With this Christmas issue I trust that CHRISTIANITY TODAY may contribute toward “putting Christ back into Christmas.” Like all other “sacred days” (holidays), Christmas, too, has become almost wholly “desacralized” in America, if not in all of Christendom. It has become a celebration of Santa Claus and tinsel, the sharing of gifts, and a time for family togetherness. These are all good; but they need a context to give them meaning.
Former coeditor of CHRISTIANITY TODAY, Frank E. Gaebelein, traces the history of the Christmas celebration and points us to its central meaning. Walter Elwell spells out in greater detail the essence of the Christmas message and places its challenge directly before us: whoever learns the true meaning of Christmas can never remain the same.
Christmas is first an event to sing about, as Isabel Erickson reminds us in Refiner’s Fire. It is even more to preach about! Stephen Olford, recently appointed minister at large for the National Association of Evangelicals, must be one of the few truly great preachers of our time. His article, “The Power of Preaching,” tells us how. This is not a snappy formula in three easy, five-minute lessons; such preaching comes only by blood, sweat, and tears. Also, tucked away in the book section you will find an even dozen reviews of current books on preaching.
On quite a different note, Donald McKim introduces us to William Perkins, theologian of four centuries ago and the greatest preacher of his generation, who explores the absence of God—certainly a contemporary devotional theme.1
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