Published on December 3, 2018 by Joshua R Monroe

10Publishing, 2017 | 28 pages

A Book Review from Books At a Glance

By Kristin Stiles


Let me be frank. Those Christmas cards that depict Santa kneeling at the manger make me cringe. There’s something about blending the icon of the secular, materialistic holiday with God incarnate that sets my teeth on edge. So, when I saw the title of this book, When Santa learned the Gospel, I expected to be at least annoyed, if not offended. How very wrong I was. This book has won me over.

The story begins with an elf who pages through a Bible that is going to be a Christmas present to a little child. As she reads the pages, she is convicted of her sin and puts her trust in Jesus Christ. Being obedient to the Word, she then shares her simple faith with Santa as best as she can. This gets Santa thinking about his practice of assigning children to the nice or naughty list and how inclusion on the nice list is pretty much due to the children trying to be good. As he considers the gospel, he realizes that no one is good. No not one. Not even himself. It comes as quite a shock to Santa that he should be on the naughty list. As someone who has always rewarded the “good” children and given coal to the “bad,” Santa is even more taken aback that God would offer mercy and forgiveness to those who have done nothing to earn it. In fact, He sent His Son to die for the bad. The gift of salvation that God offers cannot be earned but is freely given. Santa’s entire worldview is shaken. In response, he humbles himself, repents, and places his faith in Jesus Christ. He then has a new mission: to share the message of the gospel with everyone.

I love this story! A child’s understanding of salvation can get so very distorted by the works righteousness that is neatly packaged in the character of our present day Santa. The message of the holiday becomes “be good or Santa won’t bring you any presents.” This is a direct contradiction to how God interacts with us. This book doesn’t shy away from clearly stating the fallen nature of every man, woman, and child. The free gift of salvation is so much sweeter when a child realizes that s/he cannot earn it and that s/he doesn’t deserve it, but that God, who is rich in mercy extends it to even the worst among us. What a wonderful representation of just how much better Jesus is than Santa.

In addition to the wonderful story, there are additional features that recommend this book. First of all, the illustrations are so enjoyable. The characters are colorful and have very clear expressions as they go through various emotions. There are touching pictures such as the hill of Calvary being depicted with the two crosses on the sides and then the cross in the middle being the highlighted ribbon crossing on the front of a gift; and there is the picture of Santa worshiping his Creator as he looks upon the northern lights. The book is just a joy to look through. Also, the book has a section in the back titled “Tricky Word Glossary.” What an intelligent decision to include this to help children who may not be familiar with the terms that we hear so often in church. Each word has a definition and also a Bible reference to go with it.

Finally, for the parents, there is a section titled “The Author’s Inspiration” that explains how Camilleri came up with this idea. I think it will resonate with most adults who have sat through a Christmas program that intermingles the secular with the sacred and leaves you disappointed with the mixed messages that were shared.

With all that said, I can’t recommend this book highly enough. What a fantastic story! I thank Mr. Camilleri for addressing this topic in such a clear and correct way. And I think that the next time I see a Christmas card with Santa kneeling at the manger, I will remember this story and I will imagine that Santa being this one who realized that the good news of the gospel is so much greater than “you better be good for goodness’ sake.”


Kristin Stiles is a home-school mom, a Sunday School teacher, and helps lead the “Young, Reading, & Reformed” children’s ministry at Reformed Baptist Church of Franconia, PA.

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When Santa Learned the Gospel

10Publishing, 2017 | 28 pages

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