Monday, December 13, 2010

Jeremiah 10 and Christmas Trees?

There is a certain belief that is wildly popular in Armstrongism and it goes something like this, “There is a condemnation of a Christmas tree in the Old Testament.” But is this really so?
It doesn’t matter how you feel one way or the other, we are after truth are we not? Then we need to get to the truth of the matter. If the truth is that Jeremiah 10 speaks of Christmas trees, then that is the truth, and you'd better distance yourself from that tree post haste!! But if not, then only a person who has no interest in truth would persist in propagating a known falsehood.

I used to propagate this idea heavily, especially around Christmas. To be bluntly honest, I was taught that Christmas was wrong, so I very much wanted to dislike Christmas, and so I allowed myself to be convinced by a simple argument because that’s what I wanted to believe. Whether or not the claim really was true, it agreed with what I wanted to be true, and that was good enough for me. And many others!
Well, it’s getting to be about that time of year, so I thought it might be a good idea to put this claim through the As Bereans Did patented gauntlet to see if it can survive. I’m going to put this claim to the test as I should have long, long ago but never did. Is it true, or is it a convenient lie. Let’s test and prove this condemnation of Christmas trees, shall we?

HONESTY AND EVIDENCE

(JER. 10: 3-4) 3 For the customs of the peoples are futile; For one cuts a tree from the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the ax. 4 They decorate it with silver and gold; they fasten it with nails and hammers so that it will not topple.

This was so convincing to me that I went around for years of my life telling people that these two verses spoke about Christmas trees. But let's think about this critically.

If I took a person who was familiar with Christmas trees but had never read Jeremiah 10 before, handed them these verses and asked them what they think, would they look at me in astonishment and remark, "That's speaking about nothing other than Christmas trees!"? I have to tell you, I doubt that would happen (believe me, I've tried this quite a few times and I've never seen it happen).
Billions of people have lived and died, reading Jeremiah 10 several times - not just casual readings but scholarly readings as well - and have not come to this conclusion. They have to be "helped" into it.

Have you ever heard the brain teaser when you are asked to spell a few words that rhyme with "toast" and then you are asked "what do you put in a toaster"? Most people don't think, and just respond "toast." Well, that's a possibility, sure, but highly improbable. The correct answer is "bread." You put bread in a toaster. The brain-teaser is a trick. It purposefully leads you into answering "toast."

In the exact same way, Armstrongists purposefully lead people into a loaded discussion on Christmas trees, and then introduce Jeremiah 10. It's a trick; akin to slight of hand. You are meant to see verses 3 and 4 after your mind is already conditioned to be thinking of Christmas trees, and then you're far more likely to see what they want you to see. Of course they accompany the trick with a generous amount of commentary.
So what is really going on here? It's the power of suggestion. We call this "proof-texting."

We burst into chapter 10 of Jeremiah’s book, abscond a very few verses from their proper context, set them aside as if they are an island unto themselves, conjure up a whole new meaning for them, then go about telling the whole of Christendom how God is angry with them for such and such a thing. OK. And nobody has a problem with this?

“I’m just reading God’s word straight from the Bible,” we would plead. Oh really? Just innocently reading straight from God’s word? No commentary whatsoever to nudge people towards the desired conclusion? I see.
Then what is this, “There is a condemnation of a Christmas tree in the Old Testament”?
I don’t see those words in Jeremiah.

If the "plain truth" is so plain and so true, why do the verses always come packaged with the suggestive commentary? Because this is not just reading the Bible!

Are we so certain that Jeremiah is unambiguously speaking of Christmas trees, and there is no other possible explanation because it’s so very clear and so very well spelled out that all you’re doing is reading “God’s word” and not proof-texting whatsoever? So very confident, in fact, that you would go around judging others to be pagan and condemning others over it? Well, let’s just challenge that and see if it holds up.

One oft-repeated argument from Armstrongists is to say “The word ‘Trinity’ never appears in the Bible, therefore it isn’t a Biblical concept.” But Trinitarians counter that they believe the additional Biblical evidence points to a God in three Persons. Even though Trinitarians cite multiple verses across the Bible, Armstrongists reject all of it outright. I'm not arguing for or against the Trinity doctrine here. I'm speaking to standards of evidence. If this is the standard, then let’s be even-handed about it. By the Armstrongists’ own standard, the phrase “Christmas tree” never appears in the Bible, ergo Jeremiah is not talking about Christmas trees. To be fair, we should dismiss any additional evidence outright (good thing there is none). Sophomoric, but fair play. If you’re going to have a standard of proof, then have a standard.

I think that's the real root of this issue. It's about standards of evidence and being honest with ourselves.
The foundation of the Christmas trees in Jeremiah claim is constantly changing standards. One standard in one verse, a different standard in another. One standard here, another there. The claim absolutely relies on it. But is that Godly?

Usually, standards are low when people don't want to find out what really is actually, honestly true. Some just want to find what upholds their predetermined view. They've compromised truth in favor of the ideology. We all do it in one way or the other. The challenge is to stop that once we learn the truth. If standards of evidence were higher, and truth the priority, then in my opinion this wouldn't happen. And blogs like this one wouldn't be necessary.

ALL TREES PAGAN?

Someone might point out that trees were used in ancient pagan worship practices, but so what? Correlation does not imply causation. That "cum hoc ergo propter hoc" fallacy has absolutely no bearing on whether or not Jeremiah 10 speaks about Christmas trees.

When I mention the very many other things people do in church that were also practiced by pagans (singing, praying, sermons, etc), usually the response is "But God lists those things in the Bible."
OK, let's go with that idea. The reasoning is - if it's something God approved in the Bible, then it's approved.

Did God approve using trees in His worship?
If Herbert Armstrong had taught the keeping of the whole law then Armstrongists would know that God commands the use of trees in His worship.

(LEV. 23: 40) And you shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of beautiful trees, branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days.

(NEH. 8: 13-15) 13 Now on the second day the heads of the fathers’ houses of all the people, with the priests and Levites, were gathered to Ezra the scribe, in order to understand the words of the Law. 14 And they found written in the Law, which the LORD had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths during the feast of the seventh month, 15 and that they should announce and proclaim in all their cities and in Jerusalem, saying, “Go out to the mountain, and bring olive branches, branches of oil trees, myrtle branches, palm branches, and branches of leafy trees, to make booths, as it is written.”

So, according to the reasoning, use of trees and greenery in the worship of God is OK because God approves of it in the Bible.

God also lists the use of statues in His worship (EXO. 25: 17-19), garland, bells, and fruit (EXO. 28: 33; II COR. 3: 16), and other things I could list but won't.
All of these things are used at Christmas, and condemned by people as pagan. Is this a double-standard? Once again we're right back to talking about having a standard and sticking to it.

Did pagans use trees in their celebrations? Yes. And so should you (if you truly believe that you must observe the Feast of Tabernacles)! So why don't you?
The Bible prescribes the use of trees at the Feast of Tabernacles, yet that is ignored. It says nothing directly about Christmas trees, yet they are condemned.

JUDGMENT AND CONDEMNATION

You want to read something that’s clear and unambiguous? Here:

(ROM. 2: 1-4) 1 Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. 2 But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. 3 And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and long suffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?

To make a personal decision to not have a Christmas tree is one thing. Nothing ties salvation to Christmas trees. To judge someone based on a highly questionable reading of Jeremiah is something else entirely.

We had better be beyond certain that Jeremiah 10 is speaking of Christmas trees, my friends, because regardless of what God may think about idolatry, He is certainly not happy with judgment and condemnation – most especially that based on false accusation.
Truly one had better be exceedingly certain that Jeremiah 10 is talking only about Christmas trees. Because if it isn’t, then what happening in reality is people are going around proof-texting Jeremiah 10, propagating falsehoods, and violating the 10 Commandments to boot…

(EXO. 20: 16) You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

…that is not something I would take lightly. No, not at all.

Let’s ask if Jeremiah 10 condemns Christmas trees. But let’s start at the start.

CONTEXT, CONTEXT, CONTEXT

If Jeremiah isn't speaking of Christmas trees, then what is he speaking about?
Is it not clear that from the beginning that God is making a case against Jerusalem and Judah regarding their idolatry?

We focus on Jeremiah 10, so go up and read the many times in Jeremiah 3 and 5 where God describes “treacherous Judah.”
So we know to whom God is speaking – Judah.

From the start, from Jeremiah 1: 16, the case is laid out against Judah for worshipping what their own hands have made. Not just decorating the home. Worshipping! Kneeling down, praying to, expecting help from. Before, during, and after chapter 10, God is clearly angry about bowing down and worshipping idol gods.
So we know what God is angry at Judah about- worshipping gods who are no gods.

And by what standard is God measuring Judah? Go down and read Jeremiah 11 and see that this is specifically about the violation of the now abrogated Old Covenant.

We've gone to prior and post chapters. The context of this portion of Jeremiah is that God is angry at Judah for violating the Old Covenant by worshipping idol gods.
That is the greater context.

I want you to consider one further point.
Although Jeremiah’s prophecies end when Jerusalem was carried away, these things truly culminate in 70 AD. From the first chapter, see how Jeremiah is a type of Jesus being sent to Israel to plead, but they will not listen. Read Jeremiah, especially chapter 7, and see the parallels to what Jesus said and did.
My point is that these things are not for the time period before the Second Coming, rather they really are for Judah (as it says it is), they really are for the Old Covenant period (as it says it is), and they really were fulfilled by Jesus at His First Coming and shortly thereafter.
End-time prophecies? Yes! End of the Old Covenant time, that is.

Now that we have some of the context framed in, let’s focus again specifically on chapter 10 so we can see the surrounding verses.

NOT SIMPLY A TREE

Have you ever noticed how the argument usually stops at verse 4 or sometimes 5? Why is that? Because the context undoes the argument! These verses must be proof-texted because if we look closely at them the argument will fail. Let's do that now. Let's look closely at these verses.

(JER. 10: 5) They are upright, like a palm tree, and they cannot speak; they must be carried, because they cannot go by themselves. Do not be afraid of them, for they cannot do evil, nor can they do any good.”

Cannot speak??? No one believes a Christmas tree can speak. But since Jeremiah is talking about false gods carved of wood and covered in precious metals, we would expect such an idol to have a mouth. Now it makes sense.
Must be carried because they cannot go by themselves??? No one carries around their Christmas tree. (Note this is after it was fastened.) But since Jeremiah is talking about false gods carved of wood and covered in precious metals, we would expect such an idol to have feet. Now it makes sense.
Cannot do evil or good??? No one expects a Christmas tree to do either evil or good. But since Jeremiah is talking about an idol god, to which people would pray for blessings or mercy from cursing, we would expect good or evil. Now it makes sense.

(JER. 10: 6-7) 6 Inasmuch as there is none like You, O LORD (You are great, and Your name is great in might), 7 who would not fear You, O King of the nations? For this is Your rightful due. For among all the wise men of the nations, and in all their kingdoms, there is none like You.

Why this inset? Because we are contrasting the idol god, that was built and fastened, that cannot speak nor move nor dress itself, that cannot bless or curse, with the actual and Living God, who is King of nations! We are not contrasting God with a holiday decoration.

(JER. 10: 8-9) But they are altogether dull-hearted and foolish; a wooden idol is a worthless doctrine.

"A wooden idol." Says everything we needed right there. A Christmas tree is not an idol. It is not a false god. That can't be stressed enough. It's a decoration, plain and simple.

(JER. 10: 11) Thus you shall say to them: “The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth shall perish from the earth and from under these heavens."

A Christmas tree is not a false god. Christmas trees didn't make heaven and earth. Yet Jeremiah is talking about false gods!

I have met some who insist that Christmas trees are idols. Not so. Just look at the definition of the word. The first definition of "idol" from Merriam-Webster, paying attention to the definition that fits a religious context, is this:
" a representation or symbol of an object of worship; broadly : a false god"
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/idol

I have seen Armstrongist websites and literature replete with mentions of Herbert Armstrong or the current leadership, pictures and references to HWA or the current leadership everywhere, yet virtually absent any mention of Christ (I go into detail on this in the post "On Following Men"). So Christmas trees are idolatry, but this is not?

“But don’t people sing songs to their Christmas tree?” one might ask. The answer is no. No Christian sings songs to the tree.
Christians might sing songs about the tree. But so what? Don’t Armstrongists sing songs about Zion? Or about the law? Are those things idols now, too, because you sing about them?

(JER. 10: 9) Silver is beaten into plates; it is brought from Tarshish, and gold from Uphaz, the work of the craftsman and of the hands of the metalsmith; blue and purple are their clothing; they are all the work of skillful men.

Metal beaten into plates??? Christmas trees are not coated with metal beaten into plates. There are various things hung on the tree for decoration, but that isn’t beaten plates of metal from Tarshish coating the tree.But an idol god is covered in precious metals. Now it makes sense.
Clothing??? Not on a Christmas tree! There are tree-skirts, but that isn’t clothing by any stretch of the imagination. But an idol statue would be clothed to cover its nakedness. Now it makes sense.

