Second Reformed Church

Monday, December 16, 2013

Review: "The War on Christmas"


The War on Christmas, edited by Bodie Hodge is a beautifully illustrated collection of essays written to set the record straight about a number of myths and misunderstandings about Christmas.  It is very readable, and could be used as a coffee table book.

Throughout the essays, the thesis which ties them all together is that there must have been a real, human, historical Adam in order for Jesus to be the Promised Savior.    This is not as strange a thesis as some might think at first glance:  Paul explains the relationship between the sin of the first Adam and the salvation through the Second Adam, “For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (I Corinthians 15:21-22, ESV) – and so forth – if there was no first Adam, Christ cannot be the Second Adam, and salvation is a myth.

The authors look at the origin of Christmas, showing it is not a replacement of pagan ceremonies, as popularly taught.  And they argue that the Christmas tree is unique, and not a new Asherah pole.  They consider how many magi there were, when they came, what the angels did, the problem of having all the characters of the history at the manger, etc.

The most interesting piece for me was the nineteenth chapter in which the author looks at the archeological evidence and the meaning of the words used in the Gospels to deduce that the manger Jesus was born in was actually the first floor of a peasant’s home – probably a relative of Joseph.

The one weak argument I found was in the second chapter where the author argues that the Scripture does not forbid celebrating Christmas, therefore, it is permissible to celebrate Christmas.  The celebrating of holidays is one I am muddle through currently, and I am in a tradition which (despite practice at times) holds to the regulative principle which says that if the Scripture does not say to do something, we ought not to do something (specifically with regards to worship).  The tact the author takes is more along Lutheran lines, which seems a weaker argument to me.

All in all, I found the book informative and enjoyable, and I would recommend it to anyone who is being told that the Scripture is wrong or that Christmas is based on pagan traditions.  One will find in these pages that these allegations are simply not true.

 [This review appears on my blog and at Amazon.com.  I received a copy of this book free from Handlebar Publishing for review.]

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