Should Christians have Christmas trees?

Christians and Christmas TreesJohn MacArthur

December 17, 2009

As the Christmas Season approaches, questions like this sometimes arise. Like everything in life, it is important to approach these issues with biblical discernment.

In this case, we see nothing wrong with the traditional Christmas tree. However, some have taught that it’s wrong for anyone to have a Christmas tree in their home. But are their reasons valid? We don’t think so. Let’s look at the two most common objections people make against having a Christmas tree.

First, some object on the basis that Christmas trees have pagan origins. It is believed that Boniface, English missionary to Germany in the eighth century, instituted the first Christmas tree. He supposedly replaced sacrifices to the god Odin’s sacred oak with a fir tree adorned in tribute to Christ. But certain other accounts claim that Martin Luther introduced the Christmas tree lighted with candles. Based on that information you could say the Christmas tree has a distinguished Christian pedigree.

However, even if a pagan background were clearly established, that wouldn’t necessarily mean we could not enjoy the use of a Christmas tree. Perhaps the following analogy will help.

During World War II the American military used some remote South Pacific islands for temporary landing strips and supply depots. Prior to that time the indigenous tribal people had never seen modern technology up close. Large cargo planes swooped in filled with an array of material goods, and for the first time the islanders saw cigarette lighters (which they deemed to be miraculous), jeeps, refrigerators, radios, power tools, and many varieties of food.

When the war was over, the islanders concluded that the men who brought cargo were gods, so they began building shrines to the cargo gods. They hoped the cargo gods would return with more goods.

Most people do not even know about this religious superstition. Similarly, few know anything about the worship of trees. When a child pulls a large present out from under the Christmas tree and unwraps a large model cargo plane, no one views that object as an idol. Nor do we view the Christmas tree to be some kind of gift god. We understand the difference between a toy and an idol just as clearly as we understand the difference between an idol and a Christmas tree. We see no valid reason to make any connection between Christmas trees and wooden idols or the worship of trees. Those who insist on making such associations should take note of the warnings in Scripture against judging one another in doubtful things (see Romans 14 & 1 Corinthians 10:23-33).

Christians and Christmas TreesAnother common objection is the claim that Christmas trees are prohibited in Scripture. Jeremiah 10 is commonly used to support this viewpoint. But a closer look at the passage will show that it has nothing to do with Christmas trees and everything to do with idol worship. Verse eight says, “A wooden idol is a worthless doctrine.”

Idol worship was a clear violation of the Ten Commandments. Exodus 20:3-6 says, “You shall have no other gods before Me. 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; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”

There is no connection between the worship of idols and the use of Christmas trees. We should not be anxious about baseless arguments against Christmas decorations. Rather, we should be focused on the Christ of Christmas and giving all diligence to remembering the real reason for the season.

Source :


John MacArthur – Is Celebrating Christmas Inherently Sinful or Dangerous for a Christian Family?

7 thoughts on “Should Christians have Christmas trees?

  1. Although I do not have any particular thoughts on whether a Christian should or should not have a Christmas tree, I do think this article by John MacArthur is particularly un-MacArthurian. To me, a Christian assembling a Christmas tree can be equated to a Christian listening to (good, clean) rock music, reading a secular newspaper, building a greenhouse, slaughtering chickens or producing racing cars for a living. It is remarkably unrelated to a Christian’s faith and irrelevant to their salvific position. It is in the heart, within the soul, that God judges the individual’s love for the Son.

    I read this article a while ago and remember wondering why John approved at all, in this instance, of the acquired post-apostolic, essentially Roman tradition of a “Christmas” celebration, never mind the adorned tree to accompany an unbiblically dated festival. MacArthur’s refutation of the Roman church and the papacy is impeccably researched and presented, therefore I find it unusual that he would speak so favourably of a tradition, which at best, is of dubious origin.

    Celebrating the birth of Christ is undeniably a Christian’s duty. Doing so with the aid of pagan props is not, and it is very uncharacteristic of John’s unmistakable biblically correct ministry to condone it. I think his patriotism to the traditions of the mighty USA might have affected his pronunciation on this issue. Whether Boniface or Luther put up a Christmas tree is completely irrelevant, they were not necessarily biblically correct in their actions.

    I love John MacArthur’s ministry. I love the sights, lights, compassion and atmosphere of the traditional Christmas, and I love what it symbolizes. I do not agree with his take on the Christmas tree having a distinguished Christian pedigree.


  2. Pity we get so judgmental of a man of God by becoming so narrow minded about our beliefs That why such large number of unsaved souls are not saved because we do not seize every opportunity to tell them about the GIFT of Salvation


  3. I agree with John MacArthur. It is an opportunity of sharing the gospel. It’s a reality that will not go away and to negate it is to lose the opportunity.


  4. What does Christmas trees, and gift exchanges, and the spirit of Christmas mean to me as a believer? It doesn’t matter what it means to me. It DOES matter what it mean to YHVH, Y’eshua, and The Ruach Ha Kodesh and because scripture is living and sharper than any two edge sword…then it appears evident that The Creator of The Universe Hates it when those that are called by his name become idolaters. Read the scriptures. Exodus 20 is just for starters. YHVH will not share His glory with any other gods. There was a time when I did not know how far reaching in my life the idol worship (whore-ship) was. It was not until Passover 2011 that His Truth became evident in my life. That year Y’eshusa delivered me from evil spirits –one of which was The spirit of christmas. You can call me crazy and choose not to believe me…but I tell you the truth. The manifestation was dramatic and horrible. The deliverance was remarkable. Most of all Yeshua’s love was overwhelming and Triumphant! Even though man put the scriptures together to make the Bible as we know it…I believe that YHVH still moves and breaths and that as Ephesians 6:12 says “For we are not struggling against human beings, but against the rulers, authorities, and cosmic powers governing this darkness, against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm.” “Truth or Tradition” a message given by Jim Staley is just one resource that I would recommend to those seeking YHVH’s truth about this matter. It doesn’t matter what it means to you or me but it does matter what it means to The Creator of The Universe.

    Blessings & Shalom-


  5. I’ve wondered about this issue many times, esp. because Christ is replaced with Santa (good gifts come from “Santa”, not the Father or Christ) and Santa is irrevocably associated with presents under the tree. Christians could certainly do something about this though without becoming disapproving fuddy duddies. What’s wrong with having a manger and baby representing Jesus instead of a Christmas tree? The gift giving custom is supposed to be related to the Magi bringing gifts from afar to Christ, so once possibility is to do the same, placing gifts under and in the manger. Now that’s an opportunity to talk about Christ. Especially if you have children, what a wonderful opportunity to weave thankfulness and humble gratitude with generous and thoughtful blessing of others, as a means to honor Jesus for His ultimate gift. I read once of one family that gave one store bought gift but all the others had to be something that each family member took the time to hand make especially for the person it was intended for. They saw doing it this way as an antidote to the crass commercialism and material greed this “retail holiday” is now all about. In addition, each act of obedience or kindness to others in the home allowed the child to fill the manger with one straw until the bed for the baby Jesus was ready. It was every bit as much full of awe, and expectation as the worldly cheap copy. I don’t know that having a tree is necessarily bad, but I’d remove all the “santa and reindeer” junk and use it to glorify God, not pagan retail commercialism. It was God that created pine trees with their wonderful smell. Regardless of what pagans did with this piece of creation, there’s no reason we can’t capture it back and use it to display God’s glory. Santa seems intended by the enemy to steal the focus off of Christ and rob God of glory by giving the credit to an imaginary figure loosely based on varies historical people and happenings. Sometimes it helps to be creative and initiate instead of merely react and disapprove.


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