Search This Blog

Loading...

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Is Halloween for Christians?


This is a re-post.
 
God saves sinners by causing them to become born-again. In their new life with God, they will develop convictions about gray areas where allegedly the Bible is silent. For example, Christians, who grew up trick-or-treating, will learn biblical convictions to govern how they view Halloween. The aim of this Bible study is to highlight biblical principles for Christians to apply so that they can discern how to respond to the question of participating in Halloween. Here are some ways Christians have responded to the question, “How should a believer think about Halloween?”

  • “I don’t see anything wrong with it, if you do it just to have fun.”
  •  The Old Testament condemns participating in anything involving the occult, therefore, God hates it and so should Christians.
  • Well, Halloween does have occult roots, but if you take those out (e.g., Jack-O-Lanterns, scary costumes, etc.) then it’s okay to participate in it.
  • Numerous NT passages such as 2 Cor 6:17; Rev 21:8 apply the OT command to Christians to avoid pagan practices, so Christians should avoid it altogether.

Clearly, the first response, “I don’t see anything wrong with it, if you do it just to have fun,” is a wrong answer. Truth isn’t determined by our motives. Stealing doesn’t become okay because it’s done to feed one’s family. Relativistic thinking has eroded away the conviction that the Bible, not the Christian’s feeling, is the determinative authority for what believers can and cannot do. Christians have to judge all things biblically because Satan, who is very real and very evil, has a strategy to deceive us. He blurs the lines between right and wrong so that when people are doing wrong they believe they are doing what’s right or what’s morally acceptable. We have to test all things and be biblically discerning. Hopefully, answering the following questions biblically will help you determine a wise response to Halloween.

1st What is Halloween?

Although we don’t get the day off, Halloween is a real holiday. Holidays are dates recognized as having spiritual, cultural or religious significance and whose observation warrants celebration because of the achievement of some special person, group, or because of the significance of an event. Halloween became a holiday in Western culture through the influence of the Catholic Church. The term Halloween is a contraction of the phrase “All Hallows (as in saints) Evening,” also known as “All Hallows Eve.” It is a time when Catholics are called to celebrate/remember the dead, including martyred saints (hallows), and all faithful departed believers. Protestants refused to participate in Halloween. It was considered to be so evil that it was banned. However, as more and more Catholic Europeans came to the US, in the mid-19th century American culture incorporated the practice of celebrating Halloween and many Protestants eventually followed.

2nd Does Halloween have roots in paganism and the occult?

Although the historical accuracy of the details is vigorously debated, it appears that it does. Celebrations involving the dead around October 31st didn’t begin with the Catholics. It rather appears that they Christianized the ancient Celtic/Gaelic holy day of Samhain (sa-wain). Samhain, which in Irish meant the end of summer and the Harvest season in the Celtic calendar. Some allege that Samhain refers to “The Lord of the Dead.” Originally, the celebration of “Halloween, All Hallows Eve, Samhain, was about the death of summer; it is the funeral party for the end of the long, warm months,” Halloween's Irish history: Samhain Harvest Festival, Washington Times by Conor Higgins, Oct 29th 2013. Another name associated with Halloween is the Druids. They were the sorcerers, philosophers, scientists, theologians, and intellectuals of Celtic culture.

According to Higgins, “The Celts believed that on Samhain the veil between the living and the dead was dropped for one day, and the spirits of the living could intermingle with the spirits of the dead. It also has been speculated, that this feast was a celebration of the dead they had lost since the last Samhain. This would include warriors lost in battle, children lost at birth, the old, and the sick. All of the years’ dead would be celebrated. In hopes of guiding the spirits of their loved ones to their resting place, large bonfires would be lit to draw the spirits and provide them a path to the “other side.”

This Celtic celebration was converted to a Catholic celebration in the 7th Century AD. Many of the traditions we celebrate on Halloween come from that pagan celebration. Today, Wiccan, or modern-day witches, warlocks, and pagans, consider Samhain, or Halloween a high day of great importance. And as opposed to Christmas, they consider Halloween their holiday.

2.     Are some Halloween practices linked to the occult?

Have you ever wondered why people wear demonic/evil customs on Halloween? Because Halloween was considered to be the night when the line between the living and the dead was suspended and the spirits roamed the earth, to protect themselves, people would put on an evil mask/costume, put witches up on their doors in order to make the spirits think that they were one of them so they would pass by their houses. If the evil spirits stopped at your house, you’d have to pay them off with a treat or you would get tricked.

