The evening of Halloween approaches.
Down the street, a mother dresses her kids for Trick-or-Treat. Her daughter is dressed like a busty pirate wench. Her son looks like a twisted cross between something from Pan’s Labyrinth and Hellraiser. Their lawn decorations are nothing short of a celebration of death. This family also regularly attends church and calls Jesus Lord.
Next door, a mother cloisters her kids inside for the evening. She avoids the use of harvest decorations in order to not associate with the day. Her children neither receive nor hand out candy. Every year, she reminds her children about the demonic elements of Halloween and warns them not to return any “Happy Halloween” greetings. She sternly rebukes any fellow Christian who would attend a so-called “Halloween replacement” party on October 31. Her family also faithfully goes to church and calls Jesus Lord.
I believe neither of these extremes is the wisest way for Christians to handle the subject of Halloween. But is it possible that a middle ground can help with redeeming Halloween?
Receive, Reject, Redeem
When dealing with anything in human culture, Christians have three primary choices: receive, reject, or redeem.
- Receive — There are things in culture that are part of God’s common mercies to all people. These are things Christians can freely receive. Paul and Silas could walk the same Roman roads and sail in the Roman ships alongside any pagan without any stain on their consciences. Today, I can appreciate the electric lights in my home just like my neighbor and not feel guilty that the power company isn’t owned by Christian people. I can buy my produce from the farmers’ market without the concern that the farmers are pagans.
- Reject — There are some things in culture that are inherently sinful and cannot be transformed to be used for the Lord’s purposes. Paul might have eaten pagan meat sold in the marketplace, but he would not attend a pagan temple and drink the cup of demons (1 Corinthians 10:20-22). Today, a building that once was a strip club can be bought and turned into some reputable business, but a strip club can never become a “Christian strip club.” The very essence of this kind of business enterprise furthers sinful motives, and this must be rejected by Christians completely.
- Redeem — There are other elements of culture that are often used for sinful purposes but Christians can mine these elements for truths that can be celebrated, reclaimed, and redeemed for God’s purposes. It is a way we can “redeem the time” in evil days (Ephesians 5:16). During his speech in Athens, one of the most polytheistic cities in the world, Paul made use of the writings of pagan poets and prophets and even make use of a pagan altar as a visual aid (Acts 17:22-31) in order to point to the gospel. Paul was redeeming—taking back—from paganism truths latent in their cultural customs and using them for God’s glory.
This helpful breakdown can assist Christians as they think about the subject of redeeming Halloween. (You can listen to my recent sermon about these categories and what they have to do with Halloween.)
Timothy George, founding dean of Beeson Divinity School, wisely says Christians should have “theology of reclamation.” When we look at days like Halloween that have been hijacked by the devil, we shouldn’t be intimidated by this. Instead, we should “tweak the devil’s beard” and find ways towards redeeming Halloween for the church again.
A Very, Very Brief History of Halloween
The name “Halloween” comes from “All Hallows’ Eve” (All Saints’ Eve).
As far as the Christian origins of Halloween are concerned, it began in the earliest centuries of the church. As early as the mid-second century, the church celebrated and remembered its martyrs, at times dedicating special days to remember their faithfulness. As the number of special commemorations increased, the idea of having a common day for all martyrs gradually evolved.
The earliest known celebration of “the Feast of All Martyrs” was in Antioch in mid-fourth century, falling on the first Sunday after the feast of Pentecost (which is still the day the Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates All Saints’ Day). Similar festivals were celebrated in other locations on different days. Over time, this celebration started to embrace not just martyrs but all departed saints, celebrating Jesus’ victory over death by remembering the faithful saints who had gone before them.
On May 13th, 610, Pope Boniface IV consecrated the Pantheon, the old pagan temple, to “all Christian martyrs.” He officially consecrated that day as the new “All Saints’ Day.”
Over a century later, Pope Gregory III (731-741) moved All Saints’ Day to November 1 to honor the saints of St. Peter’s church, and in 835, Pope Gregory IV officially fixed the date for worldwide observance.
Some believe this move was made to coincide with Samhain, a Gaelic harvest festival celebrated at the same time, though others doubt the Pope was even aware of this celebration.
This ancient pagan festival was, for those who believed, a season when the veil between our world and the next was very thin, allowing the spirits to easily move back and forth. Feasts were held and the souls of departed relatives were invited to come. Because not every spirit was deemed friendly, various rituals were used to ward off or appease them.
In time, Samhain and All Saints’ eventually co-mingled, leading to the variety of Halloween traditions we have today.
Redeeming Halloween in our Modern Times: Some Caveats
For some Christians, the notion of “redeeming” Halloween will sound ridiculous. How can something so rife with demonic symbolism be redeemed? Perhaps this is just one of those things that fits into the “reject” category. Is there anything positive to redeem?
Undoubtedly, some will read this and remind me about Halloween’s pagan roots, telling me about Druids, pagan sacrifices, rituals to commune with the dead, Celtic deities, and the questionable origins of trick-or-treat and jack-o-lanterns. I’m quite aware of all these facts.
Caveat #1: It’s important not to treat this as a cut and dry issue. The mere fact that modern Halloween practices are echoes of pagan traditions does not, therefore, mean Halloween as a cultural tradition is unredeemable. Remember, to “redeem” something in our culture means to admit it has been used for evil but to reclaim the truth within it, utilizing it for God’s purposes. Not all Halloween activities are redeemable, but (I believe) many are.
Caveat #2: Remember that many Halloween traditions are a far cry from their ancient or medieval counterparts. As far as redeeming Halloween goes, there are some elements of Halloween that, in my opinion, have already been ripped away from paganism and redeemed as something wholesome. Let’s face it, the connection between ancient Druids dressing as ghouls and my son dressed as Bob the Tomato is tenuous, at best.
Caveat #3: It is also important to note that this issue is a matter of conscience. Reading Romans 14-15 and 1 Corinthians 8-10, it seems clear to me that Halloween is a “disputable matter,” and it will probably always be so. While I’m firm in my convictions on the matter, I recognize others’ consciences simply won’t allow any associations with Halloween, and this ought to be respected.
Caveat #4: We should never become prideful about our approach on the subject. While we should feel free to critique ourselves and discuss these matters, we should remember that pridefully looking down on other Christians for differing opinions is just as demonic as a vampire.
With this in mind, here are some ideas about how October 31 can be redeemed for the glory of God.
What Does Redeeming Halloween Look Like?
“Redeeming” elements of Halloween does NOT mean participating in worldly or immoral activities in order to witness. To redeem something is culture means to find the artifacts, objects, activities, and customs that have been misused for worldly purposes and taking them back for the sake of spreading goodness and the gospel.
To redeem something is to admit that it has been used for evil and to use it for godliness instead. With that in mind, here’s some suggestions toward redeeming Halloween you can try:
1. Show love to your neighbor.
Every day of the year—even October 31st—is a great day to obey the second greatest commandment to love our neighbor.
For many communities, Halloween is a time of widespread celebration. Homes open up to strangers. Bonfires, parties, and neighborhood gatherings are commonplace. For Christians desiring to be involved in the lives of their neighbors, Halloween is a natural time to connect with others. It serves as a perfect time to not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).
2. Unearth the good roots of Halloween.
Halloween, for all its depictions of evil, is rooted in many good traditions:
- In many areas, Halloween still has all of the markings of a harvest festival, and it is right and good to thank God for a good harvest. Choose to use Halloween as a time to celebrate God’s provision.
- It is significant that Halloween coincides with Reformation Day, the day when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the church door at Wittenberg. (Obviously, this day would have more of a celebratory feel for Protestants, not so much for Catholics.) Luther actually chose All Saints’ Eve very purposefully, because it was a perfect day to protest the abuse of indulgences. In this way, Halloween serves as a reminder of the poor medieval theology from which church has largely escaped.
- Celebrate with a real All Saints party. Take the theme of Hebrews 12:1 and run with it: celebrate the “great cloud of witnesses” that surrounds us. Read the stories of faithful martyrs to your kids, and remember those who’ve come before you.
3. Make use of holy horror.
Some Trick-or-Treat traditions—notably vandalism and needless pranks—are nothing more than excuses for destructive behavior. Moreover, decorating one’s body or home in such a way that celebrates necromancy or demonic creatures is totally out of step with one who worships the Jesus Christ.
Instead, choose to redeem the horror of Halloween.
The portrayal of good and evil, as well as their consequences, are two sides of the truth. Uncovering the real nature of evil is part of what it means to dwell on what is good.
God is not opposed to the use of horror—in fact He does it Himself. Brian Godawa, screenwriter of the film To End All Wars and the author of Hollywood Worldviews: Watching Films with Wisdom and Discernment reminds us that the horror genre conveys powerful truths about the true nature of evil.
The prophet Daniel wrote horror literature, based on images and drama pitched by God to him in Babylon. Not only did God turn the blaspheming king Nebuchadnezzar into an insane wolfman to humble his idolatrous pride (Dan. 4), but He storyboarded horror epics for kings Belshazzar and Darius as allegories of the historical battle between good and evil to come. Huge hybrid carnivorous monsters come out of the sea like Godzilla, one of them with large fangs and ravishing claws to devour, crush, and trample over the earth (7:1–8) until it is slain and its flesh roasted in fire (7:11); there are blasphemous sacrileges causing horror (8:13), including an abomination of desolation (9:26–27); angels and demons engaging in spiritual warfare (10:13); rivers of fire (7:10); deep impact comets and meteors colliding with the earth, Armageddon style (8:10); wars, desolation, and complete destruction (9:26-27). The book of Daniel reads like God’s own horror film festival…
And I might add, this all gives glory to God in the highest.
Children need to know that evil is not just an abstraction—there is a personal evil in the world who is bent on killing, stealing, and destroying. Every scary demonic encounter and apocalyptic story in the Bible makes this clear. As Halloween approaches, our environment becomes a living parable, a reminder that real demons are just as real and even scarier than the trick-or-treaters.
Help your children see how classical archetypes of evil—monsters, dragons, vampires, werewolves, ghosts—show the true nature of sin and evil. Of course, many horror films have degenerated into immoral exaltation of sex, violence, and death, but this is an abuse of a genre, not a good use of it.
For younger kids, it is enough to say that scary creatures show us what real evil looks like: sin might look attractive on the surface, but underneath, sin is hideous, and monstrous characters are a reminder of that.
For older kids, you can get into more specifics.
- Vampire stories were written to symbolize the the thirst and restlessness of our repressed dark side, an addictive madness that is so strong we believe it will follow us even beyond death.
- The story of Dr. Jekkyl and Mr. Hyde symbolizes the dual nature of fallen humanity and the futility of trying to manage or quarantine one’s sinful impulses.
- Zombies are the true apocalyptic monster, the symbol of animalistic human nature that is left when the societal restraints of sin break down.
- Frankenstein’s monster is symbolic of scientific pride of the Enlightenment, the belief that through science man can be his own god, his own maker, because man is ultimately reducible to mere biology—a belief that ultimately leads to destruction.
When our kids know something about the significance of these monsters, they become neither things we “celebrate” nor things we shun outright—rather, they become windows to see how evil works.
Knowing these things allows Christian families to even appreciate well-written horror and scary tales from great authors like Edgar Allen Poe, Washington Irving, Mary Shelley, Henry James, W.W. Jacobs, and H.P. Lovecraft. These talented authors used horror to explore important themes like original sin, the downfalls of modern society, and the persistence of sin even beyond death.
4. Teach children Halloween is really a mockery of the devil.
Christians can actually enjoy Halloween, not because they are reveling in evil, but because the day serves as a powerful reminder that Christ has conquered the devil. Dr. John Frame writes,
“In its missionary labors in Europe, the church substituted its own holiday for some pagan observance. In the modern West, Halloween is essentially a mockery of ancient paganism. It is not paganism, but a celebration of the gospel’s victory over paganism. I see no spiritual danger in observing that celebration, as long as we, and our children, understand the difference between mocking paganism and endorsing it.” (The Doctrine of the Christian Life, p.427)
This video with evangelist Glen Scrivener captures the essence of what I’m talking about very well…
Medieval Christians used the eve of All Saints’ Day as a time to dress as sinister creatures, not as a way to celebrate evil but to mock it, to tease it. “They hand to the damned just one final frolic” because they know the darkness will be overcome by the coming dawn.
. . . .
In the end, you have to choose how best to approach redeeming Halloween. The evil atmosphere of the day may loom large, but He that is in us is greater than he that is in the world.
Do you believe that it is possible to redeem the time on Halloween? Does your family do anything special on October 31st?
More Articles on Christians and Holidays:
- A Christian Parent’s Guide to Halloween: Activities & Events
- A Christian Parent’s Guide to Halloween: Preparing the Kids
- A Unique Approach to Helping Your Kids See Christ at Christmas
- 50 Ways to Show Love to Your Neighbor on Valentine’s Day
I swore I wouldn’t read any more articles like this but I liked it and thought it was very well balanced. We were in the “No Halloween” camp for a long time. We did harvest festivals but that was it. Along came my son with Down Syndrome who is ALL about dressing up and having a party and I realized I should rethink it as I had no idea how I would explain not doing anything at all to him! Attempting to teach him pagan history or Reformation Day just wouldn’t be happening. Hmm….maybe I should make a blog post out of this, lol!
Sounds like a great idea. Either way, even if you can’t explain Halloween to your son, the atmosphere of your home can be the right spirit. I think if done right, your son can see the contrast between how the world is celebrating and how your family celebrates.
Yes, I really stick to the fall/harvest elements and don’t do anything frightening.
This is clearly an old article but obviously still accessible on the internet. Halloween has no place for Christians to celebrate in any way. To say that this is just an ancient pagen event is so false as it’s still one of the most important days for witches and satanists, even to this day children are still being sacrificed on this demonic day. And Christians want to innocently dress their children up in costumes and eat candy to passively celebrate this day? What a joke, that is not honouring God.
Thanks for the comment! This article isn’t about whether Christians should “celebrate” Halloween or even addressing trick-or-treat. It’s talking about the positive ways Christians can redeem the time on that day.
For our family, we do not redeem the holiday. We don’t celebrate it, and we are fine with that. To us there is nothing about Halloween to celebrate. We have a wonderful life, celebrating autumn and harvest, and that is our way of celebrating God’s victory over the darkness. Blessings!
Interesting approach. Of course, not all Christians should redeem Halloween, but what do you think about some Christians doing so?
Personally, I feel uncomfortable with Christians joining in Halloween. I know precious Christians who do so, and I do not stand as their judge. The matter is always between us and God. However, I do disagree that there is anything positive about Halloween to redeem. I agree with you that there are positive elements to redeem about autumn, God’s beauty of the season, and Reformation Day and have no problem celebrating those things. Also, I know churches try to provide alternatives to Halloween, and that is great, I just think it is sticky when the celebrations they provide look like Halloween. Years ago, our church used to have a game night on or near Halloween where the kids would wear costumes with a given theme. Even going to that, I felt like I was participating in Halloween. It seemed no different to me than the Halloween I remembered as a child (before I was serving Christ). Now, our church has a grand Harvest Fair day in September with games, dinner, a bounce house, etc! and no costumes and a family movie night on or close to Halloween as a fun alternative. Both events are awesome ways to have fun with our families yet not celebrate Halloween. 🙂 Sorry… I ended up being a bit wordy here. 😉
I suppose that’s what redeeming Halloween is all about: recognizing that it is something that has been used for evil, but believing that God can take the traditions and use them for His glory. It’s like the altar to the unknown God—built by pagans and surrounded in wicked polytheism—but Paul used it to preach the gospel. He saw the truth embedded in their history, traditions, and experiences, and used them as a bridge to talk about Christ.
We have to remember: Halloween (All Hallows Eve) is a church holiday first. It was originally celebrated as a feast for all martyrs. I could totally see a family having a All Saints’ Day party at their house, talking to the kids about famous martyrs who gave their lives for Christ, having special foods, games, and harvest themes. This would be very God-honoring and still be a “Halloween” party.
I think that it is quite dangerous when we as Christians try to Redeem things that are not of Christ. When does it end? Where do you draw the line? It may be uncomfortable to not be with the social norms of this world, but we are not of this world. There are some things we should just not do. Now if you want to have a Harvest Party some other time not centered around this day then yeah go for it. I don’t think we need to participate in worldly activities in order to witness.
What do you mean by “of Christ”? What qualifies as being “of Christ”? Halloween (All Hallows Eve) was created by the church. Does that count?
I think you’re misunderstanding the meaning behind “redeem.” I’m not saying we participate in worldly activities (that is, activities that are immoral) in order to witness. I’m saying we should look for objects, activities, and customs in our culture that can be (or are) used for worldliness and use them to spread goodness and the gospel.
Well said, Lisa. In the Church circles that I am associated with, there is absolutely no recognition of an “All Saints Day”. So, it is hard to know what we are redeeming. I trick or treated some as a kid, but it’s really not that significant of an event, and I don’t feel like my kids are missing out. Dressing up in a clean costume doesn’t bother me, but kids dressing up as Jason the serial killer is very disturbing. Harvest parties, yes. Halloween, no thanks! I’ll stick to some of the other great holidays – Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, etc, and celebrate the season with a Harvest party.
As I said in the article, we’re redeeming various elements used in Halloween traditions. Many Christians already do this: they enjoy harvest parties, they involve themselves in evangelistic or neighbor-loving activities on October 31 to take advantage of the day, they teach their kids about how horror can be used to God’s glory. Many also participate in the festivities of Halloween—like kids dressing in clean costumes, as you mentioned—which demonstrates how Christian culture has stripped the pagan element of Halloween down to the bone. The point is, much of the way Christians act on Halloween has already redeemed the day. My article is about doing so intentionally.
Praise God that He thinks our hearts are redeemable.
If we approach all things with a Christ “mindset” maybe we could see that halloween maybe be redeemable
One question that may need to be asked is this: just because someone celebrates fall and the changing of the season, does that mean a person is “redeeming Halloween”? Another question or maybe just a thought is this: just because the church comes up with some celebration, like all saints eve, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s sanctioned by the Lord Jesus himself. The church is made up of flawed humans. The real issue to wrestle with is how do the things we do celebrate the God of Scripture, the God of life.
Is someone who celebrates the changing of seasons “redeeming Halloween”? That depend on what you mean by “redeeming Halloween.” Is the person redeeming element found in Halloween? Yes. The Celtic Samhain fell on October 31 because of its association with something called a cross-quarter day: the day that falls exactly between the fall equinox and the winter solstice—a sort of “first day of fall” for the Celts. This tradition is embedded in the history of Halloween with harvest imagery and such, and thus we can “redeem” these things associated with this day and make them associated with thanksgiving to God. Is this “redeeming Halloween” in a holistic sense? Not really.
You also said, “just because the church comes up with some celebration, like all saints eve, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s sanctioned by the Lord Jesus himself.” I don’t disagree with you, and if your goal is to only partake of traditions “sanctioned” by Christ, then I could see what this would be a problem for you. That just doesn’t happen to be a perspective I’m coming from. I see nothing wrong with church traditions that are not explicitly sanctioned by Christ.
