Monday, December 2, 2013

At War with Christmas?


I agreed to review The War on Christmas because I felt that it might get me into the Christmas spirit and motivate me to start the process of getting ready for Christmas: testing lights, planning a menu, issuing invitations, and baking extravagant desserts. From the title I thought it might be a good book for my international guests to help them learn something about the holiday we celebrate. It was neither. Instead what I received was a collection of quickly written, lightly edited, diatribes pitting Christians against the rest of society in (as the subtitle proclaims) Battles in Faith, Tradition, and Religious Expression. I have to ask: Whatever happened to Peace on Earth, Goodwill to men?

On page 41, I finally found the author/editor’s frame of reference: “Sadly, there are many people within the Church who accept the supposed millions of years, instead of the truth as given by Genesis. Because of this, they don’t have valid answers for people like my friend [who had asked why Christians did everything in their power to stay alive including organ transplants instead of welcoming death and heaven], but instead would ignore his questions and relate the story of the babe in the manger in the hope my friend would start believing this.”

Ignoring this tract’s poor writing, I am offended because the author believes that in order to communicate the gospel—the good news of Christmas—I must also believe in the author’s “young earth theory.”

Contrary to the author’s position, the Apostle Paul, in the book of Romans (specifically Chapters 5 and 6), clearly states that we were once under the reign of sin, allied with Adam the first man. But, once we give ourselves to Christ, we are under God’s reign in a kingdom of grace. Jesus was born to give us a life of freedom just as he himself lived freely in an occupied Israel. As long as we stay connected to him through the Spirit who gives us life, we are free to choose organ transplants or to reject them, to choose to be buried or cremated, to choose to worship together in many different forms and manners, to choose to eat meat or become vegan. We are free to live believing the earth to be thousands of years old or millions or billions of years old and to use the best scientific methods available to defend our beliefs. Indeed, Christians are free to celebrate Christmas or to ignore it entirely.

The book contains some good information. The author/editor explores the original meaning of words such as Christmas and holidays. They explain the meaning of the X in Xmas (from the first letter of the Greek word for Christ), but leave it up to the individual believer’s conscience whether to write Xmas or Christmas. Traditions such as manger scenes are explored and compared to scripture and the inn which had no room is debunked using archaeological exemplars.

The War on Christmas concludes with information about the author’s employer Answers in Genesis and its Creation Museum. I believe that this book was written as a gift shop item for that museum. If you are interested in researching the origins of Christmas, a plethora of information exists on the web. These books may also be helpful:

The Top 40 Traditions of Christmas: The Story Behind the Nativity, Candy Canes, Caroling, and All Things Christmas by David McLaughlin

The origins of Christmas by Joseph F. Kelly

Stories behind the great traditions of Christmas by Ace Collins

How will you celebrate Christmas? Will you discuss the Big Bang Theory or contemplate the earth’s origins? Will you declare war on our culture and its repression of the true story of Christmas? Why don’t you join me in celebrating the birth of Jesus and showing our culture what a little peace on earth looks like as we demonstrate God’s good will to all mankind. And this Christmas if your friends ask you why Christians do this or that or some other thing, take the opportunity to tell them about the time when God broke into history and gave us a vision for what it meant to live in His kingdom, a kingdom where when we follow Jesus completely and live more freely than ever before because his yoke is easy and his burden is light.

I received this book free from the publisher and was not required to give it a favorable review.