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Author Topic: Give me advice to defend Christianity agaisnt my teacher  (Read 3829 times) Average Rating: 0
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Sloga
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« on: April 07, 2006, 04:56:42 PM »

My atheist History teacher constantly bashes christianity, more than Islam and Judaism by far. His main point is that Dec 25 is a pagan Gods birthday, and that is why they made christians celebrate Christmas on that date, it would be easier to assimilate the people into christianity. I have attempted to explain to him it the the celebration, the faith that matters, not the actual date. He also says that the crucifiction of Jesus is wrong because not only was it not a t but a T, but he also brings up the nail through the palm wouldnt work theory.

Is there any proof that contradicts this? Or am I stuck with listening to his Bible bashing?

God save us all...
« Last Edit: April 07, 2006, 04:57:16 PM by Sloga » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2006, 05:22:38 PM »

Sloga:

Indeed, part of the reason why Christians chose Dec. 25th to celebrate Christmas was to "override" the prior pagan meaning of the day in order to bring more Christians into the Church.  That doesn't mean it is a bad thing; we don't retain the pagan meaning of the day, but in essence, we "baptized" the day, making what was once a rotten pagan thing into a holy thing, sanctified by God for the use of the Christian race.  And you are right, I don't care that much whether the Lord was born on Dec. 25th or August 25th, it is just important to celebrate His birth and to realize what it means for us today, and how it affected the world when God became man.  As far as the Crucifixion, I don't know too much about whether the Romans used a + cross or a T shaped cross, but it's probably more likely they used a traditional cross.  They may have nailed the Lord through the wrist or the palm, but if He was nailed through the palm, there were probably ropes tying His arms to the Cross, because the nails through the palms alone weren't enough to support the weight of a human body.  So talk to your priest, and see what he tells you to do in regards to answering this guy; sometimes the best answer is silence, but there are times when we are expected to defend our Christian faith.  Pray for your teacher as well, that God may enlighten him to see the truth.  I hope everything works out.  God bless.

In Christ our God,

Michael
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« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2006, 05:25:18 PM »

Thank you for coming to this forum with this very important question.  I'm not sure how effective we can be at giving you the advice you need.  You may need to also talk to a real person, as compared to the "virtual" persons that you meet on this forum.  But I'm sure we'll try the best we can.

My atheist History teacher constantly bashes christianity, more than Islam and Judaism by far.

The first thing I would advise is to try to read between the lines and understand why your teacher is bashing Christianity.  Why is he singling out Christianity for such hatred?  It sounds to me that he is not really atheist but anti-Christian.  Did he once have such a bad experience of Christians that he wants nothing to do with them and wants to destroy their faith in Christ?  It really sounds like he has a vendetta against Christians and Christianity in general; you may need to address this.

Quote
His main point is that Dec 25 is a pagan Gods birthday, and that is why they made christians celebrate Christmas on that date, it would be easier to assimilate the people into christianity. I have attempted to explain to him it the the celebration, the faith that matters, not the actual date. He also says that the crucifiction of Jesus is wrong because not only was it not a t but a T, but he also brings up the nail through the palm wouldnt work theory.

Is there any proof that contradicts this? Or am I stuck with listening to his Bible bashing?

For one, it doesn't sound like he even cares to be historically objective , so why in his mind should he even care to be accurate.  He may be so embittered against Christianity that he won't even care to hear your arguments.  However, your defense of the Faith may win over the hearts of some of your classmates, so I encourage you to keep seeking how.  I think others on this forum may be more qualified than I am to answer this search.

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God save us all...

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« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2006, 07:48:46 PM »

Obviously you have here a professor who is similar to the teachers of atheism in the USSR, the so called 'scientific atheism' where science is called to 'dis-prove' Christian tenents.

The bottom line is that he is merely positing a THEORY that something MIGHT have happened a certain way. For us it doesn't matter, because we know already that these biblical events happened. We don't need proof because the proof of these events is in our daily living experience as Orthodox Christians. Christ's ressurection has a daily reference to our lives. Of course, someone who is of no faith or of weak faith will have a hard time appreciating this.

Whether the cross was a + or a T doesn't really matter to us either, neither does it matter how many times the cockerel crowed when Peter denied knowing Christ, nor how many fish were in the nets of the fishermen, etc.

Let's take a look at that so called gospel of Judas that was recently translated and is now such a news item. Yes, it gives an account of Judas supposedly being told by Christ to betray him. But does that mean this is what actually happened? I seriously doubt the church will even consider this discovery, as in 180 AD a bishop had already categorized this document as heretical. IMHO, if Judas was indeed told by Christ to betray him, Judas would not have taken the thirty pieces of silver, nor would he have hung himself in shame. It just doesn't add up.