Look back at verse 3. Read it again, slowly, and pay attention to what it is saying.

(JER. 10: 3) 3 For the customs of the peoples are futile; for one cuts a tree from the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.

Look closely at the words there, "the work of the hands of the workman." The indication of the phrase "work of the hands" is that there is a final product here; an artwork or something complex. This is not merely describing the mindless chopping of a tree. And "workman" indicates a craftsman, a carpenter or other artists.

This didn't escape the notice of the commentary writers. Look at Matthew Henry's commentary on this verse:
"It was a tree cut out of the forest originally. It was fitted up by the hands of the workman, squared, and sawed, and worked into shape."
Read what John Gill's Exposition has to say on this verse:
"the matter and substance of it the body and trunk of a tree cut down with an axe, and then hewed with the same, and planed with a plane, and formed into the image of a man, or of some creature; and now, to fall down and worship this must be vanity and madness to the last degree"
This is no mean tree. This is an idol god, fashioned by artists and worshiped.

Some insist that this workman in verse 3 is simply a lumberjack and nothing more, because they very much want this idol to remain a tree. These very same people insist that silver beaten into plates refers to decorations hung on a tree because they very much want it to be a blown glass ornament. If in one verse the tree must be nothing but a simple tree, why in another verse can't silver plates be nothing but silver plates? Why the double standard?

Jeremiah is also not talking about Judah using pagan traditions in their worship of YHWH. No. This is Judah worshiping another god altogether. This is a replacement for God. God does not say, "Do not learn the way of the Gentiles," and then proceeds to describe festivities and ornamentation. No, He says, "Do not learn the way of the Gentiles," and then proceeds to describe false gods.

Context is key!

Having specifically looked at Jeremiah 10, let us now turn and look elsewhere in the Bible, and see if we can't get some other examples that support this conclusion.
Look! Isaiah is very similar to Jeremiah. But obviously Isaiah isn't speaking about Christmas trees either.

IGNORED PARALLEL IN ISAIAH

(ISA. 40: 18-20) 18 To whom then will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare to Him? 19 The workman molds an image, the goldsmith overspreads it with gold, and the silversmith casts silver chains. 20 Whoever is too impoverished for such a contribution chooses a tree that will not rot; he seeks for himself a skillful workman to prepare a carved image that will not totter.

It's speaking about idols; carved images, false gods. Not decorations. Not Christmas trees. But does anyone quote Isaiah? No. Because Isaiah is much more difficult to twist.
Look again!

(ISA. 41: 7) 7 So the craftsman encouraged the goldsmith; he who smooths with the hammer inspired him who strikes the anvil, saying, “It is ready for the soldering”; then he fastened it with pegs, that it might not totter.
24 Indeed you are nothing, and your work is nothing; he who chooses you is an abomination.

The idol god cannot tell the future. It cannot speak. It cannot be compared to God. This is the exact same thing God is trying to get across in Jeremiah. It is not that Isaiah is talking about idol gods and Jeremiah decorations. Both are talking about idols. Neither are not talking about Christmas trees. God is upset about the vain worship of bits of wood and gold. God is not concerned with decorating the home.
Look yet again!

(ISA. 44: 9-17) 9 Those who make an image, all of them are useless, and their precious things shall not profit; they are their own witnesses; they neither see nor know, that they may be ashamed. 10 Who would form a god or mold an image that profits him nothing? 11 Surely all his companions would be ashamed; and the workmen, they are mere men. Let them all be gathered together, let them stand up; yet they shall fear, they shall be ashamed together.
12 The blacksmith with the tongs works one in the coals, fashions it with hammers, and works it with the strength of his arms. Even so, he is hungry, and his strength fails; he drinks no water and is faint. 13 The craftsman stretches out his rule, he marks one out with chalk; he fashions it with a plane, he marks it out with the compass, and makes it like the figure of a man, according to the beauty of a man, that it may remain in the house. 
14 He cuts down cedars for himself, and takes the cypress and the oak; he secures it for himself among the trees of the forest. He plants a pine, and the rain nourishes it. 15 Then it shall be for a man to burn, for he will take some of it and warm himself; yes, he kindles it and bakes bread; indeed he makes a god and worships it; he makes it a carved image, and falls down to it. 
16 He burns half of it in the fire; with this half he eats meat; he roasts a roast, and is satisfied. He even warms himself and says, “Ah! I am warm, I have seen the fire.” 17 And the rest of it he makes into a god, his carved image. He falls down before it and worships it, prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god!” 

A Christmas tree is not a god; it is not an idol. No Christian bows down to and worships a Christmas tree. No Christian prays to the tree and hopes for a response. When we put away the proof-texting and allow the Bible to interpret the Bible, this whole bit about Christmas trees crumbles to dust.

CONCLUSION

I have given you an explanation of Jeremiah 10 that is in context, has clear support from other parts of the Bible, is subject to one evenly-applied standard, and is supportable from history.
What do the "Jeremiah 10 speaks of Christmas trees" proponents give you? After ample commentary, they give you an explanation proof-texted completely out of context with absolutely zero additional Biblical support; one that relies on holding one verse to one standard and another verse to another standard entirely; not only that, but there is no support from history for their explanation either. No one has ever demonstrated that Christmas trees existed in ancient Israel nor the surrounding regions. The earliest that anyone has convincingly traced a Christmas tree is to about the 15th century AD. If they weren't there, then Jeremiah simply could not be reprimanding Judah about them.
(For more on the origin of the Christmas Tree, I highly recommend this article at ORLutheran.com: "O Christmas Tree: The Origin and Meaning of the Christmas Tree".)

Of course you see how silly it was to answer "toast" after you realize you've been tricked. I hope this post has helped you to realize that you've been tricked!

This is not some distanced, objective, unbiased pursuit of truth we're getting from Armstrongism. I would hope that people who claim to be so very in favor of God and truth would put an exceedingly high value and priority on truth, and pursue it regardless of where it takes them. Yet, these claims of Christmas trees in Jeremiah are not truth. They're barely even opinion. And they're just wrong.

So in the end, what do we have? Another lesson on how proof-texting works.
They take only a few verses that appear to say what they want, they take them completely out of context, then they conjure up a new and improper context, and they accompany it with commentary in order to 'help' us reach the new and desired conclusion. Voila! Christmas trees!
The trick depends on our thinking the new context is interesting, and not doing our job of following through and proving it out. It depends on us having low standards of evidence.

How do we combat proof-texting? We PROVE! Read the surrounding chapters and verses. Look for parallel accounts to help explain the topic. And once we've proved, we abandon the lie and expose it for what it is.

"Now you know the rest of the story."


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It is important that you understand; Everything on this blog is based on the current understanding of each author. Never take anyone's word for it, always prove it for yourself, it is your responsibility. You cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom. ; ) Acts 17:11
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103 comments:

James said...

It is the art of citing scripture out of context that made the Armstrong empire successful, and that "art" is what destroyed the empire in the end.

If there is a hell, may Herbert burn in it forever!

Merry Christmas!

Luc said...

Well done wordmeister x. It would have to be one mighty big tree for me to pull out my chisels and carve a face on it. Three or four inches in diameter just wouldn't do it for me.

Anonymous said...

Great post!

Pat said...

I found this article on the Christmas tree at a perfect timing. I have just been accused of "not loving the truth" because I will not keep the Sabbath and I celebrate Christmas. I have been a lover of Truth all my life and have been really speaking out lately about what is happening in churches, but have now .. just the other day ..been accused of not living the truth. I guess the term for someone like me is "hypocrite." The man used the exact same arguments as Armstrong used. I had no idea what Armstrong preached about the law until I read this and your other article about the Law of Moses versus the Law of God. The man says they are two different laws and wrote a 70 study to prove it. I'm supposed to believe every word he said because his is truth. Strange because he is not an Armstrong follower.

Thank you very much, now I can really enjoy my Christmas tree. I always did.

Pat from Sylvan Lake, Alberta

xHWA said...

Hi Pat! Glad we could be of some help and comfort.

And they say you're the hypocrite?
HA!

Are you sure those people who accuse you haven't been reading Herbert Armstrong's material? Herbert Armstrong came out of Adventism. From what you tell me, I'd say there's definitely some kind of Adventist influence in these people somewhere along the line.

If you're interested, we just finished four other posts on Christmas. You will find them in our Categories page.
If you haven't had it yet, these people will eventually accuse you of worshiping Nimrod. They'll pull out words like "Saturnalia" and "Brumalia" and who knows what else. Our posts will prepare you to answer them.

For His glory, and in His name - blessings of peace and joy to you!

Andrew Patrick said...

Take a look at what you wrote:

"The myth of Jeremiah 10 and Christmas trees is BUSTED! If anyone tries to “help” me with the this lie again I’m just going to turn to them and say, “Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men”"

1. That is not a Berean attitude. That is called making up your mind, sticking your fingers in yours ears, and answering a matter before you hear it.

2. So you have said would call anyone Satan and the devil if they pointed out that you had not read the complete context of the passage, misrepresented your perceived opponent, or had failed to consider relevant evidence?

I notice that you say here that "Anonymous Comments will be Rejected" but you allowed an anonymous post that said, "Great post!" (Post 3)

But if someone tries to help you and speak to you with scripture or reason, you have already said preemptively that they are Satan and the devil.

I think you need to reconsider your attitude...

xHWA said...

Thanks Andrew, but I've made the reverse argument for 30 years. I haven't failed to take the other viewpoint into consideration.

And this article is all about context and relevant evidence. If you have some unique context or relevant evidence that neither I nor the WCG has ever heard of before, let's hear it. If not then you've missed the point of why I said I would say "get thee behind me Satan". The point wasn't to call people "Satan the Devil" (nor was that the point when Jesus said it to Peter).

Andrew Patrick said...

If you have made the "reverse argument for thirty years" then it seems that you failed to understand the spiritual principles involved or the meaning of the word "idol."

And with spiritual understanding, you ought to object to comments like "If there is a hell, may Herbert burn in it forever! Merry Christmas!" ...

You wouldn't be arguing that God only told "Old Covenant" people not to worship him with the ways of the heathen.

The size limitation of these posts does not allow me to say much, but do you not realize that when you argue so hard to try to exclude the (obvious) Christmas tree reference, that you are revealing a very legalistic mindset akin to the Pharisees?

Regardless, if you cannot see the tree here, you must have some sort of blindness:

1) The tree is cut down from the forest,
2) The tree is fastened with hammer and nails so it can adorn the living room
3) The tree is decked with silver and gold... sometimes tinsel, sometimes globes (and tinsel is formed from plates).
4) The fact that many other things are used as ornaments such as cloth or popcorn are merely cultural variations...
5) Gifts are laid at its feet, and there is even a specific song addressed to the tree, "O Christmas tree, how lovely are thy branches..." [O Tannenbaum]
6) A pentagram is placed at its top. Do you not recognize the meaning of a pentagram?
7) Nothing about this tree has anything to do with God or Christ
8) Non-Christians and even Pagans love the Christmas tree...

William Tyndale had a very good essay about Christian sacraments. He said that even in something with Christian origin, if people forgot what it stood for, it became a vain tradition and an idol.

And when people would "burn people forever in hell" for threatening their "Christmas tree tradition" then it is definitely a false god and an idol.

If you loved God and Christ, you would listen to his words. He says not to worship him as the former heathen did, not to use their customs, but to worship him in spirit and truth.

And of all the praising comments I see here, they talk about how they love their Christmas tree, and not how they love Christ.

xHWA said...

Andrew, I will make the decisions regarding what comments I choose to allow or disallow on this site, thanks. Keep your comments about my decisions to yourself.

I have issues with most of your 8 points. But it becomes increasingly obvious to me that you're not here for an honest inspection of truth, so I'll keep my comments to myself because it won't do any good anyhow. I've already addressed what you've said in the article you paid no attention to.

xHWA said...

But I am ever so curious as to how you define "idol"?

You appear to say a Christmas tree is by definition an idol because it is cut from the forest, fastened with nails, and decorated. So...
Does an idol have to fit the criteria of being cut out of the forest and fastened with nails and decorated? Does everything that is cut out of the forest and fastened with nails and decorated count as an idol by definition? Or just some things? Can idols be things that are not cut out of the forest and fastened with nails and decorated?

Andrew Patrick said...

If you were curious about what I meant by "idol" then why did you ignore the post? You article was very long, rambling, and unfocused, but this was succinctly stated in less than 4096 characters.

"William Tyndale had a very good essay about Christian sacraments. He said that even in something with Christian origin, if people forgot what it stood for, it became a vain tradition and an idol."

Was that not clear enough?

Vain customs and traditions are idols. Vanity is an idol. Anytime you place a thing in a place it does not belong, it becomes an idol. An idol is anything that you idolize.

