We Wish You a Merry X-mas

December 22, 2009

I knew better. I should have gone with my first instinct. But I didn’t.

Several Decembers ago I was summoned for jury duty in Walker County, Georgia.  Overhearing other prospective jurors engaged in various religious and low-level theological debates, I vowed to myself to remain quiet and not get involved in these discussions.  For most of the morning I kept to my plan.

Not long before lunch my opinion was solicited by the ring-leader of the discussion group – an un-schooled, self-proclaimed Baptist “preacher”.  Apparently he had taken note earleir in the day when a judge made mention that I was a Presbyterian minister. 

 “Do you believe in the doctine of Once-Saved-Always-Saved?”

Trying to minimize my words, I replied:

“I believe most of what you mean by that, though I am not comfortable calling it by that name.”

What do you mean?”, he asked.

“I believe the Bible teaches eternal security for the believer. I just think that describing the doctrine as you did a moment ago leaves an impression of cheap grace.”

I am not sure he understood what I was actually saying, but apparently he was satisfied. He even seemed to sense a kindred spirit. He nodded his head approvingly. 

Then he asked:

Why d’ya think so many people deny this doctrine?” 

Here is where I started down the wrong road:

“I suspect because people don’t bother to read the one source that defines doctrinal positions (- the Bible)”, I replied a little too flippantly and smuggly. 

Again, my answer apparently satisfied him. Again he nodded his approval.  Then he observed:

Yep. People are tryin’ to take God and his Word out of ev’ry-thang. It’s just like people tryin’ to take Christ out’a Christmas.  Santa Claus instead’a  Jesus.  And all these signs that say Merry X-mas…  They’re tryin’ to X-out Jesus.”

(Here is the height of my error. Having been lulled into feeling comfortable by the eager reception of my previous simplistic responses…)  I interjected:

“O, no. That is not x-ing out Jesus from Christmas. The letter “X” is the symbol of Christ, taken from the  Greek letter “Chi”, the first letter for Christ in Greek.”

Silence, followed by a shaking head instead of a nodding noggin. Finally, still shaking his head, he told me:

You are educated beyond usefulness

Then he walked away.

Like I said, I should have stuck with my original plan. I should have remained quiet, done my time, and gone home.  But since I didn’t, I guess I had it coming.

This old memory came to mind when I read a post by R.C. Sproul on the Ligonier blog: Why is X Used?  I am glad to have someone of Sproul’s stature covering my back. But two new questions come to mind:

  • What are the chances that guy will read Sproul’s post?
  • Where were you, R.C., on that day years ago?!

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