Professors can go around forever denouncing this or that, they will say that everything we do is autosuggestion, that the holy fire in Jerusalem is the result of mass hypnosis, that the holy water stays fresh thanks to bioenergetics, that Christ walked on ice instead of water, etc. They are doing no differently than those who say "What if all of life evolved spontaneously without a God, what if all these coincidences happened just like that?". Indeed, there would need to be plenty of coincidences, too many...

There is one coincidence we can bank on, and it's that people of pride always are trying to escape the gospel. If they can't ignore it, they will try to use any means to disprove it. But the truth is hard to sink, it keeps floating right back up.

You can try to engauge this professor, but know when to finally give up. You'll know it's time to give up when he is scrambling to find answers to anything you throw at him, even if he can't answer. That's a sign of a stubborn mind, instead of one seeking the truth.
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« Reply #4 on: April 07, 2006, 08:01:31 PM »

Quote
His main point is that Dec 25 is a pagan Gods birthday, and that is why they made christians celebrate Christmas on that date, it would be easier to assimilate the people into christianity. I have attempted to explain to him it the the celebration, the faith that matters, not the actual date.

As Michael pointed out, it actually was "baptized" for Christian usage, so as to facilitate conversions, but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. I think you are also correct in saying that the actual date is by far a secondary concern, and that what is important is the content and meaning of the event being celebrated. For Christians, the incarnation is one of the most significant moments in the history of not only mankind, but the universe itself. Christianity did all sorts of things to ease people into Christian belief, the date of Christmas is just one of them. However, this is not to say that the real day of Christmas is July 10th or something like that. According to Orthodox Christian belief, the annunciation took place in what we would call late March, thus a late December birth is a perfectly acceptable guess as to the time of birth--or at the very least, it is consistent.

Quote
He also says that the crucifiction of Jesus is wrong because not only was it not a t but a T, but he also brings up the nail through the palm wouldnt work theory.

How exactly they crucified Christ is a debate that will probably never end--but it's just that, a debate. He cannot prove that it was a T any more than Christians can prove that it was a t. Certainly Biblical evidence would point towards the t (e.g., Pilate hanging the sign in 3 languages that said that Jesus was King of the Jews over the head of Jesus). Maybe other evidence points away from it. It's not a big deal either way. As far as the nail through the palm, it's possible that they did more than just the palm, and also did the wrist. However, I think this is irrelevant since, from what I understand of Roman crucifixion at the time, Jesus would have been able to push himself up slightly while on the cross, and thus his entire weight would not be hanging by the hand. Roman crucifixion did not kill you just by loss of blood (or heart attack or another such issue), but by suffocation. You pushed yourself up for as long as you could, and then when you were too weak to push up any longer, you suffocated to death. This is the reason that, if things weren't progressing quickly enough, the Romans would break your legs (ie. so that you could no longer push up for air).

Quote
Is there any proof that contradicts this? Or am I stuck with listening to his Bible bashing?

I would try to be non-confrontational and just offer alternatives which are possible, suggesting that it's hard to tell either way. Then perhaps point out nicely that whether he is right or not, it wouldn't effect your faith in a significant way since these are minor issues, and debatable anyway.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2006, 08:04:27 PM by Asteriktos » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2006, 03:13:28 PM »

I don't think you should argue with him too much. His arguements against Christianity are irrelevant nonsense, therefore talking sense to him probably won't get through. A more effective approach would be to go to the head of the department or school and state (with details if possible) that the teacher is publicly 'bashing' Christianity, not for anything constructive, and not in equal measure with any other religion. If he doesn't care about his students, about providing a balanced view or education, then perhaps he will care about his job. A quiet word from his boss might put him right.
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« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2006, 03:50:03 PM »

well the thing is, he would actually love for me to debate with him. He is the type that likes to debate over controversial topics...and I kno for a fact that I am like 1 out of 5 people in a class of 30 that actually believe in God, so its always going to be difficult from the start if I DO debate with him.
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« Reply #7 on: April 11, 2006, 09:07:34 AM »

The things your teacher says are new to you, Sloga, but they have been around for a long time.  Christians know about the nail-in-the-palm not being able to hold a body up.  It's not a shocking idea that is going to overturn the Faith.  You could ask here for references and ideas.