Your preference for James with his "If there is a hell, may Herbert burn in it forever. Merry Christmas!" betrays a form of idolatry. Anyone with a Christian spirit should recognize something is wrong with that type of statement. When the honor shown for a thing or an object is placed above the fruits of the spirit, that thing has become a false god and an idol in the spiritual sense of the word.

It is a very legalistic mindset that reasons that it is not an "idol" unless it is graven or molten in a specific fashion... and misses the spiritual intent completely.

xHWA said...

So your answer to James' comment, which obviously offends you, is to insult me? Well, I forgive you.

"An idol is anything that you idolize."

So an idol is... anything you idolize. OK.
I must admit that's a little less detail than I expected.
What if people idolize false accusations? What if people idolize their own preconceived notions? What if people idolize their own misconceptions?

Rob C. said...

One might be able to explain away the passage in Jeremiah if you also ignore the totality of Scripture.

God has one constant throughout the Word and that is not mixing pagan with Godly in Worship. So what we should be asking is does the christmas tree have any pagan in it?

According to the God we are now supposed to be Worshiping Him in Spirit and in Truth. The only physical emblems we have are the Body and the Blood. So...where is our Biblical command for the tree?

I would also challenge to go into the anti-Nicene writings and see what you find on all this.

Remember that Jesus Himself defined Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit as assigning things that were evil to God and things that were of God to evil.

xHWA said...

"One might be able to explain away the passage in Jeremiah if you also ignore the totality of Scripture."

I agree.
Many people explain away the clear meaning of Jeremiah 10 by ignoring scripture.

Of course, I define "explain away" differently. The meaning must be "explained away" to get it to stop referring to carved idol-gods and start referring to Christmas trees.

"So what we should be asking is does the christmas tree have any pagan in it?"

I agree with this, also.
ABD does not have an article on this specifically, however, we do have articles that demonstrate there is no link to Nimrod.

Outside if this blog are many fine articles on the history of the Christmas tree. Some are listed in the Categories page.

The weight of evidence, as we see it today, is heavily against a pagan origin. We find the most convincing argument to be that it comes from the Paradise Tree. So the assumption that the Christmas tree is of pagan origin is merely that - an assumption. And not one based on the most credible or most convincing evidence.

Of course, none of this has any bearing on whether or not Jeremiah 10 is not speaking of Christmas trees.

"The only physical emblems we have are the Body and the Blood. So...where is our Biblical command for the tree?"

As you say, there are few physical emblems in the New Covenant. I would add Baptism to that short list, but note physical rest is absent.
However.. neither does it prohibit new traditions.

To ask "where is it commanded" brings up more questions than it answers.
Once pagan origins is removed, the argument always tends towards this claim. Unfortunately, we hear many people making this statement, but few if any actually willing to live by it.

The long list of emblems and rituals found in most every church are never commanded (eg. Ministers, podiums, sermons, churches/rented halls, websites, song books, ). Should we actually take the step and make "where is it commanded" the standard, and apply it across the board evenly, all of these things must also go.
So the question sounds fine in regards to Christmas trees, but in practical application, it fails outright.

The conversation goes from "it's condemned in Jeremiah 10" to "it's pagan", and when both of those fall apart, it becomes "it's not commanded."
We conclude the claim is a red herring to distract from the lack of credible evidence against the tradition.

Again, none of this has any bearing on whether or not Jeremiah 10 is speaking of Christmas trees.

Anonymous said...

I enjoy reading all the posts. I have never put this much thought into Christmas before. Didn't think I had to til now. I was just wondering if you could involve 1 Corinthians chp 8 in these discussions? Or whether or not that would help?

Saintemplar said...

This is the flimsiest defense of the Christmas tree I've ever read. First of all the definition of the word Christmas means "death of Christ" not birth of Christ. So which is it, are we celebrating the birth of our Lord or His death on the 25th. Christmas day was established by Catholics and placed right on top on the 25th of December the day of worship to the Sun god. The Christmas tree goes back to the worship of the phallus, so are obelisks, etc. The problem with us modernized christenettes is that we love the world and the things in it. Many of us are at enmity with God!

xHWA said...

Hello, Saintemplar. God's blessings to you.

I have allowed your comment so people can see what sort and quality of comments I usually receive here.
I am going to proceed as if you were being serious and not joking in your comment, just so that others who come here have an answer.

Perhaps I should clarify that this article is not a defense of the Christmas tree. The point of the article is only that Jeremiah 10 has nothing to do with Christmas trees, but rather manufacturing idol gods.
There is no defense of the Christmas tree on this entire blog.

I do not know where you got your definition of Christmas, but it is not accurate. It does not in any way mean "death of Christ".

Christmas is a compound word meaning literally "Mass of Christ".
"Mass" is another word for 'liturgy'. It is a celebration, including prayers and the Eucharist.
Mass is said for many occasions, but is not synonymous with death at all.

Your assertion on the origin of the Christmas tree is baseless. There is no proof of what you've claimed. I have read many supposed histories of the Christmas tree and none have ever demonstrated such a thing. Even Herbert Armstrong, who is more or less the reason for this blog, did not believe that.

If anyone is interested in reading something from someone who has taken time to look in to the matter, please read this fine article on The Origin and Meaning of the Christmas Tree.
If anyone is interested in The Plain Truth About December 25th, we have an article on that.

I would say the problem with modern Christians is that we lack love.
Many appear to be much more interested in what they are against than what they are for. I cannot agree that the rampant hatred of Catholics and propagation of blatantly false claims is Christ-like or pleasing to Him.

He is truth and all who worship Him must do so in Spirit and in truth.. and in love.

Ray said...

While there are uses of trees in most pagan religions, the origins of the Christmas tree have nothing to do with them. Our modern Christmas tree began in Germany in the 16th century and wasn't even introduced in Britain or the US until the 18th century and most homes did not have them until after the first world war.

And as far as Armstrongism's assertion of Jeremiah 10, they have the wrong subject matter, idols, not decorated trees, wrong century, BC for Jeremiah, modern times for the Christmas tree, and wrong continent...Christmas tree in Germany, Jeremiah, Middle East. They couldn't be further away from historical facts.

Have a blessed Christmas both to XHWA and Saintemplar

A Right Mind said...

Sometimes it's easy to look at a few translations to get the gist of what the Book is saying.

While my favorite is the KJV, If we look at this verse in the NIV, we read:
Jer. 10:3 "For the practices of the peoples are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel."

This very much corroborates the article's main content and shows that the KJV's "work of the hands of the workman, with the axe." is not redundant information about tree chopping, but rather stating that this is an idol being carved.

xHWA said...

Thank you for the corroboration, Right Mind! God's blessings to you.

Of course, you will only be called "deceived" for using the NIV. That's called the "Not Inspired Version" in Armstrongist circles, as you no-doubt already know.

Granted, there is room to debate how the NIV was translated. And I don't personally recommend it as a main study Bible. I prefer the NKJV myself. But I find nothing at all wrong with what you're doing, in using the KJV mainly and the NIV as a secondary reference to help with nuances and such.

Good on ya, and many more wonderful discoveries to you as you step into the New Covenant!

Bill said...

Jeremiah 10 IS talking about a tree. Jeremiah 10 is prefaced with an all inclusive opening remark, "the way of the Gentile", and specifically, their "customs of worship" (which included the solstice tree ritual he specifically mentions)
They deck (the tree) with silver and gold they fasten (the tree) with nails and hammers that (the tree) move not.

xHWA said...

Bill, thanks for stopping by.

I would like to direct your attention to the New Covenant, wherein we see conclusively that Gentiles are now included. I myself am a Gentile. I would guess that you are too. At the time of the writing of Jeremiah, Gentiles were hopeless and strangers to the Covenant. Thank God Jesus died for us, too. We do not see "the way of the Gentile" is now what it was prior to Christ's resurrection. Nor are the Gentiles required to live like Jews in order to be Christian. Acts 15 & 21and the book of Galatians deal conclusively with that false notion.

As for the tree -- yes, everyone recognizes that a tree was involved. Clearly this starts with a tree.
However, what was done with said tree after it was cut down? Was it made into a holiday decoration? No. Was it worked into an idol and worshipped? Yes.
That is our (and Jeremiah and Isaiah's) point.

Unless your overall claim is that all trees are evil and the use of trees in worship is verboten. In which case I would direct you to Nehemiah 8.

God bless and have a great day.

Bill said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
xHWA said...

Bill,
I am not going to allow your most recent comment because you've chosen to advertise your website in the comment. But I will quote most of it:

"Were the trees in Nehemiah 8 decorated? Only fir trees are sinful and the balls on the tree are fertility phallus balls and the tinsel is the semen of the gods. Don't you see that verse 4 is dependent on verse 3? It is the same tree being spoken about! The consistent TRANSLATION of this text has been throughout history to REFLECT
THE GRAMMATICAL DEPENDENCY from the HEBREW of VERSE 4 on VERSE 3The tree is an asherah pole! "the work of a workman with the axe" means they are cutting down a tree!"

xHWA said...

In response to your comments which I quoted above---

Fir tree is never specified in Jeremiah 10. You didn't get that from the Hebrew, nor the context. There were many trees in Israel; this could have been any one of them. Fir is your personal choice, and I suspect only because that is a popular choice for Christmas trees.

Fir trees are not sinful. This is an outright fabrication. Nowhere in the Bible is that claim found. Fir trees are mentioned in the Bible and all mention is positive. They were used in making instruments (II SAM. 6: 5), they were used as building material (Song 1: 7), and there is a very good chance they were used in the construction of the temple (II CHR. 3: 5).
No, your "evil fir" idea is not from God's word, my friend. I suggest you reassess your base assumptions and reconsider your personal bias.

I disagree that the balls on a Christmas tree are anything phallic, nor is the tinsel semen. You didn't get that from the Bible, nor did you get that from genuine historical research. Not only do I deny that as a lie on its face, but I defy you to provide documented and verifiable historical proof of that claim from a credible source.

Once again, we have all agreed that trees are being cut down. Your insistence that a tree is involved is confusing to me. No one doubts that. It's what the tree becomes that we are talking about here.
Does it stay a tree? No. It is worked. Worked into what? Is it made into a house? No. Is it made into a flute? No. Is it made into a Asherah pole? No! Asherah poles did not have the overlay nor the clothing nor the human features carved in which verse 5 implies these idols had. Nor were Asherah poles "idols" in the sense that Jeremiah 10 is referring to. I conclude that in no way can Jeremiah 10 be speaking specifically of Asherah poles. I conclude that it speaks of carved idols.

Finally, of course I realize verse 4 relies on verse 3. In the article I went over context in great depth. I would ask you if you realize that verse 3 relies on the previous and following verses and chapters?

A good day to you.

Bill said...

Very well then, what do "the signs in the heavens" mean? Are they not a reference to the winter solstice?

xHWA said...

I cannot rule that out. However, I cannot agree that winter solstice is the only possibility.
It could mean the summer solstice, the spring or autumn equinoxes, planetary alignments, meteor showers, supernovas, or even more likely the comets and eclipses.

I should mention that we have well researched and documented articles on the timing of Christmas, and we conclude Christmas is not nor was it ever a winter solstice celebration. December 25 was not the winter solstice when Christ's birth was associated with that date. December 25 has not been the date of the winter solstice since. Christmas is not taken from a winter solstice celebration (it appears Rome had no such celebration). Nor can I find a winter solstice celebration in the Middle East around the time of Jeremiah that appears to be a likely ancestor of Christmas that Jeremiah would be referring to. Zagmuk is not an option.
So even if winter solstice is an option in Jeremiah 10: 2, it still has nothing to do with the Christmas since Christmas has nothing to do with the winter solstice so far as we can find.

Bill said...

To tell you the truth. I got my info from a book called Fossilized Customs by Lew White. It is there I learnt about the "balls" were fertility symbols also have you checked out Jeremiah 10 in its literal hebrew? The "work of the workman with the AXE" Please don't think I'm trying to be ridiculous but the tree referred to as "IT" in the 3rd person singular in verses 3 and 4.

xHWA said...

Bill. I absotlutely do not think you're trying to be ridiculous.
I used to fervently preach that Jeremiah 10 referred to Christmas Trees. I believed it as genuinely as I believe in the computer I'm typing on now. So at the very least I sympathize.

The thing is, I was "helped" to see it that way. What I mean is, I didn't let Jeremiah (and related verses like those in Isaiah) tell me what Jeremiah meant; I let someone else tell me that Jeremiah meant Christmas trees. In other words, I didn't get Christmas trees from Jeremiah, I put them in there myself.
I was so taken by the novelty of it, that I didn't recognize my personal bias. It all seemed to obvious to me. "DUH!," I would say, "This is obviously talking about Christmas trees!"
Problem is... it really is not.

I put them in there. I needed to take them back out. Let the Bible speak for itself.

