A friend emailed me yesterday asking if I had ever written a post on Halloween and how Christians should relate to it. This was my reply to him. Also, in honor of Halloween, I’m posting this picture of the best Halloween costume I ever had. Can’t figure it out? The answer is at the bottom of the post:
Sorry to be anti-climactic, but I don’t really have any strong opinions on the matter either way. I’ll probably stay home Halloween, work on school work, and hand out candy to kids.
I really think it’s up to the individual Christian’s conscience, though there are obvious things that might be “unwise”. For one, don’t get wrapped in the sexuality that seems to have pervaded Halloween. Second, if you do a costume, try not to be exploitative (grown-ups dressing like little kid-sort of things and sexualizing them, acting gay as a joke, mocking others, or I heard of one couple of white friends who went as a dead Trayvon Martin and a George Zimmermamn, with the Trayvon guy wearing black-face).
Importantly, though, I don’t encourage myself or other Christians to be “weird” about it.
This weekend, I received this wonderful note from a good friend, inviting me and others to her Re-Baptism in one of the rivers of Philadelphia. With her permission, I’m posting her letter and my reply to it below. No matter your precise theological views on second baptisms, I hope you find this exchange to be encouraging to your soul.
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Hello dear friends,
As many of you know, I grew up in a church for much of my childhood and adolescence, and was even baptized around age ten into the covenant family of the Presbyterian church I attended. While I respect this baptism as a symbol of the faith tradition I was born into and grew up with, at ten, I had never struggled with any doubts or questions that have been such a part of my adult faith journey.
In my life, I have found it so easy to get hung up on theology and technicalities (What does it mean if I don’t believe in penal substitution? What exactly does the divinity of Jesus mean?) and my despair at the state of our world (Why does God let horrible evil things happen?). I’ve spent a long ten years questioning and doubting and not knowing. To be honest, not much has changed. I still despair over the evil I see and I still haven’t figured out how how everything works. But I’ve come to believe that that’s just what it is to be human–to be me. It doesn’t somehow cancel out my faith.
“You say you don’t baptize children because they don’t believe. Why do you preach the Word to adults who don’t believe, unless perhaps in the hope that they may believe? You do it on the strength of God’s command alone. For if you baptize me because I say I believe, then you baptize on account of me and in my name. Therefore, since you don’t know whether I believe or don’t believe, you do it only because of God’s command. It isn’t necessary to exclude children, since as a rule you baptize all, whether they believe or not. It would be a terrible thing if I were baptized on the strength of my confession.”
– Martin Luther (Table Talk No. 549) on paedobaptism