Otoh, you say he would love for you to debate him.  One wonders since you are a student, does he *really* want an open debate OR does he want more arena for *his* opinion and is a bully who would take on someone with less experience and skill.

What class is this that he is teaching, please?

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« Reply #8 on: April 11, 2006, 09:52:05 AM »

Sloga,

I strongly advise that you not engage in debates with your professor; you may ultimately regret it, as I did, when my final marks evidenced the fact that I was blatantly discriminated against.

The fact of the matter is that some of these whackos are so convinced that their version of Christianity and history is the academically sound and rational one, such that any pro-Christian challenge to their teachings or positions, is automatically deemed to be a result of your inability to objectively discern the truth by virtue of some mental blindfold imposed by your religious convictions, despite how strong the evidence is for your claim, or how cogent the reasoning and logic is in your argument. This could ultimately prejudice the final marks you receive.

My first Studies of Religion professor advocated every wild anti-Christian theory that has ever existed; he even went so far as to deny the very historical existence of the Lord Christ. Being the proud person that I was, I couldn’t just sit back and let him get away with such stupidity, so I was constantly disrupting his lectures with objections and arguments. On one occasion he was put in a very awkward spot as I openly challenged him to give me one reliable reference for a certain claim that he made with respect to Pauline Christology; he stood there shuffling through his papers for about 5 minutes, and eventually copped out and used time as an excuse to drop the issue and to move on with the lecture. In fact he was so anti-Christian that the mere employment of the abbreviations B.C. or A.D. (instead of B.C.E. or C.E., respectively) offended him so badly; he probably would have taken it lighter had one told him he was a &*^%#@$ piece of *#%@. I remember being rudely interrupted in the middle of my oral presentation once because I accidentally slipped an A.D. whilst making a side-remark. I gave him this look back which read: "Chill-out man; don't wet yourself", and the whole class laughed.

In the end however, the joke was on me. That class in particular covered four mainstream religious traditions. I was marked well above what I deserved for the three non-Christian tradition components, and I was marked well below what I deserved for the Christianity component. It was very obvious what he had done.

Trust me, you have nothing to prove to your professor; university lecture classes are the worst possible situations to attempt preaching. Your marks are at stake; it’s not worth it, and I doubt the Lord Christ really expects you to take the risk. Whatever extra marks you may earn for complying (or even sucking up) to your Professor, can more effectively be used for the glory of God when the circumstances are more appropriate. My Father of Confession advised me along these lines when I approached him regarding the matter (though you should probably also ask yours for his opinion).
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« Reply #9 on: April 11, 2006, 10:39:27 AM »

I agree with EA. Who cares what he thinks?
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« Reply #10 on: April 12, 2006, 03:37:06 PM »

I'm not too sure that you should simply fold your tail and shut up about the problem. I don't like it when people think they can get away with this nonsense. Maybe it's just my temper.

I think you should just make a general public statement where you feel this instruction is biased and doesn't take into account many facts. You're at least opening other people's minds to that fact and are giving them a chance to seek an alternate pov. Science is not a weapon by which one can destroy faith.

It's a mistake to throw your hands up, I think God puts us in situations sometimes when he wants us to get out there and take a stand, to serve as witnesses for the faith in a way. Of course it's important to be careful and not overdo it, but we can't be passive. There's nothing I hate more than when a liberal pompous professor is standing in a huge class, having all these kids' attention, and calmly, like he or she owns the place, starts throwing out this despicable secularist propaganda. We can't let them get away with it in perpetuity and say "Ah, whatever, not my problem". It IS our problem, we need to protect others from being tempted by such garbadge.
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« Reply #11 on: April 12, 2006, 04:26:43 PM »

Here's a source that stands the accepted story about December 25th firmly on its head.
Quote
Rather, the pagan festival of the “Birth of the Unconquered Son” instituted by the Roman Emperor Aurelian on 25 December 274, was almost certainly an attempt to create a pagan alternative to a date that was already of some significance to Roman Christians. Thus the “pagan origins of Christmas” is a myth without historical substance.

The complete article: http://www.touchstonemag.com/docs/issues/16.10docs/16-10pg12.html

Now, he's going to attack your source on this so make sure you demand to see and review his sources (HINT: he probably won't be able to produce any).
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« Reply #12 on: April 12, 2006, 04:49:26 PM »

Here's a source that stands the accepted story about December 25th firmly on its head.
The complete article: http://www.touchstonemag.com/docs/issues/16.10docs/16-10pg12.html

Now, he's going to attack your source on this so make sure you demand to see and review his sources (HINT: he probably won't be able to produce any).

so basically, the "Pagan Holiday" myth was instilled AFTER the date was baptized? but then why did they chose Dec 25th to celebrate Jesus's birthday?

