October 18, 2017

Why I Don’t Participate in the ‘Christmas Wars’

1239964_christmas_world_ball2Today’s post is from guest blogger Pat K from New Reformation Press.

He rules the world with grace and truth,
And makes the Nations prove
The glories of His righteousness
And wonders of His love…

My Pastor always tells us to pay close attention to old hymns because you can find some great theology in them. Such is the case with “Joy to the World.” This particular verse of this hymn is the reason I don’t participate in the ‘Christmas Wars’ and why you will never hear me decrying the commercialization of the Christmas holiday. Christmas as we celebrate it is the ultimate example of what this verse teaches.

Think about it for a minute. Christ’s dominion is such that pagan holidays have been gutted of their original meaning and filled with the things of Christ. So much so that the original pagan meanings have all but disappeared from our culture, and would be entirely forgotten, except for a handful of atheists who desperately try to use their origins in a pathetic attempt to delegitimize the holiday. (Note that there is evidence, and good evidence, that the traditional date for Christmas is not pagan in origin, but that is an entirely other subject.)

You may be saying to yourself, “Well, our culture has forgotten the Christian meanings, too.” I say not entirely. Even then, Christ makes the Nations prove the glories of His righteousness and the wonders of His love.

The cathedrals of commerce, our shopping malls and grocery stores, play Christmas music for almost a month before Christmas. Shoppers are literally drenched with the praises of Christ while they engage in what amounts to preparation for extravagantly sacrificial giving to friends and family. Believers and unbelievers alike, once a year, spend what many people consider far too much, just to give it away. This in turn creates a huge wave of cash that washes around the globe creating jobs that allow people in other countries to buy food and clothing. I heard recently that most retail outlets don’t turn a profit until Black Friday, the first day of the Christmas shopping season. God teaches us about giving and provides daily bread for millions. All this because the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

Workaholics and greedy businesses on this one day are forced to take a Sabbath rest. (I believe that this is a foretaste of that ‘every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess’ thing mentioned in Scripture.) For some large businesses, this is the only day that they are closed all year.

Families and friends are given a day to be together and enjoy each other.

The Scripture says “And from His fullness we have all received grace upon grace.” By the power of the Word all this is accomplished at Christmas.

I’m not bothered when people or businesses talk about “Happy Holidays.” We all know which holiday they are referring to. Christmas is the 800 pound gorilla on the holiday block. A Jewish friend told me that Hannukah was on par with St. Patrick’s Day. Kwanzaa is in its holiday infancy and it will take a few hundred years (if the Lord should tarry) to see if it has any legs.

I can hear the protests—“These people aren’t Christians, are materialistic, are doing it for selfish reasons, don’t understand the true meaning”, etc, etc. These things are true. Let me paraphrase the patriarch Joseph. He told his brothers that they had meant it for evil (when they sold him into bondage) but God had meant it for good. Concerning Christmas, we mean these things for whatever reason we mean them, but God means them for good. For us and for our neighbors.

Every year I marvel that the whole world can’t help but participate in the celebration of the Incarnation. I am also humbled by the mighty power of the Word that brings this to pass.

Truly it is “Joy to the World.”

Comments

  1. Amen and amen. To Him be all glory, and power, and dominion forever.

  2. Awesome post!

  3. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    Back when he was hosting KBRT’s afternoon talk show in the Eighties, Rich Buhler said “You can tell it’s October when you start getting all the ‘Should Christians do Halloween’ calls.”

    Nowadays you can tell it’s December when all the Christian “Take Back Christmas” activists declare the annual “War on Christmas” fight.

    • I would rephrase…. Nowadays you can tell it’s OCTOBERwhen all the Christian “Take Back Christmas” activists declare the annual “War on Christmas” fight.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Whatever…

        You can tell it’s October when all the “Is Halloween Satanic?” shtick kicks off.

        You can tell it’s December when the Christmas Wars kick off.

  4. Awesome! This puts a smile on my face this morning.

  5. How about “Up on the housetop click, click, click” and “Frosty the Snowman”

    • All I’m saying is in the song “Up On the Housetop”, the toys of a whip and hammer and tacks are gonna get the Safe Toys groups in a real tizzy.

  6. SearchingAnglican says:

    Wow, that was an incredible post, Pat K! Thanks for giving me a new and refreshing perspective on the Reason for the Season.

  7. I’m not sure I’m in agreement here.

    Being piped Christmas music while shopping and getting the day off? I do like the author’s tendency to look at the “glass half full” side of things, but I also dislike to the extreme the suggestion that this stuff furthers the glory & kingdom of God in this life, on this earth. We shouldn’t be cheering for points on the board that show that Christianity is a culture celebrated by our country.

    All kinds of alarm bells went off in my head, and I’m not well versed enough in theologispeak to intimate them. Please talk some sense in to me and tell me where I’m off track. Because other than the general positive attitude that came across in the post, I’m not sure I agree with much else.

    • Or is this some brilliant satire that I’m just too slow to get? 🙂

    • Dave, It is not a satire piece. I’ll elaborate more later, but I have to go to work right now.

      Peace

      • Eagerly awaiting, Patrick. Thanks for following up!

        • Dave,

          God sends rain on the just and the unjust. Jesus says to bless those who curse you “that you may be sons of your Heavenly Father.” James says every good gift comes down from the Father above. The point of my essay is that because God came in the flesh, the whole world ends up tacitly acknowledging this fact every year at Christmas. We get so wound up thinking that “people aren’t celebrating/worshipping/keeping Christ in Christmas”properly ,God is somehow not in control, or that the whole creation quits glorifying Him. My point is that He makes even the non believers, those who are ignorant or mistaken, and those who are not paying attention give a type of homage to His Son through having to deal with Christmas. Even more than that, He blesses an often unbelieving and ungrateful world through the celebration of Christmas.

          .

          • Fran Decker says:

            when I read this Phil 1:18 came to mind immediately

            But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice

            Thanks Pat for giving me a brand new slant on things

          • Patrick,

            Thanks for the follow up. I’m stuck at DFW for quite a few hours so will give this some serious consideration and re-reads– your words are a 180 (or a 120?) from the stance I’ve taken– even though my stance isn’t “arrrrgh Christ in Christmas” angst either.

            Have a blessed Christmas.

    • Look at it this way. If a commercial on the Television is just horrible, then you remember it. You tell people about it, that it was horrible. Even if they don’t believe in Jesus, people are still saying Merry Christmas.

      When I was in high school economics, we were advised that standard practice in advertising (what that had to do with econ is beyond me) is to NOT mention your competitor’s name or product. Every mention of the enemy just alerts people to his presence. (there’s a spiritual truth in there, too).

      So… when people are doing Christmasy things, they cannot help but think “Christmas”. Even if they don’t mean it. It’s subtle, but they are still doing the things of God, even if they don’t have His heart.

