Join Kurt and David for this Veracity Hill Christmas episode as they discuss the meaning of Emmanuel, Christmas myths, and more!
Listen to “Episode 128: Emmanuel – God with Us” on Spreaker.
Kurt: That is Brenda Lee, Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree. Merry Christmas to you from us here at Veracity Hill. Christmas 2018 is upon us and this is our Christmas episode. Unfortunately, Chris is off with family which means I am the one-man band, but here to help me get through our episode today is none other than my colleague and friend, Mr. David Montoya. How are you doing, David?
David: Just fine. Pleasure to be here.
Kurt: Great. Glad to have you. We’re going to be talking about Immanuel, God with us, and we’re going to be talking about Christmas, myths or misconceptions that people have, and I will be multitasking a bit, working the livestream here. David has actually learned some technical skills here regarding sound. He’s doing the sound, which is great. How do you think you’re doing so far?
David: So far, so good. We’ll just have to see how it progresses through the show.
Kurt: Things might get trickier as we go along.
Kurt: Good. If you have questions for us on our program today, we are going to be keeping track of the livestream as best I can here. You can also text in. I’ve got the simple texting plan that we have right in front of me here on my laptop. You can text the word VERACITY to 555-888 and I will get your questions or comments about the show and every now and then again we send updates about things that we are doing, upcoming guests, that sort of thing. First, I want to talk about that term Immanuel and it’s a term that people see in the Bible and this is a little known fact that sometimes it’s with an I and sometimes it’s with an E. I’m wondering, David. I’ll quiz you. I’m not sure if you know the answer to this, but do you know why that is that sometimes it appears as an I and sometimes as an E?
David: I believe it’s because of the Greek Iesous would be the same way in terms of the J in the English language, J wasn’t invented early on so I would imagine it probably has the same problem with the E.
Kurt: Right. Okay. I think that’s close. Here’s the historical record if you will. The I would come straight from a Hebrew translation, but the E is the Romanized Hebrew so what does Romanized mean? That means when the Latin text seeks to transliterate the Hebrew, because they’re different characters, so when you apply the Latin characters to the Hebrew word, that’s when you get the E. That’s the reason why sometimes Emmanuel appears as an I and other times as an E. Little known fact. I’ve seen people name their children Emmanuel frequently with an E. I’m not sure I’ve seen it with an I, but usually they just name their kids Joshua these days. That’s really what it meant. Immanuel, God with us, what does that mean? God with us. David. I know you’ve done some studying and for you as an Old Testament guy, God with us, has some real deep meaning. While I check on some of the technical things here, why don’t you enlighten us and tell us about God with us.
David: Certainly. We see throughout the Old Testament a number of occasions where theophanies or even Christophanies more likely the case occur. These are bits and snippets of a technical term where YHWH manifests Himself to a prophet or to a person in the Old Testament, sometimes in even a tangible way. We see the culmination of all of this in Exodus 34 and thereabouts where Moses is asking for the ultimate goal that every Jewish person would have in the ancient near East, which is let me see your face, the big one. Of course, YHWH responds to Moses, “Moses. Moses. Come on. You know I can’t do that, lest you die.” Of course, he gets the vision of the hinder parts and the instructions with the tabernacle is around this particular chapter and the culmination of all that occurs in Leviticus where the Spirit of God actually descends upon the tabernacle and the presence of YHWH is in the midst of the camp.
Kurt: So God with us is about the presence of the Lord there. It’s not just about a sort of intellectual, “I know God is with me.” There is a spiritual reality, not to use the term that Lutherans might take in a different context, but there’s a real presence there. So when the Scripture talks about God with us, it’s speaking of a time when there will be a dwelling among other humans and so God takes on flesh, takes on a human nature, and knows what human life is like, has experienced human life, has experienced everything except for sin the Scripture teaches us and so He can sympathize with our predicament because He lived among us and was one of us. That’s what the Scripture teaches. While it’s true that the second person of the Trinity was born, the second person of the Trinity was not created. This is one of the things I also want to make sure we mention on the show today. I actually read a statement, either the past week or two weeks ago that came out, something like 2/3 of Christians think Jesus was created. I’m going to quickly look this up here.
David: You’re referring to the Ligonier survey.
Kurt: Is that right? Recently came out.
David: Yes. State of theology and we see there that 2/3 of professing evangelicals actually believe in an Arian heresy where that is to say that Jesus is a creature created by God the Father and is essentially subservient to God the Father.
Kurt: Yeah. That’s very concerning.
David: That’s an understatement there. Very.
Kurt: It’s perhaps not surprising because there are a lot of folks who go to church and unfortunately, the pastors aren’t even that well-versed or they don’t go into the meat of Christian doctrine and theology about what the Scriptures really teach on something. It becomes more self-help stuff so yes, it is very concerning. It’s understandable, but not justified. The situation is understandable and it should be an encouragement to those of us with theological education to help out our churches to correct this. That’s why here on this program, that’s one of the things we try to do when we’re striving for truth, we want to talk about these things. Christians have historically believed that Jesus is not created but co-eternal with the Father of the same substance, homoiousios, By the way, this is one of the ways you can know if you’re really talking to Santa Claus, if you take your child to sit on Santa’s lap you can ask St. Nicholas, homoioousios or homoiousius. Right? Two o’s I believe. If St. Nick says “Huh?” You know you don’t have the real St. Nick that’s for sure. If St. Nick doesn’t know what you’re talking about, you don’t have the right St. Nick. Speaking of, in my small group, there was a quiz question for our little Christmas gathering about where St. Nick originated from. What was his country, David. Do you know? He’s got no clue.
David: Zero clue.
Kurt: I was the only one who knew this. Modern day Turkey is the answer. St. Nick is from modern day Turkey and the legend is true that he would go and give presents to people. He would give presents and throw them in their house and that’s how it all began. No mention of St. Nick punching Arius though in ongoing tradition.
David: And I’m sure he’s not omniscient either.
Kurt: Yeah. Right. He knows if you’ve been bad or good. That’s right.
David: Another thing that I see many pastors getting incorrect is the phrase that Jesus became a human. This is another very common phrase that is also incorrect technically speaking, theologically speaking. We say theologically correct that the second person of the Trinity entered into His creation in the person of Jesus Christ.
Kurt: Yeah. Entered into. That is interesting and I know sometimes the philosophers and theologians will really parse this out, what that means, what does it mean to have a human nature? Does the second person of the Trinity have these attributes? For example, William Lane Craig who advocates for a, this is a big term, Neo-Apollonarian Christology, it’s a term he doesn’t shy away from. He offers it as a proposed model I should say, that’s an important qualification, but he thinks the second person of the Trinity, has a human mind, not a uniquely created human mind, and the logos brings over that mind if you will. Philosophers and theologians parse out exactly how this works, but it’s important to sit within the boundaries of the Council of Chalcedon of 451. That’s one of the big important ecumenical councils. If you’re interested you can search that on Google, the Council of Chalcedon. I’ve also heard it pronounced Chalcedon, but I like Chalcedon. If we’re boring you here on the livestream. Let us know. I am paying attention here. I see comments from Tony, Michaela, she’s the most beautiful of all our listeners. Nick, Bob, Matt, thanks for tuning in today. Hopefully, I’m doing okay. Here’s Kyle. He’s already got a question. Kyle’s good for questions, thank you Kyle. Let me open this up here and see what your question is. He asks, “Do you think materialism/Santa has so taken over as central to Christmas in our culture that Christians or churches should purposefully fast from the gift giving and Santa traditions of the season?” Kyle. That’s a very good question. It’s certainly in the case that in our culture materialism reigns and watering down the purpose of the holiday has certainly occurred. I think it depends especially for Christian parent on how they utilize Santa as a symbol to teach their children not just life lessons for being a good, civil person, but important theological lessons as well. I’d like to thank Michaela and I are doing that. Certainly, giving of gifts is a tradition that pre-dates the Santa legend itself, I would think with the magi coming along. I don’t know when the stories begin to get conflated. I’d guess I’d have to research that, David, but it’s frequently conflated, the narratives of Luke and Matthew are conflated in such a way that our Christmas story includes the magi when Matthew’s account, which includes the magi, doesn’t say that it was directly after Jesus’s birth. In fact, let me open it up here. This is a misconception or a myth that people think about. They think about those Christmas pageants and all that.
