Your podcast is not your pastor--Trevin Wax addresses a very important issue facing the church today. I think the norm is for a lot of young men (some women too, I suspect) to be shaped by the sermons of men they have never met. I have certainly seen this danger in my own life as well and I have to be very cautious about it. In discussing the twin problems of fatherlessness and abundant online resources, he writes, "I remember reading Collin Hansen’s book on the 'young, restless, and reformed' a few years ago and being disturbed by one woman’s description of John Piper as a “father” of sorts, even though they’d never met. Fathers image God. The fact that a young lady could express the concept of spiritual fatherhood in relation to Piper shows what her view of God the Father is. Far off. Transcendent. Powerful. Distant. If fatherhood can take place without ever meeting, then we must have missed something about the immanence of God that expresses itself in God’s condescension to us in Christ."
What do you tell your kids about Santa?--We don't do Santa at our house. We don't flee when when we see a fat guy in a red suit and we watch some movies about Santa. We have never told our kids that there is a real Santa who brings them presents because their names were on the "nice" list. Clint Archer addresses some of the reasons why we have embraced this practice. "Angels on high, a pregnant virgin, God in a manger, a guiding star… are
impossibilities. Yet, 'all things are possible with God.' [Yes, you need to believe in the virgin birth to be a Christian] We ask our children to trust us on these claims with their lives.
Then we add a fictitious, omniscient fat guy with a red-nosed reindeer
to the mix. At a certain age we matter-of-factly disclose that we were
just kidding about the chimney intrusion, the Elven workshop, and the
works-based naughty-or-nice judgment. 'Those parts are make-believe, the
rest is gospel truth. Trust me, son.'"I believe in the truth of Scripture. I believe Jesus was born of a virgin. I believe God was incarnate. I don't want to confuse my children by lying to them about one thing "all in good fun" only to have them question me later.
Is Christmas just a repurposed pagan ritual?--I have heard a few times that Christmas is merely a pagan ritual. RC Sproul addresses this question briefly. He writes, "That question comes up every year at Christmastime. In the first place,
there’s no direct biblical commandment to celebrate the birth of Jesus
on December 25. There’s nothing in the Bible that would even indicate
that Jesus was born on December 25. In fact, there’s much in the New
Testament narratives that would indicate that it didn’t occur during
that time of year. It just so happens that on the twenty-fifth of
December in the Roman Empire there was a pagan holiday that was linked
to mystery religions; the pagans celebrated their festival on December
25. The Christians didn’t want to participate in that, and so they said, 'While everybody else is celebrating this pagan thing, we’re going to
have our own celebration. We’re going to celebrate the thing that’s most
important in our lives, the incarnation of God, the birth of Jesus
Christ. So this is going to be a time of joyous festivities, of
celebration and worship of our God and King.'" Read the whole thing here. Get Religion also addressed the same topic today.