What Christmas is All | Featured Columnist


This question shakes the Internet year after year: Is “Die Hard” a Christmas movie?

How about “Frosty the Snowman”, “Home Alone”, “Elf” or “A Bad Mother’s Christmas?” Is “a Christmas story” really a “Christmas” story? What about those visions of romance, complicated families, and Hallmark Channel’s wall-to-wall vacation decorations?

The answer to these questions, and many more, depends on how Americans answer another question: What is Christmas?

Ask an iPhone this question, and Siri will quote Wikipedia: “Christmas is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, observed primarily on December 25 as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world.

Most people know much of the story, according to a new survey from Lifeway Research in Nashville. Almost 75% of Americans say that Jesus was born over 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem, and even more believe that Jesus is the Son of God the Father.

After that, things get blurry.

“A lot of people celebrate Christmas, but some have no interest in celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway. “But even some of the people who take the Christmas message seriously don’t understand what it means. …

“It’s a story that hasn’t changed for 2000 years, yet a lot of people struggle to tell the story and get the right details. Many do not know why Jesus was born.

Nine in ten adult Americans celebrate Christmas, including many non-Christians, according to the September survey of 1,005 Americans.

While Catholics (99%) and Protestants (97%) are the most likely to celebrate Christmas, 82% of Americans who are not religiously affiliated also participate, along with 74% of believers of other faiths.

According to a 2018 Lifeway poll, 65% of Americans insist that Christmas focus more on the story of Jesus. However, only 22% were convinced they could share the biblical account – by memory – of the Christmas story, with 31% saying they might be wrong about a few details.

The goal of the 2021 survey, said McConnell, was to deepen questions about who Jesus was and how his birth relates to the doctrines that have united Christians through the centuries.

“A lot of people don’t seem to get it,” he said. “They don’t see how the birth of Jesus is part of a larger story of redemption.”

For example, 72% of those surveyed agreed that Jesus was born over 2,000 years ago, and 49% strongly agreed with this statement. However, while 80% claimed that Jesus is the Son of God the Father, only 41% said that Jesus existed – as part of the Holy Trinity – before he was born in Bethlehem.

Why was Jesus born? More than half (51%) said that he “came to give his life for the multitude”, while 31% agreed that Jesus came “to give life in abundance” and “to give his life as a ransom for it. multitude ”.

Clearly churches need to find a way to “just tell the biblical story so that more people can understand what Christmas is,” McConnell said.

Every December, he added, “a lot of people expect some of their emotional needs to be met. What we see in the Christmas story is the God of the Bible showing how much he cares for him. … It’s not just a Hallmark movie or the giveaway you want.


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