David: Sure. I’m still looking for that mule. I still haven’t found it in the biblical record. While you’re turning there, I hope somebody can find that mule there.
Kurt: Alright. Here we are. Matthew 2, if you get out your Bible and want to follow along that’s fine or you can hit pause if you’re listening to this by recording.
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem
That’s all we’re told about the chronological dating. It just says “Now after Jesus was born.” It doesn’t say immediately after Jesus was born. It doesn’t say three months after He was born. It doesn’t even say three years after He was born.
David: Nor does it say they were Zoroastrians like some skeptics like to point out.
Kurt: Yes. It doesn’t say what their religious beliefs were. From what I understand about scholarship, we might take our best guess that they came from Babylon and that they had learned about the Jewish Scriptures during the time of the Babylonian exile. That’s where they may have learned about certain prophecies and how to look at the stars, very fascinating for those that want to look into it more. Michaela’s following along here. She comments, “St. Nicholas gave money to girls who did not have a dowry to get married or so I’ve read.” So he helped to let them have honor in their society I suppose. I’d have to look into that. That’s one of the things we like to do here. We like to look into research. We like to research. If we’re not confident in our beliefs we don’t tout them out there just sort of blindly in a foolhardy manner. We want to make sure that we’re careful about what we say, how we say it. We try to be clear. Sometimes we’re not clear with our language and that’s why having charitability in our conversations is important, even how we talk about Christmas and those sorts of things, having charity. Look in that. I worked in charity around Christmas. Okay. Moving along from the magi, we don’t know exactly when the magi came to visit, but it was certainly a fascinating account. It’s well-documented that Herod the Great certainly was a crazy man. He always thought that someone was out to get him, out to take his power. He had his son killed. I believe he even had his wife killed and so he did crazy things, so the command to kill all the infants certainly is not beneath him given who he is and so to that I also want to say this. Here’s another myth or misconception out there that some people have, they think that Herod was king, because some translations say king. He’s better understood as a governor and when he says go kill all the infants, he doesn’t say everywhere even. He just says Bethlehem. How many infants are you talking about with the slaughter of the infants? I forget who it was. One scholar or author tried to calculate. I think it may have been Paul Maier at Western Michigan University, the historian. He calculated something like, you’re dealing with maybe 5-20 infants. It’s not sort of this widespread genocide that some people think it is. When you consider what the population trends were back 2,000 years ago in little Bethlehem, how many infants there would be this time.
David: It wouldn’t be politically advantageous to perform such an act as well on such a wide scale.
Kurt: Look at that. Here is is. The Infant Massacre, History or Myth? I’m going to, when I get a chance, share this link in our thread, because it was Paul Maier who talked about this and I will get that number for you exactly as I continue looking here. If you have questions about Christmas, misconceptions about the narratives, about what the text says or doesn’t say, traditions, Tony. I know you and I were chatting. You were curious about the origin of the Christmas tree. We will touch upon that on today’s program. We are here with and for you today to answer your questions and to talk about Immanuel, God with us, but why don’t we take our break here this time and when we come back we’ll touch on the Christmas tree, we’ll talk more about Immanuel and presents and we’ll also play you some Christmas music as well. I want to talk about some great Christmas carols and their lyrics and how important they are so stick with us through this short break from our sponsor.
Kurt: Thanks for sticking with us through that short break from our sponsors. On today’s program, we are talking about Immanuel, God with us, and also we’re talking about misconceptions about Christmas and we might be playing some very nice Christmas music as well.
Kurt: That Nat King Cole. He really could sing.
