Happy Halloween! Five Ways to Spook Your Evangelical Friends
This Saturday, October 31, you can really spook your evangelical friends. On this dark, ghoulish night 498 years ago, a Roman Catholic priest turned zombie named Martin Luther posted his 95 Heresies on the door of the haunted Wittenburg Castle. Since that night, its halls and rooms have beenÂ filled with the ghastly shrieks and apparitions resembling those of Pope Leo X, Charles V, Johann Tetzel, and Johann Eck as they read the 95 Heresies. The fog and deathly smell of incense are all around as the ghost of Cardinal Cajetan is seen trying to exorcise the 95 Heresies out of the Luther ghost.Â At times, though, the bone-chilling laughter of Philip Melanchthon and Fredrick the Wise could be heard. But most people still hear a rendition of Psalm 46 accompanied by the organ of the Phantom of the Opera.
To commemorate this event, youÂ can go to their houses with a Martin Luther, or John Calvin, or John Knox mask. Or you can invite them to a Halloween party at your house. Or better yet, you can invite them to your church. Then, here are five stories to spook them.
First, the Bible alone, Sola Scriptura, is the final authority of faith and practice. The Roman church teaches that tradition is also an authority equal to the Bible. But the Reformers taught that Scripture alone is the inspired, inerrant, infallible, sufficient rule of faith and practice. If the Roman church has tradition as one of its authorities, evangelical churches today has many authorities more important than the Bible: the culture, psychotherapeutic techniques, marketing strategies, consumer needs, and the entertainment world (aka Contemporary Worship). The evangelical church has to recover the Protestant Reformers’ proclamation of Scripture: the law as the only measure of true righteousness, and the gospel as the only announcement of saving truth.
Second, the centrality of Christ, Solus Christus, is the foundation of the Christian faith. Christ and his cross has been relegated to the sidelines of the church. The gospel of Christ is his perfect life, sacrificial death, and glorious resurrection to save his people from sin, Satan and death. Most evangelicals today don’t even know what the gospel is. As a result, this gospel has been replaced with relativism (the Bible doesn’t own truth); pluralism (many ways to heaven); pragmatism (whatever works is best); individualism (me and my Bible alone), existentialism (experience over truth), emotionalism (felt needs), and instant gratificationism (I want everything… now!). And hardly anyone believes that Christ is the only “way, the truth and the life.”
Third, we are saved by God’s grace alone, Sola Gratia, not by our own will or decision. Because of the denial of man’s sinfulness and confidence in man’s goodness, evangelicals easily embrace false gospels such as the self-esteem gospel, health and wealth gospel, and consumerism, otherwise known as church-shopping. Because human beings are unable and unwilling to accept the things of God, God’s grace in Christ is the only efficient cause of salvation. If you believe that your so-called â€œfree willâ€ can cooperate with the Holy Spirit if God wants you to be saved, then you are a Roman Catholic follower (Canon 4, Council of Trent).
Fourth, we are justified by God’s grace alone through faith alone, Sola Fide, and this faith is a gift of God, not our own doing. This doctrine, so precious to the Protestant Reformers and called â€œthe article by which the church stands or falls,â€ is lost to the evangelical world. Very few Christians understand or even have a knowledge of what â€œjustificationâ€ means, much less the doctrine of imputation: God imputed to Christ our sin, and imputed to believers his perfect righteousness. Some even teach that you can be “right with God” or justified, but not attain heaven! Again, if you believe that you must do good works to attain heaven, you are a Roman Catholic follower.
Fifth, because of all the above man-centered teachings, evangelical churches have largely turned away from giving glory to God alone, Soli Deo Gloria. The loss of God-centeredness in the churches have transformed worship into entertainment, preaching into marketing techniques, being good into feeling good, the need for God into felt needs, and faithfulness into being successful. Therefore, those who are successful with big attendance, budgets and programs are hailed like celebrities, glorifying in themselves and not in God.
And the final statement that should spook your evangelical friends to death: The evangelical church must repent of its worldliness. Tens of thousands of Reformers were tortured and martyred for these doctrines, and to quote one of these martyrs, “offered their backs to stripes, their tongues to knives, their mouths to gags, and their whole bodies to the fire.â€ If you reject the above “Five Solas of the Reformation,” then you are no different from Roman Catholics.