Tag Archives: spirituality
Spooky costumes, chocolate candies, and glowing pumpkins were not always what Halloween was all about. Unknown to most Americans, Halloween also has a Christian background despite its deepest roots being decidedly pagan.
Halloween is short for All Hallow’s Eve and marks the night before All Saints’ Day. Christians, in an effort to counter pagan rituals to death and evil spirits, created an alternative tradition – All Hallow’s Day on Nov. 1.
The tradition dates back to the time of the first Christian martyrs. According to third century historian Eusebius, second century Christian bishop Polycarp had kindly greeted and set a table of food for the soldiers who came to his house to arrest him in exchange for an hour to pray.
When Polycarp was taken to the coliseum he was pressed to denounce his faith, but instead said: “For eighty-six years, I have been [Christ’s] servant, and He has never done me wrong: How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?”
Polycarp, who was a disciple of Apostle John, was said to have been offering up prayers of faith and praise while people prepared to burn him alive.
Following his death, Christians gathered annually at Polycarp’s grave to remember his brave witness and gain courage through his example.
Gradually the day shifted focus to remembering all martyrs and the Church created the holiday to honor all of God’s saints in the seventh century.
In the 16th century, church reformer Martin Luther began the Reformation on Halloween, Oct. 31, 1517, by declaring that the church must return to the authority of God’s Word and to biblical doctrine.
However, modern Halloween has become a day associated with darkness and secularism. The Oct. 31 holiday is said to be only second to Christmas in terms of economic activity.
Halloween is responsible for some 4-6 billion dollars each year, according to “horror historian” David J. Skal. Halloween is also said to be the second most important party night in North America, according to historian Nicholas Rogers.
“Sure, go ahead and let the kids dress up like Batman and hit up your neighbors for candy,” wrote Chuck Colson, chairman and founder of Prison Fellowship Ministry, in a column on Halloween. “But when the hoopla of modern Halloween is over, encourage your kids to imitate some real heroes – not in what they put on, but in how they live their lives.”
A Gallup Poll this week found that 84 percent of Americans will spend money on costumes, decoration, or candy for Halloween, while only 16 percent say they will not spend anything. The average household spending for Halloween is $52 and rises to $82 for households with children under 18 years old, according to Gallup. (https://www.christianpost.com/news/halloween-the-unpopular-christian-story-29906/)
A psalm of David.
3 Set a guard over my mouth, Lord;
keep watch over the door of my lips.
4 Do not let my heart be drawn to what is evil
so that I take part in wicked deeds
along with those who are evildoers;
do not let me eat their delicacies.
5 Let a righteous man strike me—that is a kindness;
let him rebuke me—that is oil on my head.
My head will not refuse it,
for my prayer will still be against the deeds of evildoers.
6 Their rulers will be thrown down from the cliffs,
and the wicked will learn that my words were well spoken.
7 They will say, “As one plows and breaks up the earth,
so our bones have been scattered at the mouth of the grave.”
8 But my eyes are fixed on you, Sovereign Lord;
in you I take refuge—do not give me over to death.
9 Keep me safe from the traps set by evildoers,
from the snares they have laid for me.
10 Let the wicked fall into their own nets,
while I pass by in safety.
1 I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in him.
4 Blessed is the one
who trusts in the Lord,
who does not look to the proud,
to those who turn aside to false gods.
5 Many, Lord my God,
are the wonders you have done,
the things you planned for us.
None can compare with you;
were I to speak and tell of your deeds,
they would be too many to declare.
6 Sacrifice and offering you did not desire—
but my ears you have opened—
burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require.
7 Then I said, “Here I am, I have come—
it is written about me in the scroll.
8 I desire to do your will, my God;
your law is within my heart.”
9 I proclaim your saving acts in the great assembly;
I do not seal my lips, Lord,
as you know.
10 I do not hide your righteousness in my heart;
I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help.
I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness
from the great assembly.
11 Do not withhold your mercy from me, Lord;
may your love and faithfulness always protect me.
12 For troubles without number surround me;
my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see.
They are more than the hairs of my head,
and my heart fails within me.
13 Be pleased to save me, Lord;
come quickly, Lord, to help me.
14 May all who want to take my life
be put to shame and confusion;
may all who desire my ruin
be turned back in disgrace.
15 May those who say to me, “Aha! Aha!”
be appalled at their own shame.
16 But may all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who long for your saving help always say,
“The Lord is great!”
17 But as for me, I am poor and needy;
may the Lord think of me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
you are my God, do not delay.
The commercialization of celestial beings — who would have ever thought we could come up with that?! Angels are real, but as Thomas Howard somewhere says, they are none of our business most of the time!
Hebrews 1 emphasizes the fact that all the angels of God are to worship the Lord Jesus! He is to be the center of our attention. That’s true spirituality!
Here’s the short video of Bell on Oprah’s “Soul Sunday.”
I asked for your thoughts. Here are a few of mine. I have been highly critical of Bell since his book Love Wins came out a couple of years ago. I believe his “spirituality” has veered far away from biblical Christianity and try to prove my case in my booklet Farewell, Rob Bell.
Here are a couple of notes I took on the questions Oprah asked Rob and the answers he gave:
Oprah: The difference between religion and spirituality? Bell: “Religion is people don’t want to go to hell; spirituality is people who’ve been to hell already.”
Oprah: What’s one lesson that’s been the hardest for you to learn? Bell: “That’s there’s nothing to prove! All we have to do is enjoy.”
Oprah: What do you think happens when we die? Bell: “There’s a ton of [greeting] all these people. Meeting my grandpa [is more exciting to me] than meeting God.”
Oprah: What do you know for sure? Bell: “That you can say yes to this moment & experience a joy that can’t be put into words.”
Bell: “I believe that we’re going to be fine.”
Oprah: God is ________ Bell: “Love. Stick to that one.”
Oprah: My favorite thing to do on Sunday morning ________ Bell: “Going surfing with his 13 year old.”
My thoughts on this short video: I’m sure I don’t understand the arrangement between Rob Bell and Oprah for her Sunday morning show. It appears that short interviews with him will be a semi-regular feature, sound bites which fit into Oprah’s approach to spirituality.
Part of me wants to be grateful that someone professing to be a follower of Jesus is actually having a regular audience with the billionaire woman who has impacted the spiritual perspective of millions of people. A greater part of me grieves that he seems to be fitting in nicely with her New Age advocacy of “the All,” clearly rejecting the exclusive Good News of the Christian gospel.
The interview segments provide no opportunity for Bell to elaborate on what he means by “we’re going to be fine,” for example. I believe Bell’s universalism (that all will eventually be saved) may well stand behind his comment, but I don’t know. One could argue that Bell has “sold out” the gospel, refusing to speak clearly of Jesus to the one influential woman who needs to bow to the Lordship of Christ. (to be continued)