Kurt: The night of the dear savior’s birth, when was that birth exactly? When was it that God came and entered into His creation? Well, of course, Christians celebrate it on December 25th which is a copy of the pagan, the Sol Invictus celebration. I’m just kidding, of course. It’s not, but that’s another myth that’s out there. Tradition holds, at least according to, there are some good Catholic sources which show that Christians were celebrating Christmas by the 2nd century and the Sol Invictus cult didn’t exist until the 4th century so if there is any evidence, any good evidence for this idea, it’s that the Romans were copying the Christians actually, so that’s interesting to look into and to study if you’re interested. There are a few good articles out there which detail this. Another question I want to talk about just quickly here is no room in the inn. That’s part of the Christmas pageant. Right? It’s a part of all the big special presentation when we smash the Gospels together, we try to see what they are presenting. No room in the inn. David. You know much about that?
David: Yeah. They make it seem all the time like a six-hour period of time in the movies and they’re rushing and hustling along and knocking on every door and apparently every single inn is occupied, but when we put it into context, we can see that it’s a festival time in the Biblical record and many pilgrims from many parts of the region would have been present in Jerusalem so the whole conception that it was a one-day or two-day affair I can assure you probably was not….
Kurt: Yeah. And one of the things with the inn, the concept of an inn, there’s a very robust sense of family in Jewish culture and so a man from the lineage of David would not go back to his hometown or the town of his ancestors and have to get a hotel. He would stay, they would seek refuge from a family member or even an extended family member. Here, Ben Witherington’s written a nice article at Christianity Today which explains this. No Room In The What? Mary and Joseph weren’t trying to check into a hotel. They were staying with relatives. Basically, here’s the way it worked. When you would approach and seek shelter from a family member, homes were built into caves and they would place animals at a lower part of the home, often in back, so that way the prized animals wouldn’t be stolen and upstairs in kind of like what we would think of as an apartment were the living quarters and in the front there was the guest room for travelers. The Greek word there is kataluma, alright? When Luke uses it, and Luke elsewhere in his writings uses a different word for an inn or a hotel, a commercial property. He uses pandocheion, In the Christmas account, he uses a different term and that term is better translated as guest room. There was no room for them in the guest room and so this is why they went down and stayed with the animals and there was a manger. Okay? It was the feeding trough. Right? That conception is there, but they didn’t go out back behind the inn as the Christmas pageants often the show, riding on the donkey of course.
David: Which doesn’t exist. Everybody walked in that period of time normally.
Kurt: With the inn, it was about a guest room. There was no room in the guest room. That’s another misconception out there. I’m not sure if those that are watching have known about that, but that’s another misconception out there and we should maybe try to begin, especially the Christian schools that put on the Christmas plays, we really should try to correct these misconceptions and understandings out there. Cultural things like this can take time to fix, but they can be fixed. We shouldn’t just leave it, because it’s what we’ve done. What we’ve done in the past can change. People think ways of life don’t change and so they keep doing the same old things. I’ve often thought about when they think about politics and campaigning and state borders. people think the state borders, state lines are set in stone and they’re not. Just because we have done something someway doesn’t mean it has to be that way in the future. At any rate, I’m digressing. Immanuel. God with us. I want to read some lyrics from one of my favorite Christmas carols. Hark, The Herald Angels Sing. There are a number of different renditions and versions, the second verse, this is Charles Wesley’s version written 1739.
highest Heav’n ador’d,
CHRIST, the Everlasting Lord,
Late in Time behold him come,
Offspring of a Virgin’s Womb.
Veil’d in Flesh, the Godhead see,
Hail th’ Incarnate Deity!
Pleas’d as Man with Men t’ appear
JESUS, our Immanuel here!
David: Isn’t that beautiful?
Kurt: Great stuff. Every church should be singing this song and this version from Charles Wesley, just powerful, talking about the incarnation and what that means, pleased as man with men to appear, that He would come and live life among us, invite us to participate in the life of His kingdom and to die on a cross and to pay our penalty on that cross. If you haven’t had a chance go back probably a year or so ago. David and I did a great episode on the atonement and what that means and the different models out there and ones we’re more sympathetic to. That’s why, maybe you caught that David when I talked about the substitutionary atonement, but I prefaced it with an invitation to join the Kingdom. I hope He liked that.
