Book Review: Who stole Christmas?

Every Who Down in Whoville Liked Christmas a lot…
But the Grinch,Who lived just north of Whoville, Did NOT!
The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season!
Now, please don’t ask why. No one quite knows the reason.

Most of us know the tale of the ghastly Grinch and that Christmas in Whoville, of the transformation he undergoes having stolen Christmas – only for his heart to grow as he restores the presents, food and decoration to the poor Whos of Whoville. In Who Stole Christmas? Phil Heaps dives headfirst into Whoville to explore one simple question. Do we know what really matters about Christmas?

The aim of this little book is to try and show you the real Christmas. The Christmas that matters.” (p3.)

Phil opens as the dastardly Grinch creeps into Whoville, and spirits away the gifts and trappings of Christmas. He quite literally steals Christmas. And Phil asks if we can be like that. We put so much effort and hope into the day, but in the end we’re left just feeling a bit hollow. ‘Is that it?’ Phil wants to share the real Christmas with his readers, and so he turns away from the Grinch, and looks instead to Jesus.

Biblical Hope

Phil turns to Jesus by looking at the account of that first Christmas in Luke 2. His first task, after sharing the Biblical account, is to examine whether we can take this record seriously. This he does well, unpacking key verses and establishing Luke’s Gospel as a credible witness to the true Christmas story.

He then turns his attention to asking the key questions of this incredible baby in a manger: who is he, and why did he come?

Again, Phil presents the answers to these questions really thoughtfully and clearly, confronting the reader with the truth of who Jesus is, and the reason he came.

This is what Christmas means: in the person of Jesus, God has come into his world.” (p13.)

Suddenly we realise what a crime it is to bury the real Christmas under mounds of stuff. Because the whole reason Jesus came into the world was to save people, and to avert the disaster that we will all face if we meet God unprepared.” (p19.)

Phil speaks in accessible language about Biblical truth, leaning on Scripture to show simply the claims and reality of the Gospel. He points the reader to the glory and majesty of who Christ is. And he does not shy away from the reason Christ came: the sin of humanity and the judgement we are facing. With this he offers a hope in Jesus that is so much more than the mounds of stuff we force on ourselves at Christmas. Philippians 2 is opened up to show us more of who Jesus is, and Amos 6 to challenge our culture with the horrific reality of living by the creed of ‘eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.’

Christmas means so much to so many, but unless we understand what Christmas really means, it will not only let us down, but lead us into disaster.

Thoughtful and Accessible

Phil’s short book is honest with its readers. He works hard to present clear, Biblical truth. He works hard to offer the complete message of the Gospel. So he is open about who God is, and clear about the crime humanity has committed and the judgement we face. And he points wholeheartedly to the one hope we can have, in the baby born in the manger on that first Christmas morning.

But this is not a judgemental book. Phil is honest about the human condition and our need for a Saviour, but this message is presented thoughtfully and longingly. Our situation is shown to be one of great need, but our Saviour is shown to be greater. The book is clear on some hard truths, but it is not unkind in its tone, and it points us again and again to some wonderful truths.

And the book is wonderfully accessible and entertaining as Phil takes us back to Whoville again and again. The story of the Grinch is used in parallel to the Gospel story, so that the reader has a running illustration of what Phil is trying to get across. I enjoyed the Gospel presentation mixed in with this story, it forces us to ask ourselves if we’ve got the real Christmas, or if its been stolen away and we’ve tricked ourselves into a season of food, presents and meaningless parties.

The tragedy today is that many people are being fooled. What they are being served isn’t Christmas. All the important bits have been left out.” (p.24)

Though the parallels between the Grinch and the Christmas story are not perfect, it acts as a helpful mirror against which to hold the truths of the Gospel. And as the story of the Grinch is concluded, it points us to the wonderful good news at the heart of Christmas.

That is the wonder of real Christianity. It gives you indestructible hope: something that thieves can’t steal, something that bad health can’t spoil, something that even death can’t take away.” (p.35.)

Conclusion

This short book is a great evangelistic read for Christmas time. Its a short book, rather than a tract, but it is clearly written, easy to follow, and entertaining. Phil has done a great job of presenting a complete Gospel presentation, and letting the attraction of Scripture itself invite us to a new hope this Christmas time. I know of several churches that are giving these away this Christmas, and this book would definitely be a great option for a short book to be sharing with your local community. DayOne are selling the title, and are selling orders of 100 for a significant discount, with this use in mind.

Phil’s short book is great, clear on the hope to be found in Jesus, and good fun to read. Whether for church or personal evangelism, it is well worth having a look at this Christmas time.

DayOne are selling Who Stole Christmas? here.

Orders of 100 at a discount can be made here.

If you want a shorter evangelistic tract to give away this Christmas, that’s more focussed on responding to the current situation, try this excellent one from 10ofthose.

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