74 thoughts on “Essay question

      • I think it depends on what God is telling each one to do in each situation. As a general situation in our society, I think it is a very sad act of cultural hubris to not put one up as our spiritual heritage is based on the Judeo/Christian ethic (although there are those who would disagree), and it is also intellectually dishonest as Christmas is a religious holiday for Christians based in history. The debate rages on.

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        • Okay, Dawn – you see it as something to be judged in each situation and also that to nix nativity scenes in public life is dishonest. I understand and don’t want to argue with a brother or sister about it (unless their position is outrageous) but to ask questions that compel me.
          God bless you, Dawn – I value your comments!

          Liked by 1 person

  1. Hey Maria

    I have some brief thoughts, and Dawn’s comment and yours as well made me think.

    Yours first. Sigh…I know, and respect how you feel about images. I even understand how you came to feel that way. Having said that, I don’t think that a Nativity Scene itself is being disobedient. It’s not an image which is being worshipped, but merely a memorial image of an even which took place. Even though we universally mess up just who was even at the manger in the first place…wise men and all of that. I know you won’t agree with me, and that’s ok.

    What Dawn said. We have allowed the environment leading to the removal of all things God by our disobedience in general to following His Word. Now, we are paying a price. Like any time of strife and persecution, this will lead some to greater obedience, and some to greater running away and hiding.

    So, this could help…and it could hurt. The true believers will be made bold by opposition, and the weak or non believing will continue to stand by as evil takes over.

    Great question, though. We should ask more questions of ourselves. Makes us look at just what we truly do believe and also look at our actions. Good job Maria.

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  2. Good question! I believe nativity scenes are from pagan roots from before Christ’s birth. Be that as it may, most Christians aren’t looking at it in that way. As you know, I often wonder if it isn’t God using the Christians’ enemies to remove these images from us (or the Christ Mass, Easter). Images are anything that is man-made and is designed to help or cause us to worship God. It may be the breaking of the 2nd Commandment, which is where I stand, that it is. Here is why. Because it does cause me to stop and thank God for His Son born into the world for us. Is that not using the nativity, and not God according to His Word (like reading Luke 2, etc.) to provoke worship?

    God bless you! \o/

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    • Sherry, your view is mine also. I didn’t mean to not answer straightforwardly.
      Images of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are a transgression of the second commandment – they are forbidden. In my effort to welcome conversation, I didn’t give my own view until now.
      Thanks for helping me, my sister!

      Liked by 2 people

      • It comes from Semiramis and Tammuz-the Mother-Child worship which dates back to Nimrod and the Mesopotamian/Babylonian sun god worship. These were made into idols and set up in with carved forest animals surrounding them. Today’s Wiccans have similar nativity scenes.

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      • Dan, in addition to wiccan practices, the ancient Israelites used to place carved images beneath green trees. These images could be small enough to be held in one hand, just as the figurines in nativity scenes (creches) often are. For more information about these kinds of practices from someone more knowledgable than me, please go to:
        http://www.christmasisalie.com/
        and to the associated YouTube channel:
        https://www.youtube.com/user/XmassIsALie
        At this channel there is a lot more of interest, particularly videos showing how the History Channel worked to undermine a knowledge of history in their show about the history of the Antichrist.

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        • I’ve long been aware of the arguments against Christmas, including the less than kind and loving approach of just blurting out it’s all a LIE. The key to the second commandment seems to be the WORSHIP of images of any kind. There is a line between looking at a nativity scene and it being an object of worship. Where the line is crossed is hard to define and a personal one, I expect. I grew up in a Christian home and Christmas always had the birth of Christ as the center. I never linked it to anything Pagan. As an older and wiser believer now (I hope), I am not in the slightest intimidated or fearful in knowing that there are pagan associations.

          Jews and gentiles were fearful of meat offered to idols. Paul had a lot to say about the nature of idols for the stronger believer. They are NOTHING. he also talked about meat just being meat. There was a bigger teaching point – don’t cause a brother to stumble.

          Our son in law, his wife, and four children have been with us for some time. If there are pagan roots about anything they get fearful. They don’t like Christmas trees, etc. We had a tree as usual, decorated mostly with pictures of family and extended family from today and years past. There were gifts, mostly for the grandchildren. The children loved all the pictures on the tree and of course were just excited and grateful children with their gifts.

