Theologian Tells Scrooges in the Church: Christ Never Left Christmas

Scrooges in the church? R.C. Sproul, an author and theologian, says the church is full of them. They don't exactly hate Christmas but they complain about how others demean the holiday.

"We hear endless complaints of commercialism. We are constantly told to put Christ back into Christmas. We hear that the tradition of Santa Claus is a sacrilege. We listen to those acquainted with history murmur that Christmas isn't biblical," says Sproul, founder of Ligonier Ministries. "All this carping is but a modern dose of Scroogeism, our own sanctimonious profanation of the holy."

Sproul argues that it is simply unnecessary to try to put Christ back in Christmas because "Christ has never left Christmas."

"Christ is still in Christmas, and for one brief season the secular world broadcasts the message of Christ over every radio station and television channel in the land. Never does the church get as much free air time as during the Christmas season," he states.

But what about the commercialism? Sproul reminds Christians what is behind all the commerce, which is the buying of gifts for others. That in itself is not an ugly, ignoble vice, he says.

The tradition of giving gifts rests on "the supreme gift God has given the world," namely His only Son. "The giving of gifts is a marvelous response to the receiving of such a gift."

Surely, though, Christians should complain about Santa Claus and how he casts a shadow over Jesus. Again, Sproul disagrees.

Myths, he says, are not necessarily bad or harmful. Unless it is passed off as real history, myths are an art form designed to convey a message and can by healthy and virtuous, says the theologian. "Kris Kringle is a mythical hero, not a villain. He is pure fiction - but a fiction used to illustrate a glorious truth."

But Christmas isn't biblical, the scrooges say. Its origins were a substitute for a pagan festival. To that, Sproul responds, "I can only say, good for the early Christians who had the wisdom to flee from Mithras and direct their zeal to the celebration of the birth of Christ."

It is not a sin to celebrate Christmas, he says. It is a time to rejoice over the coming of the Messiah.

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