Saturday, December 6, 2008

Two Views on the Theology of Santa Claus

Why to Believe In Santa Claus

Reformed pastor W.H. Chellis offers an explanation of why he believes in Santa Claus, and how it helps the Christian faith. Basicially Chellis has four main points which are listed below, you can view the whole article here.

  1. I believe in Santa Claus because I affirm the deep truths of Faerie.
  2. I believe in Santa Claus because I affirm the mystical body of Christ.
  3. I believe in Santa Claus because of what he teaches about God.
  4. I believe in Santa Claus because the death of magic is the beginning of unbelief.

Santa Christ?

Sinclair Ferguson offers another idea on the theological implications of Santa Claus and how those get passed along to our view of Jesus Christ. Ferguson's main point seems not to abolish Santa Claus, but for the Christian to not confuse Santa Claus and Jesus Christ. The whole article can be viewed here.

we may denigrate our Lord with a Santa Claus Christology. How sadly common it is for the church to manufacture a Jesus who is a mirror refection of Santa Claus. He becomes Santa Christ.

Santa Christ is sometimes a Pelagian Jesus. Like Santa, he simply asks us whether we have been good. More exactly, since the assumption is that we are all naturally good, Santa Christ asks us whether we have been "good enough." So just as Christmas dinner is simply the better dinner we really deserve, Jesus becomes a kind of added bonus who makes a good life even better. He is not seen as the Savior of helpless sinners.

Or Santa Christ may be a Semi-Pelagian Jesus -- a slightly more sophisticated Jesus who, Santa-like, gives gifts to those who have already done the best they could! Thus, Jesus' hand, like Santa's sack, opens only when we can give an upper-percentile answer to the none-too-weighty probe, "Have you done your best this year?" The only difference from medieval theology here is that we do not use its Latin phraseology: facere quod in se est (to do what one is capable of doing on one's own, or, in common parlance, "Heaven helps those who help themselves").

Then again, Santa Christ may be a mystical Jesus, who, like Santa Claus, is important because of the good experiences we have when we think about him, irrespective of his historical reality. It doesn't really matter whether the story is true or not; the important thing is the spirit of Santa Christ. For that matter, while it would spoil things to tell the children this, everyone can make up his or her own Santa Christ. As long as we have the right spirit of Santa Christ, all is well.

But Jesus is not to be identified with Santa Claus; worldly thinking -- however much it employs Jesus-language--is not to be confused with biblical truth.

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