A Short Defense for a Huge, Outlandish, and Joyful Christmas Celebration

by Dale Partridge

When we think of Christmas, we think of the birth of Jesus, Mary and Joseph’s travels to Bethlehem, the humble manger, and the three wise men. For many, these events become the focal points of their advent celebration. However, the real celebration behind these events is not simply that the incarnation occurred but what the incarnation meant.

Allow me to explain, from creation to the crucifixion, we have approximately 4,000 years—4,000 years of longing for Christmas. From the promise of Genesis 3:15, where God vows the birth of One who will rescue God’s people from their sin, to John the Baptist’s ministry proclaiming His arrival, the world languished for a Savior.

The Cause of Christmas

In the Garden, God created man holy and sinless, dwelling in His presence. However, through man’s disobedience to God, humanity, and creation had been plunged into sin. Our highest desire was no longer to please God but to please ourselves. We had lost our holiness and righteousness and, as a result, had been separated from God eternally.

Separation (earthly and eternally) was the just and worthy penalty for our sins. Humanity’s only hope was to restore themselves to God—and we tried. We toiled in religiosity. But no amount of Law-keeping or spiritual piety or animal sacrifices or even praying was sufficient to pay for the sins we had committed against an eternal and holy God. Instead, God demanded the most precious substance to man—blood. But not just any blood. The forgiveness of sins could only be accomplished by the blood of a perfect and sinless man. This was, as you know, an impossible undertaking for sinners. James 2:10 says, “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.”

So, for thousands of years, God’s sinners groaned for the revelation of God’s Redeemer. When would the Savior—the Serpent Crusher of Genesis 3:15—be born and reconcile us to God? When will this promised Baby come and atone for the sins of His people? When would the Righteous One arrive and restore this fallen world?

It’s this dramatic theological backdrop that should paint the anticipation of Christmas across your heart. God’s people were passionately waiting for this very moment.  

It’s what makes the words of Matthew 1:21 so significant. “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

I believe the opening stanza of the classic Christmas carol “Hark! The Herald Angel Sings” captures the overwhelming excitement of this historical event.

Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the new-born king
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled
Joyful all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With angelic host proclaim
Christ is born in Bethlehem
Hark! The herald angels sing
Glory to the new-born king

Ultimately, the birth of Christ becomes the most important event in human history. It is the very reference point for the world clock. Namely, it is 2022 because it is approximately 2,022 years from the birth of Christ. For that reason, this event certainly is worth memorializing. In fact, it would be awfully strange not to.

The Two Ditches of the Christmas Road

However, over the centuries, there has been a bizarre, Ebenezer-like posture toward the celebration of Christmas among Christians. In one group, you have Christians who refuse to celebrate Christmas altogether because they claim it’s unbiblical or cites its “pagan” roots. This group forgets both the freedom we have in Christ to celebrate that which is righteous and the authority we have in Christ to reform that which is worth redeeming. And the celebration of the birth of our Savior is both righteous and worth redeeming. Yes, the world will pervert and distort this time of remembrance with foolish fancies of Santa Claus, materialism, gluttony, drunkenness, and godlessness, but that does not warrant our abandonment of Christmas. Christmas is purely a Christian festival, and we must not hand over the control to define such a critical moment to those who do not know Christ. Unfortunately, this is a trend in modern Christendom. We abdicate our involvement in society and allow the world to overtake, redefine, and pervert what is not theirs. This is occurring right before our eyes with marriage, gender, sexuality, and life. We must, at some point, say, “No more!” Namely, we must remain engaged by reforming the culture’s (and even the church’s) distortion of Christmas back to a reverent and righteous celebration of the advent of Jesus Christ.

Now, the second group of Christians are those who celebrate Christmas but do so in an almost dull, pietistic, and solemn celebration that can feel like a cheerless and somber ceremony more than a festival of joy!

Doug Wilson, in a sermon titled “Celebrating Christmas like a Puritan,” says (and I paraphrased here), “Don’t turn Christmas into a period of morbid introspective penitence. This is a season of joy! Celebrate the stuff. Celebrate the materiality of Christmas. Use fudge, eggnog, wine, and roast beef. Use presents and wrapping paper and lights. If you can’t imprint your joy on fudge, presents, shopping, baking, family, and feasting, you’re not grasping joy.”

He continues by saying, “This might seem a little bit out of control, as though I’m urging you to go overboard. Of course, I’m urging you to go overboard. That’s the whole point! The gospel is overboard! God does not ladle out grace with a teaspoon, and for this reason, the Lord is inviting you to everlasting, infinite, and unquenchable joy.”

In sum, when the thing celebrated is huge, the celebration must also be huge.

We have no issue with this logic on college graduation day or 25th anniversaries, or on wedding days. Therefore, on Christmas, Christians must celebrate in a way that is worthy of what we’re celebrating. And what we’re really celebrating is our reconciliation with God. It’s the embryonic manifestation of eternal life for all who believe.

Now yes, we must celebrate with wisdom and self-control. We must celebrate with reverence and adoration. But nevertheless, we must celebrate, we must sing, we must praise, we must preach, and we must do so with a heart filled with joy because the coming of Christ is the most joyous event to touch the earth!


Ultimately, our celebration of Christmas should be excessive because God’s grace in Christ is excessive. Christ is glorious, and therefore, our celebration of His coming to save us should also be glorious.

So, saints do not fall into either ditch upon this Christmas Road. Do not abdicate your celebration of Christmas or pollute it with worldly perversions. But also, do not adopt the lifeless and lackluster formality of Christmas that includes only prayer but no praise.

In a dark and depressing world, Christmas is the celebration of when light and life broke through. Therefore, let your neighbors and family, and friends see that same light and life radiating from your home this Christmas. Because when they see the joy and smell the feasting and hear the singing, they will wonder how people could have such delight in such a dismal culture. And the answer is one word—Christmas.  

Dale Partridge is the President of Relearn.org and holds a Graduate Certificate from Western Seminary. He is the author of several Christian books, including “The Manliness of Christ” and the bestselling children’s book “Jesus and My Gender.” He is also the host of the Real Christianity podcast and the lead pastor at King's Way Bible Church in Prescott, Arizona.

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