A report on the Bible Society website (here) discusses survey findings concerning what people believe about Christmas. (The Bible Society quiz is here.) The basic conclusion is that most people, since they rarely – if ever – engage with the biblical texts, confuse the biblical narratives with the ‘traditional’ nativity scene of the local primary school or (more’s the pity) local church.
The issue goes beyond the question of whether Jesus was born in a stable or not, or whether there was an inn (see here for an excellent blog post on that issue). It goes beyond how many wise men visited the house, or even whether Jesus cried as a baby! It hits at the heart of what is a serious issue with some parts of evangelical Christianity, where the sentimentality of the traditional Christmas has become more important than the real happenings in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago.
It raises a question for me, “Is the real story not wonderful, earth-shattering, amazing, awesome, stunning enough that we feel the need to add donkeys, cattle lowing, lambs on shepherds’ shoulders, soft focus and tinsel?”