This is repost from last year, but I feel it will continue to be relevant for many, many years. Just recently, Ligonier.com ministries (R.C. Sproul) published an article defending the use of Xmas. While Dr. Sproul is a teacher that I have learned much from, I must humbly disagree with him on this assertion. In that post, one that has been promoted by Christian leaders such as Tim Challies and Mark Driscoll, Dr. Sproul states that the “X” in Christmas is like the R in R.C. from his own name, simply an initial. His defense is centered on the use of the first letter of the Greek word for Christos, which translated into our alphabet is the letter X.
The article concludes with the following statement, “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.” Dr. Sproul is a man of logic, and as I previously mentioned one whom I respect, however this argument fails the logic test. It assumes that everyone knows that the X in Xmas represents the Greek letter for Christ and that simply isn’t the case. When the atheist or agnostic uses Xmas we can rest assured they are not manipulating the Greek alphabet to reflect the name of Christ.
People need to see the name of Christ. They need to be confronted by Him. Children need to wonder what the meaning of Christmas is. They need to ask, who is this Christ that we celebrate? Simply stated the use of X as a substitute can be rationalized away to mean anything at all. Quite frankly, I’m not impressed with linguistic substitutions. His name is Jesus Christ, not J.C., not X. He is King and as such deserves His name respected.
Growing up in a Christian family, we always referred to Jesus’ birthday as Christmas. I was taught that anything contrary to that, specifically Xmas, was an attempt to remove Christ from His proper place. We’ve all seen shopping ads, movies, cards, etc. that say Merry Xmas or the like, instead of Christmas. You might remember a few years ago there was a major push by the retail industry to remove Christmas altogether in favor of the more politically correct Happy Holidays, which was deemed less offensive to other religions, Islam, traditional Judaism, atheism, etc. This isn’t a new argument, as it seems every year we hear how “Christ is being taken out of Christmas.”
Add to this the explosion of social media, Twitter, Facebook, etc., not to mention the texting craze, and there is an ever present usage of Xmas in order to save character space or too avoid typing out the word Christmas. In addition to this, Christ professing believers are also becoming more prone to the use of Xmas and justify its usage based on the Greek letter Chi or “X”, the first letter of Christ in the Greek, which also corresponds to the first letter in Xmas. In fact, some proponents for Xmas usage might even argue that this abbreviation dates back 1000 years, before there were malls, advertisements, or any attempt by the media to push for political correctness. My problem with any usage of the word is multifaceted so allow me to elaborate.
Let’s observe what’s going on in today’s society. First, there are non-believers who are attempting to actually remove the usage of Christmas because it’s not politically correct and might be determined offensive. An example of this would be the omission of the word Christmas from the entire 2009 Macy’s Christmas catalog. Several other recent examples include, but are not limited to, multiple firefighter departments being asked to remove Merry Christmas signs. Next we have those, who in an attempt to be cool or slick with character usage have saved at least 3 seconds off of texting time and 5 (Christmas – Christ + X = 5, for you math majors) characters off of any Tweets, a fascinating display of efficiency. Finally, there are those Christians who are quite simply too smart for their own good, in using Xmas because of the ancient Greek alphabet. So I ask, how is one to determine through the usage of this word, whether it is out of suppression of the knowledge of God, as Romans 1:21 teaches, whether it is out of carelessness (or laziness), or whether the intent is to prove a more profound knowledge of Greek linguistics? The answer is there is no difference. Intentional or not, this is a suppression of Christ.
This post isn’t just about keeping Christ in Christmas, it’s about professing the name Jesus all year long and proclaiming His miraculous, prophecy fulfilling birth as a symbol of hope that a Messiah was born with the sole purpose of dying for our sins, yours and mine. The world wants to destroy as many reminders as they can about Christ, whether it it is placing emphasis on commercialism and Santa during Christmas or calling it Xmas, removing In God We Trust from our currency and federal buildings, or declaring it hate speech to proselytize and attempt to convert non-believers to Christianity. Maybe I was raised too old school and not “relevant” enough by today’s standards, but my Bible says “we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles” (I Corinthians 1:23 ESV) so Christ will be a stumbling block and I know that His name causes division (Matthew 10:34-39) therefore I will all the more proudly proclaim the name of Christ not just on the day we recognize His birth, but every day of the year. Ask yourself this the next time you’re tempted to label those decoration boxes Xmas or you want to text Merry Xmas to your friends, does it align with Colossians 3:17 ESV, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 1 Corinthians 1:18-25
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this! Xmas: OK? Not OK? Disrespectful? Or simply a misunderstood phrase?
Merry X-mas to me always seemed like a lazy way of sending the greeting. Now that you bring this up – I would be in agreement with you. I would say: Disrespectful. Besides, why would anyone want to leave out the name of our Savior…who’s name is powerful and is above all names.
Thank you for the comment Sandra! You bring up an interesting question, one that I think should garner more attention by those Christians who defend the use of X-mas.
Have a Merry Christmas,