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October 2011

Halloween: It is better to wean than to hallow

Don’t be a pampoen this Halloween

Halloween is relatively new to South African society. It has no roots in our traditions or heritage yet some folk embrace it because it seems ‘fun’ and the children like it.

The purpose of this blog is to provide parents with some background to this pagan celebration, the implications of engaging in its activities, and suggestions for alternative approaches to what is in reality a potentially ‘evil’ celebration.

Halloween has its genesis in an ancient Celtic festival to honour the ‘lord of the dead’ , Samhain. The Celtic year began on the 1st November and on the last day of their year, 31st October, the spirits of the dead were said to return to their homes. To ward off these spirits the Celts used to perform rituals, sacrifice animals and humans and light bonfires on nearby hill tops. It was also a time when practitioners of the magic arts attempted to contact the dead and to divine the future because this day was seen as a ‘conjunction’ of the dark spirit world with our material world.

The early Roman Catholic church tried to ‘Christianise’ this ancient pagan festival by proclaiming  1st November as a festival for honouring the church saints. They called it ‘All saints day’ and referred to the night preceding  it as the ‘hallowed eve’; hence the name ‘hallow–een’ was applied to 31st October.

The colours associated with Halloween are orange and black. These symbolise the orange of the bonfires and the black of night. Today we call these festive fires bonfires but they were originally designated as bone-fires because the bodies of the sacrifices were burned in them. The Celts used to dance around and jump through the flames as the bodies burned. They believed that by doing this they would be purified and protected from the evil spirits abroad that night.

Another device they used for warding off evil was a candle within a hollowed out turnip or pumpkin. They called these ‘Jack-o-lanterns’ and carried them during the night of Samhain (Halloween).

Sometime in the 16th century witches and goblins were added to the mix. The witches were pictured as riding on broom sticks and the goblins were portrayed as black cats. These witches and their tiny companions were believed to move from house to house offering protection from the evil dead in return for favours. If no ‘treat’ was offered they would play a mean ‘trick’ on the house owners.

Halloween, the 31st October, is today one of the two great high days in the occult world. The first high day is April 30th and is called ‘Walpurgisnacht’, the ‘witches Sabbath’. The second high day is Halloween, the gateway between Hell and Earth! On these nights sacrifices are still made, blood is spilled and devotees walk through the glowing coals of the bone fires.

Now, tell me, do you want your children involved, in any way, with this sort of thing? Some argue that it is just a fun time for the kids and that if one doesn’t believe in it then it can’t do any harm. This, in my opinion, is a very naive view; in the spirit world colours, clothes, occasions and activities have significance and impact.  Participation in any way is, by implication, association and carries with it real spiritual danger.

Of course the children put a lot of pressure on parents; “EVERYONE is going trick-or-treating so why can’t I?” You have three options – to shun, to Christianise or to sanitise. To shun is to have nothing to do with it at all; in other words, to forbid your children from participating – but don’t be surprised if they ask to sleep over with a friend on that night. To Christianise would be to try and put the events into a Christian context. For instance, have the Halloween party on the church premises and try to explain the pagan elements or put a Christian ‘spin’ on them. This is not really a good idea because in all probability you will be tacitly sanctioning Halloween and making it appear respectable. The final option is to sanitise it by removing the harmful elements. For instance, you could hold a party in your own home and control the activities. This could also be seen as embracing the spirit of Halloween.

My best advice is that you explain to your children why it is not a good idea for them to participate in Halloween and then to ensure that you have some good, non Halloween, activities planned for that night. A visit to the ice rink, dinner at a steak house, a movie, or something like that would do the trick – your children’s best friends included of course. In other words, explain it, shun it and replace it.

Deuteronomy 18:10-13 is helpful.

May God BLESS you and give you both discernment and wisdom.


