October 31, 1517: The First Reformation Day

For many people, October 31 is a time to celebrate a pagan holiday that has its origins in idolatry and witchcraft. However, for others (generally of the Reformed persuasion), it is a time to commemorate the work of Martin Luther and the Reformation, as it was on October 31 that Luther pounded his 95 Theses upon the cathedral door in Wittenberg. In this blog post, I will briefly introduce how Martin Luther came to write his Theses, what the Theses taught, and the response to those Theses.

You could say that it all began while Martin Luther was travelling to Erfurt one evening. During his travels a terrible storm arose. After having one of his friends die by either lightning or a duel Luther was afraid that he would die as well. He pleaded with St. Anne to save his life, swearing that if he was saved he would become a monk. It seems it was God’s will that Luther become a monk in order for it to be proved by his own personal experience that the Roman Catholic Church offers no comfort.

Luther as an Augustinian Monk

Luther as an Augustinian Monk

Luther joined the Augustinian Order of July 16, 1505.He threw himself into the regime of a monk with his whole heart. He was extremely strict with maintaining the rules of self-sacrifice and denying himself of all earthly comfort. He would beat himself with a whip, wear rough clothing, starve himself, and sleep outside in the winter with very few clothes. One time his friends had to quickly drag him back inside before he froze to death. Although he was a monk’s monk he never received any comfort or peace for his soul. He appeared constantly at the confessional always confessing his sins. Even the minutest sins he felt compelled to confess. Finally his confessor told him to commit something worth confessing, or stop bothering him.

God in His ultimate wisdom sent Johann von Staupitz to Luther, who helped him keep his sanity.  Johann was the vicar general of the monastery. He knew a great deal about the Bible’s teachings on salvation and was considered a devout mystic. Johann directed Luther to the Scriptures and the forgiveness of sins through the cross. He encouraged Luther to become a priest and to study to become a Doctor of Theology. Luther in response said, “Your honour, Mr. Staupitz, you will deprive me of my life.” Staupitz replied, “Quite all right. God has plenty of work for clever men to do in heaven” (Hanko, 1999, p. 125).

In 1507, Luther entered the priesthood. One year later he was asked to teach theology at the University of Wittenberg. In 1512, he received a Doctors Degree in Theology. He taught his students from the books of the Psalms, Romans, Galatians, and Hebrews. Since Luther had open access to the Scriptures he began to see differences between what the Church taught and what the Bible taught. Eventually Luther came to see, by the grace of God, that salvation was by faith in Christ’s death on the cross; on which Christ suffered all the torments of hell that the elect deserve.

Indulgence slip

Indulgence slip

Luther became especially angered by the sale of indulgences. Indulgences were the Church’s easy remedy for sin. Buy a slip of paper and your sins could be forgiven! As easy as one, two, three and none of the tedious penance work. Johann Tetzel was the salesman for Indulgences during Luther’s time. He even managed to create a marketing slogan to sell them; he would call out, “As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs” (Sears, 2010, p. 197). He also said that, “the red cross of indulgence with the papal coat of arms, when erected in the church, had as much efficacy as the cross of Christ.” Not only that, but the Indulgence he sold could by the “grace and power from the pope, that though one had corrupted the Holy Virgin Mary, the mother of God, he could grant forgiveness . . . . provided the individual put into the box the proper amount of money” (Sears, 2010, p.197). But the work of Johann Tetzel tells us what the Indulgences were really about. It was not about the church wanting to have sins forgiven. It was the church wanting money. Pope Leo’s treasuries were empty and he was building his marvelous St. Peter’s Basilica. He needed money to complete the building project, so he went to selling indulgences.

This stirred up the wrath of Luther. The members of his parish were no longer coming to him to confess their sins or coming to his sermons. They just showed Luther the slip of paper they had which told them everything was alright regarding their salvation. Luther knew this was not right and it was by no means a small issue. This was about salvation. Luther in response to the sale of Indulgences wrote his 95 Theses.On October 31, 1517 Luther pounded his Theses on the door of the Cathedral in Wittenberg. It was quite a common academic practice to place discussion topics and articles on the cathedral door. The Theses were meant for discussion and debate among the academics of the town. Luther says this right on the Theses, “. . . the following propositions will be discussed at Wittenberg. . . . Wherefore he requests that those who are unable to be present and debate orally with us, may do so by letter” (Nichols, 2002, p.23). But it did not remain a discussion among the academics; it spread to a lot more people than just that. In days the Theses were being reprinted and distributed to everyone.

