Thursday, April 16, 2015

Is Easter And Christmas Eastern Or Western?





Can Christians From Hindu Background Celebrate Diwali As Festival Of Light Of Jesus?
 
Question : Thanks for taking time, Bro. Abraham, to write and explain. I am not sure if you watched these two videos [i.e. Truth Or Tradition -Should Christians Celebrate Christmas And Easter? : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53Z3NTbSsbc, Easter and "good" Friday : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dnoX-TOxQWk], in the first video he specifically talks about the goddess austra/easter, and bunnies and eggs that are so much a part of North American Church today. The person in the second video talked about Two Sabbaths!!! One the passover and one regular so if Jesus died on Wednesday, 3 pm, 3 days and 3 nights would be sometime Saturday after 3 pm? Yes, we are not told what day Jesus was born or die but we do know that he was born, and that he died for our sins. Yes, we are to celebrate every day both his birth, death and resurrection, at the same why? WHY choose the European Pagan religions that the early church leaders chose to integrate to almost call it a western religion? By no means I see Easter bunnies and Easter eggs and Easter the goddess that pagans celebrate in the Bible, or in the middle east or in India for that matter!! Why fit Christmas and Resurrection into these western religions? So it would be OK to celebrate Diwali as well since Hindu converted Christians want to celebrate Diwali and want to call it a festival of lights? It's a thought to ponder on! I know many Hindu converted Christians who are trying to argue their points forward saying the same thing that why do you have pagan religions as a part of Christian religion? Why not eastern religions?? Any thoughts on this?

Answer : Greetings to you in Jesus wonderful name! Yes I have watched your video where that person explains how the modern North American Church is holding all the pagan tradition which has come from Europe. He makes a case why he will not celebrate the Easter, but I would say that as a believer in Christ that is his personal choice. God given enough freedom to accommodate our cultural tradition and positively carry on the symbolic meaning of it if it doesn't stand against our belief. That is why one of the greatest apostle of all time who is Paul says, "19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; 20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; 22 to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23 Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you." (1 Cor 9:19-23).

In other words, we can only bring the gospel to people as we understand people's various cultural tradition and blend with it to give out the message of the gospel without changing or diluting the gospel message to accommodate them. To relate to someone we become like them in their tradition, but to impart the precious message of the gospel we have to live and demonstrate the power of it before people. So this is what the great apostle Paul did to various cultures around the world to make them receive the gospel so that they could be saved spiritually for eternity ahead. So who knows, just like that to reach out to the European people of that time, some of the apostolic messengers would have tried to relate with people of that time and their tradition to share the message of the Gospel, but then as time went on, with the gospel those traditions also would have continued in the Western Religion of Christianity which started in Europe and spread through out both North and South Americas. These traditions are neither against the gospel nor it supports the gospel and has no spiritual power or value in it. So wisely it is better for us to relate with people for the sake of spreading the good news of the Kingdom of God rather than trying to debate with people to tell them which tradition is right or which is wrong. We have got the power of the gospel to do the work in all parts of the world (1 Cor 2:4; 4:20), and so tradition can either be thrown out if it possibly starts to affect the spiritual power like it did for the first century Jews or leave it aside if it doesn't mess with spiritual things so that we can choose to concentrate on spreading the message of Jesus Christ and keep it as the prime objective of our lives as did the apostle Paul (Mark 7:5-9, 13).

