In this episode I respond to a question about Halloween and the local church, and how Christians can handle disagreements in a way that glorifies Christ and preserves fellowship.
Listen below, and use the links to subscribe to Signposts to get new episodes when they publish.
Below is an edited transcript of the audio.
I had a question from a listener asking about Halloween, and she is particularly concerned not about Halloween itself and whether or not Christians ought to celebrate Halloween; there are all sorts of resources you can look at about that. Her question particularly is about disagreements that she has in her small group in her church. They have a small group, community group Bible study and some of the families Trick or Treat and their kids dress up and they do Halloween, some of the families don’t because they think that Halloween is a pagan holiday and they think it celebrates darkness and those sorts of things, and so they have a disagreement. She is just asking, what do we do when Christians disagree about something like Halloween?
I think it is a really good question because it comes at something that the scripture talks about really clearly in Romans 14 when Paul is talking about differing consciences on questions along these lines. You have a dispute that is going on in the church at Rome between people who would argue that a Christian ought only eat vegetables and people who would say the conscience is free to also eat meat. Now, think about this, there are kinds of multiple layers here: why would a Christian argue for a vegetarian only sort of meal? Well, on the one hand you could have Christians who would say that on the basis of the way that Christianity restores the original creation, and those Christians might say, “Well, human beings weren’t created to kill and to eat meat from animals and so let’s return to a time when we are eating only vegetables.” That’s not the only argument there. There is another argument that could say, especially when you are living in an ancient world where a lot of meat was being sacrificed to idols, that the way that a Christian could maintain his or her witness is not to be eating meat at all. Think about 1 Corinthians; a lot of 1 Corinthians is talking about that dispute about meat offered to idols and what do you do and how do you figure that out and how do you not wreck a weaker brother over the eating of meat?
So, that’s a real issue on the table in many different contexts. What Paul says about this is to say in Romans 14, “As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions; one person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls and he will be upheld for the Lord is able to make him stand. One person esteems one day as better than the other, while another esteems all days alike, each one to be fully convinced in his own mind, the one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord, the one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he abstains, he abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God, for none of us lives to himself and none of us dies to himself. If we live, we live to the Lord; if we die, we die to the Lord, so then, whether we live or whether we die we are the Lords, for to this end, Christ died and lived again that he might be the Lord of both the dead and of the living, why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or why do you despise your brother for we will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ?”
Now, obviously what the apostle Paul is teaching there under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is not that there are not moral boundaries in terms of be...