Category: Commentary

Day 5: The Meaning of Christmas

Happy fifth day of Christmas, and welcome back to the 2017-18 Yule Blog, where we aim to keep the holiday fires burning right up through Twelfth Night on January 6. Yesterday, King Herod’s massacre of every child in Bethlehem under the age of two shocked us out of the idea that Christmas is basically a sentimental holiday about sugarplums and […]

Day 4: The Hinge of Fate

Everybody wants to reduce Christmas to a Christmas card: we’d like this to be a pretty and sentimental tale. But today, the third day after the present orgy beneath the tree, is also the day that the traditional liturgical calendar tries to slap us into serious reflection on the meaning of the event, jolting us […]

Day 3: Born of a What???

The specifically Christian idea of the Virgin Birth is one of the most controversial and confusing theological concepts around, and a Yuletide blog that didn’t take on the topic wouldn’t be doing its job. It is not quite the most controversial verse in the Bible, but Luke 1:35 comes close. Mary has just replied to the angel […]

Day 2: Rolling the Credits

As we start to look at this whole Christmas phenomenon, it makes sense to begin with the basics. The first questions any sensible person asks about Christmas are pretty straightforward: What event is this holiday supposed to commemorate, and how do we know it happened? The short answers are that Christmas is a holiday commemorating […]

Day 1: Christmas Gift!

Merry Christmas and happy holiday to all! Christmas is a tense morning wherever the Meads gather, as we jump whenever the telephone rings. There’s an old South Carolina custom that when two friends or relations greet one another on Christmas morning, the first one who says “Christmas gift!” gets to select one of the other […]

Is the end near for religion?

“At the heart of every civilization, religious values are asserted.” — Fernand Braudel Even at this season that should be about spiritual re-awakening, it is hard to deny that we live in an increasingly post-religious civilization. Virtually everywhere in the high-income world, faith, particularly tied close to institutionalized religion, has been dropping for a decade, […]

Can Evangelicalism Survive Donald Trump and Roy Moore?

For centuries, renewal movements have emerged within Christianity and taken on different forms and names. Often, they have invoked the word “evangelical.” Followers of Martin Luther, who emphasized the doctrine of salvation by faith alone, described themselves in this way. The Cambridge clergyman Charles Simeon, who led the Low Church renewal movement within the Church of […]

Rendering Unto Caesar: Was Jesus A Socialist?

“Regardless of your religious beliefs, Larry Reed proves it takes a wild leap of imagination to view Jesus as a Progressive Socialist. This is a critically important issue because secular Progressives would like to control the moral high ground by capturing religion to support their elitist, statist ideology, which would allow them to do even […]

Do Evangelicals Need a Better Gospel?

There has been a lot of talk in recent days about “evangelical” and whether that’s a political or cultural label, a theological label, or inescapably both. I don’t presume to have the perfectly objective perspective. But let me lay out what I see from my corner, and then tell you the three things I’m willing […]

American Jews — Not Just the Orthodox — Should Join Christians in Defending Religious Liberty

In a recent piece entitled “Why are Orthodox Organizations Embracing Christian Values?” Rabbi Jill Jacobs attacked Orthodox Jews for opposing the Obama Administration’s now-rescinded health insurance mandate, which required employers to provide or be complicit in providing some abortion-inducing drugs and sterilizations. She incorrectly suggested that this position conflicts with Jewish law, suggesting that these Orthodox Jews came […]