David: There you go.
Kurt: We’ve had some great episodes on Veracity Hill over the years and I want to encourage you to go back and look into those, look into our archives, subscribe on iTunes, and if you are listening via Podcast, be sure to give us a review. If you do follow our livestream and you watch along with us, also give us a review. It helps people that are new, that encounter the page to see what people think about our programming. Okay. I’m checking the livestream now. We do have more comments. Thanks, guys. This is great that you’re tuning here. I’m running through these. Kyle. Christmas myth or truth. A 20 oz. bottle of Dr. Pepper is the perfect stocking stuffer. Kyle! Only if it appears in a stocking that is the same color as the Dr. Pepper branding. That would be the perfect stocking stuffer. Kyle knows I’m an avid Dr. Pepper fan, of course. Bob. You’re tuning. You write in Frank Turek had William J. Federer on a recent podcast about Christmas traditions. It’s very informative about what’s true and not true. Thank you for that. We will be sure to look into that and if I can remember we’ll provide a link too so people can listen to. Jonathan, usual joking self. Kurt stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night, thus gave him his doctorate. Oh boy. I’m not following the doctorate there, but definitely a Holiday Inn, I see what you did there with the inn. Jonathan is patiently awaiting me to finish my doctorate. So is my wife. It’s one of those projects you just work on for many many years. If you have great Christmas stories you want to share with us, we would love to hear from you, what does Immanuel mean to you? Not what does the truth mean, but how does the truth apply in your life? That’s a frequent question that’s thrown out there at Bible studies. “What does that mean to you?”, as if there’s some subjective meaning. The better question is “How does the meaning apply to you?”
David: This is actually very important because we hear many Christians, even mature Christians, they’ll start their prayers or in the middle of the prayer they’ll say “Be with me in this interview” or “Be with me for this important occasion.” Why would God do something, answer your prayer, if He’s already doing it? The whole concept of this name Immanuel, God with us, along with His attribute, unchangeability, particularly in this case, His omnipresence, that He is everywhere at all times, and there’s no need to be asking YHWH to be with you if He already is, particularly if you are born again and indwelt with the Holy Spirit. That’s another myth that continues to be perpetuated, that God is somehow transcendent and not imminent when in reality He is both at the same time.
Kurt: And that His Spirit is with us, of course, Jesus’s disciples were worried and he said, “No. Don’t worry. I will send you the great comforter.” His Spirit, the Holy Spirit, is here with us, continuing on with us, and whether it’s for a job interview or for thinking broadly throughout the course of history, that we think we are alone in this, as if God is not working out His grand plan before us as history unfolds and that we’re just here passing through this life. We’re waiting for Jesus’s return. It’s true while we are waiting for Jesus’s return, we’re not merely and only waiting for His return. We are here in the present to build His kingdom with and for Him and so we have work to do, so we’re not merely waiting, but He is here with us in Spirit and in truth and so for those that might be feeling down this Christmas season, I know for some people, they’ve had some important life experiences happen and sometimes not for the best, but they’re still important. They’re noteworthy if you will. Some folks might be feeling lonely this holiday season and I want to encourage other Christians to open up their tables, open up their homes, invite people who might not have a place to spend Christmas or even have someone spend Christmas with, to open up and invite them to your table. There’s still time. There’s still a couple days here. Hopefully, you can make those plans. If you are not one of those people that have had a rough year, if you know someone who has, and you know someone who might be alone this season, please reach out to them, invite them over for the Christmas meal together, spend some time together, and as my family tradition goes, we often during this holiday season, when family is together, we open up the Scripture and we read from one of the accounts or from different excerpts. That’s a very nice tradition to do, to perform. It’s a great opportunity for children as well to learn the story, to meditate on what it means and how it applies, so I’d love to hear what some of your Christmas traditions are, if you have things that you’re doing with family. Tony writes in, “So you’re saying you’re feeding me on Christmas.” Tony. If you’re looking for a place on Christmas day, you’d be more than welcome to come over to my family’s house and we’d be happy to have you at our meal table. It’d be great to see you. Yes. I try to practice what I preach as well, David. I don’t just say and want others to do.
