Christmas Without Santa?

A friend writes who works in an inner-city Sunday school:

We had a staff meeting last week to plan our annual Christmas party for the kids. The meeting had just started when one of the workers dropped a bomb.

“We can’t have a Santa Claus this year,” he said. “I just read in a book that Santa Claus is a secular humanist.”

All of us thought he was joking, but it turned out that he was serious.

“Look, you guys,” he shouted, “have you ever rearranged the letters in Santa? It becomes Satan. And Satan is our enemy. Furthermore, Santa wears red, and red is a diabolical color. And Santa is identified with fire because he comes down the chimney.”

“How about if we dress him in white and have him come through the laundry chute?” I suggested.

“And we could call him Father Christmas or Kris Kringle instead of Santa,” added our superintendent.

“Look,” I argued, “if we don’t have a Santa to give these kids some toys and fun, there just won’t be any party. It’ll die before it’s born.”

But our fellow laborer was adamant. “I will not promote a secular humanist!” he shouted. “Secular humanism is ruining our nation!”

“This neighborhood couldn’t be ruined much more,” I commented.

“Look at it this way,” calmly spoke our fearless leader. “These kids know that Santa is just a story. He’s a part of the fixtures of the season. We always try to give the true meaning of Christmas and share the gospel. I don’t see anything wrong with having a Santa.”

“Let’s vote on it,” I suggested. The vote was six in favor of Santa and one opposed.

“Bah, humbug!” said the opposition as it walked out of the room, slamming the door.

“I wish he had stayed,” said our leader. “That 300 pounds he carries around helps make him a perfect Santa Claus. I wonder if all overweight people fight secular humanism?”

We closed the meeting by joining hands and singing a verse of “Silent Night.”

P.S. I volunteered to play Santa. I’m not sure I know what a secular humanist is, but I do know what a Christian is; and this year, Santa will be a Christian.

Joyfully yours,


Slap From A Distance

You have continuously rejected my offerings, and even chose not to print any of my letters to Eutychus & His Kin. I’ve felt the slap from a distance. Perhaps I can come in the back way, in the CT hymn contest.


Blue Ridge, Ga.

Misleading Statements

It is sad to see Paul Steeves making one misleading statement after another [Eutychus & His Kin, Oct. 23].

The most serious accusation against the Siberian Seven is that they practice “fanatic religious expression” and “totally refuse to submit to the government God has ordained for them.” The Seven represent many thousands of Pentecostals who have consistently been denied even the one basic freedom supposedly guaranteed in the Soviet constitution: freedom of worship.

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This group has openly and bravely fought for the right to exist as a Christian community. It is the Soviet response that has been fanatical, treating the group like criminals. Loyalty to the state can never be higher than loyalty to God. Steeves goes on to say “they will refuse subjection to any government, wherever they may live.” Their coreligionist, Yevgeni Bresenden, who asked for the same rights, was allowed to emigrate a few years ago. There are 30,000 other Pentecostals who wish to emigrate.

Prof. Steeves asserts that we are somehow responsible for Soviet persecutions by intensifying our “belligerence towards the Soviets.” Human rights and religious liberty are indivisible. The most political act of all is to be intimidated into silence when the basic Christian conscience demands concern and prayer for the suffering, no matter under what political system this may occur.


Keston College

Kent, England

Luther A Lunatic?

In reference to R. C. Sprout’s article, “Grace Saved His Sanity, Too” [Oct. 23], I never understood if Sproul was affirming or denying Luther’s insanity. In this modern religious world where there is little known about true conviction of sin, it is possible to believe that religionists would call Luther a lunatic. If Luther was insane, I pray that God would rain down insanity on us all.


Denham Springs, La.

We think Luther was eminently saneEds.

Urgent Matter

Your editorial, “What Separates Evangelicals and Catholics?” [Oct. 23], discusses an urgent matter. I thought your treatment was timely and positive.

I was troubled as you were by so many of the Catholic clergy’s answer to the Gallup poll, that “heaven is a divine reward for those who earn it by their good life.” I even found this thinking portentous for the future of us all. Such seeming presumption in Christian man’s unaided strength over against faith in unearned grace, carries elements of danger for society’s well-being as well as for the individual’s salvation.


Los Angeles, Calif.

Church history teaches us that the freedoms Protestants enjoy were hard won, and central doctrines still separate Protestants and Catholics. The church is ill served when the distinctives between the two schools of theology are blurred. How much better it would be for believers to have a clear understanding of the doctrinal distinctives.

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Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch

Amarillo, Tex.

Napping Again!

You were caught napping again! [What If … cartoon, Oct. 23]. Which one of us was asleep while they changed the label on the church where the 95 theses were nailed?


St. Louis, Mo.

I suppose it is a good thing that after Luther found the door of the Cathedral of Augsburg filled with postings, he went to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg to post his 95 theses, or we would still be waiting for the Reformation.


Saint Martin Lutheran Church

Port Huron, Mich.

Strong Complaint

It is necessary to lodge a strong complaint due to a terrible lapse on the part of one of your writers, John Van Til [“God’s Righteous Kingdom” (Books), Oct. 23].

He attributes to the reconstructionist position (which was set forth in my book Theonomy in Christian Ethics and subsequently critiqued by Chantry’s book, the occasion of the review) the view that America is God’s chosen nation. That view is a horrible misreading of Scripture, and wrong-headed. My books do not set forth such a view, nor is it an inference from any of the views I do advance. Indeed, I have publicly repudiated and openly criticized the idea that America is God’s chosen nation. Furthermore, not even Chantry attributes such heresy to the reconstructionist position; the “chosen nation syndrome” does not even play a part in his book. Why he broaches the view at all is beyond me.

It is difficult enough to teach what we believe to be biblical doctrine these days without being forced to correct misleading misrepresentations as well.


Orange, Calif.

Inerrancy—“Tempest In A Teapot”?

Inerrancy is not a “tempest in a teapot,” but what is at stake is the divine authority of Holy Scripture and the possession of the norm of truth to which everything else will be subjected [“Rhetoric About Inerrancy: The Truth of the Matter,” Sept. 4].

You give reasons to think that Professor Rogers has substantially revised his stance on inerrancy since the publication of his three volumes concerning the Scriptures. It is stupefying that he could so drastically misunderstand the position of scholarly inerrantists, who have never to my knowledge espoused a denial of the humanity of Scripture, or insisted on notarial precision as indispensable to truth, or assumed a rationalistic basis for the ultimate evidence for the inspiration of Scripture. How someone who received as solid a theological training as Dr. Rogers did could so radically misconstrue the inerrantist view is a very great puzzle to me.

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None of the matters which he avers estranged him can properly be considered justifiable charges against the Council on Biblical Inerrancy or other informed inerrantists. Nothing would please members of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy more than to welcome Dr. Rogers into our ranks, if indeed he sincerely espouses inerrancy as delineated, for instance, in the Chicago Statement of 1978.

We have no desire to pursue the controversy in low visibility. We are eager to understand others, and also to be understood for what we profess.


South Hamilton, Mass.


In your news section [World Scene, Oct. 23], regarding “Africa’s first graduate-level English-language seminary …”: in September 1981 the Nairobi International School of Theology opened its doors, with all African students. This school is one of our international branch schools. It operates fully at the graduate level.


International School of Theology

San Bernardino, Calif.

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published. Since all are subject to condensation, those of 100 to 150 words are preferred. Address letters to Eutychus and His Kin,CHRISTIANITY TODAY, 465 Gundersen Drive, Carol Stream, Illinois 60187.

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