Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny, The Tooth Fairy, and the Truth

January 31, 2023

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If we are teaching our children about objective truth, evaluating claims and understanding that the biblical worldview is true, is it harmful or antithetical if we're encouraging belief in Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy?

Transcript

Note: The following is an auto-transcript of the podcast recording.

Hello friends, and welcome to another episode of the Foundation Worldview Podcast where we seek to answer your questions so that you can equip the children that God has placed in your care to carefully evaluate every idea they encounter and understand the truth of the biblical worldview. I'm your host, Elizabeth Urbanowicz, and we'll dive right into our question for today. Today's question asks, "what are your thoughts on Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, et cetera? If we are emphasizing objective truth, analyzing claims and a Christian worldview, is it antithetical to encourage belief in these fictitious characters?" Now, I was really happy to see this question come in because I think it's one that so many parents and those working with children are wrestling through, because our culture really encourages belief in these fictitious characters just as fun things for our children, but especially for those of us who really believe that a huge part of loving God is loving him with our minds.

And also we believe that God is the source of truth. So therefore, truth is very important. If we're teaching these things to our children and we're placing emphasis on objective truth, and evaluating claims and understanding that the biblical worldview is true, is it harmful or antithetical to these things if we're encouraging belief in Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy? And so my answer to this question would be, yes. Yes, it is antithetical to the biblical worldview, to the truthfulness of the biblical worldview if we are actually encouraging genuine belief in these characters. Now, is encouraging enjoyment of these fictitious characters antithetical to objective truth and evaluating claims? And the biblical worldview, no encouraging, just some fun enjoyment of these characters is not antithetical to those things. Now, I am firmly convinced that we need to be honest with our children, and the reason for this is... we should be modeling what we do in our parenting and in our care for our children after the way God has cared for us.

And when has God ever lied to us? Never. The author of Hebrews tells us that it's impossible for God to lie because God is the truth and he is the source of truth. So we're teaching a double standard if we put an emphasis on these things. Objective truth, evaluating claims, loving God with our mind, and then we encourage the shutting off of the mind with belief in these characters. So if you're a parent watching this, I would encourage you not to pump up the myth of Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny. We can enjoy these things as part of a cultural heritage in the countries in which we live. We can enjoy these things without actually teaching that they're true. My mom did a great job of this. When my brother and my sister and I were growing up, my parents were always honest with us that Santa Claus is not real.

We would read the story of St. Nicholas who was an actual man, but then how that story turned into this legendary mythical figure of Santa Claus. And so my parents were always honest with us that Santa Claus didn't really exist, that the Easter Bunny wasn't real, that the Tooth Fairy wasn't real. But when we would lose a tooth, we'd still put it under our pillow and we'd wake up and there would be a couple of quarters there, and we always knew that it was our parents that put it there. And then at Christmastime, my mom did a great job of doing something engaging and exciting with us every day leading up to Christmas. And sometimes we would actually go to the mall and we would get our pictures taken with Santa Claus or we would make a little craft that involved Santa Claus. Most of the time, the crafts we did actually involved the nativity, but sometimes we might do something with Santa Claus.

And those things were fun and we were able to enjoy them as part of just the cultural heritage in the United States of America without actually believing that those characters actually existed. Now, when you tell children that these characters are not real, the hard thing then becomes is that most of their friends believe them. So I've watched parents do a really good job of explaining, I've promised I'm always going to be truthful with you, so this character isn't actually real. A lot of your friends believe in it, and it's really their mommy and their daddy's responsibility to tell them about that. So you can explain that we don't believe in Santa Claus in our house, but you don't need to go around saying that Santa isn't true. Now, if you're a Sunday school teacher or a Christian educator, you might be thinking, oh my goodness, what am I going to do?