I agree with the idea of redeeming Halloween also.
The way our church did it years ago was to present a Halloween Harvest. A booth or barn face stage was set up in a vacant lot, church parking lot or at someone’s private yard.
There was a barn animal hand puppet show where the puppets told the gospel story and they gave an invitation for the children to invite Christ into their lives. At the end, all children were given candy. Those that wanted to receive Christ were invited to repeat the sinners prayer, had their names written in the Lambs Book of Life by a pretty girl modestly dressed as an angel. The children were given a born again birth certificate (a record of their new birth in Jesus Christ) and some follow up scriptures and gospel tracts for children.
All this was done with permission of parents . Invitations to several different churches for their families to attend were also given to the children.
The booth was a simple barn front with the stage being the barn doors. Several bales of straw were set in-front of the stage for children to sit on for the puppet show. This is one way to redeem Halloween and fun for the whole family.
Another way another church redeemed Halloween was to present a Trunk or Treat in the church parking lot. Several cars parked sided by side with open trunks decorated with twinkle lights and recordings of gospel children’s songs and bowls of candy. Attendants would hand out candy. After trick or treating at the cars, the children were invited to go inside the church to play carnival games with prizes and end up at the kitchen for chili, cider or cocoa and popcorn.
Jennifer at Purposeful Nutrition and The Entwife's Journal
Great article. I like your balanced approach. It is an issue which Christians need to sort out for themselves. We don’t really do much of anythhng except carve pumpkins and go to one harvest type party with our 4H club. Pretty mild.
Thanks! It is really important for Christians to grapple with issues in our culture like this.
Excellent article and overview of this holiday. I appreciate this approach and encouragement to Christians to think critically about every aspect and arguments. There will always be people who need to live in the black and white. Completely right or wrong approaches leave little room for conversation, growth, grace, and understanding. Thank you for continuing to tackle these issues and be a voice of reason in the Christian community.
I like the balanced approach of this post. I am not one who says that Christians can not redeem Halloween, but I also will not say that Christians must participate in Halloween. Ultimately, I believe celebrating Halloween is a matter of Christian liberty.
I do think that Halloween can be a time where we can show Christ’s love by opening our homes and being neighborly. That being said, we have not gone trick-or-treating with our daughter; this year would be the first we’d consider it since she’s only three years old. I don’t have a problem trick-or-treating, but we’ve either been sick, have been at our church Reformation party, or a friend’s house since her birth.
I think my own perspective started changing some after I had kids. I used to not care much about the implications of being involved in Halloween activities. It really wasn’t something I thought about much. Then, after I started having kids, I began to think more critically about it.
Very interesting post – although to celebrate or not celebrate Halloween is not a question with which I grapple. But I do think it’s important to recognize some families do not celebrate the holiday, because often public schools do and are surprised to hear a family does not partake in those festivities.
For sure, many families have no place for Halloween, either because they are opposed to it or because it simply has no significance in their lives. It is a mainstay for a lot of public schools, at least it was when I was growing up.
Christ commanded us to “Go and make disciples”. If you are a disciple you must go and make more. Our Lord was prosecuted by Jewish leaders of the time for spending His time with sinners and tax collectors. You can never tell people about the love of Christ and His redemptive plan for their lives unless you form a relationship. Halloween is one time of the year when neighbors and their kids come up your driveway to your house looking for something from you. What an opportunity to give them the Love of Christ! We must be the salt and light in this dying world. We must look and act different, but not hide from the opportunity to show how we have been changed by His great love for us. Be His hands and feet this October 31st!
Right on, John. That is exactly right.
I totally agree with you John up to the point when you said “Halloween is one time of the year when neighbors and their kids come up your driveway….”. I question how you are engaging in any form of relationship during trick or treat? I come from participating in trick or treat for several years with my children, and then researching more about it as God laid it heavy on my heart. We have not participated for three years now.
I want nothing more than to make disciples, but I will engage my neighbors the other days out of the year by showing them love when they are in need, inviting them into my home and being a part of their every day lives. They know that we do not participate because of this day representing all things evil.
I do believe it is a personal decision for each family, but not one to be taken lightly. I guess my struggle is the why behind “redeeming Halloween” verses standing for Godliness against evil? I think there are enough opportunities to show love and engage others throughout the year, otherwise.
I suppose the question for me is “Why not redeem Halloween?” Unlike something that is inherently tied to immorality (like a strip club), Halloween is rooted in many wholesome and godly traditions. It is, after all, originally a church holiday. Of course, there are plenty of pagan traditions mixed with its history, and today it is commercialized like crazy, but one could say the same about Christmas and Easter, too.
We don’t know how old Halloween is, but it started some time before the middle of the 4th century in Antioch. In the Western church in the 9th century it was moved to November 1, and it was a day dedicated to all martyrs, known and unknown. To this day, many churches from many traditions remember martyrs and departed saints on Halloween.
I don’t think of it as an either-or: either you redeem Halloween or you stand against evil. Not at all. To redeem something is to admit that it has been used for evil and to use it for Godliness instead. Paul knew the altar to the unknown god was altar built by pagans in total ignorance, but he used it to preach the gospel. I think we can do the same with Halloween.
Excellent post on a very controversial subject. Many believers I know have very strong feelings about Halloween. We have to be careful not to become prideful about our approach as pride is demonic too. I have to confess I’ve been guilty of this kind of pride.
Good call, Melanie.
I was a huge halloween fan. to the point I had a halloween village and I was pagan at the time. Since then I have found my way back to the Lord but still went along with the crowd not even batting an eye. Then I discovered how the orignal “trick or treating” was about human sacrifice. Kind of makes it a little hard to let my children participate in this activity. I explained to them that the originals are associated with the devil. They are 7,4,and 2. They were okay with it.
Praise God that He has claimed you as His own.
I would contest with the idea that trick-or-treat originates in human sacrifice rituals. Yes, it is believed that the Druids went to different homes and castles in medieval times looking for a “treat” (a.k.a. a woman) to sacrifice, but there were other traditions practiced in the middle ages that resemble today’s trick-or-treat much more closely than that. On All Saints’ Day, for instance, the poor would often go door to door asking for food in exchange for their prayers. Dressing up and going door to door for treats is part of not only Halloween traditions but also Christmas traditions in Europe. I’d love to read more about this human sacrifice connection if you have a good source on the subject.
In our home, we don’t let our children dress as anything resembling a ghost, monster, or other dark creature (on Halloween or any other day of the year).
Even if the tradition of trick-or-treat was totally pagan in its origin, the idea that it has been transformed over time and through Christian influence is a delightful idea to me. I know some people are bothered by the idea of something having a pagan connection or origin, but I think that’s what makes the gospel so powerful. We can rest knowing that Christ reigns over any so-called demonic powers and that many cultural practices once rooted in superstition or idolatry can and are reshaped and given new meaning by His power.
Crystal @ WisdomSeekingMommy.com
Great article! I really liked the 3 R’s!
I’ve been praying and asking God for wisdom on how to handle Halloween this year (our first with our precious daughter). There are lots of valid points on both sides of the argument – but ultimately I think it comes down to our own hearts and conscience – and what God is leading us to do in our communities.
I wrote my own post about seeking God’s wisdom on this topic today in the hopes of encouraging others to dig in to prayer and Scripture to find answers for their family.
Conscience is certainly something to be considered here.
My hope in writing this is that those who feel like they have to reject Halloween because “it is of the devil” can rest easier. Satan has capitalized on many things in our culture, but that does not mean they are unredeemable. Once we have a category for “redeeming” something (as opposed to just receiving or rejecting it), this opens our consciences up to new possibilities.
Thanks for commenting!
You are biblically right, and that is what matters!
We should get closer to Gog to look for wisdom, there is no research or personal argument that can replace that. Thanks God we can get answers from him in our hearts. Thank you for sharing your perspective!
(it is not about having the “right” or wrong attitude about the topic or the article)
An interesting article, I appreciate the balanced perspective. We do celebrate Halloween, in the sense that we dress up, carve pumpkins, and trick our treat in our small rural neighborhood. We do not dress in costumes that one could call evil, and there are lots of fun options out there. We enjoy visiting with our neighbors up and down the street, and they enjoy seeing our kids grow, and we enjoy providing a (small) trick or treat venue for the farms spread out around our neighborhood. And when we are done, we donate all but a small bit of our candy to the troops. My husband and I met at a Halloween party, and were married (by coincidence of venue availability) on Halloween weekend in a very spiritually meaningful ceremony. I have never felt Halloween was un”redeem”able, and have been puzzled by recent blogs asserting otherwise. How others choose to celebrate is between them and God. We LOVE harvest time here in the frigid north, and we love to dress up. The deepest, most negative roots of the holiday are not what we celebrate. Nor do we celebrate modern negatives. But that is no reason for us (my family) to reject the celebration as a whole. It is another way we celebrate the many gifts God had provided us. Thanks again for the thought provoking article!
Thanks, D. I appreciate your perspective on this. I think you have the right attitude about this.
For anyone interested in hearing an additional voice about this topic, I encourage you to listen to this podcast from the founding dean of Beeson Divinity School, Timothy George. He also talks about the concept of Halloween being “redeemed” by Christians (published today by The Gospel Coalition).
He basically says that Christians should have a “theology of reclamation.” All Hallows Eve (Halloween) is a church holiday for remembering the church triumphant, those who have departed and gone to heaven. While the devil has hijacked this day in many ways, we as Christians shouldn’t be intimidated by this. Instead, tweak the devil’s beard a bit and glorify Jesus Christ on Halloween in your neighborhood. Get together with Christians and serve the community in some way. Have a Reformation Day party. Invite kids in. Build relationships. Give out the best candy in town in the name of Jesus Christ.
I have to concur! I have boys 13 years apart so I had lots of time to research and decide how to approach the holiday. We found a printed tract that we hand out as we go ‘tract’ or treating! My boys never wear evil clothing, and usually take part in creating their costumes!! One year when my older son gave his tract (which basically thanks the giver for their kindness and says how much God loves them every day) , the homeowner called him back to her door and poured the whole bowl of candy in his bag! She was so impressed that anyone was thinking of her!!! It began a discussion of God!, we also buy tracts and hand them out from our house,as well as candy. Some kids are happy to get something else!!! Now that we have diet issues, candy is more of just an afterthought. Mom won’t let him eat artificial colors!!
Great to hear that others are using this day to glorify God!
this whole thing of being neighborly on Halloween I just don’t get. If people are out trick or treating they don’t want a bible track, tooth brush, or to be invited in to learn about reformation day. at least I didn’t want to do any of those things when I celebrated Halloween as a child. I wanted as much candy as I could get. We should try being neighborly the other 364 days of the year. help your neighbor move something heavy into the house, stand outside on summer evening and chat with them, mow their lawn when they are on vacation, return their dog to their yard when it gets out. Its my opinion that these are far better ways to connect then taking 2 seconds to hand them a piece of candy on a dark night not to see them again until next year.
No doubt, Halloween is one day and there are 364 other days to think about. The question of this post is not about how to handle those 364 other days, but about this specific day. Should we, as Christians, join different festivities? Should we host our own gatherings? Should we let our kids trick-or-treat? Those are the questions a lot of parents have.
Being neighborly on Halloween makes a lot of sense to me, mostly because being neighborly in general is a good idea. The question is what is the best way to do that.
I know a lot of families that throw parties at their homes on Halloween where both kids and adults come. In most communities, trick-or-treat time only lasts a portion of the evening.
How can we sit in our homes with the lights out on Oct 31st when lost neighborhood kids go by just looking for candy and kindness and then go to them during Christmas with goodies and expect them to accept our offering. They may get confused at why we celebrate one custom and not the other leading them to see us as judgmental. I say, take every opportunity to share your thoughts on any occasion where you can share the Lord. If you close the door on Halloween to them then you can expect them to close the door on you at other times. “This is the day that the Lord hath made, let us REJOICE and be glad in it” EXCEPT for OCT 31st…..I don’t think so!
Thanks, Calvin. I appreciate your thoughts on this. This is a great attitude to have.
What a good point! I think that it’s fear that causes many to not want to Halloween as an opportunity to share Christ. As if satan owns the day- which we know he does NOT! I saw a comment that said that we shouldn’t use worldly activities to witness, I would ask how you expect to witness? And where do you draw the line? Do you stop going to the movie theater because it’s used to show horror movies? …we are in this world and we can use things all around us to meet people where they are at….if we simply wait for them to walk through the church doors while we wave our finger at them for all their ungodly activities- well I think we will be waiting a looong time!
Right on, Karen!
Just remember, sometimes this is the ONLY time you see some of your neighbors! Why not get time to know them better?
Love it! Thank you for your encouragement in this area and the fact that your post has given me so many wonderful ideas. I currently live in Italy and last year we had so many Italian children come to our house because American’s are known to give out candy. This year I am going to tape Scripture verses in Italian to the candy that we hand out. This is such an opportunity to reach out to our community even though we don’t speak the language.
Great idea! Glad this encouraged you.
Heeey Luke and Trisha! Though I don’t approach Halloween from a religious perspective, I do wholeheartedly agree with bullet point #2 – teach kids everything about the day: the good, bad, and the ugly and even just make them aware of traditions around the world (and other holidays too). I think it only makes them more well rounded and can make their own decisions as they get older about if/when/how they decide to celebrate on this day.
For me and mine, well it’s all about the trick and the treat. And I can find any reason to dress up (thanks Halloween!). I simply love a themed party! LOL
Thanks for sharing, Kesha!
For any one interested in read more thoughts on this, I read this today from Dr. Albert Mohler. While he doesn’t suggest actually “redeeming Halloween” and approaches the subject cautiously, I thought his final words of advice were very good:
“Christian parents should make careful decisions based on a biblically-informed Christian conscience. Some Halloween practices are clearly out of bounds. Others may be strategically transformed, but this takes hard work and may meet with mixed success.
“The coming of Halloween is a good time for Christians to remember that evil spirits are real and that the Devil will seize every opportunity to trumpet his own celebrity. Perhaps the best response to the Devil at Halloween is that offered by Martin Luther, the great Reformer: ‘The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him for he cannot bear scorn.’
“On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther began the Reformation with a declaration that the church must be recalled to the authority of God’s Word and the purity of biblical doctrine. With this in mind, the best Christian response to Halloween might be to scorn the Devil and then pray for the Reformation of Christ’s church on earth. Let’s put the dark side on the defensive.”
Just came across your post and felt compelled to share our families own Lordly traditions for this festive time of year! We don’t celebrate “Halloween” with the traditional themes, we redeem the holiday through activities that show us god’s light – those that come straight from the bible. We play turn our garage into a biblical fun house – NOT a demonic house – and take our activities directly from His word. We have dioramas of Lot’s wife turning to a pillar of salt, cities of Soddom and Gomorrah burning to the ground; part of the fun house is also activity-based; we have the children walk through the 10 plagues of Egypt, for example, a simulated river of blood, a box of grasshoppers (to simulate locusts) where the kids place their hands, and and we put a mark of lipstick on the firstborn kids and pets – just to name a few! This is how we come to know HIS power and majesty on Earth as it is in heaven! Praise be to Him! Redeem thy Lord! Carry the Sabbath with you wherever you are! Glory! Hallelujah! Jesus Christ Above!
Sounds like you’ve come up with some great ways to enjoy October 31 while pointing to Christ. Thanks for sharing!
This is hilarious. I’ve never seen anything so trivial taken so seriously (and longwinded). Play along folks, you’re children are not going to be possessed by demons.
Ironically, I don’t overtly disagree with you. The reason why this has been given so much attention here is because people have been so afraid of associating with Halloween. This is is my feable attempt to swing the pendulum the other way. I agree with you: kids won’t be demonized by participating in Halloween. Kids need discernment, and that is why it is important for parents to make the most of Halloween.
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Halloween, Santa, boys with guns… All controversial topics.
You did such a great job with this one. I really appreciated the balanced way you presented such a heated topic, yet conveyed the core truth.
We must show the love of Christ to this world, we must not become so “right” that we handle things “wrongly”. I have been married 25 years and we have 5 boys. When we were first married (and newly saved) we ditched Halloween, Santa, and guns.
Well, those baby boys grew up and turned sticks into weapons and we began to swing back in the other direction. We went from not guns no santa, to nerf arsenals, bow and arrow and secret santas in our home.
Halloween is one of those that we could never embrace (the ghoullies and ghosties and long-leggety beasties part) but we have always done pumpkins, pumpkin patches and harvest celebrations. We have wrestled with this one more than the others because of the obvious evil, but they are all the same.
We have to be locked in with God. We have to know what He wants for our own families and walk in confidence. We should never compromise our faith, but we also should not paint ourselves into such a self righteous corner that we cannot minister to the world around us.
Thank you for this!!
Thanks, Bekki. Good thoughts here.
I tell my three year old that we are people of the day and not people of the night. I tell him that we celebrate life and not death. I tell him that some people don’t know about heaven or what happens when they die so they use their imagination and come up with things like ghosts. I tell him to listen and look for fruit in people that show what they believe in and that we should always be polite as we discern. I tell him that those that share the good news have beautiful feet.
I am comfortable not participating in any way and plan to teach our kids that we are to be salty and prepared to be outside the city gates. We have lots of opportunities to share Christ but my personal conviction is not to participate. I see God warning Israel about joining in customs of the culture. What the Catholic church invents after the Bible was written has no bearing on how I choose to live.
I appreciate what you’re saying here, but I would caution you on some points…
1. You can celebrate life and enjoy Halloween. The whole point of this article is attempting to show why that is true. Are you saying that a parent can’t do these things simultaneously or just that you choose not to do so?
2. You can be salty and enjoy Halloween at the same time. I have other posts about that.
3. I believe it is impossible to escape “culture.” We live in it. You speak and write in English. You wear Western clothing. You live in a home built architects that followed some kind of cultural norm. You eat food grown in your culture. You get the point. If we make wholesale rejection of “our culture” the point, this is confusing. Instead, we need to stress not the rejection of culture, but the rejection of sin. Since the coming of Christ, the Old Testament emphasis on creating a unified, geographically-centered, ethnic nation has transitioned to something trans-national. The church is now a new spiritual nation, one that is multi-ethnic, and absorbing and sanctifying surrounding cultures.
4. What do you mean by “what the Catholic church invents”? What counts, in your mind, as “the Catholic church”? The church feasts for martyrs started in the 4th century: does that count? The first All Saints’ Day, by that name, was in the 7th century: does that count? I find this comment confusing.
I was referring to the point made multiple times that somehow if the church invents a holiday somehow we must observe it. I absolutely enjoy life and can be salty without Halloween. Being different but living a life marked by love prompts great questions. I see no reason to focus my mind or energies on how to celebrate Halloween. There are opportunities to share Christ every day if we walk in the Spirit.