          Our grown son and his wife visited also. There was a big meal with BBQ ribs (by special request, turkey and a brisket marinated for almost a day and done on the grill. I won’t list all of the other food.
          There was prayer as there is before every meal, thanking God for family and His gracious bounty, and especially for sending His son that we might live.

          I am still wondering If we offended our kids and grandkids. Not wanting to offend him has been a constant desire. Somehow I doubt it, but might have a talk with son-in-law Rick, to offer an apology, just in case.

          One last word about pagan roots. I’ve got ’em big time! But God, who is rich in mercy, when I was dead in sin, made me alive in Christ! Does that mean Christmas is something that can be used for God’s glory? For some it seems it can, but for others not.

          And that’s all I have to say about this one. I love you all and pray that everyone really had a Merry Christmas!

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Frankly sister Maria, I had developed an attitude about “Christmas” being a pagan holiday on December 25th. and not the true birthday of the Lord Jesus Christ. This year I noticed the world once again taking a stab at negating any reference of Christ from this day, while they go on about their parties, gift shopping, decorating, etc. Nothing new there…however I believe the Lord showed me that during this particular time of the year, THE NAME above every Name, THE CHRIST, gets more attention than at any other time of the year. And for that I am glad, even if His Holy Name is on the lips of those who know Him not. Perhaps it will make THEM think! I believe I can say to those I greet, “May the Lord Jesus Christ bless you” during these days when others are saying, the “Merry Christmas” thing.
    Lord Jesus bless you sister…

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  4. Interesting question Maria… for the sake of not repeating here… let me just say basically I agree with Wally’s comments. Also I would like to quote from another website that explains my attitude about all these type of things…

    “- Paganism could have a secondary or distant relationship to Christmas without having the sort of prominent influence that critics of the holiday often suggest. It’s not as though heavy pagan influence, on the one hand, and no influence at all, on the other hand, are the only options. There’s a large spectrum of possibilities between the two. The less significant the relationship between paganism and Christmas, the less significant the objection to Christmas based on such a relationship. Meat sacrificed to idols had a relationship to paganism, but Paul considered it acceptable to eat such meat (1 Corinthians 8, 10). The relationship was distant enough to not be significant. If somebody is going to avoid Christmas because of distant pagan associations, then does he also avoid food, kitchen utensils, furniture, clothing, calendars, etc. that have been associated with paganism in some way? If competing with paganism was part of the motivation for the initiating or popularizing of Christmas, or some Christmas traditions were derived in part or in whole from paganism, for example, how would it follow that the modern holiday in its entirety should be rejected? How would it even follow that we should reject any aspect of the holiday?”

    taken from http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2012/11/the-origins-of-december-25-date-for.html

    Just something more to think about! Lord bless you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rob, thank you for adding to the discussion! Actually my objection to Christmas comes just as much from its origin in Roman Catholicism, and the Christ Mass. Maybe I should post about this but I have felt that objections to Christmas go unheeded, because of Christians’ love for their Saviour and seeing it as a time to glorify Him.
      My thoughts in the “Essay question” had more to do with nativity scenes being a transgression of the second commandment for which the Lord may be chastening us by removing them. What do you think?
      I would like your thoughts on this but will read them tomorrow, Lord willing.
      As always thank you and God bless you and you wife!

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      • Hi Maria,
        Personally I believe that to commit the sin of idolatry you must have the intent to worship the idol. That is why the second commandment does not simply say “you shall not make for yourself a carved image”… but goes on to explain “you shall not bow down to them nor to serve them”. If that is not the case, every statue that is made, every picture that is taken of a person, and any statue, picture or likeness of any part of nature would be committing this sin.

        This is why I believe it is only when we make those things WITH THE INTENT TO BOW DOWN to them that it is a sin. As long as the nativity is set up to remind us of Christ’s first coming it is not idolatry. If we set up the nativity with the intent of bowing down and worshipping the baby in the manger then it becomes a graven image and idolatry.

        Another example of this is a family that sets up a Christmas tree with the intent to bow down and worship it is committing idolatry, however if a family sets up a Christmas tree simply to beautify their house and remind them of Christ (the tree reminds us of Christ and His wonderful creation he has made, the lights can remind us of Christ as the light of the world, and the star can remind us of Christ as the Bright and Morning Star etc etc)… I am all for it.

        In the past, I have used the tree to share Christ with others who came to visit my house. I believe I used God’s creation to honor and bring glory to the true Creator over all… this is one of the greatest purposes for the wonderful nature God has given to us. This was not an act of idolatry… in actuality it was an act of worship of the true God, Jehovah, by using the Christmas tree as a way to open up the subject of Christ and all He has done for us.

