another view on Christmas

As I drove to work today, I was listening to “Fresh Air” on Public Radio. Today, Terry was interviewing a man named Bart Ehrman who has written a book called Misquoting Jesus. Bart used to be an evangelical Christian, but gradually became an agnostic as he discovered contradictions within the Biblical text and alterations in the text over the centuries.
Terry asked him how he felt, as an agnostic, about Christmas. I found his reply interesting. He said that unlike some other people he knew, he didn’t dread the Christmas season, he liked Christmas. He liked Christmas trees and giving gifts. Then he said something I didn’t follow about “demythologising” and then, to my surprise, related the gospel message:
The story of Christmas is the story of God’s son who was given to us as a gift, and later gave his own life for us.
The story is one of giving, he said, and the moral is that we should be more giving. It probably comes as a surprise to no one that this moral didn’t send me very far. God becoming man, ministering face-to-face to all Judah from the humble to the mighty, dying an excruciating death on the cross to reconcile sinful humanity to God, then coming back to life and ascending to heaven to rule with the Father seems awfully, well, forceful to get across such a simple message that we probably all could have agreed on anyway.
This man doesn’t seem to be anti-Bible at all, and he said in the interview that the Bible is at the heart of our civilization and culture. It just has the unfortunate flaw, he believes, of not being true.
As Hercule Poirot would say, it gives one furiously to think.

Leave a Reply