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Christian Discernment & Bible Versions: Food for Thought

image of a stack of hard back books on the end of the pages tone

“Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?” 1Kings 3:9

The key to the discerning of spirits is comprised of two parts. Without these two parts discernment is futile. For the Christian, these two parts include:

(1) The Holy Spirit – This means receiving the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit by the new birth. Such an action will invite “the Spirit of truth” (the Holy Spirit) which will lead you and guide you unto all truth (John 3:3, 16:13, Ptr. 1:23).

(2) The Holy Scriptures – The scriptures are identified as “a more sure word” than hearing a literal voice from heaven. They are written words magnified above God’s name, which are preserved to outlast “heaven and earth”, and are “a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart”. Through them one acquires faith and the written standard against which all things are measured (see 2Ptr. 1:19, Rom. 15:4, Psa. 138:2, 12:6-7, Matt. 13:31, 24:35, Heb. 4:12, Rom. 10:17 & Isa. 8:20).

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The Trial of Santa Claus: Is Santa Guilty of Crimes Against God? – PART 8

Santa_Claus_PART8

As mentioned in Part 7, the 1897 editorial, commonly known today as Yes, Virginia, there Is a Santa Claus, overstepped the line with the Santa myth and helped elevate Santa to god-like status in the minds of many children. Santa was no longer simply another character in a book. According to Francis P. Church, he was now a higher ideal that lives forever in the hearts of children and will continue to do so “ten times ten thousand years from now”. Regardless of the fact that this was a blasphemous thing to say, the editorial quickly caught-on with the public (see 2 Tim. 3:1-5). But this is not the only evidence demonstrating that the Santa myth has been taken way too far and way too serious. Another modern example is seen in the writing of letters.

The History of Letters to Santa

The tradition of writing letters to Santa Claus has been around for over a century. Although the exact history of the custom is not precise, evidence points to the late 1800s as the origin of mailing letters to the North Pole. Various sources report that the true origins of the tradition can be traced back “over 800 years to the Middle Ages” in the form of PRAYERS to the Roman Catholic Saint Nicholas.1 Tradition says that the earliest known children’s prayer directed to “St. Nicholas” stated:

“St. Nicholas patron of good children, I kneel for you to intercede. Hear my voice through the clouds. And this night give me some toys.” 2

If this origin is true, it helps explain the reasoning behind what we’re about to cover.

In Santa’s Name I Pray, Amen

Every year millions of letters are written to Santa Claus. This tradition has been ongoing for so long that there are scores of websites which encourage the matter and locations which supposedly represent the “real” home of Santa Claus. Some of the more outstanding examples include:

1.) Santa Claus House in North Pole, Alaska home of “The Original Letter from Santa” since 1952. 3

2.) Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi, Finland where all mail is “stamped by hand using the special postmark of the Santa Claus Post Office.” 4

3.) Santa Claus, Indiana which purports to be “America’s Christmas Hometown” with “the world’s only post office with the Santa Claus name.” 5

Fig. A.) Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi, Finland; Fig. B.) Santa Claus House in North Pole, Alaska
Fig. A.) Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi, Finland; Fig. B.) Santa Claus House in North Pole, Alaska

This massive solicitation for letters to a nonexistent person is unprecedented in world history. Newspapers receive letters annually by the truckloads. Many have best-letter-to-Santa contests and special headlines on Santa. In 1996 the Ludington Daily News of Ludington, Michigan reported; “By the tens of thousands they come addressed to ‘Santa in Heaven,’ ‘Santa up in the sky,’ ‘Santa Claus, North Pole.'” 6 The United States Postal Service even admits the tradition has officially been around since the early 1900s:

“The Postal Service’s Letters to Santa program is celebrating 102 years of helping make children’s holiday wishes come true. Although USPS began receiving letters to Santa Claus more than 102 years ago, its involvement was made official in 1912 when Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock authorized postal employees and citizens to respond to the letters. Today, the popular holiday program is known nationwide as Letters to Santa.” 7

Santa Claus, Indiana
(TOP) Santa Claus, Indiana city sign; (BOTTOM) Santa Claus, Indiana post office

What your about to read is real. Yet it represents only a tiny fraction of the kinds of heartfelt letters children have written to so-called “Santa in Heaven” for over a hundred years:

“Dear Santa, I hope for a cure for cancer.”

“Dear Santa, Please make my daddy stop drinking.”

“Dear Santa, Our father died – will you try to help us?”

“Dear Santa, At Christmas the world needs a miracle for the homeless people.”

“Dear Santa, I want to go to Heaven to be with the angels. Can you bring me to Heaven?”

“Dear Santa, Cure Ebola so nobody can get it. Give hope to all. Give faith for the homeless.”