        Likewise with Christmas having pagan roots, I believe that if we are consistent then we would have to drastically change many many things in our lives including our calendar, the food we eat, the clothes we wear etc. If we look hard enough we can find most of our society has roots that go back to paganism. I do not believe that Christ called us to separate ourselves from paganism, in the sense, rid all things associated with it out of our lives. I believe He did call us to separate ourselves from the false worship of paganism, even while we are in the midst of things associated with it. The best example was when Paul allowed believers to eat meat sacrificed to idols. How could he do this if all Christians are to rid everything from their lives associated with paganism?

        Again please refer back to the post I mentioned in my previous comment. I believe the writer made these points in a much more detailed and clear way that I can explain in this comment.

        Also, I wrote a posting on my blog several years ago which further explains my thinking on this…
        https://settledinheaven.wordpress.com/2012/11/28/should-christians-participate-in-the-christmas-celebration/
        If you are interested in additional thoughts on the subject.

        Lord bless you Maria. I trust you and your family will be blessed this and in the years to come. Thanks for your faithfulness to Christ in your blog!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Pastor Rob, Thank you for thoughts shared from Jason Engwer’s article “The Origin Of The December 25 Date for Christmas,” published at Triablogue. It was important to see not only that the date of Christ’s birth but the fact that His birth was celebrated at all were settled things long before Constantine and the Council of Nicea. This article stresses this. But I believe that proving that practices are old doesn’t prove that they are right.
      Engwer leaves the door open for any practice – whatever their associations. This goes against the sound principle (the regulative principle) that we must worship only in those ways the Lord told us to. He also tries to make separation from pagan things look silly and unimportant by mentioning such things as calendars (names for the days of the week).
      In his counsel to the Corinthian Christians, Paul was speaking about eating food that had been sacrificed to idols and not about participation in pagan rites or festivals.
      There was more in his article, but his dismissal of the regulative principle is the chief thing.
      Thanks again, Rob – truly!

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  5. There is a town north of Chicago called Zion. For many years the town had a cross painted on its water tower. Then an atheist sued to have it removed. Christians in Zion responded by placing crosses on their houses. The loss of one cross meant that many more appeared in Zion. Even the atheist who won the suit was impressed. I would be fine if the government removed a manger scene from public property rather than putting up blasphemous displays to represent someone else’s religion. I would hope that every Christian church and every Christian home will openly display faithfulness to Christ and His kingdom. J.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, J.! Thanks for responding fully – I appreciate it. Zion’s reaction to the atheist’s selfish action was news to me.

      I want to take the opportunity in replying to you to explain both to you and all those who commented that originally this post was called “Essay in a sentence,” and it didn’t contain the question but simply stated what I believe, and that is this:

      “The removal of nativity scenes from public places may in reality be a blessing that helps us obey the Lord we desire to serve.” Now I feel dishonest – I was too shy to state this outright and I’ve been caught being disingenuous.

      At any rate, back to your serious thoughts. May I respond with a question, a rhetorical one? Is it really important that Christians display their faith in symbols? We are called to preach the Gospel, love the Lord and our neighbor, and so do we have to do the symbol thing?

      I totally agree with your statement of fact – others seize the chance to put up monuments to evil right next to the Ten Commandments for instance, such as was done in Oklahoma City – do you remember that Satanists put up something awful?

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  6. Hey Maria
    Not butting in…but wanted to say a quick thing
    “I’ve been caught being disingenuous. ”
    You have not…that would imply at least some level in intentional shading of the facts. I am certain you meant no such thing. I just assumed everybody know how you felt about icons and symbols and you really didn’t need to tell us. And If they never saw you say it…they can read can’t they?

    Don’t be hard on yourself. You started a great coversation!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. This is probably a bit different than just about all of the other comments. I might not have even understood the question! I didn’t get into the pagan roots thing at all. Anyhow, here goes…………
    “Can the removal of nativity scenes from public places in reality be a blessing that helps us obey the Lord we desire to serve?

    Interesting question. I guess it depends.

    If the lack of nativity scenes resulted in Christians sharing the true meaning of Christmas more than they would if public spaces had nativity scenes as reminders, the answer would be yes. We are called to personally chare Christ with the world around us.