I do not try to escape culture per se. I would be surprised if apostle Paul went to the colloseum to make sure he was cool either. I feel Halloween is unwholesome and have no problem being peculiar. If we find ourselves having to work so hard to justify something, maybe those of us that feel it is not a noble and pure event should be encouraged to live according to our convictions….
I never made the point that if the church invents a holiday we are bound to observe it. The church invented lots of holidays that Christians observe (Christmas, Easter, and every holiday named after a saint) but none of these need to be observed.
I understand you don’t find a reason to celebrate Halloween. My point is that Christians are free to celebrate the truths embedded in Halloween in a manner that glorifies God. Do you disagree?
I’m also not saying Christians should refrain from things that are unwholesome. I try to make the point in this article that some things should be rejected and others redeemed. We should be a peculiar people, and nothing in my article denies that.
If you have any reasons why you think my points in the article are wrong, please let me know specifically what you find objectionable.
I love your first paragraph, Cindy, and completely agree!
To Luke, I’ve read your responses to comments and you seem quite insistent that every Christian should approach Halloween in the same way you do. Yes, it’s a subjective thing for some, and some people like you believe Christians absolutely should celebrate Halloween and just add some sort of Christian flair to it. However, my Bible says to avoid all appearance of evil, so we don’t choose to celebrate Halloween…if that makes us a bad Christian family in your eyes then so be it. We live our lives to please the Lord and not men.
Again, I’m not talking about “celebrating Halloween.” I don’t endorse that. I’m talking about redeeming the time on Halloween.
I gave this whole issue some serious consideration last year, as I grew up without celebrating Halloween and started to dip my toe back in when our daughter was in preschool. I can certainly see the arguments in favor of redeeming any holiday for the Lord, but Halloween is one that I still have so much discomfort with for many reasons that I detail in this post from last year: http://thissideofheaven.weebly.com/home/my-hang-ups-with-halloween. I’m very much in favor of treating this issue with love and grace as we discuss it with other believers, and to make sure that whether we attempt to redeem it or choose to sit it out, that we do not look down on those from the other camp.
Thanks for posting the link to your article, Kristi. I agree, wholeheartedly, that we should have charity toward one another in this. In reply I would say to your points…
1. Concerning the darkness of the day: The way the church redeemed these elements in the past was to utilize them as means of mocking the darkness. When saints would parade through the streets, marching to the dark graveyards, they did so as a means of celebrating Christ’s victory over darkness.
2. Concerning the focus on death: Similarly to the last point, All Hallows’ Eve used to be a time to celebrate Christ’s victory over death, and I think it can still be that way today.
3. Concerning the ambiguity for your children: In the end you have to do what is best for your own kids, and I completely honor your decision. At the same time, we don’t need to play fast-and-loose with our kids when it comes to Halloween (a cutesie holiday vs. a gruesome one). In our home, the generally lighthearted elements are kept that way (such as getting candy in cute outfits) but the gruesome elements others choose to employ are simply explained in the light of what they really mean: “These are leftovers from our pagan past, but look how they are treated as silly and meaningless today. This is because over time, our ancestors became Christians and realized that these powers are darkness have been overcome by Jesus. Today, the biggest danger of Halloween is not that people dress up like goblins or ghosts, but that they have forgotten why we can so easily scorn these dark creatures. It is out job to remind them that Jesus is the one who gives us victory over evil.”
Thank you for a really well-thought, balanced, helpful article! I love the idea of “redeeming” a variety of things in our culture i the sense that we are taking back for good and for God what the world has twisted: My husband and I are redeeming our own education while home-schooling our son, we are redeeming “rigorous education” that Common Core proponents have used to promote a false agenda, among many others. How refreshing to realize we can embrace the historical roots of “All Hallows Eve” and All Saints Day and use that to share with others the gospel of Jesus Christ. I think that is much more effective- and winsome- than sitting home behind shuttered windows. Thanks again for your great recommendations and insight.
Thanks, Monica. I agree.
I was glad to find this article, but a bit disappointed by the end. I did like parts of it, and I think I’m sad to let Halloween go. I do like all the fun that goes into the holiday, and many of us have quite joyful memories of it. I have many ‘secular’ memories, which bring back joy or laughter, but could never be classified as good, mischief at best. That being said, we will do our best to give up Halloween tradition and celebration. I realize it’s difficult to ignore such a blazing holiday, and perhaps I am being extreme on the matter. I do know that the seeds of evil do not lie in the world, but in our hearts. (Mark 7:15) In training up my children I want to teach them discernment. Just because there are elements of Halloween that seem harmless, such as innocent role play and candy… nothing you do to honor this tradition brings glory and honor to God. I am not abolishing our traditions lightly, but I have chosen, along with my children’s input (ages 6 and 8) to stop our involvement. I believe at this point there is no involvement on our part that will bring glory to God (eating candy in of itself is not good for us). I believe Christians toe a line in rebellion, and the question we need to ask ourselves is, “Am I doing this to glorify God?”
Thank you for this article… I have always believed there should be a middle ground, and I do pray that there will be a day that glory to be had, but I do not see it in this day in age.
Hi Hannah, I find your comment interesting: “nothing you do to honor this tradition brings glory to God.” I think my post tries to show the opposite. I’m still not clear about what exactly you think about the points I made in the post which expressly tries to give shape to how one brings glory to God on Halloween. In other posts I flesh this out more, such as how to prepare kids for Halloween, and different types of celebrations for Halloween day.
I respect your decision as a fellow parent, as it is a matter of conscience, but I’m still not sure why you think it is impossible to participate in All Hallows Eve in a manner that gives glory to God.
I have never liked Halloween because I always felt like people use it as an excuse to destroy other’s property. Here is the alternative I came up with when my children were young. The best Halloween celebrations we had as a family were before my children attended public school. Back when our children were pre-school age, we would dress up and go to a nursing home and “reverse” trick-or-treat. I told my kids that GIVING away the candy was how trick-or-treating was done. We would ask the residents if they would prefer a trick or a treat. If they asked for a trick my son or daughter would stand on one foot or skip around the room, something silly which could be described as a trick by a 2 or 3 yr old child. Treats were the candy my kids selected before we went. We also brought raisins for diabetic patients. Needless to say, my children were quite surprised to find out when they were older that when others went trick-or-treating they GOT candy. Nothing was ever the same!
Nice way to spread the love on Halloween!
I was strongly in the “NO Halloween” camp for at least a decade… during that time I had 6 children. Last year, the Lord really helped me see other Christians through the lens of grace, and to stop condemning people…. we went trick or treating in our tiny neighborhood, in cute childish costumes. We also passed out candy afterwards. I wouldn’t say it was “redeeming”, but it was a start. This year, we have moved to a neighborhood that will pass candy to upwards of 200 children. I want to redeem the holiday here. Maybe you can write another post, with more ideas about HOW to redeem Halloween, primarily at my door. I was thinking of some kind of signs that the kids read while they walk up my driveway… culminating in a proclamation of light overcoming darkness, at the door. I thought the proclamation could even be a scripture verse…. the light coming through our door representing His Light… but I can’t flesh out the details.
We have thought of passing out gospel tracts, but honestly, I think it would be simply thrown out. I’d love to do something “BIG” with the yard, that stuck in a persons’ mind, and pointed plainly to Christ….
Considering the redemption of Halloween,
Hi Mrs.Momof6: Sounds like you’re making some great strides. You could also consider something hospitality oriented with your home. Here are some ideas in this article (All Hallows’ Eve Party or Reformation Day Party). The good thing is these ideas can be done while handing out candy at the door. When the trick-or-treaters ask what’s going on, you can tell them about the way you and your neighbors and friends are celebrating the day.
I did not want to respond because I often get condemned for how I see things but I will answer this honestly with as brief an explanation as I can. We have no children right now, but when we do we will not celebrate Halloween. So many reasons could be given, yet so many people do not understand the reasons and want to explain them away or call them intolerant. If you know me- you would know I am a very tolerant person- one who sees the best in everyone. The only thing I cannot tolerate and have not been able to as a child- is evil and any appearance of it. Risking a theology discussion here- I will mention this anyway. I have the spiritual gift “to see”. While many Christians do not understand the gifts of the Spirit or think them irrelevant, I personally have learned that they are VERY real. I did not grow up with that idea either. Back to my personal belief… As one who sees the spiritual realm in very vivid ways, I cannot ever allow my children to participate in a holiday that is directed toward demonic themes no matter what its roots were. Even though it started in the church, it does not mean that is what people think of anymore- it is not the spirit and attitude behind what the general population celebrates today either. With that said, I know just how easy it is to open a door to the demonic realm whether in our child’s heart or our own. For those who do not think we are demonizing our children, I ask you to be aware and alert because children learn from what they see far more than what they hear. Going on with the spiritual side of things- I have visibly seen demonic forces that have come against me and people I love at times in my life (and I am only 27). Having seen how easily they can come into our homes, without being invited, I never want my children to come in contact with such a spirit by participating in something that is portrayed so openly as scary and evil. We live in a spiritual world, we are spiritual beings. Therefore, everything we do and say has a spiritual impact in the atmosphere around us. Having said all this, I challenge you all to consider that the Bible calls our bodies a temple of the Holy Spirit. So while a costume may not be anything more than a veggie tales character or a princess or a pumpkin, we are still telling our children that is ok to participate in things that grieve the heart of God. To finish up- I am not condemning anyone, I still believe each person answers to God themselves and has the freedom to choose. I am simply stating, be aware- the spiritual forces are more real than you think and while you may find a way to somewhat redeem the day- it does not fight the spiritual forces that are associated with it. No matter what we choose- Bible drama, tracts, cute costumes, etc; there is still a spirit associated with the events of Halloween that is not Godly and I and my family will not allow that spirit to find our hearts open to it. For the days are evil- therefore redeem the time…. not the holidays or events that the world celebrates. I hope this does not sound too harsh- because I am not trying to be.
Hi Heather, thanks for answering honesty and from your heart. I appreciate what you’re saying here. I do have a few questions for you.
1. Are you saying that a Christian who attempts to redeem Halloween in some of the ways I’ve outlined (not just in this article, but in this one too) that Christian is grieving the heart of God because they are participating, in some measure, in the festivities? What would be a permissible on October 31 that didn’t grieve God?
2. Are you saying that you have seen Christians trying to redeem Halloween in the ways I’ve described and then “seen” demonic beings react in a way that disturbed you? Can you elaborate? What have you seen, exactly, in these scenarios?
For the record, I have no problem believing in the existence of the gift you are describing. I do think these kind of gifts operate best in local church where they can be properly heard, understood, discerned, and confirmed, but I have no immediate prejudice against the belief that your gift is real. I’ve known a number of people who claim to have the same gift (at least, if I understand you correctly).
My only concern about how I’ve seen this gift used is that it never seemed to give any real direction. For instance, I knew two young women who claimed to see into the spiritual realm, and all it did to them was terrify them. They tended to base their decisions on how they saw actions and decisions in this world influence and interact with the spiritual world, but when I asked them how anyone was supposed to make moral decisions based on the seemingly random observations they had, they could never give me an answer. This is only my experience, of course, and perhaps your gift is vastly different.
I wish “Heather” would have come back and responded to your questions! I was looking for her answer.
Me too, Angie. I thought we had a good dialogue there.
You don’t seem to be creating dialogue, Luke, you’re responding to everyone who disagrees with you with a lengthy list of why you think they are wrong. Why don’t you have a but of grace for those who don’t want to do things your way.
I’m not following, Sarah. How would you prefer I create dialogue? Agree with them when I think they are incorrect? I sincerely want people to reply to my comments and tell me why I’m seeing things incorrectly.
I agree. I don’t think anyone is saying you should say you agree when you don’t, but I agree with these ladies. I think there is some “gray” area here and just because people don’t agree with you doesn’t mean they are incorrect. There is literally NO basis in God’s Holy Word where you can say that Christians have any sort of obligation to take part in a satan-worshiping holiday.
I agree. I’m not writing about taking part in a satan-worshipping holiday. I’m talking about redeeming the time on October 31 and using the day to point to the truth of Christ.
As for the spirit of my comments, I really did mean what I said in the article that Halloween is a “disputable matter,” and it will probably always be so. I recognize others’ consciences simply won’t allow any associations with Halloween. I have no problem with a person who says, “I will not allow myself to be associated with Halloween because it offends my conscience.” I do have a problem with someone who says, “Those who try to ‘redeem’ Halloween traditions are wrong” without some warrant. If you’re going to accuse me of being wrong, then at least be willing to tell me why and answer my replies.
I’m not accusing you of being wrong. I’m offended at your message that others are wrong for not doing it your way. (you said in your own reply that we are “incorrect” by not doing so. That is what offends me. We celebrate God every day. We don’t need to claim to be adding a Christian flair to Halloween in order to glorify him on October 31st just as we do every other day of the year. That doesn’t even make sense!
I guess I don’t see where I said you were “incorrect” in any of my replies. I really think you’re reading something into my comment that isn’t there.
For example, you say this in your post, “While we should feel free to critique ourselves and discuss these matters, we should remember that pridefully looking down on other Christians for differing opinions is just as demonic as a vampire.”
But then you clearly judge every single commenter who doesn’t agree with you on how to properly celebrate Halloween. That is a glaring double standard. It sounds like what you really mean is that those of us who don’t celebrate Halloween in any way shouldn’t judge those who do. And that’s fine–I don’t judge. I just want you to follow your own advice and not be judgmental toward those of us who choose not to celebrate it in the way that you do.
Can you find any time where I clearly judge a commenter who doesn’t agree? May be I don’t understand what you mean by “judge.” If you mean critique or ask questions about, yes, I do that a lot and I offer no apologies for it. Do you mean act in a judgmental way? I would hope that is not how I come off.
My children are grown so I am not struggling with this issue as a parent of young children. But I have been wrestling with on a personal level and how/if to be involved in a church activity. I appreciated your article and don’t disagree with it but what I see that is needed in order to redeem the day is to truly teach/train/educate/talk about all the issues you mentioned in your article to our children and believers in general so that they really understand. I don’t believe it is enough to say we can redeem the day without really understanding how. What concerns me is that parents aren’t doing that and yet dress their kids up (in non-scary outfits) and haul them through the neighborhood all the while thinking they are redeeming the day or showing the love of Christ by handing out expensive candy. And that is what seems dangerous to me…that we as believers are deluded with the belief that we are redeeming the day when in reality we are not, if that is all we are doing. Even if churches have events, games, activities, candy, food, if it is not truly being used “as a bridge to talk about Christ” (your words) then are we teaching believers that giving out candy and wearing ourselves out with activity is enough? If we truly want to redeem the day, let’s be diligent in teaching our children and our congregations how to redeem it. Let’s move beyond kindness (of candy giving) and be bold in truly speaking about God’s love and redemption. We live in an area where no trick-or-treaters come, so I can only imagine, but it seems that it would not be very conducive to truly sharing the love of Christ. While it may be a seed of trust that can later be built on, unless we care about them the rest of the year, I don’t believe we should count this as a feather-in-our-redeem-the-day-hat. Yes, let’s shout life on this day! Let His light shine through us. Let’s truly redeem the day! Thanks for writing on this topic.
Thanks, Lynn. I recently wrote another article about the “how” (at least with some ideas to get parents started). I’d love to get your take on it.
Toni @ Debt Free Divas
Wow Luke. This is very insightful. I have mixed feelings about Halloween and whether or not to participate. I’ve only really had to really deal with this in the past few years as a new parent. It’s easy to overlook this as a family of 2. Our church recently began doing a Trunk or Treat. It was a marvelous experience and a great way to fellowship with the wider community. Only we don’t do it on Halloween. I was telling my husband that i would love to do more of this, but I understand how much energy goes into it and we are all super busy with our own families. I do love the detail you provide. Great food for thought.
Thanks, Toni. I hope these thoughts help you think through the issues!
Well, the event has come and gone. I was saved when my first two children were 1 and 2. I grew up in the with all the worldly trappings. When Christ opened my eyes, my husband and I said no to Halloween. Those same two children are now 17 and 18 and have not suffered at all because they missed out on a day of candy and costumes. My other three children seem to be turning out just fine. We don’t make a big deal about it, but when ask, we simple say” we don’t do Halloween”. If it makes us look different from others, great! It leads to interesting discussions. The real question is what do you teach your kids about Santa? Once we were part of the Real family, lying to our children about Christmas was out, too.
Love this sight! Thanks for all you do!
Like I said in the article, Shelley, this issue is a matter of conscience, and you and your husband have certainly followed yours, and that is to be commended.
I can’t tell by your comment if I was unclear at all, but for the record: I never once argue here that if kids “miss out” on Halloween they won’t turn out alright as adults. My guess is kids turn out just fine if you practice what your family did or if you practice what we do. I’m curious: What do you think about my take on “redeeming” the day?
As for Santa, we have a whole article on that one called, “5 Things I Want My Kids to Know about Santa Claus.” I’d love to get your comments on that one.
Thank you! I am a Christian who LOVES Halloween. I pinned this article to my Pinterest board. Well said!
Thanks! Glad you liked it!
I’m redeeming Halloween by passing out goody bags with chick tracts inside. I refuse to let this day be know as “the Devils day” because this is the day the Lord has made and I will rejoice and be glad in it! So I’m taking a stand to do something even if it’s just a small goody bag.
The only place in the bible we are encouraged to commemorate or honor anyone’s death is at Luke 22:19 “And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.” So I have a big issue with the statement constantly being made about Halloween starting in the church to honor or remember martyrs and saints. We are not commissioned by Christ to honor anyone but him. Secondly, I would never pick up a dirty sucker off the ground, wipe the dirt off and give it to my child with the reasoning that it’s dirty but it’s still candy and it tastes delicious! Nor would I accept a glass of water from Someone who informed me that it’s mostly ok to drink except for the tiny drop of poison it contains! Celebrating Halloween with its pagan origins is like eating that piece of candy or drinking that water. NO THANKS!!
I’m not sure the point is to remember their “death”—i.e. how they died—but to remember their faithfulness in life (their faithfulness unto death). For instance, Hebrews 11 gives a rundown of many people from the past and how they persevered by faith, even some who were martyred. We are encouraged to remember them and see them as the “great cloud of witnesses” (12:1).
I also disagree that we are not told to honor others. In fact, when Paul was writing to the Philippians, he specifically told them to honor such men as Epaphroditus because they risk their life for the work of Christ.
I too would not hand my child a dirty sucker, but your analogy falls apart pretty quickly when if we think it is Halloween in its totality that we are redeeming. This simply isn’t true and isn’t what the article is talking about. We’re talking about redeeming the elements of truth present within the customs: the remembering of the dead, the mockery of Satan, the community gatherings, etc. Please don’t read this article as an endorsement of the idea that we somehow redeem things that are truly sinful and merely call them good. Far from it.
