Skip to comments.Believing in Christmas from Santa to Christ
Posted on 12/25/2012 7:59:48 PM PST by SeekAndFind
I lost the argument with my wife. Should we encourage our childrens faith in Santa Claus? I was concerned that doing so might later undermine both our credibility as parents and our childrens belief in God.
It may not be a conversation that most couples have. Then again, must couples dont include a former Jehovahs Witness who was raised without holidays. As a child, I absorbed the cold hard truth dispensed from my parents. There was no Santa Claus. Other childrens parents cruelly lied to them. The privilege of knowing the truth served as consolation for receiving no presents.
Though I’ve long since rejected Jehovahs Witness beliefs, my parents’ reasoning regarding the Santa fantasy lingered. Is there value in believing in something which is not true?
That question deserves careful consideration, and serves as a check against adult beliefs. In our postmodern, politically correct society, we commonly hear ecumenical equivocations like, There are many paths to God. While sharing my Christian faith, friends have more than once told me, Thats your truth. That rebuke stops short of saying my faith is false, claiming only that it is no more or less true than any other. But if that proves somehow valid, if one person’s faith in a flying spaghetti monster is no more or less true than my faith in Jesus Christ, what value is there in holding to either?
“Exactly!” an atheist might say. “Faith in Jesus is no better than faith in either Santa Claus or the flights of a pasta god.”
In Leonard Peikoffs The Ominous Parallels, the ardent atheist and intellectual heir to objectivist philosopher Ayn Rand defines faith as the opposite of reason:
Faith designates blind acceptance of a certain ideational content, acceptance induced by feeling in the absence of evidence or proof.
Were this our working definition, I could agree that faith in anything is useless. However, this narrow view of faith does not encompass how the word is used in our culture. When a husband expresses faith in his wife, is he necessarily doing so in the absence of evidence? Or is his faith a bet made on the basis of past experience and intimate knowledge of her characteristics? Either scenario is possible, and surely men and women have been known to invest faith blindly. However, as a friend to a married person, we would not encourage blind faith in the same manner we would that informed by evidence.
Therein lies the essential difference between a childs faith in Santa Claus and the mature belief of billions of adult Christians throughout history. The former is accepted blindly on evidence which even its perpetrators (parents) admit is manufactured. The latter is based on a body of evidence which has added up to a preponderance.
To demonstrate this point, we must first consider what we accept as evidence in our everyday lives. Christian author Mark A. Stelter reflects:
Many atheists are radical materialists, meaning they do not even consider any evidence that is not empirical evidence. This standard, used by many atheists, is rejected by most of the rest of the worldincluding courts of law. In a courtroom, for example, all kinds of evidence are considered by the jury. Some of the evidence is formally scientific, such as DNA. Most of it is not scientific but circumstantial, testimonial, experiential, etc. All evidence is given whatever weight the jurors determine the evidence to be worth. Scientific evidence has no more inherent weight or value than any other kind of evidence.
Evoking the example of a rape case, Stelter reminds us that DNA can only establish that sex occurred, not whether it was consensual. Decisive evidence utilized to arrive at the truth is typically the testimony offered and the circumstances known. Indeed, if it were so easy to know with empirical certainty who committed a crime, how, and by what means, our justice system would conduct its business much quicker with far fewer appeals.
With that in mind, what kind of evidence informs the Christian faith? Let us overview three categories. Science offers compelling evidence that God not only exists, but has certain innate characteristics. History documents the authoritative claim of God in the person of Jesus Christ. Finally, believers testify to encountering the Holy Spirit and being supernaturally changed by it.
Let us begin with our objective knowledge of the natural universe. It may seem counter-intuitive for a believer to evoke science in service of a supernatural conclusion. Yet the first century Christian apostle Paul did precisely that. From Romans 1:18-20:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
Paul is saying that creation is Gods monument to himself. Creation is the irrefutable evidence of his existence, compelling every human being to give credit where credit is due.
That scripture prompts Tony Woodlief to ask:
How does one see “invisible attributes”? Only people raised on fairy tales can make sense of that.
Yet our study of the natural universe unveils invisible attributes all the time. Scientists have just recently discovered a planet orbiting the star Tau Ceti which they believe could be capable of supporting life. Why do they believe this? Have they seen it with their own eyes? Have they breathed its air or drank from its rivers? Of course not. While the star twinkles close enough to be seen with the naked eye, the planets orbiting it are far too small to be detected optically. A method of mathematical noise modeling was employed to discover the body and make reasonable assumptions about its conditions. ABC News reports:
In order for a planet to be [considered habitable], it should lie in a zone that is neither too hot nor too cold to allow for liquid surface water and, potentially, life, said [Steven Vogt, a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz], who was part of the international team that made the discovery.
Whether this newly discovered planet is truly capable of supporting life is an open question. Nevertheless, the circumstantial evidence points to the possibility that life could be maintained around Tau Ceti.
Similarly, circumstantial evidence points to a gap in natures continuity which can only be filled by a supernatural entity. We observe that everything has an origin, that everything comes from something, that the universe appears to be winding down from a point of beginning. This presents what Scientific American blogger John Horgan calls The Question:
Why is there something rather than nothing?
Surely the apostle Paul regarded the answer as self-evident. There is something because it was made, and the capacity to make it requires certain attributes eternality, omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence, the very qualities ascribed to God. Anything less would be unsuited to the task.
Accepting that God must exist as an answer to The Question, tells us little about what kind of person He is. Why then specifically believe in Jesus Christ? For Christians, it starts with scripture, which we regard as the revealed Word of God.
