Christmas trees have a rich, albeit somewhat controversial history. Ace Collins, author of “Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas,” tells CBN that centuries ago, missionaries to the Vikings took their use of trees for pagan rituals and transformed them into symbols of everlasting life through Christ. Martin Luther also used the Christmas tree to point his children to Christ.
However some Christians believe it’s wrong to use Christmas trees, citing a passage in Jeremiah chapter 10 that talks about the cutting of trees and futile customs of the Gentiles.
Still, most Biblical scholars and pastors say the verses do not refer to the modern tradition of Christmas trees and they support the use of trees and other Christmas decorations.
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association says that although the passage condemns idolatry it does not condemn Christmas trees. It refers to a time in history when God’s people were following the heathen and cutting down trees in order to shape the wood into idols and then worship them. “We do not believe it is unbiblical to have a Christmas tree lighted and decorated in the home or the church,” says the website.
Pastor and author John MacArthur notes another common objection to Christians using Christmas trees: their pagan origins. Many early Christians disagreed with the early Romans using evergreen branches to decorate their homes during winter festivals.
However, there’s other accounts that dispute the pagan origins. MacArthur notes claims that Martin Luther introduced the Christmas tree lighted with candles. But MacArthur believes, even if the pagan background of the trees is true, that doesn’t mean Christians today should not enjoy trees. Christmas trees are not idols he says and we do not worship them.
“There is no connection between the worship of idols and the use of Christmas trees,” he says, “we should not be anxious about baseless arguements 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.”