I think this is a black and white issue for sure. I grew up trick or treating, and my 5 year old has grown up this far trick or treating as well. This will be our first year not participating in Halloween. I can understand the argue that of “redeeming” the holiday for Christ, but who have you seen actually doing that? Sure it started out as a holiday created by the church, but quickly turned so dark and evil, there is nothing that I feel can be redeemed. As christians, we are not of this world, because the bible states this world belongs to the prince of darkness, and Satan and his minions have taken over something that was once not so dark. But the holiday belongs to them now, and I’m sure they live it up every Halloween. The leader of the church of satan, Anton LaVey once said “I’m glad christian parents let their children worship the devil at least one night out of the year.” And that’s coming from one of Satan’s top brown nosers. If the holiday ever belonged to the church, it was quickly taken over by darker powers. That is something I can no longer endorse or participate it.
I’m glad you can at least understand the issue of why one would want to redeem Halloween for Christ, but to answer your question, I see people doing it frequently—though maybe not as frequently as we ought. I know of churches and Christian families that host Reformation Day parties, churches that host All Hallows’ Eve/Day celebrations where Christian martyrs are remembered, churches that do movie discussions focused on how archetypes of horror are good literary pictures of the evil of sin, and neighbors that host cookouts on their front lawn to build relationships with and witness to trick-or-treaters.
As far as Satan taking over Halloween, even if that is true, I hardly see why this should stop Christians from glorifying Christ for his victory over darkness on October 31. As the world around us forgets that Halloween used to be a mockery of the devil, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with Christians reminding the world of this.
As far as Anton LaVey goes, I hardly see how his words should be taken seriously. Why should I believe that when a Christian family does something to honor Christ on All Hallows’ Eve that they are worshiping the devil? Just because neo-pagans like LaVey want to worship Satan on that day, why does this mean that trying to redeem Halloween is a sign that I am worshipping Satan? Why would Christians believe what a Satanist says about worship over what God says about it?
Don’t get me wrong, Heidi. I too do not want to “endorse” or “participate” in the celebration of death or evil that happens at Halloween, but that is also not at all what this article is about. It is about celebrating life, celebrating truth, and celebrating Christ on a day designed by the church to do just that.
I completely agree with continuing to glorify God through something bad. I am by no means saying that we should lock our doors and turn off our lights Halloween night. But the majority of Christians “for” Halloween, still allow their kids to dress up, partake in the “festivities” collect candy and enjoy the “holiday.” Taking a stand for Christ on Halloween and witnessing is one thing, but dressing our kids up and driving them around the neighborhood is endorsing it, whether someone wants to admit it or not.
As for LaVey, what I was trying to get across and failed at doing was this: if we as Christians have spiritual insight into the unseen battles, why wouldn’t a satanist have spiritual insight as well? Maybe they know something about the “innocent” Halloween that we as parents don’t? People will say “oh its innocent! It’s just kids dressing up! There’s nothing demonic about knocking on doors for candy!” Of course there’s nothing evil about that, but I’m sure that by celebrating on a day that has been taken over by the principalities of darkness, we are unknowingly involving our children and ourselves in something sinister. Unless we are driving our children around to pass out bibles to their peers, and witness to parents on every doorstep, the argument of ‘redeeming Halloween for Christ’ doesn’t mean a thing.
And one other thing. How can you not take something that LaVey or any other satan worshipper says seriously? We are in an unseen battle against “the principalities of darkness” the bible says the devil walketh about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour, I think one of the top leaders for Satan’s team should be taken seriously.
Thats like being in a battle, and your soldiers come to you as their general saying they heard the other general has plans of coming at you from behind, and you just brushig them away and not taking the other general serious. We are not in a one sided battle here. There are two teams, and if a lead satanist in the entire world uses Halloween to glorify his god, and thanks christian parents for (unknowingly) and “innocently” handing over their children to unseen evil forces, I think we should perk our ears up.
My point about LaVey is that he’s making a declaration that some sort of involvement in Halloween festivities (that he neither defines nor describes) is equal to worshiping Satan. This hardly seems like enough information for parents to make any decisions. And even if we assume that LaVey is talking about trick-or-treating or some other common Halloween custom, why should we take his word for it that such an activity is equal to Satan worship? The Bible’s definition of worship is not nearly so surfacey: worship is an act of the intentions and affections of the heart.
Don’t get me wrong: the very reason I wrote the article is because of the abuses I see on both sides of this issue—some parents treating Halloween glibly and without thought, other parents hiding away and cutting ourselves off from our culture. I think neither approach is good. I do think we should teach our kids to avoid celebrations of death, evil, and the demonic. I think such activities are not fitting of a Christian family.
Here’s what I tell me kids at Halloween: “You know, long ago, Christian people used to dress up in dark outfits not to celebrate evil but to mock it. This is how the Bible speaks of the powers of darkness. The prophets of old used satire and sarcasm to mock pagan gods because they had no power against the God of Israel. When Christ died and rose again, he stripped the powers of darkness of their two greatest weapons against us: (1) our sins that make us guilty before God, and (2) the power of death. Christ has forgiven us and he has overcome death. This is why Halloween used to be a time for Christians to celebrate forgiveness and celebrate eternal life by teasing and mocking the powers of darkness. Of course, today, a lot of people don’t know that. They dress up in dark outfits for different reasons—to revel in death and evil and gore. This is why we don’t do that, because people have lost site of what Halloween should be about. But we can delight in the fact that Christ has set us free from sin and death. We can enjoy Halloween by celebrating life.”
I get what you’re saying, Heidi. I guess I assumed you were replying to the actual ideas in my article about redeeming the day. Most of your comments seem to say, “It’s all well and good to redeem the day, but no one really does it, so why encourage people to do it.” I just think this emits a defeatist mentality. Why discourage people from implementing the ideas in my article simply because others don’t typically do it?
As for trick-or-treat, I don’t really talk about it in the article (except at the beginning where I tell parents not to have their kids participate in the manner I described). I agree it is a good question for parents to ask.
Our culture is evil, so why have any veiled ideas of keeping up with it? As far as Christians mocking evil by partaking in evil practices, I have never heard of such a thing.
I do know that Elijah mocked the 450 pagan priests and their gods by the sacrifice he made to the only true God. The pagan priests tried to offer a sacrifice to their “gods” and nothing happened, so Elijah mocked both them and their gods and the he instructed them to pour hundreds of gallons of water upon his offering and when he called upon God to accept it, then God rained fire from heaven and consumed not only the sacrifice on the altar but the fire was actually licking up the water that surrounded the altar. Then the pagan priests were put death on the spot once the nation of Israel saw that they had been deceived and duped by the pagan priests.
I know of no clear example given in the Bible that even suggests that we assimilate as our enemy in an effort to mock him. Jesus put the powers of darkness to an open shame, being victorious over them. They have no further need to be mock of shamed and we don’t have to do it, because our Lord did it already.
To redeem wickedness is just silly to me. Why doesn’t God just redeem Satan and call it good? Why doesn’t God just redeem the earth, instead of pronouncing judgment upon it and actually order its destruction so that He can create a new heavens and earth? Even people cannot be redeemed unless they agree to it. Again, an argument based upon man’s reasonings and not based upon what God has told us and demonstrated to us.
Eveyone likes to say that Halloween started in the church….Christians use this reference. Halloween started as a pagan tradition, adopted and then adapted by the CATHOLIC church. The christian and catholic church are two completely different churches. Christians use “it started in the church” as leverage all the time to justify their participation in it, but I don’t go to a catholic church, or follow catholic beliefs.
Halloween cant be redeemed. We don’t attend satanic mass as a way of redeeming it for Christ. We don’t become drunkards and hang out at bars to redeem it. Christian men don’t hire prostitutes as a way to redeem them. When we partake in anything, we are endorsing or supporting it. We should not mix or blend with evil to somehow make it “clean”. Unless you are dressed in normal attire standing by every door, and intercepting every child or parent to discuss the evil history of Halloween and giving them a bible, you are not redeeming it.
Something can only be redeemed if it was once used for something good, then became evil. Halloween never WAS something good. It was ALWAYS something evil.
If you are a fan of Halloween, then you are also a participant at some level, and if you are a participant, then you will be guilty of the rest of what goes on with this day even if you personally aren’t doing some of what goes on. The devil wants you in on any level. It makes no difference how deeply you are deceived, just so long as you are and remain deceived.
Perhaps I’m not being clear here. We don’t mock evil by being evil. We mock evil by showing the futility of it. When Elijah mocked the prophets, if we take his words literally, we might assume his thinks Baal was a real deity who was hard of hearing or asleep or on the toilet. But we’re not meant to take his words as anything but sarcasm. That’s what sarcasm is: it looks, on the surface, like we are agreeing with the thing we’re mocking, but our tone shows we really believe the opposite. This is what the church in the Middle Ages did when they mocked the powers of darkness.
I’m not at all suggesting in this article that Christians should do that kind of mockery now. I merely said we should teach others (especially our children) about the history of the day.
Also, please don’t misunderstand me on this point: we aren’t called to redeem activities that are inherently evil (as if we could Christianize sin itself). Certainly not. But there are many cultural artifacts that are not, in themselves, evil. Halloween has a rich heritage of many good elements that have been mixed with neo-pagan elements. Those good elements can be confiscated from the hands of the devil.
I don’t agree that Halloween started as a pagan tradition: my article goes into detail on this already, so I won’t reiterate the history here. All Hallows’ Day was not associated with October 31 for centuries before it moved to that date.
I’m not sure what you mean by “Catholic.” Were the 2nd century church fathers who celebrated the lives of the faithful martyrs “catholic” in your mind? If so, were they “Christian” or not.
Here’s the flaw in your logic. Halloween did not originate as All Hallows Eve. It can be traced back centuries further to the celts’ pagan tradition Samhain at the end of October when they believed ghosts and spirits roamed the earth. When the Romans conquered the celts they adopted these pagan traditions. It wasn’t until centuries later when the pope would claim it to be All Hallows Eve. So there is nothing to redeem. You can’t redeem something that is evil at its core. It was pagan from the start.
I mention Samhain in the article being associated with October 31, but All Hallows’ Eve was not originally associated with the same date for centuries. It was only when All Hallows’ Eve was moved to October that the two became associated. There was no flaw in logic here.
Regardless, it is of little consequence. There’s nothing wrong with Christians celebrating life on a day that pagans feared death. There’s nothing wrong with Christians glorying in how Christ overcame the powers of darkness on the day that was traditionally associated with darkness. There’s nothing wrong with Christians celebrating the salvation of departed faithful saints on a day when pagans once did the same with trepidation and uncertainty. There’s nothing wrong with showing love to neighbors who walk in darkness by pointing them to the light of Christ. In fact, I would go so far as to say these are wonderful things to do, and they are exactly what this article promotes.
Yes, absolutely agree!
You agree with Maddi or with my reply?
I agree with Shauna, that maybe we the church should try to celebrate sometime other than round Oct 31. God has no need to compete. And by celebrating around the date we open doors for the garbs and Halloween decor. I will not attend a gay rights parade, but neither will I try to start a Christian rights parade around that time. Halloween is a slippery slope, unlike Easter which celebrates Christ, not saints. I do not want to be celebrated honestly. I would much prefer the glory and focus to go to God, and that is not always or often the case at many of the festivals I’ve attended. My family will be okay missing a night or to between Oct 24- Nov 1.
Though thank you for a great article.
Glad you liked the article, Thomas.
I don’t think its an either-or thing. The church can celebrate Christ on Halloween and any other day of the year. No need to avoid giving praise to God on Halloween, right?
I personaolly think the dueling parades idea is not the same at all. All Hallows’ Eve and Day have always been a Christian idea (just like Christmas), even though modern neo-pagan culture and secularism has sought to take it over (and has been very successful). When my local Catholic church or Lutheran church has an All Saints’ festival on Halloween weekend, no one can rightly criticize them for trying to hijack a secular/pagan celebration, because the history of the day is pretty clear.
As far as Halloween being a slippery slope because it remembers saint (and not God), again, I don’t think its an either-or kind of thing. Do churches worship God on All Saints’ Eve? Of course. They are celebrating the salvation of the departed saints. In addition, God wants us to honor men and women who sacrifice of themselves for the sake of the gospel (Philippians 2:29), remembering those who lived and died by faith (Hebrews 11).
I have no doubt your family (and mine) would be fine missing Halloween festivities, but that’s not really what this article is about. I feel no need to justify a tradition because my kids will “miss out” on something. This article is more about Christians having a positive and powerful theology of reclamation, believing we can and should redeem elements of our culture and use them for the glory of God.
Exactly! Celebrating Halloween at a church party is still celebrating Halloween, a day. As for the rest of it, we celebrate Christmas and give Him praise 365 (or 366) days a year, regardless of whether or not we celebrate Halloween in the way that you suggest and it shows your faulty logic that you would imply otherwise.
I’m not following what you’re saying exactly. “Celebrating Halloween” is celebrating Halloween. Yes. Hard to argue with that logic. But I’m not talking about celebrating Halloween but celebrating Christ on October 31. Maybe I’m missing something in your thoughts.
I guess I’m missing something in your thoughts, then. I don’t need “Halloween” to celebrate Christ on October 31st. That has nothing to do with Halloween.
True. One can celebrate Christ 365 days a year, and you don’t need to use any human-made tradition to honor him. I agree 100%.
My article is about how to honor and celebrate Christ in a manner that celebrates him before a watching world. In the article, I give the example of Paul before the philosophers of Athens, where he utilizes elements in their own culture (Greek literature, pagan altars, etc.) to point to the truth of Christ. I explain that Paul is “redeeming” from within paganism what rightly belongs to God anyway, reclaiming it for the purposes of the gospel.
Thus the notion of “redeeming Halloween”—finding those elements mixed within all the neo-paganism and the commercialism of Halloween that actually reflect something of the truth and using those things to glorify Christ before an unbelieving world and before our children, whom we are raising to be discerning Christians.
In the article, then, I offer several ways in which Christians can engage with the culture of Halloween, offering ideas about how we can speak to our kids and our neighbors and involve ourselves in the life of the community.
This is hands down & by far the best piece on Christians celebrating Halloween I have found. The two families described at the beginning were my husband’s and my family (the shut in one) growing up. We now have a child and this is our first Halloween with her. My husband and I have been trying to figure out our middle ground. I am going to send this post to him now!
Thanks, Emily. So glad you like it!
Halloween has its origins in the 4th century of the church – being the Catholic Church. We are not Catholic nor ever will be therefore there is nothing for us to reclaim. Same for Easter and Christmas- both Catholic holy days from pagan sun god worship. Appreciate your perspective it is interesting and thought provoking but did not change my viewpoint. Love your ministry.
When exactly did the “Catholic” church start, in your opinion?
I understand the redeeming part but what about kids just wanting to dress up and get candy? Even since they are old enough to understand the roots/history they still just see it as a fun time to dress up, hang out with their friends and get candy. I have pretty much been a “non-participant’ parent except for the last couple years…and I feel I have given in to my kids wanting to participate. ..yet I still have this check in my spirit as to should we really be participating in this day. I guess I am really searching for a reason to let my kids dress up and get candy without feeling like God will judge me in the end.
Great question, Sarah. We tell our kids about the medieval roots of the trick-or-treat tradition, how it was a mockery of the devil, not an endorsement of him. There are many ways to use the tradition in positive ways (and I have some links to ideas in the article).
You are lying to your children. Halloween is not a mockery of the devil, it is absolutely an endorsement and a celebration of Him. This is just flat out false. I understand that you really want to celebrate Halloween so you are putting a Christian twist on it, but you can’t just rewrite history. It is a pagan holiday with evil roots.
No doubt there are evil roots to Halloween, at least as far as the Celtic roots go, but I fail to see why this means I shouldn’t use October 31 to the glory of God. If you have any sources to suggest that the medieval traditions of mocking the devil are false, I’m all ears.
And again, I’m not endorsing “celebrating Halloween,” but celebrating Christ on a day when others are using the day to promote a culture of death. I fail to see why this is wrong.
You just said it yourself “no doubt there are evil roots to Halloween.” It is a day to celebrate evil. Every day should be about the glory of God–that has NOTHING to do with celebrating Halloween. You make it sound as if someone refusing to celebrate Halloween with a Christian flair (or “redeem it” as you so call it) is refusing to celebrate Christ and that is simply not the case.
If you want to celebrate it with your children, that is your choice. But telling them the day was originally intended to mock the devil rather than celebrate/endorse satan and evil is not accurate.
I think you and I simply approach things in culture from two very different perspectives. When I say there are evil roots to Halloween, my response is, “So let’s redeem the ways in which the day has been used for evil.” Your response is that it is and always will be therefore a day to celebrate evil, period. We simply disagree about how to approach these kinds of subjects.
And again, if you have any sources to critique my understanding of the history of how Halloween was celebrated in various places in Europe in the middle ages, I’m all ears. Seriously. I know you might think I’m saying that just to trump your comment (because you generally believe I’m a judgmental person on this post, from the sounds of it), but I really do mean that.
Halloween has its roots in pagan worship. What is there to redeem? Christians can’t take back something that was never theirs. I’m not saying people who celebrate Halloween are evil, I just think your premise is flawed. Celebrate it if you want don’t if you don’t. But don’t try to Christianize something that isn’t nor has ever been.
Love your ministry.
Not sure if you read the article, Brook, but I don’t talk about “celebrating Halloween” but redeeming the time on Halloween. There’s also no need to “Christianize” it since it already is partially based in Christian traditions.
Completely agree, Brook!
Thank you for your article and the ensuing debate. I have read through all the comments thus far and appreciate your perspective in regard to so many varied thoughts and comments. Our family does not celebrate Halloween, but your comments about redeeming the day are making me not quite question our stance, but give it serious thought and consideration. The debates have been on both sides of the redeeming aspect, but the one thought that I keep coming back to in my own mind is what if God saw me as unredeemable? What if God had given up on mankind before He even started? We’re told that before the foundation of the world, he planned our redemption, the sacrifice of Jesus. (Don’t ask for chapter and verse right now as I’m just trying to think all this through.) He took the time to redeem a people that repeatedly turned their back on Him, both in the OT with Israel, and NT with believers–all the way down through history to me. He redeemed sinful me!
We have stayed away from Halloween because of the focus we see today on the evil. Nine years ago we adopted our children at 3 1/2 years of age from overseas and Halloween absolutely terrified them. Having not been exposed to the gory and violent costumes and decorations from their earliest days, just walking into a store with Halloween decorations was traumatic. Through the years we have talked about the history of Halloween, from the church history of All Saints Day to the Druids, to the customs of pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns, trick or treat, and Harvest celebrations. Halloween no longer “scares” them, as they understand that as believers our trust, hope, and safety is in the Lord. But we have discussed at different times whether or not to try to give a different perspective in order to be salt and light. Each time we have discussed this, the kids end up coming back to how the memories we have made as a family on Halloween night, actually mean a lot to them. Yes–we are that family turning our lights off in the house and holing up in one of the back bedrooms. But we make pizza, watch a video and play games–and for one day of the year–my children get away with eating in the bedroom, my husband makes a point of watching a movie with us (something he normally doesn’t enjoy doing), and we go to bed having spent a wonderful evening together. My husbands’ job is pretty stressful and he often puts in long hours. Halloween is one night he tries to make a point to be home and spend with us. In a way, as I’m writing this–we are redeeming the day–making it into memorable family time. Something we don’t always take time for the other days. Our neighbors actually know and respect us for not doing Halloween and having that special family time. But we also make a point of talking to them, sharing with them, praying for them, and interacting with them throughout the rest of the year. Our kids enjoy telling them about how we spent the evening and they enjoy telling us about all the candy they hauled in. We all get a good laugh. I didn’t intend to write so much when I started, but I appreciate the opportunity to think through a few things and join in the conversation. Definitely a lot to think and pray about in the days ahead. Thank you for starting the conversation.
