Thursday, December 20, 2007

Rowan Williams and the Wise Men

In a couple of different spots today, I've heard it said that Archbishop Rowan Williams, primate of the Anglican Church, has claimed that the Nativity is a legend.

The London Telegraph titles the article: "Archbishop says nativity a 'legend.'"

And here is a screen shot of that title from Drudge:

The telegraph even includes this quote: "Dr Williams said: "Matthew's gospel says they are astrologers, wise men, priests from somewhere outside the Roman Empire, that's all we're really told. It works quite well as legend.""

Interesting. When you read the actual interview, linked on the Telegraph's website, we find this quote. "Well Matthew's gospel doesn't tell us that there were three of them, doesn't tell us they were kings, doesn't tell us where they came from, it says they're astrologers, wise men, priests from somewhere outside the Roman Empire. That's all we're really told so, yes, 'the three kings with the one from Africa' - that's legend; it works quite well as legend."

Maybe I'm naive regarding the press, but I always thought that a quote should be a quote. The words actually said.

In further along in the Telegraph article we find the opinion: "In a final blow to the traditional nativity story, Dr Williams concluded that Jesus was probably not born in December at all. He said: "Christmas was when it was because it fitted well with the winter festival.""

A final blow? I think I've known this since before I was a teenager.

This is why I don't read popular media accounts of Christmas, Easter, or Jesus. You want the story on Jesus, in the Church's words, read the Bible.


ben in denver said...

I believe the birth of Christ actually was near the winter solstice. I think there are good reasons to do so. God is the Lord and King of all creation. It should not be unexpected that there is a real connection between the liturgical life of the Church and the progression of the seasons.

So I have some confidence that our date for Christmas is close to the original date. What I'm absolutely certain of is that the date of Christmas has nothing whatsoever to do with the winter festival.

The Annunciation was fixed first and Christmas followed 9 months later.

Merry Christmas Father!

Anonymous said...

Dear Father,

One does not have to go to the popular media to get accounts like these.

What is described by Dr. Williams is what is being espoused in the Roman Catholic diocese(in Canada)that I live in. These ideas are not uncommon in Canada in the Catholic Church. (One may expect them to come from the Anglicans, etc. as they do not have the fullness of truth, but one does not expect the ideas to have come into the Catholic Church. These ideas are precisely why new age can be accepted into Catholic parishes and why relativism has become widespread here. The error is called modernism and is defined from the Modern Catholic Dictionary, by Father John Hardon, S.J. (copyright 1999, Intermirifica)

Modernism: A theory about the origin and nature of Christianity, first developed into a system by George Tyrell ( 1861- 1909), Lucien Laberthonniere (1860_1932), and Alfred Loisy ((1857 - 1940). According to Modernism, religion is essentially a matter of experience, personal and collective. There is no objective revelation from God to the human race, on which Christianity is finally based, nor any reasonable grounds for crediblility in the Christian faith, based on miracles or the testimony of history. Faith, therefore, is uniquely from within. In fact it is part of human nature, "a kind of motion of the heart," hidden and unconscious. It is, in Modernist terms, a natural instinct belonging to the emotions, a "feeling for the divine" that cannot be expressed in words or doctrinal propositions, an attitude of spirit that all people have naturally but that some are more aware of having. Modernism was condemned by Pope Pius X in two formal documents, Lamentabilli and Pascendi, both published in 1907. (Etym. Latin modernus, belonging to the present fashion).

Pius X encyclical, Pascendi dominici is here: