The following is a reprint of an article published by Ryan Shinn in his channel on Examiner.com
This year the keep Christ in Christmas debate has heated up anew with First Baptist Church of Dallas pastor, Robert Jeffress, new website listing businesses that are refusing to acknowledge Christmas. He has appeared on Fox News as well as local news outlets discussing this apparently controversial site.
The current debate seems to have three sides, those who support Jeffress for taking a stand on this issue, secularists who are attacking Jeffress for various reasons, and Christians who think the whole debate is distracting from the purpose of Christmas.
Eric Wallace’s blog, The Unwasted Life, summarizes this last perspective quite well with a list of reasons why Jeffress is off-base. Yet while Eric makes very good points about why Christians should not take part in this debate at all, most of the discussion seems to be missing the point.
Most of the anti-Jeffress discussion falls into three basic categories. The first is that while Christmas is about the birth of Jesus, it has always been primarily a secular holiday with most of its elements derived from pagan sources that have little to do with the actual birth of Christ. People have pointed out that elements such as Christmas trees do not have Christian beginnings, but most of these things were adopted by early Christian missionaries as cultural touch points used to relate the gospel to the people’s pagan traditions. This sort of evolution is happening currently with Halloween. Many churches celebrate the holiday as a Harvest Festival and exchange the day’s original purpose with a Christ-centered message.
The second attack is that Christians have no business getting involved with political debates that play into the hands of the secularists. The problem with this argument is that it misses the point entirely. Many Christians are simply tired of the expectation that they will spend a lot of money for gifts at stores that refuse to even mention Christmas. The message is, “give us money while we disrespect you.” Many Christians are responding with their dollars. This is not as much a sign of protest, but capitalist democracy.
Finally, they attack Jeffress directly for more controversial statements he has made, particularly regarding homosexuals and Muslims. This is not surprising. When people have little of value to say in defense of their positions, they often resort to ad hominem attacks. Whether Jeffress is against homosexuality or Islam, or kills puppies, it has no bearing on this issue. -Ryan