This is key. To set aside every bias and assumption and allow the truth to be the truth, regardless of what that is. If the truth is that Jeremiah speaks of a Christmas tree - so be it. If not, then not.

It becomes citically important to know the history of the Christmas and the Christmas tree -- and this is no lie -- the Christmas tree tradition originates in Germany in the 1500-1600's.
There was no such tradition in the Middle East in Jeremiah's day. It simply was not there. And as hard as I have searched I can find no credible history stating otherwise. Not only that but there were documented, verifiable traditions in that time and place that match perfectly what Jeremiah and Isaiah are speaking about. You can Google a picture of a golden Asherah idol, but not an ancient Middle Eastern Christmas tree. It didn't exist.

Speaking from the Bible and history, it is my unavoidable conclusion that Jeremiah could not have been speaking of decorated holiday trees, nor could he have been speaking of a tradition that eventually became the Christmas tree.

And books that make claims like those from Lew White are working from a known false starting point. In the late 1800's through the mid 1900's, it was assumed that most Christian traditions came from paganism - most especially Mithraism. That notion has been fairly well dispelled since. Even though it was widely accepted as true then, it is widely accepted as false now because the evidence simply doesn't bear that out.
The old ideas linger on, though, through use of old writings and bad research. People seem to love the writings of Alexander Hyslop, for example. No matter how many times he is exposed as a fraud people still perpetuate his claims as truth. I see no end in sight.

Lew White's book is much the same. You can see his reliance on old material and bad research throughout his "Fossilized Customs" book once you know what to look for. By that I mean, when genuine historical evidence is placed next to his claims, his claims do not stand up. I would not take the word of Lew White, who is not a historian but the founder of a somewhat fringe religious group, over, say, Edwin Yamauchi, who is the world's foremost expert on Mithraism.

I know this was a long comment. My apologies. But I wanted to explain why I write what I do, what my standards of evidence are, and how I came to my conclusions. I hope to show that I don't just disagree with your views on Jeremiah because I don't like the notion. I disagree because I cannot realistically match the claim with the Biblical and historical evidence from the best sources available to me.

xHWA said...

I was just glancing through "Fossilized Christianity" again. I was skimming for some information when I read about a connection between Christmas and Nimrod. Red sirens and bells go off when I see that because it almost always points to Hislop. Not but a moment later, lo and behold, there is an advertisement for Alexander Hislop's "Two Babylons" on page 175.

(I keep calling him "Hyslop". I really need to break myself of that bad habit.)

Two other things I notice about "Fossilized Christianity":

Most glaringly is the lack of any sources cited or a Bibliography (aside from Hislop's "Two Babylons" of course). There is no way to verify this man's sources. I suspect he really had none to verify. This is a horribly sophomoric thing to do - to not back up your claims by citing sources. No one should take a writing like that seriously.

Second, and this is tied to the first, are the many, many, many factual errors that I found in just a glancing reading. He makes erroneous claims, based on who knows what, and publishes them as "God's truth". (For a few examples of where he went off course, please read our post "The Plain Truth About December 25th".) Factual errors wouldn't be so bad if they weren't coupled with heavy condemnation for the billions of people he wrongly accuses. There is no way anyone can trust this book.

I deeply and vehemently plead to people to toss this book away.

Bill said...

I genuinely want to agree with you but all these years and and all these websites, it's like it stuck in my mind. But isn't "the work of the workman with the axe" the tree that has been cut down? In other words, isn't a felled tree, the work of a person using an axe? To me verse 3 is saying "the felled tree is the result of the workman using an axe" Please correct me if I'm wrong and I don't want to bother you too much. Please excuse my repetitive phrasing. Thanks in advance. I really do want to know the truth.

xHWA said...

Oh man do I understand where you're coming from. I can only pull a number out of my hat, but if I had to guess I would say the websites I was familiar with were 90% against what I posted here. When I first set my mind to see what genuine history and a fresh look at the Bible would lead me, I was convinced that certainly Christmas was going to lose out. I don't know if anyone was as surprised as we were here at ABD. We had no desired outcome, but what we ended up with was not what we thought it would be. And it was difficult to accept.

And I want to assure you that you are no bother to me at all. Quite the opposite - I am glad to see you genuinely searching for the truth of the matter and not blindly dedicated to one thing or the other. So ask away. That's what I'm here for. So ask me what you will, and feel free to email me. My email address is at the top of the page.

About a tree being the final product, I would refer you to the section "Not Simply A Tree" in this article.

As a brief summary, I do not believe that a tree was the final product for these following reasons:
1) The surrounding context, that people were making false idol gods to worship, most likely with human features.
2) The larger picture of verses 3-9 where much detail and work went in after the felling of the tree.
3) The opinions of respected Bible commentaries like Matthre Henry and John Gill that this felled tree was worked and shaped.
4) The parallell in Isaiah that clearly shows an idol god and not just a tree.
5) The historical record -- that as best as we can tell the Christmas tree originated in the area of Germany in the Middle Ages, meanwhile we have a complete lack of a parallel tradition in Palestine at the time of Jeremiah (roughly 750-550 BC).

I can only conclude that a tree is not the final product.

I would add other translations as a possible reason #6. See Jeremiah 10: 3 as it appears in the ESV:
"for the customs of the peoples are vanity. A tree from the forest is cut down and worked with an axe by the hands of a craftsman."

Notice that the working of the axe comes after the cutting down.

Now the same verse from the NASB:
"For the customs of the peoples are delusion; because it is wood cut from the forest, the work of the hands of a craftsman with a cutting tool."

Again, a tree is not the important part, rather the importance is the wood being worked into something. The custom is a delusion because the custom (idol god) is nothing but wood cut and shaped.

Hope this helps you, Bill.
Keep asking, keep searching, keep desiring the truth.
I have you in my prayers.

Bill said...

I came across Jeremiah 2:20 & 3:13:
Only acknowledge your iniquity, That you have transgressed against the LORD your God And have scattered your favors to the strangers under every green tree, And you have not obeyed My voice,‘ declares the LORD.
Is this scripture against putting gifts beneath a tree? And are nativity scenes, idols? God said not to make any graven image.

xHWA said...

Greetings, Bill.

My take on the phrase "under every green tree" is not that these were places where gifts were placed, but places where idol worship was performed.

See these verses for a better idea of where I'm coming from:
DEU. 12: 2; I KIN. 14: 23; II KIN. 16: 4; 17: 10; II CHR. 28: 4; ISA 57: 5; EXE. 16: 3

Note that they are referring to creating idols, burning incense, and in other ways leaving God for the worship of useless hand-crafted gods (ie. spiritual harlotry).

I genuinely see no inference to Christmas presents in the phrase "under every green tree".

xHWA said...

Regarding the nativity scene as a violation of the second commandment, I suppose that depends on how you treat the scene.
There have been and always will be iconoclasts who are against any images whatsoever.

I was personally surprised to learn that images in the forms of mosaics on the floor, or a mural on the wall, were common in ancient synagogues and Christian house-churches and basilicas.
Scenes depicting heroes from the Bible were everywhere - and when we're talking about Christian churches, those scenes included pictures of Jesus.

Dura Europos is believed to be the oldest remaining Christian house-church. The walls were covered in scenes from Jesus' life. You can Google them up any time.

Not only were they decorative, but they were instructive since many people couldn't read and these pictures helped them understand the narrative.
The earliest of Christians - even from the first century - didn't think images were idolatry, and I don't personally believe we should either.

The essence of the second commandment was that God alone is to be worshiped. Can we say that a nativity violates the second commandment when no one kneels down in worship of the thing?

In my personal opinion, not only does no one worship the thing as an idol, but on the contrary, because of its lesson they worship the one true Savior Jesus Christ all the more. That's my opinion.

Dillon said...

X, I see an interesting conversation going on here but I guess it’s alright for me to chime in anyway. I came across a Persian festival called Yalda, which was supposedly celebrated with a tree during winter. By the way I have encountered folks who say that Jeremiah 10 v 3 and 4 are exclusively talking about decorated trees but they say from verses 5 to 10 they are talking about carved images. They say,” Verse 3-4 is talking about trees but verses 5-10 speak of something different.” Is there any evidence that Jeremiah is changing the topic after verse 4? How does one respond to such a charge? I have never been able to tackle such a notion.
Dillon.

Dillon said...

Also, have you noticed the same theme over and over on anti christmas websites? "Once something was used in paganism, it can never be redeemed to serve God, because He will always view it as pagan." Deuteronomy 12:30 is often cited as proof text also Ezekiel 8:5. To the person saying "popcorn strings are merely cultural variations" that if you hang anything on a tree it is inherently sinful, let's go with your "cultural variations" reasoning, God decorates all his trees with snow and icicles every winter, therefore God would be a sinner too! Ridiculous! Popcorn strings and icicles are not a part of Jeremiah 10. Gold and Silver were used specifically. Not gold and silver AND red AND green AND magenta! You might make a case of "gold and silver were the only available metals at the time" Really? And what of the brazen serpent? Was that gold and silver too?

xHWA said...

Welcome back, Dillon.
Very good questions and observations.

I do not see such a transition in Jeremiah.

Two transitions are needed. It would have to transition once into verses 3-4, and then again out of verses 3-4 into later verses. I don't see that as justified anywhere - neither in the text nor in history. The context flows uninterrupted.
Even when I used to believe these verses spoke about Christmas trees, I never saw a transition like that. Most of the material I have read makes no such claim. In fact, most of the anti-tree things I have read use verse 9 heavily.

I have spent a lot of time reading Jeremiah, especially lately. The whole book, it seems, starts and continues on with God's anger against idol worship. What I find is that Christmas trees absolutely have to be crammed in there by sheer willful determination.

As a side note, I have had people passionately claim that Christmas trees are idols. I am deeply in disagreement with that view.
I see an idol as being something worshiped. By worship I mean to see it as a god, to pray to it, and to expect something from it. I have never ever seen a Christian actually worship the tree. I simply cannot condone butchering the definition of the word "idol" as a means to the end of condemning a Christmas decoration.

xHWA said...

"have you noticed the same theme over and over on anti christmas websites? 'Once something was used in paganism, it can never be redeemed to serve God, because He will always view it as pagan.'" -Dillon

Yes. Absolutely. That seems to be at the root of the entire business.


What shocked me to learn, and what I rarely bring up because I don't want to shock others, is that God has many times taken something "pagan" and used it in His own worship.
For example:

-The Egyptians had circumcision long before Israel entered Egypt. Abraham knew what circumcision was because it was known among the peoples in that region.
-The layout and flow of the Ten Commandments follow the customs of the peoples of the time and region regarding contracts between a lord and his subjects.
-The Sabbath-rest was a Babylonian, as well as a Hebrew, institution. It's origin went back to pre-Semitic days, and the very name "Sabbat" was of Babylonian origin. In the cuneiform tablets of the Sabattu is described as a 'day of rest for the soul', and in spite of the fact that the word was of genuinely Semitic origin, it was derived by the Assyrian scribes from two Sumerian or pre-Semitic words, sa, and bat, which meant respectively 'heart' and 'ceasing'
-Pagans had temples, priests, priestly garb, holy cities, sacrifices, songs, laws, rituals, incense, religious schools, etc etc etc before Moses wrote the Torah.

I could go on and on.

So, the notion that "once used by pagans, always detested by God" is ridiculous on its face.

I tried to show in my articles that God commanded or allowed the use of some of the very things people condemn. For example trees were a commanded part of God's worship during the Feast of Tabernacles. Also, there were bulbs and garlands on the Temple in Jerusalem.
How can these things be evil???

And I agree with your reasoning in your comment. It's a valid point you make.

Dillon said...

X, thanks, also, who created plants like poinsettias, holly, pine and fir? Did nimrod? Did the devil? Did baldur? Did freya? did semiramis? did saturn? did zeus create such plants? To a smart Christian, the obvious answer is no. I usually ask people these kinds of questions and the usual followup would be something like,"so you're telling me it's okay to wear a pentagram and call it the Star of Bethlehem? That's like saying the Jesus nightclub or the Jesus rum tavern." Are they not SUPERSTITIOUS themselves if they believe that false gods created these plants? Must we place holly and fir in the same category as prostitution?

Dillon said...

And once the idea of pagan origins is removed. They say, "well the Bible doesn't say to do it." I don't know if they do that as a smokescreen.

xHWA said...

"'And once the idea of pagan origins is removed. They say, 'well the Bible doesn't say to do it.'"
-Dillon

I agree.

I like to remind people that Hanukkah wasn't commanded either, but there Jesus is celebrating it in John 10: 22. A thing doesn't have to be commanded to be OK.

I can understand that reaction, though. The implications of what we are discussing are huge. It takes time to come to grips with.

Dillon said...

X, I totally agree. Hanukkah is supposed to be about no assimilation in worship but lo and behold the leader candle in the Hanukkiah is called "Shamash" after the sun god! Notice this is around the time the sun is allegedly 'reborn' during winter! Can't get any less pagan than that. Winter was used by pagans long before Jews even used it. Does that therefore mean winter belongs to pagans and Christians should never use it? There were a lot of pagan celebrations during winter time. The winter solstice was primarily a Scandinavian, Teutonic and Nordic tradition.

Daryl said...

'And once the idea of pagan origins is removed. They say, 'well the Bible doesn't say to do it.'That's not what we're saying at all, the word, "shamash" is just a by product of paganism, not paganism itself like Christmas is. If your stance is that the pagan associations were lost long ago, then how long does it take for pagan origins to be "removed?" God commanded altars, priests and baptism. We are not to add to His worship. Hanukkah and Purim is not adding to G-d's worship, they are merely celebrations of thanksgiving. Look at what happened in Leviticus 10:3 for adding to G-d's worship.

xHWA said...

Unfortunately Darrell, it very much is what many people are indeed saying.
They condemn any day that isn't directly commanded in the Bible. Hanukkah included. They don't accept that it's a celebration of thanksgiving. They say "do not add to the worship" and additional Jewish holidays do add to God's worship in their view.

If one can excuse Jewish celebrations as celebrations of thanksgiving, then that same measure must apply to Christian celebrations. Christmas is just a celebration of thanksgiving for the birth of the Savior of mankind.

And it isn't pagan in origin, regardless of how much people may want it to be. At best you can make a case about certain customs associated with Christmas, like mistletoe and wreaths, but the day itself is not pagan in origin.

How long does it take to remove paganism? Well, first there has to be some. Not falsely accused like I see here regularly, but proven beyond reasonable doubt.

Second, we have to prove that paganism is in the heart of the person worshiping the one true God. It's not sufficient to say "Such and such a thing was done by the pagans 3,000 years ago" because you set yourself up as a judge of someone's heart, and that is forbidden by God.

(ROM. 14: 4-6) 4 Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.
5 One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it.

Third, if anyone does a serious study into comparing Jewish holidays and traditions with those of the pagan nations around them, one will come away knowing that most of what the Jews did was a match with the pagan traditions of the nations around them. So you tell us how long it takes. Then go tell the Jews.

Dillon said...

@Daryl, let's go with your logic. Homosexuals use rainbows as their symbols. How long does it take to "remove" homosexual connotations from it? According to your logic, if a homosexual uses a rainbow as a symbol of a movement it now becomes theirs and forever theirs! Like wise if a pagan uses evergreen boughs in his rituals, it becomes his! Let me ask you a question.
ME:Who created evergreen trees? YOU: Nimrod did.
ME: Really? So then you have more than one creator?What about eggs? Did Semiramis create that too? Nonsense. Just because pagans implemented evergreens in their rituals doesn't mean its theirs forever but let's go with your logic that "once associated with,therefore, always belongs to" reasoning. God made evergreen trees, icicles, snow and winter. Oh and don't forget reindeer, yes God created reindeer. Therefore evergreens, winter, icicles and reindeer all belong to God because He created them!

@X, Great input. Thanks.

xHWA said...

I would ask a question, too.

At what point does a song become pagan?

Is it a pagan thing only on December 25th? Then are all songs pagan on that day, and we should ban all singing on it?

Or is it only a pagan song if it mentions Christmas? But we know pagans didn't use the word Christmas at all. Pagans don't sing Christmas carols. So how can that be possible that mentioning Christmas is pagan?

Or is it the lyrics or the tune that make it pagan? Are certain combinations of words and sounds pagan? I accidentally hit the wrong note and I've apostatized? The words to ancient pagan songs and the tunes they sung to were completely different than what we have today. If you've ever studied music, you'll know even the instruments they used were different. So how can the lyrics or the tune make it pagan?

Is it pagan because it's a "carol"? Carol is a French word, and comes from the same root as chorale and chorus. So are all chorus/chorale songs pagan?

Is it pagan because of the heart of the person who sings it? Find me a Christian who sings with joy to Christ but secretly in their heart they sing in code to a false god, and I'll show you a blue cow. So how can a sincere heart be pagan?

Or is it pagan because we just want it to be?

Dillon said...

X, I thought I was the only one aware of that reasoning! Yes the UCG members say it's wrong to sing songs about Jesus only on December 25th. They say it all carols about the birth of Jesus, magically become wrong on that day. Why?, they say? "Because pagans used this day to honour their gods, we cannot do the same for Our God." Are they saying that God never created the 25th of December? Notice how Armstrongists and UCGs have that "ceremonial" mentality, that something right becomes wrong on a certain day. The same people shouting "Christmas is pagan" are the same ones who will use "pagan" wreaths for their loved one's funeral. Another thing they also say it is wrong to portray Mary holding Jesus "because in Babylon there was a mother and child cult, therefore all images with Mary and Jesus are sinful" If it's wrong, it's wrong in any context. You can't say that it's okay to witness about Jesus on 363 days of the year but it magically becomes wrong on one or two. I know that some people will think we're all Catholics here and this is probably some Jesuit cover-up. No, our job is to point out error whrever they may be found.

xHWA said...

Very true, Dillon. I completely agree.

xHWA said...

Now, I'm not trying to be rude to anyone. Believe me, I understand what it's like to deeply distrust Christmas and such. I avoided holidays for 23 years.
I recognize that people have real worries. I recognize that people just want to do as best as they understand. I recognize that they aren't setting out to be deceived or to have a double standard in any way. I completely sympathize!

But what moved me away from my firm position against Christmas was the overwhelming facts of the matter. I was wrong! I did not have the history straight, and I had bought into a rather cheap lie.
But perhaps chief among those facts was the fact that I had a double standard. And I think this is true in many people's cases. People don't realize that they are so opposed to Christmas that they are making exceptions and bending standards and using dishonest scales (which God hates) just so that they can continue to hate Christmas.
Well, do we want the truth, or don't we? Is truth what we are after, or self-righteousness? If truth, then use the same standard across the board in all things.

Wedding rings were invented by and used by pagans. Ban them. Or, realize the double standard, accept that you are not a pagan for wearing a wedding ring, and apply that standard across the board - even to Christmas as well.

This double standard speaks to the interpretation of Jeremiah 10. Why do we insist Christmas trees are there? Because Jeremiah says so? No. Because history says so? No. Because we really really want to find a thing - any thing - that supports our position against Christmas trees? Yes!!
And that's a double standard.
Should we use proper hermeneutics, practice a right exegesis, and read the Bible responsibly? Yes! And so we must here in Jeremiah 10 as well. We must not have a double standard and bend this chapter to fit our desires, but bend our understanding to fit this chapter. If it takes away a favored support for our case against Christmas, then so be it. The truth must be allowed to be what it is. We cannot just avert our eyes and insist that truth is something that it is not. Because truth is reality, and denying reality is the definition of delusion.

I understand that this can have huge implications. Don't be afraid of that. Seek truth and pursue it.

I started by saying that I am not trying to be rude. I hope I haven't offended anyone. But I have to talk openly or what's the point?

I want to help people see that there is another other side to this, and there is plenty of factual support for it. Perhaps people just haven't been exposed to it. Perhaps they've just been exposed to the other side so often, because it's so prevalent. I understand that. I just want extend an to offer to people that we reason together.
But in order to do that, we have to get our hearts in order first.

Dillon said...

X,I agree and at the same time I'm not condemning anyone for that matter. I myself was exposed to UCG literature, most notably Christmas and Easter, some years ago though I was not a part of their organisation or anything. But I decided to take a second look at the topic. Where did the idea of Nimrod and Christmas trees come from? If what Alexander Hislop penned is the truth, then why didn't God put such a story(Nimrod and Semiramis), that is so great in magnitude, in the Bible?

Daryl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
xHWA said...

There is nothing inherently evil about the number 666 itself, just like there is nothing inherently good about the number 7. The number is a code. The thing that the code points to is the thing that has evil or good associated with it.

Regarding what you said about Muhammad and Buddha, we should keep things in perspective. I cannot agree that decorating your house is the same thing as worshiping Buddha. Let's say I wear a turban. I am not therefore necessarily worshiping Muhammad.

What's more, one must first prove that a Christmas tree is a pagan object, otherwise the accusation is baseless. Just as one must prove the tradition is as old as Jeremiah's day, or else it's a baseless and empty accusation that Jeremiah wrote about it.

There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that the tradition is as old as Jeremiah's day. So there goes the whole case against it so far as Jeremiah 10 is concerned. Plus there is evidence that it originated among Christians in Germany. So it could very well be a Christian object and not pagan by any means.

Are you telling us that God enjoys false accusation, complete disregard for truth, and dishonesty as well?

Dillon said...

@ Daryl, Really? In Scandinavian culture, if you look at the credible history of the Christmas tree, the tree was planted in a tub and placed by doors or brought into the home. Do we need to fasten a tree, that is already planted in a tub, with pegs and hammers that it does not totter? Really? And as far as your "witchcraft" claim goes, it was God who chose gold forged from Egypt which was used in all kinds of debauchery to be held sacred to Him. Do you wish to argue with God about redemming His own creation for Himself?

Anonymous said...

In some Bibles "a wooden idol is a worthless doctrine" is translated "their stock is a doctrine of vanities." Isn't a stock a tree? Doesn't the Hebrew word for stock mean an intact tree? So couldn't it mean "their tree is a doctrine of vanities?"

xHWA said...

"Isn't a stock a tree? Doesn't the Hebrew word for stock mean an intact tree? So couldn't it mean 'their tree is a doctrine of vanities?'" -Anonymous

Stock is wood, and can refer to a tree, yes.
The word has several possible wood-related translations.

The question then becomes, what is the point of this particular view?

Seems to me that the point is to search for any way possible to take this word "tree", remove it from the correct context of Jeremiah 10, and thus condemn the Christmas Tree tradition.

Is this the right thing to do? I believe the answer is no -- on one condition.

The proper context of Jeremiah 10 is idol worship, not decorations. We are talking about honest to goodness replacing of God with a false god made by hand to which one prays and from which one expects help. A Christmas tree is not an idol and is not worshiped. Ergo it does not fit here. So the context does not support making the word into "tree", then carrying that over to a condemnation of "Christmas Tree".

If "tree" is divorced from the context of "idol god" then all trees are meant, and all wood is referred to, and all plant-life that has rigid cell-structure is an abomination unto God. Because we are no longer talking about "idol god" but simply "tree". So "tree" is an abomination.
The logical conclusion is that all things made of wood are prohibited. All rafters and floor joists are heathen, all wood paneling is a sin, the way of the Gentile is hardwood flooring.

To avoid this problem, we must keep "tree" in context with "false god", or this problem just multiplies out of control.

So my answer to my question is no. It is not good to find the word "tree", divorce it from its context of "idol worship", and insert Christmas Trees.

I mentioned one exception.
The exception is that should someone actually view a Christmas Tree as an idol, to replace God with it, to pray to it, and to expect something from it, then the decoration becomes an idol and the tree does fit the context.
If there is anyone who worships their tree like a god, then this is the exception. They are clearly in the wrong.

Anonymous said...

What about the kneeling to receive gifts? Many say that you are accidentally and unwittingly worshiping the tree.

xHWA said...

It is impossible to accidentally and unwittingly worship.

Anything unwitting and accidental is vain and empty. We would never say to someone, "You have unwittingly and accidentally worshiped God! Good job! Keep it up!"

If it were possible to accidentally and unwittingly worship, then anything at any time anywhere can be accidental and unwitting worship. I could look up at a bird in a tree outside and accidentally worship something. I could kneel to plant a flower beneath a tree outside and accidentally worship.
What sense does this make that we should live our lives in fear of unintended accidents? God did not give us a spirit of fear, but adopted us as His children (ROM. 8: 15).

Worship is conscious and from the heart. Otherwise Paul could never have said this:

(I COR. 8: 4-6) 4 Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols, WE KNOW THAT AN IDOL IS NOTHING IN THE WORLD, and that there is no other God but one. 5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), 6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.

I have to caution against people who say that we can unwittingly and accidentally worship. This is superstition, and is not of God.

God wants us to judge with righteous judgment, not according to the appearance of a thing (JON. 7: 24). He looks on the heart of men, to the spirit and intent(HEB. 4: 12). There is no secret kept from God (LUK. 8: 17). If the spirit and intent of a man's heart is to worship God alone, then there is no such thing as unwitting and accidental worship of an idol. But if the secret intent of his heart is to worship an idol, God will know it. Either way, there has to be knowledge and intent - not unwitting and accidental. God is not unjust.

xHWA said...

Another thing I ask you to keep in mind is that the idol in Jeremiah 10 was clearly an idol. It was not a Christmas tree. It was not left as a tree. It was cut, carved, and clothed. It looked like a human when they were done. There would be no mistaking this object as an idol god.

If we are only discussing Jeremiah 10, then there would be no way anyone could get in front of this idol god and not recognize it as an idol god.

Anonymous said...