    Then there is the issue of the “Christmas Wars”. Nativity scenes are but one of the many issues involved, from ‘Merry Christmas’ signs in public, employees saying “Merry Christmas’ in Wal-Mart (and other places), even children handing out “Christmas” rather than generic “Holiday” cards.

    I bring up the “Christmas Wars” because a lot of Christians are engaged at several levels in the “battles” raging all over the place for restoring freedom of speech and/or religious freedoms. The Christmas Wars is but one skirmish in the fight. The question I have often asked (of myself and others) is this: “Are we called to be engaged in battle for ‘rights’(constitutional and/or religious) or are we called first and foremost to share Christ with a lost world?” How we balance our justifiable concerns for our rights and faithfulness to the great commission?

    If we more time and effort in fighting for ‘rights’ than we do in sharing Jesus with others, we might be disobeying our Lord. After all, the Bible has little to say about fighting the powers that be. Paul’s using his Roman citizenship to avoid a beat down in Jerusalem and appeal to Caesar (Acts 25) has little similarity to Christians demonstrating for their rights or court battles. This however has broader implications than just nativity scenes in public places. Nevertheless it’s in the center of the ballpark
    .
    Getting out of the ‘religious wars’, along with the accompanying “Christian victimhood” mindset would go a long way toward a more obedient Christian walk if it resulted in our becoming more faithful ambassadors of the gospel.

    So that’s my micro and macro 2 cents.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dan, thank you for your 2 cents worth – I’m glad you commented! Though I wasn’t thinking of culture wars detracting from our devotion to the Gospel, that’s true – it’s happening.
      Matthew 28
      19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
      This is what we’re called to do. As for any constitutional rights we can claim, we’re citizens of Heaven and have the rights our King has given us: to preach, love, and suffer for Him.
      What I was looking for was a response that showed that readers saw that the removal of nativity scenes, which are a transgression of the second commandment, can be seen as the Lord’s chastening and humbling of us through the (messed up) powers that be.

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  8. It comes down to this for me: if one looks at a nativity scene and starts thanking the Lord for the birth of His Son, then he has bowed to the image because “it” provoked his worship instead of God’s method of His written and spoken Word as the catalyst. Images depicting Jesus are man-made and profane in God’s sight. If I picture some man created image of Jesus when I pray, I have bowed to that image and broken the 2nd Commandment. If images like nativity sets are used to enhance the Gospel we have broken the 2nd Commandment. God doesn’t need our help to enhance His Gospel. His Word convicts, not man-made images. If anyone wants to hear Richard Bennett’s take on this you can listen to his “Images of Christ and the Gospel” on Sermon Audio or You Tube. Its interesting what he has to say has been the end results among the nations where the “Jesus” movie was shown. He also touches on what happens to us spiritually when we have images.

    It is not a small thing to God. We are to flee idolatry-that means not to even have symbols of idolatry in our possession-He desires our complete shunning of them. This is the time of year when there is little difference seen between the Wiccan and the Christian in decorations. So much for abstaining from even the appearance of evil! God never told anyone to change the names and then it would be acceptable to Him.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Huh? God does not like images-it grieves Him deeply. He didn’t like it when Israel worshiped Him with their images (golden calves), He doesn’t like it when we use images-“images of Jealousy.” You love the Christ Mass and think it “merry” but God detests it. Can you not thank Him at all other days? And without images? Now I’m off to thank my Father for sending His Son Jesus and I’m going to thank Jesus for His life’s ministry, His suffering on the cross for my sake and His resurrection! Praise God! Our Lord jesus is risen and reigning! He’s not that baby in the manger anymore nor is he on the cross still suffering nor is he in the tomb! He is risen! Alleluia! \o/ Have a wonderfully blessed day!~

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  9. Related here? When a person says ‘God bless you’ when i sneeze, I always, always, always thank them for the gesture.Matters not if they are believers. I am thankful that the wrath of man praises God, and equally thankful when a believer asks God to bless me.

    As far as idolatry goes though, I just need to watch myself that I don’t swallow the hippo while straining at the proverbial gnat 😉 Let every man be persuaded in his own mind. And yep, I am thankful for this verse.

    Happy holidays Dan, and Maria! Achoo….

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  10. Hey maria-
    It seems the people who find fault with your premise are solid people of faith. Personally I would be slow to criticize another man’s walk. I’m pretty sure you cannot see into the hearts of people who are alleged idolaters.

    Anyhow, christians, even if weak in the faith if it were the case, are not they who have bowed the knee to the golden calve. ‘Let every man be persuaded in his own mind’ is not a suggestion.

