It isn’t often that I am captivated by the “Author’s Note” of a book, but Trent Sheppard’s Jesus Journey: Shattering the Stained Glass Superhero and Discovering the Humanity of God has changed that. And it has given me a fresh vision of who Santa Claus really was, and he is so much cooler than I ever thought.
Did you know that Saint Nicholas (yes, that St. Nick) once punched a guy? According to tradition, it all went down at the Council of Nicaea in AD 325.
Church bishops were gathered from all over the empire. One of the main reasons they were in Nicaea was to discuss the nature of Jesus’ divinity. A popular and increasingly influential teacher named Arius was claiming that Jesus had been created by the Father, and Jesus the Son was lesser than and not equal to God.
But old St. Nick wasn’t having any of it.
In a fit of fury that flies in the face of our cherished images of Santa Claus, Saint Nicholas became so irate during the debate that he lost cool and smacked Arius in the face. (Talk about the Santa I never knew.)
Sheppard goes on to say that he disagreed with St. Nick methodology of violence, but agreed with his conclusion: Jesus, the Son of God, is one with and equal to the Father.
I couldn’t not share that story. The image of a red suited, jolly man (however inaccurate that may be) punching out a toga wearing guy was too funny to keep to myself. Especially when St. Nick was right on a major theological issue.