      • My take is that people may or may not be doing the things of God regardless of whether the word “Christmas” or “Christ’ appears anywhere. If everyone forgot Christmas entirely next year, the season wouldn’t really have much less to do with him than it did before. I don’t see how his name is glorified or his work is done when someone takes part in a set of cultural addictions in which the word “Christ” occasionally appears. I see you’re illustration, Derek, but the difference is that people consume a product, and the more consumption, the better for the one selling the product. But God isn’t a product that needs a clever marketing scheme, He demands that people love him. If there’s no substance to the attention paid him, I don’t see anyone particularly more inclined to do this. If Christmas as it is were evacuated of all references to God or Jesus next year, I don’t see how his cause would suffer at all. If people forgot Christ altogether, but took to genuine sacrificial love(I don’t see this happening) I think that would be something to work with. Not ideal, certainly.

        A succinct way to put it might be: Is it better to legitimize heresy or atrocity by sticking Jesus’ name to it, or not to mention him at all? I’m inclined to think the latter.

        • I’m with you, Nate. We have lots of fun on December 25, but I began long ago to “put Christ OUT of Christmas”, not because I’m an atheist, but because I’m a Christian. Now, I don’t judge others who continue to make this a religious holiday – in fact, I envy them. I grew up participating in Christmas pageants, going to church, and singing “Away in the Manger”. I’m happier now, though, because I don’t think Christ ever was in Christmas, so I’m free to buy presents, give to the needy, bake lots of cookies, drink eggnog (the really good, spiked kind!), and not feel guilty that it’s all too “Commericialized”. Every day as I kneel down to pray, I’m express my gratitude that our Heavenly Father came to earth in human form, and gave us a pathway out of the sin and wickedness that is born in each of us. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

          • I like this answer…….as a Christian I ought to celebrate His birth, death and resurrection everyday not just according to what the calendar says. So why not celebrate Christmas like we celebrate thanksgiving or the 4th of July.
            He is the King and Lord and Savior everyday!

        • Nate, it’s ironic that you mention this:

          but the difference is that people consume a product, and the more consumption, the better for the one selling the product. But God isn’t a product that needs a clever marketing scheme…

          Derail. Then someone (anyone) explain to me why we do the “Four Spiritual Laws” and “Are you Sure You’re Going to Heaven When You Die?” routines…

    • Dave, I am in agreement with you however I appreciate Pat K’s approach and wish him the best in continuing to spread the Good News.

      Most people I hear are ‘relieved’ when Christmas is over so they can get back to their daily grind. Very few secular people that are in my small world wish they could go back to Christmas vacation, instead they are stuck with the financial pain of Christmas and instead loath having to deal with the credit card bills. Even some Christians take a deep breath and talk about how relieved they are to have ‘gotten through’ Christmas.

      • I would say more than “some” Christians. I’ve said this before: I really don’t think, the majority of the time, “Jesus is the reason for the season” for Christians anymore than anyone else. How can he be? You can’t love God and well-marketed products.

  8. Of course, this whole Christmas war thing is ridiculous. December 25 was not a Christian holiday in it’s inception but a pagan holiday, celebrating the days becoming longer again in the northern hemisphere. Early Christians just seized upon the pagan holiday, investing it with Christian meaning and celebrating the birth of Jesus. There is absolutely no evidence that December 25 has anything at all to do with the birth of Jesus. We simply do not know when Jesus was born. When Christianity became the dominant religion in Europe, the December 25 holiday became associated with the birth of Jesus. I have absolutely no problem with non-Christian people using this holiday as a celebration of hope and good will or even materialism. After all, it is their holiday. Like the early Christians, I will invest it with my own Christian meaning and celebrate the “good news of a great joy”.

    • Biblical Archaeology Review says maybe it wasn’t pagan to begin with

      http://www.bib-arch.org/e-features/christmas.asp#location1

    • Jim Huffman says:

      Why would pagans (or anyone) celebrate the lengthening of the days on December 25th, when the winter solstice is December 21st?

      I think it’s also interesting that the church has traditionally celebrated the Annunciation to Mary — when the angel Gabriel announced to the Virgin Mary that a Savior would be born to her — on March 25th: 9 months prior to December 25th.

      • That is on purpose. If you look at the Church Year, it reflects some of the timings one would expect. The Nativity of John the Baptist is celebrated six months before The Nativity of Christ, following the Gospel statement that Elizabeth was six months pregnant when the angel came to the Ever-Virgin Mary. The Birth of Mary is celebrated in September, while the Dormition of Mary is celebrated the month before, in August. And so on . . .

        The interrelationship of the dates is on purpose and meant to reflect the interrelationship of the characters and events celebrated.

    • I’ve never understood this debate. To JSturty’s point and its opposing view: does it matter?

      If the church just hijacked a pagan holiday, what’s the big deal? Does that make Christ’s birth less credible, or does it mean there’s less of a reason to celebrate it? At best it means that its traditions don’t have a lot to do with Jesus, but then we don’t need this point about the history of Christmas to tell us that.

      If there’s a reason to believe the Church wasn’t just hijacking a pagan holiday, does that give any weight to authenticity of the holiday? For instance, does it have anything to do with being his disciple? Communion is solemnly commanded and was observed as essential to life in the Body in Scripture. Now is often “just a symbol” or worse… “doesn’t really do anything”. The only difference is that communion and its importance as a celebration is actually IN the Bible. Should the fact that the the church produced the Passion of the Christ mean that we institute a new set of cultural traditions surrounding it? If the candy-cane-represents-the purity-and-blood-of-Christ thing is true, and I refuse to eat candy canes, am I forsaking Christ?

      It has always seemed this debate is a distraction set up so people can say “look how much I know about this issue.” Either way, the impact of the truth has little to no impact on an individual’s believing or following Jesus.

  9. I love Christmas gifts: giving and receiving . . . but have felt guilt over the ‘materialism aspects’
    until reading this post.

    Now, guilt gone, I have decided
    TO GO TO THE MALL !!!!!!!!
    🙂

    • Christiane says:

      UPDATE:
      Back from the mall.
      Did major damage to credit card.
      Felt good about the whole think, knowing I was helping world economy.

      I love this blog. 🙂

      • Like Holmes and Watson in “The Final Problem”, when they are dodging Moriarty by abandoning their luggage on the train and getting off at another stop, you decided to “encourage the manufactures of the countries through which we travel” by buying all around you as you passed through:-)

  10. Well, yes and no….or rather no and yes…

    I agree Christ would be glorified if Christmas was celebrated as it was 20, 30, maybe 40 years ago. Then nativity scenes were in prominent display in both public and private spaces, the music played was Christmas carols, and greetings both written and verbal were mostly “Merry Christmas”. Now in public spaces you see Santa and elves, hear “Jingle Bell Rock” from the Muzak, and send and receive “Happy Holidays” greetings. For other than those with religious backgrounds I suspect the thought of Jesus the Christ in Christmas crosses most people’s minds rarely to never.