That is a very good article....
btw, Ive decided to put some good points together and present it to my teacher. My mark in that class cant be destroyed, i have an 86%, and he knows I'll know if he does something unfair. Personally, I think hes just a confused soul that WANTS me to prove him wrong.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2006, 04:54:35 PM by Sloga » Logged

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« Reply #13 on: April 13, 2006, 10:55:43 AM »

Quote from: Sloga
but then why did they chose Dec 25th to celebrate Jesus's birthday?
From what this article suggests, the date was chosen by the Church in Rome and may not have been initially accepted by the entire church. It may be that we'll never find out why they chose that date. Did they do so as some sort of transignification of the Solstice itself? It's impossible to say.

Of course, many Orthodox Churches have selected September 1 as the date to commemorate the Creation of the Universe yet I've never seen any Orthodox claim that the Universe was actually created on that date. Why did they pick that date? Was it just a matter of it being as good as any other date and that it didn't conflict with anything else?
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« Reply #14 on: April 17, 2006, 02:55:07 AM »

My atheist History teacher constantly bashes christianity, more than Islam and Judaism by far. His main point is that Dec 25 is a pagan Gods birthday, and that is why they made christians celebrate Christmas on that date, it would be easier to assimilate the people into christianity. I have attempted to explain to him it the the celebration, the faith that matters, not the actual date. He also says that the crucifiction of Jesus is wrong because not only was it not a t but a T, but he also brings up the nail through the palm wouldnt work theory.

Is there any proof that contradicts this? Or am I stuck with listening to his Bible bashing?

God save us all...

Sloga, could you tell us what kind of history course you're taking and whether your college receives federal funding?  If the professor is disparately hard on Christianity, perhaps you should ask the U.S. Department of Justice if he's violating the law and if a religious discrimination charge is appropriate.  Don't forget that St. Paul, while suffering for the faith, utilized the rights he had as a Roman citizen ( Acts 16: 37, 38; 22: 25-29; 25: 11, 12 ).

In Christ,
Mathetes
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« Reply #15 on: April 17, 2006, 11:27:46 PM »

Celebrating the birthday of Abraham Lincoln on Dec. 25 will not in any way discredit that he ever existed.  The fact remains that Lincoln became president and no amount of petty criticisms pertaining to birthdays will change that fact.
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« Reply #16 on: April 18, 2006, 01:39:20 AM »

I think someone a few months ago linked an article explaining how the date of Dec 25 can be considered nearly accurate for the birth of Christ (like, within a few days).  I think the argument was based on the account of Zacharias' service in the Temple, and some other details.

If someone finds it, please re-post it!
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« Reply #17 on: April 18, 2006, 03:38:23 AM »

so basically, the "Pagan Holiday" myth was instilled AFTER the date was baptized? but then why did they chose Dec 25th to celebrate Jesus's birthday?


It's nine months after the feast day celebrating Mary's conceiving Christ, just as the Feast day celebrating the birth of the Theotokos is nine monthsa after the feast day celebrating St Anna's conceiving of Mary and the feast day celebrating the birth of St John the Forerunner is nine months after the feast day celebrating St Elizabeth's conceiving of John.

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« Reply #18 on: April 18, 2006, 05:37:34 AM »

I think someone a few months ago linked an article explaining how the date of Dec 25 can be considered nearly accurate for the birth of Christ (like, within a few days).  I think the argument was based on the account of Zacharias' service in the Temple, and some other details.

If someone finds it, please re-post it!

Kept it on file this time!
http://www.struggler.org/birth3.htm

The discussion about this was here:
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php?topic=7717.msg100306#msg100306
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« Reply #19 on: April 18, 2006, 09:54:45 AM »

Johnny (er, um, George) on the spot!
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« Reply #20 on: April 18, 2006, 01:13:24 PM »

It's nine months after the feast day celebrating Mary's conceiving Christ, just as the Feast day celebrating the birth of the Theotokos is nine monthsa after the feast day celebrating St Anna's conceiving of Mary and the feast day celebrating the birth of St John the Forerunner is nine months after the feast day celebrating St Elizabeth's conceiving of John.

John

Is it possible that the feasts of nativity were given dates first and the feasts of conception were all scheduled to precede the nativity feasts by nine months each?  I guess this could be different for each feast.

