“guide me in Your true way and teach me, for You are Hashem, my deliverer; it is You I look to at all times.” Psalms 25:5 (The Israel Bible™)
Particularly for Christians who are reconnecting to the Hebraic roots of their faith, traditional celebrations of Christmas have begun to raise knotty questions about the lack of a scriptural basis for the holiday, as well as its seemingly pagan origins. Ever-increasing numbers of Christians are dropping the traditional celebrations associated with Christmas.
Breaking Israel News spoke with Jon Sherman, president of 119 Ministries, and Kayte and Luke Abaffy of Align The Stars (ATS) Media about their forthcoming documentary The Christmas Question, which explores the history and development of Christmas.
Just how widespread is the trend away from Christmas among Christians today? Sherman told Breaking Israel News, “Although celebrating Christmas is still all but assumed in most evangelical circles today, the occurrence of people in the faith beginning to question Christmas is global, and the magnitude is growing exponentially.
“As many in the faith around the world have begun to question the legitimacy and origins of Christmas, we chose a storytelling, documentary format, saturated with subject matter experts and scholars, to test this Christian monument we call Christmas against history and the Biblical faith. We have been working on this project for just over two years.
“The target audience for The Christmas Question is anyone in the Biblical faith that is open to really questioning not only the validity of Christmas but whether Christmas can even be compatible with the exercising of our faith.”
The Christmas Question is a partnership between 119 Ministries and ATS Media. ATS Media produced the documentary The Way, whose tagline is “Leaving Churchianity to live like the Savior.”
Realizing that “the scope and charter of the project was beyond the bandwidth of 119’s small team,” Sherman explained that 119 Ministries decided “to collaborate with ATS Media, not only because of their expertise evidenced in the production of The Way documentary but also because of their shared faith and commitment to the goals of the project.”
The team believes that “Anyone interested in the history of the most popular holiday in the world will enjoy The Christmas Question. A large part of the film is an in-depth history of the holiday.
“The more niche audience is any [Christian] who wants to learn where Christmas traditions came from and to explore whether celebrating [Christmas] is actually compatible with the truths outlined in Scripture.”
The team consulted with more than a dozen subject matter experts, men and women Bible scholars and experts in early Christian history, in paganism and in the history of Christmas specifically. Sherman said the film will “[help] our audience to test Christmas against history and the Biblical faith.” The goal of the film is, “to let the audience decide whether Christmas passes the test of worshiping our Creator in both spirit and truth.”
Part of the film follows a few Christians through the process of “their examination of Christmas and reactions to what they find,” Sherman explained. As the film progresses, some of them are filmed sharing “about their transition from celebrating Christmas to celebrating the holidays of the Bible found in Leviticus 23.”
These are the set times of Hashem, the sacred occasions, which you shall celebrate each at its appointed time: Leviticus 23:4
Regarding the controversial nature of the inquiry, Sherman explained that, “Our goal is to be a light, not to burn bridges. The screenplay for this film was constructed knowing that this is a sensitive subject for many. Our goal was to be fair and balanced regarding the content and presentation, yet also be firm and clear as it relates to the film’s conclusion.
“For those that might offer some objections or concerns to 119 Ministries, all we can do is respond in love and kindness, and point to the revealed historical concerns about Christmas as compared to the Scriptures.”
The Christmas Question will be available to screen for free on YouTube beginning on December 19, 2019. The free screening is made possible by a donor to 119 Ministries. For those who want to deepen their investigation into the questions raised by the film, the team has added additional footage to the DVDs and digital download versions.
Kayte Abaffy from ATS Media noted that, “local groups or individuals interested in hosting free screenings of the documentary can do so in their city, with the support of free resources we provide for their event. For select screenings, the team behind the film will greet the audience prior to the viewing, via video chat.”
Sherman emphasized that, “Our faith is about a relationship with and love for the One who made us, and the purpose of our existence is to glorify God in all that we do. With that in mind, the debate about Christmas matters and the origins of Christmas are worth exploring.”
In addition, he noted that, “Jewish audiences may be interested to hear about the wave of Christians desiring to keep the feasts of Leviticus.”