Theological Truth

18 Dec

Christmas is interesting. The origins are debatable. Though it’s easy to dismiss modern interpretations as revisionist, the questions are valid. Why would so much occur during winter when cold weather and inept clothing would make travel difficult? Why would shepherds be out in the freezing middle of the night? What about the similarities between Christmas and pagan celebrations?

As neither a historian nor a theologian, I am ill-equipped to answer such questions. Similarly, I wonder if they matter.

In other words, the savior arrived. Perhaps it was around now or perhaps it was in summer. Regardless, He entered the terrestrial realm.

My question is, what is important? That is, should we concern ourselves more with the truth of the timing or more with the Truth?

I rather enjoy Christmas even as I realize it may be based on fallacies. The season fills me with bonhomie and selflessness. As many of you readers are more biblically erudite, is the fact that the the history may be constructed enough to shed it? Or does the theological truth supplant the literal truth? Conversely, am I simply wrong in thinking the historical telling contradicts the biblical telling?


Posted by on December 18, 2012 in religion


10 responses to “Theological Truth

  1. Will S.

    December 18, 2012 at 11:05 am

    I don’t think the timing particularly matters, but that the Church indeed does well to have a liturgical calendar, to set aside a season to emphasize the Incarnation, and another to emphasize the Death and Resurrection; some may object that every Sunday, we recall both – which is true – but the bonus is, the culture at large is forced to reckon with faith publically, at least twice a year, even if they try to cover it over and water it down, Christianity still has a place in the public square for at least two times a year, that so far, the forces of secularism haven’t yet been able to eradicate. And that is good.

  2. Will S.

    December 18, 2012 at 11:18 am

    The other important thing about Christmas, is, it’s ours, darnit, and not theirs. They hate it, they want to ban it, just as they do Halloween and all other traditions of our people. That’s why it’s more important than ever; thanks to them, Christmas has become political.

    So, Merry Christmas, one and all, and to them that hate it, fuck you. 🙂

  3. electricangel

    December 18, 2012 at 11:51 am

    Let every “Happy Holidays” be met with a Merry Christmas. For those who object, let them know how objectionable the idea of January 1 as a “holiday” is, as it is the patriarchal Gregorian calendar being shoved down the throats of non-Catholics everywhere. See if they don’t start a campaign to get the Jewish and Chinese calendars accepted as equally valid!

    As to timing, Dr. Stratton, one Church thought (not scriptural) was that Jesus would die on the day of the Incarnation. That would be about March 25th, making the first Easter March 27th, leaving the idea of December 25th plausible.

    Should you want to come over to our side of the aisle, the Pope has a new book out (in his Clark Kent personality as Joseph Ratzinger) about the REAL Christmas.

  4. Dr. Eric Stratton

    December 18, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    Thanks for the feedback, gentlemen. I agree about the Liturgical calendar. I’m also a “merry Christmas” fellow.

    That book sounds interesting.

  5. a tiny little mouse

    December 18, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    Christmas festivities have their roots in Yuletime celebration, but I don’t care. My Northern European ancestors have celebrated it for hundreds of years, that’s good enough for me. Were I an unbeliever I would still defend it, because that’s the tradition of my people.

  6. freebird

    December 19, 2012 at 1:30 am

    Certain theologians have calculated that late December was the time of Christ conception.

    So I would say yes, it is important to point out history is different than the Biblical account.
    But the spirit of the season remains,just know the truth of what and when you’re celebrating.

  7. tbc

    December 19, 2012 at 3:34 am

    Well I am a historian (or at least trained as one) and theologian (or am training as one). Christmas is an amalgam holiday – combining pre-existing pagan traditions with Christian themes. Good Christians should have no problem with that and indeed should celebrate it because the ability to adapt and appropriate a variety of existing traditions is one of the distinguishing marks of the faith. To be a Christian, one need not to become a Jew first — that was the great 1st century debate that the NT chronicles. Thus it is quite possible and indeed quite right that as people became Christians, they would re-interpret their existing cultural traditions and practices in light of the gospel – keeping some, discarding others, and modifying yet others. Christianity is not Islam and thus does not privilege one single cultural expression as THE exclusive mode of divine revelation. So one can be a Christian of north European extraction and dance merrily around the tree decorated with baubles whilst celebrating the incarnation, and one can be a Christian of native north American extraction and beat drums in a circle while burning tobacco as incense to God.

    Christ by his incarnation in one culture became everyman in every culture — bringing both redemption and judgment.

    So Merry Christmas!

  8. ballista74

    December 20, 2012 at 5:40 am

    Christmas, along with Easter and Halloween, is an interesting controversy to be sure. I’ve researched it enough to be convinced of the truth of what is going on, myself. Much as anything Red Pill from a traditional (and not Biblical) Christian standpoint, I usually have to do much prayer and reflection in order to decide whether to bring the topic up in light of Scripture. Maybe a day will come that it will seem fruitful to address your questions fully, maybe not. But I hope you keep seeking the answers to them.

  9. empathologism

    December 20, 2012 at 7:19 am

    I was recently intrigued by a sort of ranting theologian who was breathlessly, in full conspiracy voce, sharing how the REAL Christians wouldnt celebrate these holidays, Easter, Christmas, etc.
    I loath the word, but……whatever…..
    Like ballista, I may some day catch fire to chase that but frankly if I have found no sacrilege so to speak, its off the radar and we celebrate and worship with the masses.
    There are other fish to fry in the church that have more at stake than this.