a letter to the church regarding Santa – conclusion

INTRODUCTION:

Oftentimes we read of how the Hebrews worshipped idols and other gods, and we think, “We would never do that!”  But idolatry is far more prevalent, complex and subtle today than it was a few millenniums ago.  If we truly did an honest self-examination, we would be shocked at the number of idols and false gods we serve and worship.  This quote attributed to Os Guinness proves insightful:

“Idolatry is huge in the Bible, dominant in our personal lives, and irrelevant in our mistaken estimations.”

A few years ago I heard Mark Driscoll teach the following:

“Idolatry is taking a good thing, making it a god thing, and that’s a bad thing.”

Nikolaos of Myra (270AD – 343AD) aka Saint Nicholas was an incredible Christian man with an incredible story … a story I would encourage everyone to learn about.  A great place to start is with the post ‘Yes Daniel, There Was a Saint Nicholas’ by Richard L. Rice.  Quite frankly, the posthumous mythological tales of the works of Saint Nicholas make the modern day myth of Santa Claus look childish at best … and I guess that’s the intention.  But …

Idolatry is taking a good thing, making it a god thing, and that’s a bad thing.

DEFINITIONS:

Before we hit the Bible, let’s hit the WordWeb dictionary …

Idol is defined:

  • A material effigy that is worshipped
  • Someone who is adored blindly and excessively
  • An ideal instance, a perfect embodiment of a concept

god (little g) is defined:

  • Any supernatural being worshipped as controlling some part of the world or some aspect of life or who is the personification of a force
  • A man of such superior qualities that he seems like a deity to other people
  • A material effigy that is worshipped

BTW – all ‘little g’ gods are false gods lacking any power whatsoever.

Graven image is defined:

  • A material effigy that is worshipped

Effigy is defined:

  • A representation of a person

I have bolded a few of the definitions above that seem to also perfectly define Santa Claus.

Any questions so far?

SCRIPTURE FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION:

Let’s look at a few passages of Scripture … let the Holy Spirit explain and convict.

You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.  You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.  Exodus 20:3-6 (NASB) aka the first commandment

I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, you will receive him.  How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?  John 5:43-44 (NASB)

I am the LORD, I have called You in righteousness, I will also hold You by the hand and watch over You, And I will appoint You as a covenant to the people, As a light to the nations, to open blind eyes, To bring out prisoners from the dungeon And those who dwell in darkness from the prison.  I am the LORD, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, Nor My praise to graven images.  Isaiah 42:6-8 (NASB)

What profit is the idol when its maker has carved it, Or an image, a teacher of falsehood? For its maker trusts in his own handiwork When he fashions speechless idols.  Woe to him who says to a piece of wood, ‘Awake!’ To a mute stone, ‘Arise!’ And that is your teacher? Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, And there is no breath at all inside it.  But the LORD is in His holy temple. Let all the earth be silent before Him.  Habakkuk 2:18-20 (NASB)

Beware that your hearts are not deceived, and that you do not turn away and serve other gods and worship them.  Deuteronomy 11:16 (NASB)

You shall not worship their gods, nor serve them, nor do according to their deeds; but you shall utterly overthrow them and break their sacred pillars in pieces.  Exodus 23:24 (NASB)

CONCLUSION:

Interesting, isn’t it? The world is more obedient to that last command than Christians are.  Think about it … the world has removed or is removing prayer, the Bible, the Ten Commandments, the cross, the crèche aka nativity, the word Christmas, Christian based Christmas songs or simply the words within the song (as in the recent occurrence with the song ‘Silent Night’), references to the name of Jesus or God … the world is keeping its temporal abode cleansed of the eternal divine while the church is cluttering its divine abode with things temporal.

It’s really quite amazing … on the day designated by the church for the celebration of the birth of Christ it is politically correct to worship Santa Claus and materialism but not Christ Jesus and the Good News.

When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he became very enraged, and sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and all its vicinity, from two years old and under.  Matthew 2:16 (NASB)

Over 2,000 years ago, through Herod satan attempted to kill Jesus … two millennia later through the world his battle plan continues unchanged … the only difference being that oftentimes in the name of tolerance and the seeker, the church is somewhat complicit as an accessory.

The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.  Romans 14:22 (NASB)

In his book, Gods at War: Defeating the Idols that Battle for Your Heart, Kyle Idleman writes:

“Idols are defeated not by being removed but by being replaced.”

(The above book about idols in our lives is powerful and convicting … yet on Dec 13 the author tweeted he was now doing Elf-on-the-Shelf with his son … hmmmmmm)

While that sentence was written to challenge Christians … once again the world is more effective in the strategy.  From the world’s perspective, Jesus is just another god … another idol.  At Christmas, in addition to removing Jesus … in the hearts of children with the empowerment of adults He is being slowly but surely replaced by Santa.  At Easter, in addition to removing Jesus … in the hearts of children with the empowerment of adults He is being slowly but surely replaced by the Easter Bunny.  Is it coincidence that the enemy’s substitution or replacement strategy happens on the two biggest days on the Christian calendar?  I think not … enlighten the eyes of our hearts Lord … enlighten the eyes of our hearts.

