Theologian John Piper says parents should be more concerned about teaching their children to believe in Jesus Christ than Santa Claus, "an irrelevant and pitiful myth" that is no match for the truth of our Savior.
"Santa Claus is not relevant in many cultures of the world, and Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords in all the peoples of the world," Piper said during a podcast shared Monday on DesiringGod.org, a website devoted to glorifying God.
"Not only is Santa Claus not true, and Jesus is the very truth Himself, but compared to Jesus, Santa Claus is simply pitiful," he said.
"Why would we give them [children] Santa Claus when they can have the incarnation of the Son of God? ... Santa Claus offers his ephemeral goodies only on the condition of good works. That's a 'pure works' religion, and Jesus offers Himself — all the gifts — freely, by grace for faith."
Piper added, "Santa Claus, he only shows up once a year. Jesus promises 'I will be with you always ...' Every night he's standing by your bed. He's with you when you get up in the morning. He's with you when you go to school today. Santa doesn't hold a candle to this flaming, Jesus."
The Bethlehem college chancellor also explained the theology behind Good Friday, Easter and Christmas.
"After Easter, Christmas should be the happiest day of the year in Christian worship," he said. "The reason I say after Easter is that Good Friday and Easter [are] the goals of Christmas. The death and Resurrection, the salvation of sinners through the death and Resurrection of Jesus, [are] the goals of Christmas. Christmas is not the goal of Easter. Christmas is a means."
The theologian explained that the salvation of sinners on Good Friday and on Easter is the goal, and pointed to Scripture to elucidate his point:
"Jesus came at Christmas to seek and to save the lost." (Luke 19)
"Jesus came at Christmas to save sinners." (1 Timothy 1:15)
"Jesus came at Christmas to give his life a ransome for many." (Mark 10)
"Jesus came at Christmas not to call the righteous, but sinners." (Matthew 9)
"Jesus came at Christmas to destroy the works of the devil." ( 1 John 3)
"Jesus came at Christmas that through death, He might destroy the one who has the power of death." (Hebrews 2:14)
"Why would we give them [children] Santa Claus when they can have the incarnation of the Son of God?" Piper asked.
"Santa Claus cannot solve our worst problem, and Jesus did solve our worst problem — our sin and our alienation from God. Santa Claus, he can put some icing on the cake of the Good Life, but he cannot take a shattered life and rebuild it with hope forever, and our kids need to know that about Christmas."