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Talking HONESTLY – About Santa!

18/12/2021

Table Talk: Will the REAL Santa Please Stand Up? 

Text.  Colossians 2:8   

It’s time to talk honestly about Santa! So let’s see what the Bible says!

1. Santa – The Myth.  

Now we all know what Santa looks like, who he is and what he does. Right?  He’s a rather rotund man, (we could say ‘obese’ but that would be unkind!) with a big happy smile, a long white beard, long flowing grey hair, a big old friendly grandfather figure, who is full of fun and laughter and who likes to be nice to people.   He dresses in red, for some reason.  There is a story that he used to dress in much less colourful attire, but that a large American soft drinks company, with strange shaped red bottles dressed Santa in red to look like one of their bottles – to increase sales.  Now, while I wouldn’t put that past them – I’ve no idea if it’s true!  Certainly it’s true that Santa only turned red in the 1900’s.  

Santa comes to us on Christmas Eve, everywhere – and he climbs down our chimneys, and illegally enters our houses, and leaves gifts for small children who have been good all year.  He travels by means of a sleigh, allegedly towed by flying reindeer. 

But is Santa as innocent as he seems?  I’ve heard his name pronounced as ‘Satan’s Claws,’ and there may be an element of truth in that.  Santa’s origins are shrouded in mystery, – some will associate him with St. Nicholas of Myra,    and we’ll talk about him a little later.  Nicholas may have been an innocent enough origin for Santa, but there are other, much darker contributions to the Santa Myth, from Norse Mythology.  It’s no accident that Santa lives somewhere ‘up north’ – at the North Pole, or in Lapland.  Santa may have even been a Viking!  One of the old Norse / Viking false gods was Odin, – the ‘Old Man of Yule’ who at the pagan festival of Yule, celebrated around the Winter Solstice, would travel around the world, sometimes walking, sometimes riding a horse, called Sleipnir with eight legs.  Santa has eight reindeer…. The Norse god Thor was the ‘fire god’ and there are plenty of similarities.  Thor was depicted as an old man, full of fun and friendly, who loved children.  His favourite colour was red, and he rode in a chariot pulled by two goats.  He lived in the ‘north (pole?)’ – he never harmed people, but always protected them and gave them gifts.  In Scandinavia, fireplaces in homes were dedicated to Thor, who descended down the chimney, – he was after all, the ‘god of fire.’   

So Santa is an amalgam.  A flux of personalities and legends, from church history, from pagan religions and maybe even from clever marketing strategies, and from the fertile mind of an American poet, – ’Twas the night before Christmas” was published in a book by CC Moore in 1844.  But, if it’s only a myth, what’s the harm?

2. What’s the Harm?

So, Santa’s not real, so what harm will it do to give the kids a little bit of magic and sparkle once a year?  After all, we tell them fairy stories about Hansel and Gretel, the ‘Cow Jumped Over the Moon’ etc etc.  But Santa is an insidious and evil myth.  There’s two reasons why; firstly, that Santa the Myth presents himself as a counterfeit of God, and secondly, that what we teach our kids about Santa is suspiciously like a religion! See how:-

  1. Santa Looks and Sounds Too Much Like God. Actually, come to think of it, apart from the ‘obesity’ bit, Santa’s pretty much what a lot of people think God looks like.  And that’s worrying.   Let’s just see how Santa imitates and masquerades as deity:
    1. Santa is ETERNAL.  There’s always been a Santa, and, apparently there always will be.  Santa endures from generation to generation.  My parents learned about Santa from their parents, and they taught it to me.  We taught it to our children, and they have taught it to theirs…. Santa just goes on and on, – he is, “from everlasting to everlasting.”  That’s a myth that looks a lot like the One True God. READ: Psalm 90:2  
    2. Santa is IMMUTABLE.  Santa never seems to change.  My Santa is the Santa of my grandparents and my grandchildren. We live in a changing world.  Dr Who, now is a woman!  To keep up with the times of course.  James Bond, that  pinnacle of heterosexual masculinity, and cunning old rascal, is now to be a politically correct gender-neutral ‘person.’  But Santa is always Santa.  But only God is truly unchangeable and unchanging. READ: Malachi 3:6.  
    3. Santa is OMNIPRESENT.  Isn’t Santa amazing!  On Christmas Eve, in the space of a few hours, Santa is everywhere in the whole world.  He is in Russia, and Africa and Australia and America and England, and he is in YOUR home – everywhere that there are children, Santa is there.  I repeat, that’s a myth that looks a whole lot like the One True God. Jeremiah 23: 23-24.  God is everywhere – we cannot hide from him.  Even if we descend into Hell, he is there! READ: Psalm 139:8  
    4. Santa is OMNIPOTENT.  Think of the things Santa can do!  No-one else can do what Santa does.  He can fly around the world!  He can call upon and command legions of elves to make and manufacture toys and gifts in a short space of time.  Nothing is impossible for Santa.  Don’t you see what going on?  Can’t you see that Santa is a counterfeit, a fraud? READ: Luke 1:37 
    5. Santa is OMNISCIENT.  Santa knows all about you. You better watch out You better not cry You better not pout I’m telling you why, Santa Claus is coming to town He’s making a list He’s checking it twice He’s going to find out Who’s naughty and nice, Santa Claus is coming to town.  But only God is omniscient. READ: Psalm 139:1-4  
    6. Santa is THE GIVER OF GOOD GIFTS.  It is Santa who brings us great presents.  I never knew anyone who got the coal or the ashes from Santa (See the connection with fire?) even though I was told about ‘a wee boy who was bad, and got up on Christmas morning,. Only to find… etc etc.  Santa brings us good things.  He blesses us.  But that’s not true, is it. Where do good gifts come from? READ:  James 1:17  
  2. Children Are Taught to Regard Santa as Deity
    1. We teach our children to BELIEVE in Santa, a simple childlike faith in a man that they cannot see.  We ask them to send him a list of our wants and needs; to ‘pray’ to him.  We teach them to expect his coming, and to be thankful to him for all his good gifts. READ  Deuteronomy 6:6-7  
    2. We teach our children to BEHAVE for Santa.  In order to get gifts from Santa, children must DO SOMETHING – they must do good things, they must BE GOOD.  Santa’s gifts are not given out of love for the child, you have to earn his favour – do good works.  The Santa religion is not Christianity – it is a counterfeit,  Catholicism, Mormonism, Unitarianism, – there is no grace for the sinner, – you have to clean up your life and do good works in order to be saved.  Teaching children false religion is bound to be a bad thing? READ Ephesians 2:8-9   

