By Garret Kell
A great tragedy unfolded less than one week ago on Tuesday, November 6, 2012.
The tragedy was not found in the celebrations of elected officials or the concessions of defeat. It was not colored red or blue, and it wasn’t wrapped up in meaningless campaign promises.
The tragedy of the 2012 election is that in this land of the free and home of the brave, many people were not allowed to vote. Their voices were silenced. Their votes were not cast. Their opinions not expressed. Why?
Because they were dead.
The great tragedy of the 2012 election is that roughly 33 million would-be voters had been murdered. From 1973 to 1994, roughly 35 million babies were aborted. That’s roughly 35 million 18- to 39-year-olds who could not vote from the grave.
This is an unspeakable tragedy.
They did not have the chance to learn what makes our nation so great. They did not have the chance to watch the results roll in with their friends and family. They did not have the chance to rest their heads on a pillow in the land of the free.
But this tragedy is not over.
In 2016, roughly 5 million more voices will be unheard. Why? Because more than 3,500 babies will be killed today. And each day leading up to Tuesday, November 8, 2016. In the three minutes it takes you to read this article, seven babies will have been aborted in the United States of America. Their voices silenced. Their freedom robbed. Their bravery unknown.
Close to Home
This is a tragedy that hits close to home. When I was 19, I chose to end the life of my first child through an abortion. My friend and I were in a scary place, we didn’t plan to get married, and we had nowhere else to go. So we opted to end the life of our child.
That child would be 16 today. They’d be excited about driving a car and, in just a couple of years, they’d be excited about voting. But they won’t be doing any of that. We won’t be sitting down together as I explain how to think about policies and the candidates who represent them. I won’t be able to tell them about freedom and justice for all. I took that freedom away with my injustice.
I cannot undo what I’ve done in the past. None of us can. Only Jesus, who shed his blood for sinners like me, can heal those wounds. Jesus gives us great hope in the midst of this tragedy, and all the other tragedies we face in this life.
Refuge in Jesus
If you have committed an abortion, I want you to know there is a refuge in Jesus. He will heal your wounds. There is no sin so great that he cannot forgive and no sin so small that does not need to be forgiven. If you will confess your sins and turn to him in faith, he will wash away all your guilt and all your shame. Come to Christ.
If you support abortion, I encourage you to spend time in prayer and ask God to show you if abortion pleases him or not. Ask a Christian to help you learn what God’s Word says. I know you already have deeply rooted ideas. I did too. But I encourage you to take the time to read what God says about life and who has the right to give and take it away. I encourage you to start with Psalm 139.
If you are a Christian, be patient with those who view things differently. But also speak truth in love to those who are in need. Find ways to help those who are struggling through unplanned pregnancies. Investigate options for adoption and invest in the lives of those who are facing difficult choices.
I have on my wall a picture of a 3-year-old boy in cowboy boots. He nearly wasn’t with us today because his mother was in a difficult place. She was unmarried, pregnant, and scared. But my wife met with her, prayed with her, and took her to a Christian doctor who showed her the baby in her womb through a sonogram. That young mother had the courage to keep her child.
That young boy’s smile reminds me that God can save children, one at a time. He does this by using his people to come alongside the struggling to lovingly show them the Christ who can walk them through any terrifying situation—even an unplanned pregnancy.
I believe the only hope to turn the trend of this tragedy is for people to turn their hearts toward the God who made them through the way paved by his Son Jesus. Jesus changes hearts, and changed hearts can change a nation. May God give us grace as a country, and may God give us courage to stand up in the midst of this tragedy so that, if he tarries, many more will cast votes in 2030.
Lord Jesus, we need your help.”
It has become routine in October for some Christian schools to send out letters warning parents about the evils of Halloween, and it has become equally routine for me to be asked questions about this matter.
“Halloween” is simply a contraction for All Hallows’ Eve. The word “hallow” means “saint,” in that “hallow” is just an alternative form of the word “holy” (“hallowed be Thy name”). All Saints’ Day is November 1. It is the celebration of the victory of the saints in union with Christ. The observance of various celebrations of All Saints arose in the late 300s, and these were united and fixed on November 1 in the late 700s. The origin of All Saints Day and of All Saints Eve in Mediterranean Christianity had nothing to do with Celtic Druidism or the Church’s fight against Druidism (assuming there ever even was any such thing as Druidism, which is actually a myth concocted in the 19th century by neo-pagans.)
