I'm aware that writing this probably won't make a big dent in the argument, but sometimes, as a pastor, some people want to know where I stand. I'll say for the record, my little girls WILL be Trick or Treating this Thursday night in my hometown. Rylee will be Queen Elsa and Charlee June will be Anna. They'll have a blast, get tons of candy, and enjoy themselves and family time. It's going to be a great night and I'm looking forward to it.
I don't say all of that to rub it in the faces of those who truly have a conviction about staying away from all things Halloween. I say this to introduce a dialogue. In my opinion, and as I will share with scripture and historical facts, Halloween is whatever a person wants to make of it. It's origins are said to be able to be traced all the way back to the first century A.D. in Scotland. The people would celebrate the changing of summer to fall as they were an agricultural society. You might would say it was the initial church spectacular "fall festival." Mysticism would eventually work its way in and before long some were believing that at the changing of seasons, the spirits of the dead would go looking for bodies in which to live. This belief only intensified as the Catholic Church invaded the area and began teaching about purgatory. The church people could buy indulgences which would then supposedly cause the priest to possibly pray a dearly departed loved one out of purgatory altogether, or at least to a better level of purgatory.
Of course before the indulgences and purgatory pushes, the church celebrated All Saints Day on November 1st, making October 31st, All Hallow's Eve, or as we call it today, Halloween. All Saints Day is also said to be celebrated on November 2nd in some years and cultures, but the make up of the celebration was the same. The church would remember all the saints that had passed away both recently and those in the past. In other words, it was a day of remembrance. During this day of remembrance, the church would hold a special service where candles were lit for those who had departed and stories were told. In short, it was a mass memorial service. Of course, as I said earlier, once the indulgences and purgatory pushes became vogue however, the day began to transform yet again.
The ultimate truth is that Halloween in its origins was probably a pagan holiday, to which the church changed to a useful day, only to lose sight and allow it to become lost. One might even argue that the holiday has existed in a tug of war between secularism and the church. So knowing this, how should we respond as Christians, and what does the Bible have to say, if anything, about celebrating Halloween? Here are some important points for consideration.
1. First Corinthians 10:23 does indeed say that all things are permissable, but not all things are beneficial. All things are lawful, but not all things are helpful. In other words, Paul would lead us to an understanding that unless the Bible specifically speaks against something, we must let the Holy Spirit lead us into our stand on an issue. Such is the foundation of the directive in Philippians 2:12: to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. These verses form the foundation for what we call convictions, and convictions are just that. They should not be confused with doctrine, creed, or theology. A conviction is something a believer feels in his or her heart that he or she must do or refrain from in their personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Case in point, I know Christians who have a conviction about listening to any kind of music other than Christian music. I know some Christians who have a conviction about watching TV. This is to say, for them, they feel as if they cannot participate in those things or else their relationship with the Lord would be in jeopardy. However, the fact they feel this way does not necessitate that others also have to feel this way. Such is the basis of legalism and the church has traveled that road so much no map is needed for further travels. Should you participate in Halloween? Right from the start, my suggestion is to pray about it. Let the Holy Spirit lead you, not tradition and not the hairy scary internet sensationalists who constantly scour ideas and topics hoping for 15 minutes of fame.
2. The Bible does speak to Halloween indirectly. A Christian is told to have nothing to do with witches or the occult (Exodus 22:18, Deuteronomy 18:10-12). In the fruit of the flesh outlined in Galatians 5:19-20, witchcraft / sorcery is listed as sins which will cause a man to miss the Kingdom of God. Revelation 21:8 states that sorcerers and the like will have their place in the lake of fire. In Acts 19:19, upon salvation coming to town, the people brought all of their sorcery books and burned them in the middle of town. In 2 Thessalonians 2:9, Paul writes that the Antichrist will come demonstrating sorcery like powers. So sorcery and witchcraft are specifically spoken against in both the Old and New Testaments. The reality is that there are demonic spirits at work and witchcraft is very much real. As Christians, we are to abstain from those things. This is NOT a place where a person can exercise the "permissable." Instead, we are to follow what the Bible tells us we should and should not do.
3. Halloween, however, can be celebrated without participation in witchcraft and the like. Here someone might say that since it has pagan and erroneous beginnings and witchcraft is often a part of the holiday, Christians should ignore it altogether. And (back to point 1), if that's your conviction, then indeed, you should follow it to the letter. But if I may, let me expose the hypocrisy in the notion (minus a true conviction) that since it was a pagan holiday and it is one that the Satantic church holds high and has special events on, that Christians should not celebrate it. The truth is that Christians celebrate two major Christian holidays every year by engaging in pagan celebrations. Most every church I've ever seen has something called an Easter Egg hunt every year. The truth is, the Easter Egg is derived from a pagan festival of fertility and idolatry. Nevertheless, Christians not only allow their children to hunt Easter Eggs, but they encourage their churches to put on Easter Egg Hunts for the kids and the community. We're the pot calling the kettle black when we say no to Halloween because of its pagan practices, but yes to the Easter Egg Hunt. Another example is Christmas. This holiday couldn't be more commercial that in it is today. It also couldn't be more pagan. Most every Christian I know, (and most churches as well), put up a Christmas tree at their homes (and churches). The truth is the Christmas tree was first crafted as a beckoning for the fertility gods to come and help a couple conceive. Indeed, these were fertility trees before they were Christmas trees. And let's also not forget about the fat man in red who lives in North Pole and keeps a list of those who've been naughty and nice! The two greatest holidays in the Christian faith, (the word holiday is literally derived from the combination of "holy" and "day" by the church; thus "holyday, AKA holiday"), are littered with pagan symbols, pagan practices, and pagan history. Yet the church not only participates, but typically delves out large sums of money to participate. We show ourselves to walk in some hypocrisy when we say no to Halloween, but yes to the fertility eggs of Easter and the fertility trees of Christmas. The truth of the matter is that if a Christian goes to a Fall Festival or a church puts one on, they are doing so in providing a possible alternative celebration for Halloween. Thus if one wants to get technical, it could be said that Christians attending a Fall Festival and churches who put them on are indeed celebrating Halloween and recognizing it. They are choosing to celebrate it in their own way however.
4. The whole of 1 Corinthians 10:23 can be found through verse 33. Paul deals with eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols. While he's very straight forward that eating such meat would not be a sin in that since, he also brings up that it could become a sin if a brother or sister was flaunting their freedom to do so in front of a weaker brother or someone who had a conviction to the contrary and it being known. The reality is that we as Christians are supposed to love God with everything in us and then love our neighbor as ourselves. Unfortunately, in our "me-first, selfie" society, we read 1 Corinthians 10 and only see permission to supposedly do whatever we want and feel. Yet the foundation of the Gospel message is to consider our love for Christ and then live with a consideration for others. Yes, we are our brothers' keeper. So if a Christian feels no condemnation in participating in Halloween while staying away from the things the Bible specifically speaks against, that Christian should NOT condemn others who don't feel the same or vice versa.
5. Lastly, we must grab an understanding of Halloween. It is NOT Satan's day. The Bible tells us that Satan, (who was once Lucifer), is actually a fallen angel. That's it. He's not a god. He does not have God's powers. He cannot create. He can only interrupt, misalign, distract, and attempt a take over of all things that God has created. He can't create the world, a person, or a day. He's not omnipresent. He's not hiding around every corner. He's a fallen angel who is limited in his goings and comings. Don't get me wrong. He is very powerful. He was after all an archangel. And without Christ, neither me, nor you, have a prayer against him. But we're not going against him alone. We have the blood of Jesus on our side and if God be for us, who can be against us!?!? So, Satan didn't create Halloween. It is true that the Satanic church has adopted October 31st as a holy day for their church, but should that stop Christians from having a celebration on that day? In my opinion, absolutely NOT! If anything, it should make us want to take the day back. It's not Satan's. He didn't create it. That day, like every other day, belongs to God. As Christians, we have been redeemed and are called to redeem. If we are willing to give up a day simply because the Satanic church picked it as something "holy" for them, what would we do if that same church or an atheist organization decides that Christmas day belongs to them? Would we abandon December 25? Probably not.
The truth is, minus a conviction, the average Christian family should be able to go out and Trick or Treat, go to Fall Festivals, carve pumpkins, and more. Teach the children about what the Bible says about witchcraft, and allow them to dress up modestly and according to the guidelines of the Bible. I would say if there was a day that needed saving, it's Halloween. Everyone enjoys dressing up, eating candy, and enjoying fellowship with one another. Not to mention that this day offers Christians a unique opportunity to share the Gospel considering the "world" will be coming to their doors . . . I've got some big plans next year for that day. But as of this year, I'm taking my little girls Trick or Treating. If you choose to come, we'll have a great time together. If you're convictions keep you from participating, then be obedient to what's in your heart and God will bless you. And if you get hungry for a Reese's or Kit Kat, I may or may not share . . .