(An interesting aside: The feasts of the nativity of the Theotokos and of St. John the Forerunner each follow the corresponding feast of conception by one day short of a perfect nine months (Dec. 9 to Sep. 8 for the Theotokos, Sep. 25 to Jun. 24 for John the Baptist)  Only the Feast of Christ's Nativity follows its feast of conception by a perfect nine months (Mar. 25 to Dec. 25).  I understand that this was done to emphasize that only Christ was born fully human and fully Divine.)
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« Reply #21 on: April 18, 2006, 01:20:02 PM »

(An interesting aside: The feasts of the nativity of the Theotokos and of St. John the Forerunner each follow the corresponding feast of conception by one day short of a perfect nine months (Dec. 9 to Sep. 8 for the Theotokos, Sep. 25 to Jun. 24 for John the Baptist)  Only the Feast of Christ's Nativity follows its feast of conception by a perfect nine months (Mar. 25 to Dec. 25).  I understand that this was done to emphasize that only Christ was born fully human and fully Divine.)

Not to nitpick, but isn't John's conception Sep 23?  I thought his was 9mos+1day and Mary's was 9mos-1day.
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« Reply #22 on: April 18, 2006, 02:52:40 PM »

Not to nitpick, but isn't John's conception Sep 23?  I thought his was 9mos+1day and Mary's was 9mos-1day.

You may be right.  My memory wasn't exactly clear on the date when I posted it.
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« Reply #23 on: April 20, 2006, 02:56:52 PM »

This is actually a far more complicated topic than one would imagine — as all (ancient) history is, once one begins to delve deeper than typical narratives and textbook caricatures. Even so, the early Christian celebration of Christmas is a particularly difficult topic of research, since it requires mastery of the normal primary sources and comparative study of the ancient civil and religious calendars of the Babylonian, Jewish, Greek and Roman traditions (all of which influenced particular Christian Churches).

The only decent modern study I know of is Thomas J. Talley’s The Origins of the Liturgical Year, which manages to treat all of these things with equanimity and scholarly precision. Unfortunately, it is also quite dense, prone to tangents and given to rather esoteric and detailed use of ancient chronologies. Nevertheless, if you really want to figure all of this out -- and you have some background in ancient history, Latin, French and German -- Talley is your man.

If the prospect of such a read sounds arduously boring, here are a few bullet points I remember from reading and reflecting on the text more carefully a couple of years ago:

1)   Ancient Greek and Roman religion had many, many feast days and celebrations. In fact, the cultic aspect of Roman religion was much like our own tradition, in that there were feasts and commemorations of this or that god or this or that event every day. Thus, if Christians’s were to choose ANY day to celebrate a particular event in Christ’s life, it would naturally fall on some pagan holiday. That the Christian choice of Dec. 25 for Christmas happens to fall on a pagan festival is therefore hardly surprising — nor is it scandalous.

2)   Pagan festivals, specifically the festivals on and around Dec. 25 varied greatly. In some areas of the empire (and at some times), it was a significant feast; in other areas (and at other times), it was not.

3)   In Italy, and in Latin-influenced areas generally, the Saturnalia lasted from Dec. 17 to Dec. 24, which was followed on Dec. 25 by the Brumalia, the feast of the shortest day. Traditionally, this was certainly a solar feast, since Dec. 25 was “the first day of the new sun, and the last day of the old” (as Ovid so famously put it in his Fasti: “Bruma novi prima est, veterisque novissima solis”). Many have taken this as proof that the Christians simply accommodated their feast of Christ’s birth to pagan practice. As Talley writes: “From the time of Paul Ernst Jablonski and the Bollandist Jean Hardouin, both in the eighteenth century, it has been common to account for the Christian celebration of the nativity of Christ on December 25 as a Christian adaptation of the Roman winter solstice festival, the Natalis solis invicti.” (Talley 88)

4)   Such a narrative, however, misses a number of important facts. Talley continues: “That festival was established on December 25 by the emperor Aurelian in A.D. 274, and it seems likely that the same date was the occasion of Aurelian’s dedication of a temple to the sun god in the Campus Martius.” (Talley 88)

5)   In other words, the Romans did not observe Dec. 25 as a feast of Sol Invictus until A.D. 274. Before that time, as Gaston Halsberghe shows in his major study The Cult of Sol Invictus, indigenous Roman sun cults were not very interested in Dec. 25, preferring to celebrate on August 28, which was the festival for the foundation of the temple of the sun at the Circus Maximus.

