Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Spooky Theology

So here it is. Halloween. I'm sitting at the office...with some brownies with orange and black M&M's in them. I'm not lementing a lack of trick or treating any longer. Although I am at the awkward stage still: WAY too old to go out begging for candy...not old enough for my own kids to go (and subsequently mooch off their candy)...and still in an apartment complex with not too many trick or treaters.

Thus I will use this time formerly used for Halloween festivities to blog about some of the issues I see Halloween bringing. I posted one article about evangelicals using this night as an opportunity to witness- I just hope they aren't stingy with the candy- that'd be a bad witness.

What about these "haunted house alternatives"? I remember as a young'n going to "Heaven's Gates Hell's Flames" and as a high schooler attending "Judgement House". Haunted houses are seen by some as demonic/dangerous/satanic/lame/whatever so churches set up spiritual alternatives. They encourage groups to "bring every spirtually lost youth and adult you know". I dunno if I have a tough time with this or not.

In my experience, you went and observe different scenes played out where some kids died and you saw who went to heaven and who went to hell. Then afterwords they brought you into a room, you heard about accepting Jesus Christ, did the "with every head bowed every eye closed" routine, filled out a card, and got on your way.

At the time (10th grade), I felt the whole thing a bit presumptuous. There was this one dude who was grilling me about my salvation blah blah blah. I was like: 'man, you don't even know me!' But I could have had an isolated negative experience.

So the question to me is, are these a good idea? What sort of theology are we communicating?

First of all, before anyone accuses me of thinking I have all the answers, who cares what I think. God will use for his good whatever God will use for his good. Far be it from me to criticize good people working hard for something they believe in. Also I always talk about how the church needs to get with the program and be "relevant" and this is one way they can do that- use a holiday for "good". That being said, here's what I think.

I don't see how people get off portraying who goes to heaven and who goes to hell based on a list of 5 steps which they later give to you. I don't see how a church can boast about "hundreds of souls being saved" and then not give a thought to every one of those souls being in their congregation the next Sunday, or any congregation the next Sunday. I don't see judging who goes to heaven and hell in the human job description. I see leading others to those conclusions as manipulative and dangerous.

Literally scaring the hell out of people is not my personal method of sharing the gospel. I want kids to come to Jesus out of love, out of being sick and tired of all the crap the world is trying to sell them and always feeling like nothing is ever enough. I want kids to see all the beautiful ways God calls us to live- not just giving them "fire insurance".

Well, there it is. Happy Halloween!


Matt said...

Amen Bro. Not my job (thankfully) to say who goes and who doesn't. Way too much pressure. Leave it to God. I think that I understand what Jesus meant when He said "I Am the Truth, the Light, and the Way" and that "Nobody comes to the Father except through Me". I'll leave it at that. I don't know where you (or anyone else for that matter) are in your walk with Christ. We can help each other in our respective walks by trying to explain what it all means to us but ultimately, in the end it comes down to me and Jesus and what He thinks. Scare tactics turn people off!

Adam Caldwell said...

"...in the end it comes down to me and Jesus and what He thinks."

Hmmm...not sure about that, could be a slippery slope to individualism.

Kara said...

I have never had a good experience with one of the church halloween time things. Back freshman year of high school (wow... 6 years ago!) I went to this "Reality House" thing in Eureka (with 3 other EUMC people). They put you through this whole car crash simulation, you die, lay on the thing in the morgue, see yourself in a mirror when you look in the coffin, walk thru this dark, loud, overheated church basement which is supposed to be hell... BAD experience. I was scared of driving anywhere for the month. Compound that with the fact that afterwards this Baptist lady yelled (yes, yelled!) at me that I wasn't a Christian because I didn't know the exact day I was saved.

While it is our job to tell people about Christ, we aren't supposed to scare them spit-less or insult them! It is the work of the Holy Spirit who brings people to God.
Being at a Baptist University, I have learned a great deal of Baptist theology (that I don't always agree with). I think that scare tactic approach stems out of the "once saved, always saved" theology and the misconstrued idea that simply praying a prayer with some set a words is the key to everything.

Few people will respond to the repent or go to hell tactic. Besides, that is not what deciding to follow Christ is about! Its about restoring our relationship with God, His love for us, and the hope we now have.

Adam said...

preach Kara!