Yes, Virginia, There Is A Baby Jesus

My dear Virginia,

I sense your confusion at this time of year. Adults do have a way of giving things and then taking them back. Yes, it is even as you suspected: there is no Easter bunny, no sandman, no tooth fairy and—and I know this is hardest of all—no Saint Nick. But lest you think this story about Mary and Joseph and the baby and the angels is another of those pretty images we will later retract, I assure you it is not.

There is a baby Jesus!

I almost want to say was a baby Jesus, because in the short course of time he became the man he now is. Like your father—who was once a baby himself—he became a man. Still, babies are babies, and the reason we keep their pictures around is not so that we can keep them little but that we can keep the correlation between their babyhood and their grownuphood.

I guess none of us mind keeping Jesus a baby, because births are always kind of special and they remind us that everyone is born to do something important. I know it seems to you that only adults are important, but babies are important too. And the baby Jesus was the most important baby who ever lived. Believe me when I tell you that this little baby is so important that real angels sang at his birth; real kings brought real presents and gave them to a real baby.

Of course, the real Jesus now is a grown man, but I don’t think he minds much if we stop once a year to celebrate his babyhood.

We grownups fuss a lot about his having to be born in a manger. Of course, it wasn’t right. But babies don’t mind stables. They would just as soon sleep in hay as anywhere, I guess. The important thing to remember is that they are happy just as long as they are loved. I know right now that you do love him, and I am glad.

You see, it’s like this, Virginia. Loving you was his reason for being born. And your loving him was your reason to be born. You don’t understand? Well, that’s fine—you don’t have to understand right now.

The key thing is to believe that this baby is God’s Son, and just as shepherds and kings loved him, so should everyone.

I’m so sorry about the sandman, the tooth fairy, the Easter bunny, and even Santa Claus, but the baby—well, I don’t have to be sorry about him—he was … no, he is real. The baby is a man, but a man who understands how important all babies are—it sort of makes you proud to know that God thought so much of babies he became one, doesn’t it? Yes, Virginia, there really is a baby Jesus.

Merry Christmas,


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Witchcraft—Satanic Or Not?

Like J. Gordon Melton [“Witchcraft: An Inside View,” Oct. 21], I had many negative images and beliefs about Witches. However, thanks to the author’s “ripping them away one by one and tossing them into the garbage can,” I am greatly enlightened. The only thing I found lacking in the article was information on finding a coven of my own where I can “grasp the depth of Paganism’s appeal and the spiritual life it provides.”


First Assembly of God Murfreesboro, Tenn.

As a teacher in a Christian school that keeps CHRISTIANITY TODAY in its library for the students’ use, I am quite concerned about the conclusion by Gordon Melton when he says pagan philosophy also prepares one for the reception of the gospel as does the Jewish Law. Obviously, the writer has not had to deal with the fruit of witchcraft, or he wouldn’t think it so harmless.

I personally know young people who were once in witchcraft who actually practiced blood sacrifice. They tell of killing stolen babies as part of the ritual. Drugs play a major role in witchcraft, and the Bible has a strong admonition against being involved with it.


Hollywood Christian School Hollywood, Fla.

Were The Facts Confirmed?

It distresses me to see your usually fine magazine stooping to the level of pure, unadulterated gossip that the news item concerning PTL president Jim Bakker reported in the October 21 issue. We all get enough of this in the secular news media, with all of their alleged and reported lies.

While I do not personally agree with much of the ministry of Jim Bakker, I feel that you owe us responsible news coverage, minus the insinuations of misconduct presented without solid evidence. When all you have to go on is the word of another journalist, when there is no confirmation by either involved party, it would seem to be the biblical pattern to confirm with either party just what the facts are.

I realize PTL does not have a good reputation for financial responsibility in some circles. Please, however, do not become like the rest of the media. Rather, be salt, and refuse to print “news” without responsible information gathering.


First Congregational Church Kenosha, Wis.

I cannot tell you how disappointed I am to come home from an assignment and pick up my October 21 CHRISTIANITY TODAY. I have been a subscriber from issue one, have preserved each copy, bound them into volumes, and only a few weeks ago presented the whole to our graduate school in Springfield, Missouri. I have always felt—until now—that I could quote the magazine with confidence. But on page 44 of the aforesaid issue, under the heading “PTL Host Reportedly Spent $1,000 a Day for a Hotel Room,” two-thirds of the column is given to an outrageously slanted attack upon Jim Bakker. I immediately went to an unimpeachable source and learned the suite was used by 12 people engaged in a business conference. My experience with similar conferences indicates that such an expenditure is not out of line.

