Should Christians do Santa?
By Kevin Probst
I read a message published by a preacher recently who used Jeremiah 3:13 as a text to preach against Christians celebrating Christmas. “Only acknowledge your guilt – you have rebelled against the Lord your God, you have scattered your favors to foreign gods under every spreading (Christmas) tree, and have not obeyed me.” He declared Christmas a pagan holiday and condemned any true Christian who would celebrate Christmas?
He is correct in declaring December 25th a pagan holiday. The ancient Romans celebrated a week long feast in honor of their god, Saturn, that preceded the 25th of December. In ancient Babylon a feast to the god Isis was celebrated on the 25th in which there was much gluttony and riotous partying. Many would question whether December 25th could possibly be the actual birth date of Christ. The argument is based on the idea that the shepherds were in the fields tending their flocks and that just wouldn’t happen during the winter months. But, archaeologists have discovered that the shepherds in that part of the world tended their sheep year round except in the hot and dry summer months when the grasses would have died off.
The exact date of Christ’s birth must not be important because the Bible doesn’t reveal it. But the most informed Bible scholars think it is likely that Christ was born between December 25th and January 4th.
The Bible teaches us repetitively that Satan likes to take the things that are good and bring to them corruption. God creates music, Satan corrupts it. God creates sex, Satan corrupts it. God gives us the ability to create art and the sinful hearts of men misuse their innate abilities to create pieces that dishonor and even blaspheme God. So, if Satan can corrupt a good thing to bring dishonor to God why can’t God not take a bad thing, turn it around and bring honor to himself? Doesn’t God teach us this in 1 Corinthians 1:27-28? “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are.”
I have a five year old son, Kameron, who is very much in the Christmas spirit these days. We have a magical elf in our home that we’ve named Evan. The elf moves about the house (wink) when Kameron is sleeping and every morning he awakes to find the elf in a different place. The elf keeps a close eye on Kameron and will be reporting his behavior to Santa Clause.
Kameron loves it but he is just old enough to have some serious questions about the authenticity of Evan. He recently asked me, “If Evan is real, why does he have that tag on his back?” One day Kameron will realize that Evan and Santa Clause were just imaginative figures in a childhood fantasy. He will also think the same about Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan and Lightening McQueen.
That realization will come to him in the very near future but what Kameron already knows is that Christmas is the celebration of the birthday of the Christ child. He knows that Jesus is the Son of God. He knows that Jesus lived on this earth as a human and he died on the cross and though he can’t really comprehend it, (none of us can), he knows that Christ’s death on the cross and his resurrection from the grave makes salvation possible to all of us.
Should we celebrate Christmas on an ancient pagan holiday? Sure, why not. We would be hard pressed to choose a day that wasn’t used to worship some pagan deity. Should we use fantasy to teach our children the realities of God’s love, of the Gift that keeps on giving? Sure, why not? C.S. Lewis was a master at using fantasy to teach the truth about God.
I grew up in a home where the truth was spoken in a forthright and sometimes very blunt way. My father believed if you were old enough to ask you were old enough to know. So, one day as I was walking past the bathroom I saw my Dad shaving. I don’t know why I chose that particular time to ask but I did, “Dad, is Santa Clause real?” The answer was short and seemed to lack sensitivity, “Nope”. And that was that. I wasn’t devastated. The truth set me free. I already had strong suspicions that the whole thing was an adult conspiracy to encourage good behavior among very active children like myself.
Over the years the fantasies faded into fond and warm memories of an earlier age of innocence but the realities of Christmas continued to grow in my heart and mind, sharper, clearer and as true as ever.
Kevin Probst - Is a teacher of Apologetics and History at Calvary Christian School and Associate Pastor of Crosspointe Nazarene Church church in Columbus, Georgia.