Isn't the tree an Asherah pole? I have found many websites saying this. They say say the Asherah was a sacred tree that the Canaanites used to worship. Also how is Alexander Hislop wrong? Don't the Catholic church's priests wear the mitre of Dagon?

"The two-horned mitre, which the Pope wears, when he sits on the high altar at Rome and receives the adoration of the Cardinals, is the very mitre worn by the priests of Dagon, the fish-god of the Philistines and Babylonians."

- The Two Babylons ; Alexander Hislop; p. 215

xHWA said...

No, the Christmas Tree is not the Asherah pole.
Asherah poles were carved into the shape of an Asherah goddess.

No, the Pope does not wear the Dagon hat. That is a spurious claim that has been proven false countless times.
The Papal mitre has nothing whatsoever to do with Dagon. Dagon was an ancient Amorite and Philistine god, not a Roman one.
The Pope's hat evolved to look like it does now. The first mitre which appeared some time around 1,000 AD, didn't look anything like the modern version.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Mitre_evolution.gif

Dillon said...

Dagon can also mean corn. “If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book.” (Revelation 22:18). People have added an unscriptural and totally untrue story of Nimrod and Semiramis and have given it Scriptural authority. This story of Nimrod is given unquestioned authority as if it is the very word of God and it is used to interpret not just the Bible but the whole of history of mankind. The story of Nimrod and Semiramis is not in the Bible and you are not obligated to believe in it-because it isn't true. Jesus said, “By the mouth of two or three witnesses, every word may be established.” (Matthew 18:16 quoting Deuteronomy 17:6). The story of Nimrod and Semiramis first appears in the mid 1800s AD-there is no supporting witnesses-not in Josephus, not in the Apocrypha, not in the Talmud or any Jewish Legend or ancient writing and not in the Dead Sea Scrolls or the writings of the Church Fathers. There is no evidence from the archeological record either. There is no collaborating or supporting evidence to prove the story of Nimrod and Semiramis is true. Despite this many people have given the Nimrod-Semiramis-Tammuz story canonical status. This is adding to the Bible and is sinful and demonic.

Anonymous said...

Dillon seems very ardent in his anti-hislop beliefs.

Dillon said...

Yes and why not? Nimrod putting horns on his head and hooves on his feet? Where is that in the Bible? Hislop was looking at a seal of Gilgamesh and Enkidu but no one knew that at the time for the tablets hadn't been translated yet.
Hislop claimed Nimrod was deified but scripture doesn't even state this. Hislop claimed that Nimrod was deified as a sun god and all the pagan religions were based upon this but the sun was not the most important let alone powerful deity in most religions and in fact the sun was represented as a female deity in many whereby in the Hebrew scriptures the word for sun is feminine gender due to this. Also, the storm gods were the most powerful deities described as warriors called upon in a time of war. I pointed out to a certain preacher there is no proof to back these claims of Nimrod being a sun god. I explained where he got his interpretation of Nimrod wearing horns and hooves as being pure conjecture and the individual stated to me "maybe he read it on a monument". If so why only show a seal depicting Gilgamesh and Enkidu?

Daryl said...

With that being said, is there any link between Odin and Santa Claus?

xHWA said...

Before I say anything I want to reiterate that this article has nothing to do with Santa, nor do we have any article on this blog that deals with Santa. The point of this article is not directly to defend Christmas. The point of this article is to show how Jeremiah is not talking about Christmas trees because he is talking about idol gods. It defends right Biblical exegesis; the chips just happen to fall in favor of Christmas trees.

But since you asked...

There are many websites that would have us believe that Santa is copied from Odin, or Thor. If it's Odin, then it can't be Thor, and vice versa. So which is it? The answer is neither.
The issue stems from trying to make Santa into something it isn't, rather than just letting Santa be what it is.

Granted, there are many similarities. However, if you look at the real Norse myths, the dissimilarities far and away greatly outweigh those similarities.
For example with Odin, Santa isn't missing an eye, he doesn't live in "heaven", he isn't Lord of the after life sending out Valkyries to collect fallen soldiers, he isn't associated with war at all, he didn't murder his great grandfather, nor create the world, nor have children, nor only consume mead and wine, nor have an eight-legged horse, nor carry a spear named Gungnir, nor wander the world in secret, nor change into animal forms, nor wear grey... etc, etc, etc.
Quite literally Gandalf the Grey is based off of Odin. You can see the similarities between Gandalf and Santa are quite few.

Santa is taken, not from Norse mythology, but from Teutonic mythology. The Germans have many Santa figures. None of them come from Odin or Thor. Most of them seem to have a mischievous side. All of them seem to be figures created in order to get unruly children to behave, and operate by a reward/punishment method (eg. gifts vs. coal).

In short, there is absolutely no need for Santa to come from Odin or Thor given that he has a well established lineage already.

Anonymous said...

How can I be confident that the "work of the workman with the axe" means something complex is involved and not just the description of how the tree is cut? How can you carve an idol with an axe? Just asking. Peace.

xHWA said...

Hello Anon. That's not a bad couple of questions, actually.

The use of an axe specifically might very well only reference the chopping, however that is not the end of the process by any means. "Work of the hands" implies complexity. "Work of skillful men" (v.9) implies complexity. The remainder of the evidence before us demands complexity.
Don't let the nuances of sentence structure in translating the Hebrew to English throw you off. Because "with the axe" comes at the end in the English sentence in verse 3 of this particular Bible translation (NKJV) does not necessarily mean the entire process was "with the axe".


I think you can be entirely confident that more than just chopping down a tree was involved since more than just chopping down a tree is spoken about. We also have overlay, clothing, and fastening.

I think you can be entirely confident that complexity in craftsmanship was involved because of the complexity of the final product. Feet and mouth (and other features) are not explicitly spelled out for us in Jeremiah but they are inferred by the wording (eg. "cannot speak", "cannot go", "cannot do", they wear "clothing").
Couple this with the nearly parallel reference in Isaiah 40-44 and you've got several missing pieces.

I think you can be entirely confident that more than just an axe was used here because more than just an axe is mentioned. A hammer is also mentioned, so an axe is not by any means the only tool used.
I would be very uncomfortable with the notion that because a specific tool was not explicitly mentioned therefore it was not used in this process. Only axe and hammer are explicitly mentioned in Jeremiah but we all know neither of them are good for making clothing. Other unmentioned tools are clearly implied (eg. needle and thread in the construction of clothing or chisel in the construction of facial features). Isaiah explicitly mentions anvil, solder, tongs, coals (ergo a furnace), ruler, chalk, plane, and compass.
In this exact same way, because other colors of clothing are not mentioned does not mean they were not used. Only blue and purple clothing are explicitly mentioned, but I do not for a moment believe that only blue and purple cloth was used, or that God was fine with idols clothed in red or white or green.

I think we can be entirely confident that Jeremiah is speaking about idols and not chopped trees for decoration. In the post I explored the context not only of these select verses in chapter 10 but the surrounding chapters in Jeremiah as well. The context is entirely idolatry. The context simply does not favor Christmas tree decorations. And since this is the case that Jeremiah is speaking of idol gods, we have to deal with this. The burden now becomes how can we explain all of this away in order to get Jeremiah to be talking about Christmas trees.
My point is that we have to get Jeremiah to say something completely other than what he said in order make the axe only chop down a Christmas tree and stop there.

So, I believe you can be supremely confident that something complex is involved here and not just a simple chopping of a tree.

God bless!

Anonymous said...

I understand, since to equate "workman" with "lumberjack" would be somewhat eisegetical. I think that's why different Bible translations render "axe" differently, like chisel or adze.

xHWA said...

Totally agreed.

Anonymous said...

Makes me wonder if the book of Baruch is talking about the same topic.
Baruch Chapter 6:2-14
When you reach Babylon you will be there many years, a long time—seven generations; after that I will bring you back from there in peace.
And now in Babylon you will see gods of silver and gold and wood, carried shoulder high, to cast fear upon the nations. Take care that you yourselves do not become like these foreigners and let not such fear possess you. When you see the crowd before them and behind worshiping them, say in your hearts, “You, Lord, are the one to be worshiped!” For my angel is with you, and he will keep watch on you.
Their tongues are smoothed by woodworkers; they are covered with gold and silver—but they are frauds, and cannot speak.
People bring gold, as though for a girl fond of dressing up,and prepare crowns for the heads of their gods. Then sometimes the priests filch the gold and silver from their gods and spend it on themselves,or give part of it to harlots in the brothel. They dress them up in clothes like human beings, these gods of silver and gold and wood. Though they are wrapped in purple clothing, they are not safe from rust and corrosion. Their faces are wiped clean of the cloud of dust which is thick upon them. Each has a scepter, like the human ruler of a district, but none can do away with those that offend against it.
Each has in its right hand an ax or dagger, but it cannot save itself from war or pillage. Thus it is known they are not gods; do not fear them.

Daryl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
xHWA said...

Anon, that sounds very much the same to me.

xHWA said...

Daryl, I don't know who Dan Merrick is. And what, exactly, does he say is a tree? Which verse are you specifically referring to when you say "literal Hebrew"?

Verse 3 says tree. No one here has ever denied that the idol described by Jeremiah (or Isaiah or Baruch) is made from a tree initially. But verse 3 isn't the end of the chapter nor is the tree the end of the process.

If Dan Merrick is claiming that the finished product is simply a tree then neither I nor Jeremiah are in agreement with him.

Anonymous said...

It seems as though people take the phrase "gold and silver" to be a metaphor for ornaments or anything put on a tree. I think Dillon hit the nail on its head when he said

Dillon: To the person saying "popcorn strings are merely cultural variations" that if you hang anything on a tree it is inherently sinful, let's go with your "cultural variations" reasoning, God decorates all his trees with snow and icicles every winter, therefore God would be a sinner too! Ridiculous! Popcorn strings and icicles are not a part of Jeremiah 10. Gold and Silver were used specifically. Not gold and silver AND red AND green AND magenta!

How would you respond personally to someone who says that it is a metaphor? Blessings.

xHWA said...

Dillon is absolutely correct and wisely reminds us to consider the consequences of our ideologies.

xHWA said...

How would I respond personally? I guess it depends on what the person I'm speaking with needs to hear.
But as a general response, without repeating too much of what was in the original post, I might say something like this:

Wisdom would have us rely on proper Biblical exegesis and require more than just some person's hypothesis that it's a metaphor for Christmas tree ornaments. And why shouldn't we? In the case of Armstrongism, Herbert Armstrong used to often say, "Don't take my word for it; read it for yourselves." When I take his advice, the advice of the founder of Armstrongism, I can't read that hypothesis anywhere. It's not in there directly or indirectly. It's not supported by the greater context. It's not supported anywhere else in the Bible at all. There's no support for it, so the hypothesis flies in the face of proper exegesis, is completely eisegetical, and is therefore best to be rejected.

Now, recall that area at that time had no such tradition as Christmas tree ornaments. The only reason some think it did is because they have chosen to interpret Jeremiah 10 as speaking of Christmas trees. So that's out. It's not circular logic, but it's very close.
Point being, there isn't even support for the metaphor hypothesis outside of the Bible.

So we ask, if not that then what? Well, there is a far better explanation which is both supported by the immediate context as well as other verses elsewhere in the Bible - that being a wooden idol overlaid with precious metals. JER. 10: 9 specifically says the silver was beaten into plates ...not bulbs (also see ISA. 40: 19).

Since we have no support for the metaphor hypothesis, while we do have another completely valid explanation which is well supported, it doesn't take much to see why the former must be rejected and the latter accepted.

Dillon said...

Commonsense should teach you that "all that glitters is NOT gold...or silver." If this statement were false then I would have to be careful if I am to hire you as a jeweler. You would probably string together some red cherries and call it a 14 karat GOLD necklace. Gold means gold NOT other colours. Silver means silver NOT other colours either.

Dillon said...

Hi X and Anonymous, if "gold and silver" was a metaphor, then anything would be gold and silver. Every winter we see trees laden with snow and icicles by natural means. Snow and icicles fit certain peoples' idea of "silver and gold" but there is a problem with that view which I will demonstrate in this conversation.

Herbert: "Gold and silver" is a metaphor for anything put on a tree.
Dillon: Really? Please explain why?
Herbert: "Gold and silver" stuff are put on a Christmas tree during the winter.
Dillon: Is that so? Then would God be happy if we decked our Christmas trees in red and green?
Herbert: Oh no no. God would still be mad at you because "gold and silver" refer to anything that is placed on a tree.
Dillon: "Anything" placed on a tree?
Herbert: "Anything" placed on a tree.
Dillon: Does snow belong to trees?
Herbert: No it doesn't.
Dillon: Okay so snow is a foreign object added to a tree,. Not so?
Herbert: Yes it is.
Dillon: Then snow would fall into the category of "gold and silver" won't it?
Herbert: I guess.
Dillon: Who created snow?
Herbert: Why, God did.
Dillon: And does He let snow fall on His trees?
Herbert: Of course but what is your point?
Dillon: Earlier on you told me "gold and silver" refers to "anything placed on a tree" and during winter God places snow on His trees and snow is "anything" that is "placed on a tree" therefore God would be going against what he is saying in Jeremiah if it is talking about decorating trees. Furthermore if God is not happy with trees that are decked with "gold and silver" then why would He be happy with trees that are all decked out with snow?