6)   Dec. 25 and the winter solstice, therefore, was not extremely important to early Roman cultic manifestations of Sun worship, and its importance was lessened even more in the second century, when Romans abandoned more traditional cults and began to adopt the practices of eastern sun cults, e.g. Mithraism and the cult of Sol Invictus Elagabal -- both of which were very popular throughout the Empire. Neither cult assigned any importance to the winter solstice.

7)   Thus, Halsberghe, Talley and many other scholars have shown that “the distinctive importance of that day [Dec. 25] must be assigned to the attempt of Aurelian to refound the cult of Sol Invictus as a genuinely Roman religion,” (Talley 89). Halsberghe (and, to lesser degree, Henry Chadwick) even go so far as to suggest that Aurelian spent so much effort on establishing the cult of Sol Invictus (with its strongly monotheistic and syncretistic theology, and its significant feast day on Dec. 25) in part because he wanted to introduce a Roman alternative to the increasingly powerful Christian movement (by this time, even pagan sources show that Roman emperors were aware of Christianity and its basic doctrines/practices).

8 )   Enter some anti-Donatist writings, which confirm that Christians had been celebrating Christmas on Dec. 25 in North Africa since at least 311, possibly even earlier than 300, depending on how you interpret the sources. Talley argues this based on a number of detailed readings I won’t bore you with. Talley writes: “A date before 312 would place Christmas prior to the Church’s enjoyment of the protection of Constantine, and that would set the most frequently encountered explanation of the origin of Christmas in a new and more problematic context. That most common explanation has been, and probably is today, the derivation of the feast of the nativity from a Roman pagan festival on the winter solstice, set on December 25 in the Julian calendar at its institution in 45 B.C.”

9)   Thus, we have specific proof that Christians were celebrating Christmas in North Africa only 25 years after Aurelian had begun to reinstate Sol Invictus. Are we to assume that Christians would start celebrating such a feast as an accommodation to such a recent shift in pagan practice, or is it more likely that Christians either (a) had been doing so in some areas for longer, or (b) did so for other reasons?

[To Be Continued]
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« Reply #24 on: April 20, 2006, 03:19:21 PM »

Above we have the main reason to doubt that the Christians chose to celebrate Christ’s birth specifically because they wanted to adopt pagan practices — or even because they wanted to co-opt them for Christ! What other reason would they have to choose Dec. 25? Is there some specifically Christian reason?

Why yes there is! Here’s Talley’s argument:

1)   Pascha is the most important (and widely attested) early Christian feast. Many ancient Christian sources discuss its date, its significance, etc. These sources indicate that there was a wide-spread ancient Christian belief that Christ’s passion took place on March 25 (a Friday that was also the fourteenth day of the moon and, thus, the date of Jewish Passover, as well as the spring equinox).

2)   This was likely a very old Christian tradition, which borrowed heavily from a rabbinical thought. The Jews believed that the great Patriarchs had been born and died on the same day (they were quite fond of symmetry, since it indicated Providence and godliness). Anyway, a number of Christian sources, e.g. Pseudo-Chrysostom’s De solstitiis, the so-called Apostolic Constitutions, the writings of Justin Martyr, Hippolytus of Rome, Melito of Sardis’s Peri Pascha, etc., reveal that early Christians believed that since Christ had been crucified on March 25, he must also have been conceived on March 25.

3)   In other words, Talley argues that the sources indicate that the early Church celebrated March 25 as the Annunciation not because they counted backwards from Christmas, but because they had a deep-seated belief that Christ’s Passion and Incarnation were linked. God entered the world, bringing salvation, on the same day he died for the world’s salvation.

4)   Thus, a Christian theological reason for choosing Dec. 25 as the date of is birth is because it is 9 months after Christ’s death (and, thus, his conception).

Now, having said all this, we must note the obvious: The Christian Church, especially the Eastern half of the Church, did not generally celebrate Christmas until the latter part of the fourth century. Nevertheless, we can see that the roots of the celebration are earlier. Certain areas, especially North Africa and Rome itself, celebrated Christmas much earlier than the time of Chrysostom, and they probably did do so NOT because they wanted to copy or even co-opt pagan practices — which were varied and confused anyway — but because celebrating Christmas on Dec. 25 conformed to certain ancient Christian ideas about the inter-relatedness of Christ’s incarnation, death and resurrection.

