Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A Dialogue on Jeremiah 10

Today's article is a guest piece sent to us from a long-time reader, Dylan.

Dylan imagines a conversation between two people, one for Christmas Trees (called Inquirer) and one against Christmas Trees (called Objector). The article follows them as they discuss Jeremiah 10 and Christmas Trees.

The hypothetical conversation is a thought exercise, based on pieces of actual conversations which Dylan has had in the past. The point of the article is to demonstrate the motivations of the human heart by exaggerating the biased and subjective nature of some arguments against Christmas trees.

And now to Dylan's dialogue; a coniferous conundrum.


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Objector: Jeremiah 10 condemns the Christmas tree!

Inquirer: Oh? Please explain why.

Objector: Well obviously you cut a tree from the forest with an ax then fasten it to a cross base and decorate it with silver and gold. Therefore, Jeremiah 10 condemns Christmas Trees.

Inquirer: The passage is talking about skilled craftsmen being hired to make idol gods for the heathen. The wooden idols would be given golden plates and silver chains, precisely as in Isaiah 40:19-20.

Objector: I disagree. This is speaking of a tree. The workman is a lumberjack. The lumberjack cuts the tree down with his ax then brings it into his home, then decorates it with gold and silver tinsel. Idols in Israel were not large.

Inquirer: You omit that Jeremiah 10:9 mentions skilled men, plural, and a metalsmith specifically. So this is more than just a lumberjack. Or are you suggesting that the lumberjack obtains silver from Tarshish, beats it into plates, and gold from Uphaz, and creates blue and purple clothing - all with an axe?

Objector: Verse 3 mentions an axe. Who would cut a tree but a lumberjack?

Inquirer: The word in verse 3 translated "axe" is not exclusive to an axe only. What's more, the word translated "workman" is also translated carpenter, artificer, smith, and other skilled trades in other places in the KJV, both in Jeremiah (29: 1-2) and elsewhere; never lumberjack. This appears to be some very skilled work from a group of workmen.

Objector: Other translations use words like woodcutter.

Inquirer: Okay let me give your argument the benefit of the doubt. Lumberjacks put gold and silver on a tree. What if the tree was NOT cut down? What if it was decorated outside still rooted to the ground? Like this:




Objector: The tree doesn’t have to be cut down for my points to adhere. It can be decorated outside still rooted to the ground and Jeremiah 10 will still apply here because a tree is being decorated and that is the main point of Jeremiah 10, that the tree is laden with foreign objects. Anything placed on a tree makes it an idol.

Inquirer: So no lumberjack necessary. OK. What then do you make of wooden ornaments, would that still be considered “gold and silver?”

Objector: The fact that other material is used on trees like wood and cloth doesn’t deviate from the expression “silver and gold” in verse 4. Gold and silver in verse 4 is a symbolic term for anything placed on a tree, it doesn’t have to be real gold and silver.

Inquirer: So the use of the word "workman" is quite literal and can only mean a lumberjack, but the use of the phrase "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." is symbolic and can mean just about anything at all?

Objector: It says, "wooden idol is a worthless doctrine."

Inquirer: Oh I see. So it is sinful to hang a birdhouse on a tree?

Objector: No and birdhouses aren’t ornaments.

Inquirer: You just told me “anything” placed on a tree. The word “anything” is an all-inclusive word. Therefore (according to your logic) if we hung anything on a tree, despite the fact that it is NOT cut down, we would be sinning.

Objector: Don’t misrepresent me, I meant anything that shimmers.

Inquirer: You didn’t specify “anything that shimmers” you said ”anything placed on a tree.” Are you changing goalposts or what? But since you brought that up, let me entertain that point a bit. You just qualified your statement and said “anything that shimmers,” so what do you make of wooden ornaments? Wood does not shimmer. Let me guess, “they don’t have to shimmer” right? They just “need to be placed on a tree,” right? Remember you said the tree doesn’t have to be cut down for your points to adhere, no?

Objector: World renowned historian, Alexander Hislop, says that decorating trees comes from Nimrod worship. Dance around the issue all you want, if you decorate the tree then you are a sinner.

Inquirer: You realize that Hislop's claims were exposed as frauds decades ago, right? Let's move to something else. Who created snow?

Objector: God did.

Inquirer: Now who makes snow fall?