Dillon said...

X, I also have to add something more to the conversation. The "tree" in Jeremiah is "fir tree" so let me continue the conversation.

Herbert: Jeremiah condemns the fir tree.
Dillon: Fir tree? Jeremiah doesn't say anything about fir trees.
Herbert: Well don't you use a fir tree as a Christmas tree?
Dillon: Yes we do but let me ask you a question. If I were to use a plane tree or a maple tree as a decoration, would God be pleased about it?
Herbert: I don't know
Dillon: If God considers fir trees an abomination, then why would He allow an abomination to beautify His temple in Isaiah 60:13? Fir trees came to beautify the place of God's worship.

Isa 60:13 The glory of Lebanon shall come to you, the fir tree, the pine tree, and the box together, to beautify the place of my sanctuary; and I will make the place of my feet glorious.

Daryl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
xHWA said...

I would have to do a lot more research into that, particularly towards the Hebrew, but my initial impression is that verses 3 and 4 speak of the construction of one idol god (presumably as an illustration of its helplessness), then verses 5 begins the contrast of the One true God against the many such man-made idols in the world.

Anonymous said...

Verse 3 mentions the work of the hands of the workman with the axe.
Some people point to this and say that it is speaking of some type of
chiseling down the wood into a form, but I'm just not convinced. I know
for certain that "Asherah trees" were sometimes planted and that they
didn't take on a specific idol image, but were just a representation of what
the goddess Asherah stood for - fertility. The phrase about the workman
with the axe seems most likely to me to describe the man who cut down
the tree out of the forest with the axe, and not to chiseling it into some
type of image.
Verse 4 mentions decking it with silver and gold which is just another
way of saying "they decorate the tree."

Anonymous said...

I gotta wade in here, as I’ve invoked Jeremiah 10:3-4 a few times while arguing with Christians, and I’d rather like to test my interpretation. I suspect that passage could easily refer to a Christmas tree.

1. “êṣ” or “eta,” the word translated as wood, is used interchangeably with tree throughout the OT. In Jeremiah, however, it’s usually associated with “tree” except in 23:18 where the context makes it clear they’re talking about a wooden yoke.

2. “mî·yā·‘ar” or a variation of “ya’ar” is consistently translated as “from a/the forest,” but doesn’t appear often in the OT. The other two times refer to a living thing of or from the forest.

3. “ḥā·rāš” or “charash” can mean someone who shapes wood, but also someone who works in stone, metal, or simply works. It can also mean a constructor of idols. Note that while there are longer variations of that word, the shortest type is used in Jeremiah 10:3.

4. 10:4 refers to the item being fastened down, to keep it from tottering. The original Hebrew explicitly includes the words for fasten (yə·ḥaz·zə·qūm) and totter (yā·p̄îq); both occur exactly once in the OT, though the former is similar to many common words.

5. I’d summarize Jeremiah 10 as such: God says don’t do what other people do. They make this specific idol [10:4-5]. Don’t worry about them, they’re stupid. God’s pretty cool and smart. They worship wood! [10:8] They buy silver and gold from elsewhere, and wear purple clothes. But God’s pretty strong and stuff. He can do wicked powerful things. Every heathen’s dumb, even blacksmiths making false idols of metal; they’ll get punished when the time comes. [10:14-15]

6. When “charash” does show up again in 10:9, it’s in the middle of a passage referring to metal work, and not too far from a word that refers to physical labour.

7. While it’s true the Christmas tree originated in the fifteenth century or so, it was long common practice across the Middle East and Europe to use evergreen boughs in their decorations, and the Norse in particular would bring entire evergreens inside.

In the context of all that are two theories: A) 10:3-4 refers to a Christmas tree, B) it instead refers to a wooden idol. B has some problems; why would a hand-carved idol need to be steadied (4), as it could be shaped so that it would stand on its own. Why did the passage mention the forest (2), as other passage which discuss idols don’t care about where they came from. Why use a general term for labour (3) when referring to a specific crafted item of high value (as it was decorated with imported gold and silver).

A, in contrast, has no such problems with (2), (3), and (4). There was a long-standing tradition of using evergreens during that time of year (7), as well. While (6) supposedly conflicts with A, the second craftsman reference in 10:8 could also refer to the metalwork and physical labour involved there, and 10:14 refers to a metallic idol. There’s also a change of subject (5) between 10:4-5 and 10:8-9, so it’s not even clear the two passages describe the same thing. (1) is ambiguous, but does not contradict A either.

On the whole, I have to disagree with most modern translations; 10:4-5 more probably refers to a Christmas tree instead of a wooden idol.

xHWA said...

If I play devil's advocate for Christmas Trees (keep in mind this blog post is not a defense of Christmas Trees)...

"why would a hand-carved idol need to be steadied" "as it could be shaped so that it would stand on its own"

I would point out there are innumerable examples of statues and statuesque objects including figurines &etc with bases. The presense of a base cannot therefore negate this being an idol.
I would point out that all statues or statuesque objects including figurines &etc need a base, or if they have no formal base then they need to be designed in such a way or fastened in such a way that they do not topple. Idols would clearly fall into this category without issue.
I would also note that myriads of items which are not Christmas Trees must be steadied so that they do not topple and are built with bases specifically for this purpose. Eg. Lamps, cups, televisions, stools, cabinets, bicycles have kickstands, vans and trucks must be designed so the weight is distributed correctly to minimize toppling ...the list goes on and on.

I find this problem must be rejected for the following reasons:
1. The context of the book and chapter is clearly about idol worship (specifically comparing the Only True God with a false idol god). Christmas Trees are not idols therefore they do not fit in the context.
2. There exists no historical evidence demonstrating that a Christmas Tree is even an option in that area and time therefore "if not idol then Christmas Tree" does not logically follow. 3. We do have historical evidence of idols with bases. Statues both ancient and modern regularly have bases. I cannot agree that since there is a base therefore an idol is in some way not a good fit.

"Why did the passage mention the forest"

It speaks about a forest because that is where trees are, and trees are where wood comes from, and wood is what the final product in Jeremiah is prepared from. Both Jeremiah 10 and Isaiah 40&44 show idols being carved from wood.
The contrast is the Living God versus what essentialy amounts to a block of wood (see ISA. 44: 19). Wood is cheap, even the very poor can get it. Yet that is what the idol god essentially is. How can that compare to the Living God? Christmas Tree is a tree, but it doesn't fit the context.

"other passage which discuss idols don’t care about where they came from"

This is incorrect. Isaiah 40: 14 says, "He cuts down cedars for himself, and takes the cypress and the oak; he secures it for himself among the trees of the forest."

xHWA said...

"Why use a general term for labour ... when referring to a specific crafted item of high value (as it was decorated with imported gold and silver)."

As you stated earlier, it does not only mean general labour. You stated in it can mean one who works wood or stone or metal and even gave an example (6).

I believe this problem could be worded more properly as, "why, when I use a Hebrew dictionary or Strongs, do I see that a possible definition is general labour?"
And as I stated earlier, we cannot simply take any Hebrew word out of its context, and away from its linguistic devices which are mandatory for the proper understanding of the word, and away from the proper usage of that term in that place and time, find a possible definition, then input that as the only or even the best possible definition. That it can mean a thing doesn't indicate that it does mean that in this place.
That is a long and complicated way of saying "we need to seek the wisdom of a trained scholar before we jump to any conclusions".
Given that you prefer general labour as the proper definition when other definitions are possible, and given that you have stated that you disagree with a great deal of trained scholars (you say "I have to disagree with most modern translations"), I am worried you have already came to this study with your conclusion already in mind. I do not believe you intend to seek the advice of trained scholars unless they agree with that you have concluded already. I mean no offense by that, of course. Just making an observation ...which I hope I am wrong about.

"A, in contrast, has no such problems with (2), (3), and (4)."

This assumes definition of "charash" is "general labour" when that is simply has not been proven out. In fact, you have demonstrated the opposite.
Even if I grant to you that there is a problem with charash defined as general labour, I cannot agree that there is that big of a problem that we could conclude (B - Idol) is not possible. But since charash can mean skilled labor, let's assume briefly that it does just for the sake of argument, now there is a problem with (A - Christmas Tree) and none at all for (B - Idol).

"There was a long-standing tradition of using evergreens during that time of year"

But not in the culture or time period that we are referring to. Greenery is not Christmas Tree. Did the cultures with greenery fasten them to a base so they topple not? No. Here is where a base actually does come in to play, and it negates greenery as a possible definition. There is no historical evidence that the greenery of Rome [not Judea] evolved into the modern Christmas Tree.

xHWA said...

Over the years, one thing I have noticed about the comments here from people who believe Jeremiah is speaking of Christmas Trees...

They all ignore the context of the book, the chapter, the surrounding chapters, the surrounding verses, and other supporting selections from elsewhere in the Bible (eg. ISA 40&44).

This is not proper Biblical exegesis. This is not allowing the Bible to interpret the Bible.

Anonymous said...

No that's not what I'm trying to say at all. I'm trying to ask, isn't the workman the one who cuts a tree from the forest? Why does the "God's Word Translation" 1995 translate it as woodcutter? I've been taught that modern translations “water down” the real meaning of Jeremiah 10:3-4. If it is talking about the making of gods, then why does the Geneva Bible and Douay Rheims make it sound as though it is a mere tree that is cut down? Doesn't that imply something? If you look at modern translations, it removes every reference to "palm tree" from verse 5 and replacing it with "scarecrow in a cucumber field" that is no where in the original language. Aren't older translations more reliable than modern translations of the Bible? Would like to hear your thoughts, no sarcasm intended.

xHWA said...

"Why does the 'God's Word Translation' 1995 translate it as woodcutter?"

It depends on what the translators thought was best.
You probably already know this, but if there's anyone out there that doesn't, this is really important..

It is nearly impossible to translate from Hebrew directly to English. There are words in Hebrew that just don't exist in English and vice versa. Sentence structure, grammatical constructs, parts of speech... very different between the two. Translating word-for-word literally, makes the work nearly unreadable. Words need to be added to make the sentences readable. Sometimes it takes a whole paragraph in English to explain a single Hebrew word. Then, if that's not bad enough, the Hebrews used idioms a lot. So we then have to make a choice between translating the words and losing the meaning or translating the meaning and taking heat for adding words. For example "four score and seven years ago" is the exact same thing as "eighty seven years ago". If you enojy the artistic language Lincoln used and don't need it worded in a more pedestrian way, "four score and seven years ago" is better. Which is the better translation? Or for another example, "tickle the ivories" is the exact same thing as "playing the piano". Which is the better translation? If you didn't know what "tickle the ivories" means, clearly "playing the piano" is better.
Important things to ponder!

Well, perhaps one team looks as Jeremiah 10: 3 and believes that this verse is only concerned with the very initial stage of constructing an idol -- felling a tree by a woodsman. So, that's how they translate it. While another team looks at this verse and believes the intent of the grammar conveys a larger idea, and that more is implied than just a woodsman felling a tree. They look at the word "axe" and see that it really isn't just "axe" but is any carpenter's tool. So they choose to word that better conveys the context of the chapter as a whole.
Which is the better translation? One possibility is neither is better. It could very well be that both translations are needed to get the best understanding of the verse.

And that is where you get things like "palm tree" and "scarecrow in a cucumber field".
Those words are not in there. However, when the scholars looked at the phrases grammatically, and compared them to other verses in the Bible, they came to the conclusion that the idea the author was trying to convey was that an upright Asherah Pole was the idol Jeremiah was talking about, and so they translated the words in that light.
They get palm tree from word similarity with Judges 4: 5. They get cucumber garden from word similarity with Isaiah 1: 8.
(A good place to get more detail on this is the Keil & Delitzch Commentary on the Old Testament.)

Which all leads me to ask, is Geneva a better translation, or do people only say that because the Geneva seems to go along better with the conclusion they've already reached?
The scholarship in modern translations is arguably FAR superior to that of William Whittingham's team who wrote the Geneva. The teams are larger, the resources greater, the lessons of 500+ years at their fingertips. If the Geneva was so good, why the Authorized version? If that was so good, why the NKJV? Then considering that there are different ways to translate a work. It is my opinion that the best way to study the Bible is to use two or more different translations of quality (for example, the NKJV and the NLT second edition).

I really hope this helps answer your questions.
God bless!

Dillon said...