    To make a public scene about going back to the good ol’ days does not further the cause of Christ. Rather than raucously insisting that the world put back the form of cultures past, I would submit Church removes commercialism and other cultural sin from its own celebrations, and act as a light of example to our world.

    • I agree with this.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Now in public spaces you see Santa and elves, hear “Jingle Bell Rock” from the Muzak, and send and receive “Happy Holidays” greetings.

      Plus the “Holiday Specials” on TV that every year add additional characters and events to the Santa Claus Pantheon. (What South Park parodied with their Ultimate Dumb Holiday Character, Mister Hanky the Xmas Poo.)

    • I don’t agree completely with this, and I just want to make sure it’s clear that there is not a “Christian” and a “non-Christian” position on the question of whether religious displays should be placed on public property. Many Christians, including myself, recognize that the separation of church and state protects all of us, Christian and non-Christian alike. I do not want to see the manger scene on the city hall lawn. I do not need the government to put up my specific religious relic to in some way validate my faith above all others.

      It can just as easily be put right next door at the Christian (including all protestant and Catholic) church we have on every corner in this nation, or people can place them on their own lawns. I don’t see how “Christ is glorified” by the decorations on any particular piece of property. We cannot expect people of other religions to respect us if we do not respect them, or at least their right not to have any particular religion/faith shoved down their throats.

      And before anyone responds with, “Well, this is a Christian nation, etc.”, please read Michael Babcock’s “Unchristian America: Living with Faith in a Nation that was Never Under God”. Michael Babcock is not some “evil librul” ,by the way; he is a professor at Liberty University.

  11. Pat, I would like to hear more about how we came to celebrate Christmas on Dec 25, if you don’t mind posting that.

    • JoanieD, I am doing the G.K. Chesterton thing here (that is, relying on shaky memory for quotes and prepared for enraged correction of egregious errors by the educated) but what I’ve seen about why this date was selected:

      (1) It was commonly thought in antiquity that famous and great men had their births and deaths connected, that is, the date of their death corresponded to the date of their birth. I think Mark Twain did the same thing when he said he was born when Halley’s Comet passed and he would die when it passed again, and he did.

      (2) Easter and the death of Christ being in Spring, sometime between March and April (as it is a moveable feast), it was considered by some that Christ must therefore have also been born in Spring. I think some still argue along these lines but on the grounds of , for instance, if the shepherds were out in the fields that points to it being early in Spring and not in the depths of winter

      (3) A further refinement of this was that the date of Christ’s conception was set in Spring. That’s why we celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation (Lady Day) on March 25th.

      (4) Nine months from March gives you December 🙂 I also imagine that taking into account Easter, celebrating both the birth and death of Christ so near together just *felt* wrong in the balance of the liturgical year, but this is a personal opinion.

      Also, since the Mediterranean culture (and I don’t know if all of them did this) but certainly the Romans had Saturnalia at this time, then using former pagan holidays as Christian holidays made sense. People were already accustomed to celebrating at this time.

      By the way, I mentioned Saturnalia, but I don’t know if the Greeks, for example, did this. So it’s a bit much, I contest, to say that “Christmas is a pagan holiday” by using one instance. I’m ignoring the Northern festivals since, by the time Christianity spread to Northern Europe, the date was already fixed. And the Irish didn’t have a December festival anyhow; Hallowe’en (Samhain) was the big one there. So the best case is that in *some* cultures, this date was a pagan holiday.

      I’m also surprised that there isn’t more argument from the atheist side about connecting the Vernal Equinox and Easter; there’s lots about the goddess Eostre (if she ever existed) but nothing about the Equinox. Of course, since Easter is tied to the Passover and the Passover happens then, it might be harder to argue that it’s ‘pagan’ when you’re talking about taking over a Jewish holiday 😉

      I have to say, I don’t much care if it was a pagan/Shintoist/Raelian holiday. So what? It was celebrated as a Christian holiday by the European cultures which then colonised America, so that’s the one that counts. Or has anyone managed to dig up a Native American festival around the Winter Solstice? I’d be interested to know as a historical curiosity (I’d be surprised if there wasn’t one) but I wouldn’t be inclined to dump Christmas even so.

      • To illustrate what I mean about it feeling odd to celebrate the birth and death of Christ closely together, there is the poem by Donne upon the occasion of the Feast of the Annunciation and Good Friday falling on the same day – March 25th – in 1608.

        http://fullhomelydivinity.org/articles/john%20donne%20poem.htm

        As he says, it’s very ambiguous, both celebration and mourning:

        “this doubtful day
        Of feast or fast, Christ came, and went away.”

      • Thanks, Martha. You always have the most interesting things to say!

        • You are exceedingly kind, JoanieD. What I have is a head full of scraps and odds and ends, but can’t retain any useful knowledge (all the mathematics I ever learned in school have slipped through the sieve but I can tell you the name of Spock’s childhood pet sehlat – T’Chaya)

          🙂

          A blessed and happy Christmas to all!

      • That Other Jean says:

        If I remember correctly from lots of Roman history a long time ago, December 25 was celebrated as the birthday of Mithra(s), a god much worshipped in the Roman legions. According to Wikipedia, December 25 was also the date of the Winter Solstice according to the Julian calendar. The Romans also celebrated Saturnalia at about the same time. It seems reasonable to me to believe that early Christians who wished to celebrate the birthday of Jesus—except that nobody could remember exactly when it happened—would try to supplant the festivals of other gods with a celebration of Christ’s birth. I suppose that means that I’d agree that Christmas at least co-opted a pagan holiday. I’d be interested in seeing what evidence there is to the contrary.

        • Pick any day of the year and it’s going to be a holiday in *some* culture.

          To take an example at random, 17th March is St. Patrick’s Day. I Googled to see what other festivals might be on then, and it turns out that “The Liberalia (17 March) is the festival of Liber Pater and his consort Libera.” Liber is “an ancient god of fertility and wine …also a vegetation god, responsible for protecting seed.”

          However, if someone told we Irish that the Church had co-opted a pagan holiday in honour of Liber, we’d look at them funny. We never heard of Liber, and I’m pretty sure Paddy’s Day wasn’t a big deal in Rome.

          I’m not pushed one way or the other. Christmas Day was a pagan holiday before Christianity was the majority religion? So what? Enjoy it anyway!

  12. “we mean these things for whatever reason we mean them, but God means them for good”

    That leaves scant room for doubt, doesn’t it. Then again, it leaves precious little room for discernment. Makes me wonder why I would want to be a Christian at all. Whatever I do, God going to use for good, anyway. I think I like Dave R’s light unto the world.

    • ‘ Makes me wonder why I would want to be a Christian at all” …..Huh?