In the First Covenant, the war between God’s people and God’s enemies was fought on the human level against Egyptians, Assyrians, etc. With the coming of the New Covenant, however, we are told that our primary battle is against principalities and powers, against fallen angels who bind the hearts and minds of men in ignorance and fear. We are assured that through faith, prayer, and obedience, the saints will be victorious in our battle against these demonic forces. The Spirit assures us: “The God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly” (Romans 16:20).
The Festival of All Saints reminds us that though Jesus has finished His work, we have not finished ours. He has struck the decisive blow, but we have the privilege of working in the mopping up operation. Thus, century by century the Christian faith has rolled back the demonic realm of ignorance, fear, and superstition. Though things look bad in the Western world today, this work continues to make progress in Asia and Africa and Latin America.
The Biblical day begins in the preceding evening, and thus in the Church calendar, the eve of a day is the actual beginning of the festive day. Christmas Eve is most familiar to us, but there is also the Vigil of Holy Saturday that precedes Easter Morn. Similarly, All Saints’ Eve precedes All Saints’ Day.
The concept, as dramatized in Christian custom, is quite simple: On October 31, the demonic realm tries one last time to achieve victory, but is banished by the joy of the Kingdom.
What is the means by which the demonic realm is vanquished? In a word: mockery. Satan’s great sin (and our great sin) is pride. Thus, to drive Satan from us we ridicule him. This is why the custom arose of portraying Satan in a ridiculous red suit with horns and a tail. Nobody thinks the devil really looks like this; the Bible teaches that he is the fallen Arch-Cherub. Rather, the idea is to ridicule him because he has lost the battle with Jesus and he no longer has power over us.
(The tradition of mocking Satan and defeating him through joy and laughter plays a large role in Ray Bradbury’s classic novel, Something Wicked This Way Comes, which is a Halloween novel.)
The gargoyles that were placed on the churches of old had the same meaning. They symbolized the Church ridiculing the enemy. They stick out their tongues and make faces at those who would assault the Church. Gargoyles are not demonic; they are believers ridiculing the defeated demonic army.
Thus, the defeat of evil and of demonic powers is associated with Halloween. For this reason, Martin Luther posted his 95 challenges to the wicked practices of the Church to the bulletin board on the door of the Wittenberg chapel on Halloween. He picked his day with care, and ever since Halloween has also been Reformation Day.
Similarly, on All Hallows’ Eve (Hallow-Even – Hallow-E’en – Halloween), the custom arose of mocking the demonic realm by dressing children in costumes. Because the power of Satan has been broken once and for all, our children can mock him by dressing up like ghosts, goblins, and witches. The fact that we can dress our children this way shows our supreme confidence in the utter defeat of Satan by Jesus Christ – we have NO FEAR!
I don’t have the resources to check the historical origins of all Halloween customs, and doubtless they have varied from time to time and from Christian land to Christian land. “Trick or treat” doubtless originated simply enough: something fun for kids to do. Like anything else, this custom can be perverted, and there have been times when “tricking” involved really mean actions by teenagers and was banned from some localities.
We can hardly object, however, to children collecting candy from friends and neighbors. This might not mean much to us today, because we are so prosperous that we have candy whenever we want, but in earlier generations people were not so well o_, and obtaining some candy or other treats was something special. There is no reason to pour cold water on an innocent custom like this.
Similarly, the jack-o’-lantern’s origins are unknown. Hollowing out a gourd or some other vegetable, carving a face, and putting a lamp inside of it is something that no doubt has occurred quite independently to tens of thousands of ordinary people in hundreds of cultures worldwide over the centuries. Since people lit their homes with candles, decorating the candles and the candle-holders was a routine part of life designed to make the home pretty or interesting. Potatoes, turnips, beets, and any number of other items were used.
Wynn Parks writes of an incident he observed: “An English friend had managed to remove the skin of a tangerine in two intact halves. After carving eyes and nose in one hemisphere and a mouth in the other, he poured cooking oil over the pith sticking up in the lower half and lit the readymade wick. With its upper half on, the tangerine skin formed a miniature jack-o’-lantern. But my friend seemed puzzled that I should call it by that name. `What would I call it? Why a “tangerine head,” I suppose.’” (Parks, “The Head of the Dead,” The World & I, November 1994, p. 270.)
In the New World, people soon learned that pumpkins were admirably suited for this purpose. The jack-o’-lantern is nothing but a decoration; and the leftover pumpkin can be scraped again, roasted, and turned into pies and muffins.