“Dear Santa, My dad has a really bad brain tumor. Could you please find a cure for him to make him better?”

“Dear Santa, I want peace and love and hope for the world. Could you please stop the terrorists?”

In 1952 The Pittsburg Press gave another poignant example of why many children addressed Santa as “Santa in Heaven”. The piece reported of a dying child which asked; “Will there be a Santa Claus in Heaven next Christmas when I’m up there?” 8 Another headline read; “Little Tots Pray for Santa Not to Miss Them Dec. 25”9 Yet hundreds of thousands of such requests are directed annually to an imaginary being who acts as a mediator between God and man, or as a complete replacement for God Himself. Many children end their letters with “I love you”. Many grown-ups think it’s cute. But it’s not cute, it’s a travesty. A spiritual deception of the worst sort – lying to children regarding a fake person which many equate with God.

Santa letters
For over 100 years, many children have viewed Santa Claus as a god-like being. Or in the very least, a being with close connections with God.

Undoubtedly some will object; “What’s the big deal? God knows the hearts of these children and He’ll hear them.” Oh, really? Since when did the Lord start answering prayers directed – by name – to a lie? Since when did the Lord start excusing such nonsense, especially when those responsible for raising the child “in the way he should go” (Prov. 22:6) are the same one’s helping to propagate the matter? Since when did the Lord allow tradition to supersede His words?

“I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.” Isaiah 42:8

“…Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.” Mark 7:9

“Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil…” Ex. 23:2

Stealing the Glory

Is it really all that bad for children to offer such prayer-like love, devotion, thanks and requests to Santa Claus? Yes. It has already been mentioned that the Lord will not give his glory and praise to another. And while the same verse mentions “graven images”, the Christian must realize that not all graven images are erected from literal stone. Some images can be erected in the heart:

“Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face: should I be enquired of at all by them?” Ezk. 14:3

Because the modern myth of Santa Claus allows him to be interpreted as God’s coequal, or as a real person who always has the beck and call of God’s ear, this has transformed Santa into an idolatrous stumbling-block for children – an idol which can sit in their hearts where only the Lord should be. Is there anything worse than putting a roadblock between an innocent child and God? The Lord Jesus Christ Himself even said: Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not (Mk. 10:14, etc.) What does the Lord think when fathers and mothers allow their children to address Santa Claus with hopes, dreams, prayers and requests that only God can answer? Does He permit a LIE to act as a mediator between a child and Himself? I doubt it (see. Mk. 9:42, Rev. 22:15, etc.).

Anyone who reads the Bible knows that the Christian is warned time and again regarding the reality of “unclean spirits” (often called “demons”). The Bible does this for a reason. The scriptures make clear that those who worship the Lord must do so in sincerity and truth (Josh. 24:14 & 1Cor. 5:8). The scriptures clarify:

“But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” John 4:23-24

“And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.” Acts 10:4

“And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand.” Revelation 8:4

“Call now, if there be any that will answer thee; and to which of the saints wilt thou turn?” Job 5:1

The scriptures are clear that prayers addressed to God “in spirit and in truth” will ascend up to God, and be heard by God. But have you ever considered the prayers addressed in the name of a lie or false deity? Where do those prayers go? Who (or what) hears and receives the glory from those prayers? At the very least, all this should make the Christian think twice before singing:

“Jolly old St. Nicholas, Lean your ear this way…”

To be continued in THE TRIAL OF SANTA CLAUS: PART 9

[1] Snell, Teddye. “Dear Santa I Want…” Tahlequah Daily Press. Community Newspaper Holdings Inc., 17 Dec. 2009. Web. 20 Dec. 2014.

[2] Jeffers, H. Paul. Legends of Santa Claus. Minneapolis, MN: Lerner Publications Company, Inc., 2001. page 34.

[3] http://www.santaclaushouse.com/santaletters.asp

[4] http://www.santaclausvillage.info/santa-claus/santa-claus-main-post-office/

[5] http://www.santaclausind.org/santa-claus-attractions/santa-claus-post-office/

[6] Hastings, Deborah. “Postal Workers Answer Heartbreaking Santa Letters.” Ludington Daily News 23 Dec. 1996, Vol. 107, No. 29 ed.: page 12.

[7] http://about.usps.com/news/electronic-press-kits/holidaynews/2014/holiday_santa.htm

[8] “‘Does Santa Live in Heaven?’ Dying Boy Asks” The Pittburgh Press 2 Oct. 1952, Vol. 69, No. 101 ed.: page 1.

[9] “Little Tots Pray for Santa Not to Miss Them Dec. 25” St. Petersburg Times 4 Dec. 1935, Vol. 52, No. 132 ed.: page 6.

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