Halloween: It is better to wean than to hallow Read More »

Popular posts in the series

Jesus is the centre of… well, everything! This, as I’m sure you’ve gathered, has been the essence of my blog posts over the past 20 weeks. I have shared with you the various aspects of the Christocentric Principle as well as how to apply it. We began by focusing on the characteristics of Jesus and why he is the centre of our faith, church and the very personificaton of truth. We then discovered why Jesus is the centre of the Bible, too – as the interpreter of scripture he is the key to understanding it. Finally, in light of these truths, we turned to the actual essence of the Christocentric Principle and examples of it in action.  There was the question of Hell, equality between men and women, leadership failures in the church and more.  Before we move on to the next topic, I thought it would be good to stop and reflect on everything that has been written and shared.

Below are the most popular posts in the last 20 weeks. Thank you so much for reading and adding your comments and opinions. Please do consider sharing the posts that have touched you, so that others may too discover the truth: that Jesus is absolutely central to everything to do with our faith.  In so doing, you are doing your part, in part, in fulfilling the Great Commission.

May God bless you!

We often used to sing ‘Jesus be the centre’, a lovely song with sincere lyrics: ‘Jesus, be the centre, be my source, be my light, Jesus.’ The problem is though, that the words may reflect our perception but they do not reflect reality. Jesus cannot be the centre because we wish Him to be – He IS the centre…more


Many years ago I read a book called ‘Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions’ written in 1884 by the English schoolmaster Edwin Abbott Abbott. Although it was intended as a satirical comment on Victorian society, I found in it a powerful description of the interaction between different dimensions. Abbott’s Flatland is a world of only two dimensions, width and length but no height…more

I once asked a biblical scholar what he was looking forward to most in heaven. He replied, “I can’t wait to read the scriptures with full understanding.” Seems like a noble desire yet it appears to me to be a very strange ambition. In heaven we will have full access to the Lord Jesus Christ, the author of scripture, so why would we read an ethereal version of the Bible when we can talk to its author? more

I used to have a steel putter in a convenient place near my bed as some form of protection in the event of a break in. But then I sold my golf clubs and so was without a suitable means of protection. Was I wrong to want to be able to protect myself and family? Should I rather have relied entirely on God to protect me? Is self-defence an element of good stewardship or an obvious lack of faith?…more

To judge or not to judge?

During the worship last Sunday a man turned around to the woman standing behind him and told her to be quiet. Apparently she was singing exuberantly or shaking the back of his chair with her passionate response to the presence of God. Perhaps he was joking, although even then his action must have been triggered by a judgement he made – “This woman is offending my hyper conservative sensibilities and I have the right to tell her to stop it!” Oh really? Do we have the right to judge others like this, let alone express our judgement in this way?…more

Popular posts in the series Read More »

A recursive example – The Christocentric Principle in action

“Jesus wanted the young man to understand that rigorous law-keeping could not procure eternal life”
I was first introduced to the word ‘recursive’ in a visit to Washington DC in 1983. The word means ‘ the repeated application of a function to its own values’ and the lecturers of the course I was on applied it quite dramatically. He wanted to make the point that learning is more about discovery than assimilating knowledge. So he structured the entire day’s programme as an ambiguous meander through possibilities and alternatives. By lunch time half of the 100 delegates had walked out in frustration and only six of us lasted till the end and finally got the benefit of actually learning something important.
I thought I would conclude this post series on the Christocentric Principle with a recursive example!
Matthew 19:16-26 and Luke 18:18-30 tell the story of Jesus’ encounter with a rich young man. In these accounts Jesus appears to come across as somewhat harsh, cold and judgemental. It seems like he was purposefully setting the young man a challenge guaranteed to prick his religious bubble and send him off condemned. In the light of this Jesus’ conclusion seems to be “See then, there is no chance of a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 
I have defined the Christocentric Principle as, ‘Interpreting the Bible and the world primarily through the lens of Jesus’ Words, Works, and the biblical revelation of His Nature, Character, and Values’. In the case in question we have Jesus’ recorded words but something just does not sit right – his words and attitude seem to contradict his consistent presentation of God’s nature, character, and values. So, as I read the account in Matthew and Luke a little red flag goes up in my heart – something is not as it seems to be here. 
Mark also records the story of Jesus and the rich young man (Mark 10:17-27) but he includes something of vital importance that the other two writers omit. In verse 21 he writes, ‘Jesus looked at him and loved him.’ These seven words change everything! In the light of this I can read the story again and understand it from a very different perspective. 
Jesus wanted the young man to understand that rigorous law-keeping could not procure eternal life so he cited the law, elicited a response, and then showed the man that perfect law keeping was just not possible or eternally effective. He also wanted to make it clear to the young man that the one who stood before him was more than a teacher of the law; he was in fact God, the only one worthy of being called ‘good’. Then he, God the Son, made the man the offer of a lifetime – “Come, follow me.” Money, land, title, and law all pale into relative insignificance compared to the privilege and eternal blessing of following Jesus! 
Mark makes it clear but even if we did not have his account we could come to the same conclusion by prayerfully applying the Christocentric Principle. 
I would be very interested to hear of any other examples of the Christocentric Principle in action you have gleaned from the Bible – please let me know by posting a comment.