      “Whatever I do, God going to use for good, anyway.” Jesus Christ, descended from Judah (an adulterer) through Rahab (a whore) through David (a murderer and an adulterer) and Solomon ( led astray by 900 wives.) Seems like God is able to take less than optimal situations and work salvation from them. Read some Robert Capon for insight into what I am trying to say.

      • Good point, Patrick, about the ancestors of Jesus! Often I think the Bible is a good example of what NOT to do, as opposed as what we SHOULD do. Like that guy who told God if he won a battle he would kill the first thing coming out from his house when he got home. And who comes out? His beloved daughter! What a stupid promise to make. Lesson: “Don’t make stupid promises to God.” That’s MY take on it anyway.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Jesus Christ, descended from Judah (an adulterer) through Rahab (a whore) through David (a murderer and an adulterer) and Solomon ( led astray by 900 wives.)

        Well, they say you can’t do a genealogy — ANY genealogy — without running into something unsavory…

  13. David Cornwell says:

    Thanks for this post. It is a thoughtful consideration of what this season is actually about. And it has changed my mind about some aspects of how we celebrate.

  14. Evan Stokley says:

    Thank you!

    One of my favorite little things about Christmas is that radio stations that normally would not get anywhere near a reference to God… At least, a non-profane one… Are more than happy to play a Christmas song which says without any qualification “Christ is the Lord” (First Noel).

    That may be the closest thing to the gospel some people get during the year. And for believers, it’s a little bit of an affirmation of sorts.

  15. I’m reminded of St. John Chrysostom’s Paschal homily:

    “Enjoy ye all the feast of faith: Receive ye all the riches of loving-kindness. let no one bewail his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one weep for his iniquities, for pardon has shown forth from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Savior’s death has set us free. He that was held prisoner of it has annihilated it. By descending into Hell, He made Hell captive. He embittered it when it tasted of His flesh. ”
    http://www.oca.org/FSsermons-details.asp?SID=4&ID=10

    No one should feel guilty for enjoying the season. No one should feel proud for piously observing advent. As Paul wrote, “for the Kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.” – Romans 14:17 (WEB). It’s about Jesus, that the long-awaited Messiah has come. Piety adds nothing to that, and being left out of the holiday parties takes nothing away. That’s grace. Come to the manger, and behold your Savior.

  16. I really enjoyed this article Pat! It’s very easy to get worked up over “Happy Holidays” or removing God from the money, pledge, ect. A friend of mine said something along the lines of, “Just because we remove God from something, does that take away from his divinity? Does that make him any less God? Of course not, at least people are being honest about their unbelief.” That comment changed my perspective on the whole situation. Great post!

  17. “except for a handful of atheists who desperately try to use their origins in a pathetic attempt to delegitimize the holiday.”

    No. We don’t try to “delegitimize” the holiday. We use it to point out the absurdity of “keeping Christ in Christmas” and insisting that businesses who say “Happy Holidays” are somehow discriminating against you.

    Furthermore just because you give the holiday the religious experience now, how long until it is back on the chopping block. Remember Christmas was banned in the early days of this country because religious leaders didn’t want to encourage Pagan rituals.

    “Note that there is evidence, and good evidence, that the traditional date for Christmas is not pagan in origin, but that is an entirely other subject.”

    I’d like to see this “good” evidence. Seeing as all claims on the date of the holiday are at best hearsay, None of the Gospels mention anything referring to the times the Nativity occurred, and only one of them even mentions a manger, so its not like the events as you believe them have a firm foundation.

    “A Jewish friend told me that Hannukah was on par with St. Patrick’s Day.”

    I’m glad your friend can speak for the entirety of Judaism.

    “Kwanzaa is in its holiday infancy and it will take a few hundred years (if the Lord should tarry) to see if it has any legs”

    Yes, lets continue to belittle other religious celebrations because obviously yours is best because you are the majority!

    Who cares what people refer to when they say Happy Holidays. Maybe some are referring to Christmas, but when I say it I refer to the fact that I want everyone to have an enjoyable holiday season, no matter how they see fit to celebrate it. Whether that be with a tree or without it, with religious themes or not.

    You say you don’t get involved in the “Christmas Wars”, but what else would you call this post? “Oh we don’t have to worry about it because everyone obviously loves us the most anyways.” Get over yourselves, you’re not as special as you think.

    • Wow. My head is still spinning from that, Andy. I am sorry that you feel attacked by the post as well as what others (myself included) have said. I do find it rather ironic that you seem to be associating with the atheists discussed in the article. The irony is that without God, you cannot BE an atheist – the definition of atheism, of course.

      I do, however, wish you well this season, regardless of how you celebrate it and if you celebrate it. And I wish you incomparable joy, too, regardless of to whom you attribute it. Finally, I bless you with life and peace and grace. Life to walk with others. Peace to share with others. And grace to find whatever you seek whenever you decide. And love for which He died, resurrected, and ascended.

      • “The irony is that without God, you cannot BE an atheist – the definition of atheism, of course.”

        So there needs to be a God for me to not be able to believe in him? I think you need to think this through a little more.

        However, I hope you have a fantastic holiday season nonetheless, and may you remember that kindness, charity and goodwill transcend belief, creed, or religion :).

        • @ Andy

          How do you explain the high degree of design and order in the universe if there is no God?

          How do you account for the vast archaeological documentation of Biblical stories, places, and people?

          How do you explain David’s graphic portrayal of Jesus’ death by crucifixion (Psalm 22) 1000 years before Christ lived?

          How do you explain that the prophet Daniel prophesied the exact YEAR when the Christ would be presented as Messiah and also prophesied that the temple would be destroyed afterwards over 500 years in advance (Daniel 9:24-27)?

          How could any mere human pinpoint the birth town of the Messiah seven full centuries before the fact, as did the prophet Micah?

          How do you account for the odds (1 in 10 to the 157th power) that even just 48 (of 300) Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled in Jesus Christ?

          How was it possible for the Old Testament prophet Isaiah to have predicted the virgin birth of Jesus (Isaiah 7:14) 700 years before it occurred?

          How can anyone doubt the reliability of Scripture considering the number and the proximity to the originals of its many copied manuscripts?

          In what sense was Jesus a “good man” if He was lying in His claim to be God?

          If the Bible is not true, why is it so universally regarded as “the Good Book”?

          Did you know that the Bible has been the number one bestseller almost every single year since the 1436 invention of the Gutenberg printing press?

          If God does not exist, then from where comes humanity’s universal moral sense?

          If man is nothing but the random arrangement of molecules, what motivates you to care and to live honorably in the world?

          Can you explain how personality could have ever evolved from the impersonal, or how order could have ever resulted from chaos?

          If Jesus’ resurrection was faked, why would twelve intelligent men (Jesus’ disciples) have died for what they knew to be a lie?

          How do you explain the fact that a single, relatively uneducated and virtually untraveled man, dead at age 33, radically changed lives and society to this day?

