he General Overseer of the Deeper Christian Life Ministry, Pastor W. F. Kumuyi recently warned members of his church against celebrating Christmas because according to the respected pastor and G.O, Christmas is 'idolatrous and unscriptural'. Kumuyi further declared that celebrating Christmas is going back from the 'commandments of Jesus Christ' although without any specificity of the very commandment celebrants have been violating.
The General Overseer traced the idolatrous background of Christmas to what he called the 'idolatry Babylon' saying that Christmas Carol is not found in the Acts of the Apostles or in the early church. In view of these, he does not believe in or celebrate Christmas. Kumuyi threatened sanction against his church leaders who embrace Christmas while encouraging other believers to forget about the world wide most celebrated day - December 25. The bottom line, Pastor Kumuyi wants his Church members and other believers not to celebrate Christmas. For his church members who will flout his order, they can seek their God elsewhere.
The kernel of the thesis of Pastor Kumuyi, is that Christmas is 'idolatrous and unscriptural'. This cannot and should not be dismissed without serious in depth examinations; otherwise, we will just end up throwing out the baby and the bath water. But one thing seems to be clear, Pastor Kumuyi may not have intended his sermon for public consumption, which would have been a pastoral error. Otherwise, he would have beamed more light into some very deem areas of his message. For instance, he didn't say with proof or biblical support, or citation of which commandment of Jesus the celebration of Christmas has been breaching for centuries all over the world.
Again, with a pastoral finality he declared celebrating Christmas as 'unscriptural' without telling the congregation which Book, chapter or verse of the scripture the world wide celebration has rubbished. However, from my academic, theological and pastoral view, the origin of Christmas has nothing to do with 'idolatry of the mystery of Babylon' whatever that may mean, as postulated by Pastor Kumuyi. But for certainty, the celebration of Christmas has a Roman origin.
On January 9, 2007, the Nigeriaworld.com published a piece titled "The Fallacies of Christmas", in which this writer traced the historical origin of Christmas. While I don't intend to reprint the said article here, suffice it to cull some parts that are very germane to this discussion, especially the origin of Christmas.
It all started with the self-conversion of Emperor Constantine I the Great (272 - 337) who became the first Christian Roman Emperor. He declared Christianity as the state religion and helped in no small measure as an unofficial Evangelist who spread the growth of Christianity in Europe and the rest of the world of his days. Emperor Constantine I was also instrumental to the Milan Edit of 313, which officially recognized Christianity and free Christians from persecution, torture and death.
It was also during his reign that the Council of Nicaea of 325 approved many major doctrinal decisions about Christian worship. A good example is the Decree of March 7, 321 which adopted Sunday as the official day of rest and worship for the Christendom. Sunday was an idolatry day for the worship of the sun god referred to as 'dies solis' or the day of the sun god.
I will agree with Pastor Kumuyi that December 25 was never recorded in the Bible as the Birthday of the Lord Jesus Christ, the day was never celebrated as Christmas by Jesus himself or the Apostles and not even by the Council of Jerusalem or the early Church. December 25th, historically was the day the Romans celebrated the climax of the festival marking the rebirth of the 'Unconquerable sun god' or what was called 'Dies Natalis Solis Invicti', which celebrated the time of the year when the day began to be longer than the night in the winter season. The festival normally started on December 22 and ended on December 25th.
The conversion of Emperor Constantine I to Christianity and the declaration of Christianity as the state religion, provided a very easy way of converting December 25, which was the day of celebration of the sun god to the celebration of the Son of God (Jesus Christ). Any Christian who today does not see Jesus as the Son of God may find it unholy, unscriptural and idolatry to evangelize and convert pagans and their idolatry worship of the sun god to Christianity and the worship of the Son of God, Jesus the Christ. So, it was merely swopping the worship of sun of god to the worshipping of the Son of God to accommodate the new converts. This idolatry worship co-existed with Christianity until February 390 when it was officially abolished and Christianity remained the sole official religion.