Thanks for sharing your story! Just remember: you can redeem any day of the year by celebrating the life of Christ. Halloween included.
I love this! Yes, not celebrating it can be a way of redeeming that time as well. We treat it just like any other day–glorifying God in our actions as best we can. I love your story Rhoda, thank you for sharing it. And, the reminder that of course we can share love with our neighbors even without celebrating Halloween. Blessings to you, and thanks for your testimony of creating such beautiful memories with your children even without celebrating Halloween…I don’t think it’s so much about whether or not it is “redeemable” but just that we don’t need to celebrate Halloween in any form or fashion in order to do those things and you show that very well. Blessings!
I wish there was an easy way to get the poem of what he said! I feel as though he described it all so well!!! I will be trying to write it down and memorize it with both of my daughter’s so we too can spread the word!!!
Here it is!
Vast armies undead do tread through the night and
In hordes march towards hapless victims to frighten.
They stumble in step with glass-eyes on the prizes;
Bunched hither, hunched over in monstrous disguises;
In sizes not lofty but numb’ring a throng;
To unleash on their prey the dreaded DING DONG.
Small faces with traces of mother’s eye-liner,
Peer up to the resident candy provider.
And there to intone ancient threats learnt verbatim;
They lisp “TRICK OR TREAT!” Tis their stark ultimatum.
Thus: region by region such legions take plunder.
Does this spector-full spectacle cause you to wonder?
Just how did our fair festive forebears conceive,
Of this primeval practice called All Hallows Eve?
The answer, if anyone cares to research,
Surprises, it rises from old mother church.
On the cusp of the customary All Saints Day
The Christ-i-an kinsfolk made mocking display.
These children of light both to tease and deride;
Don darkness, doll down as the sinister side.
In pre-post-er-ous pageants and dress diabolic,
They hand to the damned just one final frolick.
You see with the light of the dawn on the morrow,
The sunrise will swallow such darkness and sorrow.
The future is futile for forces of evil;
And so they did scorn them in times Medieval.
For this is the nature of shadow and gloom;
In the gleaming of glory there can be no room.
What force is resourced by the echoing black?
When the brightness ignites can the shadow push back?
These ‘powers’ of darkness, if such can be called,
Are banished by brilliance, by blazing enthralled.
So the bible begins with this fore-resolved fight;
For a moment the darkness…. then “Let there be Light!”
First grief in the gloom, then joy from the East.
First valley of shadow, then mountaintop feast.
First wait for Messiah, then long-promised Dawn.
First desolate Friday and then Easter Morn.
The armies of darkness when doing their worst,
Can never extinguish this Dazzling Sunburst.
So… ridicule rogues if you must play a role;
But beware getting lost in that bottomless hole.
The triumph is not with the forces of night.
It dawned with the One who said “I am the Light!”
What an amazing poem. I think everyone has some valid points about Halloween as it is great to teach our children about God’s Holy word with each celebration. Some of the ideas are wonderful to praise and honour God and him only! Also I believe as grand parents it is important to teach them too about every celebration to glorify God. Also children that are not our own as these will possibly be the next generation of Christian believers. They need to know the Gospel truth as well. I believe some times we can complicate his truth . As we love and trust him more,I find his message is not hard to understand . Some times it can take us time to grasp it straight away in our own searching for the Father. God redeemed us and We can miss out on opportunities to share our love of God,even on Halloween. I love that God is not a liar and that his word is his Holy truth. It does not mean we have to celebrate the darkness of it but God’s light and to honour him. All the articles are wonderful. Many Blessings.
At our house I have probably over simplified Halloween. Both of my daughter’s research different time periods in our history then try to replicate the clothing they wore during that time period. We don’t participate in scary or “horror” type activities in any way, simply because I don’t enjoy it. I do enjoy opening up the door to communications about the origins of the holiday and how awesome our God is!
Amen to that. Celebrate life when the world around you is glorifying death.
I’m of the camp that sees little inherently wrong in dressing up in light, friendly, non-scary costumes and trick or treating. Now, I haven’t done much research on this subject as my focus is elsewhere at the moment (health/vaccines/birth).
It’s definitely an individual/family choice and condemning others isn’t the way we should behave.
That said, we don’t actually try to redeem the day. There are no scary things allowed in our house or for costumes. Any pumpkin carvings must be of the non-scary type. I’ve debated within myself about passing things such as crosses or bibles or tracts out, as well as candy on that day, but we haven’t had the money to do something of that nature. For the record, we buy costumes from the Salvation Army or thrift store – so it’s not like we could use what little is spent to get things for passing out.
While I like the idea of redeeming Halloween, I’ve recently seen something by 119 Ministries (also known as Test Everything) that has made me want to delve deeper into the holidays we celebrate, including Christmas and Easter. It’s got me questioning things – can we actually redeem such a day? Or is that a way of deluding ourselves?
I don’t know the answer, but this is definitely on my list for further reading, as I have kids.
Might I suggest to you that you’ve already begun redeeming Halloween in your home by the very actions you’ve taken? Just as the medieval church used costumes to mock the devil in light of the holiday’s pagan past, by deliberately choosing to avoid dark dress on Halloween we only further pull the day away from its evil roots. This is similar to the parents who choose to expose their kids to a good and proper use of horror or enjoy harvest festivals or relish in the fact that all these old pagan customs have been stripped of their significance thanks largely to the gospel’s influence on culture.
I really enjoyed this article. I appreciate the balanced view, trying to look at the day and its history rationally. Too often, it is hard to step back and set aside our own emotions and history (how we were raised) and look at a thing unbiased and judge it through the Word for our own grown-up selves. In some things, I have come to a different choice than my parents, as in this case. I think that as Christians we ought not let Satan have any more ground. In fact, since this is a spiritual war we fight, we ought to advance and take some ground for the LORD. Drive back his lines.
I had never thought about this particular facet of the issue before, but we do the same thing (redeeming the day) with the other holidays in the year. For example, Easter (named for the goddess of fertility) is celebrated with bunnies and eggs and things pertaining to new life. Yet, as Christians, we take the truths (such as life) and apply them to our celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Thanksgiving is celebrated by the world as a day to be thankful for family and friends and life. But they never actually thank anyone. As Christians, we take that truth and direct our thankfulness heavenward to the One who gave us those blessings. Christmas is a day to buy gifts for family and friends and celebrate a fat old man who comes down the chimney to give gifts. Do not get me wrong. I think Santa (who has his own Christian history which has, again, been hijacked and turned into something for the world) is cute, and I have no problem playing the Santa game with my kids so long as they know that it is a game and that I am not lying to them. But the point is that, if we redeem and reclaim these other holidays, ought not we do the same with one more? Halloween?
PS. We love to hand out tracts with candy to the kids that come to the door. We need to look beyond the scary costumes and see the precious little hearts that need to hear about Jesus and may not hear about Him anywhere else aside from your doorstep. How often do we as Christians get an opportunity to have children come to our doorstep asking for us to give them something. I know what my family gives them… The love of Jesus.
Yes, we can redeem the time any day of the year, and redeem various elements within our culture to have them point to the gospel.
PS: You might like what we wrote about Santa Claus.
We are but sojourners in this land. Our heavenly abode is waiting for us, where we will abide with the Almighty Himself. It is best to be cautious in any Land that is not “really” our “spiritual homes” especially with their customs and traditions. In many a past times as repeated in scripture, HIS people were in foreign lands and quickly adopted local customs and traditions to which it was likened to “whoring”. Now if those that are grafted in continue in the same manner, then truly, are they any better than those who have being plucked out? HE said: “… a little leaven… ”
I don’t disagree with the sentiment, as long as it is followed by a robust theology of reclamation. As much as “this world” is not our home, in another sense, it very much is: God will re-create this world anew and make it our eternal home, recapturing the glory of the world as it once was before the Fall. These are two truths we must hold firmly.
We live in Australia and I have always seen Halloween as an American tradition and have never celebrated it, nor do I know anyone who has ever taken part in it. I must admit, I have never really understood what it was all about until your article. As we are heading into summer now, the seasonal celebrations you have in the US are not applicable here nor would they be at our time of autumn because our seasons are so similar. So for us, though we are Christians, the question is not about pagan versus Christian values, it is about cultural traditions. We have never celebrated Halloween, never dressed up, never been trick or treating and never will because it has nothing to do with our culture. Oh, but we do celebrate Christmas and it has nothing to do with Santa Claus in our home 🙂
Halloween is most definitely something more prevalent in American culture than in other places. Your comment does have me wondering, however: part of the reason why Halloween became a prevalent celebration in America is because of large waves of Irish and Scottish immigration in the 19th century, and I know Irish immigration to Australia was also significant a couple hundred years ago. I wonder why this immigration didn’t have the same impact on Australian culture as it did here. A good question for someone a little more familiar with Australian history than me. 🙂
Interesting. Yes, we had many Irish immigrants in the mid 1800’s but most came as convicts and the catholic religion wasn’t widely practiced here. As Australia is an English colony, and the Church of England was the religion the majority of non-convict migrants practiced, catholic convicts were sent to Protestant churches. Also, many convicts were transported here because they were convicted of political crimes and social rebellion, usually crimes relating to religious freedom. So it seems this resulted in none of the Irish traditions becoming part of today’s culture here, because they were not part of the ruling class. Of course, much has changed since then but after asking around, most Aussies don’t even know the Celtic links to halloween, even those with Irish heritage! Regardless, I still see nothing Biblical in the tradition of halloween and even if it was common here, I wouldn’t participate 🙂
Hello, We redeem Halloween and use it as an evangelistic outreach. Each year we take a group of children around the neighborhood and perform a less-than-one-minute Christmas play. We quote Scripture knowing God’s Word never returns void. Most people are pleasantly surprised! A few close the door.
Mary and a doll for Jesus, 1 angel, 1 or 2 heavenly host, 2 shepherds, (opt. sheep), 1 or 2 magi, 2 parents
All: Stand in a line one behind the other.
Action: When the door opens the angel begins saying loudly,
“Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;
for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
(When finished speaking steps to the left of the door.)
Action: Jumps out to the right from behind angel and sings (or says),
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
(Steps aside to the right.)
Shepherd 1: Shepherd 2: Sheep:
Action: Steps forward together and speaks in turn,
#1 “Let us go straight to Bethlehem to see what the Lord has made known to us (about the
#2 “We will find (Him as) a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
(When finished steps to the left.)
Action: Steps forward and holds the baby Jesus out for the homeowner to see and says,
“His name is Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins.”
(Steps to the right.)
Magi: One holds a sign taped to their candy bag saying, “Two Years Later”.
Action: Steps forward and shows the gift in their hands while speaking,
“We saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”
All: “God bless you. Happy Reformation Day!”
(Receives candy and moves down the sidewalk to a waiting parent.)
Action: Hands the homeowner a flier to our church and a tract.
“We invite you to ____Church to hear about all Lord Jesus has said and done.”
There is a light switch in my house that when I turn it on, it will reliably turn the lights on in my living room. Even if I put a label above this switch that says “Kitchen Lights”, whenever I flip it, it will STILL turn on my living room lights. Because that switch is hard-wired to the living room lights, it will always turn on the living room lights, and never the kitchen lights. No matter how much I WANT it to turn on the kitchen lights and no matter how big of a label I put on it, it will still turn on the living room lights.
That light switch is wired to deliver energy to my living room lights, just like the traditions of Halloween are wired to deliver energy to the evil and demonic based on their pagan roots. Changing the name of the day or adding Christian traditions to it, doesn’t change where the spiritual energy goes to.
You say that this day has “Christian roots”, which are separate from the pagan roots, which were started long before the “Christian roots” were established. But the problem is that there is only one root system. The pagan root system was never pulled up, and it’s obvious, even today, because the old traditions are still observed, albeit in a more “symbolic” way. There are no “Christian roots”, and there never was. There was an attempt to add Christian traditions to the day, but that’s not a new root system.
Even now, after hundreds of years, the traditions of this day have still not been “redeemed” for the Lord. There’s a reason for that. Because God wants no part in it, and He doesn’t want us to be yoked together with unbelievers (or their traditions) (2 Corinthians 6:14). And if you have any doubt about what God thinks of man’s traditions, read the book of Jeremiah.
I love your ministry and I have learned a lot from you guys. I have a great deal of respect for you and what you’ve done here. I love you guys as my Christian brethren. But as it says in God’s word, we are to admonish each other and here, I have to admonish you. With all due respect, I must say, you are wrong. The only way we can redeem this day, as every day that the Lord hath made, is by rejoicing in it like every other day, and by not observing the traditions that give spiritual energy to the enemy.
Ask yourself this: If you put an “I love Jesus” sticker on a sacrificial alter to Satan, does it make that alter good for God’s purposes? Or within His will? …
Or would it be better to completely destroy the alter?
Interesting idea you’re proposing here: “the traditions of Halloween are wired to deliver energy to the evil and demonic based on their pagan roots.” What do you mean by that and why do you think that is true?
Luke, I might reply later with more when I have a little more time. The morning’s are hectic around here! lol But, I wanted to shoot you back a message real quick with at least something. The Bible says that a good tree cannot bring forth corrupt fruit and a corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit (Luke 6:43). This is essentially the idea behind this. There is a reason why God wanted the Israelite’s to “clean house” so to speak whenever they came into a new land. It wasn’t because God was being a meanie. It was because God knows that these people and their customs and traditions are tied to evil and we cannot keep them alongside serving God. It doesn’t work that way. How well did that work out for Samson, or many others who thought they could live with one foot on each side of the fence? Time and time again (in the old and new testaments) we are told to come out and be separate and to be holy because God is holy.
There comes a time when we MUST choose between the things of the world and God. Yes, there are things that aren’t inherently evil and then comes our own discernment with how to use those things (like technology for example). But when you look at something in which every. single. tradition. has it’s roots in something inherently evil (worshiping the demonic, meddling with the dead, sacrificing children), there is no “redeeming” that. Using your very own example of the strip club, it just doesn’t work that way.
It isn’t honoring God to take His name in vain by coming alongside those who idolize the things of darkness and saying “that’s okay, I can be just like you if I just tweak things a little bit here and there”. The second commandment isn’t about swearing (although we shouldn’t do that either), it’s about taking on the name of God (i.e. being adopted or married into God’s family) and then walking around as if you never took that name on to begin with. It’s about not taking on His name seriously. We are representatives of God once we become Christians and He doesn’t want us walking around saying we are Christain but then turning around and doing things that are completely against Him. I am by no means saying you and your family do that, I’m just trying to paint a clearer picture of what that commandment is talking about.
The idea of “redeeming” this holiday seems to be the idea that the early church had when they created All Saints Day. Like I said above, that hasn’t really worked out for a reason. Now here’s a thought: What do you think would happen if the millions of people who claim to be Christian suddenly stopped observing and “adapting” this holiday for Christians? I think that would actually have a much greater impact, to the point where stores might actually start losing money by making all of this Halloween garbage. THEN that would actually redeem the time of October 31st.
P.S. That turned out longer than I had planned so probably won’t elaborate more. lol
God bless you guys and your ministry. You are doing a great work here and I am by no means trying to discourage that. But I think it is important to admonish each other in love, and I believe that command is becoming lost among the fears of “judging” people.
Oh and just one more thing I wanted to mention too. There is a 4th option. That is not cowering inside your house with the lights off, but rather just not participate in confidence. I will admit that we are blessed to be in a rural area where we don’t get trick-or-treater’s at our house and never have, even when we did participate. But even if that weren’t the case, we wouldn’t “cower” in our homes because we don’t FEAR this holiday, we simply choose not to participate in it because it’s not something that God would want us to do. There’s a big difference.
Think about it this way. Did Jesus during his time on earth ever participate in the traditions of the Romans? Did he try to adapt them for his disciples? No. He didn’t, because God wouldn’t want that. And for that matter, Samhain was actually around during the time he was on earth but he wasn’t participating in it or adapting it. And, this is a whole other can of worms, but did we hear about him participating in Easter, which in it’s original form was very much present (and talked about) during Bible days. But this isn’t a debate about Easter, I just wanted to throw that in there to make the point that we are to follow Jesus’ example, and he neither did, nor encouraged, adapting pagan traditions to followers of God.
Again, God bless you guys and thank you for taking the time to hear me out. 🙂
You’ve said a lot here, and I think we’re coming from some fundamentally different places, so I’m not sure I expect to resolve this issue over written comments, but let me reply to some of your thoughts and see if that gets us anywhere.
1. “Changing the name of the day or adding Christian traditions to it, doesn’t change where the spiritual energy goes to.” I’m not sure where you’re getting the ideas about “spiritual energy.” Don’t get me wrong: I agree with you that we can’t just slap Christian labels on paganism and call it good (or as you cleverly put it, slap an I-love-Jesus sticker on a sacrificial alter to Satan)—and as I think you already see, that’s not what my article is endorsing. Regardless, it seems as if you think no matter what Christians do on October 31st, any attempts to communicate the gospel’s victory over paganism are worthless because the traditions of Halloween still somehow have within them an inherent demonic spiritual energy. I think this is the fundamental difference between you and I. I see no biblical reason to believe this.
Paul quoted a poem in Athens that was dedicated to a pantheistic version of Zeus. He ate meat that had been on a pagan altar, and encouraged other Christians to do the same. These cultural artifacts were not seen as somehow tainted with evil spiritual energy. Why should we think that other cultural artifacts (by themselves) are infused with demonic energy?
2. “The pagan root system was never pulled up, and it’s obvious, even today, because the old traditions are still observed.” Yes, I agree. The old traditions were more or less incorporated into European Christendom, and by the time of the middle ages we see them being used not to celebrate darkness but to mock the darkness. I see no problem with this. Let’s face it: Celtic Druids would be appalled at how their traditions have morphed into cute costumes and sweet treats. It’s a total mockery of their system.
3. “When you look at something in which every. single. tradition. has it’s roots in something inherently evil (worshiping the demonic, meddling with the dead, sacrificing children), there is no ‘redeeming’ that.” And if Halloween was a day in which every single tradition was like this, we might be having a very different discussion, but thankfully, that’s not true.
4. “Even now, after hundreds of years, the traditions of this day have still not been ‘redeemed’ for the Lord.” At one point I believe they were, but I do believe there have been some significant backward steps taken in the last couple hundred years. Commercialism and debauchery are sadly taking over Halloween.