Luther, in his first point of the Theses, immediately strikes a heavy blow against Indulgences. He said the believer is called to a life of repentance. Thus, he is saying that Indulgences do not encourage repentance. They encourage moral slothfulness and laxity. Christ calls us to repent. Further not just a one-time repentance, but to live an entire life of repentance.

He next attacks the supremacy of the pope, saying “the pope cannot remit any guilt, except that it has been remitted by God and by assenting to God’s work of remission.” (Nichols, 2002, p.25) Roman Catholic theology taught that guilt could only be forgiven by God, whereas the penalty of sin could be forgiven in this life through Indulgences or paid for in purgatory. However, Indulgence preachers such as Tetzel proclaimed that Indulgences could forgive guilt.

In Article 7, of the Theses it is still apparent that Luther has not come to the truth of the Priesthood of All Believers, as he approves the use priests as mediators between God and man. Throughout Articles 14 – 24 Luther specifically attacks the abuse of Indulgences. He does this through questioning the legitimacy of buying Indulgences for those already dead. It was one of the features of Pope Leo’s Indulgence that it could forgive sins of those already dead and thus free them from purgatory.

Luther argues that the Church has no authority in death. He says that complete remission of all penalties suffered in purgatory can probably be only remitted to the most perfect i.e. the very few. (Article 23). Luther concludes this section by saying that “the greater part of the people are necessarily deceived by that . . . promise of release from purgatory.” (Art. 24)

Luther proclaims those who preach indulgences to be in error. Luther mocks the marketing jingle that was quoted previously saying that “It is certain that when the coin jingles into the money-box, greed and avarice can be increased” (Art. 28) He states that, “They will be condemned eternally, together with their teachers, who believe themselves sure of their salvation because they have letters of pardon.” (Article 32). In Article 39, Luther mentions the problem that he himself was having with Indulgences, being a priest. How can one order acts of penance to be done and at the same time have a free forgiveness? It is an absurd paradox!

In Articles 42 – 51, Luther engages in what Christians should be taught about Indulgences. Rather than spending their money on Indulgences they should be giving it to the poor. He goes as far to say that those who pass a begging man to instead give their money to buy Indulgences, buy the judgment of God. (Art. 43, 45) Christian are supposed to use their money for their families first, then if they have any money left, they can buy Indulgences. (Article 46) Luther says that Indulgences are useful only if Christians are taught that they are not supposed to put their trust in them, but put their trust in God.

That Luther had not yet come to a firm opinion about the use of Indulgences is apparent. This is especially obvious in Article 71, where he says, “Let him who speaks against the truth of papal pardons be anathema and accursed!” Luther at this time still believed that there was such a thing as a useful indulgence, but vehemently condemned their abuse.

Some of the very last points on the Theses are series of questions against the Roman Catholic teachings. Such as: Why does the pope not empty purgatory if he has that power? (Article 82) Why are masses said for the dead? (Art. 83) Why does the pope not build the Basilica of St. Peter with his own money rather than using the money from the poor? (Art. 86)

Initially, not much happened after Luther published his Theses. When the Pope heard of the Theses he simply considered it as a monk’s dispute. Eventually however, several meetings were called to discuss the Theses.

The first of such was the Heidelberg Disputation. This was a gathering of the Augustinian Order in 1518, to discuss the Theses. Martin Luther also used this time to challenge the churches teaching on freewill and the merit of good works. Nothing much really happened out of this besides Luther gaining several friends. One of whom was Martin Bucer who would eventually bring the Reformation to the city of Strasbourg.

After the debate Rome began to look more closely into the issue. They ordered a man named Prierio to answer the Theses. He attempted to write a tract to refute the teachings of Luther, but rather than basing his arguments on Scripture, he largely appealed to the authority of the church and its councils. He said, “Whoever does not rely on the teaching of the Roman Church and of the Roman Pontiff, as the infallible rule of faith, from which the Holy Scriptures themselves derive their strength and authority, is a heretic” ((Hanko, 1999, p. 126).

