Christmas is a very ancient feast in the history of the Christian Church. Although it does not go back to the New Testament, it does go a long way, and in most Christian communions it has become one of the strongest and most popular of traditions. There are no doubt many things about its celebration to which one may take exception—the commercialism, the drinking, the prevailing paganism—but it still possesses an inescapable basic Christian element, in that it keeps pointing men to the Incarnation of the Son of God for man’s redemption.

Even the old school liberals, like Scrooge, could hardly escape its influence. They had denatured Christ, historicized him, humanized and even liberalized him to such an extent that his picture in the New Testament was hardly recognizable, but still they celebrated Christmas. How they could stand up and sing:

Hark the herald angels sing,

Glory to the new horn king.…

or any of the other carols is difficult to understand, but they did, inconsistent though they may have been. Since Christ was only an example, a teacher, a great religious genius, Christmas really could mean very little that was truly spiritual. All they could do, therefore, was sentimentalize the manger, depriving it of its true meaning and preparing the way for our modern irrelevant festivities.

There has been a change in theological thinking during the last few decades, however, which seems to alter the picture somewhat. The world having been shaken by two world wars, having felt the searing hunger of the Depression ’30s, has taken a second look at itself—and at the Christ. Not quite so sure of its progress, its climb upwards and its eventual perfection, it has begun to ask itself if perhaps it has not made a mistake. Perhaps it ...

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