This did not mean that the Christians of the fourth century were unaware of the coincidence. In fact, they used the winter solstice as an apologetic opportunity: The True Sun of Righteousness is not the physical sun (or this so-called Sol Invictus, but the Son of God, Jesus Christ. This is a typical apologetical/polemical move in the ancient world (Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, etc. all did this sort of thing) and it shows that any coincidence or tension between the Christian celebration of Dec. 25 and the pagan festivals related to the solstice was not a matter of accommodation, syncretism or influence, but rather a spring board for differentiation.
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« Reply #25 on: April 20, 2006, 03:40:35 PM »

Well, as many have said previously, some of the points he is bringing up are probably true. (e.g. Christmas, or the cross) However, if he believes them to discredit Christianity, then one has to wonder how he became a history professor.  Have you tried to talk to him in office hours?  Understand where he's comming from?  Also, is he tenured.  
Personally, I see you having two options.  1.) swallowing your pride, try to get an A and ignore his attacks.
2.) Argue, but civically (remember, no typical teacher, but especiallyprofessors like to be challenged), on his point and biases.
Either way, one advantage out of this, which you already seem to be taking advantage of is that you get to learn more of your faith and prepare for arguments later.  
Daniel

P.S. Just thought of this technique, that I've often used before.  If you want to confront it, but not in class.  Then write about it in your papers.  Many professors will allow divergence and will allow differing viewpoints IF you write a good paper.  Thus, write a darned good paper and explain your divergent views there.  That way, you get an A and get your say.  Hurray!
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« Reply #26 on: April 21, 2006, 10:09:35 AM »

As far as the Crucifixion, I don't know too much about whether the Romans used a + cross or a T shaped cross, but it's probably more likely they used a traditional cross.
I keep thinking about this one. If he claims it was a "T", ask him how they nailed the sign above his head that proclaimed him to be the "King of the Jews" in three languages.

He'll probably deny the Biblical accounts of this, which means his arguments are little more than an ill-mannered child jumping up-and-down while shouting "Didn't! Didn't! Didn't!"
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« Reply #27 on: April 21, 2006, 11:21:42 AM »

I've been quiet through Lent, but . . .

It seems this professor is using an old logic trick (argumentum ad ignorantiam - argument from ignorance) to gain the praise and attention of intellectually unprepared students.  "They picked December 25th because it is pagan."  He is making a factual statement.  He has the burden of proving that statement to be true, not you.  You have not claimed anything.  That seems to me to be a call for some sort of intellectual inquiry.  How could he know for certain that this was not simply a random date?  Say I tell you I was born on the same day as Richard Nixon.  Does that prove I have fabricated my birthday to be that day BECAUSE it was Richard Nixon's birthday?  There are only 365 days in a year.  That means there is a 1/365 chance the he WAS born on that day.  For the professor to claim it was IMPOSSIBLE for Jesus to have been born on that day, he will have to prove it.  It is his claim, not yours.

The same goes for the shape of the cross.  If he claims he knows for certain that it was one particular shape, one has to wonder how he would know this and those generations for whom it was so important got it so terribly wrong.  From whom has he received his absolute knowledge of obscure past events?  This was an obscure historical event at the time of its occurrence, as was the birth of some poor Jew in Rome, let alone Palestine.  The only people for whom the event had any meaning selected that day.  It may have been because it coincided with a pagan festival.  It may have been because it marked the time when the days begin to get longer, an event which is marked by many religions.  It may even be because that was the day on which he was born.  Unless, of course, your professor can prove that no one can be born on December 25th (and December 25th on whose calendar?) because it is a pagan holiday.

I must admit that I am somewhat entertained by the use of the argument to ignorance by many anti-Christian professors while they claim to be the greatest heroes of objectivity.

I would not make any claim to your prof.  I would only inquire as to the proofs of his claims.  If he says something is definitely true, then he must prove it definitively, and not with some degree of possibility.  As soon as he admits that it is POSSIBLE it happened another way, he has lost.
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« Reply #28 on: April 30, 2006, 12:13:55 AM »

ahhh heres an update:

After watching a 2 hour show by Simcha Jacobovici, I was pushed to go even further with my teacher. The movie is called Exodus: Decoded and it basically proves that the exodus did occur and the 10 plagues can be scientifically proven. When I brought it up between class, he says he watched it to. He also says he has nothing that discredits that the exodus actually occured. Im starting to think he only does it infront of other students to seem different. Here in Canada, to believe in the Bible is being different. The majority of my generation are atheists or "Christians" that know nothing or do not believe in God. Maybe my teacher is attempting to just fit in with them, but even so, what he is doing is still wrong.

