Category Archives: Evil

The Christian and Halloween

Does Halloween have Christian roots?   The answer is, “No,” but it does have Christianity “grafted into it.” What we know as Halloween was originally celebrated before Christ was even born!  It goes back to the Celtic calendar in which the Celtic Tribes divided the year into the Dark Half (winter) and the Light Half (summer).  November 1st was recognized as the beginning of the New Year.  The celebration culminated the night before (October 31st) with a Druid feast called Samhain.  They would build and light a bonfire that they kept lit all winter in an effort to bring back the summer.  They also offer up sacrifices which even escalated into human sacrifices.

It was during Samhain that it was believed that the veil between this world and the world beyond was breached resulting in widespread fear and chaos. It was believed that demons, witches, hobgoblins, and elves were released in mass to reap havoc on the living. To avoid them, Druids would dress up as witches, devils, and ghouls, and would even involve themselves in demonic activities to make themselves immune from attack.  They also believed that it was possible for them to accidentally step into and get lost in the afterworld.

The Christian “Makeover”

Halloween as we know it, probably wouldn’t be around today if the Church had not tried to “Christianize” it.  As Christianity spread across Europe it re-imagined pagan folkways rather than trying to stomp them out. This made it easier to convert pagans.

The Church under Pope Gregory the Great issued an edict to all his missionaries in 601 A.D. that instead of changing pagan worship, they were to “transform” it into Christian worship.  (i.e. rather than telling pagans not to worship a tree, tell them to worship the tree as a “Christian” tree.)

This resulted in moving the Holy Day of, “All Hallows Day,” or, “All Saints Day,” from May 13th to November 1st in an effort to offer the people an alternative as well as an opportunity to celebrate and pray for the saints who have gone on before them.  The Protestants have since used the day to celebrate anyone who has died in the faith.

The old vestiges of Samhain never really went away and the night before All Hallows Day people still observed a lot of the same practices.   What a lot of people don’t realize is that the word, Halloween or Hallowe’en is a contraction of All Hallows’ Eve.

Should the Christian Celebrate Halloween?

Halloween has since developed a life of it’s own. It is constantly evolving.  I believe Halloween is one of those “Grey Areas,” for the Christian.

I am often deeply offended by the dark nature of Halloween.  There is no denying that Halloween has become a high day for the occult and it is a dangerous thing to dabble in such things.  As a result, I try to distance myself from the holiday.

My position…I don’t celebrate it.  Yet, at the same time, I don’t push strongly against it.

A lot of churches offer Christian Alternatives to Halloween such as Fall Festivals which can be a great alternative.  Some choose to observe October 31st as Reformation Day celebrating Martin Luther nailing his 95 Thesis against the Catholic Church on the Wittenberg door on October 31, 1517.

In his article, “Is Halloween Really Satan’s Birthday,” Greg Stier gives some great advice on dealing with Halloween:

1.  Don’t be a Legalist

2.  Use it as an opportunity to engage others for the Gospel

3.  Give lots of Candy to Neighborhood Kids.

 

There are literally TONS of material on the subject.  Some other Resources with a wide variety of views:

Halloween For Christians: Oppression or Opportunity by Hank Hanegraaff
http://www.christiananswers.net/q-eden/halloween.html
Chuck Thomas’ Reformation Day

 

 

“If I Were The Devil”

“If I Were The Devil,” by Paul Harvey (1999)

I would gain control of the most powerful nation in the world;

I would delude their minds into thinking that they had come from man’s effort, instead of God’s blessings;

I would promote an attitude of loving things and using people, instead of the other way around;

I would dupe entire states into relying on gambling for their state revenue;

I would convince people that character is not an issue when it comes to leadership;

I would make it legal to take the life of unborn babies;

I would make it socially acceptable to take one’s own life, and invent machines to make it convenient;

I would cheapen human life as much as possible so that life of animals are valued more than human beings;

I would take God out of the schools, where even the mention of His name was grounds for a lawsuit;

I would come up with drugs that sedate the mind and target the young, and I would get sports heroes to advertise them;

I would get control of the media, so that every night I could pollute the minds of every family member for my agenda;

I would attack then family, the backbone of any nation. I would make divorce acceptable and easy, even fashionable. If the family crumbles, so does the nation;

I would compel people to express their most depraved fantasies on canvas and movies screens, and I would call it art;

I would convince the world that people are born homosexuals, and that their lifestyles should be accepted and marveled;

I would convince the people that right and wrong are determined by a few who call themselves authorities and refer to their agendas as political correct;

I would persuade people that the church is irrelevant and out of date, the Bible is for the naive:

I would dull the minds of Christians, and make them believe that prayer is not important, and that faithfulness and obedience are optional;

I GUESS I WOULD LEAVE THINGS PRETTY MUCH THE WAY THEY ARE!