Hi Anonymous, you asked whether or not the “workman” in question is a woodcutter. I would say no. For several reasons:
ONLY A TREE
First, notice that though you have identified the wood brought into the home as an evergreen, the Bible text does not do so. It merely refers to a tree. If all that is meant in verse 3 is ONLY the cutting down of a tree, then why is a “workman” even in this sentence? Why do we need a “craftsman” to cut down a tree? It doesn’t take a “carpenter” or “craftsman” to cut down a tree. Even a Victorian boy can do that. Even I can do that. It takes a woodcutter to do that. Not a “craftsman.” If all that is meant in verse 3 is the “mere” cutting of a tree then why is “charash” (craftsman) being used here and not simply “karath” (cutter) as in Isaiah 14:8?
ALL THAT GLITTERS IS GOLD?
From your comment I can see that you take that phrase “gold and silver” as an idiom. I have seen such reasoning in so many websites. Jeremiah 10:4 says “with silver and with gold.” Not red and white or green and orange. Not snow, icicles or popcorn strings. GOLD AND SILVER! Apparently people haven’t learnt their colours well either! Gold means gold and silver means silver.
Jeremiah 10:4 They deck it with “ke.sep” REAL SILVER and “za.hab” REAL GOLD
Why do you all keep talking about Asherah poles? Everywhere I go I am hearing "The Christmas tree is an Asherah pole." Where do you get this info from?

Dillon said...

I would like to continue: Who among us decorates his tree with real silver and real gold? Jeremiah says real silver and real gold.

BEWARE OF THE FIR TREE
The fir tree is evil. Really? The Hebrew word for fir tree is not present in Jeremiah. Why isn't the Hebrew word for fir present in Jeremiah 10:3 which is bə·rō·wō·šîm meaning cypress or fir? If bə·rō·wō·šîm was used here, ONLY then you would have a point. ONLY ‘êṣ (tree) is used here. Fir trees are an abomination unto God. Really? Then why did Yahweh use an abomination to beautify His temple in Isaiah 60:13? Would God take a urinal and use it as a drinking cup? The answer should be a resounding and emphatic NO!!!!! Furthermore in Hosea 14:8 God analogizes Himself to a bə·rō·wō·š (fir tree.) Would God analogize Himself to an abomination? NO!!!!!!! In Isaiah 55:13 God uses a fir and myrtle, both of which are EVERGREEN, not to mention that the myrtle was sacred to Aphhrodite. May I remind you that God used palms, which are EVERGREEN, in His worship too. Didn't you wish to imply earlier that evergreens are an abomination unto God? Then why is God using evergreens in His worship?

WORK OF THE CUTTER
Jeremiah 10 says,"work of the hands of the workman" Deuternomy 27:15 has a similar wording,"Cursed be the man that maketh any graven or molten image, an abomination unto the LORD, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and putteth it in a secret place. And all the people shall answer and say, Amen." The same word being used for craftsman in Deuteronomy 27:15 is the same word being used for "workman" in Jeremiah 10:3 also Hosea 8:6.

xHWA said...

I have a question for everyone here.

Are my responses making sense?
What I mean is, are they easily readable or am I talking over people's heads? Am I wording them too "intellectually"?

Maybe I'm just being too self-critical.

xHWA said...

Dillon,

I see the points you are making about the verse 3, and they are cogent points. They are reasonable, thought through, supported with evidence, and deserve our attention. From a proper translation standpoint, I have no argument with anything you've said. Whatever I am about to say, I say in agreement with you.

But from a proper understanding standpoint, I don't see that it matters to the understanding of this verse.

When we carefully take into close consideration the entire context of this chapter and parallels with Isaiah, it is inescapable that Jeremiah is speaking of an idol god and not some mere decoration.

So the debate over whether or not the tree is carved, in my mind, is neither here nor there. In either case, carved or not, the point of the contrast is to show that the idol is made by men of dead wood and is no comparison to the Eternal Living God. It is the epitome of foolishness itself to trust in a dead block of wood over the Living and Almighty Creator. The idol is a lie and it is death; God is the truth and He is life.

If anyone is looking at verse 3 and concluding "well, verse 3 might not say that it was carved" I implore you to consider the full weight of the discussion because you may very well be missing the point entirely. From a proper understanding standpoint it doesn't matter if the idol god is carved by a craftsman in verse 3 or hacked down by a woodsman in verse 3. At the end of the day, the idol is just dead wood while Almighty is Living Spirit.

Interpreting Jeremiah as speaking of a Christmas Tree does irreparable harm to the depth of the point being made.

Still, I think you may be correct that the better translation involves skilled labor.

Dillon said...

X, I think your comments are quite sufficient for those with an open mind.

Dillon said...

Hi X,

What's up? What if you were to add the points from my comments from this thread into the article, would that be okay?

xHWA said...

Hi Dillon,

I might just do that.

Dillon said...

I have a question for anyone here:
What if I were to hang several birdhouses on a tree outside during the winter? Would that be considered "gold and silver?" X, you can make a reply if you like. :)

http://www.thedailygreen.com/cm/thedailygreen/images/ap/Birdhouse-Ornaments-Xmas07-lg.jpg

http://www.kaboodle.com/hi/img/2/0/0/14/b/AAAAAsxqVy0AAAAAABS5ZQ.jpg?v=1164599196000

http://www.songbirdgarden.com/store/ProdImages/HBZ2044SSGORG.jpg


http://cn1.kaboodle.com/hi/img/c/0/0/108/1/AAAADENTL70AAAAAAQgXGw.jpg?v=1290067440000

Dillon said...

Dillon: What if the tree was not cut down? What if it was decorated outside, still rooted to the ground?

Scrooge: The command is to refrain from placing baubles on trees. Baubles are phallic symbols.

Dillon: Really? Please explain why?

Scrooge: Baubles were made to represent the testes of the sun god.

Dillon: Okay then, what if the objects on the tree were square shaped? Would that still be phallic?

Scrooge: No it won't.

Dillon: So that means it's okay to hang rectangular objects on my tree?

Scrooge: No it won't be okay because, Jeremiah is saying that it is an abomination to put decorative objects on trees? It doesn't matter what shape the object is.

Dillon: Really? Tell me, what exactly constitutes an ornament?

Scrooge: It must be beautiful, it must have a hook and it must be able to be hung on a tree.

Dillon: What if the object was shabby? Would it be okay to hang a shabby object on a tree, then? You did say,"It must be beautiful." What if it were shabby? What if it didn't have a hook?

Scrooge: It would still be sinful because, Jeremiah is telling people not to place objects on trees.

Dillon: Oh okay. So the command is to refrain from placing objects on trees?

Scrooge: That is correct.

Dillon: Does snow grow on trees?

Scrooge: No

Dillon: Therefore it is a foreign object, no?

Scrooge: Um yeah.

Dillon: Since Jeremiah is warning about placing object on trees, why does God flout this dictate from Jer 10:4 by placing snow on trees, that too during winter? Why does God place snow (a foreign decorative object) on fir trees? Did God go so senile that He forgot what He meant in verse 4? Does God practice what He condemns? Also is it a sin to place birdhouses on trees? You did say,"It doesn't matter what shape it is."

Scrooge: Uh...

Dillon: Since God does not practice what He condemns, it is not a sin to place objects on trees at any point in time in the year.

Yah'sChild said...

Hi all,
I'm going to have to respectfully disagree with you and all the comments. I'm really convinced that verse 3 IS just about a tree and not some chiselling into an image.

"For one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the chopped tree by the woodsman with the tree cutting instrument."

Look at it again:

"For one cutteth a tree out of the forest" <------- Clearly a tree is being cut

"The work of the hands" <--- the chopped tree

"Of the workman" <--- by the woodsman

"With the axe" <--- With a tree cutting instrument

You said,"This is not redundant info on tree chopping." I respectfully disagree. The phrase is just stating what is already stated. Jeremiah may have just written it just to drive home a point. Redundancy isn't uncommon in Scripture. As for verse 5 I honestly believe that verse 4 has no bearing on verse 5. Verses 3 and 4 describe one thing independently of verse 5. Verse 5 refers to plural entities while verse 4 refers to a focal single entity, namely the tree. As for the signs of the heavens, that could very well reference the winter solstice as the tree verse comes directly after the signs of heaven are mentioned. As for commenters like John Gill and Matthew Henry, I honestly believe they were wrong and naive to the truth. They just couldn't see the the tree in verse 3. I'm still not convinced that verse 3 speaks of an idol, if you understand where I'm coming from. Newer translations knowingly deceive you with respect to verse 3. I hope you all honestly understand where I'm coming from. Please give some thought to what I have to say. Thanks. Peace.

xHWA said...

You "respectfully disagree"?
Wow. We don't get much of that around here. I'm used to just being called "deceived". Thank you for your politeness. We welcome respectful disagreement.

I understand where you're coming from. I lived it for several years. I just disagree with you and I've presented the evidence why.
I suppose you don't need me to reiterate what I've said above. I trust that you've given me a fair hearing.

A couple of things I would like to say in response to your comment.

"As for the signs of the heavens, that could very well reference the winter solstice"
Could be, yes. It absolutely is a possibility. But not a likely one. Winter solstice was not nearly as important in that area at that time as some would like to make it out to have been. Jeremiah is talking about something rather important here, and the winter solstice just doesn't cut it.
The only reason people associate winter with Jeremiah 10 is because of a post-facto association with the Christmas tree.

"Newer translations knowingly deceive you with respect to verse 3"
I can't accept that statement.
I've read much from people with the same opinion, and very little of what they say holds up under a truly unbiased inspection.

If that accusation is based on circumstantial evidence or if it just has to be true because you believe something else (like the KJV is the only inspired version) then in loving concern I do recommend to you that it would be better to believe the KJV and not believe all the other translations than to believe the KJV and falsely accuse the authors of all other translations of knowingly deceiving the world.
I say this respectfully out of concern, and not to belittle you.

Yah'sChild said...

Hi again,
Then you must have seen the expression "work of the hands of the workman" as a little redundancy when you believed in Armstrong's views? Then you must have noticed that a lot of websites actually say that verse 3 is only about the tree cutting? I've been told to trust only the King James Version because all newer translations omit verses and Christ's deity. But what do you have to say about verses 3, 4 and 5? Is my appeal to grammar correct?

xHWA said...

"Then you must have seen the expression "work of the hands of the workman" as a little redundancy when you believed in Armstrong's views?"

To a degree, yes. But we insisted the entire section was only about cut trees - not just verse 3 - so we ignored a great deal of those kinds of nuances in favor of our own predetermined conclusions.

"Then you must have noticed that a lot of websites actually say that verse 3 is only about the tree cutting?"

Yes.

"I've been told to trust only the King James Version because all newer translations omit verses and Christ's deity."

The KJV is a fine translation. I'm not knocking it. But it's not true that all new translations omit verses, or Christ's deity. Some of the newer translations are arguably more accurate than the KJV in their translation.

Some will omit verses, that is true, but it depends on what the point of the translation is. Some Bibles are idea-for-idea translations rather than word-for-word. In an idea-for-idea translation, the point is to try as best as is humanly possible to understand what the author was attempting to say, then translate that in a way a modern reader can understand. Some words will be left out, but the idea comes across much better.

For example, I can say "tickling the ivories". Where I'm from, that means "playing the piano". There are two ways to translate this into other languages. One can word-for-word translate, but perhaps the reader has no clue why on earth I would tickle ivory. One can also idea-for-idea translate, then the reader will not see "tickling the ivories" at all but will see "playing the piano" instead, because that's the idea I was trying to convey.

"But what do you have to say about verses 3, 4 and 5? Is my appeal to grammar correct?"

I do go over verses 3, 4, and 5 in the article above. I know you read it, and I thank you, but for the sake of time I politely refer you to the article above for my response.
My briefest possible response is that by verse 4, the tree is no longer simply a tree; an idol has been fashioned by this point.

OrthodoxApologia92 said...

If you say that older translations alone are inspired and inerrant, then you must also accept ALL the doctrines that older translations support. Did you know that the Douay-Rheims, Coverdale and Tyndale all have traces of Catholic doctrine in it? Yes you heard that correctly.
Don't believe me?
Look at this:
St. Luke 1:28
And ye angell went in vnto her and sayde: Hayle full of grace ye Lorde is with ye: blessed arte thou amonge wemen.(Tyndale)

And the angell came in vnto her, and sayde: Hayle thou full of grace, the LORDE is with the: blessed art thou amonge wemen. (Coverdale)

And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.(Douay-Rheims Bible)

So older translations call Blessed Mary: Full of Grace! This totally reflects Catholic doctrine. Since your premise is that one must take older translations seriously, we must, by that same logic, also take the doctrines that such support very seriously. Calling Blessed Mary "Full of Grace" would be abhorrent to most Protestants today. Did you know that older translations of the Bible support the doctrine of sainthood? You cannot merely rely on the the English grammar to tell you the truth. The Bible was originally in different languages. Now tell me who should we believe? some nobodys with a scholarship from a cornflakes box? Or do we take the advice of learned men.