"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: Lutheran Christmas Tree

Monday, December 13, 2004

Lutheran Christmas Tree

I've never understood the OALC ban on Christmas trees. So it amused me to read recently that is was Luther (according to legend) who brought us the lighted Christmas tree.

"Luther was returning home one wintry night when he saw the stars twinkling in the sky through the tree branches. Luther was amazed by the sight, and when he arrived home, he was eager to tell his family about it. To help them understand, he went to the woods and cut down a small fir tree. Luther brought it indoors and decorated it with candles, which represented the stars he had seen."


  1. I was told the ban on Christmas tree's was inspired or mandated by the OALC interpretation of Jeremiah 10:1-5.

  2. That passage refers to idol worship. I don't know anyone worshiping a tree or other decoration. That is taken out of context like so much else in OALC.

  3. ....hence the key phrase "the OALC interpretation of.."

  4. That passage is definitely referring to idols (if you take it in context). It is not referring to Christmas trees, since Christmas hadn't even happened yet, and wouldn't happen for hundreds of years.
    What is fascinating is that a OALC preacher told us that they don't go by the Old Testament, except that it is a prophecy of things to come. (That was when we asked him about the ban on instruments, in comparison to the Psalms and particularly Psalm 150.) Apparently the exception to that is if they can take a verse out of context, twist it beyond comprehension, and use it to ban something as special as a Christmas tree (which, as far as I'm concerned, creates a perfect atmosphere for celebrating and learning about the birth of Christ and worshipping Him).
    And how and why are Christmas lights a sin? And how is it okay to go pay money and drive through and look at the zoo lights but never okay to put them on your home?

  5. . . . . and why is it okay for the OALC to sing hymns written by dead-faith composers who used musical instruments?

  6. I was raised in the Apostolic Lutheran Church, and most of these folks had Christmas trees. However there were a few hold-outs who believed them pagan or idolatrous, mostly in the older generation.

    I guess we were just a bunch of liberals compared to the OALC. ;-)

  7. I guess I don't understand..if Jeremiah says " do not be as the heathens who take a tree out of the forest, fasten it upright with nails and cover it with silver and gold" etc ...how can you so easily reject what it says and say it only refers to idols?

  8. Each verse of Scripture needs to be taken in context. Legalism happens when you take any verse out of the context of a loving God of the Bible whose main concern is what is in the heart. Out of the heart flow things like idolatry; anything can become an idol.
    Jeremiah 10:1-5 reads:

    Jeremiah 10
    God and Idols
    1 Hear what the LORD says to you, O house of Israel. 2 This is what the LORD says:

    "Do not learn the ways of the nations

    or be terrified by signs in the sky,

    though the nations are terrified by them.

    3 For the customs of the peoples are worthless;

    they cut a tree out of the forest,

    and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel.

    4 They adorn it with silver and gold;

    they fasten it with hammer and nails

    so it will not totter.

    5 Like a scarecrow in a melon patch,

    their idols cannot speak;

    they must be carried

    because they cannot walk.

    Do not fear them;

    they can do no harm

    nor can they do any good."

    If you read this passage in the context of who Jeremiah was warning (the people of Israel) and their constant hang-up (they took on the pagan idols of their culture), there is no question it is referring to idols, which were carved from wood and decked up, and worshipped. As I mentioned earlier, it was not about Christmas trees; they weren't invented until much later. If it was indeed a ban on Christmas trees, surely it would have been reiterated SOMEWHERE else in the Bible.
    A doctrine cannot hang on a single verse.
    Love because God came in the flesh, as a tiny baby in a manger 2000 years ago.

  9. Exoalc could not have explained it better. Wow.

  10. Thanks for that explanation, exoalc.