For example, Pagan tradition like caste cannot be accommodated in the Christian faith because those will bring a division in the Body of Christ, and God has called us to unity and not division (1 Cor 12:27; Eph 4:3, 4-6; Php 2:3; Rom 12:18; Jude 1:3). Caste is demonic because it divides people based on their work they do, and also keeps a demonic god for each of those division that patronize a particular god as their deity. The problem with those people who come from eastern tradition in to Christianity are those who had been involved in Idol worship mostly and their conscience are weak. So when they are encouraged to celebrate Diwali saying that 'Jesus is the light of the world' and that He has defeated Satan like in the Hindu festival of Diwali which signifies the victory of light over darkness (John 8:12; Col 2:15), the pathetic result of it will be just like as said by Paul that some of those whose conscience are weak might get tripped over by their past feeling of false faith from which Jesus has freed them, it will make them again get entangled in those darkness to keep them under the clutches of Satan's superstitious curses from which they have already been freed (1 Cor 10:29; Rom 14:14-15). So happy is the one who does not condemn himself in what he approves is the scale that we must use whether to encourage people to celebrate Diwali as a festival of light of Jesus personally in their lives or not. Since Hindu converted Christians who want to celebrate Diwali and want to call it a festival of lights might be weak in their faith (Rom 14:22), it is better to think twice and be led by the Spirit of God to let them freely rejoice, relate and celebrate to make friends with their other relatives and friends who are from the Hindu background so that they can draw them to faith in Christ or else they will be drawn by the same superstitious darkness again to get entangled themselves in it. So we do not know in details of all those people's faith, because they vary person to person according to their spiritual growth (Rom 12:3). But I believe there are people who have got matured in their Christian faith even though they are coming from eastern traditions and Hindu background, such people God will freely use them to relate back to their roots to celebrate Diwali and also convey the message of Jesus to other friends and relatives who are still in darkness and be a great blessing in making them be led to Christ for eternal salvation.

I believe the European Pagan religions which the early church leaders chose to integrate with Christian festivals was done to keep the people of God engaged to focus on the message of Jesus Christ and not to be carried away with others, they wanted to relate to people and draw them to Christ and it almost came to a point where it has been called as a western religion. If these traditions keeps Christ away from the celebration, then the intention for which the early Church leaders kept it along with Pagan religion celebration day will not be fulfilled but rather it will start to do disservice to the Church of Jesus Christ. So no matter what celebration we do, Christ should be the center of it. If these traditions makes the power of the Word of God as void, then I believe it is better to throw away those things personally in our lives according to the conviction of the Holy Spirit (John 16:7-8). But again I think tradition in itself is not sin unless it starts to distract the real reason for celebration of all Christian festivals.

Christmas and Resurrection is neither western or eastern in its content, but it is the very life blood of the message of the Gospel that makes each believers to stand on the truth which has been passed to us from the apostles (1 Cor 15:14; Matt 1:21). If Christ has not been born through a woman (Matt 1:18, 20; Luke 1:35), he would not have been born as human. If He would not have been born as human, he could not have died for our sins to make God forgive us (Heb 2:14). If Jesus did not die for us He could not rise as a God-Man to be a mediator for all humanity to bring favor of God to all who follow Him (1 Tim 2:5). The Apostles’ Creed was written at least 150 years after the apostles had all died to keep the focus right where the apostles emphasized and to keep the pure doctrine of the apostles alive and well within the Church, it says like the following, "I believe in God, the Father Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord: Who was conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day He arose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen." In the above apostles creed we come to see that the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus has been emphasized for confession to keep the doctrine pure and for all the believers to keep their faith grounded in the most important things which they are to concentrate (1 Cor 15:1-4). So both Christmas and Easter echoes this main message to be remembered and confessed for the believers and celebrate the content of it. So in spite of not knowing the exact time of Jesus' birth and to some extent knowing the day of resurrection based on Jewish passover, we come to understand that the message that vibrates within the context of both the festivals are so important for the faith of believers to be nurtured and grown and rooted deep.

God has clearly told that we are in the world and not of the world (John 17:11, 16), which clearly conveys to us that we should not be conformed to the world's way of living but be transformed by the renewing of our minds through the Word of God to become a blessing to others within the good, acceptable and perfect will of God (Rom 12:2). So to relate to others we can always use traditions of people and reach them with the love and message of the Gospel of Christ for whom Jesus has died (1 Cor 9:20). But at the same time if we think that the tradition will start to weaken our faith and walk of power with God by nullifying the Word sown within us (Mark 7:13-14), then wisely by the guidance of God's wisdom from the Holy Spirit as mature sons and daughters of God we should avoid such traditions in celebration but keep it focused on Christ and along with that concentrate on our spiritual walk with God so that God can use us to be channel of His mighty blessing some day in our future to others around us.

Thanks and Blessings.....



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