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Have I Gone Too Far? You Be The Judge


I should be really tired, but I'm strangely not. I should be turkey-tired, but I'm going strong. It's currently almost 1:30 AM on Black Friday and will surely be beyond that when I finally get this blog typed up.

The thing is: I need your help. Tonight, I was fixing my computer and while it was formatting another hard drive the slow way, I decided to hop online and kill some time by catching up on my blog reading. I read one of my favorite blogs and was astonished to see the term "xmas" used. I'm sure that the author didn't mean it derogatorily, as I know that they are Christians. However, their usage of it, while most certainly innocent, prompted me to do a little research.

My string of searches led me eventually to a blog written by Tommy Sparger who was writing a blog that mirrored many things that I had just read on a previous article on an atheist's resource website (I won't link to that site nor will I give the name of it for obvious reasons.) I'm not saying that they were one and the same, but simply pointing out that they were coming to the same conclusion based off of the same argument being used. This especially struck me since I could see that Tommy Sparger seemed to be somewhat connected to North Point Church (a local church here in Springfield) from what I could see from his blog page.

Of course, I disagreed with the atheist's argument but there was no place for comments of any kind by the reader and I may have been hesitant to comment anyway since the theme of the lengthy article clearly considered me to be the enemy. But, I couldn't idly stand by and watch someone in the church make a similar argument with the same conclusion and not be called out on the fallacy in which the argument was being made. So, I left a comment. It was a long one, but all of it necessary to make my point. I finished, felt good about what I had wrote, and posted the comment. I incorrectly assumed, because many blogs are, that the blog would be moderated. It wasn't. The comment posted right away and was visible for all to see. I was surprised by this, but was also happy that those who read the blog might also read my comment and therefore would not as easily be misled. After it posted, I went on to North Point Church's website using the link provided to see if I would be able to get any clues to who this Tommy was in regards to the church. I found out in a matter of seconds that he's the lead pastor. Oops.

I'm still feeling right about what was said and I feel that it needed to be, but all of a sudden, now I wonder what, if any, sort of repercussion there might be to having this out there for all to read. After all, according to their website, there are about 3500 people that attend this church, and surely someone will run across my comment, if someone hasn't already. Maybe I should have conveyed my message a little more lovingly? I don't know. Tell me what you think in a comment, please.

Below is what was written in Tommy's blog:

At North Point Church, we are about to start a 4 week series of unforgettable Christmas moments. It will rock. You won’t want to miss one week. Don’t come to the services late because we will open each service with crazy Christmas elements that will blow you away. This series starts the weekend of November 28th/29th and runs for 4 straight weekends - through December 19th/20th. The music, the drama, the production, will be out of this world. Something new every week. You will want to “invest & invite” all of your friends and family to this very relevant series!

We are calling this series: “Xmas - Discover the true Christ of Christmas”

I repeat….. we are discovering the true Christ of Christmas, not kicking Him out! We are putting Him in - not taking Him out. That is the point of this series.

Some people think the term “Xmas” is some diabolical plot to subvert Christmas. Many religious people think that to use the term “Xmas” is to take Christ out of Christmas. Replace Him. The truth is, this kind of thinking only shows how uninformed or misinformed, and unnecessarily militant with misinformation, many Christians are concerning their own faith.

The origin of the term Xmas comes from the greek spelling of Christ, which begins with the letter Chi (X).

The origin of the word “Xmas”, is thoroughly Christian. Dennis Bratcher, who wrote an article about the origin of “Xmas” says: “All of the hype and hysteria over supposedly taking Christ out of Christmas by writing “Xmas” instead of spelling out “Christmas” is both uniformed and misdirected.” Abbreviations used as Christian symbols have a long history in the church. The letters of the word “Christ” in Greek, the language in which the New Testament was written, or various titles for Jesus early became symbols of Christ and Christianity.

