“Giving Heed to Fables” I Tim 1:4

by Steven Chan

Last week, a brother shared with me a newspaper report in the UK that a Father Christmas was suspended from his work for telling three little children that Santa Claus was not real. It was reported that “their mother said what was supposed to be a fun festive day out turned into the ‘worst day of her life’ as her children lost their faith in Santa.”  It was reported that later on the same mother took her children to a restaurant and “she said when the children told the balloon artist they had written to Santa, he said: ‘That was a waste of time.’ ‘Santa is my best friend, we went skiing last weekend and he told me that he doesn’t bother reading letters because he has got better things to do.’ By this point, the mother said the children were so shaken up they did not feel like eating and the family left the restaurant and went back home”.

One could take issue with “Father Christmas” as to whether he should have taken up the job of being “Father Christmas” in the first place if he did not believe in it instead of spoiling the fun of the little children by adorning the costume of Santa Claus and then telling them that there is no such things as Santa Claus. But that is not the purpose of this article.

It was reported that the mother in the above incident was particularly upset that Father Christmas caused “her children to lose their faith in Santa”. Do we feel that strongly upset when others cause our children to lose faith in God as our Creator, Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the Bible as the divinely-inspired Word of God?

The purpose of this article is to consider what the Bible says about mixing fiction with truth and the resultant impact on people who may be searching for the truth about God.

In 1 Tim 1:3-4, the apostle Paul wrote: “As I urged you when I went into Macedonia–remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, 4 nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith.” The Bible said that the evangelist Timothy was to stay back in Ephesus specifically to charge or command that no one should teach any other doctrine (different from what has taught by the apostles) nor to “give heed to fables.” Paul was quite concerned with such tendencies to “give heed to fables” as he expressed the same concern in his second letter to Timothy: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.”(2 Tim 4:3-4). Later on the apostle Peter had to remind the readers of his epistle that their account concerning Jesus as the Son of God was not a “cunningly devised fable” as they were eye-witnesses of the testimony given by God Himself when Jesus was transfigured on the mount (Matt 17): “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” 18 And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. 19 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Pet 1:16-21)

Nearly all acknowledge that Father Christmas, Santa Claus, Christmas trees, Rudolph the red nosed reindeer, Christmas stockings, mistletoe, etc… (if you are interested you can read about them at http://www.allthingschristmas.com/traditions.html) are merely fables and they are not mentioned anywhere in the Bible although they are better known and accepted than many other characters mentioned in the Bible. In fact the whole idea of Christmas itself is not found in the Bible!

The Bible does record the account of the birth of Jesus Christ in this manner:

”8 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” 22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” 24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife,”( Matt 1:18-25)

“8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. (Luke 2:8-18)

“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”…9 When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. 11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”(Matt 2:1-2, 9-12)

There was no mention of Father Christmas, no Christmas tree, no Santa Claus, no Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, etc… These are merely fables and traditions introduced by men; they have no biblical foundation whatsoever. Some asked: But what’s so wrong about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ with these seemingly harmless and lovely traditions? The Bible says: “give no heed to fables”. In other words, do not associate yourselves with fables or that which is not true. Then again some smart alec contend that Paul only meant to avoid “fables which cause disputes” and not all fables! The fact is that Paul meant that one should not give heed to fables as they would cause disputes and would not lead to godly edification which is in faith (for faith comes from hearing God’s Word and not traditions of men – Rom 10:17; Col 2:22-23; Titus 3:9).

The problem with perpetuating fables and traditions of men is that it will cause people to depart from the faith when they realize that many of the things associated with the birth of Jesus Christ are not true! Many therefore perceive that the birth of Jesus Christ is also merely a fable just like Father Christmas, Santa Claus, Christmas trees, Rudoplh the red-nosed reindeer, etc… – merely make believes!! That would really be unfortunate because the truth is that it is a historical fact that Jesus as truly born in Bethlehem of Judea as recorded in the Bible – and that He is truly the Son of God as He was raised from the dead- and His body was no longer in the tomb – and many saw Him after He was risen including the persecutor Saul who then became the preacher Paul; and Christians remember His death and resurrection as well as His promise to come again when we partake the Lord’s Supper on the first day of every week ( I Cor 11:23-26). May we hold on to the truth as revealed by God and not cause the truth to be confused by mixing it with myths and fables.

If you are upset by what has been written hereinabove, perhaps you should consider how you feel when people cause your children to lose faith in God and in Jesus Christ as the Son of God.