Wright Way: Santa and the anagram?
by WILLIAM WRIGHT
Dec 03, 2014 | 5320 views | 0 0 comments | 130 130 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In conversations with a certain department store Santa Claus, I was impressed with his awareness about the origin of Christmas, Saint Nicholas and the reaction of some Christians to a holiday that often loses its focus on celebrating the birth of Christ.

I was even more surprised to learn from Santa himself that if you anagram the word S-a-n-t-a you can come up with the word S-a-t-a-n simply by transposing a letter, and that some Christians are associating this jolly old icon with the devil himself. Personally, I had never associated giving gifts to little children or a hearty laugh with Satan the Devil, but I was open to discussing it.

Like millions, I grew up singing how Santa Claus knows when you are sleeping, he knows when you’re awake. He knows when you are bad or good, so be good for goodness sake, right? But I also grew up believing these were the attributes of God Almighty. Bible verses like Ecclesiastes 12:14, says, “God will judge everything we do, even what is done in secret, whether good or bad.” — Contemporary English Version.

I do recall wondering even as a child if Santa Claus was as powerful as God, since both of them were said to know when people are being bad or good. How did this jolly old soul receive the power of being all-knowing?

Santa is also said to give many gifts. I was often told to be a good little boy, especially around Christmas, because Santa was watching and he would not leave me anything if I was bad. As I got a little older, however, I discovered a different truth about gifts, gratitude and God. James 1:17 says “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father.” — New King James Version.

So who should we give thanks for all good things — God or Santa? I had to ask myself, is Santa receiving credit for doing things Christians should be thanking God for? Even if I wanted to brush it off as my taking the matter too seriously, I couldn’t ignore what God said at Isaiah 42:8: “I am Jehovah, that is my name; and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise unto graven images.” — American Standard Version. Wouldn’t that include Santa? You decide.

Many adults still believe the image of Santa Claus and God are not in the same category. After all, only one of them is considered God. But apparently, there is a strong connection between Santa and pagan gods of old. Edna Barth, in her book “Holly, Reindeer, and Colored Lights, The Story of Christmas Symbols,” wrote about the Swedish thunder god, Thor, “With his red suit and cap, and a bulging sack on his back, he looks much like the American Santa Claus.”

Although Thor experienced an extreme makeover in comics and in the movies, in some countries he is still considered a god who carries around a magical hammer — one trademark tool of his American counterpart, Santa. In the chapter “Santa Claus and his Ancestors,” Barth says, “Thousands of years before Christ, the Scandinavian god Odin rode through the world at midwinter on this eight-footed horse, Sleipnir, bringing reward and punishment.

“His son, Thor, god of farming, thunder and war made his home in the far north. At the same season, the gentle German goddess Hertha descended with her gifts of good fortune and health. The Christian religion brought an end of such pagan gods, in form at least. Later, as St. Nicholas and Father Christmas, they reappeared in spirit.”

If this is true, is it totally absurd that comparisons are drawn — not just between God and Santa — but with a figure who is clever enough to know how to take away glory from God when some are trying to focus on the birth of His Son? Who, especially, would love to demean Almighty God in such a way?

I am sure God has a sense of humor, but His Word tells us He can be provoked to jealous anger due to images getting worshipful attention, according to Psalm 78:58. With good reason, the Bible warns at 2Corinthians 11:14, “Even Satan can disguise himself to look like an angel of light!” — Good News Translation.

Knowing the truth can set us free. It gives us choices. We can choose where we draw the line in our worship, based on Scripture, not traditions. Is it important to you that John 4:23 says the Almighty is seeking people to worship Him “in spirit and truth” — not through fantasies? Would you like to worship God in spirit and truth? He's looking for you.

Happily, it is God who will judge us in our worship to Him. How fitting! After all, who else can really know when we are good or bad so that we can be rewarded with the greatest gift of all — the gift God gives of eternal life by our Lord, Christ Jesus? Beat that Satan! Uh — I meant, Santa. Well... you know what I mean.