Is participating in Halloween and pumpkin carving a form of idolatry? That's just one of the questions we'll be answering on today's edition of CORE Christianity. Well, hi, this is Bill Meyer, along with Pastor Adriel Sanchez, and this is the radio program where we answer your questions about the Bible and the Christian life every day. Of course, you can also post your question on one of our social media sites, and you can always email us at questionsatcorechristianity.com. First up today, here's an email from one of our listeners, and they say, How should Christians respond to spiritual claims made by Buddhists? My daughter is now a practicing Buddhist, and I don't know how to answer her questions and how Buddhism really compares with the Bible.
Well, I guess it depends on the specific questions that your daughter is asking. When I hear people, at least where I live in Southern California, talk about, I'm kind of interested in Buddhism, there isn't really a firm commitment to Buddhism. It's just this idea that we're looking for new kinds of spirituality and the sort of philosophies that Buddhism presents are appealing to us, attractive to us. Now, some of the key differences have to do with the fact that Buddhism really is not about a personal God, whereas Christianity is. Christianity is about the worship of the Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, about how God has acted in history to redeem us, to forgive our sins. Buddhism does not have a theology of a personal God. In fact, it's sort of agnostic, if you will. Trying to escape or get away from suffering through a series of practices and teachings to follow, but it goes about it, we would say, of course, the wrong way.
I think some of those key distinctions, though, not really having a theology of sin, not really having a belief in a personal God or a focus on that, I would think those would be the big distinctions to hone in on and to talk about because you want your daughter to know and to love Christ. I remember some years ago talking to a woman who was raised in Korea in a Buddhist family, in a Buddhist community, and she was telling me that her mother and her were very poor. They didn't have any money. Her father was not around and that no one in their community would help them, would give them food or resources, but they all kind of just looked down upon them because they felt like if they were helping them, they would be going against essentially what the universe had decreed for them. They must have done something bad in a previous life was the idea, which is why they're poverty-stricken, and so we don't want to help them and go against karma.
They're getting what they deserve. She talked about how difficult that was and how beautiful it was when she first heard the Gospel and experienced the grace of Jesus Christ. There's some real serious issues with Buddhism.
Obviously, it's not the truth in terms of the true religion, but we see how it can be used as well in ways that are very hurtful. I would say focusing on the Gospel always in these conversations and highlighting some of those key distinctions would be the best way to approach this. God's judgment, God's curse. Grace is the fact that God gives us the gift of eternal life in his Son, Jesus Christ, not on the basis of the fact that we've earned it, not karma, but solely on the basis of the merit of Jesus Christ and what he's done for us. Bill, I'm glad you mentioned that because that right there is probably the best place to go when you're having this conversation, just talking about the Gospel and the unmerited favor of God in Christ. Amen. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez.
If you have a question about the Bible or the Christian life doctrine, theology, maybe how your Christian walk intersects with what's happening in today's culture, maybe you've experienced some type of persecution for your beliefs, or maybe you consider yourself to be an agnostic or an atheist and you really have some major doubts about this whole Christianity thing. We are open to your calls as well. Here's the phone number to call and we'll be taking calls for the next 20 minutes or so. Call 1-833-THE-CORE. That's 1-833-843-2673. You can also leave us a voicemail at that number 24 hours a day. And here's a voicemail from one of our listeners named Terry.
I don't know if she's 18 or 19. My brother's wife doesn't know about it. He just said that he needed to just release it off his chest. That's why he confessed it to me.
My question is this. How do I handle this new information? Do I get him hooked up with a pastor? Do I tell the wife?
Do I talk to the young woman, his stepdaughter? I'm just not sure what to do. I'm very heartbroken that he needs to know. I'm heartbroken that he could do such a terrible thing.
I'm just conflicted. I would like your advice, Pastor Adrian. Thank you.
Yeah, Terry, thank you for that. Definitely just heartbroken as well to hear about this situation. I do think that this is something that needs to be brought to the light, both for your sister-in-law.
