Bryan Fischer
The reason for the season
By Bryan Fischer
December 23, 2008

Why does much of the world pause once a year to honor the birth of a Jewish boy born 2000 years ago to a peasant woman in a cave in an obscure village? In reflecting on this question, it's worth taking a moment to consider the ways in which his life, his legacy, and his followers infused with his spirit and inspired by his example have transformed history. He has cast a long shadow over Western civilization and the world.

A glance at our institutions and traditions confirms this. His followers, for instance, started hospitals during the Middle Ages. In our own community, our two major centers of healing each bear the name of a disciple of his.

Most of the world's great universities were launched to serve his purposes. Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, for instance, were each formed to train men to propagate his teachings. The Episcopal bishop of Idaho founded the institution that became Boise State University.

The tradition of free public education in America, with its emphasis on academic instruction for ordinary people rather than just the elite, can be traced to his pre-colonial followers in Massachusetts, who wanted all of their children to be able to read, write, and think for themselves lest they be deceived by "that old Deluder, Satan."

His followers have done far more than anyone to promote literacy and education around the world, often reducing the languages of tribal peoples to writing so they could study his teachings in their own language. The book that honors him has been translated into more languages than any other piece of literature in human history.

Our representative form of government, with its separation of powers, owes its greatest debt to the books written to preserve his teachings. During debates at the constitutional convention in 1787, the Bible was cited twice as frequently as any other source.

Pioneers in science who called themselves by his name founded virtually every major discipline of science, whether bacteriology (Pasteur), calculus (Newton), astronomy (Kepler), chemistry (Boyle), genetics (Mendel), energetics (Kelvin), or glacial geology (Agassiz) to name just a select few. Ninety-eight percent of all significant inventions in human history have been developed in countries that honor the sign of the cross.

The greatest and most profound social movements in history owe their impetus to those animated by his spirit. Slavery was abolished in the western hemisphere by committed disciples of his, such as William Wilberforce in England. Two-thirds of the members of abolitionist societies in the U.S. in 1835 were ministers of his gospel.

The civil rights movement in America was birthed in Baptist churches in the south, and led by their pastors. His spirit has elevated the status of women society. I've often told my daughter to thank God every day that she lives in a country whose view of women is shaped by the gospel rather than by another religious system.

Beyond all this, countless millions have found forgiveness, peace, strength, and hope for this age and the age to come by trusting in his living and abiding presence.

We all live and move each day, often without even realizing it, in the light and radiance cast by the Carpenter from Nazareth. It's no exaggeration to say with Philips Brooks, the writer of "O Little Town of Bethlehem," that "all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man on this earth as much as that one solitary life."

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Note: This column first appeared in the Idaho Statesman on December 25, 2001.

© Bryan Fischer


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