I’ve answered a couple of polls regarding religious topics on Facebook recently. The questions were “Did Jesus Christ exist?” and “Should we keep ‘Christ’ in Christmas?” I’ll address each one separately.
Did Jesus Christ exist?
I have no reason to doubt that Jesus of Nazareth did, indeed, exist. The Jewish historian Josephus mentions Jesus twice in his The Antiquities of the Jews although some historians doubt their authenticity. The first Pope, St. Peter, is regarded by the Catholic Church to have been one of the 12 Disciples so he would have known Jesus personally. Perhaps these references can’t be 100 percent validated but they haven’t been disproved either. I have no doubt he lived but I do doubt that he looked anything like he is commonly depicted. I suspect that he looked, er, more Jewish or Middle Eastern.
Should we keep “Christ” in Christmas?
Although I don’t wear the Christian label, I grew up celebrating Christmas with at least an acknowledgment of its religious significance as a celebration of Christ’s birth and the spirit of peace and goodwill toward men. I’m certain Jesus was actually born in the spring (Luke 2:8) and December 25th was chosen to celebrate Christ’s Mass by Papal decree in order to convert the Roman pagans and later the Germanic pagans who observed the Winter Solstice. Historical considerations aside, I’ve always enjoyed the “spirit” of the holiday and the message of peace on Earth and good will toward Men. It used to be a holiday that brought out the best in the human spirit.
Over the years Christmas has become little more than extreme consumerism and commercial exploitation that brings out the worst in the human spirit. Now our personal worth is annually measured by the monetary value of the gifts we give and receive rather than by our kindness and generosity.
I miss hearing Christmas carols and seeing Nativity scenes. Is their conspicuous absence due to zealous political correctness, our fear of offending anyone who might not be a Christian? Well, political correctness be damned! Maybe Christmas is no longer the exclusive domain of Christianity but, Christian or not, we can still understand and appreciate the spirit of Christmas. It’s much more than the celebration of the birth of the Christian savior, it’s about the hope for mankind and our potential to do good for our fellow man.