David: No virtue-signaling then.
Kurt: Yeah.No virtue-signaling at all. Unfortunately, you get that, man. You get that out there in the public square, people just saying things and not acting upon them. I try my best. Our tagline, striving for truth, in 1 John, John talks about a literal translation is doing the truth. Truth is not just something you believe in, but you act upon. Some translations say live according to the truth. I like the more literal transactions, doing the truth. I try. Immanuel, God with us. We have talked about on our show today all sorts of different things. Why there are the letter differences. We’ve talked about different misconceptions, myths. We’ve talked about and heard some Christmas songs and Hark, the Herald Angels Sing, one of my favorite Christmas carols, that second verse is just so powerful, talking about what the meaning of Christmas really is and it’s not just this consumerist opportunity for us to buy gifts for others. In fact, if there were a celebration that Christians should participate in, as N.T. Wright argues, it should be Easter. That should be when we’re having our big hurrah, our big party, and sharing gifts with people. That should be superior to the Christmas celebrations. I do want to talk about the Christmas tree idea and where that got started. It got started I think about 500 years ago, 16th century, Germany, was when it began. A lot of people think that a passage in Jeremiah forbids the use of a Christmas tree.
David: Oh boy.
Kurt: Yeah. I know. You’re like, What does Jeremiah have to do with a Christmas tree? Here it is. It comes from Jeremiah 10.
“Learn not the way of the
nor be dismayed at the signs of the heavens
because the nations are dismayed at them,
for the customs of the peoples are vanity.
A tree from the forest is cut down
and worked with an axe by the hands of a craftsman.
They decorate it with silver and gold;
they fasten it with hammer and nails
so that it cannot move.
Their idols are like scarecrows in a cucumber field,
and they cannot speak;
they have to be carried,
for they cannot walk.
Do not be afraid of them,
for they cannot do evil,
neither is it in them to do good.”
They adorn them with silver and gold. It’s talking about Christmas trees, David.
Kurt: Clearly, obviously, talking about Christmas trees. Let’s get something straight here. When Jeremiah, when the prophet Jeremiah, God speaking through the prophet Jeremiah, talks about the adorning of trees with silver and gold, he’s actually talking about idol worship. He’s talking about how people would come before this object, this object that does not move, cannot speak, cannot do good or bad, and they would worship this idol. Okay? This idol. Look. If there are Christians worshipping a Christmas tree, if they’re singing songs in front of, bowing down, prostrating oneself before the tree. You might say people sing that song “O Christmas Tree.” This is not a song about praises to the Christmas tree. It’s a song about what the tree means and the reflection upon the time, the season. It’s not about giving praise to the wood that was cut down and adorned as if it could do something for us. Jeremiah in no way is about a Christmas tree nor will I argue does it apply to the Christmas tree tradition. Let’s put that one to rest there. If you’re interested, you could do a Google search for Christmas tree history and you’re going to get all sorts of different articles. Here’s one by history.com, the history of the Christmas trees. There’s a nice article here. Google is a great resource to ask your questions and to learn more and try to wade through articles and discover the truth about history and what people might claim about Christmas and pagan traditions. You can really get to the primary sources and think analytically and you’ll see whether or not what someone says is accurate. The Christmas tree phenomenon started 500 years ago, there you go.
David: Jeremiah wasn’t around.
Kurt; Jeremiah was definitely not around. I think that’s people taking the verse out of context. Again, how does the Scripture apply, not what does it mean to you, this subjective sense of that question. Have I missed anything, David. What are some of your favorite Christmas carols?
David: Christmas traditions, carols. I don’t even sing in church so I’m one of those weird people that just basks in what is going in around me in terms of the worship music, but Silent Night, which is definitely one of the classics.
Kurt: Okay. You’re not much of a singer at all?
