Embrace those tidings of comfort and joy
Published 11:56 am Saturday, December 17, 2016
Believe me, I understand if you’re ambivalent or even disdainful of the religious aspects of Christmas.
I understand why you couldn’t care less which festive cups Starbucks uses, why you’d just as soon your grandchild be a dancing snowflake as an adoring shepherd, why “Season’s greetings” resonates just as well as “Merry Christmas” with you, why you’d rather hear “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” than Handel’s “Messiah.”
Maybe pompous ivory tower professors have lectured you that “everyone knows” the New Testament was written hundreds of years after the alleged events (and Second Corinthians was written with a Sharpie marker on the back of a Denny’s napkin just last Thursday).
Perhaps endless sensationalized History Channel documentaries have filled your mind with paranoia about altered manuscripts and plots to suppress competing gospels.
Or maybe you remember your niece’s podiatrist once said something or another about the Bible being full of contradictions and garbled translations and latter-day myths “and stuff.”
Even after 30-plus years of teaching adult Bible classes, I have my own flashes of “But what if…?” uncertainty. But I have the assurance of “Seek and ye shall find” — and resources for bolstering my faith.
Perhaps you know of those resources but are happy with your rock-ribbed atheism or your nebulous “spirituality.” Perhaps there is an emptiness in your life, but you ignore it, like that “check engine soon” light on your car or the blood in your handkerchief when you cough.
Christianity has been derided as “wishful thinking,” but skeptical forces have their own ulterior motives.
Embracing the “only drooling idiots believe in miracles,” “Jesus was just a good man (if he even existed),” “Jesus’s followers greatly padded his résumé” crowd can bring enviable SHORT-TERM peace of mind.
You can base your life on “fun, fun, fun.” You don’t have to question if your favorite uncle, the militant nonbeliever, was misguided. You don’t have to think about sin or Judgment Day.
Yes, you can keep treating that baby in the manger as no more relevant to your life than a sugar-plum fairy; but I can think of no better Christmas gift to give you than a nudge to explore Christian apologetics.
Wikipedia defines Christian apologetics as “a field of Christian theology that presents historical, reasoned, and evidential bases for Christianity, defending it against objections.”
Yes, it’s dereliction of duty when Christians dump all the heavy lifting on the preacher and give the knee-jerk response “Because it’s in my Bible!” when asked to articulate the reason for the hope that is within them.
Apologetics can show you that many of the “settled science” assertions of skeptics are DEMONSTRABLY UNTRUE. Apologetics can build confidence about believing that Jesus Christ actually existed, that he was born of a virgin, that he really did claim to be divine, that he really was crucified and resurrected, that his story was written down while there were still eyewitnesses alive to contest any fabrications, that the scripture we have today is essentially the scripture of the first century.
Quality of websites varies, but Google “Christian apologetics.” Books? Among the most helpful for me have been “The Case For Jesus” (by Brant Pitre), “The Authenticity of the New Testament” (Bill Cooper) and “Evidence of An Early New Testament Canon” (Norman Geisler and Shawn Nelson).
They make excellent gifts, whether you’re complacent or searching.
Wise men still seek Him.
DANNY TYREE welcomes email responses at email@example.com and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.” Danny’s weekly column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate.