A Grinch Alert?

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I’m convinced that the celebration of Christmas is always going to be a point of contention somewhere. Whether it’s from anti-Christian secularists, Christians who are convicted that it is not a holiday to be celebrated or corporations that embrace the holiday season in general simply as a means for revenue.

Scripture gives Christians no direct command to celebrate or not to celebrate Christmas, or the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ if you will. So why not take advantage of the holiday as Christians? People will always attempt to steal Christmas here in the U.S. It is a Federal Holiday and like many Federal Holidays there will always be Americans who disagree with them.

In attempting to take advantage of Christmas sometimes Christians do quirky things. (Hey, we’re people too!) One of those things is putting up the Grinch Alert! website where people can contribute to naughty and nice lists. The stated purpose for this site is:

Have you encountered a “Grinch” this Christmas season? Share your experiences here at GrinchAlert.com! Here, you can nominate businesses and organizations that shut-out expressions of Christmas in their interactions with the public via marketing, advertising and public relations. When companies use misplaced political correctness to halt the celebration of Christmas, they belong on the “Naughty List.”

We also want to know which companies are celebrating Christmas with excitement and meaning–especially those who keep Christ in Christmas where He belongs! Those companies and organizations will be placed on our “Nice List.” Help us preserve Christ this Christmas.

I read that and I wonder – Who is really stealing Christmas? The Christian Post reported that the pastor behind the site did respond: Dallas Pastor Responds to ‘GrinchAlert’ Controversy. I wanted to point this out before commenting and to be fair the pastor did say:

“I realize saying ‘Merry Christmas’ isn’t going to get anyone into heaven,” said Pastor Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church of Dallas after his sermon on Sunday. “But I believe our nation overall is going to be healthier as a nation with a public acknowledgment of God than we are if we allow the secularists, the atheists, the infidels to remove any mention of God from our public arena and that’s why I’m doing this.”

Ironically enough, GrinchAlert.com is using the fictional character, Grinch, from a secular source, Dr. Seuss, to put non-religious companies on imaginary lists created to support a fictional, secular character named Santa Claus to inform others which companies are trying to halt the celebration of the historical birth of Christ the Son of God.

I just thought I’d point that out. It’s not really right or wrong. It’s more of a cultural, contextual approach to the issue with this church having some fun as mentioned in the Christian Post article. I digress.

What strikes a chord with this website is that it is somewhat typical of what American Christianity has become. If we just sprinkle the name Jesus or Christ on a product is automatically becomes “Christian.” If a company won’t allow its employees to say ‘Merry Christmas’ will this erase Christmas in due time? If this same company changes next week and all of its employees start saying ‘Merry Christmas’ do they then become a para-church ministry? Is the gospel being proclaimed?

There are a handful of Christmas movies that have been playing on TV the last few weeks. Most of them have ‘Merry Christmas’ said throughout the movie. Yet none of them are proclaiming the birth of Jesus nor His gospel. Based on the GrinchAlert.com premise would these movies be keeping Christ in Christmas or not? I’m confused. Simply saying ‘Christmas’ is not the same as acknowledging Christ.

If all businesses said ‘Merry Christmas’ would many Christians find comfort in thinking the local evangelistic outreach is then complete? Is that all it takes? If not, what are folks complaining about? Do some Christians really want more marketing and advertising in Christ’s name via Christmas? It seems that many American Christians have come to rely on large, visible actions such as getting all businesses to say ‘Merry Christmas’ rather than sharing the gospel themselves and ministering to others by glorifying God in all things that some may be saved (1 Corinthians 10:31-33).

Too many in the world already think that Christianity is about God keeping a list of people doing good and bad. And if you’re good enough, God, and especially church people, will love and accept you. The truth is that we all belong on the naughty list and if it weren’t for Jesus Christ all would remain on that list. So maybe a better website would be one aimed at helping Christians engage in conversations about the gospel during Christmas time.

And with those thoughts I just want to say – Merry Christmas! “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11 ESV)

Let's connect!

tagged as in Church Issues,Culture,Evangelism,relativism,Southern Baptist,theology

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Knight December 22, 2010 at 4:53 pm

Good article. I agree with your points.

I make it a point to say “Merry Christmas” rather than the more socially acceptable “Happy Holidays.” I am always rather annoyed when the latter is used because people think that others will be offended by the former. It is the politically correct nature of this that irritates me. I do not think that changing your greeting to “Happy Holidays” takes Christ out of Christmas. I just think that if you celebrate Christmas and you want to wish someone Merry Christmas then you should be free to do so without worrying about offending someone’s sensibilities.

Would I black list someone for avoiding saying Merry Christmas? Absolutely not.

2 Mark December 22, 2010 at 7:41 pm

Hi Knight, thanks for stopping by and for the compliment. There is more I wanted to say about this issue, but time is limited. I’m with you on saying Merry Christmas. What’s surprising is that some people will actually say it back to you after they’ve said Happy Holidays.

3 Cathy M. December 22, 2010 at 10:43 pm

You raise an excellent point about this sort of Christian strong-arming. There’s a definite whiff of moralizing.

4 Katie @ Imperfect People December 23, 2010 at 8:24 pm

I think the best would be instead of talking about it we should be putting feet to our faith!

5 Christian December 25, 2010 at 9:41 pm

This has always been a touchy subject, and has even been dubbed by some as the “annual war on Christmas.” Personally it is annoying to hear “happy holidays.” For what holiday are people putting up decorated evergreen trees and buying presents to wrap and put under it? The only holiday I know of to do that for is Christmas, so “happy holidays” doesn’t even make sense to me. However, I’m not going to be legalistic about it. We can’t expect a non-believing, secular world to understand or behave in a spiritual manner. We need to be more concerned with showing the LOVE of Christ to the world, and this time of year provides so many more opportunities to do just that and share what Christ is all about.

6 Tina @Cheltenham Festival Tickets January 18, 2011 at 9:57 am

A late Merry Christmas to all of you! I hope you all had an amazing christmas with your family and friends. Christmas is a time and year where you spend most of your time with your friends and family. This is a great article I will forward this to my friend.

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