In some cultures, what we call a jack-o’-lantern represented the face of a dead person, whose soul continued to have a presence in the fruit or vegetable used. But this has no particular relevance to Halloween customs. Did your mother tell you, while she carved the pumpkin, that this represented the head of a dead person and with his soul trapped inside? Of course not. Symbols and decorations, like words, mean different things in different cultures, in different languages, and in different periods of history. The only relevant question is what does it mean now, and nowadays it is only a decoration.
And even if some earlier generations did associate the jack-o’-lantern with a soul in a head, so what? They did not take it seriously. It was just part of the joking mockery of heathendom by Christian people.
This is a good place to note that many articles in books, magazines, and encyclopedias are written by secular humanists or even the pop-pagans of the so-called “New Age” movement. (An example is the article by Wynn Parks cited above.) These people actively suppress the Christian associations of historic customs, and try to magnify the pagan associations. They do this to try and make paganism acceptable and to downplay Christianity. Thus, Halloween, Christmas, Easter, etc., are said to have pagan origins. Not true.
Oddly, some fundamentalists have been influenced by these slanted views of history. These fundamentalists do not accept the humanist and pagan rewriting of Western history, American history, and science, but sometimes they do accept the humanist and pagan rewriting of the origins of Halloween and Christmas, the Christmas tree, etc. We can hope that in time these brethren will reexamine these matters as well. We ought not to let the pagans do our thinking for us.
Nowadays, children often dress up as superheroes, and the original Christian meaning of Halloween has been absorbed into popular culture. Also, with the present fad of “designer paganism” in the so-called New Age movement, some Christians are uneasy with dressing their children as spooks. So be it. But we should not forget that originally Halloween was a Christian custom, and there is no solid reason why Christians cannot enjoy it as such even today.
“He who sits in the heavens laughs; Yahweh ridicules them” says Psalm 2. Let us join in His holy laughter, and mock the enemies of Christ on October 31.”
It has been common, especially among some varieties of Protestantism, to take Paul’s statements about circumcision as pieces of a theology of ritual. Paul’s statement about inward and heart circumcision in Romans 2 is transferred to rites of entry in general, especially to baptism: “Baptism is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter.”
It’s fairly obvious, though, that this cannot be done without qualification. Paul says, “neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision,” and he would not have said the same about baptism. “There is neither Jew nor Greek,” he writes earlier in Galatians, but this is preceded by “all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves in Christ” and he immediately adds that the reason why this distinction has been erased is because “you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Circumcision divided humanity; baptism unites it.
Paul’s statements on circumcision obviously contribute to a theology of ritual. But they are in the first instance part of a theology of covenants, statements about what the scholastics called the “sacraments of the old law,” and only as such should be used to develop a theology of ritual in general.”
Here is an excellent summary of the Reformed doctrine by B.B. Warfield. The only exception I would take to it, is the “visible” church language and section 21 which says the state must operate off of “human reason”. I think thats a big error. Otherwise, it’s good.
“1. I believe that God, since the creation of His world, has plainly revealed through the things He has made His eternal power and divine nature, and the requirements of His law, so that there is no excuse for unbelief or disobedience on the part of any man; yet however glorious this revelation, it is not sufficient to give that knowledge of God, and of His will, which is necessary for salvation.
2. I believe that my one aim in life and death should be to glorify God and enjoy Him forever; and that God teaches me how to glorify and enjoy Him in His inerrant Word, that is, the Bible, which He has given by the infallible inspiration of His Holy Spirit in order that I may certainly know what I am to believe concerning Him and what duty He requires of me.
3. I believe that the whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture; unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by alleged new revelations of the Spirit or by traditions of men.
4. I believe that God authenticated His prophets and apostles as agents of revelation by mighty acts of His power employed by Him as signs whereby all men should confess, concerning those who are gifted with such power, “We know you are a teacher sent from God, for no one could do the things you do lest God were with Him”; and I believe that the great outpouring of such miracles displayed in the ministry of Christ and His Apostles signified the breaking into history of God’s promised kingdom, which kingdom, when established in its fullness, will issue in the miraculous renewal of all creation; and that until such time, God is at work bringing men and women into that kingdom through the supernatural work of regeneration.
5. I believe that because God has completed His revelation in Jesus Christ, the former ways of revealing His will are now ceased; and because the final and manifest establishment of His kingdom is yet to come, God does not now choose to publicly display His miraculous power. Nevertheless I believe that God is directly upholding and governing His creation, moment by moment; that God faithfully supplies the needs of His people through His constant providential care; and that He often blesses them with special providences wherein He strengthens their faith and displays His special love for them to the world.
