Naughty & Nice Nonsense

blog - santa claus 1

Everybody has their favorite Christmas songs. But some of us have our least favorite Christmas songs too. For me, there is one song that is indisputably THE WORST this time of year. And yes, I am aware of “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” as well as the fact that New Kids On The Block gifted us with a Christmas Album at one point too.

No, the single worst Christmas Song is “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town.”

Now, let me be clear and say that I’m not taking a stance on whether or not a Christian can allow their young children to believe in Santa or not. But I will insist that the “gospel of Santa” is pure evil.

The gospel of Santa is the same basic message as any other manmade religion: there is a supernatural figure out there who is omniscient (“he knows when you’re sleeping or awake or if you’ve been bad or good, naughty or nice“). He keeps a record of your wrongs (“he’s making a list and checking it twice”). So you should “watch out” because “he’s coming.” Behave (don’t “pout” or “cry”). This figure will bless your good behavior and punish your bad behavior. And if there’s any doubt that this is Moralism 101, note the sentiment to “be good for goodness sake.” That’s the very definition of moralism, the religion of such Jesus detractors as the Pharisees.

While there are various views of Santa Claus, the incarnation presented in “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” is the moralistic myth of a jolly, old, white, fat man who blesses the righteous and curses the wicked. Santa is a figment of basic conservative mentality, i.e. there are good people and bad people and some deserve all the blessings and some deserve all the problems. This, of course, is at odds with liberal mentality which supposes that all people are basically good, but sometimes do bad things due to problematic circumstances and poor environmental factors. If there was a more liberal Santa, he’d probably be a little more ethnic, hipper, and give good gifts away to virtually all undeserving people. And no, I’m not going to go there 🙂 I stand by “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar” (Matt. 22:21) and Christians should “submit to the governing authorities…placed there by God.” (Rom. 13:1)

My point is that neither the conservative, moralistic Santa nor a liberal, amoralistic Santa are the gospel.

The gospel is the good news of a supernatural being who knows that you’ve been bad while you’re awake but blesses you anyways. And in order to give you the good gifts he’s earned, he has to swallow your lump of coal, an eternal burning judgment. That’s grace.

At Christmas, we celebrate the fact that the God-man who birthed this gospel, Jesus, has come to the prophesied town of Bethlehem. But since he’s a baby, you don’t have to “watch out.” You simply have to watch and adore what he does for you.

So, if you do good, don’t do so simply for the sake of goodness. That’s nonsense. Do so because you’re overwhelmed with gratitude for the One who has forgiven all of your bad.

Thank God that Jesus is not Santa Claus. Santa essentially hands out paychecks for moral behavior. Jesus actually gives gifts.

“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:27)

2 thoughts on “Naughty & Nice Nonsense

  1. I’m a bit late for this Christmas season, I suppose, but I just saw this today for some reason. I will say, as much as I hate secular Christmas carols, I do think we could use this particular carol to teach the real story of St. Nick:

    “He’s making a list, he’s checking it twice,
    He’s gonna find out if you denied the deity of Christ.
    Santa Claus is punching you out.”

    As always, an excellent post. Thank you, Pr. Hein.

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