The Bible is usually dismissed by skeptics and placed out of bounds for intelligent debate. On the surface, that may seem to make sense. A sound argument with corroborating evidence cannot be made by citing a single source. Yet the Bible is hardly a single source. As a compilation of sixty-six historical documents meticulously preserved by scholars whose professional reputations depended upon uncompromising accuracy, the Bible boasts corroborating evidence. Its pages record testimony and circumstances which speak to the reality its authors perceived. It tells us that God deserves glory for the work He has done, that we have glorified creation in his place, and such sin commands a price which is just. It further relates Gods plan to pay that price on our behalf, requiring only our acknowledgement that we cannot absolve ourselves in any other way.
Beyond the Bible, the well-documented history of the church shows an inexplicable movement of fervent believers who were given every reason to deny their faith. They faced lions, crucifixion, stoning, beheading, burning at the stake, not to mention the several tortures which left many alive but maimed or crippled. If Jesus was not who he claimed to be, if he did not rise from the dead on the third day and appear to many witnesses, why would any believer endure? Surely if I knew I was party to a contrived scam with no basis in reality, the threat of torture or death would trigger an eager confession.
Further consider what it was these believers died for. Stelter spells it out:
The Christian story is one that is significantly countercultural. It admonishes us to do things that are counter to our natural inclinations. It offers a salvation unconditionally, which is not only counter to our inclinations but unhelpful to the power structure that could offer the means of salvation through kings, man-gods, money, tithes, offerings, obedience, etc. If it were a story made up by the church or any other person or institution, one would expect the story would give more power to the church, the person, or the institution promulgating the story. Instead the New Testament empowers men to give obedience to no one but God. This is a very strange thing for any culture to invent, as it takes away power from men and their institutions.
The strangeness of Christianity is further evidenced in the effect Christ has upon individual lives. Inexplicable conversions like that of the apostle Paul, who up to that point was an unrelenting destroyer of Christians, demonstrate an ability to turn men from their base nature. Christians credit this to the Holy Spirit, that person of the godhead which indwells the believer and regenerates the heart. The demands of causality and the testimony of ancients can only confirm what the Holy Spirit reveals to those who seek God.
At the end of the day, although I lost the argument with my wife and will maintain the Santa tradition in our home, I take solace in the likelihood that my children will grow to distinguish blind faith in a pure fantasy from mature faith fostered through such evidence. Believing in Christmas will thus become more profound and consequential as they grow in their capacity.
I wonder if this guy loses his mind every time they get a visit from the tooth fairy. And how do he justify he’s the greatest daddy in the World?
Some people over-analyze things and just take the fun out of everything. Obviously the OP is one of those.
It took him all day to finally say “ I lost the argument with my wife”.....LOL
My parents celebrated Christmas a religious holiday that came with assorted myths and legends such as Santa, Rudolf and Ben-Hur. Christmas Day always began with breakfast and the second chapter of Luke before the presents were opened.
I happen to think that’s a very balanced way to go. I was not kept ignorant of the stories; I still enjoy the Rudolf TV special that is as old as I am, but was not expected— even for the brief years of childhood— to believe it was a documentary.
Good column. Good piece.
My kids knew from the very beginning that parents filled the stockings. They also learned the story of St. Nickolas. It never was problem or diminished the fun of opening stockings on Christmas morning. They all are adults with mature, vibrant faiths in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Christmas is about Christ and St. Nickolas was a fine Christian man.
Santa Claus exists in all of us at least once a year.
I see the opposite problem in society today.
I was watching some “Christmas movies” with the wife the other day. Most of them dealt with proving the existence of or defending a believe in Santa Clause. There was not ONE movie that dealt with the traditional Christmas story. Not one! In only one of the movies was a church even mentioned.
I was reminded of the old Larry Norman song “It’s Christmas Time” and the lyrics “It used to be the birthday of guy who saved our necks now it stands for Santa Clause and we spell it with an X.
Many of the same people that want, as adults to believe in Santa would never believe in Jesus. And Christians are called simplistic.
“Most of them dealt with proving the existence of or defending a belief in Santa Clause”
That was the theme of a “Family Matters” I watched last night (an old show that was actually pretty good most of the time).
Of course, back then Urkel was just a funny character on a sitcom and not some $13,000/yr community organizer put in the nation’s highest office.
The writer forgets that the origins of Santa Claus is the famous St. Nicholas.
I remember a number of years ago buying my copy of the “knelling Santa” from a Catholic gift/book store, which is no longer is around. It was Christmas eve, I was getting ready to make the purchease and the kindly sales person gave me the book which tells the story of how Santa came to be.
Most Christian believers have had questions in their hearts about Santa. It was always a question of how much World versus Bible. My children are all past 40 now and their children believed in Santa as they.did. Soon enough children reach an age where they know there is no flying Santa and sled filled with toys. While our world teaches about self love Jesus Christ taught about other love. He always lifted up His Father and the Holy Spirit, Never Himself. At Christmas time we practice other love. This is how we should be all year long, in the name of Jesus, not Santa. Most Christian believers know this.
My childhood belief in Santa was never a problem when faced with The Saving Grace through faith which is a Gift From God.
So this guy shouldn’t boast!
The Watchtower teaches “Works Righteousness” and it seems that, although this nice man has obviously come to Faith in Jesus, that he still retains some of the JW world-view. I can’t imagine that the realization that “Santa is Fake” will ever be able to sabotage or inhibit the Saving Grace of God.
Just My Humble opinion, based on Scripture and Experience.
Though I thoroughly enjoy Ayn Rand’s writings, I do disagree with her on the point of Faith.
Little children have believed in Santa for hundreds of years, and it has not yet destroyed their prospects of getting SAVED by the Blood of Jesus.
Merry Christmas! :-)
Oh, what a good idea: Ben-Hur! Houseful of people and pets, pouring rain outside ... I could follow everyone around all day cleaning up behind them, or I could watch Ben-Hur.