Trick or Treat? (reposted from two years ago)

We opt out.  Eight reasons:

  1. Few celebrations of Hallowe’en really involve witchcraft, but many treat it as a joke, something to be imitated in fun, rather than a serious evil.
  2. Many celebrations place an unhealthy emphasis on death and evil.
  3. Often there is a horribly skewed perception of life after death, which is also treated as a joke, a costume to wear, rather than a vital reality which must be considered.
  4. Sending children around to beg sweets can lead to wrong attitudes about sweets (and about neighbours).  I never wanted to encourage that in my kids, or other kids.
  5. It has become dangerous as people have done malicious things to children.
  6. The “trick” threat of vandalism too often becomes reality.
  7. There are many other evil things in the ways people have taken to celebrating it with which I don’t want to be identified.
  8. We don’t need it.  We can do fun things together as a family instead.

Note:  I did not include pagan origins on the list.  The dangers of ancient paganism are minor compared to every day dangers of current pagan atheism, materialism, and hedonism.  Many reject Hallowe’en over pagan origins but welcome modern pagan influences in thinking and entertainment.  Focusing on ancient pagan origins of various things is often a trick of the adversary to distract from the real dangers around us.

Though I don’t see any Scripture directly forbidding Hallowe’en, you could easily drift into celebrating it in ways that violate Scripture, without even really trying to do so.  But rather than ask if Scripture forbids it, we might ask what is the value, compared to the problems?

A year ago, some readers may remember, I linked to an article that says women are able to “time births” and that fewer children are born on Hallowe’en — out of 1.8 million births, there were 11.8% fewer on 31 October.  The final two paragraphs:

She added that mothers perhaps subconsciously wanted to avoid Halloween because of its associations with death and evil.

Levy said: “It evokes fear on some level.”

That isn’t a kill-joy, hyper-strict moralist, it is a Yale University researcher, telling us that Hallowe’en has associations with death and evil.  She is right.  Expectant mothers may subconsciously avoid it, but our family will consciously do so.

(Originally posted 31 October 2012)

Added this year:  our church takes no position on Hallowe’en.  I do not teach that Christians must avoid this.  This is the decision I have taken for our family.  I do not believe it is necessarily wrong (as long as a person avoids the sinful ways so many people celebrate it), but I do believe it is unwise for the reasons given.  Since I have no obligation or commitment requiring me to take part, I choose to opt out.  It is what I would recommend to others, for reasons of wisdom rather than because the Scriptures command it.

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Roman Catholics, Evolution, Homosexuality, and the Religion of ME

The Roman Catholic Church has again been revealing just how far it is from Biblical Christianity.  Pope Francis has spoken out in support of evolution and/or the big bang theory in regard to the origins of the universe and of man.  And at their recent conference on the family, things were said that showed a growing openness to homosexuality.

These are disturbing developments to those who have seen the RCC as an ally in the political battles fought in recent years over what will be taught in the schools, and whether the force of law will be used to force Christians and others to accept homosexual sin as “normal” and appropriate behaviour.  And they are surprising developments for those who have seen Roman Catholicism as just another Christian denomination with a few weird traditions like a pope and celibate priesthood, and some funny ideas about Mary and the saints.  For those who know their Bibles, and the history and teachings of Roman Catholicism, this is neither surprising nor troubling.

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Scripture Testimonies — 26 October 2014

Explanation:  The last Sunday of the month, we have Scripture reading testimonies in our church — no comments, just reading Scripture that people have read in the last week or two. It is profitable, interesting, and encouraging to see where people have been reading. It encourages any who haven’t been reading to read. And it encourages people to think, as they read, of what would be encouraging or challenging for others.

We believe we should be praying for each other, and that we should be reading the Scriptures.  The person doing both of those things regularly will encounter Scriptures they would like to give to those for whom they are praying.  This gives an opportunity to do that.

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“I Know No Other Jesus”

James Gray lived and served the Lord at a time when what is now known as “liberal theology” was on the rise.  There have always been those who denied that Jesus Christ was anything more than a man — but those who made such claims didn’t pretend to be Christians.

In the last half of the nineteenth century, though, a movement among those who called themselves Christian theologians began to increase in numbers and influence.  They taught that Jesus was not God, but He was special.  He had come, they said, not as the Son of God, but as an example, the “ideal” of what a man should be.  They usually denied His miracles, claiming that their importance was not whether they actually happened, but rather that the stories of miracles helped us to see Jesus as a model to follow.

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Curing “Oh My Goodness!”

Mark Escalera at Defending. Contending. ran (with permission) my post, “OMG” — and Other Ways Christians Take God’s Name in Vain (this continues to be, by far, my most shared post).  In the comments at DefCon someone said she has tried to break the habit of saying, “Oh my goodness!”

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The Cities of Judah

The kind of thing that happens when God’s people don’t listen, don’t obey, don’t trust Him:

Isaiah 6:11

Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate,

Isaiah 36:1

Now it came to pass in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah, that Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the defenced cities of Judah, and took them.

The kind of thing that happens when a faithful God keeps His promises despite the sin and unbelief of those who should follow Him:

Isaiah 40:9

O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!

Isaiah 44:26

That confirmeth the word of his servant, and performeth the counsel of his messengers; that saith to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be inhabited; and to the cities of Judah, Ye shall be built, and I will raise up the decayed places thereof:

 

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“Or Why as Shepherd, He Should Seek the Wanderers”

Today, my text was Isaiah 40:3-11.  Verse 11 says:

He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.

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