Santa Nicer Than Jesus?

The last post with quotes from Michael Horton is similar to these below from Dr. Packer.  They both deal with a misunderstanding and even neglect of who God is.  Below Packer points out that the severity of God is passed over in favor of viewing God as only delivering goodness.  In all of the things taught to kids about Santa Claus it all boils down to being good and get something or be bad and get nothing.  Even Santa has standards of “bad” with the standard being a type of moralism.  The “bad” from Santa never really comes since most end up with gifts anyways.  Even in this light it seems as if Jesus is just an eternal nice guy with not much mention of “bad” as entailed in the Santa Claus myth.  So, is Santa nicer than Jesus?  How about the severity of God?

Santa Claus and Giant Despair
Never, since, perhaps Paul wrote has there been more need to labor this point [the severity and goodness of God] than there is today.  Modern muddle-headedness and confusion to the meaning of faith in God are almost beyond description.  People say they believe in God, but they have no idea who it is that they believe in, or what difference believing in him may make.

Christians who want to help their floundering fellows into what a famous old tract used to call “safety, certainty and enjoyment” are constantly bewildered as to where to being; the fantastic hodgepodge of fancies about God quite takes their breath away.  How on earth have people got into such a muddle?  What lies at the root of their confusion?  And where is the starting point for setting them straight?

To these questions there are several complementary sets of answers.  One is that people have gotten into the practice of following private religious hunches rather than learning of God from his own Word; we have to try to help them unlearn the pride and, in some cases, the misconceptions about Scripture which gave rise to this attitude and to base their conviction henceforth not on what they feel but on what the Bible says.  A second answer is that modern people think of all religions as equal and equivalent-they draw their ideas about God from pagan as well as Christian sources; we have to try to show people the uniqueness and finality of the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s last word to man.

A third answer is that people have ceased to recognize the reality of their own sinfulness, which imparts a degree of perversity and enmity against God to all that they think and do; it is our task to try to introduce people to this face about themselves and so make them self-distrustful and open to correction by the word of Christ.  A fourth answer, no less basic than the three already given, is that people today are in the habit of disassociating the thought of God’s goodness from that of his severity; we must seek to wean them from this habit, since nothing but misbelief is possible as long as it persists.

The habit in question, first learned from some gifted German theologians of the last century, has infected modern Western Protestantism as a whole.  To reject all ideas of divine wrath and judgment, and to assume that God’s character, misrepresented (forsooth!) in many parts of the Bible, is really one of indulgent benevolence without any severity, is the rule rather than the exception among ordinary folk today.

J.I. Packer. Knowing God. InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove, 1993. 159. (First published in 1973.)

The answer to the question is – no, Santa isn’t nicer than Jesus.  Despite the wrath of God for being “bad” which, in this case, is sinning, Jesus is the “nicer” of the two.  Jesus, the very giver of life allows you to live and breath in all of your sinfulness.  He allows you to enjoy Santa’s presents.  This makes Him immensely nicer than Santa.  But better still, Jesus brings life to all who forsake their sin in repentance and turn to Him in faith.  He offers a way to escape those sins and the severity of God’s wrath.  Rejecting Jesus brings more than a lump of coal. It’s more like a bed of hot coals in which they never stop burning and nor do you.

This is a good time of year to via Santa to explain on the goodness of Jesus by way of His wrath.  You basically get what you want with Santa by your own standards.  Jesus brings what you don’t deserve, eternal life, despite your sins and standards.  Unlike Santa’s non-existant consequences for being bad, Jesus has real, eternal consequences for sinning against Him.  Once you realize your own sinfulness then you can realize just how great is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Merry repentance,


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tagged as , in Church Issues,Culture,Evangelism,Gospel,relativism,theology

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Brett Rader January 15, 2009 at 6:09 pm

Even Saint Nicholas isn’t as nice as rumored. There is a legend that he gave Arius a punch in the nose at the council of Nicea, of which he was part. There is even a Church in the middle east that has a Murial (I belive) of the legend.


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