What’s wrong with Christmas

From the Dean

A regular article written by Phillip Jensen in his role as Dean of Sydney at St Andrew's Cathedral.

Originally Published:
3rd January 2008

Tagged: christmas

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Each Christmas and Easter the public media treats us to some new exposé of what is wrong with Christianity. They write of some recent historical or archaeological discovery that “disproves” the Gospel accounts. Or they quote some liberal Bishop or theologian who denies some cardinal tenet of Christianity.

Around Christmas, they usually remind us that many of the elements of the Christmas celebrations are not authentically Christian. They tell us that the year of our Lord's birth is wrong, as he was born under Herod the Great who died in 4BC. And they announce that the date of Christmas comes not from Jesus' birth but pagan festivities.

None of this is new to any educated Christian. The problem with the dating lies in the construction of the calendar, not in the history of Jesus' birth. We do not claim that 25th of December was the date of Jesus' birth. It is the convention of when we celebrate his birth. We could do it at another time of the year if we wished.

Last year, just before Christmas, Sydney was treated to the “Christian” thinking of a famous Australian social commentator. Amongst other things, he wrote:

The genius of Christianity is the revelation that ‘the Word was made flesh’; that ‘the guy in the sky’ was dead. The Christian God exists within us, and nowhere else. It is a spirit with the power to make us whole.

This extraordinary claim makes nonsense of the Bible. For John 1:1-3 says “In the beginning was the Word …and the Word was God. All things were made through him and without him was not anything made that was made.” Here is a clear identification of the Word with the creator God of the Old Testament. And the Word that “was made flesh” was not a spirit existing within each one of us but the specific human being known as Jesus of Nazareth.

The commentator went on to write

If we nurture that spirit and revere its power, we will have found God—not in the wonders of “creation” but in the greater wonders of human kindness and charity. Since there's no supernatural God to attend to the world's suffering, we ourselves must act.

The supernatural God attended to the world's suffering by sending his Son “into the world to save sinners.” (1 Timothy 1:15)

Jesus, rather than teaching us of “human kindness and charity”, accepted fully the Bible's teaching on the universality of human sin. The Gospel message is not that we “have found God” but that he appeared to us. And the reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. (1 John 3:9).

In fact the apostle John went further than this when he wrote:

By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. (1 John 4:2-3)

The idea that Jesus is not the supernatural Creator God become man is not new or uncontested in the New Testament. It is condemned most vigorously as being false.

God the Son became the man Jesus Christ who died for our sins and rose again—as a man—to judge the world. For as the apostle taught the philosophers of Athens: God

has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.

There are innumerable anti-Christian and distorted Christian Christmas accounts available. As we proclaim the truth this Christmas let us not be surprised that alternatives will be published.