Growing up Adventist, I heard a few warnings about the “pagan” origins of various fun things. Sometime during my preteen years, I recall our local church pastor preaching a sermon that had a pretty big focus on how each of the pips, or symbols, on a deck of cards connects to the dark arts. He said the Joker represented Satan. At that church, our Pathfinder club collected cans on October 31, which served to keep me from getting in the Halloween spirit too much.
The Adventist substitutionary theory of the atonement paints the death of Christ as the lamb that dies so that the sinner may live. His death was a sacrifice. This central image is then given a background with God in the throne, The Law on the wall behind God and Satan on one side as the District Attorney and Christ on the other as the Lawyer for the defendant. Christ convinces God that even though the sinner did transgress the The Law, as Satan claims, He died in his place, as a substitute. Thereby Christ’s death satisfies the demand of The Law that condemns the sinner to death. God then, by a slight of hand, declares the sinner “justified.” This is what “justification by faith” accomplishes. The sinner must believe “in Jesus” in order for Christ to be able to be his substitute.
This view of things is built on the notion that The Law is above everything and every one else, including God. It is a legalistic contraption that requires something that no court of law allows and, as such, it is a theological aberration. It is precisely what the apostle Paul spend his ministry fighting against: the notion that the followers of Jesus were Jews who sought forgiveness by means of sacrifices. Theories of the atonement that separate the cross from the resurrection of Christ fail to take into account what the Christ Event was all about.
Various versions of christianity would have one believe that not only God is bound by some immutable law and powerless to change it, but that he also built into the law a clever secret loophole that allows him to get around his own law. It’s a mysterious loophole since no one is exactly sure how or even if it works, and theologians have been disputing for centuries on this topic. Of course this allowed for the proliferation of various religions, each claiming to have the corner on how it all works and offering its members an inside track to paradise. All these religions ask is that one donate substantial sums to them to pay for full time clergy to convince you that they really have such inside knowledge rather than the more likely explanation that they’re all just making it up.
“Participation in Halloween customs may seem innocent fun for children and adults, but it is one more way Satan can use to deceive people into thinking there is no harm in playing a little bit with the world of spirits and demons.”
This quote leads to evil surmising. The little kids in my neighborhood seem to be clueless about spirits and demons. They came dressed as their favorite Disney and video game characters along with different careers like firemen and ballerinas. They had no evil intent and only asked for candy.
Someone shared a meme that I feel is very appropriate for Halloween:
Halloween: a day when we get it right.
Strangers come to us,
beautiful, ugly, odd, or scary,
and we accept them all without question,
compliment them, treat them kindly,
and give them good things.
Why don’t we live like that?
I prefer biblical models of the atonement to theories of the atonement. A theory is an all-encompassing explanation. The atonement is probably too intricate, mysterious, and multi-faceted to be reduced down to a theory. In contrast, a model is a perspective. The Bible sets forth different models, different perspectives, of the atonement. Each model, each perspective, informs our understanding of the intricate, mysterious, and multi-faceted reality of the atonement. One of my favorite biblical models of the atonement is the clothes of righteousness model. Through Christ’s death on the cross we are no longer naked but clothed.
I’m always amused by bumper stickers insisting that we must “Put Christ back in Christmas”.
The fact is that there is currently no evidence that any one recorded Jesus actual birth date.
So failing that, Christianity inserted its namesake into pagan rituals which had existed before time out of mind and commandeered the annual harvest festivals in late December for themselves, just as they took over the pagan celebrations of fertility and rebirth in spring by associating Easter with Jesus’ resurrection.
As an SDA youth, I was taught Satan had a counterfeit for every Christian principle.
But in putting away such childish assertions, I learned that Christianity has been “faking it until they could make it”, at virtually every turn, for the past two millennia.
So BRI, if you really want to purge Adventism of its paganism, how about showing some real guts?
And why stop at Halloween?
Why not look little Virginia in the eye, tell her that the official position of the denomination is that Santa isn’t real, that his name is a not-coincidental twist on the spelling of Satan and that from now on, there will be no Christmas for EGW’s kids because of the holiday’s ties to devil worship and due to the fact that the tradition has its roots in evil materialism?
Isn’t this the least you can do to prepare SAD-ism’s children for heaven as there certainly WILL NOT be any Earth-Mother idolatry or paeanistic worship services once they get past those Pearly Gates!?!?
Commenters on the Maro Lago raid said that “No one is above the law.” But who are those that think they are above the law? Some act as if they are, and we know that they are tyrants and arbitrary actors, laws unto themselves.
