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article imageBishop says Christmas carols are nonsense

By Kevin Jess     Nov 30, 2009 in World
A leading English bishop says that some Christmas carols are nonsense and feels the songs have turned Jesus Christ into a Father Christmas figure. Looking at biblical accounts we can find other inaccuracies that are thought to be truth today.
According to a report by the Telegraph, the Bishop of Croydon, the Rt Rev Nick Baines says songs such as Away in a Manger couldn't possible be sung "'without embarrassment', Once in Royal David’s City is 'Victorian behaviour control'; and O Come, All Ye Faithful is misleading."
Baines blames the popular songs for creating confusion over what he calls "the season's real meaning" and he also says the carols make Jesus' figure seem fictitious.
For instance, there is no mention in the Bible of the date of Jesus Christ's birth, and the New Catholic Encyclopedia says, The date of Christ's birth is not known. The Gospels indicate neither the day nor the month. According to the hypothesis suggested by H. Usener, and accepted by most scholars today, the birth of Christ was assigned the date of the winter solstice (December 25 in the Julian calendar, January 6 in the Egyptian), because on this day, as the sun began its return to northern skies, the pagan devotees of Mithra celebrated the dies natalis Solis Invicti (birthday of the invincible sun). On December 25, 274 AD, Aurelian had proclaimed the sun-god principle patron of the empire and dedicated a temple to him in the Campus Martius. Christmas originated at a time when the cult of the sun was particularly strong at Rome.
One might argue that if Jesus Christ wanted his followers to celebrate his birthday he would have told them the date of his birth much like what happened at his death.
Also, the book Daily Life in the Time of Jesus says, The flocks (sheep that were watched by the shepherds) passed the winter under cover; and from this alone it may be seen that the traditional date for Christmas, winter, is unlikely to be right, since the Gospel says that the shepherds were in the fields.
Those who treasure the songs defend them as "joyful" and "triumphant" but the Bishop of Croydon reportedly feels that the songs only relegate the story of Christ's birth to "just one more story alongside the panto and fairy stories”.
In a new book published by the Church of England entitled Why Wish You a Merry Christmas, the bishop says “I always find it a slightly bizarre sight when I see parents and grandparents at a nativity play singing Away in a Manger as if it actually related to reality. I can understand the little children being quite taken with the sort of baby of whom it can be said 'no crying he makes’, but how can any adult sing this without embarrassment?”
He argues that Jesus would have been abnormal if he had not cried as a baby.
The bishop also cites the carol Oh Come All Ye Faithful as an example of how songs of the season perpetuate inaccuracies of what really happened concerning the story of Christ's birth.
Bishop Baines says in the book it was not the "faithful" who went to see Jesus and his parents but rather shepherds, who were of the "great unwashed" and the wise men or Magi (astrologers) who were "not good Jews, but were pagans, men who were outside the covenant people of God."
Since astrology is strongly disapproved of in the Bible, one would have to ask, would God have led this type of person to the newborn Jesus?
The biblical account shows us in Matthew 2:1-16 the star led the Maji first to King Herod who wanted to kill the promised Messiah, and then to Jesus. In the songs that we hear at Christmas time, they tell of the Maji visiting Jesus in a stable but in the Bible it says that Mary and Joseph were living in a house and that Jesus must have been approaching the age of two because King Herod decreed that all the boys in the district of Bethlehem two years of age and under were to be destroyed.
In the book, the bishop says by "romanticising the festival and commercialising our culture" Christmas has become "tame, fantastic and anaemic."
Over the past decade the Church of England has seen a rise in worshippers over the Christmas period and they expect that approximately 40 per cent of adults will attend church services this Christmas.
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