Scott Lively on Christmas Mythology

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As a cultural tradition Christmas is a great holiday, but as a representation of Christianity to the world it teaches more mythology than it does Bible truth and I’m not just talking about Santa Claus.

I don’t want to “spoil Christmas” for the believers who love the Christmas mythology we’ve grown up with, but let me remind everyone that God’s reality is ALWAYS far more satisfying, edifying and “magical” than any human-created alternatives. And the parts of a story that misrepresent facts cannot be from God, because “it is impossible for God to lie” (Hebrews 6:18).

Let’s start with unpacking the word “magical” by talking about the “Magi from the East.” In the cartoonish version we’ve grown used to, the Magi are like Disney’s fairy godmother, popping in with a few gifts for the newborn Jesus to highlight his royalty, then disappearing. Their actual identity and significance is glossed over, despite tantalizing clues from Bible history that highlight a mystery far more captivating than Hollywood could invent. The scriptural facts even explain why Mickey Mouse’s peaked hat in The Sorcerers Apprentice is adorned with stars and planets.

Then there’s the false depiction of Jesus as a newborn when the Magi arrived, when the Bible clearly reports that he was a toddler. Consider the fascinating implications of the actual communication possible between a two-year old Jesus and those who came to honor and adore Him. Every parent and grandparent knows how very different it is to spend time with a toddler than with a newborn. Think how different Christmas would be if we talked about Jesus as a real boy and not a baby doll.

OK, so maybe conflating events in Nativity Scenes can be excused as artistic license, but not unless our telling of the fuller Christmas story corrects the error, which it usually doesn’t.

Then there’s December 25th. Was Jesus actually born then, and if not, when, and why pretend?

There are more questions to be asked but my point is that people with a true Biblical worldview don’t settle for faith-weakening mythology because the true facts of the Bible are far more interesting – and faith building!

And it’s our willingness to accept and perpetuate mythology over Bible truth that has ridiculously morphed into the Santa Clause narrative we’re now stuck defending as symbolic of our faith.

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