David: At all. No. That’s not my gift. I can’t even play an instrument.
Kurt: Maybe that’s why. Maybe if you were to play an instrument you could work on playing a tune.
David: Giving up piano is probably one of the best decisions I ever made in my life.
Kurt: You’re a numbers guy mainly.
David: I picked up prestidigitation which is a fancy word for magic tricks. That’s what I manipulate.
Kurt: For those of you who don’t know, David is a magician, and I don’t just mean sort of an amateur. He is a very well-experienced performer. You would say you are a performer. Yes?
David: You could say ranked professionally among fellow magicians in terms of skill.
Kurt: Right. That’s a nice factoid about David, if you didn’t know that. He’s come on the show, how many times have you been on now?
David: This will be my third time formally.
Kurt: You’ve probably been here more than that.
David: I’ve been in studio a couple of other times.
Kurt: You hosted the show even once.
David: Yes. I hosted once.
Kurt: That honor only goes to so few people. In fact, I can only think of three others that have hosted the program.
David: Definitely an honor to do that. Looking forward to doing it in the future.
Kurt: Okay. Christmas carols, if you have a favorite, please, I’d love to hear from you. Hopefully, I’ve touched upon a number of different myths and misconceptions out there. I think I hit them all. The Christmas tree. The kataluma, the no room in the guest room, and yeah. I think that’s it. Let me talk about another, I had played it for you, but one of my favorite hymns or carols is O Holy Night. Let’s see. It was composed in 1847. Why is it that some of the, probably because they’ve stood the test of time, some of the best hymns or carols are from a bygone era. That’s probably because they have lasted so long. I’m sure there were songs that were written that have not lasted because they weren’t good. The third verse of O Holy Night.
Truly He taught us to love one another.
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Isn’t that interesting? His law is love. That line, I really enjoy because people think you shouldn’t be legalistic. You shouldn’t follow the law. You just have to be in relationship. That sort of thing, but here that line puts them together, that Christ’s law is love and His gospel, good news is peace. Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother and in His name all oppression shall cease. Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we let all within praise His holy name.
That’s one of my favorite verses from O Holy Night.
David: Joy to the World is, of course, another classic. One of the stanzas states, “No more let sins and sorrows groan nor thorns infest the ground. He comes to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found and that right there should send chills up and down your spine because Jesus was made accursed for us. Galatians.
Kurt: Yeah. That’s another great one talking about the curse. Even some Christians, they don’t realize, and I know you and I have our disagreements, but the extent and scope of sin is pervasive. Christ’s work comes to make new, to renew the world and to get rid of sin and sorrow as far as the curse is found. What a great line.
Kurt: Yes. Amen. Michaela writes in on a lighter note, that type of superstition is also applied to yoga. I take it here, this is about the Christmas tree, and it’s also applied to yoga that you might be accidentally or unknowingly worshiping a Christmas tree if you have one or you may be accidentally or unknowingly worshiping some god if you do a yoga move. Yeah. Similar principle in effect there. If you invite the Christmas tree into your house there will be demonic activity. I think, for me, let me say this, even if the Christmas tree is of pagan origins and even if the December 25th day is based on some pagan tradition, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if it is, because it’s all a marketing game in essence. Right? Defenders Media. We’re into marketing. We kind of know a little bit about this. It’s all a marketing game. The point of the holiday is to commemorate the birth of Christ. It’s for the commemoration. That’s all that matters. Whether Jesus was born on December 25th or 26th or September as J. Warner Wallace thinks is probably the case, even if it was actually on December 25th. The point is the commemoration. If Christians are just copying, so what? Why does it matter? As long as we are coming together to reflect upon this important monumentous is even too small of a word to describe what happened on that day, whenever that day was. That’s what matters. The Christmas tree. Okay. If we stole that from the pagans, good for us, because where are the pagans doing this now? At least we’re utilizing it. Right? We’ve won the marketing game. We’ve won the message war. That’s why, to me, it doesn’t ultimately matter. It’s just a marketing game, but I think when you do look into the history, they aren’t copies of this. These are Christian traditions that began by Christians for Christians, so there’s nothing pagan about it, and besides, regarding the December 25th, the early Messianic Jews and the early Christians wanted nothing to do with pagan rituals. Why would they copy them? They wanted nothing to do with them. You can see that if you just read the church fathers. You can see how much they abhorred the pagan religion, especially in some of the great apologetics works, Justin Martyr, Tertullian. You can really see their animosity toward pagan rituals and religions. It just wouldn’t make sense with the knowledge that we have about their views. Study church history. You might learn something. Maybe that’s going to be my new slogan. Study church history. You might learn something.
