Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Have Yourself a Merry Unitarian Christmas

A repeat of last year's post.

Numerous articles and blogs have noted the strong case to doubt Christmas' authentically "Christian" origins. Christ probably wasn't born on Dec. 25. The Puritans banned the holiday because it wasn't authentically Christian. And many of its rituals trace to the pagan celebration of the Winter Solstice or Saturnalia.

The modern understanding of Christmas is also significantly influenced by Charles Dickens' class "A Christmas Carol." Some Christians argue we need to put "Christ" back into Christmas and remind folks what "Christmas" is supposed to be all about. They might want to turn to Dickens' classic in support of that cause; but it would do them no good.

Charles Dickens, you see, was a Unitarian Christian. And "A Christmas Carol" preaches a decidedly (19th Century) Unitarian message on Christmas. To Unitarians, "Christianity" was all about good works and good will, NOT God's grace through Christ's atonement. Indeed, Unitarians view Jesus as the greatest moral teacher, someone who "saved" man through his stellar moral example, not blood atonement. And "A Christmas Carol" hardly ever mentions Jesus at all.

Now, orthodox Christians likewise appreciate good works and good will. But that is secondary to God's grace through the shed blood of Jesus Christ -- God the Son Incarnate. And "A Christmas Carol" celebrates this message that the orthodox could consider at best secondary or incidental, not the central theme of the Christian religion.

That said, have a Merry Unitarian Christmas.


jimmiraybob said...

And a belated Happy Bill of Rights Day (Dec 15) to all.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

I like your justaposition of "The Christmas Carol" and it meaning with the "Bill of Rights"....

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, and Yuletide Greetings, all of you...

Daniel said...

Interesting. I'll probably have it in mind next time I see or hear the story. Jesus's shed blood rarely is emphasized in the telling of the Christmas story. That is foreshadowed in Matthew's version of the story but not in Luke's.

Of course, the central message, of God coming to earth, is also not very unitarian and not a feature of The Chrstimas Carol (as far as I can recall).

Tom Van Dyke said...

Also from 2008:

"And how did Tim behave?" asked Mrs. Cratchitt... "As good as gold," said Bob, "and better. Somehow he gets thoughtful, sitting by himself so much, and thinks the strangest things you ever heard. He told me, coming home, that he hoped the people saw him in church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember, upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk, and blind men see."

I don't exactly know what a "unitarian" Christmas is. Tiny Tim is "Christian" enough for me.

Have a Happy Merry...Whatever.