Thursday, December 19, 2013

Why the "X" in Xmas is not an Anti-Christmas Conspiracy

Every year I am inevitably asked the same question, what's with abbreviating Christmas to 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, why would we abbreviate "Christ" with a simple "X."

Good news America 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 chi which 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. First, if Christians were remotely interested in matters of the gospel as we were over unnecessary "call to arm" fights like this, the church would be in much better shape. There is no doubt that Christians can easily be mobilized to support certain causes. Whether it be shouting "Merry Christmas" at local chains that prefer the more general "Happy Holidays" or buying loads of chicken sandwiches after the President of Chik-fil-a exercised his first amendment rights. How much better would our time, effort, money, and energy be spent if we revitalized the church by growing in the gospel before we distracted ourselves with lesser matters?

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 more 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."

For more:
Advent: God With Us 
Odd Thomas - The Incarnation (Spoken Word)
An Anti-Santy Ranty: A Moralistic God vs. the God in the Manger
Happy RamaHanuKwanzMas
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