Obviously, I think him just wanting to get it off his chest probably realizes how foolish he was, how wrong this is, and is trying to deal with it. But the right way to deal with it is to, one, to speak to his wife, to confess that. The other concerning thing is with a stepdaughter, this is, I would call it abusive behavior, even predatory behavior. That might be difficult for you to hear as his sister. But there's something really wrong with this situation where you have the daughter living in the home and him in this authority position, this father-type figure. Perhaps taking advantage of that and entering into a relationship or something abusive. It's not a relationship.
I'm very concerned. I think that this does need to be brought into the light. I think that the young woman needs to get care and attention and help in terms of dealing with and processing through this situation. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 5, verse 1, he brings up a case that was similar in the Corinthian church. He says, it is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you and of a kind that is not even tolerated, even among pagans, for a man has his father's wife. A little different there, but there's this immoral sexual relationship within the family, and you are ignorant.
He says, ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. If your brother is a professing Christian, this needs to be dealt with in the context of the church too. This is where the church needs to step in and enforce church discipline and plead for restoration, for forgiveness for him in the church. Really, I think, again, come alongside of the young woman and your sister-in-law too and caring for them because they've been sinned against.
Oftentimes, let me just say this. In situations like this, all of the focus and the attention goes to the person who has essentially committed the sin, the person who was in the position of authority. When there's situations where there's a pastor who's abused his authority and maybe he opens up and he confesses and everybody focuses on that individual saying, well, he said he's sorry, we need to forgive, so on and so forth. What we really need to focus is on the young woman and caring for her and coming alongside of her and helping her. She probably understands that this is wrong, this was not okay, but walking alongside of her and helping her to process this. I pray that God brings true repentance for your brother in this situation and healing for everyone else involved and that this does come into the light and that somehow through even these very terrible circumstances, that somehow through this, Christ would be magnified.
Terry, God be with you. In a situation where there's a minor, and we know unfortunately even within the church, sexual abuse happens, and you've mentioned before a wonderful organization that people can turn to if something like that has maybe happened in their church body. It stands for Godly Response to Abuse in a Christian Environment.
Netgrace.org is the website. They do a lot of wonderful work, I think, with churches and dealing with cases of abuse within the church and creating safeguarding policies for our churches. You're right. In this situation, it sounds like the woman is an adult barely. Obviously, things would be different if she was under the age of 18.
Obviously, you'd have to get the authorities involved, I would say 100 percent. Even in this situation, even though she's 18 or 19, Terry said, I would still see this as a case of abuse where you have an authority figure in the home who has entered into an inappropriate relationship with this younger woman. It should still be very concerning. It needs to be brought into the light and it needs to be dealt with. Some really good counsel. Thanks for that, Adriel.
It's a very difficult situation. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. Our phone lines are open. If you have a question about the Bible, the Christian life, you name it, we are open to your questions and even praying for you if you've got a significant issue that you're dealing with in your life. The phone number is 833-THE-CORE.
That's 833-843-2673. We do receive a lot of questions here at Core Christianity about spiritual gifts and speaking in tongues. Today, we want to offer you a free resource on that topic. The resource is called Six Things You Need to Know About Spiritual Gifts. As Bill just said, we do get questions about the gifts of the Holy Spirit from time to time on this broadcast.
That's one of the reasons why we made this resource. There is a lot of confusion in the church today about spiritual gifts, about the role of miracles in the life of the church today. There are a lot of ways in which, and I'm sure you've seen it, you turn on TV and watch a televangelist, somebody who claims to have healing powers, you'll just send this amount of money, you can get delivered from this, that, or the other. There's abuse when it comes to spiritual gifts and miracles.
We really want to help you to understand this topic in particular. The resource is called, once more, Six Things You Need to Know About Spiritual Gifts. You can download it for free over at corechristianity.com. It's such a great resource answering some challenging questions that people may have about the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts. You can find that again by going to corechristianity.com forward slash offers, corechristianity.com forward slash offers. Look for Six Things You Should Know About Spiritual Gifts. Well, we do have a YouTube channel here at Core Christianity. You can actually watch Adriel live on YouTube every weekday at 1130 a.m. Pacific time.