6. I believe that God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth; incomparable in all that He is; one God but three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, my Creator, my Redeemer, and my Sanctifier; in whose power, wisdom, righteousness, goodness, and truth I may safely put my trust.
7. I believe that God has all life, glory, goodness, and blessedness, in and of Himself; and is alone in and unto Himself all-sufficient, not standing in need of me, or deriving any glory from me, but only manifesting His own glory in, by, unto, and upon me in Christ Jesus; and that He has most sovereign dominion over me, to do by me, for me, or upon me whatsoever He pleases.
8. I believe that God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence done to the will of the creature; and trusting in the decree of God, I who am called according to His purpose, I may be assured that all things will work together for my good.
9. I believe that the heavens and the earth, and all that in them is, are the works of God’s hands; and that all that He has made He directs and governs in all their actions, so that they fulfill the end for which they were created, and I who trust in Him shall not be put to shame, but may rest securely in the protection of His almighty love.
10.I believe that God created man after His own image, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, and that all men owe their Creator thanksgiving and worship; yet God condescended, making a covenant with man, that men might know God, not just as Creator, but as their blessedness and reward. And I believe that while the requirement of this covenant, originating under Adam, was obedience, God was pleased, according to His wise and holy counsel, to permit him to disobey, having purposed to order it to His own glory; so that it was by willfully sinning against God that I, in Adam, lost the rewards of a covenant keeper, and suffer the curses due a covenant breaker. Therefore my only hope of salvation is that Christ the second Adam, has kept the covenant, securing its rewards for the elect, among whom by grace I am numbered.
11. I believe that, being fallen in Adam, my first father, I am by nature a child of wrath, under the condemnation of God and corrupted in body and soul, prone to evil and liable to eternal death; from which dreadful state I cannot be delivered save through the unmerited grace of God my Savior.
12. I believe that God has not left the world to perish in its sin, but out of the great love wherewith He has loved it, has from all eternity graciously chosen unto Himself a multitude which no man can number, to deliver them out of their sin and misery, and of them to build up again in the world His kingdom of righteousness; in which kingdom I may be assured I have my part, if I hold fast to Christ the Lord.
13. I believe that God has redeemed His people unto HimseIf through Jesus Christ our Lord; who, though He was and ever continues to be the eternal Son of God, yet was born of a woman, born under the law, that He might redeem them that are under the law; I believe that He bore the penalty due to my sins in His own body on the tree, and fulfilled in His own person the obedience I owe to the righteousness of God, and now presents me to His Father as His purchased possession, to the praise of the glory of His grace forever; wherefore renouncing all merit of my own, put all my trust only in the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ my redeemer.
14. I believe that Jesus Christ my redeemer, who died for my offenses was raised again for my justification, and ascended into the heavens, where He sits at he right hand of the Father Almighty continually making intercession for his people, and governing the whole world as head over all things for His Church; so that I need fear no evil and may surely know that nothing can snatch me out of His hands and nothing can separate me from His love.
15. I believe that the redemption wrought by the Lord Jesus Christ is effectualy applied to all His people by the Holy Spirit, who works faith in me and thereby unites me to Christ, renews me in the whole man after the image of God, and enables me more and more to die unto sin and to live unto righteousness; until His gracious work having been completed in me, I shall be received into glory; in which great hope abiding, I must ever strive to perfect holiness in the fear of God.
16. I believe that God requires of me, under the gospel, first of all, that, out of a true sense of my sin and misery and apprehension of His mercy in Christ, I should turn with grief and hatred away from sin and receive and rest upon Jesus Christ alone for salvation; that, so being united to Him, I may receive pardon for my sins and be accepted as righteous in God’s sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to me and received by faith alone; thus, and thus only, do I believe I may be received into the number and have a right to all the privileges of the sons of God.
17. I believe that, having been pardoned and accepted for Christ’s sake, it is further required of me that I walk in the Spirit whom He has purchased for me, and by whom love is shed abroad in my heart; fulfilling the obedience I owe to Christ my King; faithfully performing all the duties laid upon me by the holy law of God my heavenly Father; and ever reflecting in my life and conduct the perfect example that has been set me by Christ Jesus my leader, who has died for me and granted to me His Holy Spirit that I may do the good works which God has afore prepared that I should walk in them.