Meeting the World’s Needs…

I’ve been reading Max Lucado’s MAX ON LIFE in which he has compiled the questions that he has received throughout his ministry combined with his answers.

In one chapter (Chapter 28) he discusses how we have ample resources to reach out to the world.

Ours is the wealthiest generation of Christians ever. We are bright, educated, and experienced. We can travel around the world in twenty-four hours or send a message in a millisecond. We have the most sophisticated research and medicines at the tips of our fingers. We have ample resources. A mere 2 percent of the world’s grain harvest would be enough, if shared, to erase the problems of hunger and malnutrition around the world. There is enough food on the planet to offer every person twenty-five hundred calories of sustenance a day. We have enough food to feed the hungry.

And we have enough bedrooms to house the orphans. Here’s the math. There are 145 million orphans worldwide. Nearly 236 million people in the United States call themselves Christians. From a purely statistical standpoint, American Christians by themselves have the wherewithal to house every orphan in the world.

I don’t mean to oversimplify these terribly complicated questions. We can’t just snap our fingers and expect the grain to flow across borders or governments to permit foreign adoptions. Policies stalemate the best of efforts. International relations are strained. Corrupt officials snag the systems. I get that.

But this much is clear: the storehouse is stocked. The problem is not in the supply; the problem is in the distribution. God has given this generation, our generation, everything we need to alter the course of human suffering. – p. 34 Max on Life by Max Lucado

(Information cited is from UNICEF, The State of the World’s Children 2009 www.unicef.org/sowc09/report/report.php)

Lucado goes on to write that change needs to begin with the Christians… just as it started two thousand years ago with the transformation of the apostles, who gave up everything to take the gospel everywhere. Thanks for the challenge, Max!


JUSTICE… not vengeance!

“Good people celebrate when justice triumphs, but for the workers of evil it’s a bad day.” – Proverbs 21:15 (The Message)

Bin Ladden“Today, I celebrate justice, not vengeance. Peace, not violence. Closure for victims, not feelings of wrath. The end of an evil era, not the end of another child of God. I grieve that evil people continue to be at work in this world, and pray that we will continue to stand up against such evil. I pray, not for the destruction of evil people, but that they will repent and know Christ.” – From the Confessing Movement of the United Methodist Church

 


Why Didn’t God Do Something?

japan tsunamiIn the wake of disasters such as the recent Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan there are always people that ask the question, “Where was God and Why didn’t God do something?”   Those questions outline what theologians often call “The Problem of Evil.”  It’s been said that the “Problem of Evil,” is the Achilles Heel of Christianity and whereas it might appear so at first glance, I’m convinced that is not the case. Phillip Yancey in his book, Disappointed with God,” does a tremendous job on getting a handle on the Problem of Evil.

Yancey describes the Problem of Evil in the form of a simple little family prayer that you’ve probably heard growing up:  God is great, God is good.  What normally follows is: Let us thank Him for this food.  But to understand the problem of evil, Yancey changes it to: God is great, God is good, and there’s evil in the world.  You see, that’s really the issue of disappointment with God.  That little simple family prayer is filled with four statements of truth.

The first statement is that God Is.   It presupposes that there is a God who does exits.  A God who is real and personal.  The second statement is that God is Great.  He’s a God that doesn’t just exist, but a God who is all-powerful.  The third statement is that God is Good.  Meaning He’s all-loving.  And then the fourth statement is There’s Evil in the World. Meaning there’s pain and suffering.   Bad things happen to good people.

Now it doesn’t appear at first glance that all four of those statements can be true.  I mean is it possible for a God to be all-powerful and all-loving and for bad things to happen to good people?  So people have put out a lot of different so called solutions by eliminating one part or another in the equation.

  • One solution is just to do away with God.  (Atheism) Hey if you do away with God then you don’t really have a problem, right?
  • A second solution is to deny that God is great.  Such a person believes in God, but they believe that God I powerless.  This solution has been bought by millions of people in this culture by Harold Kushner in his book, “When Bad Things Happen to Good People.”  Kushner knows something about suffering.  His son contracted a rare disease that caused him to age prematurely and die in his teens and Kushner wrestled with anger and disappointment with God and finally concluded that God cared, He just couldn’t do anything about it.  The problem is what can a weak God do for us?  It does no good to bow down and worship Him.  How can we follow Him?  How can we trust Him?  How can we depend on Him. I like what Elie Vesel wrote when he critiqued Kushner’s book, “If that’s who God is, why doesn’t He resign and let someone take His place.
  • A third option is to deny that God is Good.  (a scary thought) If you don’t want to deny God or His greatness…deny His goodness.
  • A fourth option is just to live in self denial.  Just deny that there’s a problem.  This is the approach of the Christian Scientist. They say evil is just an illusion.  But this view has problems as well.  Like the little boy who went to his Christian Scientist Pastor and said, “Pastor, will you pray for my dad.  He’s home sick.”  At the pastor said, “Oh no, son.  You don’t understand.  Your dad just thinks he’s sick.  He doesn’t have enough faith.  Go home and tell him that.”  So the little boy comes back the next day and the pastor asks, “How’s your dad?”  And the little boy says, “He thinks he’s dead.”  It’s not my intention to make fun of any one’s religion, I just want to point out the problem to such a solution.  The fact of the matter is that bad things happen all around us and if your honest with yourself, you can’t deny it.