Then the Pope ordered Luther to go to Rome where they could examine his views. Frederick, the Elector of Saxony, refused to let Luther go. He would become Luther’s protector throughout the Reformation. Since Luther would not go to Rome, Rome came to him through a man named John Eck in 1519.

The debate between Luther and Eck has come to be known as the Leipzig Disputation. This did not go very well for Luther. Eck was very skilled in debate and thus won the discussion. The discussion simply ended in Luther being accused of Hussitism.

Exurge Domine

Exurge Domine

All these debates eventually climaxed into the issuing of the Bull of Excommunication by the Roman Catholic Church in 1520. The Bull, called Exurge Domine (Arise of Lord), mentions one of the Pope’s favorite pastimes; hunting wild boar. The Pope calls on God to, “Arise, O Lord and judge Thy cause. A wild boar has invaded thy vineyard” (Shelley, 2008, p. 237). Almost all of Luther’s teaching were condemned and deemed heretical by the Bull. As the Bull made its way throughout Germany it received opposition. At Erfurt, the students threw copies of the Bull in the water to see if it would float. Other times the bearers of Exurge Domine had to hide because their lives were in danger. Luther himself responded by burning the Bull with the works by Roman Catholic theologians. He said, “They have burned my books, I burn theirs.” (Shelley, 2008, p. 237)

All these different responses eventually climaxed into the Diet of Worms in 1521. The Diet of Worms was a meeting of all the various dignitaries from Germany to decide once and for all what to do about Luther. Luther had a safe-conduct from Charles V. Luther later remarked, “I was fearless, I was afraid of nothing; God can make one so desperately bold, I know not whether I could be so cheerful now.” (Hanko, 1999, p. 127 – 128) Luther was not asked to defend his position, but was simply asked whether the books on the table before him were his. Luther said they were his. Next he was asked if he was willing to recant his teachings and beliefs. Luther asked for a day to consider the proposition. The Diet responded that he must reply by tomorrow. The next day as Luther was walking down the hall to the room where he was going to respond an old warrior came up to him. He told Luther, “My poor monk, thou art going to make such a stand as neither I nor any of my companions in arms have ever done in our hottest battles. If thou art sure of the justice of thy cause, then forward in God’s name, and be of good courage: God will not forsake thee” (Hanko, 1999, p. 128). Luther told the Diet the words that have become famous.

“Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am conquered by the Holy Scriptures quoted by me, and my conscience is bound in the word of God: I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise. God help me! Amen.”

Luther Before the Diet

Luther Before the Diet

The Diet did not receive the right number of votes to have Luther put to death and thus he was never put to death by the Church.

Luther’s stand for the truth caused a dramatic reformation in Christianity. It must be remembered however, that Luther did none of this in his own strength. It was all by the grace and providence of God. God in His ultimate wisdom gave Luther the boldness to stand against thousands and proclaim the truth that salvation is by faith alone. This Reformation Day, we should not so much hail the achievements and boldness of Luther, but we should praise and give thanks to the Lord for granting Luther that boldness. For, without the grace of God, we would be nothing but weak and sinful men, guided by this and that sinful desire. Thanks be to God for His wisdom and grace!

 

Bibliography

  1. Hanko, Herman. Portraits of Faithful Saints. Grandville Michigan: Reformed Free Publishing Association, 1999
  2. Nichols, Stephen. Martin Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses. New Jersey: P&R Publishing, 2002
  3. Luther, Martin. The Table Talk of Martin Luther. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1979
  4. Sears, Barnas. The Life of Luther. Green Forest, Arkansas: Attic Books, 2010
  5. Shelley, Bruce. Church History in Plain Language Third Edition. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, 2008

