Several years ago, I went through a period of questioning whether or not it is right for us as Christians to celebrate Christmas. I read all about the pagan origins, the Catholic church's "christianizing" of pagan feast days and rituals to make them acceptable, and every discourse available online, or so it seemed. Many people used the introductory paragraph of a certain sermon by C.H. Spurgeon to "prove" that it is wrong to celebrate Christmas.
I certainly don't need any one person's approval to validate my own beliefs. Sometimes, though, it's worth the time to read what others think about things to help guide you in your own study. So I would read the quote and think that maybe he was right and we shouldn't have anything to do with Christmas after all.
Eventually Wes and I worked out what we believe about Christmas, mainly through reading the Bible (amazing!) and discussing the issue together, and I forgot about Spurgeon's quote and ignored all the nitpicking among the folks online (which is good advice concerning any issue, I might add). Then, last month, we received a copy of The Baptist Vision, produced by Dr. Clarence Sexton and Crown College, which contained the very quote I had read all those years ago. I was confused! Did Dr. Sexton believe we shouldn't celebrate Christmas? Why did he have this anti-Christmas quote in his magazine? Then I read the entire quote. Amazing what happens when you read an entire quotation in its context! I found that Spurgeon had not at all been saying we should have nothing to do with Christmas; rather, he was saying that we should use this time to proclaim Christ's incarnation, while keeping in mind that we know this is just a day set aside by man, not commanded by God. It kind of aggravated me that people used just the beginning of his paragraph and chose to ignore the end of it! So I thought I'd share the entire paragraph with you, and even give you a link to the entire sermon so you can read it for yourself. Please bear in mind that I do not hold Spurgeon above any other man, and certainly not equal to Scripture. I just happen to agree with his statement in this instance (and don't agree with other things he said, too). This pretty much sums up what we believe about Christmas.
"WE HAVE NO superstitious regard for times and seasons. Certainly we do not believe in the present ecclesiastical arrangement called Christmas: first, because we do not believe in the mass at all, but abhor it, whether it be said or sung in Latin or in English; and, secondly, because we find no Scriptural warrant whatever for observing any day as the birthday of the Saviour; and, consequently, its observance is a superstition, because not of divine authority. Superstition has fixed most positively the day of our Saviour's birth, although there is no possibility of discovering when it occurred. Fabricius gives a catalogue of 136 different learned opinions upon the matter; and various divines invent weighty arguments for advocating a date in every month in the year. It was not till the middle of the third century that any part of the church celebrated the nativity of our Lord; and it was not till very long after the Western church had set the example, that the Eastern adopted it. Because the day is not known, therefore superstition has fixed it; while, since the day of the death of our Saviour might be determined with much certainty, therefore superstition shifts the date of its observance every year. Where is the method in the madness of the superstitious? Probably the fact is that the holy days were arranged to fit in with heathen festivals. We venture to assert, that if there be any day in the year, of which we may be pretty sure that it was not the day on which the Saviour was born, it is the twenty-fifth of December. Nevertheless since, the current of men's thoughts is led this way just now, and I see no evil in the current itself, I shall launch the bark of our discourse upon that stream, and make use of the fact, which I shall neither justify nor condemn, by endeavoring to lead your thoughts in the same direction. Since it is lawful, and even laudable, to meditate upon the incarnation of the Lord upon any day in the year, it cannot be in the power of other men's superstitions to render such a meditation improper for to-day. Regarding not the day, let us, nevertheless, give God thanks for the gift of his dear son."