Despite C.S. Lewis’ embrace of Father Christmas, this could have been an excellent series of letters between Screwtape and his nephew Wormwood on how to subtly pervert Christmas.

I (Paul) solemnly charge you (Timothy) in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.  For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers IN ACCORDANCE TO THEIR OWN DESIRES, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to MYTHS.  2 Timothy 4:1-4 (NASB)

We now find ourselves in the midst of such times.

Lord , help us! Convict us! Unite us!

Bernie

No_Santa

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About bwebbjr

A grandfather, father, husband, man, and a child of God who is following Christ Jesus and working out his salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work IN me, both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:12-13). I dodged my first bullet with cancer when a cancerous polyp was removed in a sigmoid colectomy surgery in August 2007. Four years later, in the midst of a second colectomy surgery we discovered I had Stage IV metastatic colon cancer. Rather than colectomy surgery I had colostomy surgery, which now means the colostomy bag is a part of my everyday life ... with the emphasis on life. God has given us a peace beyond understanding as my wife and I have traveled this journey. By the grace of God I am blessed to be a 6 plus year cancer survivor aka warrior. In writing, I am often wrestling with my own personal struggles and beliefs and in the midst God leads me to a lesson He wants me to learn ... or sometimes He simply touches me in the revelation of Himself. My hope is that the result you see here might touch your heart and glorify God. And let me be clear ... I am not the only one with something to say. Please join in the conversation sharing your faith, your cancer experiences, etc. I would love to hear from you. Bernie
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4 Responses to a letter to the church regarding Santa – conclusion

  1. O Bernie! What harm could there be in stories of Santa Claus, flying reindeer, and presents down a chimney? Even a fake $100 bill makes a man feel rich. (Written tongue-in-cheek). How ironic that we make someone else the focus (or simply the equal) of the birthday of the King. Merry CHRISTmas brother.

  2. BrianSurge says:

    Thank you for the blog but I’m going to have to disagree. I grew up in (survived?) an evangelical upbringing with both a vivant relationship with Jesus and a healthy enjoyment of Santa Claus and the “secular” stories of Christmas. It doesn’t have to be either/or, although our intellects and the mainstream “Christian” religious culture (especially the evangelical stream) often insist that. Your cherry picking of scripture and assuming that modern Santa-myth is equal to the power or idolatrous nature of actual gods, literally worshipped by cultures is also problematic. Story is not the same as religion.

    God can live and minister in our human interactive culture as much (and often more) than in our religious church culture. He doesn’t impose the artificial mental firewalls that we do (church life vs. work life or Jesus Christmas vs. Santa Christmas). The ability to spark a child’s imagination and heart through the Santa Claus myth (and Rudolph, Frosty, Grinch et. al.) can be part of as legitimate a blessing as anything more “Biblical”.

    As in so many things, context is key. Where I think your post makes an excellent point is in reminding that the real meaning of Christmas can easily be overlooked or ignored in favor of more temporal enjoyment, but that’s usually because people who don’t know God lack that key relationship and anchoring blessing to give their “secular” Christmas experience deeper meaning. In that case, it’s hardly Santa Claus we should be worried about but rather loving our neighbor to a point where they meet God, then He can can take it from their. The point being, it doesn’t have to be either/or.

    This season is meant to be a wonderful time of donating to charity, reviving relationships, celebrating etc. but what gives all of those fine but temporary things more eternal heart-value is that they’re done in the context of reminding and remembering the gift the Father gave the world of His Son. A free meal is nice, but providing it with a mindset of eternal love for that person is better. Do you actually think the way to do that is by defining your ministry as debunking a story associated with gifts and charity? God is not mortified or intimidated by Santa Claus and doesn’t require us to stamp the big man out of consciousness for Him. In fact, God is/can be vibrantly in relationship with human culture/story and He even gave us a heart, imagination and love for Story so we could meet Him there. Santa Claus is a story that easily gains value and meaning when we all carry God and His gift in our hearts, and vice versa, God can speak through such stories if we choose to hear rather than set Santa against Jesus.

    I hope to expound in this thesis in my blog I’m working on now on my weatherprayer.wordpress.com blog.

    • bwebbjr says:

      Hi Brian,

      Looks like you did a pretty thorough job of working out your thesis in “Boiled In Their Own Pudding”. You make some excellent points in your post … some I agree with and some not … but that’s OK, we’ve already established we don’t agree on all points. I find your comment above equally as thorough and full of your personal testimony … which is beyond question. If all we were talking about with Santa is a story … but since the Americanization and supernatural-myth-building of Santa began in the 1800’s it has become much more than a story … if I have indeed cherry-picked Scripture, please forgive me and may the Holy Spirit convict me of my error.

      May God bless you brother … may God bless you!

      Bernie

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