What is Christmas about? Linus (Lucy's blanket-wielding little brother from Charles Schultz's Peanuts series) tells us:

Linus is quoting from Luke 2:8-14 in the Bible, King James translation. Hat tip to Between Two Worlds for the video link. Like many of the commenters there, I wonder how long it will be before this scene is "edited" out of A Charlie Brown Christmas to make it more politically correct, especially considering that the scene was almost cut out of the original.

Jesus weepsI'd like to begin this short post with an apology: I'd like to apologize on behalf of Christians who have, throughout history, done some pretty rotten things supposedly in the name of Jesus Christ. The Crusades? Witch hunts? Inquisitions? Priests who molest? Televangelists who scam? All sinful and awful, and Jesus is appalled that such things have come to be associated with Him and His church. While some of these sort of tragedies have been exaggerated (most notably the witch hunts, see Six Modern Myths chapter six) that doesn't make them any better, and I wish to say, on behalf of 99% of all Christians who are living today and who have ever lived, that we agree with you that these actions are awful, immoral, and un-Christlike. As trite as it may sound and in fact may be, it pains me deeply when I read about these things, and I am truly sorry.

That said, what do such bad things done by Christians prove about the truthfulness of the Christian faith? The answer is: not much. First of all, Christians do not claim to be sinless; in fact, we recognize that although we become new creations in Christ, we remain fallen people in a fallen world, and therefore the threat of succumbing to temptation is ever-present. Second, there are approximately 2.1 billion Christians in the world. With such a huge sample size, should we be surprised when we learn that a small percentage of them do really bad things (molest children, swindle, etc)? Thirdly, how do the actions of a small portion of Christians which contradict the teachings of Jesus and the Christian faith prove anything regarding whether the Christian faith is true or not? In fact they do nothing to prove that the facts of the Christian faith are untrue.

I know this is difficult to accept if you have been personally wounded by the church generally, or a particular Christian person specifically. But please try to keep in mind that any person who acts contrary to a set of principles maligns themselves, but not the principles that they have chosen to disobey. Does the fact that certain NYPD officers are racist and commit immoral acts mean that all police forces should be disbanded? Certainly not, because their actions are contrary to what a police officer should be.

So please, don't discount Christianity because of the worst "Christians" that you know … or even the best ones! After all, based on Christianity's own teachings, "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23) and that "the whole world is a prisoner of sin" (Galatians 3:22), but by God's grace "Jesus came to take away our sins, and there is no sin in him" (1 John 3:5). For more on this subject, please see my post "Good people".

Thank you for your time.

Was reading for my History of Christianity class today (phenomenal class, consistently interesting) and came across this passage:

How [is] one to be a true Christian … when the church joins the powers of the world, when luxury and ostentation take hold of Christian altars, when the whole of society is intent on turning the narrow path into a wide avenue … how is one to resist the enormous temptations of the times? How is one to witness to the Crucified Lord, to the One who had nowhere to lay His head, at a time when many leaders of the church live in costly homes, and when the ultimate witness of martyrdom is no longer possible? (Justo L. Gonzalez, The Story of Christianity)

Sounds like he is describing our current situation in North America, but he is actually referring to the time of Constantine in the 4th century. This isn't to say that "money = evil". The often misused quote actually says "the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil" (1 Tim 6:10), not that all money is evil. But still, our situation here in North America is very different from that of the early church, to which people often wistfully wish to return to, as if that were possible. Maybe this is one reason why Jesus spent so much time talking about money and possessions. He had the wisdom and foreknowledge to know we'd need the advice!

Music pirate?News source: Pirating Songs of Praise (via Religion News Blog)

Apparently many feel quote "conflicted" about 'sharing' Christian music … Here's a quote from the article that rather shocked me:

Take Matthew, a 13-year-old who attends Hewes Middle School in North Tustin and attends youth programs at nearby Red Hill Lutheran Church. Asked if it’s wrong to take songs for free, he answered: “No, because the artists are making billions of dollars anyways.” Another kid at Red Hill, 16-year-old Mike, a student at Beckman High, said that music is beyond commerce or at least beyond the cash register: “They should give it away ’cause it’s art anyways.”

Okay, so I've downloaded some pirated music in my 'day. I also own nearly 200 legit CDs so I'm no slouch in supporting the music industry. And I have deleted all (or at least almost all?) of the pirated music on my computer. What do you think about "file sharing"? Do we agree that the kids above don't "get it"? Is anyone teaching morals in church anymore? (Or how about some basic philosophy for that matter, so kiddies will know when they're making dumb arguments like those above?)

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