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Santa Claus: Defender of Christian Orthodoxy!

December 18, 2007

I was listening to the Middlebrow podcast from Scriptorium Daily, and heard an awesome story about Saint Nicholas of Myra, the historical figure who inspired Santa Claus. As an adult, I have always been a bit leery of jolly old Saint Nick, who has become a figure behind the commercialism of Christmas, and who has had very little in the way of redeeming qualities in my mind.

However, after hearing this story, I have to say that Santa’s stock has gone up in my mind.  First, a bit of background: the First Council of Nicaea was called by Constantine the Great to resolve the Arian Controversy.  This controversy, instigated by a man named Arius, was a challenge to the deity of Christ – basically, Arius argued that Jesus was a creature – he was an exulted creature, a creature who was created first and was second only to God, but he wasn’t God.

With that out of the way, here’s the story about Saint Nicholas.  Nicholas was one of the bishops invited to the Council.  At one point, Arius is speaking to the assembly, espousing his heretical views.  Santa gets sick of hearing this affront to orthodoxy, gets up, walks across the hall, and slaps Arius in the face.  Constantine kicks him out, but the other bishops petition to invite him back, and his request is granted.

I love this story.  Santa is someone who cares about Christian Orthodoxy, and hates to see it challenged.  This also reminds me of the historical Saint Nick, who was so kind to those around him that the legend grew up around him as a loving, giving person.  However, I also love his passion in defense of right doctrine.  There are some things worth being passionate about.

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