David: We’ll see if that catches on.
Kurt: Maybe for my scholarship that will be my tagline. Alright. I think I’ve definitely now touched on a lot of things here. Would love to hear from you regarding your favorite carols or lines and I hope that you are part of an active Christian body of believers. You’re participating in the fellowship of believers which the Scripture talks about, so important. Paul says do not give up meeting together and the experience of relating together, living life together, is so important for spiritual growth that if you’re not doing it, I want to encourage you to find a local church and to find an authentic body of believers and participate in that life of the community. My wife and I have a fifteen-minute rule. If you can’t get there in fifteen minutes, pick a closer church. Part of that’s for the idea of community. You’ve got to live close to people. I’ve heard of people that commute to church. They drive 45 minutes to an hour. Some people are willing to do this. It’s a bit more of an opinion, but I’m of the perspective that that makes doing community for difficult. It’s harder to bring meals to people. It’s harder to go over and visit with people. I say, find a close church. Fifteen minutes or less. Our church we go to, if we get all the greens, we’re there in 12 minutes. If we don’t get the greens, we’re there within 15 minutes. That’s the rule that we have. David. Did I miss anything?
David: I think that about, pun intended, wraps it up.
Kurt: Wrap. Oh boy. You were saving that one weren’t you?
David: Not really.
Kurt: Coming up for you next week, I am giving an update, 2018 update for you, and it’s kind of a review, but we have some news to share with you regarding the Defenders Conference, regarding Veracity Hill, regarding my personal life as well, and so it’s sort of a year-end show that you won’t want to miss because there’s some new and exciting things coming in 2019, but we also reflect upon some things that we’ve done this past year. I would be remiss if I didn’t show this image here. You can change the voice of media, news, politics, ethics, theology, and apologetics, with a tax-deductible gift towards Veracity Hill. Please consider becoming one of our partners. We are growing. We want to keep going and growing and so we’d like to do it with your help. If you do not presently support us financially, but you enjoy our programs, week after week, we have not missed a week in the last two and a half years. We’ve provided some new content every Saturday and so if you have benefited from this, would you consider partnering with us, even on a small monthly basis, say $10 a month or $20 a month, because as more people do so, we’ll continue to grow and we can bring our program to those that have yet to hear what we’re all about here, providing educational material, sitting down virtually or in person with some of the best scholars, at least in this country if not the planet. We’ve done a couple international guests. We probably could reach out to some more though. At any rate, it’s really a great program and next week I’m going to talk about some of the great guests we’ve had in 2018. Just to think of a few. N.T. Wright was our hundredth episode. Keener. Evans. This summer, Dan Wallace when the Mark fragment came out. We’ve had some amazing guests this year. What’s that?
David: Absolute stellar.
Kurt: Stellar. Thank you. If you don’t support us, please consider partnering with us on a monthly basis so we can continue going and growing. That does it I think for our Christmas episode. I hope you’ve enjoyed, we’ve had more of a relaxed atmosphere today, probably because Chris isn’t here. I’ve got to a bit more relaxed to do all this technical stuff. That does it for the program today. I’m grateful for the continued support of our patrons and the partnerships that we have with our sponsors. They are Defender Media, Consult Kevin, The Sky Floor, Rethinking Hell, The Illinois Family Institute, and Fox Restoration. I want to thank David for joining me on the program today, and last, but not least, I want to thank you for listening in and for striving for truth on faith, politics, and society.
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