Dennis Bratcher says ” So there is no grand scheme to dilute Christianity by promoting the use of Xmas instead of Christmas. it is not a modern invention to try to convert Christmas into a secular day, nor is it a device to promote the commercialism of the holiday season. Its origin is thoroughly rooted in the heritage of the Church. It is simply another way to say Christmas, drawing on a long history of symbolic abbreviations used in the church. In fact, as with other abbreviations used in common speech or writing (such as Mr. or etc.), the abbreviation “Xmas” should be pronounced “Christmas” just as if the word were written out in full, rather than saying “exmas.” Understanding this use of Christian symbolism might help us modern day Xians focus on more important issues of Faith during Advent, and bring a little more Peace to the Xmas Season.”

Wikipedia -

“In Greek, the letter Χ (chi), is the first letter of Christ, and it, or the similar Roman letter X, has been used as an abbreviation for Christ since the mid-16th century.[9] Hence, Xmas is often used as an abbreviation for Christmas.”

Answers.com -

“Xmas has been used for hundreds of years in religious writing, where the X represents a Greek chi, the first letter of Χριστος, “Christ.” In this use it is parallel to other forms like Xtian, “Christian.” But people unaware of the Greek origin of this X often mistakenly interpret Xmasas an informal shortening pronounced (ĕksPRIMARY_STRESSməs). Many therefore frown upon the term Xmas because it seems to them a commercial convenience that omits Christ from Christmas.”

“Today, with knowledge of classical languages being less widespread than formerly, some erroneously believe that the term Xmas is part of an effort to “take Christ out of Christmas” or to literally “cross out Christ”;[7] it is seen as evidence of the secularization of Christmas, as a symptom of the commercialization of the holiday (as the abbreviation has long been used by retailers).”

I thought you might find the following article from snopes.com interesting: http://www.snopes.com/holidays/christmas/xmasabbr.asp


I left the following comment which became comment number twelve on his blog with most people supporting or defending the use of the term "xmas."
I, too, must disagree with the stance of this blog.

Regardless of the origins of the usage of the term 'X-mas' as defined here by the author of this blog and then "confirmed" by several websites, the current usage in modern speech and writing forms of the popular majority pronounce it "exsmas" and have no more knowledge of its origin than they have of the origin of the term "jay walking."

The author contends that anyone who takes issue with the substitution of "Christ' for 'X' must be "uninformed or misinformed, and unnecessarily militant with misinformation." He quotes others as saying that they are "misdirected."

So, who from shall we receive direction? From the author of this blog? Maybe from the websites in which he received his information? North Point Church?

If all that these sources can do is point me to an ancient language that scarcely resembles its modern counterpart to prove the origin as innocent, than I am justified in dismissing the argument as obviously missing the point.

People today are not etymologists (those who study the history of words) by default. Assuming such for argument's sake is not only preposterous but downright deceitful to all those who are subjected to it.

The bottom line is that it is a fallacious argument, and intellectually irresponsible as well, to use the origin of a term thousands of years old and from a foreign language to such boldly assert that the use of the term now must not be any different from its original intent.

Furthermore, it's shameful that a short trip to Wikipedia, Snopes, etc. was enough of an intellectually honest path for the people here to make others feel that they were supposedly misinformed. The irony displayed here would be humorous if it weren't so sad to begin with.

And, just to answer those who, no doubt, will attempt to place me in the category of "misinformed religious militants who can't seem to focus on the more important issues of Faith" as this article so well paints it, at least I am not running (or defending) a huge church that is wasting weeks of precious time arguing ancient semantics to justify an aspect of a modern secular worldview in the guise of being "relevant."


Again, I want to know if you think that I went too far or if I was right to argue the case. Either opinion is welcome. I promise that I will not comment on your opinion unless you specifically ask me to do so.

5 comments:

WOW! I loved your comment actually. It was to the point and outed him as someone who seems to have an emergent mindset. His use of intellectually dishonest arguments screams it loudly. That is what concerns me the most. He seems to be very world friendly and maybe even anti-God-fearing. His choice of ways to get the world into his church is a bit on the fine line of good vs. evil. It scares me. And the word relevant does the same. We were just discussing what the word means and both thought that it meant 'what pertains to now'. I think this is what a lot of people think it means. And then we find out that it means to 'come out of'. What are people wanting so badly to 'come out of'. The things of the past? That's good. The religious spirit? Good too. But tagging the word onto things that are not complete truths but worldviews instead (such as the magazine 'Relevant' itself) makes me think that people are wanting to 'come out of' Truth. Is this it?? Is the Truth too much to handle? Does it not fit into what we want? Is it not easy enough or does it not fit into our schedule? Well I'm sorry but an absolute Truth is just that, absolute. Perfect. We should stop this whole seeker-friendly, misleading, do what makes you feel good and think that God is okay with it teaching. It's not doing anyone any favors. Only Truth does that.

