Happy St. Nicholas Day! (AKA - punch a heretic in the face day!)
Most of us think of St. Nicholas as a plump happy old man who comes down a chimney. The reality is he punches heretics in the face. Taylor Marshall (our distinguished speaker for next semester) has more:
When President Teddy Roosevelt was a college student, he taught a Sunday School class for elementary school children. During this time, Roosevelt awarded a dollar to a boy in his Sunday School class for beating the snot out of a bully who tormented little girls. "You did exactly right," said Roosevelt with pride. However, the congregation disagreed. They immediately dismissed Roosevelt for teaching the "un-Christian" principle of laying the smack down on those who have it coming to them.
Well, if tradition is true, that little boy was also richly rewarded by Jolly Old Saint Nicholas since the good Saint Nick allegedly "h-slapped" ("heretic slapped") the heresiarch Arius. You see, Arius wrongly taught that Christ was not fully divine but rather a mere creature. Rather, Arius taught that Christ had been created by God the Father.
During the First Ecumenical Council of Nicea (AD 325), Arius was called upon to defend his position on the inferiority of Christ. Saint Nicholas just couldn't listen to all of Arius' nonsense and so he stood up and laid in to Arius with his fist.
The Emperor Constantine and the bishops present at the Council were alarmed by Nicholas' act of violence against Arius. They immediately stripped Nicholas of his office as a bishop by confiscating the two items that marked out a man as a Christian bishop: Nicholas' personal copy of the Gospels and his pallium (the vestment worn by all bishops in the East).
Now if that were the end of the story, we probably wouldn't know about Saint Nicholas, and our children wouldn't be asking him for presents.