Christ – The Power of the Pulpit

“Yet is this the truth which gives the pulpit all its power. Its facts, its doctrines, its duties, its scrutiny, its rebukes, its invitations, its threatening, its promises, its consolations, its motives, its worship, its ordinances, and more than all, its ATONING SAVIOUR, himself the beginning and the end, the first and the last – this is the truth which constitutes the power of the pulpit. ‘I have determined to know nothing among you’, says the great Apostle of the Gentiles, ‘save Jesus Christ, and him crucified’. The pulpit is powerless where the cross of Christ is not magnified. Christ must be the theme, the scope, the life, the soul of the pulpit. It may have literature, and the enticing words which man’s ‘wisdom teacheth’; but it has no powerful attraction of God’s truth, where Christ is wanting. The preacher may not hope to see the strong cords of earth broken, the fetters of gold dissolved, or any of the fascinations of sin disturbed by which the spell-bound mind is held in bondage, until he throws around it the stronger attractions of redeeming love. There is a wondrous power in the pulpit where the cross is lifted up, and where, instead of attracting men to himself, the minister of God would fain attract them to his and their Saviour. What savours not of the cross of Christ, belongs not to the work of a Christian minister. A sinner, saved by grace, who is a preacher of glad tidings to his fellow-men, will keep as near the cross as he can. He may sometimes make a larger circuit around it that at other times because it unfolds ‘the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God’; but his favourite themes are drawn from it, and the arrows he makes the most use of are dipped in its blood. ‘Christ is my armoury’, says the lovely preacher, McCheyne, ‘I go to him for the whole armour of God – the armour of light. My sword and my buckler, my sling and my stone are all laid up in Jesus’. In no other way can the dark depraved, obdurate mind be brought under the enlightening , convincing, converting, sustaining, purifying influence of God’s truth.”

The Power of the Pulpit by Gardiner Spring

Socrates, Death, Dualism, and Christianity

(Below is a paper I wrote for my philosophy class. I decided to publish it because there are Christians who consider man to be a dualistic creature. Often the body is considered to be a great evil and the soul the only thing that matters. However, as I argue in the paper, that is not what the Bible teaches, rather that is the influence of pagan Greek philosophy on the Christian faith.)

This paper will examine Socrates’ view and philosophy of death and refute his views from a Christian perspective.  In considering his views, three things will be looked at. First, his attitude toward death and the justification of that mindset will be reflected upon. Second, the implication of his dualistic view of the body and soul will be considered with respect to Socrates’ own life. Finally, a repudiation of his view from a Christian stance will be given.

Let us first look at Socrates’ attitude toward death. Socrates, quite remarkably, has a very positive view on death. He believes that philosophers should be ready and willing to die, as they will go onto a better life than the one they lived on earth. Philosophers will go to the wise and good gods as Socrates says (Phaedo, 63c). Not only that, but Socrates believes that he will be able to talk with all the heroes of the past, such as Achilles and find out the true meaning of courage. That is one of the reasons why Socrates does not resent death, but fully embraces it.

Second, it is only when the soul is separated from the body that the philosopher will be able to learn true knowledge. That is because whenever, “it [the soul] attempts to examine anything with the body, it is clearly deceived by it (Phaedo, 65b)”. It is impossible to truly grasp Justice, Beauty, Piety, and all the forms by looking at something with your eyes, or hearing something with your ears. One must only use his thoughts and reasoning to arrive at the proper definition of the forms.

Further, Socrates says that, “. . . the aim of those who practice philosophy in the proper manner is to practice for dying and death (Phaedo, 64)”. That is because it is only possible to gain knowledge when the soul is separated from the body. Thus, the philosopher, practices his whole life to be free from the body. Socrates does not think it is the duty of the philosopher to be concerned with the carnal and the physical pleasures of life such as sex, food, and drink. The body is nothing but a hindrance to the gaining of true knowledge and wisdom precisely because it has all these wants and cares. The cares of proper nourishment and shelter all keep the true philosopher from being able to devote all his time to the pursuit of wisdom.

Therefore, death is simply the path that leads the philosopher to knowledge. If the philosopher has been preparing for death all his life, there is no reason that he should fear it when it comes. It would be absurd if one who prepares for death all his life resents it when it comes.

Having said all that, now it is time to consider what implications such a dualistic view of the body and soul actually mean in practical terms. An excellent example of a man who lived such a life is found in Socrates himself. All Socrates seemed to care for in his life was the pursuit of wisdom, apart from the needs of the body. When the Oracle of Delphi said that there was no one wiser than Socrates, Socrates determined to find out what the Oracle meant. He quit his work as a craftsman of idols and went around seeing if there was anyone wiser than he was. Needless to say, he found no one wiser than himself and he set himself to the task of trying to make Athens see that they were not wise at all. In doing so, he lived a life of abject poverty with his wife and children. It also seems that his wife plays very little role in his life. He sends her away in the last hours of his life, preferring to discuss philosophy with his pupils. His dualistic view means that everything is secondary in one’s life, expect for the pursuit of wisdom and knowledge of the forms. Caring for one’s family is only secondary to the search of knowledge. So if Socrates’ dualistic philosophy is properly followed, relationships and families must become subordinate.

