Was Santa Claus a Christian? A ‘defender of the faith’? Is this reason to sit on the lap of the bearded man at the mall who “knows if you’ve been naughty or nice”? That is what Kirk Cameron is claiming as proof why Christians should celebrate Christmas in a new documentary that opens this Friday in theaters across the country—an assertion that is raising concerns over Cameron’s confusion of Roman Catholicism with Christianity.
Cameron, best known for his role as Mike Seaver on the 80’s TV sitcom “Growing Pains” and films such as “Fireproof” and “Left Behind,” has been promoting his new film “Saving Christmas,” in which the actor seeks to “keep Christ in Christmas,” stating that some holiday traditions aren’t so bad or pagan after all.
After recently asserting that Christians should celebrate Halloween, in a video clip released last week entitled “Do You Love Santa Claus,” Cameron stated that “maybe someone like Santa Claus is actually on our team.” He then released a second video providing the history of the figure of Santa Claus, who was actually the Roman Catholic Bishop Nicholas of Myra, Turkey under Pope Sylvester I.
“He was a devout Christian,” Cameron states, but not noting Nicholas’ Roman Catholic faith. “He was left with a large sum of money when his parents died, and be became famous for his kindness toward the poor and his generous giving of gifts to children.”
“He was there at the Council of Nicaea in AD 325, one of the most important events in Church history,” he continues, referring to the first ecumenical conference under Constantine. “The Council of Nicaea ended up producing what is known today as the Nicene Creed, a profession of faith used by churches all around the world. The creed affirmed the deity of Christ and the three persons of the trinity.”
According to the St. Nicholas Center, Roman Catholics believe that after Nicholas was put into prison for striking another man during the council, “Jesus with His mother Mary appeared to Nicholas: Jesus bringing the book of the Gospels, and Mary, the bishop’s stole which had been taken from him. In this way, Nicholas was reinstated.”
Actor Darren Doane, the director and co-writer of “Saving Christmas” and who also plays “Christian” in the film, referred to Catholics as his Christian brothers in a Tweet this past May, writing, “My Catholic brothers worshiping Mary is no more weird to me than my evangelical brothers worshiping atheistic Israel land borders.”
During a recent speech before hundreds of students at Liberty University, Cameron likewise made his case for St. Nicholas as being a Christian man of faith.
“[T]hey even ‘sainted’ him—that’s why we call him St. Nicholas,” he said. “He became legendary in his time and beyond his time. He became larger than life and reached mythic proportions.”
Cameron said that the use of Santa Claus, who had developed from the person of St. Nicholas, was therefore not so bad after all.
“So the guy that many of us think is distracting from the birth of the Christ child, is really the defender of the faith you and I want to be,” he asserted. “So now that you know who the real Santa Claus is, you want to take a picture with him at the mall this Christmas? I do.”
But some do not agree with Cameron’s assertions, and believe that Christians should stay away from joining with the Roman Catholic Church or honoring its icons.
“Born again Christians should not be joining Roman Catholics in any spiritual enterprise or activity,” Mike Gendron of Proclaiming the Gospel Ministries told Christian News Network. “Paul called us to remain separate from unbelievers who embrace a false gospel. Light and darkness have nothing in common and there is no agreement between the temple of God and idols (2 Cor. 6:14-18).”
“I believe Kirk knows that Roman Catholicism is a divisive issue among evangelicals and purposefully avoids it,” he said when asked about why he thinks Cameron might have failed to mention that Nicholas was Catholic. “The fact that the RCC ‘made’ Nicholas a saint should be a red flag to anyone who knows only God can convert sinners to saints by the sovereign work of His Spirit.”
Gendron noted that Christmas in itself is a Roman Catholic holiday mixed with pagan traditions.
“The word Christmas means the mass of Christ. The mass is a sacrifice where a wafer is said to become the physical body and blood of Jesus Christ. It is ritualistic slaying of Jesus Christ on an altar for the purpose of appeasing the wrath of God,” he said. “This is official Roman Catholic doctrine, and “Christmas” is a word that they invented for Christ’s mass. When people say, ‘Merry Christmas,’ they probably don’t know the meaning behind the greeting. They are mixing the holy name of Christ with a pagan holiday and a blasphemous representation of Christ on an altar.”
He said that it is important that Christ be worshiped in spirit and in truth, and not just any way one pleases.
“The Lord says His name must not be mixed with pagan idolatry: ‘My holy name you shall no more profane with your gifts and your idols’ (Ezekiel 20:39),” Gendron stated. “It is no wonder that Satan has influenced the world to blend paganism with the worship of God. Satan (which contains the same letters as Santa) has been diverting minds and hearts from a pure devotion to God and Christ since the Garden of Eden (2 Cor. 11:4).”
The former Roman Catholic turned evangelist said that while he does not condemn those who choose to celebrate the day, he believes that Christians need to use discernment about the matter.
“Anytime truth is mixed with error and biblical Christianity is blended with the teachings and traditions of apostate Christianity, there will be confusion within the Church. Tragically, we are living in a time when evangelicals are following popular personalities instead of Christ and His word,” Gendron stated. “Since the word of God is not being proclaimed faithfully from many pulpits, there is a lack of discernment in the pews. Since people are not hearing the truth, they cannot discern what is false.”
December 6th is the Roman Catholic “Feast of Saint Nicholas,” who is also dubbed “Nicholas the Wonder Worker” due to claims that his intercession had brought about miracles on earth.