5. “He doesn’t want us to be yoked together with unbelievers (or their traditions).” I don’t get the addition of “or their traditions.” We do it all the time. Everything from the language you speak to the architecture of the home you live in to the technology you use in are things stemming from the traditions of the surrounding culture. We will inevitably look something like our surrounding culture in many respects. We only need to reject cultural artifacts if they are inherently infused with some kind of moral evil.
6. “Did Jesus during his time on earth ever participate in the traditions of the Romans? Did he try to adapt them for his disciples? No. He didn’t, because God wouldn’t want that.” He didn’t really live in a deeply Roman culture, per se; more of a Jewish one, and we use this fact to see how he treated Hanukkah. It was a holiday entirely invented by the Jews, not divinely prescribed, and yet Jesus still went to Jerusalem along with other devout Jews during that week. More than this, we see him “redeeming” the day—a day which had become a more or less patriotic holiday—and used it to point to himself (John 10).
7. “There is a 4th option. That is not cowering inside your house with the lights off, but rather just not participate in confidence.” I agree and I wish you all the best with that.
Thanks for all the time you spend commenting. Like I said, I’m not sure we will ever really agree here. It seems like we have fundamentally different views of what redeeming artifacts in our surrounding culture really means.
There already is a time to celebrate the harvest festival…a time already appointed by God that falls (on our calendar ) any time from end of September through mid-October. It is called Feast of Booths/Feast of Tabernacles/Sukkot/Succoth/Festival of In -Gathering. This is one of the many God appointed festivals that Jesus and the apostles celebrated. If it was good enough for Him, why isn’t it good enough for us? Do we really want to do what Jesus did, or are we merely paying lip service to what He did without actually following His way, The Way?
We are told that we are not to change His times and seasons. If we say that the harvest festival is at the end of October, aren’t we doing one of the things He specifically told us not to do? Changing the time of when He said the harvest festival is to take place.
I love the Sukkot! There was a time (when I lived in another city) when I attended a Messianic synagogue every Friday evening for their Sabbath service, and one of my favorite times of year was Sukkot!
I see this as two separate issues: the question of whether we are still under the command to celebrate the appointed times prescribed in the Torah and the question of how we can redeem the time in the societies in which we live. Both are good questions. Doing something on October 31 to redeem the time is not “changing” the time when he said the harvest festival is to take place. October 31 comes on the calendar whether we like it or not—the question is what are we going to do on that day.
I completely agree Abrianna. God has already told us the times He would like us to observe. By us making new times, it seems like we’re essentially saying “nah, those weren’t good enough” or “perhaps that God was mistaken”. He wasn’t mistaken, he established those times for a very specific reason. Those are His appointed times and they are SO RELEVANT to Christians. They are all about Jesus and what he has done, is doing, and will still do for us.
I can’t speak for all Christians on this matter, but as far as my own theology is concerned, I don’t try to redeem the time on October 31 because I think God’s appointed times “aren’t good enough.” I redeem the time on October 31st for the same reason I try to redeem it any other day of the year. It’s never a bad day to love your neighbor, to point to Christ, to share the gospel, to teach people some of the historical truths that have shaped the days they celebrate.
I see it a lot like Hanukkah. It wasn’t a divinely appointed time like Passover or Tabernacles but Jesus still went to Jerusalem during the celebration (like other devout Jews were doing) but He used the themes of that day to point to himself.
When Paul went to Athens, he didn’t just ignore the artifacts of their culture; he quoted pagan poets and pointed to pagan altars—not to endorse them wholesale, but to redeem (take back) from within paganism truths pagans were already acknowledging. It was a means to communicate truth.
1 Thessalonians 5:22King James Version (KJV)
22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.
If you participate in Halloween in any form, how can you abstain or avoid even the appearance of evil?
I appreciated this article very much. I enjoyed the history lesson, much of which I already knew, but you definitely added in some more facts for me.
I guess my very basic question is this…if Jesus were to come alongside you physically, would you walk down the costume aisle with all its blood and gore and demons to pick out the tomato costume for your child, dress them up and walk around the neighborhood with the evil decorations and the evil costumes others are wearing, and have your kid promise a trick on people if they weren’t given a treat? Yes, Jesus mingled with sinners but he also helped them see the error of their ways and told them to sin no more. After all Jesus did for me on the cross, I just can’t imagine putting so much time and effort into a day that glorifies what he died to save me from!
Would I do those things? Probably. I go grocery shopping in stores with Cosmo in the checkout isle, and I don’t think Jesus faults me for that (though you may have a different opinion on the matter), so I see nothing wrong with shopping for a costume at a store that also happens to have gory stuff. I see nothing wrong with walking around an area where people are dressed in an evil manner. I do it nearly every day in the summer time with all the immodesty around me. I see nothing wrong with the expression “trick or treat” since it’s hyperbole, and Jesus was a big fan of using hyperbole himself.
For the most part, all the ideas expressed in this article are aimed at doing exactly what you said: pointing people to the gospel in the midst of the darkness. Again, when we tell people that modern Halloween is meant to be (at least if we follow the old church tradition) a mockery of the devil, not an endorsement of him, then I see no danger in it.
In the church where I grew up, the message was fairly simple and straight-forward: Christians don’t celebrate Halloween. I didn’t give it a lot of thought, because that was the culture in which I was raised, so I accepted it. After growing up and starting my family, I began to question this. Maybe you can still celebrate the good parts of the holiday? Maybe dressing up isn’t so bad? Plenty of people embrace the holiday for its fun, innocent parts. Maybe it’s not as bad as I was raised to think it is.
And then, when my oldest was still an infant, I started scrolling through pictures posted by my mom friends. For every princess and super hero, there were three times as many bloody, gory, evil costumes. Whether we try to redeem it or not, this holiday is, in fact, a celebration of evil. There is a house in my neighborhood that literally causes me to take a detour during the month of October, every year. The store displays are meant to inspire fear.
Our God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind. When I see the Halloween demonstrations each year, I do not see the power of God. I do not see love. I do not see a sound mind. I see fear.
PERFECT LOVE casts out fear! And I choose to celebrate that perfect love. This is why my family cannot participate in Halloween.
And when our family celebrates that perfect love, it actually enables us to redeem the time on that day for His glory. That’s what this post is about. Which of my ideas about how to redeem the time on Halloween do you find objectionable?
I didn’t know we are the redeemers of sin. I thought that was what we needed a Savior for.
We are called to be our brother’s keeper, redeem the land and our brothers in slavery and to love one another but one cannot redeem what is not HIS to begin with.
Telling your self that halloween is a mockery of the devil is saying it came from the devil, to mock & copy GOD’s commanded feasts & holy days. By your own words you are saying that this is from/of the devil. And then you are making a compromise, an assimilation with him. Something the church and Rabbi’s alike have been chastened for since the beginning of time. Over and over again, in the Scriptures we are told about the those who mingled with the unbelievers, refused to slay them, took them for wives, they compromised Solomon’s heart, kings who did not tear down the high places nor reinstate the Troah, the list goes on and on.
Honesty, I am not sure how one who reads the bible can even attempt to justify this.
Do you think we will be keeping halloween festivities in heaven?
False worship has always been the breaking point. Remember Saul?
We are not to let the unbelievers judge us but we are to heed the word of a brother. It seems to me you have made a lot of friends of the world and that leads to making an enemy of the Father, HIS words not mine. “…for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
HIS Spirit is Holy (set-apart). We have been called unto holiness.
Perhaps you can justify that your family uses this time to manifest his glory. But as far as I can understand, you can’t make what God calls unholy holy. You are then taking HIS name in vain.
You said, “I didn’t know we are the redeemers of sin. I thought that was what we needed a Savior for.” You’re posing a false dichotomy. We need a Savior who redeems us from sin. We also are commanded to redeem the time. Both of these are true. You don’t have to choose between them. You’re also falsely assuming that redeeming the time on Halloween is “redeeming sin.” I’m not exactly sure what redeeming sin even means.
You said, “[O]ne cannot redeem what is not HIS to begin with.” As you read my article, you can see I pull out many themes prevalent around October 31 that most definitely are His. Which of my suggestions do you find so objectionable?
You said, “Telling your self that halloween is a mockery of the devil is saying it came from the devil.” No. I’m really not sure how that follows. When Elijah mocked the prophets of Baal at Mt. Carmel, he wasn’t saying the concept of sacrifice or fire or worship came from Baal. He was simply mocking Baal for the false and inept god he is.
You asked, “Do you think we will be keeping halloween festivities in heaven?” Probably not, but I’m not sure that matters. There’s probably a lot of things I won’t be doing in the new heavens and new earth. I won’t be married to a woman, but it isn’t sinful for me to married to one now. I won’t be siring children, but it isn’t sinful for me to do that now. I probably won’t be doing Internet marketing, but it isn’t sinful for me to do that now.
Wow – what a great thread of comments! I’ve really enjoyed reading your article, Luke, and I’ve also enjoyed the lively and honest discussion here. I decided to chime in because we seem to be the rare family here who wholeheartedly embraces Halloween. It is absolutely one of our favorite days of the year. And yes, your readers may be shocked to hear that my husband and I are worship leaders! But I can promise you we have zero guilt. Yes, I know the history of Halloween is complicated. Honestly, there are SO many different celebrations on or around that day that it becomes a great lesson in culture and history and religion. I’d rather not debate which one came first because, quite frankly, it doesn’t matter to me. Yes, they exist, and yes we tell our kids what some people and cultures do with that day, but they have nothing to do with what WE do on that day. We do not celebrate it as a religious holiday but as a family tradition. Our kids dress up in fun costumes and so do my husband and I. (We begin planning our costumes MONTHS in advance!) In our town they close the downtown streets for several hours while hundreds of kids and parents converge to visit shops, have a little parade, and check out each other’s costumes. We walk all over our own neighborhood, catch up with friends and neighbors, and then head home to hand out the biggest candy bars on the block. (Well, almost… our neighbors have a friendly competition wit us about that!) My kids love handing out candy and complimenting other kids on their unique costumes. We decorate our house with fun lights. We carve happy pumpkins and celebrate all things fall. As Christians who know and love Jesus, we do draw the line at scary/gory costumes and decorations (not allowed and not wanted), but we’ve embraced the day and made it our own, and we have MANY years of great memories as a result. (I also want to say that I do not judge anyone else for their choices here, and I wish all your readers a “happy October 31st”, however they spend it.) 🙂
Hi! Thank you, for your comment. You’re awesome and made me feel better about embracing Halloween. I honestly never had any convictions about it until I read the comments on this article. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord, but we will also celebrate Halloween as a family tradition. The devil has no hold, and I will not let the fear that he could ruin a day to rejoice the Lord. Also, my wedding anniversary is Halloween. Guess what we started our ceremony off with? A PRAYER TO OUR LORD & SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST. 😀
You propably already know that Halloween did not begin with the Catholic Church. It started long before with the druids and their festival of the waning year called Samhain honoring the lord of the dead. Nonetheless, the idea that we can redeem whatever tradition or behavior that we want is not new, but you must understand that it is NOT scriptural. Christ is not so lackadaisical and carefree as most make Him out to be. There is not a single verse in the Bible indicating that God sanctions people taking pagan traditions and using them to honor Christ. In fact, the Bible forbids such behavior. Here are a few.
God is not the God of the dead, but of the living (Matthew 22:31-32).
I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life (John 8:12).
Take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’ You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way; for every abomination to the LORD which He hates they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods. Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it (Deuteronomy 12:30-32).
Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain… But the LORD is the true God, He is the living God, and an everlasting king: at His wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide His indignation. Thus shall ye say unto them, The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens… They are vanity, and the work of errors: in the time of their visitation they shall perish (KJV, Jeremiah 10:2-15).
You said, “Halloween did not begin with the Catholic Church. It started long before with the druids and their festival of the waning year called Samhain honoring the lord of the dead.” Well, sort of. Samhain was one stream of influence to impact modern Halloween. The question is not so much about its roots but how Christians ought to redeem the time on that day now.
You said, “There is not a single verse in the Bible indicating that God sanctions people taking pagan traditions and using them to honor Christ.” Well, there is the one I referred to in the article where Paul quotes from a pagan poem dedicated to the god Zeus and ascribes it to the true God, and then points to a pagan altar as a shrine where the true God is worshipped. He evidently believed there was some kind of divine truth buried in all the pagan rubble, and he wasn’t afraid at all to point to these pagan religious symbols and use them to further the gospel.
Even when you look at the calendar God commands the Hebrews to keep, much of it is built on the common calendar of all cultures in Mesopotamia—all pagan groups in that region of the world were already using a lunisolar agricultural calendar with its new moons and harvest festivals.
I’m not saying this to downplay the uniqueness of God. Far from it. I’m just saying there’s a general revelation about God embedded in the fabric of the universe (Romans 1), so we shouldn’t be surprised when pagan religions and groups weave these truths into their own rituals and accounts of the divine. All truth is God’s truth, and he can redeem from pagans what they have co-opted for their own evil purposes.
The same is true about redeeming the time on Halloween. We can take the truths that have been woven into the traditions of the day and use them to the glory of God.
Hello Luke, I appreciate your response and your article. Even though I do not agree with the conclusions, it has helped to further my knowledge on the subject. I wrote a booklet on the subject of Halloween several years ago, and believe that my understanding may also help you to see what God expects of believers in this matter.
Please know that it is not my intent to sound insulting in this reply. However, I believe your job is a teacher of Christian religion, and the conclusions made in your blog are based on a lack of of research and a lack of knowing the Scriptures. I do not criticize you for this as we have found that this widespread among millions who claim to believe. I will give you numerous Scriptures to consider and the conclusions based in your blog only include one verse that is actually misunderstood. Christ said:
Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things? (John 3:10).
And those who claim to teach the truth should be very concerned about what they relate to others (Jam. 3:1).
Nevertheless, I have found that it is usually futile to try and convince people who are trying to christen pagan holidays shortly before the observance when they have already purchased costumes, baskets, or gifts and are eagerly waiting to enjoy the festivities. They will make all kinds of excuses to justify their behavior because it is nearly a done deal and they feel that there is no turning back now. Even though what God thinks should be at the top of our priority list, the disappointment it would be to friends and family usually wins their minds when the holiday is just around the corner. But now that Halloween is past, perhaps you will honestly consider what the Bible says about this subject.
The reply given to my first response never really addressed the main issue. You said:
“The question is not so much about its (Halloween’s) roots but how Christians ought to redeem the time on that day now.”
What you seem to not realize is that the question truly IS about Halloween’s roots. God said to “Not learn the ways of the heathen” (Jer. 10:2).
You say that we should “tweak the devil’s beard and find ways towards redeeming Halloween for the church again.” What this person does not realize is that the question truly IS about Halloween’s roots, and a thorough study of the subject shows that Halloween was NEVER a part of the Church that Christ established in the first place. It began with the heathen:
The earliest Halloween celebrations were held by the Druids in honor of Samhain, Lord of the Dead, whose festival fell on November 1 (Halloween Through Twenty Centuries, p. 4).
This is a well fact known by many scholars such as the authors of Reader’s Digest, Western Scottish Folklore & Superstitions, The Encyclopedia of Celtic Mythology and Folklore, The Encyclopedia of Superstitions, and many others such as Francis Weiser who wrote:
Our pagan forefathers kept several “cult of the dead” rites at various times of the year. One of these periods was the great celebration at the end of fall and the beginning of winter (around November 1). Together with the practices of nature and demon lore (fires, masquerades, and fertility cults) they also observed the ritual of the dead with many traditional rites (Handbook of Christian Feasts and Customs, p. 312).
To ancient Druids the end of October commemorated the festival of the waning year, when the sun began his downward course and ripened grain was garnered from the fields. Samhain, or “Summer’s End,” as this feast to the dying sun was called, was celebrated with human sacrifice, augury and prayers; for at this season spirits walked, and evil had power over souls of men.
Not until the fourth century did the pagan vigil for the god of light give way to All Hallows, the mass for Christian saints; and not until the tenth, did the Druids’ death feast become All Souls’ the day of prayer for souls that had entered rest. Cakes for the dead were substituted for human sacrifice, fortune-telling for heathen augury, lighted candles for the old Baal fires (The Yearbook of English Festivals, pp. 153-154).
October 31, the eve of November 1, was the last night of the year in the ancient Celtic calendar and was celebrated as the end of summer and its fruitfulness. It was a festival that the Celts of northern Europe marked with bonfires, to help the sun through the winter. Winter also called to mind the chill and blackness of the grave, and so it was a time when ghosts would walk, and supernatural spirits, warlocks, and witches would hold their revels (Strange Stories and Amazing Facts, p. 285).
Halloween began as a pagan festival to honor the dead, and that Halloween was later adopted by the Catholic Church after its Holy Roman Empire conquered many of these heathen people. Rather than outlaw such practices, they chose to absorb them and add their own spin to the celebration. They began to teach that all spirits in a place of cleansing called “purgatory” could be assisted in passage to heaven on the day of Samhain. As Ralph Linton explained:
This festival of the Catholic Church is set apart for those who, although they have not suffered martyrdom or achieved sainthood, have died in the faith. It is dedicated particularly to those who have passed away during the preceding year and whose souls can be helped on their journey through purgatory by the prayers of the faithful… there is widespread belief that the spirits of the dead return to visit their former homes on one particular day of the year. Most of the pre-Christian cults celebrated a Day of the Dead… many of the pagan attitudes toward this day have been retained… (Halloween Through Twenty Centuries, p. 13-14).
Now that it has been established that the origin of Halloween did not come from believers, and that it is an evil one, we can address the main point of those professing Christians who choose to observe Halloween. The widespread thought is that we can redeem Halloween and use to the glory of God. You write:
“Today, I can appreciate the electric lights in my home just like my neighbor and not feel guilty that the power company isn’t owned by Christian people. I can buy my produce from the farmers’ market without the concern that the farmers are pagans… There are other elements of culture that are often used for sinful purposes but Christians can mine these elements for truths that can be celebrated, reclaimed, and redeemed for God’s purposes.”
In a society such as ours that teaches tolerance of evil, and calls evil good in many cases, this theory might sound rational, but it is not biblical. There is a big difference between buying produce from an unbeliever and participating in their unbelief. You actually make the point clear yourself when you wrote:
“Today, a building that once was a strip club can be bought and turned into some reputable business, but a strip club can never become a “Christian strip club.” The very essence of this kind of business enterprise furthers sinful motives, and this must be rejected by Christians completely.”
This is a good point that actually destroys your own argument about Halloween. Just like a strip club, the essence of Halloween is evil. Just like we cannot have a Christian strip club, we cannot have a Christian Halloween. We cannot take that which is evil and turn it into something that is good; which is exactly what people are doing with Halloween and many other things. But God says:
Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20).