Further, Socrates’ view of death means that one must have a very negative view on life and living. That may be exactly why he acted so arrogant and rude during his trial. He wanted to die, so that he could reach a higher plateau as a philosopher. He pushed the jury to use capital punishment. If that is not the case he would be a hypocrite in demanding that the city of Athens rather than kill him, supply him with high-class meals and take care of all his physical wants (Apology, 36d). He would be a hypocrite because he says a philosopher must not pursue after the pleasures of food and drink (Phaedo, 64e – d).

Also, with Socrates’ view of the “evils” (Socrates does not view them as evil in themselves, but the wrong desires of the soul make the body evil) of the body and sensual pleasures, means that one must almost live like a hermit or a monk. He must deprive himself of good food, hearty drinks, and romantic companionship. Only the bare necessities are crucial for life. Those, therefore, are some of the implications living out such a viewpoint.

Let us now proceed with arguing against his dualistic views. First, from a merely logical perspective, if anything that is examined with the body is deceived by it, how does one know Socrates is correct? He made that statement with his own body, he spoke with the words of his mouth, and as he says hearing is inaccurate (Phaedo, 65b). If hearing is inaccurate, one cannot trust what he hears from the mouth of Socrates.

Coming from a Christian background the author of this paper does not agree with Socrates’ dualistic view of mankind for several reasons. First, God created man in the beginning with a soul and a body and He called it very good. If God created Adam and Eve with bodies and said it was very good, that means that both the human body and soul are part of a perfect creation. Therefore, the idea of a battling dualism between the two units is wrong.

Further, God created them with bodies so that they would enjoy the creation. The Lord explicitly tells them that they are, “to be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (Genesis 1:28). Not only were Adam and Eve to enjoy their relationship as husband and wife, but they were also to enjoy the fruits and the herbs of the Garden of Eden. God says in Genesis 1:29, “I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.” Therefore, Socrates’ philosophy that relationships are not important and only the bare necessities are required is contrary to what the Bible says. Man is supposed to enjoy food, drink, and relationship.

Further, his view of death is contrary to what the Bible teaches. While the Bible certainly teaches that death is just a pathway to our eternal destiny, the Bible does not teach that only the soul will be part of our afterlife. Certainly, for a while our souls will just be in either heaven or hell, as it is not until Christ comes again in judgment that the body will be raised. Christ was not raised bodily, immediately after He died on the cross; it was not until the third day that His body arose. Yet, Christ still declared to the thief, “To day shalt thou be with me in paradise (Luke 23:43)”. This means the soul must rise by itself. However, this does not mean a dualism exists between the body and soul. Dualism implies a warring and a battling between the two parts. There is no battling against the soul and body in the Christian view.

Also, the bodily resurrection is absolutely necessary to Christianity as Paul says in I Corinthians 15:12 – 14, “Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.” If there is no resurrection, then Christ did not arise, and there is no salvation. Christ would only have arisen if His work on earth was finished, for God would not have accepted Him into heaven if His work was not done.

In conclusion, while Socrates’ views on death and the dualism between the soul and body are certainly interesting, they must be rejected from a Christian perspective. The Scriptures say that man is to enjoy the pleasures that his body affords him (within the proper moral limits, of course), not cast them off. Also, the Bible teaches that both our soul and body will be united in either heaven or hell. Although, both units may be separated for a while, they are to be united when Christ comes again to judge the living and the dead. The Christian looks forward to the resurrection of the body and life everlasting, because it is a reward of grace, obtained by Christ when He suffered the torments of hell. Therefore, the Christian has no reason to fear death.

The History of Halloween

Halloween has, over the years, been increasing in popularity. Stores are packed with anything that has to do with death, skulls, and witches. Houses and yards are covered with all the imaginable and even some unimaginable during this time of year. Christians should have no business celebrating this day as it has its origins in pagan idolatry and witchcraft.

