Christmas is Doctrinal

Christmas is Doctrinal

I love the Christmas season because it is a time to reflect on the doctrine of Christ. Yes, Christmas is doctrinal.

It may seem strange to say that Christmas is doctrinal because Christmas in the United States has become so commercialized and sentimentalized. Christmas in America, it seems, is more about Black Friday deals and chestnuts roasting on an open fire than about “Christ given for us and for our salvation.”

But when you think about what Christmas is—the incarnation of the Son of God—you cannot escape doctrine. Christmas is a time for not only pastors and theologians, but all Christians to reflect on the doctrine of Christ.

Take a passage like this:

Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:34-35).

The Second Person of the Trinity will be conceived and born of a virgin. What!? Mind-blow! Think for five seconds (or five minutes) of all the doctrine loaded in a text like this.

Or take the old creeds, like the Athanasian Creed. It is not given the prominence of the Apostles Creed or the Nicene Creed. Nevertheless, it is a beautiful summary of biblical Christianity. Attributed to Athanasius of Alexandria in the fifth century (though exact origins are uncertain), I commend the whole Creed to you. Meditate slowly (which is hard to do in a blog post!) on a portion:

      We believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, God’s Son,
            is both God and man, equally.
      He is God from the essence of the Father, begotten before time;
            and he is man from the essence of his mother, born in time;
            completely God, completely man, with a rational soul and human flesh;
            equal to the Father as regards divinity,
            less than the Father as regards humanity.
      Although he is God and man, yet Christ is not two, but one.
      He is one, however, not by his divinity being turned into flesh,
            but by God’s taking humanity to himself.
      He is one, certainly not by the blending of his essence,
            but by the unity of his person.
      For just as one man is both rational soul and flesh,
            so too the one Christ is both God and man.

To borrow a line from the hymn, Praise to the Lord, the Almighty (with a slight change): “Ponder anew what the Almighty has done” in the incarnation of Jesus Christ. Christmas, indeed, is doctrinal.

Pastor Dan