Are you tired of hearing about the removal of public nativity displays? According to the status quo, a lone nativity display or crèche- one that is unaccompanied by secular objects such as Santa, reindeer, and candy canes- is unconstitutional. But should stand-alone Christmas nativities really be banned from public property? In this article, I will highlight three reasons why nativity displays should be allowed to remain in public places.
The Antithesis of a Nativity Display is an Apotheosis Display
A critical, yet overlooked key to the nativity debate is an apotheosis display. You might be asking yourself just what in the world is an apotheosis display? The term apotheosis is derived from two Greek words. The prefix apo– means “completion,” while the suffix –theosis is derived from theos, or god. The underlying thought of an apotheosis is that man can achieve the status of a deity. An apotheosis display depicts that event.
The concept of the apotheosis is not new. The ancient book of Genesis recounts Satan’s temptation of Eve with the notion that if she would just eat of the forbidden fruit, she would be enlightened and become like God. The king and emperor worship of the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans is evidence that men sometimes deified their leaders.
Reasonably so, an apotheosis display is a depiction of a man becoming completed or perfected as a god. In contrast, a nativity display depicts the birth of Jesus, or as Christians believe, the point in time wherein God became man. Ironically, both the crèche and apotheosis displays point to the birth of a god-man-king.
The Apotheosis of Washington is Displayed in the U.S. Capitol
Have you ever noticed the massive painting on the rotunda ceiling inside our U.S. Capitol building? You know, the one with George Washington portrayed in the clouds, surrounded by maidens? Did you know its title is The Apotheosis of Washington, and it depicts a deified Washington holding a sword/scepter and sitting on a throne in the heavens? Unquestionably, the Apotheosis of Washington is the antithesis of a nativity display.
If a Stand-Alone Crèche is Illegal, Why isn’t a Stand-Alone Apotheosis Display Illegal Also?
So, before your town removes its nativity display this year, I encourage you to challenge the display opponents to try to answer this question: why is it that a display of a man becoming a god is legal, but a display of God becoming a man is not?
Source: Carter, M. Douglas (2008) Separation of Church and State: A Comparison of the Treatment of Symbols of Christianity and the Mystery Religions in Contemporary (1971-2008) America. Unpublished MA thesis. Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.