Man dressed as Santa Claus

Thinking biblically, historically and critically about Christmas

In this podcast, pastor and church historian R. Scott Clark talks about how Reformed Christians have thought about Christmas and why this season is both a blessing and a curse. On Christmas morning, most Christian congregations will gather for worship, but it was not always this way. Indeed, when some early Christians proposed celebrating the nativity of Christ on December 25, it was not because they believed that is when he was born (although after-the-fact justifications were made) but because the church needed something with which to replace a popular pagan celebration of the sun. Notable fathers of the church supported it, but others opposed it. Obviously, the proponents of what became Christmas won. So from the beginning, there were complications attached to Christmas, and they remain. The Reformed were divided over what to say and do about Christmas too. The topics covered include:

  • The relationship between Christ and culture
  • Why the feast of the nativity was instituted on 25 December
  • The origins of common Christmas customs
  • Why the English Reformed forbade the observance of Christmas
  • The attitudes of the Reformers towards Christmas
  • What the Reformed confessions say about Christmas
  • The regulative principle of worship
  • The good and bad aspects of Christmas customs
  • The problems with Santa Claus, particularly for nurturing children’s faith in Jesus and the Bible

Click here to listen to the podcast (49 minutes).