18. I believe that God has established His Church in the world, one and the same in all ages, and now, under the Gospel, has endowed it with the ministry of the Word and the holy ordinances of Baptism, the Lord’s Supper and prayer; in order that through these means, the riches of His grace in the gospel may be known to the world, and by the blessing of Christ and the working of His Spirit in them that by faith receive them, the benefits of redemption may be communicated to His people; wherefore also it is required of me that I attend on these means of grace with diligence, preparation, and prayer, so that through them I may be instructed and strengthened in faith, and in holiness of life and in love; and that I use by best endeavors to carry this gospel and convey these means of grace to the whole world.
19. I believe that the visible Church consists of all those who are united to Christ, the Head of the Church, by profession of their faith, together with their children; and that the visible unity of the body of Christ, though obscured, is not destroyed by its division into different denominations of professing Christians. Therefore I believe that all of these which maintain the Word and Sacraments in their fundamental integrity are to be recognized as true branches of the Church of Jesus Christ.
20. I believe that God alone is Lord of the conscience and has left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men, which are in any respect contrary to His Word, or beside it in matters of faith or worship. I believe therefore, that the rights of private judgment in all matters that respect religion are universal and inalienable and that no religious constitution should be supported by the civil power, further than may be necessary for protection and security equal and common to all others.
21. I believe that the Church is God’s spiritual minister for the purpose of redemption and the state is God’s providential minister for the purpose of thisworldly order. The power of the Church is exclusively spiritual; that of the State includes the exercise of force. The constitution of the Church derives exclusively from divine revelation; the constitution of the State must be determined by human reason and the course of providential events. I believe therefore that the Church has no right to construct or modify a government for the State, and the State has no right to frame a creed or polity for the Church.
22. I believe that disciples of Jesus Christ are called to be His witnesses in the world, proclaiming the justice and mercy of God to all men, and making evident His wise and righteous rule over every aspect of human culture. Therefore it is my obligation to search the Scriptures with all the skills God has allotted me, and to seek, within the bounds of my calling, to apply my understanding of His Word to the entire created order, and to all the outworkings of His most wise providence. And I believe that it is my privilege and duty to pursue a vocation in this world that employs my gifts to the glory of God, and for the good of my family, my congregation, my community, and, as God brings opportunity, to any who may be in need.
23. I believe that as Jesus Christ has once come in grace, so also is He to come a second time in glory, to judge the world in righteousness and assign to each his eternal reward; the wicked shall have the fearful but just sentence of condemnation pronounced against them, wherein their consciences shall fully concur, and they shall be cast into hell, to be punished with unspeakable torments, both in body and soul, with the devil and his angels for ever. The righteous in Christ shall be caught up with Christ and there openly acknowledged and acquitted; shall be received into heaven, where they shall fully and forever be freed from all sin and misery; filled with inconceivable joys, made perfectly holy and happy in both body and soul, in the great company of all God’s saints and holy angels, but especially in the immediate vision of God the Father, of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, to all eternity.
24. I believe that if I die in Christ, my soul shall be at death made perfect in holiness and go home to the Lord, and when He shall return in His majesty I shall be raised in glory and made perfectly blessed in the full enjoyment of God to all eternity; encouraged by which blessed hope, it is required of me willingly to take my part in suffering hardships here as a good soldier of Christ Jesus, being assured that if I die with Him I shall also live with Him, if I endure, I shall also reign with Him.”
Recently I stumbled upon this video on Moveon.org
Many Christians see Abortion as nothing but another political issue than can be haggled and debated about. But that is not the case. The Battle over Abortion is nothing more than the cosmic battle between the forces of God and forces of Satan being played out in the national public arena. The Abortion advocates of the Democratic Party represent Humanism. The view that Humans(at least those outside the womb), are the measure of all things. Humans determine reality, declaring right from wrong and determining what obligations they hold and to what standard they are bound. This is in stark contrast to the message of the thestic worldview, Where all people are in the image of God, deserving respect, dignity, and value, even if they are unborn. In the thestic worldview, man is not the measure of all things, God is the measure of all things, determining right from wrong. For this reason Christians believe in protecting the life of the unborn and in the sanctity of marriage. The hostility and hatred expressed by the humanist towards those who would defend the rights of the unborn , is nothing more than the humanists hostility and hatred towards God.
Humanism is represented by many in both the Democratic and Republican parties. Many Christians themselves fail to uphold the principles they stand for, such as staying silent on the issues of Abortion, or ignoring issues that make them uncomfortable, such as Divorce. But the great truth of the Christian Faith, is that all people, Pro Life or Pro Choice, Republican Or Democrat, Humanist or Christian, will one day stand before the throne of God to give an account for the deeds they have done on the earth.