ARE CHRISTMAS TREES IDOLATROUS?- Introduction
An argument against Christmas which you hear quite a bit these days is that Christmas trees are condemned in the Bible. Is this really true?
ARE CHRISTMAS TREES IDOLATROUS?- Christmas Trees in Jeremiah?
Sometimes it is said that Christmas trees are condemned in Jeremiah 10, verses 2 – 4, where God says, “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. They decorate it with silver and gold, they fasten it with nails and a hammer so that it will not totter.”
ARE CHRISTMAS TREES IDOLATROUS?- The Reality
Although this may sound like a reference to Christmas trees, it really is not. In this passage God is condemning idols which are carved out of wood and used as objects of worship; thus, in the very next verse God ridicules the idols because they cannot talk and cannot walk! Obviously, this criticism is not aimed at Christmas trees at all.
ARE CHRISTMAS TREES IDOLATROUS?- The Real Origin of Christmas Trees
The fact of the matter is that the Christmas tree originated in Christian Germany about two thousand years after Jeremiah’s criticisms of wooden idols. It originated from two Christian symbols found in homes at Christmas time. The first was a “Paradise tree,” an evergreen which was hung with apples which represented the tree of life in the Garden of Eden. The second symbol was a “Christmas pyramid.” This of course was a triangular shelf holding Christmas figurines and decorated with a star. By about the 16th century these two symbols had been combined into the Christian Christmas tree.
ARE CHRISTMAS TREES IDOLATROUS?- Conclusion
Thus, the Christmas tree is a thoroughly Christian symbol, and Christians ought not to feel guilty for having one of them in their home. On the other hand, the Christmas tree is not essential to Christmas, and Christians may, of course, do without it if they choose to. If you see a Christmas tree in the home of a non-Christian friend or a relative, you might take the opportunity to point to it as the symbol of the fact that Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem so that they might have eternal life. On Christmas trees, that’s the CRI perspective. I’m Hank Hanegraaff.