The Pen

Start a Reformation Day Tradition

JD will challenge you on Friday’s program, and will mention this article, to start a new Reformation Day tradition. Keep in mind that some people call this holiday “Halloween” and it has something to do with costumes – or so we hear. For those who prefer a candy-infused celebration that doesn’t involve dressing up as demons or promiscuous nurses in fishnet stockings, perhaps a Christ-centered holiday is for you.

Celebrating Reformation Day began in 1567, fifty years after Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany. This began the Protestant Reformation, which kicked off perhaps the greatest move of the Holy Spirit post the Apostolic Age. Call us crazy, but we think it seems more worthy of celebration than the Great Pumpkin or whatever it is that Halloween is about.

Ligonier summarizes the events leading up to Reformation Day as follows…

“An heir of Bishop Augustine of Hippo, Martin Luther is one of the most significant figures God has raised up since that time. This law student turned Augustinian monk became the center of a great controversy after his theses were copied and distributed throughout Europe. Initially protesting the pope’s attempt to sell salvation, Luther’s study of Scripture soon led him to oppose the church of Rome on issues including the primacy of the Bible over church tradition and the means by which we are found righteous in the sight of God.

This last issue is probably Luther’s most significant contribution to Christian theology. Though preached clearly in the New Testament and found in the writings of many of the church fathers, the medieval bishops and priests had largely forgotten the truth that our own good works can by no means merit God’s favor. Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone, and good works result from our faith, they are not added to it as the grounds for our right standing in the Lord’s eyes (Eph. 2:8-10). Justification, God’s declaration that we are not guilty, forgiven of sin, and righteous in His sight comes because through our faith alone the Father imputes, or reckons to our account, the perfect righteousness of Christ (2 Cor. 5:21).

Martin Luther’s rediscovery of this truth led to a whole host of other church and societal reforms and much of what we take for granted in the West would have likely been impossible had he never graced the scene. Luther’s translation of the Bible into German put the Word of God in the hands of the people, and today Scripture is available in the vernacular language of many countries, enabling lay people to study it with profit. He reformed the Latin mass by putting the liturgy in the common tongue so that non-scholars could hear and understand the preached word of God and worship the Lord with clarity. Luther lifted the unbiblical ban on marriage for the clergy and by his own teaching and example radically transformed the institution itself. He recaptured the biblical view of the priesthood of all believers, showing all people that their work had purpose and dignity because in it they can serve their Creator.”

So, the Pulpit & Pen challenges you to find a new family tradition. Here are some ideas:

1. Take poster-board, and staple to it 95 Resee’s peanut butter cups (individually wrapped), with tracts underneath them. Child Evangelism Fellowship makes good tracts for kids (you might have to black-out the Sinner’s Prayer on the back, or glue over it your church’s business card). Write “95 Resee’s” in black on the poster-board and even if no one gets it, your kids will enjoy the inside joke.

2. Drop off a bag of 95 Reese’s to your local Catholic Church, along with a print-out of this article from John MacArthur concerning the ecumenical document, Evangelicals and Catholics Together, explaining why evangelicals and Catholics don’t observe the same religion (and include a Gospel tract or two). Be nice about it. They’ll appreciate the candy. Don’t nail it to the door unless you want a vandalism charge. They’ll be shocked to find out that there are actually Protestants who are still protesting.

3. Hand out tracts with each piece of candy you give away (don’t give them away in lieu of candy, Mr. Grinch), and hand out a tract at each home from where you get candy (if you still observe the high holy day of the Great Pumpkin). You can find excellent tracts at One Million Tracts or Tract Planet.

4. Watch the movie, Luther, with your family. Or, maybe the old one.

5. You can make a haunted house, and maybe call it something religious-ish like “Judgment House.” Turn the heat up as high as it will go, and have your friends or loved ones dress like demons, acting as though they will drag people to hell. Then, have the attendees say the Sinner’s Prayer on their way out, having literally scared them into Heaven. Just kidding (that would be manipulative and wrong-headed).

A party with costumes and acquiring candy from strangers on October 31 is a Halloween Party, even if you choose to call it a Harvest Party or Fall Festival and dress like a Bible character. And if you choose to celebrate that tradition, that’s no doubt a matter of Christian liberty. But if you want something different, start a Reformation Day tradition.