Every year I am inevitably asked the same question: why do we abbreviate Christmas as “Xmas?” There are usually two types of people who ask this question. On the one hand is the conspirator who assumes that “Xmas” is a secular coo against Christ. On the other hand is the confused person who simply wonders why anyone would abbreviate “Christ” with a simple “X.”
Good news American Christians, the abbreviation is not that big of a deal.
The Greek word for “Christ” is christos. The first letter of christos is the Greek letter chi which is transliterated into the English letters “ch.” The chi itself looks like an English “X.” Christians would often abbreviate christos with the Greek letter chi. A good example of this would be the Chi-Rho monogram which was a type of cross with the first two letters of christos – the chi and the rho. A picture of the Chi-Rho Monogram is available below.
Another example would be the ichthus. The word “ichthus” is Greek meaning “fish.” Christians turned it into an acronym with each Greek letter representing something about Christ. The iota (“i”) meaning “Jesus,” the chi (ch) meaning “Christ,” the theta (“th”) meaning God, the upsilon (“u”) meaning “son,” and the sigma (“s”) meaning Savior.
This brings us back to “Xmas.” What appears to be the English letter “X” is actually a Greek ch iwhich has a sacred history of being an abbreviation for “Christ” Thus, “Xmas” is short for “Christmas.” Christ, therefore, has not been taken out of Christmas nor is this a secular, anti-Christian attack on Christmas. Abbreviating Christmas does not make one less a Christian or anti-Christmas anymore than abbreviating any other word. The chi is a reminder that Christmas is about the incarnation of God who condescended himself as a man in order to save mankind. The confusion over “Xmas” is not part of the so-called War on Christmas (or Xmas if you so desire).
There is a bigger issue here. All around us are people lost without the gospel. Many bible-believing, Jesus-worshipping, church-going Christians will fight against the secularism of Christmas, yet at the same time do not know the spiritual state or needs of their neighbors. Jesus is more offended by our lack of missional obedience than he is how we write “Christmas” on our cards. He cares more about the truth of the incarnation and the power of the cross than he does about trivial matters. He cares more about the heart of the Target cashier than whether or not she uttered the words “Merry Christmas” as opposed to “Happy Holidays.”
“I can’t imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once.”
-CS Lewis, The Letters of CS Lewis to Arthur Greeves
To the reading of books, there is no end, the preacher of Ecclesiastes tells us. Thus it is wise to know that not all books are created equal. Some are not worth the paper they are printed on while others are worth reading and rereading. Below are five non-fiction volumes worth reading over and over again from my library in no particular order.
My favorite book on prayer is without a doubt this brief gem from the Great Reformer. There is no excuse for never breaking its spine. It is brief and available at a low price (under $4!). Luther wrote this volume in response to a question from his barber on a simple way to pray. He directs us back to Scripture to pray through God’s Word itself. Luther was a man of prayer. He was a warrior in prayer. We can learn a lot from him.
CS Lewis remains one of the most influential Christian writers of the 20th century. One of his most important volumes is Screwtape Letters which explores temptation through the lens of fictitious demons themselves. Similar attempts have been made to write similar texts ever since, but none compare to Lewis’s original. I have read this book multiple times and each time is better than the previous. While your at it, read (and reread) Mere Christianity.
The spiritual disciplines lead us to greater communion with God and to greater godliness. Whitney has published the gold standard on the spiritual disciplines. It is imperative Christians grow in the disciplines and Whitney is the best resource I’ve come across in guiding us in this great, sanctifying work.
The cross is at the center of the Christian faith. In this volume, the late John Stott offers the reader an excellent exploration and application of the doctrine of the atonement. Stott is an excellent reader and theologian and this stands as my favorite volume of his with Basic Christianity in a close second.
This forgotten gem from Dr. Moore, the president of ERLC of the SBC, is the only book that I have ever preached through. Moore is one of the brightest thinkers and writers of our day and this work on temptation is a must read and reread.
In preparation for a marriage seminar operated by the Parrott’s, I read their seminal work “Saving Your Marriage Before it Starts.” As far as marriage books go, it is well written and pretty straight forward. It is a helpful guide for pre-married couples that is easy to read and practical. Outside of their final chapter on the role of spiritual intimacy, the book is largely open to both secular and Christian crowds. That is not a criticism and may be what makes their discussion of shared faith more relevant. For pastors looking or good resources for soon-to-be married or newly married, this may be one worth considering.
John MacArthur’s books have been a blessing to many since I was a teenager. In this volume, he explores the 7 churches of Revelation 2-3 and explores their story and how the modern church can be what Christ wants us to be.
The books is straightforward and is a good resources for understanding these two critical chapters of Revelation. Beyond that, there isn’t anything unique or world changing. This is vintage MacArthur; a lot of Bible, good exposition.
In preparation for a marriage seminar shaped by Less and Leslie Parrot, I began reading a number of their books. I thought this book would have been a little different than what it turned out to be. That is my fault for not investigating more before cracking it’s spine. The book as a whole is good but most of it will by no means be discussed in a public format.
I’ve been reading the Millenium Series first launched by Stieg Larson before his premature death after publishing the first three books. David Lagercrantz is continuing the Swedish series and although they are good, they are not nearly as great as the original author’s story. Lagercrantz has made the main character, Salander, less interesting and in this volume she was less a part of the story. She was often sidelined while other investigators and journalists moved the plot along.
For more on why I’m reading this series, click here.
In preparation of a sermon on a similar topic, I tolle lege this little book for the second time. I’m sure if you search for it, you can find my brief thoughts on it. After reading it the second time, it is quickly becoming one of my favorite books for new believers. A resources like this is worth investing in for disciplining young, new believers. It is short, well written and explores the gospel and the Christian life. An additional chapter on the role of the church would have be preferable, but regardless, this is a great volume that was first recommended (and sent to me) by Alistair Begg.