Bible Hero: The First “Santa Claus”
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made… and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…for in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form. (John 1:1-4, 14; Colossians 2:9)
From the very earliest beginnings of the church, heresy after heresy invaded in attempts to pervert the message of God’s merciful and free gift deliverance, and Jesus Christ as being the one and only way of attaining it. If anyone could succeed in breaking down the fundamental pillars that establish Jesus Christ as the ONLY way: One God in three persons; Jesus Christ, being both a man begotten of God born of a virgin, and God who created all that is; Jesus, crucified dead, buried, risen from the dead, and ascension into heaven; and the Holy Spirit, the power of Christ’s conception, resurrection, and resurrection life of believers.
During the 4nd century after Jesus Christ’s ascension, great strides had been made in the effort to discredit the deity of Jesus Christ. From Wikipedia the history records Arius (AD 250 or 256–336), a Christian presbyter and ascetic of Berber origin, and priest in Alexandria, Egypt, of the church of the Baucalis whose teachings about the nature of the Godhead, which emphasized the Father’s divinity over the Son, and his opposition to what would become the dominant Christology, Homoousian Christology, made him a primary topic of the First Council of Nicea, convened by Roman Emperor Constantine in AD 325. Arius is notable primarily because of his role in the Arian controversy, a great fourth-century theological conflict that rocked the Christian world and led to the calling of the first ecumenical council of the Church. This controversy centered upon the nature of the Son of God, and his precise relationship to God the Father.
Arius claimed that Jesus was a created being and the Creator (see John 1:1-4, 14). Leading up to the council of Nicaea, the Christian world had many different competing Christological formulae. After Nicaea, the dominant orthodox worked to conceal the earlier disagreement, portraying “Arianism” as a radical disagreement to the “norm”. The Nicaean formula was a rapidly concluded solution to the general Christological debate that did not have prior agreement.
Nicolas (15 March 270 – 6 December 343) was born at Patara, Lycia in Asia Minor (now Turkey). In his youth he made a pilgrimage to Egypt and the Palestine area. Shortly after his return he became Bishop of Myra and was later cast into prison during the persecution of Diocletian. He was released after the accession of Constantine and was present at the Council of Nicaea where it is reported that he passionately, and perhaps physically vigorously defended the Biblical teaching of the divinity of Jesus against the claims of Arius.
Many of the attributes of the modern-day Santa Claus are not all mythical. What Nicolas might have lacked in joviality and magic was more than made up by his generosity to the needy, his love for children, and his gift-giving.