The Christocentric Principle in Action – More examples:
To judge or not to judge?

The Question of Leadership Failure
The Christocentric Principle

A recursive example – The Christocentric Principle in action Read More »

To judge or not to judge? The Christocentric Principle in action

“Told you so!”
During the worship last Sunday a man turned around to the woman standing behind him and told her to be quiet. Apparently she was singing exuberantly or shaking the back of his chair with her passionate response to the presence of God. Perhaps he was joking, although even then his action must have been triggered by a judgement he made – “This woman is offending my hyper conservative sensibilities and I have the right to tell her to stop it!” Oh really? Do we have the right to judge others like this, let alone express our judgement in this way?
Jesus made it very clear what he thought; “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:1-2). And again, “Do not judge and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned” (Luke 6:37).
When they brought to Jesus a woman caught in the act of adultery he challenged her accusers and then said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:10-11)
Jesus was not judgemental yet he certainly was not soft on sin. He did not condone what the woman had done and instructed her not to do it again. I suppose I could say that he judged the sin and not the person committing the sin but the fact is that he refrained from passing judgement on her.
Obviously we need to make judgements regarding situations, events, opportunities and so on. We also need to judge if something is right or wrong or doctrinally sound or not. Paul wrote, ‘I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say’ (1 Corinthians 10:15-16). However, he also wrote, ‘You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat’ (Romans 14:10).
The tetchy man’s words wounded the dear lady behind him in church. Most of us aren’t that obvious in our judgements but overt or covert we still should not judge others, and if we do then we run the risk of being judged by the only one entitled to judge the living and the dead – God Himself. O dear, I haven’t just passed a judgement on the crass young man, have I? 🙂

The Christocentric Principle in Action – More examples:

The Question of Leadership Failure
The Christocentric Principle

To judge or not to judge? The Christocentric Principle in action Read More »

About Me

My name is Christopher Peppler and I was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1947. While working in the financial sector I achieved a number of business qualifications from the Institute of Bankers, Damelin Management School, and The University of the Witwatersrand Business School. After over 20 years as a banker, I followed God’s calling and joined the ministry full time. After becoming a pastor of what is now a quite considerable church, I  earned an undergraduate theological qualification from the Baptist Theological College of Southern Africa and post-graduate degrees from two United States institutions. I was also awarded the Doctor of Theology in Systematic Theology from the University of Zululand in 2000.

Four years before that I established the South African Theological Seminary (SATS), which today is represented in over 70 countries and has more than 2 500 active students enrolled with it. I presently play an role supervising Masters and Doctoral students.

I am a passionate champion of the Christocentric or Christ-centred Principle, an approach to biblical interpretation and theological construction that emphasises the centrality of Jesus

I have been happily married to Patricia since the age of 20, have two children, Lance and Karen, a daughter-in-law Tracey, and granddaughters Jessica and Kirsten. I have now retired from both church and seminary leadership and devote my time to writing, discipling, and the classical guitar.

If you would like to read my testimony to Jesus then click HERE.