          Why have so many of history’s greatest thinkers been believers?

          Have you ever wondered why thousands of intelligent scientists, living and dead, have been men and women of great faith?

          If time never had a beginning, but rather goes backwards infinitely or has gone through an infinite number of cycles, then how is it possible that we are here today?

          How can something as small as a brain understand extremely complicated aspects of the universe, even though it is (supposedly) just a bunch of chemical reactions and electrical signals? But at the same time, this brain can’t create another brain like itself, so how can nature, that has no brain, create a brain?

          Everyone knows Mount Rushmore was the result of intelligent design. Do you think the human body is the result of intelligent design?

          When you look at a lot of creatures such as zebras, turtles, butterflies, bees, lady bugs, leopards, etc., you will notice amazing color patterns designed into them. Who came up with those? Does nature have a “taste” in colors , and does it know which colors go together nicely?

          How do you account for the origin of life considering the irreducible complexity of its essential components?

          How can the Second Law of Thermodynamics be reconciled with progressive, naturalistic evolutionary theory?

          How do you reconcile the existence of human intelligence with naturalism and the Law of Entropy?

          How come there are some things on our planet seem that they are especially designed for us? For example, the 2 most comfortable colors are blue and green , which happen to be the color of the sky and most of the nature around us. Who chose those colors to be there , before earth even existed?

          Why does the Bible alone, of all of the world’s holy books, contain such detailed prophecies of future events?

          Is it absolutely true that “truth is not absolute” or only relatively true that “all things are relative?”

          Is it possible that your unbelief in God is actually an unwillingness to submit to Him?

          Does your present worldview provide you with an adequate sense of meaning and purpose?

          How do you explain the radically changed lives of so many Christian believers down through history?

          Are you aware that every alleged Bible contradiction has been answered in an intelligible and credible manner?

          What do you say about the hundreds of scholarly books that carefully document the veracity and reliability of the Bible?

          Why and how has the Bible survived and even flourished in spite of centuries of worldwide attempts to destroy and ban its message?

          Have you ever considered the fact that Christianity is the only religion whose leader is said to have risen from the dead?

          How do you explain the empty tomb of Jesus in light of all the evidence that has now proven essentially irrefutable for twenty centuries?

          If Jesus did not actually die and rise from the dead, how could He (in His condition) have circumvented all of the security measures in place at His tomb?

          If the authorities stole Jesus’ body, why?

          Why would they have perpetrated the very scenario that they most wanted to prevent?

          If Jesus merely resuscitated in the tomb, how did He deal with the Roman guard posted just outside its entrance?

          How can one realistically discount the testimony of over 500 witnesses to a living Jesus following His crucifixion (see 1 Corinthians 15:6)?

          If all of Jesus’ claims to be God were the result of His own self-delusion, why didn’t He show evidence of lunacy in any other areas of His life?

          Is your unbelief in a perfect God possibly the result of a bad experience with an imperfect church or a misunderstanding of the facts, and therefore an unfair rejection of God Himself?

          How did 35-40 men, spanning 1500 years and living on three separate continents, ever manage to author one unified message, i.e. the Bible?

          Because life origins are not observable, verifiable, or falsifiable, how does the theory of “evolution” amount to anything more than just another faith system?

          What do you make of all the anthropological studies indicating that even the most remote tribes show some sort of theological awareness?

          If every effect has a cause, then what or who caused the universe?

          How do you explain the thousands of people who have experienced heaven or hell and have come back to tell us about it?

          How do you explain the countless people who have received miracles from God?

          Is there any evidence that would satisfy you and persuade you to become a believer, or are you just going to believe what you WANT to believe?

          • [the question about people going to heaven and hell is absurd- ignore it]

          • “How do you explain the high degree of design and order in the universe if there is no God?”

            Too what degree of design? I see natural laws that explain life/movement/forces/etc. They don’t prove there is a creator, and they certainly don’t prove the God of the Bible.

            “How do you account for the vast archaeological documentation of Biblical stories, places, and people?”

            There are vast archaeological documentation of stories from the Quran and other holy books as well. None of them prove that anyone mentioned was divine.

            “How do you explain David’s graphic portrayal of Jesus’ death by crucifixion (Psalm 22) 1000 years before Christ lived?”

            A book of questionable origins predicts something that is later written into the same book. Again not proof.

            “How do you explain that the prophet Daniel prophesied the exact YEAR when the Christ would be presented as Messiah and also prophesied that the temple would be destroyed afterwards over 500 years in advance ”

            See above. Have you studied the origins of the bible?

            “How do you account for the odds (1 in 10 to the 157th power) that even just 48 (of 300) Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled in Jesus Christ?”

            Give me a better list, the “prophecies” I’ve seen fulfilled were either written in themselves, or very loosely attributed to actually having come true.

            “How can anyone doubt the reliability of Scripture considering the number and the proximity to the originals of its many copied manuscripts?”

            How can you believe the scriptures when they were written in Greek several years after the fact?

            “Is it possible that your unbelief in God is actually an unwillingness to submit to Him?”

            It is true that if God was real I would not submit. He is a tyrant and a monster. Grace and Mercy are not reconcilable with Hell. I have lived a generally moral life. When I mess up I make up for it. I do not say sorry to an invisible sky wizard and let it be done, I take action. I have done things that are “sinful” that I absolutely am not sorry for, they did not hurt anyone, they were not harmful. If God seeks to send me to eternity of torture for such deeds then he is not merciful and not worthy of my worship.

            “In what sense was Jesus a “good man” if He was lying in His claim to be God?

            If the Bible is not true, why is it so universally regarded as “the Good Book”?”

            I do not consider Jesus a good man, nor do I consider the Bible to be a good book. In the Bible God condones genocide, rape, slavery, and death for the most minute offenses, it is sick, and disgusting.

            “Everyone knows Mount Rushmore was the result of intelligent design. Do you think the human body is the result of intelligent design?

            When you look at a lot of creatures such as zebras, turtles, butterflies, bees, lady bugs, leopards, etc., you will notice amazing color patterns designed into them. Who came up with those? Does nature have a “taste” in colors , and does it know which colors go together nicely?

            How do you account for the origin of life considering the irreducible complexity of its essential components?

            How can the Second Law of Thermodynamics be reconciled with progressive, naturalistic evolutionary theory?

            How do you reconcile the existence of human intelligence with naturalism and the Law of Entropy?”

            I started typing out individual answers to these, but honestly these are the oldest arguments in the book and they’ve been answered many times over by the scientific community. If you haven’t seen the answers go here: http://www.talkorigins.org/ Spend a day reading.

            If you continue to disbelieve in evolution you are being willfully ignorant. This is not a controversy, Science has clear cut evidence for evolution. Your religion peddles ignorance in the face of evidence for the cause of a 2000 year old book written by MEN.

