"For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials: that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication; if you keep yourselves free from such things, you will do well. Farewell." (Act 15:28-29 NAU)
This was the conclusion of those who attended the First Christian Conference in Jerusalem about 50AD. They wanted to know what to do with these Gentile believers. Were they to follow/practice the Jewish law and customs?
The conclusion was that they were not required to become Jewish proselytes (converts to Judaism).
What I want to focus on, however, is a particular directive coming from the Holy Spirit and those early Apostles—that the Messianic Gentiles were to abstain from “things sacrificed to idols.”
In Acts 21:25 It was written more succinctly:
"But concerning the Gentiles who have believed, we wrote, having decided that they should abstain from meat sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from fornication." (Act 21:25 NAU)
We in North America are recently, and increasingly, confronted with this very issue.
Meat—Poultry, Beef, and especially Lamb—is almost impossible to find which has not been sacrificed to idols in the form of “Halal” labeled meat.
These are some of the logos that appear on the packaging. One Canadian brand of meats describes their process as follows:
"We have a team of Muslim blessers. A blesser starts the processing line at the beginning of the shift by reciting Allah's name and Tasmiyah (Bismillah Allahu Akbar). At any given time, there are 3 Muslim blessers assigned to a slaughtering line. These blessers work in rotation during their shift, meaning, amongst these 3 blessers, one takes the charge of blessing. This person stands in, front of a rotary blade to say the blessing (Tasmiyah), while the other two blessers stand after the blade to ensure that the neck is properly cut for bleed out. If the blade misses the chicken, then one of these two blessers will cut the chicken by hand while restating the required blessing. This ensures the quality of proper cutting as required by Halal processing. Each production shift is properly documented by [brand name] and audited by IFANCA on a regular basis to ensure proper slaughtering is adhered to."
The phrase "Bismillah Allahu Akbar” above means, "In the Name of Allah; Allah is the Greatest.” according to one Islamic Website.
What should we do? How should we respond to this? Paul’s advice is this:
If one of the unbelievers invites you and you want to go, eat anything that is set before you without asking questions for conscience' sake. But if anyone says to you, "This is meat sacrificed to idols," do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for conscience' sake; I mean not your own conscience, but the other man's; for why is my freedom judged by another's conscience? (1Co 10:27-29 NAU)
For me and my house? We see the label and the one informing us. We’ll try to avoid Halal labeled meats as best as we can and express to the owners of the places where we shop that we will not buy that meat. We who are a majority ought to have some sway in the matter, don’t you think?