A now famous video by an imam, in which he decries Christmas as the observance of God being born on December 25th, has been well attacked and picked apart in the Christian blog world. I'd like to respond to what one person said over at bureaucrat Paul McCain's blog. (McCain and I have similar policies about allowing each other to participate in our blogs; nevertheless, sometimes I see something there that is worthy of discussion here.) The comment first proclaimed that the Imam is wrong, and at that point I thought, okay, he's going to point out that Christmas does not imply that Christ was born on this very date. But no, his point, it turns out, was that what was so fundamentally wrong with the Imam's diatribe is the view that Christians believe that God was born. This is an apt occasion, therefore, to make the point that indeed, there is nothing wrong with saying that God was born. On this point the Imam got the Christian message right. It is right and Christian to say that God was born.
Now of course we must add that such phraseology can be misunderstood. In a similar way, I know that the repulsion to the practice of referring to the Virgin Mary as the Mother of God can be divided between those who are true believing Nestorians on the one hand and those who misunderstand the intent of the phrase on the other.
It is vitally important, from a christological perspective, to be able to say that the One Who was born of the Virgin, the One Who allowed Himself to be held, first in a womb, and then in the arms of humans, and ultimately, to be carried and lifted up by the cruel nails and harsh wood of the cross, and finally held again in the arms of His holy mother, this man Who has assumed our flesh, is also the One Who made the world, and holds the universe; He, the man Jesus, is Himself God, the Pantocrator, the Uncreated Angel of Great Counsel Who goes ahead of us and fights His own battles and announces His own Message of victory. For He is the Message, and He is our Victory. God became man, and dwelt among us. Indeed, He still dwells among us in the Holy Eucharist. The liturgy is Good News, but not merely in some informational way; it is the holy ground of God's personal advent among His beloved people. What if all Christians were to behave in church as reverently as Muslims are reputed to conduct themselves at prayer? The reality of the Christian mystery might sink in and be taken more seriously by those within and without.
I think this particular Imam (I have not figured out his name) gets it, at least to some degree, and one of the lessons to be drawn from the fact that an Imam recognizes one of our major points of doctrine is that seeing it or "getting it" does not guarantee faith, but can be a great place in which to begin to really talk, unlike the foggy, vacuous dialogue promoted by the Christian theologians whose jello-like doctrine gets less real the more they talk.