Samhain represents death and was the druid’s lord of the dead. Satan would like to see us all dead which is what Samhain represents. Christ expressed that God is the polar opposite—not the Lord of the Dead, but the God of the living (Mat. 22:32). Those who want to live forever are those who follow His ways—not the ways of Samhain. The God of the living says that His people are not to learn ways of the heathen (Jer. 10:2)
When we consider that Christ is one with the Father in mind and intent, How could Jesus Christ, who is “the same yesterday, and today, and forever,” (Heb. 13:8), the God who said, “I change not” (Mal. 3:6), suddenly be okay with people learning the ways of the heathen in order to glorify Him? What makes people think that Christians should try to redeem pagan holidays? Is it because God’s Word tells us to do it, or is it because they think that the holidays are fun and they want to devise a way to participate in them—convincing ourselves that it does not offend Christ? To the latter the Bible says to not trust our own thoughts with such matters:
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5).
Do not trust our own minds when we try to find a way around doing what the Bible says. Nobody can find a single verse in the Bible telling us that God is okay with believers taking something that is abhorrent to Him, trying and whitewash it, and attempting to use it to glorify God.
Not only do the scriptures tell us to not do such things, there are no words in the Bible relating that we should attempt to find some kind of “middle ground” to build a bridge between pagan traditions and Christian behaviors. What we will find is the exact opposite:
This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart (Ephesians 4:17-18).
It is the ignorance of pagans that designed Samhain. The blasphemy of the Catholic Church adopted it and changed the symbols to All Saints and All Souls day. The symbols of Halloween are monsters, witchcraft, and death. These are dark and demonic symbols while 1 John 1:5 says that God is light and there is no darkness in Him. Christ also said:
I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life (John 8:12).
The light of life is not monsters trick or treating. The light refuses to participate in their unbelief. Do we honestly think that Jesus would teach children to put on a zombie costume and take them house to house trick or treating. Would he erect tombstones on the temple lawn or deck the halls of the New Jerusalem with spider webs? Christ would never celebrate anything like Halloween and neither should we!
I had asked for a single Scripture indicating that Christians are allowed to adopt Halloween and turn the evil into something good. The response was a reference to Paul speaking to a group of pagans in Athens. The assertion was that Paul made use of the writings of pagan poets and prophets and even made use of a pagan altar as a visual aid in order to glorify God:
During his speech in Athens, one of the most polytheistic cities in the world, Paul made use of the writings of pagan poets and prophets and even make use of a pagan altar as a visual aid (Acts 17:22-31) in order to point to the gospel. Paul was redeeming—taking back—from paganism truths latent in their cultural customs and using them for God’s glory.
Let’s consider the account.
Acts 17:22-23; Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you:
Was Paul redeeming this pagan altar? Was he saying that Romans should continue to worship some unknown god in this place and that would be satisfactory to the true God? No. The example Paul gave can be likened to an illustration. There was an unknown god to these Romans, who the Romans believed to exist, but they did not know who He was, and yet the built an altar to Him anyway. Paul was saying that I am going to tell you who He is. It is kind of like a prop used in a sermon, but it does not make the prop a holy relic that can be used in worship. Paul went on to describe the God that THEY DID NOT KNOW (Acts 17:24-28).
In verse 28, Paul quoted one of the Roman poets who said, “For we are also His offspring.” Because of this, some think that we can take pagan methods of worship and use them to honor Christ. But is this what Paul did? No. What Paul indicated is that the belief they held in being generated by a god was accurate, but it was not an idea that they came up with. In fact, such a theory was handed down orally from Adam to Noah to his children, who eventually populated the earth. Any moral values that people have today are because God is the author of morality.
Therefore, the concept of God creating offspring in the form of humans was something “hijacked by the devil.” When addressing the Areopagus, Paul pointed out that they had some truth that came from the God that was not known by them. They had used these truths in their religion, but it does not mean that their religion could be used to worship Christ.
Thus, Paul was not redeeming something that was created by heathen. He never taught that believers could go to the temple of Athena or Zeus and worship God in spirit and truth. He never validated altars built to an unknown God. In fact, the Jerusalem council declared that believers should “abstain from things offered to idols” (Acts 15:29). That declaration clearly told Christians that anything related to an idol was inappropriate behavior for us and should be avoided.
In the case with Halloween, those are traditions created entirely by heathen. There is no truth in them. The Catholic Church, and then others, took that holiday and tried to Christianize it. It is contrary to what Paul did and what Christ’s Church of God taught.
In your article, you also wrote that “Paul and Silas could walk the same Roman roads and sail in the Roman ships alongside any pagan without any stain on their consciences.” But this does not equate to walk alongside pagans in their religious practices. Christ prayed to His Father and said:
I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world (John 17:15-16).
This should be a familiar concept to Christians. We have to live in this world, but we do not have to participate in its ways that are contrary to the Bible. Purchasing food or clothing from unbelievers, walking beside them on the way to market, has nothing to do with participating in their idolatry. Instead, we are to live in this world, but not be a part of what is contrary to the Bible. Just as Christ related to John in his vision:
Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues (Revelation 18:4).
It was also written in your article “to “redeem” something in our culture means to admit it has been used for evil but to reclaim the truth within it, utilizing it for God’s purposes.” Again, God said that we are NEVER to do such a thing when it has come strictly from evil.
Take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, “How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise” You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way; for every abomination to the LORD which He hates they have done to their gods (Deuteronomy 12:30-31).
He continued to say:
“Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it” (Deuteronomy 12:30-31).
What Halloween redeemers are doing is the exact opposite of what God said. They might think that they can remove evil from within it, and try to insert some good, but God says do not do it! Such activity is not only adding to God’s Word, it is taking away as well because it ignores His clear instructions.
• In addition, Christ is OUR redeemer. He did not come to redeem pagan holidays or offer the devil salvation.
• Further, God is the only one who has the ability to stir up good within a person who may be evil. We are not God. It is presumptuous to think that we can take something evil and create good within it. We do not have the authority, nor the ability, to decide what is good.
• Claiming that Halloween can be redeemed, and teaching people that we can create our own ways of honoring God, is a direct violation of the first commandment that strictly says: “You shall have no other gods before Me.” It is putting one’s self in His position by deciding that we can ignore what He says and do as we like. And the assumption that we are doing it for God somehow makes it an act of faith is entirely bogus.
You had also written, “Let’s face it, the connection between ancient Druids dressing as ghouls and my son dressed as Bob the Tomato is tenuous, at best.” What you or your family dress up as misses the point that the costume makes no difference. If it is being used on Halloween, then it is mimicking the behavior pagans. Even if the celebrant wore no costume at all, but participated in the activities of Halloween, it is the same thing. Some churches choose to not call it Halloween, but a Harvest Festival, or Fall Feast, complete with games, candy, food, music, and of course costumes. But when it is done on or near Halloween, it is still considered learning the way of the heathen.
If somebody really wanted to Cosplay and eat candy, why not choose March or June. Why does it have to be on Halloween when the pagans are holding their festivities? Yes. Modern day Neo-Pagans celebrate this day and they mock Christians who think that they are doing something different simply because of a change in costume themes or the use of prayers instead of chants or incantations. One Wiccan website states that it is considered to be one their most important holidays:
Samhain is the most important holy night of the year. In fact, it is considered the Celtic New Year. It is believed to be the evening in which the veil between the realm of the living and the dead is thinnest, allowing members of the spirit realm to walk the earth in great numbers. It is thereby considered the evening where our loved ones who have gone over to the other side of the veil are honored with a special feast. This is certainly the reason All Saint’s Day was created by the Roman Catholic Church to celebrate honored individuals who have passed on, as well as the similar All Souls Day, which honors the memories of our individual loved one’s who have passed on. The association with spirits of the dead walking the earth, as well as faeries and other etheric beings roaming the material plane in large numbers that evening, is probably the basis for the modern Halloween’s emphasis on ghosts and goblins, and the popular stereotypical image of the witch as a swarthy old crone with green skin was derived from negative images of real witches as being corrupt harbingers of evil or mischief. The jack o’ lantern, a still popular decoration, is derived from the image used by ancient Pagans to keep unwelcome spirits from the hearth during the celebration. Calls to your ancestors and loved ones for assistance is appropriate for those practicing spell work on this day… (http://a-rainbow-of-spirituality.org/sabbats.html, retr. 10/23/12).
You also said that, “It is a way we can “redeem the time” in evil days” (Ephesians 5:16). Considering all of this evidence, how could anyone think that Halloween can be redeemed? Your assertion is another misuse of Paul’s instructions. If anything this verse would mean that the heathen are wasting their time on such things. Don’t waste your time trying to redeem Halloween. What the apostle taught was to use our time wisely. Yes, we live in evil days and that is why Paul said in the sentence prior to walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise (Ephesians 5:15).
Walking circumspectly means to be diligent and spiritually mature in our behavior as to not waste our time on that which is unprofitable. Thus, walking in the footsteps of pagans is actually contrary to redeeming the time. It is wasting time on foolish behavior. John said:
He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked (1John 2:6).
Was Christ dressing up as the walking dead, or a gladiator, and parading around the streets going door to door asking for treats? Did he teach children to do such things? Did he believe that dressing up as a monster was a good way to mock the devil? No. That would be unwise and foolish behavior for Him, and therefore it would be for us as well.
You also wrote:
“Halloween is a “disputable matter,” and it will probably always be so. While I’m firm in my convictions on the matter, I recognize others’ consciences simply won’t allow any associations with Halloween, and this ought to be respected.”
Out of respect for those you teach, wouldn’t it be wise to not fill their minds with the idea that we can mock the devil by celebrating a holiday that he inspired? Paul also addressed this matter when speaking of meat offered to idols. He said,
Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble (1 Corinthians 8:13).
What you may think is Christian liberty is an abomination to God and even more so when we try to teach others who believe that they can do it. We simply cannot ““Choose to use Halloween as a time to celebrate God’s provision.” Yes God provides us with nourishment. Whether or not He provides candy bars is debatable, but God did not provide Halloween. That holiday came from a polar opposite source. What He did provide is a moral compass found in the Bible that shows us what direction we are going in life. The Scriptures tell us what we should do. Stay away from Halloween and its activities. It is an abomination before God, and although sweet treats may taste good, the effects of choosing to disobey God will be horrific. Which leads to an amusing idea of the Halloween redeemers—holy horror. In your article, you wrote:
“Instead, choose to redeem the horror of Halloween. The portrayal of good and evil, as well as their consequences, are two sides of the truth. Uncovering the real nature of evil is part of what it means to dwell on what is good.”
You then quote Brian Godawa’s article explaining that God used terrifying imagery when giving prophetic visions to Daniel and the Apostle John. I can begin to espond to this by asking a simple question with an obvious answer. Are we God? Do we have the authority to dictate what kind of terrifying examples to use to show people what will happen in the future? Are Halloween redeemers prophets? Did God speak to them personally and tell them to redeem Halloween and turn its evil to good to show people the difference between the two? Even they would agree that the answer to all these questions is NO.
You also wrote:
“As Halloween approaches, our environment becomes a living parable, a reminder that real demons are just as real and even scarier than the trick-or-treaters.”
Good point. How about using Halloween to teach our children not to play with the demons in their games no matter how fun the activities may seem. That is the lesson that should be taught on Halloween. It is frankly a ridiculous notion that we can go out and play with the pagans in their games and somehow our participation is going to praise God. Your own words confirm this when you wrote “sin might look attractive on the surface, but underneath, sin is hideous…” How true. Halloween with all of its trapping looks attractive. So much so that some who claim to believe in God will rationalize that it is okay to participate, and even fool ourselves that we are glorifying God by celebrating a day that He hates. Those who have the hearts set on trying to christen Halloween can create analogies about vampires, zombies, or Frankenstein, but the use of such fables with blood sucking, brain eating, mythical creatures, are not that kind of parables that Christ used.
God did not inspire the stories of Dracula, the werewolf, Zombies, or killer clowns from outer space, and if God did not inspire them, who did? It is obvious that such inspiration comes from evil. With this in mind, you then wrote that such horrors can, “become windows to see how evil works.” Such windows should remain closed inside of Christian households. Notice what the Bible says about using evil as inspiration:
Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons (1 Corinthians 10:20).
Holy horror might sound like an interesting catch phrase, but it is not biblical. God says that we should stay away from the behaviors that are associated with demons which includes Halloween.
Mocking the Devil
It was also quoted in your article that “the day serves as a powerful reminder that Christ has conquered the devil.” You then quote Dr. John Frame who wrote:
“In the modern West, Halloween is essentially a mockery of ancient paganism. It is not paganism, but a celebration of the gospel’s victory over paganism. I see no spiritual danger in observing that celebration, as long as we, and our children, understand the difference between mocking paganism and endorsing it” (The Doctrine of the Christian Life, p. 427).
This reminds me of some preachers that say, “We got the devil on the run!” but were they to ever meet Satan face to face they wouldn’t stand a chance. They would be the ones running. Should we attempt to mock the devil? Consider that Satan is a formidable foe. He is so powerful that Christ, having the Spirit without measure, still felt the need to fast for 40 days before facing him (Mat. 4). When He did face Satan, we do not see Him mocking him. What He did was answer his attacks with scriptures that related the truth (Mat. 4:1-10). Even the angels did not think that it was appropriate to pretend to be zombies and poke fun at Satan.
Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” (Jude 1:9).
If the angels, and Christ, did not think it appropriate to mock Satan, what makes people think that this is something that we should do?
Satan has a position of authority that God gave to him before his moral downfall (Eze. 28:13-16). That does not mean that we have to respect the devil’s immorality, but nobody should desire confrontation with him. Were it not for God’s restraint on the devil and his demons, we would all be dead right now. Notice what Christ told Peter:
And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail…” (Luke 22:31-32).
In other words, Satan is powerful, but on a leash where God only allows him to go so far. Were it not for Christ’s intervention on behalf of Peter, this man would not stand a chance. The same goes for people today. That is why Peter wrote:
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8).
Being sober and vigilant is a way of expressing our need to refrain from the false doctrines of this world. The great harlot that sits on a beast in Revelation 17 represents false religion (fornication) that has driven the activities of many nations. This woman causes, “the inhabitants of the earth (to be) made drunk with the wine of her fornication” (Rev. 17:2). With this drunken wine of fornication in mind, when we consider Peter’s words, the vigilant sobriety that he spoke of means that we are to be on guard and not influenced by false doctrine.
Further, how could anyone really think that human mocking somehow hurts Satan’s pride? Is he in the corner crying because people are making fun of him on Halloween? Or could it be that he is laughing because he has people fooled. Could he be mocking us be conning people into celebrating one of his favorite holidays, while thinking that they are glorifying God.
Halloween, and the idea that we can redeem it for Christ, and use “holy horror” and “mock the devil” in a way that glorifies God, and that it teaches children good values, is the kind of false doctrine that God spoke of in Revelation 17:2 and 18:3.
Perhaps you and Dr. Frames are confused as to what mocking really means. He said that we and our children must understand the difference between mocking paganism and endorsing it. How exactly can acting like we are monsters and demons be a mockery of evil? How is dressing up as a ballerina or Superman mocking the devil? How is participating in pagan games and giving children rewards of candy for keeping the same traditions as the heathen mocking Satan? The devil is probably quite pleased at such a concept knowing that his wiles have worked (Eph. 6:11).
Attempts to redeem Halloween are futile attempts to call evil good. And God says, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness…” Those who say that Halloween can be redeemed may think that what they are doing God a service, but when it contradicts what is written in God’s Word, it is always going to be a disservice.
In the end, the trick will be on us. But don’t believe me. A wise and good man used to always say, “Don’t believe me. Believe your Bible.” And don’t believe your minister, pastor, or priest. There are hundreds of thousands of people all around the world preaching from a stage or a pulpit, claiming to be teaching biblical truth, and yet they have no real grasp of what the kind of behavior that God expects of His people. Prove it for yourself.
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil (Ecc. 12:13-14).
As a related side,
The calendar is merely a way of keeping track of time. It is the same as using a watch built by an unbeliever. Just because the timekeeping device was created by an unbeliever does not mean that they do not know how to tell time. So it is with the calendar. God told Israel to use the Canaanite calendar that they were already familiar with (Exo. 12:2), but He did not tell them to celebrate Canaanite holidays. Instead, He told them to observe only His holy days (Lev. 23). This would lead to a whole other conversation regarding what holidays we should observe, but perhaps another time.
Thanks for the lengthy reply.
I’m not advocating the Christianizing of pagan holidays. I agree with all of your research about Samhain, as far as that goes, but in the end, the eve of All Saints’ started as a Christian tradition, totally disassociated with Samhain and in a different part of the year. It was then moved to coincide with a pagan tradition, so it is not distinctly pagan or Christian. It is an amalgamation of traditions.
Thanks also for sharing more of the history of how pagan traditions got absorbed into the theology of the church. I don’t think I disagree with your historical survey.
I think the heart of the disagreement between us is not over the pagan roots found within the modern contortion we call Halloween. Those pagan roots are pretty clear. The question is what we are to do with them. I think the truths found within Halloween can be redeemed. You think the holiday should be wholesale rejected as evil. Your own position is pretty clear: “the essence of Halloween is evil.”
But your position goes further than this: you don’t see any sort of “redeeming” principle in Acts 17 at all. My claim was not that Paul was redeeming a pagan altar in order to endorse it wholesale (that would be just “receiving” it), but he was grabbing on to the truth latent within what they already knew and reclaiming that truth for the purpose of the gospel. The same thing is true with the pagan poets he quotes. I make it very clear (especially in my sermon I link to in the article) that Paul is most certainly rejecting many things about their pagan worldview, but he isn’t rejecting everything about it. Otherwise he would make no reference to the altar or their poets in any sort of favorable light.
I think the core of the debate, at least between you and I, is that you see certain things as coming “strictly from evil” and “polar opposite” sources. Halloween is all dark to you. I don’t think that was Paul’s mentality at all in Athens. He acknowledged, in this most pagan of cities, that they were already actually worshipping the true God but didn’t know it. They had poets that had even started to grasp something of his true nature. We find this in nearly everything in our culture: mixtures of truth and lie, goodness and evil. (Not surprising given what Paul teaches in Romans 1.)
This basic disagreement comes out in so many ways. I tell readers to celebrate the God’s provision at Halloween. Your retort: “God didn’t provide Halloween,” but that’s not at all what I said. We should celebrate God’s provision all year long, and there’s nothing wrong with doing it on October 31 just because the pagans are doing it too. Why does gratitude suddenly become unholy when others around you mess it up? I tell readers to explain to others the true nature of evil that lies underneath good horror stories. Your retort is that you can’t tell a horror story unless God directly inspires you to do it. Why? What would make us think there’s something inherently wrong with horror unless God himself uses it? God’s allowed to tell monster stories, but we’re not? Elijah is allowed to mock demons but we’re not? Christ is allowed to sit in the heavens and laugh at the heathen but we’re not?
I do agree with you on a number of things: Halloween is not what it used to be. Dressing as a Ninja Turtle does not mock paganism the way dressing as a spiked-tailed demon did in the middle ages. It does somewhat trivialize pagan traditions (which I don’t find objectionable), but it certainly isn’t as rich with theology as it used to be.