Thus, that God is under law is a comfort. He is thus responsible to it. That means he is not a tyrant acting arbitrarily, but in accordance with a stated rule known by all.
And Jesus, the Lawgiver, dies because he will submit to the laws demands. He becomes sin for us and thus suffers the effects of the law. We then can be free because someone else suffered the penalty. Is it fair? Well, no, but when one chooses to bear another’s burden, or punishment, justice is satisfied.
But you, Harold, feel this is a contraption. I ask you, how then can you be saved? If there is no savior, you are done for as all of us are.
But, you might say, “Well, God only has to forgive me, and I can be saved.” On what basis can he forgive? To forgive is to set aside the law, and we see what lawlessness is like. The situation in our cities is not a pleasant one.
But when the Lawgiver dies, while submitting to the law’s demands, we may be let off.
I believe that the atonement is a multifaceted truth. One theory alone cannot plumb it depths. But the substitutionary death of Christ is foundational.
In my experience, SDA’s have suffered mightily as a result of the proliferation of the Penal Substitution model. Why? Because of the terrible picture it paints of God, the Father. This theory promotes the idea that the purpose of the Plan of Salvation was to change God’s mind about us, totally disregarding the truth of the Trinity establishing this plan ‘from the foundation of the earth’.
That’s as clear as the other Christian “one-liner” - “fall on the rock”. It begs the question - what are the characteristics of the one not clothed in Christ’s righteousness (the naked), compared with being clothed? And, how do we become “clothed”?
Explain that please. It seems the Jews had every reason to believe the sacrifice of the lamb bought them forgiveness, did it it not; and weren’t the followers of Jesus Jews, initially?
Perhaps we have misunderstood what the “law” actually is. We are so engrossed in the “TEN” that whenever the law is mentioned, all we can think of is the law given at Mt. Sinai. According to Jesus, the “ten” are simply a specific application of the “law of love”.
Of course, the OT concept of love can only be expressed in actions. Not until the Greeks got involved, did love show up in less concrete ways, that included motives and feelings - states of “being” rather than acts of “doing”.
It seems that if there are no laws at all, there is nothing to repent of - or, to be saved from. In any case, the whole process speaks of a change, from something, to something else - perhaps what Jesus called “rebirth” - a new identity.
We will have articles like these for every holiday to harass Christians who still don’t want to believe in Santa and want to help others turn away from these “saints” and their days and their celebrations. We can all check back during thanks giving and Christmas for more gray articles like this one meant to smear Christians who preach the powerlessness of these celebrations, powerless to heal the sick, powerlessness to raise the dead, poweless to rebuke demons or heal the broken mind or heart, useless in turning people towards repentance and everlasting life. Absolutely useless in encouraging folks, who are already drowning in debt , to not borrow money for these celebrations. Celebrations of the dead are for the dead. Double minded adventist are unstable in all their ways.
there was a time when i was all for Halloween…cute little kids showing up like Superman, Batman, Cinderella, or Snow White were something i looked forward to each year, as the cold of winter started to set in…i always had two huge pumpkin coloured and shaped pots ready, one with chocolates and candy, the other with potato chips…i even enjoyed socializing with these kids’ parents, and on more than one occasion, discovered who some of my neighbours were…
but this year has been quite different…first of all, an unusually warm Fall - 70F on most days - meant we had no snow on the ground this year…one would think the kids would be out in droves, as a result…but instead, there were less than half a dozen kids trick or treating in my cul de sac all night (and there were more parents than kids in this one little group)…and these kids weren’t really dressed up…they seemed to be pretty much in school clothes…
i’ve since learned that towns like Rock Mountain House have discovered fentanyl in kids’ Halloween candy…it seems everybody’s been on some kind of alert, and that the festive quality of Halloween, at least in my part of town, has all but disappeared…we’ll have to see what next year brings, but it may be that Halloween is on its way out in Calgary…
i do hope that Xmas can stay unscathed…one Salvation Army vendor last year, a senior who’d made it a point be out in the cold to collect money for the poor every year for decades, was robbed and thoroughly frightened…house break-ins apparently increased during last year’s Xmas holidays…
it’s nice when a community can come together and celebrate something, whatever anyone wants to think it means…but society now may not be able to support such innocence and joy…everything from politics to inflation seems to have become radicalized, and hard-edged…it’s becoming hard to think of simply enjoying something with strangers who you can trust have no nefarious motives…
It also paints a picture of a god who can speak an entire universe into existence in 6 days (all the while giving the universe the appearance of being 14 billion years old), but who can’t solve this sin problem without some bizarre inscrutable byzantine “plan”, a plan so complex that no two theologians agree on what it was and what it means and cannot seem to explain it.