Discuss the following ways Halloween is celebrated today through a biblical lens:
·      Trick or Treating (parents let their kids go up to strangers’ houses and get food from them, not knowing what they are getting.)
·      Going to Halloween Parties
·      Visiting Haunted House/or Haunted Amusement Attractions
·      Carving pumpkins and putting them out in front of your house
·      Lighting Jack-O-Lanterns (this practice grew out of a legend of an evil man named Jack. It is purported that Jack met the Devil, got him drunk, and tricked him into giving him 10 more years. 10 years later, Jack tricked the Devil again into never taking his soul to Hell.  Jack died, Heaven refused to take him, and when Jack went down to Hell to try to gain entrance, the Devil politely reminded him of their deal. Instead, the Devil gave Jack an ember of Hell, and a hallow gourd for a lantern to illuminate a pathway through the Netherworld. And so w,hen the veil between the living and the dead is dropped on Samhain, we can see Stingy Jack of the Lantern (Jack O’ Lantern) trying to get into Heaven or Hell (Higgins).
·      Bobbing for Apples was a fortune-telling divination game that came from the Celtics, cf., W. H. Davenport Adams, Curiosities of Superstition: written in 1902.
·      Churches have hell houses where Christian leaders try to scare kids out of wanting to go to hell.
·      Animal sacrifices (Although no concrete evidence can substantiate this claim, many animal shelters around the country prohibit the adoption of black cats during the month of October in fear that they will be sacrificed in Halloween rituals (Snopes.com).

3.     What should we think about the occult?

In both the Old and New Testament the Bible explicitly prohibits Christians from participating in the occult. Read the following verses:

a.     Be Children of light, not darkness (1 Th. 5:5)
b.     What communion has light with darkness? (2 Cor. 6:14)
c.     Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. (Rom. 12:9)
d.     “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter” (Isa 5:20).
e.     The Lord equates Spiritual maturity with the ability to discern good and evil. “Stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults” (1 Cor 14:20). Also see, “But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:14).
f.      Thus says the LORD, “ Do not learn the way of the nations, and do not be terrified by the signs of the heavens,” Jer 10:2
g.      And many of those who practiced magic brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of everyone” (Acts 19:19).
h.     But for the cowardly and  unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in  the lake that burns with fire and  brimstone, which is the  second death” (Rev 21:8, cp. Gal 5:20)
i.      Deuteronomy 18:9-12.
Deut. 18:9 “When you come into the land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations.
Deut. 18:10 There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer,
Deut. 18:11 or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead.
Deut. 18:12 For all who do these things are an abomination to the LORD, and because of these abominations the LORD your God drives them out from before you.


4.     How is the occult influencing our families and churches?

Due to the influence of Hollywood and its increase of occult movies targeted at teens, many Christians have accepted the lie that the occult isn’t evil; it’s merely entertaining fantasy. What has been the result of Hollywood’s unabashed promotion of the occult? According to MTV News, it’s this: “Wicca is one of the fastest growing religions in America.” 

In 1Cor. 10:19-20 the apostle Paul warns, "What do I mean then? That a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or  that an idol is anything? No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they  sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons." What happens when people view occult movies, listen to music artist who are dabbling in the occult, play around with the dark side of Halloween? Why avoid all of that? Paul's answer is that demons are real and that by so-called just having fun, undiscerning participates can become partners with demons! 

5.     How should Christians respond to Halloween?
a)      Avoid it altogether.
b)  But don’t tell yourself, “It’s not a big deal if you are not intentionally worshipping demons,” and do it just to have fun. Satan and demons are real, and they don't give people a pass just because their intention is to have fun.
c)      Try to Christianize the non-cultic parts of it and use it evangelistically.
d)      Perhaps the best answer is all of the above! a) Avoid all of Halloweens occult symbols and practices. b) Don’t compromise with darkness. Fun is the worst excuse. c) Shine your light where Satan tries to cast darkness. Christians can thank God for the Fall too. Why would Christians pass on an opportunity to reach millions of kids knocking on their doors? Don't trick them but give them the treat of the Gospel with a little candy. 

I borrowed heavily from the below excellent resources: 


Friday, October 24, 2014

A Frank Discussion about Ferguson with TQ the Executive Director of P4CM






Why Wait for Justice in the Ferguson Michael Brown Shooting?

We need the Bible because it is truth. It is Truth with a capitol T, and it gives wisdom, wisdom we need in this fallen world. In the Bible the wisest man to ever lived warned:

Eccl. 3:16 Furthermore, I have seen under the sun that in the place of justice there is wickedness and in the place of righteousness there is wickedness.
Eccl. 3:17 I said to myself, God will judge both the righteous man and the wicked man,” for a time for every matter and for every deed is there.