All the traditions involving Halloween started in the British Isles around 700 A.D. During this time the Wiccans worshiped the ‘’Earth Mother’’, and the sun, moon, and stars. It is from the Wiccans that we get the term wizard as that is how they referred to their male members. They called their female members, witches.

The Wiccans celebrated an esbat every Friday evening, because this day was sacred to them. It was especially sacred if there was a full moon or if it was Friday the thirteenth. To celebrate the esbat, the Wiccans would meet together in a group of thirteen known as a Coven or in a group of three called a triumvirate. During the gathering, they would draw a  a six-pointed star within circle. (This is what is commonly referred to as a hexagram and each of the points of the star represent earth, wind, fire, water, and spirit.) After drawing this, they would all stand in the hexagram casting magic spells and doing rituals.

The Wiccans also celebrated a sabat eight times each year, but the most important one was on October 31, which they called Samhain.  They believed that on the night of October 31, the barrier between this world and the next, known as the Astral Plane became very thin. So on that night the spirits of departed people could go back and forth between earth and the next world. Therefore, on the night of October 31, they held wild parties and played games such as bobbing for apples. They would also tell stories from their diaries of spells known as the ‘’book of shadows”.  They would also lay out tables with food so that their dead relatives could eat.

The Druids, a group of men who wore white cloaks and worshiped Cernnunos, (who is also known as the ‘’horned hunter of the night’’) celebrated October 31 as well.  On that night, they would have a torchlight procession, dragging a dead male slave by the left ankle. They would then walk up to a house and yell the equivalent of trick or treat. The treat was a slave girl or any female that was inside the house. If they refused to give the treat, blood was drawn from the corpse and used to draw a hexagram on the door of the house. It was believed that this sign meant that spirits from Cernnunos would kill someone in that house during the night.

If the people in the house did give the treat, the Druids put a pumpkin with a carved face on it by the front door of the house. The pumpkin had a candle made of human tallow to keep evil spirits away from that house. Thus, the jack-o-lantern was a sign that you had obeyed and worked with Satan. Next, the Druids took the females to some sacred spot where they were raped and killed. Although there is some speculation behind this, the Druids are also believed to have used the treats for human sacrifice.

In order to Christianize a pagan holiday the Roman Catholics created All Hallows Eve to replace Samhain.  All Hallows Eve is actually before All Saints Day, on which the Roman Catholics commemorate, those who have attained the glory of heaven. The Roman Catholics celebrated All Hallows Eve to prepare for All Saints Day.

As we can tell from the history of Halloween, it is a very idolatrous and wicked tradition. The Roman Catholics have greatly erred in Christianizing it from its pagan roots. Christians should have nothing to do with this holiday.

Now it may be the argument from some people that nowadays this holiday is not that bad and is just harmless fun. But can one really call dressing up as vampires, hideous monsters, witches, zombies, and the like harmless fun? Does the Bible condone such activities? The Bible had very strict rules for Israel regarding witches and witchcraft. In Deuteronomy 18:10 – 12 God says, “There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee.” Anyone caught doing these activities would be put to death as Exodus 22:18 says. Witchcraft was no joke for the church in the Old Testament, they did not make light of it. Why then should Christians today make light of it, when they allow their children to celebrate a pagan holiday?  The world makes this sin fun, they even make candies in the shape of witches, skulls, and broomsticks. But it is nothing but a mockery of God and a gross idolatry.

In the days of the early Christian church when the gospel was brought to the Ephesians, those that had books of sorcery burned them as is told in Acts 19:19, “Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.” They burned their expensive books so that they would no longer be drawn into the sin of witchcraft. They wanted no longer to be associated with their past idolatry and superstition. Therefore, it makes no sense for a Christian, who has been delivered from sin, to celebrate what used to be a idolatrous night.

Therefore, let us forsake and scorn this pagan festival. Let us follow the Heidelberg Catechism which says regarding the first commandment, “That I, as sincerely as I desire the salvation of my own soul, avoid and flee from all idolatry, sorcery, soothsaying, superstition, invocation of saints, or any other creatures; and learn rightly to know the only true God . . . .”