Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Santa and Jesus

I'm having trouble with Santa this year. My seven year old daughter was telling me about Santa, and how he knows everything. This was in the middle of a Power Puff Girls show, called The Fight Before Christmas. In this episode, Princess, the spoiled rich girl switched Santa's lists. Now, everyone who was on the 'nice' list was moved to the 'naughty' and Princess, the only one on the 'naughty' list was now the only one on the 'nice' list. My daughter said, "Hey, Santa knows everything. He wouldn't be fooled by a trick like that."

This got me thinking. More than just a nice tradition at this time of year, where we celebrate Jesus' birth by giving presents to each other, she really thinks that there is an omniscient being checking up on people's behavior. This is true, but it is not Santa.

She also told me about a boy in school who doesn't believe Santa is real. He said, there is only Jesus. (Yes, it's a Christian school) She told the boy that they are both real. I asked her how they relate to each other. And, she said that Jesus is the boss, but He sends Santa out to give presents to people because there are other things He needs to do on His birthday.

There is also an assignment at her school to bring in a traditional Christmas food from another culture. We were looking up "Christmas around the world" in google and found a bunch of stuff. Santa is slightly different in other countries. In Italy, he is accompanied by a witch who flies on a broom who puts coal in the stockings of the bad kids. She said, "Hey, witches aren't real." In Australia, his sleigh is pulled by kangaroos. I also remember in Hawaii, when I was a kid, Santa came on a surfboard and a red bathing suit.

I am waiting for the time when she puts together the apparent inconsistencies in the stories and figures out the real story. My wife loves Christmas and would hate it if I just came out and told her the truth. She feels that a kids needs a little bit of magic and wonder and innocence before the realities of the world hit them as adults. I am mostly OK with letting it go, and making sure that Jesus is the focus. But, it worries me that when she finds out that Santa is a myth, that Jesus will fall into that same category. The most eye opening thing for me is that kids consider Santa omniscient, like God. I found the following article from The Bible Answer Man, Hank Hanegraaff.
Perhaps the thing about Christmas that bothers Christians more than anything else is Santa Claus. Is Santa a hopelessly pagan idea, or can Santa Claus be saved?

Santa Claus is not essential or even very important to Christmas. I mean you can take Santa out of Christmas and Christmas remains intact. However, you cannot take Christ out of Christmas, because all that you would have left is a pagan festival. So, whatever else we might say about Santa Claus, let’s remember that he is not what Christmas is all about.

Now, while Santa Claus in its present form is a fairy tale, there really was a Santa Claus. His name, “Santa Claus” is an Anglicized form of the Dutch Sinter Klaas, which in turn means “Saint Nicholas.” Nicholas was a Christian bishop in the fourth century who apparently attended the Council of Nicea and supported the doctrine of the Trinity. The tradition that he was especially kind toward children, even giving them gifts, is very likely based on fact. Thus Christians might justifiably look to the real Saint Nicholas as a hero of the Christian faith.

Of course, the story that Santa Claus lives at the North Pole in a toy factory, that he sees children at all times and knows whether they’ve been bad or good, and that he flies in a sled pulled by flying reindeer, is of course, a myth and should be treated as such. Christian parents can take two approaches to this Santa Claus story. As a make-believe story with a moral they can tell their small children the parts of the story that are harmless (such as the flying reindeer) and reject the other parts that are objectionable (such as Santa being all-knowing, or Santa being omniscient). Or parents can reject the whole story and have absolutely nothing to do with it. In any case, Christians should not allow Santa Claus to eclipse Christ as the reason for the season.

On Santa Claus, that’s the CRI Perspective. I’m Hank Hanegraaff.
I think tonight is going to be a discussion about how Santa is not God. There is only one who is good. There is only one who is all powerful. There is only one who is all knowing. Evidently, Santa Claus was a real man. But, like all men, he fell short of the Glory of God. I don't know the best way to handle the Christmas issue, but I do know one thing for sure. If Santa Claus examined himself in the mirror of God's Law, he would find he comes up short. But, also, if he humbles himself and repents of his sin - If he places his faith in Jesus Christ alone for his salvation, then we'll see him in heaven and we can have a great time glorifying God together.

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