And well did Martin Luther King Jr. add . . .
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea

So when justice is challenged as it is being challenged in Ferguson, every American is affected and every community needs to be careful not to rush to judgment in trying to arrive at justice. Cops can do wrong and citizens can wrongly provoke cops to use lethal force to stop them. And then there are thousands of scenarios in between both of these extremes. All Americans have a vested interest in making sure our system of justice in all of these scenarios gets justice right.

The Executive Director of P4CM and I try to navigate our way through the maze of obstacles standing in the way of finding justice in Ferguson. I pray that our discussion is helpful for you. Thank you for taking the time to listen.  
 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Chris Webb "Fairytale" at 2014 RHETORIC

RHETORIC 2014 didn't disappoint! And "Fairytale" by Chris Webb was  . . . amazing! Listen and see for yourself.  


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Bizzle's Response to Macklemore's "Same Love"

I'm a little late on this one. But just heard it today and thought it was worth sharing. 


Friday, July 25, 2014

What Songs Are in Your iPod?


“Musings about Biblical Musicology”

God inspired songs that please Him, and He calls His people to worship Him with music driven by biblically derived God-honoring lyrics (Phil 4:8-9).

According to 2Chron 29:25, “He (King Hezekiah) then stationed the Levites in the house of the LORD with cymbals, with harps and with lyres, according to the command of David and of Gad the king’s seer, and of Nathan the prophet; for the command was from the LORD through His prophets.” Worshipping God through music was therefore not done at the whim of David, although he was quite an accomplished musician and known for his passionate worship; nor was the music of Israel sung at the will of the prophets, though they were the spiritual leaders of Israel. God’s people are called to worship Him through music because God commanded that His people worship Him through singing songs that give Him glory.

The Book of Psalms, songs of praise written to music, is God’s inspired songbook. He gave it to His people for them to use to worship Him. In the NT, the Apostle Paul describes Christians filled with the Holy Spirit as “Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord,” Eph 5:19. His reference to Psalms in that verse is to the Psalms of the OT. “It may indeed be said that the purpose of the psalms is to turn the soul into a sort of burning bush, …” – Jaki, Praying the Psalms (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2001), 27. They seem to have been written to encourage the Israelites to walk with God and to worship Him while they awaited the Messiah—the coming Son of David—Jesus.

We know that the Psalms were played to music. Instruments are named and several of the musical notations are its texts (Ps 4:0; 6:0; 12:0; 150:3). However, only the words of the Psalms have been preserved by the Holy Spirit—not their musical scores. That’s important. Biblical worship through music is driven by the words and not by the beat or the cultural style of the music. In saying this, I fully affirm that music in and of itself is a cultural language. It is a language without words that in its known cultural context can communicate. It can soothe, inspire, sensualize etc. Hence the language of the music is not neutral. It will either complement or contradict the message of its song’s lyrics. And since the language of music is discerned through cultural awareness, its message can be hidden from those who do not understand its language. On the other hand, a listener raised under the cultural influence of a given genre of music, may so blindly accept it as his/her preferred style of music that s/he loses sight of dangers that others outside of that music’s cultural influence clearly and easily see.

Acceptable songs then, are first and foremost songs with God-honoring words, not simply songs that are played excellently and have a good hook or a catchy tune. It was said of the great theologian Augustine that he approved of putting the psalms to music, but whenever he found “the singing itself more moving than the truth which it conveys, … [he] preferred not to hear the singer.” – Stanley L. Jaki, Praying the Psalms, 5. There is an important lesson in Augustine’s conviction for us today. Without compromising excellence (for the singers and musicians in the Bible are called skillful [1 Chron 15:22; 25:7; Ps 33:3; 47:7; Isa 23:16]) we must teach ourselves, our children, and our churches that words make the song and not the music. If we don’t embrace this truth then our great enemy, Satan, will fill our hearts and minds with skillfully played music that he invents with powerful melodies laced with poisonous words that will ruin a heart for true worship.

The Bible’s collection of divinely inspired songs are inscripturated to inspire us to worship God, to teach us how to worship God, and to model how to safeguard and preserve true worship of God. Music is given as a gift from God to us to do many things and to serve us in many occasions, but we must not forget that its primary purpose is to ignite our hearts to passionately worship God and not to enflame the passions of our flesh. Knowing this, upload songs to your iPods that have lyrics that honor God.