That’s why, at the end of the day, all of my suggestions are not things like “So dress up like Superman,” or “Go get some candy,” or “Halloween is no big deal.” My suggestions are more bent on showing gratitude to God, showing love to neighbor, and teaching others truth.
I do not see an option for me to be able to reply to your rebuttal, hence even attempt to answer the questions you asked.
Additionally I requested to unsubscribe from your emails and I still get them, will try again.
October 31 never was. According to the stars, sun and moon (YHWHs calendar) we are in the 8th month, the one that follows the hallowed 7th month. And the Gregorian October 31 is fairly new. As for the history you have presented of what surrounds this day, I think your research is quite limited.
I also disagree in that there will not be marriage nor children in heaven. I’m not sure what your heaven looks like but marriage and children are some of the things i see in this realm that closely resemble heaven. (The whole “not given to marriage” happens in a blink of an eye.)
Regardless of that belief, it is clear that we are to pray, “Our Father who art in heaven hallowed be thy Name.
Thy kingdom come thy will be done *on earth as it is in heaven*…”
……………..Are you bringing that to light here?
And for the record, I’m not against those who celebrate halloween but what you are doing is preaching and teaching that is ok and doing this in the name of God. You best be sure it is ok. You shall be held accountable.
BTW, We are also to give freely what has been given to us freely. I confess, I have a thing with people using God’s name for material gain.
Thanks for the detailed reply, Emily.
You say “October 31 never was” but then you also admit that the Gregorian Calendar system, which includes that date, is fairly new. Which is it? I’m not sure what you mean by “never was.”
I agree the Gregorian calendar is not the same as the calendar used by the Hebrews. I take it you think this means we shouldn’t use the Gregorian calendar? I’m not really sure what doing that would entail. Do you refer to or use the Gregorian calendar in how you plan your life?
Thanks for admitting your “thing” against people who use God’s name for material gain. I’m not sure how this applies, but is that how you see me? I wasn’t sure what the connection was. And what exactly do you mean by “material gain”? Do you mean someone who makes a living from various kinds of Christian ministry?
You are correct that my cursory explanation of the history of Halloween is limited—which is purposeful, for the sake of brevity. But is there something in the the research you find incorrect? I’m more than happy to beef up any area of the history that will shed light on something, if you think it might be helpful.
Am I bringing to light the ideal of “on earth as it is in heaven” in my treatment of this topic? That’s a good question. Was Paul doing that when he quoted the pagan poets and prophets in his speech to the Athenian court? I doubt the saints in heaven go around quoting poems dedicated to Zeus, and yet Paul did it to point to Christ. I’m more or less trying to pull from that an understanding of how to approach culture today.
Again, nowhere in this article do I promote the “celebration” of Halloween. I do, however, give several activities one can do on and around October 31. Which of these activities do you find objectionable?
As for marriage and children not being in heaven, I’m talking about after the resurrection. See Jesus’ teachings on this in Matthew 22:30.
I grew up in love with Halloween. I love creepy things and pumpkins. When I became a Christian I felt God was telling me to give my Halloween to Him. I have been walking with him on this subject and He’s shown me He wants me to have my Halloween be all about the truth in it. His truth,as you described in your blog post. This is a great post and I would love to have Christians sharing how they decorate. I love Halloween decorations but as we all know the God honoring ones are few. I love bats and black cats and pumpkins! All God created. But I would love to have more ideas from other like minded Christians. My son had an idea of making tombstones of all the other so called gods names and Jesus’ tomb behind that reading “the grave couldn’t hold Him”
I would love to have some more ‘truth’ ideas throughout my traditional decorations. I want my entire Halloween to honor Him and speak truth without sounding too preachy. I want to send a message of how much better the Lord is than the ghouls.
Thank you for this article, it’s been helpful. My husband and I are in agreement with your viewpoint and have trick or treated with our 5 kids for over a decade now. My question has to do with our church. Our church plant is a couple years old, and this will be our 3rd October. Every year, the church invites the children to dress up in costume (nothing scary) and enjoy games and treats during Children’s church. While my conscience is not troubled with trick or treating, I am very sensitive to Christian friends that don’t celebrate. We have allowed our children to attend church in costume every year, but I still feel uneasy about it. What are your thoughts about these traditions on Sunday morning? I appreciate your thoughts!
If by “Sunday morning” you mean the worship service, I’m not sure what place trick-or-treating has during a time of corporate worship. I suppose I would need to know more about the event in question.
Our Halloween tradition uses the holiday to proclaim that Jesus is the Light of the world. (In the vein of Paul in Athens.) On a dark night, we try to be the brightest house around. We set up a bright sign with John 8:12 on it, hang lights, wear flashing necklaces, set out various battery operated candles, and sit outside, meeting neighbors and letting our kids see all the costumes and distribute lots of good candy. Our kids understand our conviction to live by our consciences and our understanding of Scripture, no matter what others think. They respect and agree with it. They (and everyone else) also witness the light literally conquering darkness and making scary things look kinda silly. We love it and hope to add more festive elements in time.
I am saddened reading your replies to anyone who disagreed with you or offered a rebuttal on this thread. Your replies – even to those lengthy, informative, researched and filled with scripture references – that show they are not standing on their own understanding but leaning on that of our Adonai – your replies seem almost combative, as if you are more interested in just trying to prove your point than even listening or praying about the information they present. You have a rebuttal for every post against halloween, but nothing showing you are truly listening and trying to understand the problems with it.
I am not going to try to write here why my family has given up halloween as we have grown spiritually and are trying to move from the milk to the meat and trying to surrender our will so that we may follow His. Terry Moore’s reply and a few others really capture what I would like to say and they say it better than I am able. They have addressed every point that you made and shared scripture to help you see what they are saying, and yet it does not seem like you tried to have eyes that would see or ears that would hear. They tried to gently reprove you as brothers and sisters in Christ and give you a path to at least contemplate. There was no mention that you would pray upon the scriptural evidence they brought and take it to our Father.
This is the first year our family is setting ourselves completely apart from halloween, so know that I am not addressing this from a point trying to say that I always had it figured out, but that for a time, like you, I thought perhaps our family could try to bring our Elohim into that day. This last year, our family has been trying to overcome our desires of this world and truly and more fully dedicate ourselves and our lives to the way our Creator chooses for us.
This is not always easy, it has happened with us as well where we were too prideful in our position on something to really want to pray about it, because that might mean feeling the conviction to give up something we want to keep. I understand that struggle.
I am not coming from a position thinking that any human is going to be right about everything – we are all flawed creatures.
But when our brothers and sisters admonish us in love, we need to remember that that is such a great gift to receive from each other – simply because of two things. One, they love us enough to take the time to try to help us. Two, it is one of the most difficult things that we can give to one another.
While it may be easy to ridicule someone’s position, to tear it down or to dismiss it as not fitting in with the view that we want to have, it is extremely difficult (at least for me and many others- some have such a gift for it though) to correct each other in love. To not make judgments or justifications, but to help guide one another back to the path with no pride in our own position, but solely out of our love for the Father and one another.
I have seen a few brothers?/sisters? approach you this way, and I am disheartened by the way you have replied. They took quite a bit of their own time (not on a blog from which they make money) but given their time to a loving, scripturally sound and referenced reply, only for it to fall on deaf ears. Now, it is not that I have a problem with you making money from your blog, but consider that your time on here is paid, while those replying are doing so only because they do not want to see you stumble, because they see a brother who they believe could use some help.
I am sorry to say that I am unsubscribing from your blog. Not for your position on halloween, but for the dismissal of the gentle and loving rebukes without so much as a consideration as to the message they bring to you.
It is difficult to accurately discern someone’s true response from printed words on the internet, and I pray I have misunderstood as well your responses, but the way that you addressed the responses in your recent email as others “think I must have some sort of pact with Satan”, leads me to think that I have gauged your responses close enough to how you feel about them.
I have followed your blog for over 5 years (I just checked my emails! But responding from a different email currently) – and while I certainly have not been the most consistent reader, I have enjoyed many of the things I have read. I never clicked on your halloween entry, as it was not a topic I grappled with in the past, but this year, as my family – kids included have made the decision that halloween – or any celebration resembling it are not of our Lord or something in which we should participate – this year, I wanted to check out your perspective. I disagreed with your post this year, but as we are all on a different part of our journey, I did not have any inclination to unsubscribe over the difference in belief. But the way you handled the responses of those who saw, before me, the dangers inherent in taking part in any way with rituals of evil and demonic roots, is not what I want to find in the links I follow from my inbox.
I apologize for such a lengthy reply – I started only intending on a sentence or two, but my sleepy meanderings are definitely evident as it is 4:30 in the morning here and I have not slept yet tonight. For a homeschooling mom whose day is going to start in a few short hours, I do pray that you are able to get my intended message from whatever ramblings I have plunked down here. If not, I guess I may be one of the ridiculed comments alluded to in next year’s email to subscribers encouraging them to find christian ways to enjoy pagan celebrations.
Thanks for the comment!
I’m glad you brought up Terry’s comment because I think her statement is pretty representative of detractors of my position—stressing the pagan origins of Samhain in honoring the dead, as well as the church’s All Saint’s traditions, which thus makes it not a “redeemable” tradition. Her historical survey was thorough and unobjectionable—and I told her as much.
She thought I was advocating for the Christianization of pagan holidays, which I corrected—that’s not all what the article is about at all.
I also corrected her assumption that was no Scriptural support for my position, to which I said that I had laid the Scriptural foundation in the article itself. Paul quotes from a pagan poem dedicated to the god Zeus and ascribes it to the true God, and then points to a pagan altar as a shrine where the true God is worshipped.
I also made clear in my reply that the heart of the disagreement is not whether she or I have a handle on the pagan roots of Halloween—we both agree on the details. The heart of the disagreement is that she sees nothing that happens on October 31st (as part of Halloween traditions) that is redeemable. She sees everything associated with Halloween as coming “strictly from evil.”
But here’s the problem I’m attempting (perhaps not very effectively) to teach: no one has pointed out exactly what they find objectionable about my applications: being grateful for harvest blessings, uncovering the true nature of evil for our kids that lies underneath classic horror stories, teaching our kids about how the gospel is a mockery of the devil, or taking time to love your neighbor. All of these things could be done literally any day of the year and not be considered sinful—and yet somehow when they are in association with what the rest of the world is doing on October 31st, they are? Why?
My replies have been lengthy and detailed, and I’m replying to the specific details people share, but if you think there is some detail I’ve overlooked or an argument I’m not seeing (as far as my applications are concerned) please reiterate them—there are a lot of comments and it’s always possible I’ve overlooked something.
Here is the link to the source I am using for the pamphlet we are distributing this month of October 2020! ( we are also giving a hand sanitizer bottle, to show some Covid love)
We did not grow up in North America and Halloween had not been part of our childhood – no good memories or emotions attached. Since our family choose to celebrate the Biblical festivals, not because we feel we have to, but because they so amazing include the total plan of the Salvation thru Messiah – both past and future. We had been so blessed by the fullness of these special times that we have no desire to consider any made by man.
We try our best to not be judgmental, but love others where they are in their journey, witness to them about the blessing of Our Father’s festivals and try working on our many faults. If someone wishes us a “Happy Halloween” we simply say calmly that it is not our culture and make sure to smile and thank them for their kindness.
I would like to mention something that I feel is important in this discussion. I hope that I can write this in a kind way since you can not hear my tone of voice. I feel that your interpretation of “redeem” is misapplied. To “redeem” means to “buy back”. That implies that that which is redeemed belonged to the LORD in the first place. Like in the Ephesians passage where all the days the LORD gave us on this earth belongs to Him and we should therefor “buy it back” to be used for the LORD’s Glory and not waste the time He gave us on worldly things since the days are evil.
This leave the question if a celebration created by a church that strayed far from the basic doctrines of the Word, our Salvation, ever did belong to God. And if it did not, He has no desire to “redeem” it / buy it back to Himself and neither should we.
So I see that there is a fourth option for us to add to possible responses to the issue where we neither embrace, nor condemn, nor think we can redeem, but where we humbly walk by The Book. His Word is the perfect Lamp that Will shine in a dark world if we walk by it. No need to make celebrations of our own. HIs are already perfect and complete. They belong to Him and they are SO worth redeeming!
For years I was part of a congregation that celebrated the appointed times and it was incredibly enriching, so I can sympathize with your experience.
It sounds like (a) you are assuming a church-created celebration like All Hallow’s Eve is sign of a church that has strayed from God, and therefore (b) living “by The Book” does not include attempting to redeem October 31st to God’s glory.
I would definitely disagree with these assertions. Of course we should redeem October 31st to the glory of God—as we should every day of the year.
I just want to clarify that I do not assume that the created celebration is a sign of a church that had strayed from God, but that the straying from central doctrines like SALVATION BY GRACE is the issue that is a sign of a church not following after Gods heart.
Also, I totally agree with you that redeeming October 31 for Gods glory is Biblical and according to Ephesians since it belongs to God just like every day of the year. But that neither the celebration of Halloween or St. Hallows eve ever did belong to God and therefore He has no desire to redeem it / buy it back for Himself. Not participating in the celebration is how I believe we redeem the day of October 31 for Gods glory. But if you are a street evangelist, go for it!
Well, just wanted to clarify. Nobody likes to be misunderstood. All blessings to you and your family !
I don’t feel I can speak for all Christians as a whole because this is a very tricky subject. For myself though, I have friends who I have been sharing the Gospel with for years. Types of people who are witches, love Satan and twisted evil darkness – blood, wizardry – the whole nine yards. They keep their fascinations mostly pent up for the rest of the year until Halloween season and especially Halloween night when they eagerly participate in the most horrible dark practices. These people are not mocking Satan. They are embracing him and his love of darkness. They get a strange sort of high if they detect demonic activity and the evil spirit world seems to truly be more tangibly active around that time for them. They do dark things in dark places. The Celtic Druids would feel right at home. None of that ‘close but so far’ stuff you interpret as happening in Acts 17.
For our family, considering our witness for Christ, I feel along with some others that our ‘harmless Bob-the-Tomato costume’ participation sends a confusing mixed message to this group. These are not people who love to sit down with me and hash out all the nitty gritty details of how observing the holiday in certain forms can be a work of redemption for the advancement of the Gospel. They will not put two and two together about how Paul’s interactions with pagans in Acts had anything to do with a Christian’s attempts to redeem a modern pagan holiday. All they see is our (very mild) participation in their beloved evil holiday that they eagerly look forward to each year because it’s the only time they feel they can go all out in relishing in twisted dark evil and not be frowned upon by the general population. In one sense, it doesn’t really matter what the plethora of origins of Halloween are but it’s more about what it has become for many in this present day and age and culture.
I understand that not all Christians have any contact or meaningful interaction with genuine witches and people who make the practice of divination a lifestyle but since our family does, we feel that any participation on our part (however ‘mild’ it may seem) only harms our testimony for Christ as children of light, children of the day – a people set apart. I feel that for a Christian to participate in any form of Halloween without having the opportunity to explain ourselves and the Biblical rationale for doing so to our unbelieving friends (especially the ones who embrace rather than mock Satan and the ‘underworld’), it can potentially jeopardize and undermine our efforts to reach out to certain types of unbelievers with a gospel of hope and light. That’s a serious and sobering thought. I admit that I find myself frustrated by other believers who ‘mildly’ participate in Halloween because my pagan friends know of other Christians who do and it sends a serious mixed message to them since they see even ‘mild’ participation as a form of participation in their beloved holiday where many embrace Satan and darkness in varying levels (no mocking for them – pure worship of Satan). I will not go as far as to tell another Christian that they should not participate in Halloween in any form because the subject is very tricky and the danger of legalism is always close at hand and not everyone finds themselves witnessing in-person to lost individuals who adore Satan and demons and their palpable activity on and around Halloween. But with the world watching, you better take this opportunity very seriously. If you are not able or willing to to clearly express to your unbelieving friends, family, and neighbors your Biblical motives for celebrating Halloween (or ‘celebrating Christ’ on evening of Halloween by dressing up like a mermaid and asking people for candy), it would probably be best for you personally to abstain from participating in this particular holiday.
Thoughts on a comment you made…
“But your position goes further than this: you don’t see any sort of “redeeming” principle in Acts 17 at all. My claim was not that Paul was redeeming a pagan altar in order to endorse it wholesale (that would be just “receiving” it), but he was grabbing on to the truth latent within what they already knew and reclaiming that truth for the purpose of the gospel. The same thing is true with the pagan poets he quotes. I make it very clear (especially in my sermon I link to in the article) that Paul is most certainly rejecting many things about their pagan worldview, but he isn’t rejecting everything about it. Otherwise he would make no reference to the altar or their poets in any sort of favorable light.”
1. There can be no ‘truth latent within’ anybody apart from Christ. Apparently you do not believe in total depravity.
2. God does not need to reclaim truth from anywhere. He is Truth.
3. I agree that the pagans Paul preached to were ‘worshipping’ but it was illicit and not redeemable.
4. I do not recognize anything ‘favorable’ in Paul’s tone or words.
Wow that was really on point. My husband came out of Satanism in his early 20s and he constantly says the exact same thing. Right now, we do live next to a practicing wiccan and have been ministering to her for a few yrs. It is a very tricky subject when it is staring you in the face. Definitely something to think about. Very well presented in your comment. Thank you
Hi Trish and Luke!
I love you guys and pray all is going well. I have to say a few years ago, I was in the category of NOT acknowledging Halloween for fear of what God thought of it. My children I feel have been traumatized by this decision. We tried all sorts of ways to find what FEELS right. Dress as historical figure and hand out candy with tracks, go bowling and ignore it, movie night. We are now at a point of redeeming it. I know it has pagan roots-but even Christmas has pagan roots. It’s what is in our hearts that matters. We serve the ONE True God every day you f the year-even Halloween. God bless!
Our children are under 6, and so far we ignore it without issue. Even at this age, we regularly discuss with our children that we do things differently than others. Thank God there are other families with young children nearby who do the same.
One of the things we do differently is to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles, aka Sukkot. These holy days bring to mind so many past events, and provide a great analogy with which to shine a light. In addition to the compelling history of the inaugural event and why God initially instituted it, we can talk about how God tabernacled among man as Jesus, how we ourselves are tabernacles for the Holy Spirit, and even how our time on earth now is a temporary period in the face of eternity. And open the door to discussing countless other rich, meaningful, and holy symbols.
What events does participating in Halloween recall? Before you answer, remember that Aaron once tried to invent new traditions:
and Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the LORD.”
Looking at scripture–around the time that God gives instructions for holy days–there is a story that suggests it is risky to try to redeem traditions.
I too have been very enriched by learning about God’s appointed times! So glad your family enjoys those.
No doubt there is a risk to redeeming anything in our culture. I was merely trying to offer some ideas for how a Christian might redeem the time on October 31 in a way that pointed to the light.
So what do you do when one parent is ready to redeem it, and the other is still hands off? We started as totally hands off when our oldest was born, but after 12 yrs, I feel much differently.
How have your conversations around this gone? What are the concerns?