Can Santa Claus Be Saved?
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.”
Believe it or not, even Santa can be saved! Far from being a dangerous fairy tale, Santa Claus in reality is an Anglicized form of the Dutch name Sinter Klaas, which in turn is a reference to Saint Nicholas, a Christian bishop from the fourth century. According to tradition, Saint Nick not only lavished gifts on needy children, but also valiantly supported the doctrine of the Trinity at the Council of Nicea in AD 325. While the word Trinity—like incarnation—is not found in Scripture, it aptly codifies what God has condescended to reveal to us about His nature and being. The Trinitarian platform contains three planks.
The first plank underscores the reality that there is but one God. Christianity is not polytheistic, but fiercely monotheistic. “‘You are my witnesses,’ declares the Lord, ‘and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me’” (Isaiah 43:10; emphasis added).
The second plank emphasizes that in hundreds of Scripture passages, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are declared to be fully and completely God. As a case in point, the apostle Paul says that “there is but one God, the Father” (1 Corinthians 8:6). The Father, speaking of the Son, says, “Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever” (Hebrews 1:8). And when Ananias “lied to the Holy Spirit,” Peter points out that he had “not lied to men but to God” (Acts 5:3–4).
The third plank of the Trinitarian platform asserts that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are eternally distinct. Scripture clearly portrays subject/object relationships between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. For example, the Father and Son love each other ( John 5:20; 14:31), speak to each other ( John 17:1–26), and together send the Holy Spirit ( John 15:26). Additionally, Jesus proclaims that He and the Father are two distinct witnesses and two distinct judges ( John 8:14– 18). If Jesus were Himself the Father, His argument would not only have been irrelevant, it would have been fatally flawed; and, if such were the case, He could not have been fully God. It is important to note that when Trinitarians speak of one God, they are referring to the nature or essence of God. Moreover, when they speak of persons, they are referring to personal self-distinctions within the Godhead. Put another way, we believe in one What and three Who’s.
In sum, then, Christians may look back to the tradition of Saint Nick, who lavished gifts on the needy and valiantly supported the doctrine of the Trinity at the Council of Nicea, as a legendary hero of the faith. Of course, the notion that Santa Claus lives at the North Pole in a toy factory, that he sees children at all times and knows whether they’ve been bad or good, and that he travels in a sled pulled by flying reindeer, is clearly myth and should therefore be treated as such.
This December 25 as you celebrate the coming of Christ with a Christmas tree surrounded by presents, may the story of selflessness on the part of Saint Nick remind you of the Savior who gave the greatest gift of all. Thus, rather than supplant the Savior with Santa, we can use Saint Nick as a reminder to generously support God-ordained ministries so that the message of salvation can reach those who have not as yet received salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone—and on account of Christ alone.