No, it wasn’t Bethlehem and Mary and Joseph, baby Jesus and a manger, shepherds keeping watch by night, a choir of angels, a bright star or wise men from the east.  Actually, that first Christmas was the fulfillment of something that came way before that, and if you want to know the true meaning of Christmas you have to start there, when Christmas became necessary. I’m talking about the story of Adam and Eve told in Genesis 3, and something we call “the fall.” That is where the first Christmas really happened. You’ll remember that the serpent deluded Eve into thinking being like God might be a good thing, and Adam the solid leader he wasn’t, went along with it. Bad move. At once they realized they were naked, and did what human beings have done ever since, sewed fig leaves together to try to cover their nakedness. No, people don’t use fig leaves anymore, but they do the same thing; with their own works they try to cover their nakedness, sin and death. That is no more effective then Adam and Eve’s effort. Human religion is futility in action. Then we get a picture into Christmas, and what was in effect the first Christmas: God promises, and we can take it to the eternal bank:

14 So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,

“Cursed are you above all livestock
and all wild animals!
You will crawl on your belly
and you will eat dust
all the days of your life.
15 And I will put enmity
between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel.”

This is the true meaning of Christmas, and we could say the first real one. The baby born of the virgin Mary would become the one promised to crush the serpent’s head. Not only this, but it would be God himself who would come as a baby, born in a manger in Bethlehem to a virgin, and he himself would do the crushing! And in way unfathomable to anyone living in the first century, on a Roman cross. This story that starts on that first Christmas day, in the garden and then in Bethlehem, is one that no human mind could invent. Contrary to hundreds of years of critical biblical scholarship, and a secular culture that echoes their proclamations, the Christmas story could not be made up, no way, no how. Yet most people when thinking of this story every year think it’s sweet and cute, but only a nice fiction. That it cannot be.

Within the next few months I’m publishing a book-length treatment of this argument, that the Bible could not be invented, merely made up by humans, and Christmas plays a staring role. When we understand the Jewish nature of Jesus’ world, the argument has an irresistible power. As you understand that, and as you read your way through your Bible you’ll start saying to yourself, “You just can’t make this stuff up!” Yet a solid majority of people on earth reject that there is much if any truth in Christmas. Maybe there was a couple who lived in ancient Judea named Joseph and Mary, maybe, and they had a baby in the town of Bethlehem, maybe, who was conceived out of wedlock. By whom, nobody knows, but it certainly wasn’t the Holy Spirit. There could have been a manger and a stable, some cute animals, but all the rest of it, nah. Good story telling, sure, but angels speaking to shepherds “living out in the fields nearby,” no way.

Christians who believe the Bible is God’s living word believe the story of Christmas, and it’s Satanic head crushing, is real literal history, but very few Christians realize that the story would be impossible to make up if it were not in fact true. As I argue in the book, this is the result of the influence of several hundred years of much (not all) critical biblical scholarship. Once it was determined by Western intellectuals that the universe was a closed system and miracles couldn’t happen, then by necessity it was concluded the miraculous in the Bible was invented, or it was “natural” invents misinterpreted to push a religious agenda. I’m sure you can see the logical fallacy built into such reasoning, but you’ll have to read the book when it comes out to see exactly why that was and how it happened.

For our Christmas point, no Jew would make up a story of Yahweh, the eternal Creator God, becoming a flesh and blood man, born the way every other human is born. The skeptics and critics expect us to believe that it would be relatively easy for a first century Jew to make up such a story about something that would have been inconceivable to them. Really? Easy peasy? No problem? I used the word “impossible” in the previous paragraph on purpose. It means not possible, as in, it would not be possible for a Jew to make up this story. No Jew prior to Christ’s resurrection read Genesis 3 and concluded God himself is going to become a man (the seed) just like me, and do the crushing. Not one, as in zero, zip, nada. And we’re to believe it was and could easily be made up, invented, as they say, out of whole cloth?

One of the reasons I wrote the book is to let Christians know the burden of proof is now on the other guy. For well over 200 years our intellectual elites, and then increasingly the secular culture at large, put us on the defensive. For too long it’s been as if the skeptics and critics were in a fortress high on a hill thinking they’re impenetrable, and the poor Christian schlubs down below have to take the arrows as best they can. In fact, it’s just the opposite, and in innumerable ways that’s becoming more apparent every day. I pray my book contributes to building the confidence of other Christians in some small way, as it has built in me. Merry Christmas!


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