            “Does your present worldview provide you with an adequate sense of meaning and purpose?”

            Yes, it does. I have a wonderful fiancee (who is a Christian no less) and great family and friends. I do not need Big Brother watching my every move to complete me.

            “How do you explain the radically changed lives of so many Christian believers down through history?”

            Just as my life has changed radically. Through hard work and strong will. There is no need to add God to the equation.

            “Are you aware that every alleged Bible contradiction has been answered in an intelligible and credible manner?”

            To you perhaps, but not to me. Matt 5 clearly states the law of the OT has not and will not change one iota. The language could not be clearer, yet every answer I hear to this is a loophole. If you find those explanations good enough, then fine, but to me they come amazingly short.

            “What do you say about the hundreds of scholarly books that carefully document the veracity and reliability of the Bible?”

            I laugh. The four gospels were written in a different language several years after the fact. There are scholars who carefully document the veracity and reliability of the Quran as well. Why do you reject them?

            “Have you ever considered the fact that Christianity is the only religion whose leader is said to have risen from the dead?”

            Not true, Horus, and many Greek Gods also rose from the dead. These are incredible claims that require incredible evidence, the Bible, and everyother holy book falls short.

            “If Jesus did not actually die and rise from the dead, how could He (in His condition) have circumvented all of the security measures in place at His tomb?

            If the authorities stole Jesus’ body, why?”

            Again these are stories that were written well after the fact. I don’t believe that any of them happened.

            “If all of Jesus’ claims to be God were the result of His own self-delusion, why didn’t He show evidence of lunacy in any other areas of His life?”

            Cursing a fig tree anyone? But more importantly I would have to believe his non lunatic life actually happened.

            “Is your unbelief in a perfect God possibly the result of a bad experience with an imperfect church or a misunderstanding of the facts, and therefore an unfair rejection of God Himself?”

            No, its the result of logical thinking, and realizing that none of my prayers were ever answered. Sayings like “the lord works in mysterious ways” allows you to attribute everything that happens to God in a positive light. Its the ultimate cop out

            “How can one realistically discount the testimony of over 500 witnesses to a living Jesus following His crucifixion”

            Check out this sentence: “Me and 500 people who are still around saw the Flying Spaghetti Monster create a beer volcano” Why don’t you believe my passage?

            “How did 35-40 men, spanning 1500 years and living on three separate continents, ever manage to author one unified message, i.e. the Bible?”

            That is a very incomplete story of the history of the Bible. The Bible has been added to and subtracted from many many many times. Read this: http://www.amazon.com/Misquoting-Jesus-Story-Behind-Changed/dp/0060738170

            God told me to add a final chapter to the Bible, it will be called the book of Andy and will claim that I am the second coming. Prove that he didn’t tell me this.

            “Because life origins are not observable, verifiable, or falsifiable, how does the theory of “evolution” amount to anything more than just another faith system?”

            Richard Dawkins has addressed this thousands of times, read this: http://www.amazon.com/Greatest-Show-Earth-Evidence-Evolution/dp/1416594787/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1261551491&sr=1-1

            “What do you make of all the anthropological studies indicating that even the most remote tribes show some sort of theological awareness?”

            Human beings are the only species that evolved a sense of imagination.

            “If every effect has a cause, then what or who caused the universe?”

            I don’t know, nor will I ever claim to. But filling in the gaps with a holy book isn’t knowing either.

            “How do you explain the countless people who have received miracles from God?”

            How do you explain that none of them hold up to Scientific testing?

            “Is there any evidence that would satisfy you and persuade you to become a believer, or are you just going to believe what you WANT to believe?”

            If Jesus let me put my fingers in his nail holes like he did for James (Who actually knew him and believed him to be the mesiah) AND you can convince me I’m not hallucinating, then yes I would believe. Good luck convincing him to do that.

            I’m sure I missed a few and I could have gone deeper but its late and I’ve had a few.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Andy:

            IMonk used to say “If you want to make that long a comment, Get Your Own Blog.”

          • so when the Christian challenging the Atheist makes a ridiculously long post its ok, but when the Atheist responds, not ok. Gotcha HUG.

          • Hey folks, though I understand the impulse to debate beyond the subject of the post, it’s not really what we’re all about here. Stay on topic or take it outside, please.

          • BiggieBigs says:

            Andy’s comment: Another useless comment that has nothing to do with the post.

        • I remember, Andy. Truth is Truth.

          Thank you.

          • Andy, Matthew, et al. Please forgive me my role in this. HUG, Andy has a point. Besides, if you look at the fact that he was quoting all of Matthew’s questions, his comment really wasn’t that long.

            Shalom, everyone.

    • Jim Huffman says:

      Kwanzaa is not a religious holiday.

      • That’s right. It’s the affirmation of African values and already has “legs,” since lots of people celebrate it. I think the comments about Kwanzaa and Hannukah were patronizing, and they detracted from an otherwise attractive post.

      • Which is worse: making up a holiday like Kwanzaa, attaching a fake miracle story to the recapture and rededication of the Temple, or replacing the remembrance and celebration of Christ’s birth with a shopping spree? 🙂

      • Let’s be fair, people, no matter who we may agree or disagree with. Matthew Johnson made the first ridiculously long post that had nothing to do with the topic. Andy was simply responding to it. By singling him out as though Johnson had nothing to do with it is unfair.

    • Andy,

      I have in no way belittled any holiday. Hannukah is a minor festival in the Jewish calendar that holds nowhere near the weight and solemnity of something like Yom Kippur. Kwanzaa is not yet fifty years old and not as nearly well known as you might think. Was it not for their proximity to Christmas neither of the these holidays would really be well known outside the cultures that gave rise to them.

      As to evidence that Christmas is not a pagan holiday adorned with a Christian veneer, see the link I posted in the above comments to the article in Biblical Archaeology Review. Those guys are not known for their adherence to conservative Christianity. Does it seal the deal with a slam dunk? No. Does it provide enough evidence to seriously question the idea that the Church comandeered a pagan holiday? Yes.

      You said “We don’t try to “delegitimize” the holiday. We use it to point out the absurdity of “keeping Christ in Christmas” and insisting that businesses who say “Happy Holidays” are somehow discriminating against you.”

      You seem pretty angry about the whole thing and and your comments could be seen as an effort to ‘delegitimize ‘ even an in house discussion among Christians about the subject. I have had ‘discussions’ with atheists who were apoplectic over the whole Christmas thing and were desperate in their attempts to prove their point..

      • Yes, Hanukkah is a minor festival. Yom Kippur is probably what I would call the most significant of the days of the calendar, followed by Rosh HaShana, Simchat Torah, Purim, Shevuot, Tishe b’Av.

        One question I do have is why do many describe Christmas as the most sacred time of the year for Christians? It’s been a while since I was a Christian, but isn’t the Resurrection, and hence Easter Sunday far more sacred? I mean, without the Resurrection, the nativity story as charming as it is (cattle, camels, angels, shepherds, Elephants??? ), wouldn’t mean much would it?

