As Christmas nears, so does the push to remove its Christian roots. Eric Bolling of Fox Business News recently sparked controversy when he kicked atheist Dan Barker off of his show. Barker, a spokesman for the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which is based in Wisconsin, was pushing for the removal of a nativity scene from the property of a public courthouse in Texas.
While listening to the interview, it became quite clear that Barker’s efforts (and most likely those from the entire Freedom From Religion Foundation) were primarily motivated by the perceived Danger in the Manger. Bolling (a professing Christian) sees nothing offensive about a nativity scene, whereas Barker feels that, “The nativity scene basically is an insult to human nature, that we are all doomed and damned…” This story points us toward a second source of conflict as found in the Christmas Story—A Double-Edged Sword of Glory.
This format does not permit the opportunity to unpack a more complete understanding of the issue, but that doesn’t prevent us from recognizing that human beings crave significance, status and greatness–glory! In the Garden Adam & Eve had been clothed with God’s glory, but in choosing independence from their Creator, the human race finds itself with a glory deficiency. Our insatiable appetite for glory cuts two ways in creating conflict: 1.) in lifting one person (or group) up and 2.) putting another person (or group) down.
Nazi Germany provides an extreme example of the same type of conflict that has destroyed millions of lives throughout history. The Nazis exalted themselves as the superior Aryan race while violently oppressing the Jews (who they painted to be less than human). Through the Double-Edged Sword of Glory, one is exalted; the other insulted.
Barker is right in observing that Christ’s coming to Earth as Savior is a huge “insult to human nature”. It’s as though God was saying, “I’ve given you thousands of years to get things right, but when I survey the Earth it’s obvious to Me that you have screwed things up beyond human hope. The only option left is for Me to come down there and fix humanity Myself.” To add insult to injury, at the birth of Christ a host of heaven appeared saying, “Glory to God in the highest . . . .” (Luke 2:14)
Through the Christmas Story we see that God is exalted to the highest place of status and significance. Humanity, on the other hand is deemed to be lost beyond human remedy. Indeed, this is the message of the nativity as correctly interpreted by atheists such as Barker.
But which message provides real hope for humanity? If we were to totally remove Christianity from our landscape, would atheism lead us down a path of hope and peace? Would it provide the antidote for every human’s self-centered quest for glory? I think not.
And if not from the Garden, where does mankind’s inherent need for glory originate? According to an atheistic worldview (founded upon naturalistic evolution), humanity has simply evolved from some primordial slime pit. We’re no different or better than the animals. We have no eternal substance or significance. It makes no sense that we would crave glory. In other words, from a perspective of naturalistic evolution, humans should have absolutely no reason to be offended by the birth of Christ. If atheists were correct in their unbeliefs, the Nativity would simply be irrelevant—not an insult to human nature.
Is the Gospel of Jesus Christ an offense to human nature? Absolutely! But within the Gospel we also see the power to sheath the Double-Edged Sword of Glory. Christ came into this world for love, not judgment. Those who yield to His plan become sons and daughters of God, living temples of the Holy Spirit. I can imagine no higher honor, no greater significance. Through knowing our high place of status in the eyes of our Creator, each of us can finally be free from our animosity-ridden glory deficiency. The result? It can be seen in the second part of Luke 2:14: “on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
His glory is our peace! May both His glory and His peace pervade your households as you exalt Christ during this Christmas season!