Objector: God does.

Inquirer: Would snow fall into the category of “gold and silver?”

Objector: I guess, as long as it's fake snow is placed on a tree.

Inquirer: Does it matter whether the snow is real or synthetic?

Objector: Yes it matters.

Inquirer: Oh? Please explain why.

Objector: It needs to be an object made by human hands to be sinful.

Inquirer: Earlier you said anything, but now you say artificial. What about natural objects? Gold is natural. Silver is natural. Wood is natural. What about those that are not crafted by human hands? For example fruits and poinsettias. What about when objects like apples, oranges, cranberries, or other fruit and nuts, popcorn, feathers, grasses and similar natural items are hung on the tree?

Objector: Yes it would still be considered “silver and gold” because fruits and poinsettias don’t belong to fir trees. Any foreign object that is added to a fir tree during winter, can be considered “gold and silver.”

Inquirer: So the objects don’t have to be made by human hands. They just have to shimmer or not, be natural or not, and be placed on a tree. Does snow grow on trees?

Objector: No, it doesn’t.

Inquirer: So snow is a foreign object added to a tree during winter?

Objector: Yes it is.

Inquirer: And who makes snow fall?

Objector: God does, but what are you trying to prove?

Inquirer: Before I go any further, let me ask you two questions: What if the tree was a purple artificial one like these? Does it matter whether the tree is real or artificial?



Objector: It does not matter what color or whether the tree is real or artificial because an artificial tree was meant to simulate a real tree.

Inquirer: Fake snow was meant to simulate real snow, bulbs were meant to simulate real fruit, and artificial trees were meant to simulate real ones! But you condemn natural trees and natural decorations but not natural snow?

Objector: Artificial snow does not simulate the look of real snow very well. You can so tell it’s fake.

Inquirer: So now you will decide when something simulates an actual object closely enough? No, don’t answer that. A few minutes ago you said anything added to a tree defiles it, then you said it had to shimmer, then you said it had to be artificial, then you said it doesn’t matter whether the objects are natural or man-made, it just needs to be placed on a tree, and it does not matter if the tree is cut down, what color it is, if the tree is real or fake because an artificial tree was meant to simulate a real tree. So, we're back to "anything" again. Your criteria keeps changing! Not only that but you abhor the use of evergreen trees in anything, as if you blame the tree itself, but you give snow a pass? You have double standards!

Objector: I don't worship Santa Claus, like you, I worship God.

Inquirer: God created snow and He allows it to fall on His fir trees and shimmer in the sun. Hold on, wait a minute; doesn’t Jeremiah 10:4 forbid the placement of objects on trees, real or artificial, chopped or already in place, which shimmers? Then why is God doing what Jeremiah 10:4 forbids? Snow is an object that is placed on a fir tree often at Christmas time which shimmers in the sun and decorates the tree quite nicely. It perfectly matches your criteria! But wait, would God ever violate His own principles? Since Jeremiah 10:4 supposedly forbids anyone from placing objects on trees, why does God flout this dictate by placing snow (a foreign object) on fir trees during the winter? To place objects on trees is morally and spiritually wrong, correct? Therefore why is God doing what is spiritually and morally wrong?

Objector: If God does it, then it's not a sin.

Inquirer: But if I do the same thing it is a sin? How is that not a double standard?

Objector: Snow on trees is no more decorative than snow on a house top or raindrops on roses.

Inquirer: So snow is decorative, except when it isn't? Are you saying God didn't create the beauty and majesty of nature so that we can look at it in awe and give thanks and praise to Him? And yes, raindrops on roses also looks beautiful, that’s why it is used in song to begin with and that’s why artificial roses have fake raindrops on it: to replicate the look of real raindrops on a rose! Don't these evergreen trees look beautiful all decked out in foreign objects?




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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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2 comments:

k-baradanikto said...

Good grief, Charlie Brown! Does anyone besides Armstrongism geeks get that hung up and picky about Christmas tree decorations? If you want a tree then get one, and if you don't want a tree then don't get one, but in either case get a life.

xHWA said...

Klaatu,

Oddly enough, yes. There are more groups who get really strung out about this stuff (eg. HRM). They sometimes get downright nasty and supremely condemnatory ...over something so simple, something they willfully misrepresent.
But we agree you. Get one or don't.