Is Christmas originally a Christian celebration or idolatry worship? From the evidence and result of my research, Christmas was originally a Christian celebration started during the time Emperor Constantine I converted to Christianity, some idolatry Romans, their culture and tradition. Is this scriptural? Yes, because Jesus in his farewell Great Commandment, said: Go into the world and make disciples (followers) of me, baptize them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost……and I will be with you till the end of ages (Matthew 28:18-20). Jesus was here commanding the eleven disciples. Surely, he was not asking them to convert those who were already believers but he was sending them to the idolatry world. After all, Jesus came to save the sinners and no the righteous.
Is December 25th the actual date of birth of Jesus. I don't know and most probably not. But for God's sake to me and the world of sins he came to save, it is not the actual date that matters BUT that Jesus came and was born to save us from our sins. The Carol very much hated and described unscriptural by Pastor Kumuyi has a scriptural origin from the day Jesus was born. Dr. Luke the Gospeller recorded that by the time Jesus was born, a company of angels came down from heaven praising God (singing) saying: Glory to God in highest and on earth peace to men, on whom his favor rests (Luke 2:13-14). If the angels can sing and celebrate the birth of Jesus on the day he was born, why not Christian believers? Do the church members of Pastor Kumuyi not celebrate and sing on his birthdays? I am aware that many churches today celebrate their pastors' birthday or Pastors Appreciation day. If pastors can be appreciated and their birthdays celebrated why not Jesus the founder and owner of his Church?
The official, holy and scriptural day of rest and worship from God is Saturday, which the Jews still see and respect as their day of rest and worship (Sabbath) till today. Even Christians including members of the Deeper Life in Israel today don't worship on Sunday but Saturday. Here in Nigeria, for Pastor Kumuyi and other Christian believers, the day of rest and worship is Sunday, the first day of the week.
But we can see from the above that Sunday is originally the day of the worship of the sun god, called 'dies solis' or sun day or the day of the sun until March 7, 321 when by Decree, it was change to Sunday and declared the day of rest and worship by Emperor Constantine I. Is Pastor Kumuyi and thousands of church members in Nigeria resting and worshiping on Sunday? I leave the answer to them and the readers. Then, does resting and worshipping on Sunday has an idolatry color? Yes but does that make it idolatry and ungodly? Heck No. Why is Pastor Kumuyi organizing his church annual convention during Christmas holidays, if he so hates Christmas, knowing full well that Christmas periods are usually jam-parked with festivities and other activities all over the world.
Pastor Kumuyi is not unknown to doctrinal errors in the recent past. Just like yesterday, it was, when it was almost a sacrilege for any member of the church to watch TV let alone own one. I remember a church member who did not own the Box of Sin (Apoti Ese) as the TV was euphemistically called then but who during a very crucial soccer match between the Nigerian Green Eagles and Tunisia, went to another apartment to watch his darling team play on the TV. Today, Pastor Kumuyi's sermons, preaching and messages are beamed through Satellite Televisions to his church branches throughout Nigeria. That is the depth of the doctrinal error the church members have been exposed. The old Box of Sin has since become the Box for Evangelism and Preaching the Gospel.
Not too long, Pastor Kumuyi decreed that no woman in his church should wear a pant or trousers. I have heard this preached severally also by some church leaders citing the Book of Leviticus which forbade a woman from wearing a man's dress. Though this is not the subject matter of this write up, yet let me quickly state that the design and making of a woman's trouser or pant or shirt or coat is not the same as the design and making of those for men. As a matter fact, they are sold separately in the women section of a garment store. I am sure Pastor Kumuyi cannot be asking a woman to wear just a blouse and skirt in the Windy City of Chicago on a freezing winter day with a twenty degree below zero temperature.
The intention of the scripture and the Jewish law about dressing, is to forbid a woman from picking up the dress of her husband and wearing them. Even if the Jewish law about dressing is upheld by Pastor Kumuyi and others, why were they not obeying the same Jewish law, which forbid eating of meat and dairy food (milk, cheese, others) together or even using the same plate or cutleries or keeping them together? Just to mention one in a thousand of such laws from which our church leaders are merely cherry picking or picking the ones they like.