Now, let’s draw this all together.  We teach our kids to believe in Santa, and they believe with all their hearts, they do all their good works, and they write their wee notes, and then put them up the chimney, and they hang up their stockings at the fireplace, where the norse-men had their altar to their false god, and Santa rewards them with good gifts and this continues until they begin to realise something’s not quite right, and then what happens?  WE TELL THEM THAT EVERYTHING WE HAVE TAUGHT THEM ABOUT THE GOD-LIKE NORSE-MAN IS ALL UNTRUE.  It’s a lie.  And we totally shatter their world – and we give Satan the victory, for then, when we tell them about the true God, who loves them and gives them every good gift – why would they believe us?  At AB, I was ridiculed for holding this belief, – that Santa is a devilish tactic by Satan himself, to destroy the simple faith of children while they are of a tender age.  It hasn’t changed my mind.  I know a counterfeit when I see one!

3. What Do We Do?

Whether we like it or not, our boys and girls will learn about Santa.  They’ll learn about him in school, and from other children and from their television programmes.  How can Christians respond?  One Christian mum and dad used to tell their child that the presents they receive on Christmas Day were a gift of ‘Your Father – Christmas!’  Ok, but a bit vague.  Here’s a better strategy:-

  • Teach them some simple church history.  Why not point them to a real person, who really lived.  St Nicolas of Myra was born  around AD270 into a Christian family and grew up to love the Lord Jesus.  He became a pastor and teacher and was elected to be the leader (Bishop) of the church at Myra, in southern Turkey, where he faithfully served God, preaching and defending true doctrine, and loving and serving his neighbours.  His generosity became a legend, and he was known for giving gifts to people who didn’t deserve them.  Nicholas wanted nothing in return.  He is supposed to have rescued three girls from certain slavery by paying a dowry price for them.  But Nicholas was most famous for being one of the delegates at the famous ‘Council of Nicea’ in 325AD, where he defended the orthodox position against the heretic Arius of Alexandra.  Arius believed and taught that Jesus didnt exist before the incarnation, and apparently Nicholas was so upset at this attack on the deity of Christ that he went up to Arius and punched him on the face!  That earned him an arrest for assault and a night in prison, but he was quickly reinstated to office.  Nicholas died on 6th December AD343, and after his death he was made a ‘saint’ – his ‘Saint’s Day’ is still 6th December.  The reformers (our forerunners) weren’t too fond of Old St Nick though!  They believed as we do, that we are ALL saints of God, we don’t need to canonised!  So they removed all his statues and banned people from praying to him, – they were right to do so, for it is said that before the Reformation, more prayers were made to St Nicholas than to any other Saint – only Mary and Jesus had more!  Today, we don’t pray to saints, but we could remind our children that they are saints of they love God, and like St Nicholas, they can serve their neighbours and stand up for the gospel.  Here’s my second strategy:-
  • Teach them that their parents love them!  I think that when we give our children gifts, we should tell them that it is we, their parents who pay for them, and that we give them to them, not as a reward for good behaviour, but because we love them so much that we want them to be happy, and to love us back.  We want to bless them, and we want them to be a blessing to us.  Hopefully they will then be grateful, and will learn a valuable Biblical lesson,  READ: Exodus 20:12.  Ephesians 6:1   Why would we transfer that honour, due to us as parents, to a false entity?  
  • Teach them about Jesus!  When our children open their Christmas presents and are excited and thrilled with all the wonderful things they have, take time to remind them of what the days is all about.  Tell them about the birth of Christ and about the Wise Men coming from the east, and bringing Gold and Frankincense and Myrrh.  Gold for a King, and Frankincense for Worship and Myrrh for Death.  Tell about the GIFT itself, the greatest gift of all, the gift of God’s Son, given for us, born to die on the cross for us, sinners.  Tell them about Jesus.  READ: 2 Corinthians 9:15  
  • Don’t tell them deliberate lies.  How bad is it to deliberately and wilfully mislead your children?  Our children need to hear the truth, and to learn what truth is.  Remember that even a white lie is still a lie, and lies are sinful and part of Satan’s work. READ:  John 8:44.  Proverbs 12:22  

Let’s teach our children not to be like the children of this world, to understand the ways of the Lord.  To believe in the One True God, the God of the Bible, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who knows us intimately, who is always with us, who never changes, who loves us so much that he gave us the greatest gift of all – a Saviour, and we don’t have to be good to receive him, – just open our arms and take the gift!  Now, if that makes me a grinch. Or the ‘anti-Santa’ – then so be it. READ:  Romans 12:2  

© Bob McEvoy December 2021

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