He brought up the crusades and said "Christianity vs Islam", the christians wished to take over the holy land and kill anyone in there way. I opposed this and explained that the crusades were really "The Pope vs the Popes Enemies" I explained to him that Jews, Orthodox and many other people BESIDES Muslims were killed. I concluded it with " You can almost never judge Christianity as a whole, because differences in denominations are significant and therefor you cannot assume all denominaitons take the same stances during situations." As usual, all he did was nod nod nod without saying anything, and by the end of it all, I feel as if I was wong and he was right. Very frustrating, but I wont give up.
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« Reply #29 on: April 30, 2006, 08:39:04 AM »

or maybe you're the first person to effectively cast doubt on his assumptions.
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« Reply #30 on: April 30, 2006, 04:02:47 PM »

Sloga,
You did an superior job! Extraordinary.

Very frustrating, but I wont give up.

Yes, I understand your feelings. May God help you! And you have a heroic attitude and dedication.
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« Reply #31 on: May 04, 2006, 10:48:38 PM »

hey just a question - Is it true Jesus' real name was Joshua but when the Greeks translated into Greek they made a mistake?
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« Reply #32 on: May 05, 2006, 02:09:54 PM »

Sounds like he mobbed and beaten by a band of angry pentacostal women and has never gotten over it.

J/K.

I do agree that he seems to be beyond aethist and has some deep seeded hatred for Christianity. The best defense I have ever used against an aethist is "Wow it really takes a lot of effort to not believe in something doesn't it?"  

This is going to seem hard nosed, but as a former aethist myself I can attest that most aethists want nothing more than to prove the Christians are nothing but a bunch idiots who are following some "made up thing"  and will stop at nothing to make that clear.

Report him to a superior and pray for him.
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« Reply #33 on: May 05, 2006, 11:27:09 PM »

hey just a question - Is it true Jesus' real name was Joshua but when the Greeks translated into Greek they made a mistake?
I do believe that in Aramaic Christ's name was Yeshu'a, which is essentially the same as the Hebrew name that translates to English as Joshua.  Not only that, I understand that the names even mean the same thing, "God is salvation."

As far as the allegation that Jesus is a Greek mistranslation of Christ's real name, this is a real stretch that begs proof.  Knowing that one person can have several different "names" simply by translating his/her one name into many languages (e.g., Peter, Pedro, Pierre, Pyotr, etc.), why is it impossible for Jesus to have more than one "real name" merely because His name translates into different "names" in different languages?
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« Reply #34 on: May 06, 2006, 05:21:17 PM »

I do believe that in Aramaic Christ's name was Yeshu'a, which is essentially the same as the Hebrew name that translates to English as Joshua.  Not only that, I understand that the names even mean the same thing, "God is salvation."

As far as the allegation that Jesus is a Greek mistranslation of Christ's real name, this is a real stretch that begs proof.  Knowing that one person can have several different "names" simply by translating his/her one name into many languages (e.g., Peter, Pedro, Pierre, Pyotr, etc.), why is it impossible for Jesus to have more than one "real name" merely because His name translates into different "names" in different languages?

It makes perfect sense, but then I guess the question asked is; Can Jesus (or for ex Isus in Serbian) be translated into Hebrew?
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« Reply #35 on: May 07, 2006, 02:02:16 AM »

hey just a question - Is it true Jesus' real name was Joshua but when the Greeks translated into Greek they made a mistake?

"Jesus" in the Greek NT and "Joshua" in the Greek LXX OT are both written the same. The difference arose because English translators used the Hebrew Masoretic text for the OT and not the Greek LXX OT. The Greeks were consistent all along.

John
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« Reply #36 on: May 07, 2006, 08:50:27 AM »

My atheist History teacher constantly bashes christianity, more than Islam and Judaism by far. His main point is that Dec 25 is a pagan Gods birthday, and that is why they made christians celebrate Christmas on that date, it would be easier to assimilate the people into christianity. I have attempted to explain to him it the the celebration, the faith that matters, not the actual date. He also says that the crucifiction of Jesus is wrong because not only was it not a t but a T, but he also brings up the nail through the palm wouldnt work theory.

Is there any proof that contradicts this? Or am I stuck with listening to his Bible bashing?

God save us all...
I'm amazed your teacher didn't suggest that 'cause we worship on SUNday we're all pagans
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« Reply #37 on: May 08, 2006, 01:10:02 PM »

I'm amazed your teacher didn't suggest that 'cause we worship on SUNday we're all pagans
Maybe that's because a quasi-Christian sect (the SDA's) has already leveled that accusation against the Roman Catholic Church.
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