The first couple years of this blog I published a post on the use of “X” in the place of Christ’s name in the word Christmas. The argument was less about putting Christ back into Christmas, which would be a little unorthodox since it’s unlikely that Christ was born this time of year, let alone the historic origin of our traditional celebration of Christmas. Nevertheless, it is certainly within the realm of Christian liberty to celebrate the tradition of Christmas.
However, more and more there is public opposition to the tradition of Christmas and the celebration of Christ’s birth, “X-mas” is perhaps just the most obvious. As in previous posts on this topic, I must once again humbly disagree with a man and ministry that I largely admire.
In this post, What Does the X in Xmas Mean, Dr. Sproul of Ligonier Ministries annually provides a Christian apologetic on the use of the “X” in X-mas, boiling it down to a simple substitution of the Koine Greek letter Chi (X), the first letter in the word Christ (Christos), in the place of the Christ. It’s a post that has been shared numerous times by pastors and bloggers over the years with a much larger audience than this one. Dr. Sproul summarizes, “There’s a long and sacred history of the use of X to symbolize the name of Christ, and from its origin, it has meant no disrespect.”
Having now completed my first year of Greek, just enough to be dangerous and highly irresponsible, my conclusion on this defense of X remains exactly the same as it was in 2009, namely that the majority of those using Xmas have little to zero understanding of the Koine Greek letter chi (X) nor it’s historical function as a representation of the name of Christ (see also Chi-ro).
Case in point, let’s cherry-pick a X-mas news story from today’s headlines, like this one http://www.app.com/story/entertainment/music/2016/12/18/glen-burtnik-brought-xmas-back-new-jersey/95585288/ where a former Styx band member is reigniting a performance known as Xmas Xtravaganza. Would anyone reasonably conclude that Glenn Burtnik is simply honoring the tradition of recognizing Christ with the Koine Greek representation of Chi (X)? Hardly. In fact, I think one would be hard pressed to find any Xmas sales, ads, articles, news, etc. where the use of Xmas was an informed use of the Greek letter “X”, rather than an obvious attempt to omit the name of Christ.
Christ doesn’t need put back in Christmas, at least not the traditional consumerist celebration that we’ve come to call that day. However, we also need to be aware of society’s overt attempts to dismiss the name of Christ at every opportunity.
When you see Xmas in use, feel free to be disturbed. Not because Christ has been taken out of Christmas, but because the world hates Christ and will go to any measure to dismiss Him as the Son of God who suffered and died for the salvation of sinners.
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.” John 15:18
“9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11
*image credit http://blog.dictionary.com/xmas-christogram/