Just translate that into your own time zone, 1130 a.m. Pacific. And you can check out what's happening in the studio here at Core Christianity and submit a question through our YouTube channel. Here's one that came in from Robert. He says, Which verses would you share the Gospel with, with someone who is willing to listen but only has minimal time? First, I would just say we want to make sure that we get the Gospel very clear. And that's the beautiful thing about the Gospel is it is a message, I think, good news that you can share, even in a brief interaction. Now, of course, there's also all of this complexity in one sense or just richness to the Gospel so that we can never exhaust its wonder, its glory.
We could talk about it all day long. But at the same time, we can talk about it in very simple ways that children could understand or that we could communicate in a short period of time. So focusing on the Gospel as what God has accomplished in His Son, Jesus Christ, to redeem sinners. And not just individuals, but ultimately the restoration of all things, right, the new creation that is promised. But when you're talking to somebody individually, I think focusing on the forgiveness of sins that God accomplished in sending His Son, Jesus Christ, into the world for us so that we might have eternal life. And so focusing on the love of God, focusing on the action of God, focusing on the mercy that God gives to all those who would turn to Christ and believe in Him. We don't want to present the Gospel as, you know, if you do these things, God will accept you.
These works is what I mean. You know, like God accepts you on the basis of your own righteousness, try harder, do better, especially if somebody doesn't have a lot of time. Like that's not good news. I can't. I'm bedridden.
There's nothing I can do. It's sort of like the situation with the thief on the cross where Jesus can say to him, today you will be with me in paradise. On what basis? On the basis of faith, on the basis of the forgiveness of sins. And so it's that good news that even though we have fallen short of the glory of God, God receives us in mercy through His Son, Jesus Christ. And not pushing that away, you know, as we hear that message and we sense the Spirit of God drawing us to faith in Christ, not hardening our hearts.
This is precisely what the author of the Hebrews says in Hebrews chapter 3 verse 7. Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion. On the day of testing in the wilderness where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years, therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, They always go astray in their hearts. They have not known my ways, as I swore in my wrath, they shall not enter my rest. And then the author says, Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God, but exhort one another every day as long as it is called today, that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Today, brothers and sisters, is the day of salvation, and the Gospel is for you.
It's good news for you. Lay hold of it. Turn to Christ. Embrace that free grace that He gives to you, and follow Him because He loves you. And so I think that's what you want to communicate. You want to emphasize the love of God for this person, the free forgiveness of sins, and the hope of eternal life that they can have through Jesus Christ. That is the beauty of the Gospel, truly the good news.
Thanks for that, Adriel. By the way, we have a core question on this topic. It's called How Can I Share My Faith?
It's absolutely free. You can find that. It's a download if you go to corechristianity.com forward slash questions and look for How Can I Share My Faith? It might be helpful to you as you're talking to non-believers. Well, this is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez.
We're going to be recording a second episode of the program today after our live program ends here in just a few minutes. So if you weren't able to get through in the last 20 minutes or so and you still have a question about the Bible or the Christian life, you can actually call us for the next 35 minutes or so. Our phone lines will be open and we'll be taking your questions, doctrine, theology, doubts, you name it. We're more than happy to answer it. 833-THE-CORE is the number.
That's 1-833-843-2673. You can always send us an email question as well. Our email address is questions at corechristianity.com. Here's one from one of our listeners. It's an interesting one here, Adriel, with Halloween coming up here in just a couple of weeks. He says, Hi, Pastor Adriel and Dr. Bill.
I love your show. I'm an immigrant from Haiti. And in Haiti, pumpkins are often used in the culture as demonic symbols. It's very strange then to see pumpkins being used in everything from muffins to coffee here in the US. Haitians especially think that pumpkin carving is a form of idolatry and idol worship. Why do so many Christians continuously celebrate Halloween and carve pumpkins? It seems like this is explicitly forbidden in 2 Corinthians 6, 15 through 16.