  18. It is not surprising to me that we get so emotional and wrapped up in the things that our culture and traditions teach us. We tend to accept things uncritically and defend them dogmatically.

    Our sinful nature will have us defend and justify anything, ask the Planned Parenthood employee and she will tell you all the wonderful services (besides abortion and abortifacient contraceptives) they offer and all the good they do in the community. Will you accept that as a defense for their company? Of course not. The good that they do does not matter, they should be shut down and out of business completely.

    So by saying all the good that may come out of Celebrating Christmas does not address the issue of whether we should be participating in any of it.

    This is not new, mankind has been trying to approach God and worship Him according to their own preconceived way since Cain brought his offering to God and God rejected it. Gods’ people have tried to embrace the culture around them and incorporate their worship into the worship that God desires since they were gathered into a nation at Mount Sinai and He always rejects it, sometimes even with harsh punishment. We tend to continue not the learn the lessons that they should have learned.

    The way of Cain as stated in Jude 1:11 is- Self Willed Worship- and God has always condemned it.

    In Acts 17:22-23 Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects…what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. God does not desire ignorant worship. God does not desire self willed worship.

    John 4:23-24 states the kind of worship that God desires: “The hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

    Truth does not in any way describe much of our “Holiday Celebrations”. Ignorance does describe most Christians during this season. Any laymen can do a Google search and find all the Pagan customs we incorporate into our worship of God and God still condemns it.

    Will we ever learn or will we continue to defend and justify ourselves by claiming all the good that may come out this Christmas Holiday Season?

  19. I’ve really become sick and tired of the number of requests I’ve had to join a Facebook group called ‘Let’s put Christ back into CHRISTmas!’ Look, I understand the sentiment, but (as in most things) joining a Facebook group isn’t going to make much difference.

    Besides, I wonder if Christians have really thought this through. Yes, Christmas is named after Christ, but does that mean we have to mandate an observance of the nativity on December 25? That logic would lead to some uncomfortable conclusions:

    ‘Let’s put the Thor back into Thursday!’
    ‘Let’s put the Janus back into January!’

    And the really awkward one,

    ‘Let’s put the Oestre back into Easter!’

    • My wife is Norwegian-American. I’d love to put the Thor back in Thursday. So would my friend Thor. No kidding.

  20. This is what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DKk9rv2hUfA

  21. I think the solution to putting Christ back in Christmas is to faithfully (and traditionally) observe Advent. It IS the season (as in “the reason for the season”). The church I attend lights candles on a wreath for the four Sundays of Advent, but has not (at least in the 5 years I’ve gone there) explained that it is in observance of Advent, or what it means, or how a Christian might observe Advent in her everyday life. Who knows, maybe if we publicly observed Advent in some meaningful way instead of carping about store cashiers not saying “Merry Christmas” we’d generate some interest in a faithful Christmas.

  22. For those of you who want to remove the commercialism from Christmas, I understand this. But be careful what you wish for. Ever notice how the broader North American culture has diminished the intensity around Easter? It is not the holiday it used to be, and nor is it for the church, at least not among evangelicals. We tend to follow the culture in these things. Lose Santa and Rudolf and shopping and all that and you may lose a lot more.

    • Doubt that’ll ever happen. People are so tuned in to it now that it’s become a cultural tradition, like Halloween. My favorite holiday has always been Thanksgiving, mainly our family gets together, but also because they can’t really commercialize it.

    • If we follow, that’s our fault. I’m not too worried about Christmas dying, though I doubt it will. If Christians can’t do better than ape a bunch of secular addictions and smear a religious veneer on it, maybe they aren’t Christians.

      Nate

  23. Dan Crawford says:

    This year I stopped fighting the Christmas war after I read Revelation and resolved that every time I was annoyed by the commercialization of Christ, I would pray, “Come, Lord Jesus”. Then it dawned on me that I could pray the same prayer every time I head “The Christmas Song” and other secular Christmas music as well as Christmas carols in the store. Christmas this year will come with a great deal of peace for me.

  24. Everytime I hear someone I go to church with express the “War on Christmas” them, I just want to yell this to them: “You’re leaving the mall with $500 worth of stuff neither you nor your family really need, and you are mad that the a salesperson ‘has forgotten the meaning of Christmas.’ Do you see what I see?”

    • Gotta agree with you here. Same thing with those Christians who act like they are being “persecuted” (and they actually use that word sometimes) when someone says “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”. If this is some Christians’ idea of persecution, then we as a church have absolutely NO idea of what constitutes persecution. NONE!

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Someone once wisecracked that to American Christians, “Persecution (TM) means not being allowed to persecute everybody else”.

  25. missing Michael and praying for him during this special time of year.

  26. I think ‘christmas’ is a uniquely american festival that has, at least at this juncture in our history, very little to do with anything that announces the birth of Jesus. in america, ‘christmas’ is about money. period. it’s about making one last push to fatten the calf of fourth quarter earnings.

    I have deliberately decided to take Christ out of christmas this year because I seriously doubt that Jesus, as written of in the bible, has or wants anything to do with our worship at the altars of world and local economics. Nor, for that matter, do i find the worship of an infant to be particularly appealing either. i served a church as preacher once and for the three christmases i was there i was forced to sing happy birthday to Jesus on christmas eve while standing in a large circle holding hands with the congregation. barf.

    i don’t participate in the wars either. and, to be sure, since i’m currently working in a retail setting, i for the most part will not wish people merry christmas intentionally. i really do no want the name of Jesus associated with all the greed, money, and idolatry. that’s not to say i’m exempt or guiltless. i participate too in the worship. i’m just saying that i really couldn’t care less.

    frankly, i think christians worry far too much about things that matter way too little. i can’t imagine why we care or think we ought to be any different than any other generation of christians. that is, why do we think we ought to be exempt from criticism, suffering, and contempt?

    bah humbug.

    • My wife does the birthday cake every year and our extended family sings “Happy Birthday” to Jesus. It can be a bit nauseating, but it does remind them whose birthday it is.

      • We don’t do a cake (because of all the other goodies) but every year, we lead the kids in singing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus. To an adult (even this one, who instituted the tradition) it can seem a bit cloying, but it’s a gentle way to remind the children what the day is really about. And we tie the gift giving into the celebration of Jesus’ birth, too. Since he’s not physically here in front of us, we give gifts to each other, because he loves us so much.

      • We don’t do a cake (because of all the other goodies) but every year, we lead the kids in singing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus. To an adult (even this one, who instituted the tradition) it can seem a bit cloying, but it’s a gentle way to remind the children what the day is really about. And we tie the gift giving into the celebration of Jesus’ birth, too. Since he’s not physically here in front of us, we give gifts to each other, because he loves us so much.

