Religion is always in agreement with the spirit of the air and the spirit of the age. It has an affection for temporal things, contemporary thought, and desires to be a part of the context of its time in history.
The spirit of the air= religion loves the systems and contents of the world. The spirit of the age= religion loves the knowledge, technology, and sophistication that marks individual time periods.
Religion will always tend toward intersectionality; intersecting and assimilating, appropriating and absorbing the secular in the name of the gospel– it brings in the pagan making “faith” accessible to the unchurched utilizing whitewashed pagan rituals that are familiar to the proselyte so that it is easier for him to get to church.
Ezekiel 13 talks about false prophets “inventing their own prophecies” ahead of a time of tribulation for Israel. In the passage the Lord speaks, comparing such prophets to “jackals digging in the ruins.” These prophets were proclaiming peace in the land, when in fact the Lord was preparing judgment for Israel.
The false prophets had a nice, easy-going, happy go-lucky, “we’re all good,” message to spread that was placating the guilty consciences of people who were about to be destroyed for their sins.
The Lord says to these prophets what Jesus will say to the Pharisees centuries later:
These evil prophets deceive my people by saying “All is peaceful” when there is no peace at all! It’s as if the people have built a flimsy wall, and these prophets are trying to reinforce it by covering it with whitewash! Tell these whitewashers that their wall will soon fall down. A heavy rainstorm will undermine it; great hailstones and mighty winds will knock it down. And when the walls fall down the people will cry out, “What happened to your whitewash?” Ezekiel 13:10-12
Just as Ezekiel debuts the equivalency of false religion and “whitewash,” Ezekiel also happens to house the term “fishermen.”
When Jesus tells the disciples they will become “fishers of men,” it is probably not so that they can relate to their new vocation in terms of their old occupation. Jesus calls them “fishers of men” because both Jeremiah and Ezekiel use the title “fishermen” to prophesy about a group of people that God ordains to go out into the nations and bring back His people from captivity. (Jeremiah 16 & Ezekiel 26-28.)
In fact, in Ezekiel 26, the completion of God’s judgment against His enemies is marked by the fishermen laying out their nets to dry. The fishermen’s job is complete once all of God’s people have been pulled out of the world so God can judge it.
“Fishermen” was not an accidental phrase on Jesus’ part– nor was whitewash. Both terms are references to Old Testament prophecy– prophesies that are for the Church Age at least in part.
The Old Testament prophesies of fishermen and whitewash are today’s evangelists and false prophecy, namely, a false gospel of peace.
Christians as evangelists are supposed to be yanking people out of their context, not putting an aquarium within church walls for them to swim around in their same old sea of humanity– we seek to comfort them with the familiar things of the world.
And here we come to the holiday case study: Halloween is all about familiarity — familiar spirits, spiritism, necromancy, and seeking the eternal in temporal beings. At Halloween the dead are venerated, prayed for, and by some, they are sought out.
Dead people are dead, gone. Jesus told His followers to “let the dead bury the dead.” Saul’s final insult to God was summoning Samuel from the grave.
There are nine specific laws in the Torah alone forbidding the use of witchcraft, sorcery, psychic practices, and mediums.
People are temporal beings. Once they are gone, they have no business on the earth save for the demonic– apparitions included.
The affinity for the spirits of the dead that our culture puts on parade at Halloween, is as an affinity for the spirit of the age and the spirit of the air— the spirit of things tied to the earth.
As Christians we are called to set out eyes on things above.
We are not called to celebrate dead things.
Yet, we celebrate many dead things– a love of culture, the idolatry of passing philosophies, beating the system we’re in; that’s not resurrection life, it’s being buried neck deep in the world.
A few months back, I was having very strong nostalgia for my “glory days.” It so happened that I was traveling back and forth through a few of my old haunts, and it was bringing up very potent memories.
This very real and nagging love and sadness for what had been, the person I was, the people I used to know, the types of jokes and drinks and cigarettes and music, the conversation, beliefs, books, and newscasts, the art, and scenery, and clothes and jewelry…I was aching for the past. The more I engaged with this wistfulness, the more I found myself puffing up with pride about “the sort of person I am,” the “things I know,” my “taste,” and I sort of developed an indignation toward my real in the flesh life.
There was this very real process of looking to the past, admiring objects that I didn’t even have anymore, and creating a pretentious scaffolding around myself. Oddly, these waves of nostalgia– and legitimate temptation– were instigated by the beautiful scenery of the places I was visiting.
My love for earthly things was literally being piqued by the Earth. The second commandment is no small thing! Thou shalt not create an idol of anything on, above, or below the earth.
In 1 Samuel 15:23 we read, “Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshipping idols.”
Witchcraft and idolatry are natural companions. They arise out of, and within each other. It is our love of dead things that gives us a love of dead religion.
Religion is obsessed with the riches of the earth. It wants its earthly reward. It is of the world but not in the world. Rather than being in the world but not of it. It venerates all things dead– dead works, dead rituals, dead people.
It’s little wonder that the Catholic holiday of All Hallow’s Eve is such a natural companion for the Neo-pagan holiday Samhain.
People make a big deal about Halloween, and about Christians participating in the festivities or about churches participating in the festivities.
And I think it is a big deal. It’s something you have to be thoughtful about- examine 1 Corinthians 10. But firstly, be prayerful about. Regardless of whether or not you go trick or treating, or go to a vigil mass, you need to be in prayer at this time about the dead things you are involved with all year that need to be laid to rest.
Is Halloween even the worst way you are tied up in culture?
The Lord has been showing me how much I am a product of this age. I’m seeing how much I love philosophizing, and thinking, and talking in super smart post-modern ways. He’s showing me where my treasure lies; and how many of my peers are like me, and how we are turning the gospel into intellectual rhetoric, throwing up flimsy walls to house ridiculous aquariums; and we are fawning over yellow books by dead Austrians, and all the new books, and just a lot of dead spirituality that generally damns.
The fellowship of light and darkness is of equal concern in July as it is in October.