ADVERTISING
 
Friday, May 25   Sign in or Register
 
Evangelical Focus
 

 
ADVERTISING
 
 
FOLLOW US ON
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google +
  • Instagram
  • Soundcloud
 

Newsletter
Newsletter, sign up to receive all our News by email.
 

POLL
State and Religion
Should religious symbols be displayed in buildings of the public administration?



SEE MORE POLLS
 

 
TOP 10 MOST VIEWED



Jeff Fountain
 

Coincidence?

In those regions which embraced the Reformation, Halloween came to be seen as incompatible with Biblical teaching.

WINDOW ON EUROPE AUTHOR Jeff Fountain 30 OCTOBER 2017 14:33 h GMT+1

While millions this week will be celebrating Halloween globally, millions of Protestant believers around the world will also be celebrating the start of the Reformation exactly 500 years ago tomorrow. Is that just coincidence?



Actually, no. The city parades and festivals of the dead being enacted out on the world stage this week are related to what led to vigorous protests in 1517 from a stout Augustinian monk named Martin Luther.



For Halloween or Hallowe’en (meaning ‘hallowed’ or ‘holy’ evening) was the start of the three-day season in the Catholic liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead. That is, the saints (or hallows), the martyrs and all the faithful departed. Although the word Halloween was first used only around 1745, some traditions date from the ancient pagan Celtic harvest festival of Samhain, which the Church tried to christianise in the first millennium.



Samhain signalled the beginning of the ‘darker half’ of the year. During this liminal (transitional) time, the boundary between this world and the otherworld thinned. In this twilight zone, spirits and fairies were particularly active.



Catholic teaching on purgatory held that the souls of the dead maintained an in-between state for some time. Many believed those souls wandered the earth until All Saints’ Day. The eve before–Halloween–provided one last chance for the dead to avenge themselves on their enemies before moving to the next world. Hence the use of masks and costumes to trick such avenging souls.



Halloween celebrations were kept alive particularly in the Celtic regions of Britain, which included Ireland and Scotland. With waves of migration from those countries to North America in the 19th century, Halloween took root across the Atlantic.



 



INCENSED



Back in 1517, Luther was not only theology professor at Wittenberg University but also the priest at the main city church. When his parishioners stopped coming for confession, he discovered they were going to surrounding towns to buy indulgences. Luther was incensed by this replacement of confession by offering salvation through indulgences.



For nearly a decade, parishioners had been told they could release the souls of loved ones from purgatory simply by buying an official-looking piece of paper. He realised his parishioners were being targeted by a fund-raising campaign for building St Peters in Rome, the so-called Peter’s Indulgence. So he began to preach against the practice. True repentance and penitence could not be replaced by the mere purchase of an indulgence, he taught.



On All Saints Eve, October 31, the peak of the season for indulgence purveyors to play on people’s fears about the souls of dead relatives, Luther was goaded into writing a letter to his church superiors, hoping to get rid of this abuse. In this letter he included his now famous 95 Theses which he hoped would provoke a discussion on the topic.



Luther sent the letter off to a few bishops and also to some friends. Some of the friends quickly started spreading the 95 Theses through the newly-invented printing press – in Leipzig, Nuremberg and Basel. A long fuse had been lit which would soon erupt into what we now call the Reformation.



No doubt the dramatic story of Luther nailing up his theses on the Wittenberg door will be retold endlessly this week. Yet today few scholars believe it to be true. Luther himself never wrote about it. Only after his death did the story begin to circulate. Most agree Luther was genuinely motivated by a desire to clear up these misunderstandings and not to provoke his superiors… at least at this stage of his career.



 



RETHINK



In those regions which embraced the Reformation, Halloween came to be seen as incompatible with Biblical teaching. Purgatory became viewed with great suspicion of being a ‘popish notion’ contradictory to the core reformational teaching of salvation by grace and faith alone. The idea of restless souls of the departed dead from whom one needed protection by masks and costumes was now seen as unbiblical.



The Reformation that Luther and his fellow reformers found themselves leading would fundamentally redefine the place of humans in the world and the human relation to God. Rejecting intermediary institutions, particularly the papacy and the church as arbiter of salvation and grace, it brought about a total rethink about the individual’s place in the cosmos.



This would mean on the one hand the recovery of a biblical worldview, a reformed church and a renewed understanding of Christ as cosmic lord.



Ironically on the other hand, Luther’s initiative on October 31 is seen by many today as itself opening an new underworld of spirits of desacralisation, enlightenment and secularisation giving us our modern world with no place for the transcendent.



Doubly ironically, it is this secular world that delights once more to escape from reason into the fantasies of Halloween.



Jeff Fountain is Director of the Schuman Centre for European Studies, and speaks on issues facing Christians today in Europe. He writes at Weekly Word.


 

 


0
COMMENTS

    If you want to comment, or

 



 
 
YOUR ARE AT: - - - Coincidence?
 
ADVERTISING
 
 
 
AUDIOS Audios
 
Ruth Valerio: A lifestyle that cares about creation Ruth Valerio: A lifestyle that cares about creation

Are Christians called to make a difference in environmental care? What has creation care to do with "loving our neighbours"? An interview with the Global Advocacy and Influencing Director of Tearfund.

