God Rest Ye Merry by Douglas Wilson


If there’s one thing you can always count on Douglas Wilson for, it’s writing something delightful to read. If there ar two things you can count on him for, it’s that he doesn’t shy away from being a provocateur.

His new book, God Rest Ye Merry: Why Christmas is the Foundation for Everything, is yet another wonderful example of both of these truths. In this new volume, Wilson deconstructs the many false reasons for the season, shows the importance of Israel to the Christmas story, and provides an answer to the all important question: “How then shall we shop?”

Also, Santa Claus apparently slapped Arius across the face at the Council of Nicaea. (If that were made into a Christmas special, would it be a new holiday classic?)

Here are a few standout excerpts:

On Christmas and empty sentimentalism:

Christmas should not be treated by us as the “denial season.” One of the reasons why so many families have so many tangles and scenes during the “holidays” is that everybody expects sentimentalism to fix everything magically. But Christmas is not a “trouble-free” season. We want the scrooges and grinches in our lives to be transformed by gentle snowfall, silver bells, beautifully arranged evergreens, hot cider, and carols being sung in the middle distance. But what happens when you gather together with a bunch of other sinners, and all of them have artificially inflated expectations? What could go wrong? When confronted with the message of sentimentalism, we really do need somebody who will say, “Bah, humbug.” (Kindle location 1053)

On the politically incendiary nature of the Incarnation:

From the very start, from the very beginning, the life of Jesus presented a potent threat to the status quo. This threat was not the result of Herod’s paranoia—Herod knew what many Christians do not. The birth of this child meant that the old way of ruling mankind was doomed. The transition from the old way of rule to the new way of rule was not going to be simple or easy, but it was going to happen. Of the increase of the Lord’s government there would be no end. But whatever it meant, Herod knew that he was against it. (Kindle location 688)

On the reality of joy:

So the message of Christmas is not a delusional message. This is joy to the world. We are not pretending that we live in a world that is not struggling under a curse. The doctor who applies medicine to a wound is not pretending the wound is non-existent. The craftsman who repairs a smashed piece of expensive furniture is not denying the damage. His presence presupposes the damage. The refiner’s fire does not exclude the reality of dross—it is excluding the dross in another way. The Incarnation is God’s opening salvo in His war on our sins. The presence of sin should no more be astonishing than the presence of Nazis fighting back at Normandy. View the world with the eye of a Christian realist. The turning of seasons makes no one better. The gentle fall of snow removes no sin. The hanging of decorations only makes a living room full of sin sadder. As Jesus once put it, “Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold? (Mt. 23:17). Which is more important, the hat or the cattle? The foam or the beer? The gift or the altar? The gold paper stamp on the Christmas card or the gold coin of your faith? If our hearts are decorated with the refined gold of a true faith, we may therefore decorate everything else. If they are not, then what’s the point? Joy is fundamentally realistic—which is why unbelief thinks of it as insane. (Kindle location 1069)

Best read during the build-up to Christmas (and it includes daily readings for the Advent season season), God Rest Ye Merry offers a thought-provoking, guffaw-inducing look at the Christmas season that’s sure to create lots of discussion around the dinner table.

Title: God Rest Ye Merry: Why Christmas is the Foundation for Everything
Author: Douglas Wilson
Publisher: Canon Press (2012)

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