Image: Aurelius Augustinus Hipponensis, also known as Augustine of Hippo, also known as Saint Augustine (354-430 A.D.)
Kelli Cook, Publisher, The Golden Hammer
As we move into one of the most important and celebrated days of the year, the birth of Jesus Christ, Christmas, it’s interesting to understand the reason church leaders determined December 25 as the date.
Those individuals who wish to denigrate Christianity and try to turn the nativity into a myth have argued that December 25 is the winter solstice, the time when the Earth has its greatest winter tilt away from the Sun, was the time for a pagan festival. In reality, the December 25 has far greater theological ground than non-believers may wish.
In the Old Testament Book of Malachi, the prophet said, “Unto you shall the sun of righteousness arise, and healing is in his wings.” (Malachi 4:2). Christian theologians link this prophesy to Jesus Christ who arose and healed us for our sins.”
Aurelius Augustinus Hipponensis, also known as Saint Augustine of Hippo, said in a sermon before 400 A.D., “”Hence it is that He was born on the day which is the shortest in our earthly reckoning and from which subsequent days begin to increase in length. He, therefore, who bent low and lifted us up chose the shortest day, yet the one whence light begins to increase.” In other words, Jesus came to the Earth on the shortest day but he gave us light which began to increase during his life and upon his death.
Clearly, well before Saint Augustine’s tragic life ended in 430 A.D., Christians observed the birth of Jesus on December 25 in accord with Scriptural prophesy and later Christian theology.
In 1733, Sir Isaac Newton, arguably the greatest mathematician who ever lived (and certainly my favorite!), wrote in “Observations on the Prophecies of Daniel, and the Apocalypse of St. John, “A sun connection is possible [to the attributed date of Jesus’ birth] because Christians consider Jesus to be the ‘Sun of righteousness’ prophesied in Malachi 4:2: ‘But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.'”
The shortest day of the year in the Gregorian calendar by which we live was actually December 22 this year. Nevertheless, there is no question that the winter solstice and December 25 remained closely tied together as the birth day of Jesus Christ.