COSTA MESA, Ca. — Actor and filmmaker Kirk Cameron recently invited a former evangelical pastor to TBN to make the case for Santa Claus as Cameron promotes his new film “Saving Christmas,” which seeks to convince Christians who choose not to celebrate the holiday.
Cameron shared a segment of the interview on his Facebook page on Tuesday, in which he spoke with historian William Federer, a former evangelical minister and political candidate. Sporting the Liberty University logo embroidered on his shirt, Cameron invited Federer to outline the history of Saint Nicholas and other items found in his book “There Really Is a Santa Claus: The History of Saint Nicholas & Christmas Holiday Traditions.”
“You are the Christmas Santa dude!” Cameron said, beaming. “You are the expert to tell us about about the real Santa Claus. … Who is he?”
Federer, a signer of the Manhattan Declaration, an ecumenical document that unites Christians and Catholics to stand together for life and family, then provided background the life of the Turkish bishop Nicholas, who was known to give the poor and inspired the tradition of gift-giving during Christmastime. He explained that after Nicholas died in 343 A.D., his bones were brought to the pope, who built a basilica for his remains, where they are enshrined to this day.
“The Christians moved the bones of St. Nicholas from Myra in Asia Minor over to Bari, Italy in the year 1087 [A.D.],” Federer told Cameron, citing that Muslims were seeking to destroy the bones of the “saints.” “And the pope, Pope Urban II, he builds a cathedral.”
He then explained that gift-giving in the tradition of Nicholas, who had been sainted by the Roman Catholics, soon become so popular among Catholics that it seemed to distract from Jesus, so the icon St. Francis of Assissi (after whom the current pope is named) created the creche, also known as the modern nativity scene.
“And so St. Francis of Assissi said, ‘Look, all this gift-giving is fine, but it’s a distraction from the real reason for the season,’ and so St. Francis of Assissi invented the creche scene—the nativity scene,” Federer outlined. “So, that goes back to the 1200’s and St. Francis of Assissi.”
“Wow,” Cameron replied in awe.
Federer explained that once the holiday hit Germany, the protestant reformer Martin Luther—a former Roman Catholic monk—did away with the saints days, but the people of Germany liked the gift-giving too much to give up the tradition. And so it continued.
Other Roman Catholic writings confirm Federer’s teachings to Cameron as being accurate.
“In 1087, … Italian merchants obtained the relics of Saint Nicholas, which had been held in a church at Myra, and brought them to the city of Bari, in southern Italy. There, the relics were placed in a great basilica consecrated by Pope Urban II, where they have remained,” writes Catholicism expert Scott Richert. “By the late Middle Ages, Catholics in Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands had begun to celebrate his feast day by giving small gifts to young children. On December 5, the children would leave their shoes by the fireplace, and the next morning, they would find small toys and coins in them.”
He also notes that Nicholas was sainted because of the miracles that the Roman Catholic Church claimed that he performed following his death—and still allegedly performs to this day through a myrrh that is purportedly exuded from his tomb to heal sick bodies.
“Saint Nicholas is called [the] ‘Wonder-Worker’ because of the number of miracles attributed to him, particularly after his death,” Richert outlined, who also posted two prayers offered by some to St. Nicholas. “Glorious St. Nicholas, my special patron, from thy throne in glory, where thou dost enjoy the presence of God, turn thine eyes in pity upon me and obtain for me from our Lord the graces and helps that I need…”
“Devotion to St. Nicholas was known in the West long before his relics were brought to Italy, but this happening naturally greatly increased his veneration among the people, and miracles were as freely attributed to his intercession in Europe as they had been in Asia,” Catholic Online likewise explains.”At Myra ‘the venerable body of the bishop, embalmed as it was in the good ointments of virtue exuded a sweet smelling myrrh, which kept it from corruption and proved a health giving remedy against sickness to the glory o f him who had glorified Jesus Christ, our true God.’ The translation of the relics did not interrupt this phenomenon, and the ‘manna of St. Nicholas’ is said to flow to this day.”
Cameron had cited St. Nicholas in his new film “Saving Christmas” as one of the reasons why Christians who abstain from the holiday should really find reason for rejoicing since he believed Nicholas was a strong Christian man. During a recent speech before hundreds of students at Liberty University, as Cameron has been making the rounds to various venues as a “Christmas evangelist” of sorts, Cameron likewise made his case for St. Nicholas as being a Christian man of faith and defended the holiday’s traditions.
“[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.”
“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,” Cameron 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.”
As previously reported, Cameron made similar assertions that past October when he told the Christian Post that Christians should throw the “biggest party on the block” for Halloween, since the holiday really harkens back to All Saints Day.
“If you go back to old church calendars, especially Catholic calendars, they recognize the holiday All Saints Day, with All Hallows Eve the day before, when they would remember the dead,” he said. “That’s all tied to Halloween.”
But some are expressing concern over Cameron’s lack of distinction between Roman Catholicism and Christianity. Mike Gendron of Proclaiming the Gospel Ministries in Plano, Texas told Christian News Network that the interview should have been eye-opening for Cameron.
“Clearly, Cameron chooses to embrace Roman Catholicism as a valid expression of Christianity instead of embracing the exclusivity of God’s gospel,” he said.
“It was clear during the interview that Kirk was more interested in promoting his movie than contending for the faith of the apostles,” Gendron continued. “When Federer cited the pope building a cathedral for the remains of St. Nicholas, Cameron had an open door to expose Catholicism’s unfruitful deeds of darkness (Eph. 5:11). He could have asked Federer why Catholic popes steal titles given to the triune God such as Holy Father, Head of the Church and Vicar of Christ. When Federer mentioned Martin Luther, Cameron could have asked about Luther’s commitment to the gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone according to Scripture alone for the glory of God alone.”
The former Roman Catholic-turned-evangelist who trains others how to witness to Catholics said that Cameron may not understand that he is being pulled into seeing Roman Catholicism as just another branch of Christianity—and is influencing others to think likewise.
“The Vatican’s strategy for world dominion is to use influential people like Cameron to bring separated brethren back home to Rome,” Gendron stated. “His compromise of the gospel and his unwillingness to expose Catholicism as an apostate religion reveals his unfaithfulness to God and His word. The Bible is our only safeguard against fatal error. ( Acts 17: 11; I John 4: 1)”