But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, Titus 3:4-5
Last week we talked about Tooth Fairy theology and how that creeps into our prayers. This week we’ll look at how the Great Pumpkin influences us. The Great Pumpkin was an invention of cartoonist Charles Schulz in his Peanuts comic strip. In it, one of his characters, Linus, sits in a pumpkin patch every Halloween night waiting for the Great Pumpkin to rise and fly through the air bringing toys to all the good little boys and girls who believe in him.
Believe it or not, the Great Pumpkin has caught the attention of a range of philosophers who say he represents both the futility of faith and the existential crisis of modern man waiting for an external fulfillment that never comes. Contrast that with the cartoonist who said he simply thought it would be funny to have a kid who mixed up Halloween and Christmas.
Even so, we need to be careful that Great Pumpkin elements don’t sneak into our theology or our prayers.
The Great Pumpkin is a one-man belief system – Linus is the originator and chief proponent of the Great Pumpkin. Thankfully we have the canon of Scripture as our source material for who God is and how He works. God wants us to know Him and He left us a revelation of Himself. Not only that, but He gave us the Holy Spirit to explain and interpret that revelation.
The Great Pumpkin is works-driven – According to Linus, the Great Pumpkin judges and chooses the pumpkin patch based on its sincerity and lack of hypocrisy. The toys are distributed to good boys and girls who believe. We can easily fall into believing that God chooses us, or that He is more likely to give us what we ask for because of our goodness or hard work. God chooses and gives because HE is good, not because we are.
The Great Pumpkin is merciless and graceless – At one point in It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, Linus calls out to Sally, “If the Great Pumpkin comes I’ll put in a good word for you!” Then horrified, he corrects himself. “I mean ‘when’ … I’m doomed. One little slip like that can cause the Great Pumpkin to pass you by.” What great news it is that God does not reject us after one failure! And we don’t have to “wait until next year” to see if we’ve been forgiven and accepted. We have immediate access to God through Christ.
Don’t settle for a pumpkin.
Next week – genies.