Thanks for your comment, Jodi. I agree. I worry about people when leaders in the church seem to be spreading sugar-coated, truth-missing, society-friendly opinions. My fear, above all, is that these leaders will not be able to see where they have erred when the Truth attempts to set them straight.

Speaking of which, my comment was removed from his blog page. I left a link back to my blog page, so hopefully he'll attempt to contact me because I'd love a chance to talk with him about this. In the meantime, I copied and pasted my comment back on his page.

My comment got the boot again yet still I have not heard from this guy. I'm not surprised really. After reading some more of his blogs I'm sure that he feels that he's in the right siting back and not "lowering himself" into this argument yet he'll teach thousands of Christians that society has it right. Out of thousands of missionaries or church leaders he could have wrote about, he chose to quote Bono after taking yet another liberal stab at Christians.

I left the following comment to try and be a little more friendly about how I called him out on his error, but it was deleted as well:

Why does my comment keep getting censored?

Here. I'll make it shorter for you.

The origin of a word does not have anything to do with the word's present usage especially when the original usage dates thousands of years ago and in another language than that of it's current usage. My point: your argument doesn't support your reasoning.

To deny that our society has been systematically eradicating Christianity from all things mainstream is a denial of the elephant in the room. Still, I'll concede that argument despite there being no real evidence to support such a denial.

By the way, check yourself on your condescending writing. Finding out that the term "Xmas" was originated innocently, while most people are not aware of its origin, doesn't give you or anyone else the right to speak down to them by referring to them as "misinformed religious militants".

We should be glad that people actually take a stand rather than standing idly by when Christ's name seems to be being X'd out.

Again, I'd love to get a chance to speak with you about this, whether online, in person, text messaging or snail mail. Your call, really.

Click on my name above this comment to be redirected to my blog page. Comment and we can talk.

I'm curious as to why you deleted your comment on our blog in reference to this which was emailed to us. When I was little, I used to get into arguments w/ other kids at school who said that Christmas was Jesus' bday. I would tell them that they were stupid b/c Jesus wasn't born in the winter & that the Bible didn't tell us to celebrate his birth. I hope you can see the irony in that.

I understand your passion about wanting the truth to be preached, but I suggest taking a step back & reevaluating whether this is bringing glory to God or the opposite. I know that we all have our "buttons" & this is obviously one of yours, but it's hard not to see this as one of those things that Christians argue over rather than loving people & imitating Jesus. You are welcome to respond to my comment, but please be nicer than you were to that preacher:)

LOL!

I deleted the comment because I left it before I did any research. I meant to go back and post another one, but I clearly got a little sidetracked.

You're right. It's definitely a point that Christians might argue over. And he did push a button, but maybe not the one you think.

People can use the term 'xmas' all day for all I care. In a predominately secular world, we come to expect it from non-Christians as well as companies and affiliations that choose not to show a preference toward any one religion. I understand that and they'll receive no heckling or boycotts from me.

My button that Tommy hit was the condescending tone towards Christians in his writing. In discovering that the 'xmas' term is innocent in its origin, he wrongfully assumes that it's still completely innocent to the extent that he'll preach about how it's a good term to use.

What's worse than his assumption is his use of it as ammo towards the Christians that he holds contempt for.

He is right that we should not model ourselves after each other. Just because some Christians do it doesn't mean it's right. Kudos to him for that. But, his contempt is felt in his writing. I can imagine that it can be felt, as well, in his preaching. Contempt spreads. It's a form of hate. We should never do that to ourselves in the church.

Maybe, I am guilty of it, too, in my poorly executed reaction. I'll admit that.

You think that he'll admit his error? I sure hope so since his influence goes further and faster than mine does.

Thanks for your comment.

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