How does a Christian deal with the Problem of Evil?

1.   One option is to say, “We deserve what we get.” The reason why bad things happen to good people is simple, THEY DON’T… because none of us is good.  So we are all getting what we deserve.  One of the principles of the universe is that we reap what we sow Galatians 6:7, but to say that everyone who died in the Earthquake and Tsunami deserved it oversimplifies the problem and is just a little too callous for my taste. The truth is sometimes people get what they don’t deserve.    You can’t always draw a simple one to one correlation between cause and effect.

2.  Another option is something that Philip Yancey calls “The toxic waste in the water solution.” Picture for a moment all of us standing around Medina Lake for a moment and eachtoxic waste of us have a bucket and in that bucket is toxic waste; and imagine that that toxic waste is a picture of our sin.

Senerio one says that you will get sick if you drink from your own bucket… which makes sense. There definitely is some truth to that.  If I drink from my buck of toxic waste,  I’m going to get sick.

Senerio two places all of us on the edge of Medina Lake pouring our bucket of waste into the lake.  Suddenly I get thirsty and decide I want a drink, but as I look down at the lake I’m like, “I’m not drinking that, I know what I put in it.”  So I walk down to the other side of the lake and I take a big glass out of that lake and drink it and I get sick and suddenly I get angry, “That’s not fair! I’m not reaping the consequences of my junk.  My junk is on the other side of the lake.  I’m drinking your junk!”

This solution does make a little more sense out of the problem because now I realize that I may not be getting a direct payback for what I did, but the truth is I have put more than enough junk into that lake to not only kill me, but everyone else and if I get sick… I’m just getting back what I deserve in general.  Someone once said, “Anything I get that is better than hell is a gift.

3.  A third option is to say that Bad Things Will Become Good Things.  This is the idea behind Romans 8:28

Romans 8:28
28
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

This option acknowledges that things may be bad… but it has hope that over time by God’s grace, that God will make something good out of those bad things. Probably every single one of us can look back at some event in the past and see how God has taken something bad in our lives and turned it into something good.  However there might be some of you that are still waiting and that’s where faith comes in.  Faith that somehow, someway, when we all get to the other side of this thing called life… God will make sense out of everything that confuses us.

I’ve often said that when I walk into heaven there’s going to be a big RED MARK on my head from me slapping my forehead with the palm of my hand and saying, “Oh… NOW I get it!”  The Bible says that we see in a mirror dimly, but there will come a time when we shall see clearly.

My guess that about half of you are comfortable with these three options and that’s because half of us lead with our heads.  We’re thinkers and these thoughts satisfy our soul.

However the other half lead with the heart. For those that lead with their heart, the problem of evil is not so much an intellectual problem as much as it is a heart problem.  It’s not so much that you need to know something, but rather you need to know someONE.

Imagine you have a toddler (mine are all teenagers… PRAY FOR ME!)  and that toddler walks up and sticks his finger in an electric socket and shocks himself.  The last thing that little guy needs is for someone to come up to him and try to explain the fundamentals of electricity.  For one thing, he’s not likely to understand it, but even more than that what he needs is for someone to comfort him.

When it comes to the problem of evil, I am convinced that none us can completely understand the answer, but even if we could… more than an answer, we need the ANSWERer.

I use to be so bent on having an answer to every problem in the world, but I’ve now come to the point in my spiritual life that I feel that I don’t have to know the answer to everything.  I’ve found that it’s enough for me just to know WHO has all the answers.  I would much rather know the AnswerER!  The insight is this:  The answerER has come in the person of Jesus Christ.

Similar Articles:
Charles Wesley on the Cause and Cure of Earthquakes
A Christian’s Reaction to the Crisis in Japan
Japan’s Earthquake and the Will of God
by Adam Hamilton
Is Adam Hamilton Right About God and Japan?
Poll: Nearly 4 in 10 Americans say Natural Disasters Sign From God (Fox News)