Because some of the parents of the children that God has placed in my care are teaching them about Santa Claus. What I would always do as a classroom teacher is I taught third grade. And so by third grade, most kids knew that Santa Claus wasn't real, but there was always a few that were still holding on to that belief. And so usually once a Christmas season, students would come up and would be like, "Ms. Urbanowicz, is Santa Claus real?" And so I would just always say, "Do you know that I've promised to always tell you the truth?" And they would say, "Yes." And I'd say, "Okay. And do you know that I've promised that I'm never going to lie to you?" And they'd say, "Yes." And I'd say, okay, because I've promised to always tell you the truth, and to never lie, I can't answer that question for you. You're going to have to go and ask your parents. And so I don't know if that was the end-all be-all best way to handle it, but what I wanted to do was just affirm to them that I was always going to speak the truth to them, that I was not going to lie to them. And because of that commitment to the truth, I couldn't answer that question in an arena that their parents needed to speak the truth into that. So I think that's a way that you can do that, if you're working with children that are not your own biological children or adoptive children or foster children, I would encourage you to do something like that. Or if you're a classroom teacher or Sunday school teacher and you have another great way in which you've handled that in a way that was honest and didn't take away the parent's authority in speaking truth to the kids, please feel free to write about it in the comments because we'd love to hear how other people have done that as well.

Now, I think actually thinking about Santa Claus can be a great way to teach our kids how to investigate the truth claims of Christianity. And so I would actually just ask kids, okay, so if we're investigating the truth about Santa Claus, what kind of evidence would we need to figure out whether or not Santa Claus were real? Well, we'd want to look for some evidence of his presence, even if we couldn't physically see him on Christmas Eve or some other time, we'd actually want to see evidence of his presence. So we would talk about the gifts that are left. That could be evidence. Sometimes kids wake up and cookies and milk are gone. That would be evidence. And then talk about, okay, what would we actually have to look for in that? Well, we'd want to see, okay, on the gifts, does the handwriting on the gift match the parents in that house?

Oh, because if the handwriting matches the parents, it's probably from the parents and not from Santa Claus. Okay? What would we want to look for in the cookies and milk? Okay, the cookies and milk. If you got really in depth, you know, could look for fingerprints. Whose fingerprints were on the glass? Are there any fingerprints that don't belong to someone in this family, or do the fingerprints match the mom and dad? And then even talk about... so there's a difference between Santa Claus and St. Nicholas. What is the difference there? Well, we actually have a historical record recording who St. Nicholas was, what he did, what he was involved in the church. And so we can actually look back at that historical record at those historical documents that document who he was and what he did. And historical records are vastly different than fiction picture books.

It doesn't mean that everything in the historical records that we find the artifacts are accurate, but that's why we look at more than one source. We look at multiple sources, and then we can do a parallel with Christianity. So if we're trying to figure out if Jesus is real, what kind of evidence would we look for? Well, just like we're probably not going to be looking if we can actually see Santa Claus today, we're not going to be looking if we can see Jesus today because the biblical account claims that he ascended after he resurrected. So what kind of things would we look for? Well, we'd look for historical records of him. We'd look for eyewitness accounts that are written in historical records, and we have the Gospels, we have the four Gospels. Highly recommend you check out the book, Cold-Case Christianity for Kids, because it talks about why we can put our trust in the eyewitness testimony of the gospel writers, but then we can even talk about, we might want to look for evidence even outside of that and talk through how there is evidence of Jesus outside of the Gospel records. There's other ancient historians that wrote about Jesus and his followers not in as much depth as the Gospel writers did.

Not nearly as much depth, but there are authors that have included Jesus as an actual historical figure, and then his followers... and then talk about the claim that Jesus rose from the grave. How would we determine whether or not that's where the evidence points? And if you're interested in more about helping kids understand the historical reliability of the resurrection, you can actually check out a podcast that we have on the Foundation Worldview website. So just go to foundationworldview.com, click on Webinars, and we actually have a whole webinar looking at actually helping our kids understand the historical reliability of the resurrection. So, we can actually turn this cultural belief in Santa Claus into an opportunity to teach our kids. How do we actually investigate claims so that they can see that belief in Jesus is not belief in Santa Claus? When we evaluate the evidence, the evidence actually points (1) to Jesus' existence, (2) to his resurrection, and then (3) to the reliability of the eyewitness accounts that are recorded in the four Gospels.

Well, that's a wrap for our episode today. If you found this content beneficial, I would really ask you to consider liking and subscribing, even writing a review... All of these things just help more people find this content so that we can equip more adults to get the kids in their care carefully evaluating every idea they encounter so they can understand the truth of the biblical worldview. As always, my prayer for you as we leave this time is that God would richly bless you as you continue to faithfully disciple the children He's placed in your care. I'll see you next time.

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