Why not consider the Bible mythological and the entire fall from grace an unholy ghost story?
In this scenario there is no need for a savior as no one is really lost and the concept of anyone being separated from his maker is deemed to be illusory.
This works for some people but the easy answer is neither complicated nor miraculous enough for those who prefer fantasies over facts.
Those persons have no choice but to worship a supposedly omnipotent, but utterly contradictory god who has apparently done the impossible; i.e., and according to the stories, he has essentially emasculated himself and been rendered effectively nonexistent after having made up a rule so absolute that even he doesn’t have the power to change or break it?!?!
I was taught similar things. The idea, I suppose, is that somehow the fact that someone once actually intended the cards to mean such things meant that if we played with the cards that would somehow rub off on us and we be exposed to some great evil, which would somehow capture our souls. It didn’t matter that we were heretofore unaware of these intentions. The cards themselves, even as inanimate objects, were somehow evil.
The logical problem with this is, of course, that any number of objects in or environment could also hold such evil, unbeknownst to us. It would seem that any object used by an occultist - even sometime in the distant past - must be avoided. A snow-globe, for example, sure looks like a crystal ball, doesn’t it? Dice? Clearly evil. Chicken feet? Better avoid them too or the Devil might creep into your soul.
It’s not exactly dis-similar to the current concerns about first-person shooter video games. Some leaders warn that by playing them children will be corrupted and want to go out and shoot people. Or that after watching horror films, viewers will then want to go out and commit a chain-saw massacre.
The problem with all these ideas, whether secularly or religiously grounded, is that there’s no evidence that this happens. To my knowledge no one has ever been possessed by the Devil after playing a game of cards. Nor has anyone been driven to murder after watching a horror movie. Things just don’t work that way.
Now where is that Ouija board I’ve been meaning to get some answers from?
Fun fact: Ouija is a made up word, a concatenation of “oui” - French for yes - and “ja” - German for yes. So, it’s “yes yes” board. A good name, it turns out, as it literally/scientifically tells you want you want to hear.
Atonement theories seem to often be based in a systematic theology of the letters of Paul. The issue is that neither he, nor the gospels, nor the rest of the NT, ever offer any type of systematic explanation of atonement. This is something that developed through church history and that we seem to feel a compulsion to categorize and nail down. In one of the pastorals the writer states, “The mystery of godliness is great…” and then goes on to describe the Christ event from life to death to resurrection and witness. There is mystery here that we can never fully explain.
With that said, I’ll risk the same type of composite explanation. Paul did not largely explain atonement in terms of a broken law, Christ perfectly keeping the law in our place, and God covering us in Christ’s perfect law keeping. That’s more a Protestant and then steroidal Adventist view of Paul and atonement theory.
Paul did not view sin as the transgression of the law…that’s 1 John. Paul viewed sin as a force or power that entered into the world and dealt death to all humanity before the law appearing as the Sinai covenant was even in existence. He explained the human predicament as being under the control of the death dealing power of sin, the flesh, and death, but also being exacerbated by the Law. Although he called the law good in Romans 7, it was powerless to solve the human problem, and became an unwitting tool or henchman in the manipulative hands of sin, using it to shut those up who were under the Law even further under the power of sin and death.
This was all directed at the Jewish and Jewish Christian view of his day that the law was the means of liberation for human beings from sin and the evil urge. Torah/law observance was the way of and means to life. Paul is saying that it was anything but. Israel with the Torah was actually more deeply embedded in the universal Adamic dilemma of sin and death, with no way out. Human beings didn’t need a legal declaration of righteousness as much as they needed liberation from the enslaving power of sin and death that was actually fueled by the law (1 Cor. 15.).
This helps drive the arguments Paul was making in Romans, Galatians, and elsewhere that Christ’s death and resurrection and the ensuing gift of the Spirit is what breaks the power of sin and death for those under the law or apart from the law. Christ and the Spirit don’t just bring forgiveness or legal right standing before a broken law…they bring life from the dead. They bring freedom. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free!
Here is the underlying reality of the grace of God and atonement for Paul. It is not largely a legal conception but a liberating existential and relational one.
So what did SDA’s do back in the 50’s and 60’s with playing cards…they came out with their own cards, bird cards, flower cards…etc. This, somehow, made them sanguine enough that you could even play them on Sabbath, which we did.
I marvel at how we can rationalize things away by rubbing the magic religious wand over them and they become acceptable. But…what do I know?