Christ was born on . . .
Dr. Jay Worth Allen
Christmas is a dangerous vice, but millions of people are hooked on it’s yearly Bacchanalia of “peace on earth, good will towards men.” It’s always a good time of the year for the Rich. It is a time for Profit-making and gross displays of Wealth, for giving huge Rubies and Diamonds to each other, and for seeing themselves on the covers of their own Magazines. . . although for most of us, it’s a Ritual Observance we suffer through, while we max-out our Credit, visit estranged Family Members and maintain a Happy Face ,‘till it’s over. And the reason is simple: the traditional “Christmas spirit” runs completely against the grain of Human Nature, a nature which has nothing to do with silly Christian weaknesses like Generosity, Kindness, Brotherly Love, or Gift-Giving.
Now don’t get me wrong. I love a good Carnival, Eggnog, Fruitcake, and I’m no Teetotaler. I love a kiss from Miss Diana under a leathery-leaved Parasitic Plant. But, just like Christmas, none of those personal-treats have anything to do with the Church. Christmas, as celebrated in the Western Church, is just one of the many carry-overs of neo-paganism that survived the Reformation - nothing more - a highly varied mixture of ancient and modern elements, in which nature worship, influenced by modern environmentalism (see The Message Bible), plays a major role. Other influences include Shamanism, magical and occult traditions, and Radical Feminist critiques of Christianity. “The Hanging of the Greens/Crismon Worship Services,” started in 1957 by a woman in an Apostate church and practiced in many main-lined Churches today, is a great example of this mixed bag of Holiday Tricks.
And it all began so innocently: Via Media, the link-up of Paganism and Christianity which took place under Constantine the Great (the Emperor and first Pope of Rome) in the early 300’s A.D.
Constantine wanted a wedded Kingdom. He wanted Unity: Unity within his Empire and the Church - but how does one do that? How does one blend the bona fide with a knockoff? No one in their right mind counterfeits three dollar bills. That’s stupid. You counterfeit something that looks like the real article. So Constantine set about creating a mixed-Marriage of Church and State. An imitation of the Real. The Pagans, unlike the Christians who worshiped one God, worshiped a plethora of objects symbolizing all sorts of gods. So how does one fuse that? Simple. You bind the two with truth, lies and half-truths. You flood a valley with Truth so you can float a row-boat full of Lies. The Pagans honored Icons. So Constantine brought in the homage of Christian Saints, Images, Crosses, Fishes, Marble Statues, etc., which appeased the Pagans, but compromised the Church. This religious Potpourri drew it’s first breath in the form of so-called Christian rites, rituals and customs. Statues of Isis and Horus were renamed Mary and Jesus. The Festival of Saturn (winter solstice) was replaced by a Christ-Mass. Incense, Candles, Evergreens, Holly, Processions, Vestments, all of which had been in Pagan Cults, were cleansed in ordained Rituals of the Church. Everything the Pagans worshiped, plus more, was incorporated into the Church and proclaimed Christian.
And it’s easy to see how this all happened. Christians, by and large, are a simple, no-frills, honest lot. The people of God want the world to see the Church as relevant to their lives right now - Christianity is not just about the past, but has life-giving impact in the present. Then comes questions, longings, experiences, expectations about life, and over time, instead of the Church being disturbed, surprised, caught off guard and offended by the judgment and justification that God brings into our lives, we begin to Domesticate the Church. We fashion Bibles that are more readable to the Modern ear - creating a Handbook of life principles to improve our earthly lives. We make the Lord of Glory a supporting actor in our personal screenplay, instead of seeing the Bible as the script with the LORD as the central character. And when that happens the Church loses Her sense of being the radical, un-Worldly, Supernatural Nation preaching the Word from Heaven that Kills and makes Alive. When evangelism dies, heresy is born.
When the Church stopped asking itself whether the Bible with its own message, questions, and answers is already more relevant on its own terms than whatever Modern relevance operation we’ve performed on it, many Churches lost their way. And when that happened, those Churches emerged as some weird version of a “nowhere man living in a nowhere land . . . who doesn’t have a point of view, knows not where he is going to.” The Bible became a fortune-cookie, inspirational-thought-for-the-day Novel, which left everyone in their original Sin, Guilt, Fear, and Death. But, to jog the world’s memory of why the Church is still here, those Churches created a yearly Celebration, of dead trees, prickly red-berried Shrubs, Pagan Ornaments, and Bonus Awards, to bring “Joy to the World,” while the world continues to live in the slums.
There’s a big different between hearing the Bible and using the Bible for whatever we already think is important, interesting, and relevant. Our salvation cost God everything - the most precious treasure: His Son. From the Beloved of His eternal joy, the Father turned His face in wrath to His only begotten Son, even though He, Himself, had done nothing to deserve it. Grace is free, but it’s not cheap. God paid the heaviest price of all.
This is not the era of driving God’s enemies out of a Temporal Land and establishing a Geo-Political Theocracy somewhere. Jesus made that clear in His Sermon on the Mount, and also in His rebuke of James and John for wanting to call Fire down from Heaven on a Samaritan village that refused the Gospel. Now is the hour of Grace, of going to the highways and byways to gather guests for the Sabbath feast, to proclaim the Forgiveness of Sin and Freedom from Bondage - not just on December 25th, but every day of the year.
(For more on this subject, see Ch. 6, “If you can't lick-um . . . join-um” in: A Brief History of Redemption by Dr. Jay Worth Allen.)
Christ was born on . . .
Published: 14 December 2010 on Freed In Christ! blogsite.
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