    • Uniquely American?

      Guh?

  27. The cathedrals of commerce, our shopping malls and grocery stores, play Christmas music for almost a month before Christmas. Shoppers are literally drenched with the praises of Christ while they engage in what amounts to preparation for extravagantly sacrificial giving to friends and family.

    “drenched with praises of Christ”?

    You must go to different stores than I do.

    All I hear ad infinitum ad nauseam is the inane holiday feel-good shopping songs about reindeer and snow and jingle bells and trees and Santa and grandma getting run over, and the bane of all Xmas songs, the headache-inducing Feliz Navidad. No Christ at all.

    Bah, humbug!

    YMMV

    • Really? “No Little Drummer Boy” grumbled out by Bob Seger? No “First Noel”? I don’t listen to radio much these days, but I’ve caught those two this year.

      True my favorite tunes this year are “Dominick the Christmas Donkey”, “I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” and “Fairytale of New York”, none of them having much to do with the Christian celebration.

      • I’m not talking about radioplay. I’m talking about what I hear when I’m shopping in stores. It’s snow-and-have-fun-buy-stuff music, not “praises of Christ.”

    • Even the headache-inducing Feliz Navidad is proclaiming “Happy Nativity.”

      • Well, yes, and the word “Christmas” includes the word “Christ.” But Feliz Navidad is wishing YOU a “Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year (or something like that).” It is NOT praising Christ. It’s about as much about Christ as the actor Christian Bale is about Christ.

        Maybe today when I go shopping I’ll hear Christ-praising songs pouring from the stores’ speakers. But I doubt it. 🙂

    • I work in retail, and my store’s Muzak station is the Modern “Christmas” one with a lot of the hateful Christmas schlock. However, there are enough of the traditional hymns in the rotation (that sing all the verses of many classics) that every year I hear complaints from customers concerning “overly religious content” and harsh words to the effect that not everyone is a Christian and they should not have to be subjected to this s**t. Two years ago a group of people filed a complaint with the regional vice president of our company because our stores play Christmas music during December and they found mention of Jesus in the songs to be offensive.

      So, yes there is a lot of drivel palyed over the sound systems in our cathedrals of commerce, but there are also plenty of the traditional hymns and carols played too.

  28. Definitely some good thoughts in this article.

    There is another good post along this line at Parchment & Pen.

    As one could probably guess, I also share some similar thoughts as this post and, so, I used this article to springboard some of my own thoughts about the cultural emphases of Christmas in the US.

  29. Pat~s Comments are right on target.

    Underlying those comments are the following basic christian beliefs that Lutheran christians cling to:

    What makes us christian and not pagan is faith in Jesus Christ. Period. Observance of holidays or rituals, even about Jesus, is not what separates believer from unbeliever or sheep from goat. The difference is invisible.

    Here in the earthly kingdom the currency that God employs is outward righteousness. This looks like ‘mortification of the flesh (ie death to self in the form of self discipline)” in order to serve one’s neighbor. Any vertical currency here, “christian ” good works… is counterfeit. when we talk about outward trappings and what is right outwardly, we must exclude all talk of faith. it is idolatry by definition. tower of babel stuff.. Atheist andy is not off point in this blog in pointing out that outward righteousness needs no religious impulse to happen. None. faith is utterly unnecesary and is idolatry here, This law driven outward righteousness IS all the work of the Holy Spirit using both the carrot and stick of the law (eg we work hard because we want to make lots of money, or be financially secure or because it suits our egos and other needs). This outward righteousness is also pleasing to God and he promises earthly blessings that will perish with the earth but still… chrisitians can rest their conscience knowing that God IS pleased with outward righteousness. So christmas , to be a good thing, IS about serving our neighbor and about dying to self.

    On the other hand, that part of christmas that is about proclaiming freedom for the captives of sin is about faith. THIS is all about ‘christian’ . It is the only part of christmas that should be called ‘christian’. the currency of the heavenly kingdom is faith. any currency of works in this kingdom is counterfeit BECAUSE works, outward righteousness, are ALL about that earthly kingdom that will perish.

    enjoy the mall!

  30. http://narrowseventhirteen.blogspot.com/2009/12/australian-christainity-v21.html

    Above you will find out what goes on in my country during this time of year more than ever!

  31. I will continue to sing Joy to the World as a traditional Christmas hymn, but I recently heard a discussion about it not being written for Christmas at all. Joy to the World is apparently suited for Easter rather than Christmas. Still, I believe your traditions can’t be wrong.

  32. I appreciate your perspective and you did an excellent job of articulating your thoughts. I, too, am weary of the “Holiday Greetings” battle and wrote about on my blog 3 weeks ago, although maybe not as eloquently as you did.

  33. Update: For those who disagree with my take on Christmas, Garrison Keillor, of Prarie Home Companion Fame, takes the opposite tack in this article, telling people if they are not Christians, to leave the holiday alone.

    http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bal-op.keillor16dec16,0,225627.story

    • That was a truly strange, hate filled, antisemitic rant.

    • That was weird. Is he being satiric or contrarian or what? His take of Jewish writers of secular Christmas songs make me think it’s satiric. On the other hand, I pretty much agree with his comments on a Unitarian re-write of “Silent Night”.

      I’ve noticed in the past two decades that Keillor’s gotten stranger & stranger. I do miss the good old PHC.

  34. Louis Winthrop says:

    Does anybody remember a science-fiction short story about a future in which Christmas has been entirely commercialized? I read it years ago in an anthology, and would love to find it again. The narrator stumbles upon a group of Christians singing a hymn that he vaguely recognizes from the song, “O Come, Let’s Go Shopping.”

  35. It is still Christmas so I think I will comment to this post even still. Pat K is exactly right, we Christians should celebrate that even pagans can’t avoid celebrating the birth of our Lord, as He is their Lord also. Even stranger is that they should do so in pretty much the same manner as the first pagans to bow their knee to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Magi, whom we often call wise men who bore gifts to Christ. Wise I suppose they were in recognizing the Christ. But they were Magi, and we should not forget that, they were in fact representatives of pagan Gods, and made their living practicing the dark arts that Simon Magus practiced. They bore gifts to Christ our Lord and bowed their knee to him.
    One might flesh out Christ’s teaching in Matthew 25 concerning what we do for the “least of these,” and see that in fact the pagans still bear gifts to our Lord.

  36. This is a few days late. The only songs I heard at the malls and on the radio were about Santa, Frosty, Rudolph, sleigh bells, etc. The only things I saw were idols of such things. No nativity scenes in the city parade – don’t want to offend. Great big displays of Santa. Nativity sets are available in the back.
    .
    In pastor’s words, first you tolerate, then you embrace. By accepting these things we are conforming to the world, rather than transforming it. You can’t make them do it. But you can take a stand for Christ. Be selective about how you celebrate. Encourage others to do the same.