By Vinnie MacIsaac
It is interesting to me that the word holiday comes from the linguistic heritage of “Holy Day.” Originally all western “holidays,” were early church holy days. As Western Civilization evolved and multiple stages of development took place this concept for better or worse got lost among us.
This brings me to an idea I’d like to discuss in brief; Often at this time of year, Christians get all worked up about Halloween. Just check your social media, and you will find endless posts, debates, and clever images about the Christian debate of this “holiday.” In fact, Halloween, if you like it or hate it, has a very religious background. According to The American Desk Encyclopedia, the etymology of the word means hallowed evening or holy evening. It was originally the evening before the day that the church dedicated to remembering the dead in particular the martyrs who gave their lives to keep the faith alive. By the middle ages, it had evolved to include the concepts of saints and purgatory and then as with most church holidays as they spread out they picked up an arraignment of pagan influences. Soon saints became spirits, and it was not long before witches, and Jack-o’-lanterns and such were added to the mix.
Clearly, as a Protestant Christian, I can’t and don’t believe in purgatory or praying to dead saints anymore then I can believe in ghosts or witches and Jack-o’-lanterns. But I will tell you what I do very much believe in; I do think we all need to be incredibly thankful and filled with holy gratitude for the millions of martyrs who gave their lives to keep this faith alive.
Martin Luther kick-started the Reformation via Protest!
Speaking of martyrs here is an interesting Halloween fact that most of us lose sight of – October 31st is not only Halloween but is it Reformation Day – the day that Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Schlosskirche church in Wittenberg. While Luther’s objections had been provoked by the practice of Indulgences (the idea that you could pay a fee to the church to be excused of a sin), he set off the firestorm that became the Protestant Reformation. The founding principles of the Protestant Reformation were Sola scriptura (by the Bible alone), Sola fide (justification by faith alone), and Sola gratia (salvation by grace alone). In essence, Protestants wanted to follow their own convictions in matters of faith and be true to what they came to understand to be Biblical faith.
And what was the cost of such a noble desire? Estimates of the death toll of the Protestant Reformation greatly vary depending on the faith background of the historian, but it is believed to be somewhere between 50-150 million people died because they were declared heretics for following their own beliefs rather than the Roman Catholic dogma. So again I say, let us remember the martyrs who died to keep this Biblical faith alive!
Oh, how ironic it is that on the very day the world should be celebrating Martin Luther, Religious Liberty, and the free of conviction for all, they are instead fixated on paying honor to evil in its various forms.
This Halloween I tell you there is a monster under your bed. Evil has not gone away, religious oppression has not been lifted out of this world, nor has the idea of killing people because of their religious beliefs suddenly disappeared. This Halloween I call you to join in Reformation day and join my protest.
I am a Protestant, and I still protest!
- I protest all who seek to force their convictions upon others.
- I protest all who would try to take the liberty of choice in religious matters away from the masses.
- I protest all who label others with terms like ‘heretic’ so that they can simply dismiss their views and attack their character rather than their ideas.
- I protest all who think it would be better for someone to be dead than to believe wrongly (differently) or even not at all.
- And lastly, I protest all who use religion as an excuse to hate, discriminate, and use physical violence or murder as a means to an end.
Join me, if only for this day, and become a Protestant this Halloween, rather then a monster in disguise hiding under the bed of religion.
Photo: DepositPhotos.com / Door to the Castle Church of All Saints, with the 95 Theses in bronze.