 
Kathy Bryan: Online sex trafficking in the USA Kathy Bryan: Online sex trafficking in the USA

“Prostitution is nobody’s dream,  it’s a very traumatic lifestyle”, says Kathy Bryan, director of the Elevate Academy. She mentors former victims.

 
Christians in politics? Christians in politics?

What is the role of Christians serving in politics? An interview with Auke Minnema, the new General Director of the European Christian Political Movement (ECPM).

 
Michael Ramsden: Communicating the Gospel in today’s societies Michael Ramsden: Communicating the Gospel in today’s societies

RZIM International Director Michael Ramsden responds to questions about the secularisation of Europe, the role of Christians in public leadership and the new ‘culture of victimism’.

 
Michael Schluter: Relationships are the key to build Europe Michael Schluter: Relationships are the key to build Europe

The economist summarises the manifesto “Confederal Europe: Strong Nations, Strong Union” and explains why personal relationships should be at the centre of our economy, education and democracy. 

 
Efraim Tendero: Relationship with Roman Catholicism and other current issues Efraim Tendero: Relationship with Roman Catholicism and other current issues

The World Evangelical Alliance Secretary General participated in the Italian Evangelical Alliance assembly (Rome, 8-9 April). In this interview with Evangelical Focus, Bp Tendero talks about the need to listen to local churches and to face challenges like the refugee crisis and climate change. 

 
Greg Pritchard: European Leadership Forum Greg Pritchard: European Leadership Forum

Pritchard explains the vision of ELF, comments on the 2015 event in Poland and reflects on what it means to have an "evangelical identity".

 
PICTURES Pictures
 
Analysing current issues in the light of the Bible Analysing current issues in the light of the Bible

At the 2018 Apologetics Forum in Comarruga (Spain), Michael Ramsden, Pablo Martinez, Ruth Valerio and José de Segovia analysed how society and the Bible approach the issues of personal identity, integrity, sexuality, pop culture, and environmental care.

 
European “Bridges to Inclusion” gathering 2018, in Riga European “Bridges to Inclusion” gathering 2018, in Riga

The network of Christian ministries working for the inclusion of people with disabilities, celebrated its tenth continental meeting in Latvia with the participation of 12 countries.

 

 
Coexistence in the church - a model for society Coexistence in the church - a model for society

“Gospel, identity and coexistence” were the themes of the General Assembly of the Spanish Evangelical Alliance. Two days in Palma de Mallorca to reflect about the role of evangelical churches in society.

 
'Ungi kulimi changana' 'Ungi kulimi changana'

Educator and journalist Jordi Torrents shares images of the Sekeleka social centre in Mozambique. About 50 children live there, many with some kind of disability. All photos were taken with permission.

 
The President in an evangelical church on Christmas Eve The President in an evangelical church on Christmas Eve

For the first time, the President of Portugal attended a worship service in an evangelical church. It was in Sintra, on Christmas Eve.

 
Stamps to commemorate the Reformation Stamps to commemorate the Reformation

Poland, Lithuania, Namibia and Brazil are some of the countries that have issued special stamps on the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 theses.

 
VIDEO Video
 
What are the cultural roots of the transgender movement? What are the cultural roots of the transgender movement?

Peter Saunders, CEO of the Christian Medical Fellowship (UK) summarises>the philosophical framework that made the transgender movement so popular.

 
Pitfalls that Christian artists should avoid Pitfalls that Christian artists should avoid

Delta David Gier, Conductor and Music Director, on some of the dangers for artists.

 
Why are Christian leaders particularly vulnerable to sexual temptation? Why are Christian leaders particularly vulnerable to sexual temptation?

“The reasons why somebody might have sex with a prostitute are very different from the reasons why somebody might want to have an affair with a member of their congregation”. An analysis by John Stevens, National Director of FIEC (UK).

 
Be safe on social media Be safe on social media

A video about the way traffickers target teenage girls online, produced by anti-slavery gorup Abolishion.

 
In Mission In Mission

A 360º lyric video about how all followers of Jesus Christ are called to serve God. Duo in Spanish (Alex Sampedro) and Portuguese (Marcos Martins).

 
Heart Heart

A short animation film by Swiss cartoonist Alain Auderset tells the message of the Bible in four minutes.

 
Philip Yancey interview Philip Yancey interview

An 8-minute interview with Philip Yancey on the role of Christians in a secularised society. Recorded in Madrid, September 2016.

 
An interview with Prof. John Lennox An interview with Prof. John Lennox

New atheism, the definition of "faith", Christianity in Europe, the role of the Bible in mission, and the need to listen more. An exclusive interview recorded at "Forum Apologética" (Tarragona, Spain) in May 2016.

 
 
Follow us on Soundcloud
Follow us on YouTube
 
 
WE RECOMMEND
 
PARTNERS
 

 
AEE
EVANGELICAL FOCUS belongs to Areópago Protestante, linked to the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE). AEE is member of the European
Evangelical Alliance and World Evangelical Alliance.
 

Opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of Evangelical Focus.