The same doctrinal taboos on women dresses have spread to not wearing of earrings, necklace, not taking care of their hairs in the modern ways and always covering their hairs and ears while in the church. It was not what Adam and Eve wore or did not wear that resulted into their sin and the Fall of Man but what they ate. In their shame and fear, they covered themselves with fig leaves but God in his holiness, mercy and wondrous love upgraded their covering to a better quality of animal skin in spite of their sin and inequities. Why are these set of archaic and fanatical believers still not dressing in animal skins today because that was what God provided for Adam and Eve?
A quick reminder. Man, especially G.Os, Bishops and pastors, look at the outward appearance but the LORD God looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). Jesus came to preach the same gospel about men washing and cleaning the outside of the cup and the dishes while the inside is filled with filth like greed and self-indulgences. Blind Pharisees, Jesus said, first clean the inside of the cup and the dishes and then the inside will be cleaned (Matthew 23: 25-26).
Talking about the Church trying to be like Jesus by doing only what Jesus commanded the Church to do. Will Pastor Kumuyi or any other General Overseer or Bishop or Pastor quote for me the Book, Chapter and verse of the Bible passage where Jesus or the Apostles or the early Church, taught Christians to contribute ten percent (10%) of their earnings as tithe. And further contribute the first salary of the year's income as 'First Fruit' or contribute another reasonable amount of money as 'Offering' in the Church.
I am not unaware of the rituals of tithes and offering on the pages of the Old Testament scriptures (from Genesis to Malachi), specifically required of the Jews or Hebrews or Israelites who were never Christians and who still reject Jesus till today. As a matter of historical and biblical facts, no Jew or Israelite tithed after the destruction of the Temple in AD 70. Today, check it out, no Jew or Israelite, in the Holy Land or in Diaspora, to whom God gave the specific and direct ordinance of tithe and offering, practice or do it again. But today, when many church leaders can no longer recite the Ten Commandments or the Lord's Prayer correctly, they know Malachi 3:10 like the palms of their hands. LORD have mercy.
Is tithe and offering scriptural? Yes, without any doubt but not required of Christians as there is no Christian scripture from the Book of Matthew to Revelation that provide any doctrinal teaching by Jesus or his disciples to their followers. The teaching of Jesus the Master is exemplified in Luke 6:38 where we are taught to 'give and it shall be given to us, good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over…for it is the same measure that will be used for us.
Then Paul, the Great Apostle to the Gentiles expand the teaching of Jesus in his second letter to the Corinthians. He said, each Christian should give what he has decide in his heart not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. For if the willingness to give is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has and not according to what he does not have (2 Cor.9:7, 8:12).
The examples above about tithes and offering are not found in the Christian scriptures, but there are many teaching on giving according to Jesus, the apostles and the early Church, which Christians should follow today. Unfortunately, what we find in churches today is Cherry Picking of whatever is convenient to the founders and leaders of churches and not following the WAY, which is Jesus.
On offering today in churches, I wonder why some churches and their members still see the need for any other kind of offering after the once and for all time offering of Jesus the Christ who is the ultimate offering for the world on the altar of Calvary. The requirements for offering belong to the ordinances in the Book of Leviticus for the Jews and not Christians. What is the need for Christian offerings, which in the Old Testament included burnt offering, grain offering, sin offering, and guilt offering among many others (See Leviticus Chapters 1-5)? If we may ask, which of these scriptural offerings is taken in the Church today? Maybe Money offering.
If Pastor Kumuyi so hates Christmas in such a way as banning his church members from its celebration and threatening excommunication of leaders who disobey, why did he go to the Akwa Ibom State Christmas Carol Night celebration, which in the past six years has been the pet of the state Governor Akpabio as the 'chief preacher'; also there with him are other men of God like Pastor Enoch Adeboye and Arch-Bishop Idem Ikon. At the Christmas celebration many local and international award winning gospel artistes like Israel Houghton, Lionel Perterson, Folake Umosen and many others were there praising God like the Angels did on the day Jesus was born.
So, the nagging questions remain: Is Pastor Kumuyi 'just saying what he feels or making a doctrinal statement'? Is he saying what he means or not meaning what he says? Above all, did he speak for God or for himself and hence calling for attention?