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“What About Santa Claus?”

December 6, 2012

Every year the question of what to do about Santa Claus comes up in Christian circles. This question is usually raised by young Christian parents who want to be obedient to God in all things and not mislead their children. There are, of course, always people who try to make a case of everything, and try to make parents feel guilty about the Santa Claus tradition.

I have never really had a problem with it, because I grew up in a very good evangelical church where Santa Claus came to visit us every Christmas Eve in the sanctuary, (but, the children knew all along that Santa Claus was Mr. Rippy, a local Ford dealer.) We never really confused him with Jesus.

The last issue of Christianity Today conducted a poll among a variety of Christian leaders all over the United States about how they felt about Santa Claus in relation to the church. Their opinions were all over the spectrum, but at the bottom line, not one of them had a problem with “Santa” as long as he was separate from Jesus an entity, but was connected with the history of the church. There is a rather long and involved scenario about who the original Santa Claus was. I will try to sum it as follows.

In the 4th century AD, (325 AD to be exact) Constantine, the Roman Emperor who was a Christian by profession, called a church-wide council in Nicaea to determine a statement of the person of Christ. The conference was held in Nicaea because the new city of Constantinople (modern day Istanbul) was being built. Bishops from all over the church came to Nicaea to establish a statement on the person of Christ. The two main contenders were Athanasius of Alexandria and Arian. The views of Athanasius were adopted, and the result of that conference gave us what is known as the Nicene Creed, first adapted in AD325 and revised in AD381.

One of the confreres was a man named Nicholas who became a Bishop at such a young age that he was known as the “Boy Bishop.” Nicholas grew up to become a very effective Bishop, and a man known for his generosity and his benevolence. He was particularly known for giving gifts to those who were most in need (widows, orphans, and poor people.) This same Nicholas was a confrere in Nicaea and helped to formulate the Nicene Creed. In the right context, the tradition of Santa Claus is well rooted in the history of Christendom.

Please reacquaint yourself with the Nicene Creed. 

In Christ,

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