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Politics, culture, and American life — from the family perspective.

The Theology of Christmas


Obviously, during this time of year, many of us are thinking a great deal about Christ. (My favorite part of the season is our candlelit Christmas Eve service at my hometown church — not the present-opening. Could that be the very definition of adulthood?) But sometimes theology takes a back seat to tradition, as this article, entitled “The Flawed Theology of Naughty and Nice Lists,” points out:

For years moms and dads the world over have preached Santa’s naughty/nice list theology to their children. If you’re good, you earn your way onto the nice list and a subsequent pile of gifts under the tree. If you’re bad, you join the ranks of naughty listers who get nothing but charcoal in their stocking. With such a threat looming large, what kid in his right mind wouldn’t be on his best behavior, knowing that ‘he knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness’ sake?’

But isn’t this just really bad theology? Read more to find out how not to give your kids the wrong impression this season.

Also, I found this interesting piece, which compares Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol to Handel’s Messiah. Here is the conclusion:

“For Dickens, Christmas is a reminder that we are all Scrooges, self-centered ungrateful nobs who yet have some hope of appeasing God through our personal reform.

For Handel, Christmas reminds us that we are all sinners, we are “in Adam,” and for that we are helpless to stop God’s righteous judgment towards our sin. Yet there is One who has paid the price to quench God’s wrath on our behalf.”

Who wins the theological battle in Dickens versus Handel? Click through to read more of that discussion.

Lastly, do you ever feel like people who remind you that “Jesus is the reason for the season” want you to give up all gifts and instead go down to the local soup kitchen on Christmas morning? Amy Julia Becker takes this on in her essay praising extravagance during Christmas:

And yet there is a spiritual dimension to gift-giving. From a Christian perspective, giving gifts reflects the celebration of the gift of God’s son on Christmas morn. Moreover, it reflects the idea that God has entered into the material world, and through that entrance, God has declared that the material world is good and worth celebrating, if not in excess then at least through extravagant generosity.

Read the rest of her article, entitled “Eat, Drink, and Be Merry, for Jesus is Born!”

Christmas is obviously a great opportunity to talk to your kids about the birth of Christ. But these articles can also be great topics of conversation around the dinner table and push us even deeper into our understanding of the rich implications of that manger birth.


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