We discuss the history and implications of the pagan holiday of Halloween, and what it means to be separate from the world. When you think of Halloween, are you legalistic, defensive, indifferent, unconcerned, infatuated? Why do Christians participate in a pagan holiday, and why this one and not the dozens of other ones? How do you remain separate from the world? How does that affect your decisions and desires? We see Halloween as a pagan holiday with a history rooted in occult spiritual practices, and whose modern day incarnation is a highly commercialized event that focuses on frivolous spending, death, violence, demons, fear, and lust. Instead of writing a new law of what activities we should or shouldn’t do, we look at the values of the Kingdom of God, and see what we want to proclaim.
There are groups that set up “safe zones” for Halloween. If it is just a fun holiday about costumes and candy, why is this necessary? Despite what some say, October 31 does have higher crime rates, just not of sexual assaults. We want “safe scary”. Real scary is unsafe. Murder, rape, vandalism, robbery, dismemberment. These things are actually scary, and life altering or ending. A real “haunted house” is one with gun shots going off right outside or thieves breaking in to steal. Why is it required to have “safe zones” on this holiday if it doesn’t promote evil?
What about other non-Christian holidays, like New Year’s and Labor Day? It’s not about celebrating something not based in Christian beliefs. Look at what you are celebrating, not simply activities you are participating in. What does the holiday exalt? Fear, horror, lust, wickedness, violence, pain, demons, indulgence. It’s the second largest spending holiday in the US. Money spent on candy, costumes, decorations. The same approach can be brought to blatantly Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter. What are you doing and what are you celebrating? Are you celebrating commercialism and pagan traditions, or something significant about the life of Christ?
So let’s look at the celtic holiday of Samhain.
Practices and Traditions of Samhain/Halloween
- Trick-or-Treating – Historically, the holiday was about souls coming back to bless or curse people. People offered soul cakes to them. Children started to mimic them and demand cakes in order to avoid mischief. Also related to “souling”, a practice of people going door-to-door asking for treats and prayers. Also related to guising, doing performances to get food and money.
- Jack-o-lanterns – carving hideous faces into pumpkins, etc to scare spirits away. Also, carved pumpkins end up in the trash, instead of in food, and become a huge waste problem.
- Costumes – people would try to look like evil spirits, in recognition of the holiday and mimicking spirits, or scaring them away
- bobbing for apples – a divination practice
- Mirror divination practices
Christians had a holiday where they would honor saints who have died – All Saint’s Day. In the 8th century, Pope Gregory III moved the holiday to line up with Samhain (which was also effectively the pagan new year).
Is it valid to say that present-day Halloween is just a commercial event with no connection to its pagan roots? Is this a valid idea within the Kingdom of God? Why do we even care? What’s the deal? So what? Are we legalistic? We’re talking about a context of living in two realms. Let’s look at God’s heart, what He brought, what the apostles were teaching and doing, what it means to be full of the Holy Spirit (and not other spirits), and that we shouldn’t joke lightheartedly about demons and put pictures of them around our homes. Instead of making a list of things we could or shouldn’t do, let’s look at what it means to be the church. Let’s not allow a pagan holiday to create a false context for us. Do you believe in a spirit realm? Do you believe in a devil? Do you believe you need to be separate from such things? The kindom of satan is about creating and spreading lies. Halloween does not induce fear of God, but of created things. Halloween makes light of spiritually corrupt practices, such as seances, violence, and divination. It becomes a gateway and an opportunity to become desensitized to such things. Peer pressure, even from within the church, makes you feel like a goofball for not wanting to participate in this holiday.
Many people can rationalize away the “original intents” of Halloween. However, simply look around at its present day manifestation. It’s not all princesses and superheroes. It’s haunted houses, violent horror movies, costumes that celebrate death, decay, and lust. Even the candy isn’t just candy…it’s images of skulls, human limbs, ghosts, and other things that typically induce fear. It certainly stresses fun, but fun generally in the context of spiritualism, gore, and fear.
Why is Halloween seen as an evangelistic opportunity? What makes it exceptional? Does this validate it? Why do we not apply this logic to other pagan practices and holidays? How many Christians celebrate Ramadan in order to evangelize? Does the fact that you could share the Gospel mean you have to participate in the practice? Coming up with a “christian alternative” in order to compete for attention or numbers is just as much conforming to the world. How about we let the holiday die by not participating? Christian “haunted house” alternatives focus on fear, and utilizing fear to scare you to Jesus, so your golden ticket to heaven gets punched. This is a terrible and expensive tactic, and delivers an incomplete gospel clothed in the ways of the world.
Stop rationalizing and look at what you’re doing and exalting
Who are you serving?
Don’t pretend the spirit realm doesn’t exist or that you have control over it
Why are you celebrating a make-believe holiday that requires safe zones?
What are you filling your head, heart, and time with?
Josh Garrels – Rise https://joshgarrels.bandcamp.com/track/rise
Keith Green – No one believes in me anymore
Heath McNease – The Screwtape Letters https://youtu.be/Q33LHk504Gs
Blindside – Pitiful https://youtu.be/t-K2EdbnK6s
additional music by Enter the Worship Circle www.entertheworshipcircle.com
This episode originally broadcast live on October 30, 2015 on KXEN 1010AM in St. Louis, MO
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