Friday, December 17, 2004

Christmas time conversions

Media Matters for America highlighted remarks by Bill O'Reilly in which he told a Jew to go to Israel if he doesn't like Christmas. Then O'Reilly attacked Media Matters. That's interesting enough, but I want to talk about a particular argument the caller made.

He said he, "grew up with a resentment because I felt that people were trying to convert me to Christianity" and "Christmas carols or gift exchanges being done in school, that kind of sets the kids up to being converted."

First, many Christians (and people of most other faiths too) believe that converting others is part of serving God, just as saying, "thank you for choosing Domino's" when answering the phone is part of serving that employer. In Christianity, this derives from Matthew 28:19-20 which drives Jehovah's Witnesses to go door to door trying to spread the Word. So if people think that Christians are trying to convert them, it may be true.

Second, the Christmas holiday was originally a pagan holiday. The church decided to celebrate the birth of Christ at the same time as the pagans were having their winter parties as a way to convert them to Christianity. In that sense, Christmas has always been about conversion.

I don't expect Christmas to go anywhere. It's very popular (whether that has anything to do with the Lord or not). That having been said, I don't think it's fair to dismiss concerns about its possible converting nature.
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