This Yesterday morning I read Robert Wilonsky’s post First Baptist’s Robert Jeffress to Publicly Shame Stores That Don’t Celebrate Christmas at the Unfair Park blog. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. What are they doing?
If you haven’t already heard by now, the First Baptist Church of Dallas has set up GrinchAlert.com to catalog businesses or organizations that don’t celebrate Christmas properly. Here is a press release from First Baptist:
DALLAS, Dec. 7, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — First Baptist Church of Dallas launched www.GrinchAlert.com today; a site dedicated to showcasing businesses that do not show outward signs of supporting Christmas through means of marketing, advertising and community relations – and also, the ones that do.
Dr. Robert Jeffress, pastor of the 13,000-member First Baptist Church of Dallas, was motivated to create www.GrinchAlert.com after observing that several businesses nationwide have been reported by the media after removing Christmas trees and choosing to use generic holiday language during the Christmas season.
“I wanted to do something positive to encourage businesses to acknowledge Christmas and not bow to the strident voices of a minority who object to the holiday,” Jeffress said.
Dr. Jeffress announced the launch of www.GrinchAlert.com this morning on the morning show of KCBI 90.9 FM (www.kcbi.org), the church’s 100,000 watt radio station (one of largest Christian radio stations in the country).
Consumers are encouraged to visit www.GrinchAlert.com and submit names of business or organization that refuses to acknowledge Christmas, and should thus be placed on “Naughty List.” The group is also seeking names of businesses or organizations that do acknowledge Christmas, which should be placed on the “Nice List.” GrinchAlert.com also has a Facebook Fan Page.
The Naughty and Nice list will be read every morning between now and Christmas at 7:40 a.m. CST, on KCBI radio. The list can also be found at www.GrinchAlert.com. The first business featured on Jeffress’ “Nice List” is the Providence Bank in Southlake, where the CEO, who is also a member of Jeffress’ church, has placed a nativity scene in the bank’s lobby.
“I hope GrinchAlert.com will encourage other businesses and organizations to take similar actions,” Jeffress said.
For media inquiries, please contact Jacob Day at First Baptist Church Dallas, 214-969-7760, firstname.lastname@example.org.
You might think that being a Christian, I would support Dr. Robert Jeffress and First Baptist Dallas on this one. You might want to think again. I don’t support this effort at all, in fact I reject it entirely. Let me outline several issues with this effort:
The Bible does not record the date of Christ’s birth for us. According to many, his birth was in the spring.
The Bible does not command us to celebrate the anniversary of his birth. There is no record in the Gospels of Mary, and the apostles gathering with Jesus to celebrate his birthday.
The reason for the Incarnation and his birth is the work of Christ, his perfect obedience to the Mosaic law, his penal-substitutionary death on the cross, and his resurrection for our justification. Thus, Christmas is all about the Gospel. The Christmas tree leads to the crucifixion tree. His first coming, leads to his second coming.
The world, in its fallen-nature, loves darkness and rejects God.
Christ is calling his church out of the world to be a light to the world.
Christians are called to proclaim repentance and the forgiveness of sins and to make disciples of people from all nations, languages, tongues, and tribes.
The church and the world are separate entities (Two Kingdoms). As Christians we are called to in the world, not of the world. God rules all creation, the sacred (holy) and the secular (common).
The GrinchAlert.com site clearly seeks to showcases businesses because
marketing, advertising and community relations. How much more secular can you get? Businesses, marketing, advertising — this is not church work we are talking about. Businesses have no requirement to recognize Christmas.
While I am not a fan of “Happy Holidays” or “Seasons Greetings”, I recognize that there is a season of holidays in America: Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanza, Christmas, Winter Solstice, New Year’s Day, College Bowl season culminating in the Super Bowl. If I left out your favorite holiday this time of year, I apologize.
Regarding Jeffress’ comment about
not bow to the strident voices of a minority who object to the holiday. We live in a secular society. Everyone is America is not a Christian. Everyone in the world is not a Christian. This is not a theocracy. This is no different from Islam’s Sharia law. And we know that Jeffress is doesn’t support Islam.
Does Jeffress realize that Christians might object to Christmas too? Yep, that’s right, not every Christian thinks we should celebrate Christmas. The Puritans did not celebrate Christmas! In fact, the Puritan stand against Christmas mostly held sway in New England until the middle of the 19th Century. We could learn a thing or two from the story of Puritan Cotton Mather:
On a December morning, a congregation has gathered to worship, and the pastor steps to the pulpit to deliver a pre-Christmas sermon. Quoting Romans 14, he encourages those in his flock who celebrate Christmas and those who do not to treat each other with brotherly love and mutual respect. He then cautions both factions to avoid the sins and excesses often associated with that season of the year.
Let’s be honest, Christmas does build upon plenty of pagan traditions. That is one the reasons the Puritans rejected it.
In Romans 14, Christians are called to not pass judgment on one another in areas where we have freedom on Christ. Christmas is clearly one area, since it is not commanded in Scripture.
John Calvin was opposed to the bad things that have sometimes come to be associated with Christmas, he wasn’t against keeping the holiday as a celebration of the birth of Christ and saw it as a matter of liberty for the churches and the individual.
If Christmas is a matter of liberty for individual Christians, why should we expect non-believers to wish us a Merry Christmas?
There is a growing movement (Advent Conspiracy among others) that reject’s the commercialism and excess of Christmas. So why play up the marketing of Christmas and voting with dollars?
Individual Christians and Christian-churches have the freedom in America to celebrate Christmas if they choose. This freedom must be defended, this we can agree upon. Jeffress’ “Grinch” project is not about the restriction of religious expression.
Another problem with GrinchAlert.com is the user-generated content. Who is to set the standard? Is Chesapeake Energy really nice because they have
Innumerable trees on their property have been intricately wrapped in beautiful LED lights of all colors.So that’s what Christmas is all about?
One could argue that there is a bigger issue at Christmas when churches take Sunday off when Christmas lands near the weekend like it does again this year. I can’t tell from First Baptist’s website if they will be hold services on the 26th, but I pray they will.
The story of Christmas is the story of God’s work of salvation. That said, the world is blinded to this truth, walking in darkness. We can’t change anyone’s mind on this, only the power of the Gospel through the work of the Holy Spirit can open eyes and ears.
We need to worry about the meaning of the season and not the spirit of Christmas. If Jeffress really wants Christmas to be about Jesus Christ, then preach the Gospel. Tell everyone the Good News of Jesus, Our Emmanuel:
Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”
Rev. Richard D. Phillips wrote Is Christmas Christian? in 1999. His summary is as follows:
I acknowledge that much about Christmas does injustice to the regulative principle, and we certainly want to be careful in this regard. But it wonderfully does justice to the redemptive principle, for which the Son of God came from heaven to earth, that He might claim and deliver a world that was lost in darkness.
This is the message we need to be known for, not a Grinch List!
- Living in God’s Two Kingdoms: A Biblical Vision for Christianity and Culture
- Dual Citizens: Worship and Life between the Already and the Not Yet
- The Christ of Christmas
- Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus: Experiencing the Peace and Promise of Christmas
- White Horse Inn: Billboard Wars
- Darryl G. Hart: Catechetical Preaching Solves the Church Calendar Problem