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I am not blindly supportive of everything the TV network evangelists support, but I am willing to hear their side of the story. You must be aware that there is an open conspiracy in the media to destroy these ministries. Why are you part of it? I no longer feel I can quote CHRISTIANITY TODAY with any confidence in its presentation of the “facts.”


The General Council of the Assemblies of God Springfield, Mo.

CT checked with all parties involved—the reporter, the hotel management, and Jim Bakker’s office—before deciding to run the article—Ed.

I Beg Your Pardon

I would like to take exception to comments by Martin E. Marty and Eddie B. Lane concerning the performance of President Reagan [“ ‘Rejuvenating’ or ‘Out of Balance’?,” Oct. 7]. As to the environmental policies of the Administration, is it not true that man was given dominion over the earth? A good steward uses resources for the common good. A good steward does not allow resources to sit idle. Was not the slave who buried his one talent severely castigated by his master and cast into outer darkness?

The church was given the task to feed the hungry and clothe the naked. Scripture fails to mention the welfare agencies. It is a tragedy that the church has failed miserably in meeting the physical needs of people but chooses to sit quietly and give that chore to an entity that sometimes opposes the teachings of Christ. We adore the doctrine of separation of church and state until its invocation would mean putting the principles of love and compassion into action.


Shreveport, La.

African Culture Ambivalence

Tim Stafford’s ambivalence about African culture [“Torn by Two World’s,” Oct. 7] highlights a problem that perplexes all students of foreign missions. On the one hand, it appears that Kenya is the success story of recent missionary history. Well over half of the population profess Jesus as Lord, and most of these are Protestants. On the other hand, the maternal mortality is the world’s fifth highest, and the Physical Quality of Life Index puts a hundred nations above Kenya, many of them unevangelized. The GNP growth rate is 2.4 and the population growth 3.6, which spells disaster. This doubling of population about every 15 years began at approximately the same time as the advent of foreign missions and medical science. Today the “average” woman has nine living children. (A hundred years ago, most would have died in infancy.)

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Greenwood, S.C.

Handwriting—Science Or Superstition

I was distressed at reading “Handwriting Analysis Provides Another Slant on Luther” [Oct. 21]. Despite the self-serving “Handwriting is considered more science than superstition today,” and the frightening reference to the “many businesses that use scientific handwriting analysis in job testing and interviews,” there are a great many of us with scientific training who remain skeptics of graphologists as we do also of palmologists, tea readers, and other types who can be found on carnival midways.

God will judge our works and our words. Christians know Christians by their fruits. God help us if our pulpit committees start selecting pastors on the basis of their handwriting rather than by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, given after prayer and fasting according to the model both of Jesus and the early church.


Lincoln, Neb.

Biblical Authority

Regarding your article “Biblical Authority: Where Both Fundamentalists and Neoevangelicals Are Right” [Oct. 7], it seems to me that we can have full confidence that the Scriptures have accomplished their purpose whether or not they meet the critical standards of men. Our divine Savior quoted from the Old Testament without correcting it. Thus, can’t we assume with every surety of mind and faith that we have God’s Word?


St. Petersburg, Fla.

This letter is not an appropriate place to defend my exegesis of Matthew from Dr. Kantzer’s editorial description “misguided.” But this quoting “other evangelicals” to the effect that my methodology, “if applied to the bodily resurrection of Christ, would allow us to understand it merely as Christ’s continuing spiritual existence,” plus a similar statement about the Virgin Birth, should not go unchallenged. These statements overlook two facts.

First, my commentary on Matthew (Eerdmans, 1982) treats the stories of Christ’s virgin birth and resurrection with the very same methodology applied elsewhere—but without the suggested results. Second, philosophicalpresuppositions have influenced affirmations and denials of the historicity of Christ’s virgin birth and resurrection far more than higher critical methodologies as such have influenced them.

In view of these facts, those who posit a slippery slope need to show both that my application of redaction critical methodology is inconsistent and that an antisupernatural bias is endemic to that methodology. I heartily agree with Kantzer that the issue needs to be decided “in light of history and grammar and cultural data.”


Westmont College Santa Barbara, Calif.

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