Well, I also have an issue with pumpkin spice in the coffee. I think that is over the top. And maybe we have as a country gone too far. Now, with regard to carving pumpkins and whatnot around this time of the year, is it idolatry? Well, look, here's what I would say.
I don't think that there's anything inherently wrong with this. I think it's a matter of Christian liberty and conscience. I would go to what the Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 8. He says this, concerning food offered to idols.
And that day, there were meat markets where the meat that was sold had been offered in pagan sacrifices, in services of pagan worship. And he says, now concerning that food, we know and all of us possess knowledge. This knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know, but if anyone loves God, he is known by God. Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that an idol has no real existence. In other words, those ceremonies, those idol ceremonies, those idols aren't real. There's no real existence. Those gods don't actually exist. And he says that there is no God but one.
For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords, yet for us there is one God the Father from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord Jesus Christ through whom are all things and through whom we exist. However, not all possess this knowledge, but some, through their former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol. Now I wonder if that's not sort of fitting for this question for you, and especially with your culture, and the way in which pumpkins are used in idolatrous practices back where you're from.
I could totally see why this would be a shock. How are these people doing this? Because you can't separate the idea of carving a pumpkin and putting a face in it and baking the pumpkin seeds and whatnot from pagan idolatrous worship. That was sort of happening in 1 Corinthians 8. Some, through their former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, Paul says, being weak is defiled. Now food will not commend us to God.
We are no worse off if we do not eat and no better off if we do. Carrying the analogy, I might say, whether you carve a pumpkin or you don't, that's not what makes God love you. This is not the basis for your acceptance.
You're not better or worse if you do. But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if someone or anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol's temple, will he not be encouraged if his conscience is weak to eat food offered to idols? And so by your knowledge, this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. Thus sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat lest I make my brother stumble. And so a bigger discussion here about Christian liberty and about being careful that we don't make one another stumble with the things that we do and the things that we accept. Again, I don't think, brother, that carving a pumpkin is inherently evil or idolatrous, but I could see how in some cultures, especially if this is central to some sort of pagan ritual, how that would be really difficult, how that would go against your conscience. And so in that sense, I think believers need to be sensitive, especially the believers who are in your own church because of how this weighs upon you. It's not ultimately a matter of sin, but whatever is not from faith, as Paul told to the Romans, is sin. And so this is where we need to be sensitive to one another and humble and pursue above all else love for each other within the body of Christ, encouraging one another in our walk with the Lord, and I think also continuing to mature in our faith and being able to distinguish between that which truly is sin, those things that we are called to avoid and turn away from on the basis of God's law and what He's revealed in His word, and those things which are just a matter of Christian liberty. Thank you so much for reaching out to us with that thoughtful question, so timely, especially around this time of the year. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adrian Sanchez. I have a quick question to pass along to you.
One of our listeners named Paul says, I know some people who are breaking the law. Do I call the police? Should I stay out of it? I want to be a good person. What is the Christian thing to do?
Yeah, boy, that's a complex question, right? I mean, I would say if someone is being hurt, certainly, absolutely, we need to contact the authorities. I mean, that's how we love our neighbor. If you catch somebody speeding, you know, on the freeway, do you need to dial 911?
Well, I think that, I mean, maybe. There have been times where I've been driving and there's been somebody on the freeway who's clearly inebriated, and we will call the police, right? So I would say, I would err on the side of saying if there is somebody who's breaking the law, and it's very clear, and, you know, this is happening, I think, yeah, it could be a good idea to get the authorities involved and let them deal with it. I would say probably not the best situation for you to try and intervene. But, yeah, I mean, I think that's just part of being a good citizen. And pray for them as well that the Lord would be at work in their lives bringing them to faith in Jesus. Thank you for that question. Have a great day. Together.
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