia customs INDEPENDENT OF Christmas. It is true that as the feast day spread, some of the Church Fathers abandoned their hostility to Saturnalia traditions (or at least stopped recording them). In part, this seems likely to be due to a “if you can’t beat them, join them” attitude. At any rate, various Fathers began to write about a rich symbolism that could be used with new meaning in evangelism if tied to Christmas (as many historians have noted).
Furthermore, if you look at what “the Roman Church” ADDED to Christmas Day itself, it was all DISTINCTLY CHRISTIAN and had NOTHING to do with Mithras OR Santurnalia, as noted by the great Church historian Philip Schaff:
Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, wrote:
Around the feast of Christmas other festivals gradually gathered, which compose, with it, the Christmas Cycle. The celebration of the twenty-fifth of December was preceded by the Christmas Vigils, or Christmas Night, which was spent with the greater solemnity, because Christ was certainly born in the night.
After Gregory the Great the four Sundays before Christmas began to be devoted to the preparation for the coming of our Lord in the flesh and for his second coming to the final judgment. Hence they were called Advent Sundays. With the beginning of Advent the church year in the West began. The Greek church reckons six Advent Sundays, and begins them with the fourteenth of November. This Advent season was designed to represent and reproduce in the consciousness of the church at once the darkness and the yearning and hope of the long ages before Christ. Subsequently all noisy amusements and also weddings were forbidden during this season. The pericopes are selected with reference to the awakening of repentance and of desire after the Redeemer.
From the fourth century Christmas was followed by the memorial days of St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr (Dec. 26), of the apostle and evangelist John (Dec. 27), and of the Innocents of Bethlehem (Dec. 28), in immediate succession; representing a threefold martyrdom: martyrdom in will and in fact (Stephen), in will without the fact (John), and in fact without the will, an unconscious martyrdom of infantile innocence. [footnotes omitted]
As to whether citing a bad translation is a false fact, certainly not in the strict sense, but when one knows or should know of the significantly different translations and the status of each, it is tantamount to a false fact.
I wasn’t trying to cast any disparagement on your doctorate—I didn’t know you had one. But, as someone who taught for 10 years at the graduate level, I am surprised by some of the mis-steps I’ve encountered in what you’ve written.
You don’t have to mention Francis of Assisi to be talking about him. You wrote:
Wayne wrote:Before 1224 there was no such thing as a nativity scene. Then the RCC put on a pagan style play with live animals and actors and used the manger as an altar for Mass. Of course, there is no mention of animals in the Biblical accounts of Jesus’ birth.
If that is not a reference to the so-called “first” nativity scene of Francis, I don’t know what it is. His scene is variously claimed to have been in 1223 or 1224 and claimed to be the first. Is there some other nativity scene you were referring to? And by the way, as far as the best evidence shows, there were no shepherds (and no Mary or Jesus) in that Nativity scene. The best description I am aware of comes from St. Bonaventure:
St. Bonaventure (the Temple Classics version) wrote:Now three years before his death, it befell that he was minded, at the town of Grecio to celebrate the memory of the Birth of the Child Jesus, with all the added solemnity that he might, for the kindling of devotion. That this might not see an innovation, he sought and obtained license from the Supreme Pontiff, and then made ready a manger, and bade hay, together with an ox and an ass, be brought unto the spot. The Brethren were called together, the folk assembled, the wood echoed with their voices, and that august night was made radiant with many bright lights, and with tuneful and sonorous praises. The man of God, filled with tender love, stood before the manger, bathed in tears, and overflowing with joy. Solemn Masses were celebrated over the manger, Francis, the Levite of Christ, chanting the Holy Gospel. Then he preached unto the folk standing round of the Birth of the King in poverty, calling Him, when he wished to name Him, the Child of Bethlehem, by reason of his tender love for Him.
Perhaps pertinent to one of your points, other translations say the masses were performed “before” the manger; some traditions say they were performed on a rock.
Re: what you said about the Inquisition, I was referring to what you said in your post:
Wayne wrote:and about 1229 the RCC launched the Inquisition. They also forbid people to have a Bible (1229, Council of Toulouse, 14th Canon).
As for when the Inquisition started, it is hard to say exactly, because there were pre-cursors that some would consider to be part of the Inquisition, but others would not. The issue is also complicated because the early Inquisitions were the so-called Episcopal Inquisitions, not Papal Inquisitions. However, (based on both anti-Catholic and pro-Catholic sources) we might
go as far back as 1118 or 1148, but more often you see dates like 1184, 1208, 1212, or 1215.
I believe you did invoke Mark 7. One of the basic definitions of “invoke” is “to appeal to or cite as authority” (m-w.com, def. 1 (b)). I never said you CITED Mark 7, but in your repeated references to the “traditions of men” and WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS about them, you could only have been “appealing to the authority of” 3 passages: Mark 7 (and/or the shorter parallel passage in the beginning of Matt. 15) and/or a single verse in Col. 2. Maybe I should have been more precise and written “your invocation of Mark 7, Matt. 15, and/or Col 2.”
If you don’t see your posts as an attack on the celebration of Christmas, I don’t know what to say. Either you are missing the connotations (and arguably denotations) of what you have written or else I am reading things into them that aren’t there.
It’s nice to see that we actually ended on a point of agreement: refraining from anything that the individual believes is a problematic tradition.
You also mention that you were just “bringing up” and “pointing out” things. If so, I hope this has not all been “much ado about nothing.” But when I saw a reaction like Bea’s and your rejection of Paula’s post from Sproul, I thought I’d weigh in. Your posts did not read to me—and the fault may be mine—as “hey, please consider this” but rather as “you’re wrong if you continue in this.”
As for your blog article, I’m not sure whether you are talking about the one on the descent of the Holy Spirit. If so, the Hijmans Chapter talks about the heresies arising around this issue. Maybe that explains things (although certain parts of the Church DO celebrate it.)
I appreciate your strong, but polite tone in all of this.