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  11. Love this discussion! I was raised Catholic as well, and I see how rampant idolatry is in their church, with their use of statues and icons. While they deny up and down that they are worshipping the statue, they bow down to them, and become genuinely invested in treating the statue anthropomorphically. In my family, they actually refer to them them as “her” or “him” instead of “it.” As in, ‘My Jesus fell down and broke his arm, let’s see if we can glue it back on for him.’ Or ‘Let’s set Mary up here on the shelf with St. Andrew.’

    Nativity scenes do seem different to me, in that we use them as pictures in the same way that we put up pictures of our family members in order to provoke memories, not as tools of worship. I don’t see people bow down in front of nativity scenes.

    All that said, I have been wrong before, and I believe it is important not to use my own judgement, which has proved so wrong so many times! I will pray that the Lord shows me the truth on this issue. It is so important to be teachable and remain open-minded rather than deciding that my interpretation is the Lord’s final say on the matter. If I did that, I would still be Catholic!

    Another issue I would like to raise is that Jesus, because of his humanity, seems different than God or the Holy Spirit in terms of making images. God gave the commandment against making images to the Hebrews before Jesus came to earth as the Word made flesh. Making an image of the Father, of the Son in His divinity, or of the Holy Spirit would be off-limits, but making an image of Jesus in His humanity is qualitatively different, isn’t it? Because He actually has flesh to picture, whereas God the Father and God the Holy Spirit are not fleshly beings. While it would be blasphemous to picture the Father or the Holy Spirit in physical form, isn’t it different with Jesus, whom God first placed in physical form?

    Again, great discussion! Thanks for the follow. I have followed you as well, and look forward to more of these discussions.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi, Alma! I’m so happy for your faith in Jesus Christ and that you’re living for Him at home and in your ministry of the Word. When we understand the stronghold of Catholicism it can make us upset and a feeling of hopelessness confronts us. But the Lord is calling Catholics ever day – to come to Him in repentance and faith, and to worship Him in spirit and truth, for the Father desires such worshippers.
      You’ve added to the discussion! A couple of things. The first is a statement, the second a question. Here is the commandment about graven images:
      Exodus 20
      Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: 5 thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; 6 and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
      The commandment is a unity: do not make and do not bow down to. Most Christians today believe that it is only a transgression of the commandment when we make images in order to worship them. I question this. Having spent lots of time in a neighbor’s Jewish household growing up, the absence of images was something I’ve never forgotten. I believe that both parts of the commandment require faithfulness. We can’t say it is only sin to bow and serve them. Your memories of the statues being called by “her” and “him” is instructive. It is hard to separate the representation from the thing represented. I’m not able to articulate this well, but believe that we can’t take the commandment apart; this is something that Catholicism itself does in saying that honor is given only to the thing represented. The Orthodox do this too. But then you find them bowing and kissing them. I remember how the clothing of certain statues was changed seasonally in the Catholic church I attended as a child and in other Catholic churches. So what do you think? Are nativity sets truly exempt for evangelicals because, although we’ve made them, we don’t bow before them? What do Jewish people whom we want to come to Jesus feel about them – an important thing too.
      About images of the Lord Jesus Christ being exempt because of the Incarnation, your argument is an Orthodox one that has come down through history. Those living in the Orthodox church-states who refused to honor icons were thought to be denying the Incarnation and they were persecuted and killed. In the eighth century the Iconoclastic Controversy (and wars) was settled in favor of icons/images being orthodox and those who rejected their use as being heretics. You made the argument for them reasonably, however it isn’t true.
      I’m so happy for you – and that through The Antipas Chronicles faithfulness in publishing your post on the Rock and whether Peter was that rock that I learned about you.
      My prayers are for your love for the Lord, your husband, and little ones, ministry, and health. I’m a senior woman whom the Lord saved in 1979. My husband and I have been married for 38 years. Steward your strength and rely on the Lord Jesus Who alone saves us.
      God bless you!
      Maria

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      • I didn’t know that my thinking about images of Jesus being qualitatively differently than images of the Father and the Spirit was an old argument! I’ll have to look into that, thank you!

        Is your testimony on your blog? I’d love to read how you came to the truth.

        “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.” If we separate this from the next part of the commandment, not to worship them, then does it not refer also to regular photographs, not intended to be of God but of creation? If this applies not only to worshipping images, but also to making images, then wouldn’t it equally apply to photographs of our family, and landscape images?

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