John Piper Says Christian Parents Should Not Replace the Story of Jesus’ Birth With a ‘Pathetic Myth Like Santa Claus’

Ahead of Christmas, theologian John Piper warned Christian parents against replacing the story of Jesus’ birth with “a non-gospel, pathetic myth like Santa Claus” as doing so demonstrates a “failure to be thrilled with the greatest story in the world.”

In an AskPastorJohn podcast, the Reformed theologian and former pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in St. Paul, Minnesota, pointed out that it’s impossible for parents to teach their children that Santa Claus is real without lying to them.

“Are we misleading the children in telling them this story as a simple statement of facts?” he asked. “Santa Claus lives at the North Pole. Santa Claus flies with reindeer. Santa Claus leaves gifts under the tree. Santa Claus is served by elves. To present this myth as fact is not truthful to our children.”

Made-up stories — like C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia or Jesus’ parables — are different, he explained, because they’re presented as fiction.

“The children should know that they’re made up and they should know why parents tell children made-up stories,” Piper said. “It’s a good thing, I think, to tell children made-up stories.”

But the biggest reason parents should avoid teaching their children about Santa Claus is that doing so obscures the “thrilling truth” about Christmas, the pastor contended.

“Why would a Christian who has found in Jesus Christ the greatest treasure in the world trade it for anything else? Why would they — who see in the incarnation and life, death, resurrection, and reign of Jesus the most amazing story in the world — tell another story?”

“Why would they replace it with such a non-gospel, pathetic myth like Santa Claus, whose message is ‘You better be good, and you better not cry’? I just can’t imagine it,” he posed.

The pastor went on to argue that laying the myth of Santa Claus over the story of Jesus demonstrates a “failure to be thrilled with the greatest story in the world.”

“It’s a failure. It’s a syncretistic compromise with culture: ‘Poor Jesus. He’s invisible. Santa Claus is not. You can see him at the mall. Poor Jesus doesn’t make any rounds on a sled in the sky, leaving toys under the tree,’” he said.

He concluded: “Dropping Santa is gain, or Christianity is a lie. If Christ cannot compete with Santa in the hearts of our kids, we don’t know the real Christ or there is no real Christ … Your children have Christ-shaped empty spaces in their hearts. They don’t know this. You must show them, but it can’t be done with Santa Claus, only Christ.”

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Source: Christian Post