Trick or Treat!  What About Christians and Halloween?

Trick or Treat!  What About Christians and Halloween?

It’s literally impossible to avoid Halloween these days. In a few days, everyone from Donald Trump to Maxine Waters will be knocking on our doors looking for candy. There will be parties and movies and fright nights in the woods, and haunted houses. The celebration seems to have expanded from a single day to an entire month.

According to the National Retail Federation, almost 70% of Americans will be celebrating Halloween this year. It is second only to Christmas as a commercial holiday. A quarter of all of the candy sold this year will be sold this season. And adults across the country will be eating that same candy for months.  Americans will spend over 8 billion dollars during this Halloween season. That’s billion with a B!

The origin

Where did Halloween come from? It seems that the celebration actually began with the Christian church. As early as the 4th century, according to church historian John Chrysostom, the church celebrated a festival in honor of martyred saints. It was called All Saints Day and originally held in May. The day before All Saints Day was called All Hallows(Holy) Day and eventually morphed into All Hallow E’en and eventually Halloween. Pope Gregory 4 shifted the original All Saints Day to November 1 to combat the popularity of the pagan Samhain Festival, and the rest is history.

The issue

So now the issue is, should Christians celebrate a pagan festival, or at least a festival with pagan origins?  It’s a good question. Halloween is circled on the calendar of the occult community. During the Halloween season:

  • There will be countless attempts to contact the dead.
  • More spells will be cast than at any other time of the year.
  • Animal shelters will refuse to offer black cats for adoption for fear they will be used in a bloody sacrifice.

It is the pagan high and holy day. Nothing else comes close. How should a Christian handle Halloween? Here are some thoughts.

What about Christmas and Easter? Jesus wasn’t born on December 25 and there were no eggs and bunnies at Calvary. Both of these celebrations have pagan origins, but Christians have chosen to infuse them with spiritual meaning. Of course, Halloween is worse.  But if you’re going to use pagan origins as your argument against Halloween, at least be consistent.

And don’t stop with Halloween and Christmas and Easter. If you’re having problems with pagan origins, you’ll have problems with the names of weekdays and months, church steeples, clergy robes, wedding bands, and even flowers at funerals. And don’t forget about those pagan symbols on our currency, or money. Just saying.

We might not agree – What does the Bible say about celebrating Halloween? Nothing specifically, but a lot in principle. Leviticus 20:27 and Deuteronomy 18:9-13 are among a number of passages that warn Christians about the danger of flirting with the occult. Many Christians quickly respond that they are not celebrating the Kingdom of darkness, and that they are not impacted or impressed by the history. Halloween seems to fall under the banner of disputable matters, Romans 14. Matters that good Christians can disagree on.

Here’s a good example

It reminds me of Paul’s response to a disputable matter in I Corinthians 8.  Jewish Christians were upset because Gentile Christians were eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols. (Sounds kind of Halloweenish to me.) It was causing such a stir in the church that Paul’s eventual advice to the members was to stop it.  It wasn’t worth the trouble.

But Paul described the Jewish Christians as immature. “Weak’ is the word he used. The idol, he reminded them, was nothing but a piece of stone. No matter what the original idol worshippers intended, that idol is “nothing”, he says.  He makes the point that if your conscience is bothered because of the origin and history of the meat, then it’s wrong for you to eat it. But if another Christian has none of those issues with the meat, he’s free to eat it. Seems like good counsel for Christians who don’t see eye to eye on Halloween.

Don’t celebrate like a pagan.  If you choose to celebrate on Halloween, be careful how you do it. As I said earlier, Halloween is a high and “holy” day for the occult community. Each year around this time I receive a number of articles from former witches and warlocks who caution Christians not to be naïve about the spiritual and physical dangers of Halloween.

The Devil is real and so are his followers. Christians partying as demons and vampires are out of place any time of the year. Christians celebrating inappropriately or to excess are wrong any time of the year. Christians entertaining themselves with occult books, and motion pictures, and television series are playing with fire any time of the year. It is absolutely wrong to celebrate Halloween as a pagan tribute to the kingdom of darkness.

Take the day back! Halloween actually has its roots in the church. It began with good intentions, but the Devil absolutely defiled it. Ephesians 5:11 says, “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather, Expose Them.” One of the most powerful reasons for Christians to celebrate on Halloween is to expose the tricks of the Devil.

Halloween, with all of its baggage, is a great teachable moment. It’s an opportunity to expose the Devil and his devices. So instead of screaming at the dark this Halloween, turn on the light. How?

  • Sponsor a Harvest Festival. Have a Halloween replacement celebration at your home or local church. Make sure that there are plenty of “treats” that will make the kids forget what they might be getting at a stranger’s door. Some churches encourage the kids to come to these events as Bible characters and they have contests for the best custom. Be creative. Get the kids involved in the planning.
  • Have a brief but inspiring message.  Teach the kids that there is literally a Great Controversy raging between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan. Teach the kids that life with Christ is a life of power over darkness. I John 4:4. Bring in an age-appropriate speaker who can connect with the kids or go to the Christian bookstore and choose from a number of powerful videos and resources for just that purpose.
  • Create a space for creative Christian fun.  This isn’t rocket science. This isn’t brain surgery. Many Christian kids are already disappointed that they are missing one on the most enjoyable days on their school calendar. They already feel a bit awkward explaining why they don’t celebrate Halloween like their classmates. That’s understandable. But it seems inexcusable for a local church to make a challenging holiday even worse by not scheduling some good clean Christian fun.

Halloween will always be a hot topic with Christians. It’s one of those issues that will never be settled, but it’s too important an issue not to discuss. I think the answer is this. Don’t celebrate Halloween, but celebrate on Halloween. But that’s me.  What do you think?

What’s Missing From Adventist Evangelism?

What’s Missing From Adventist Evangelism?

ADVENTISTS!! That’s what’s missing from Adventist evangelism. Adventists. Everyday Adventists. Not celebrities. Not pastors. Not evangelists. Not paid bible workers. But normal, natural, balanced Adventists. Everyone I mentioned above is valuable to evangelism, but the most effective evangelists are not really “evangelists” at all.

Let me illustrate. The average life expectancy for a US citizen is 78.7 years. For men it’s 76 years. For women it’s 81 years. I would speculate about why women live longer than men, but my wife reads my blogs!

Now it is alleged that by the time most Christians come to the end of a normal life, they would have heard 5,000 sermons, sung 10,000 songs, prayed 20,000 prayers…. and led 0, no one to Christ!

That illustration has obvious flaws. There are holes in the math, differences in circumstances, and various definitions of evangelism. There will certainly be people in heaven who were influenced by our example. But it begs an important question. How many Christians can recall one person they have personally led to Christ? How about you?

Now there are a boatload of challenges to effective evangelism today:

  • Neglected prayer
  • Outdated methods
  • Distracted members
  • Hard hearts
  • Absence of Holy Spirit power

But the most glaring absence in Adventist evangelism-personal or corporate-is the local Adventist. There is not a program or plan or preacher powerful enough to do what God has designed individual Christians to do. God’s plan for outreach was surprisingly simple:

“But ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you, and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth.” Acts 1:8

Witnesses! From the point of our conversion we have been given the supernatural power to witness effectively. Witness is who we are, and witness is what we do. We need witnesses more that Bible instructors. We need witnesses more than we need mission trips. We need witnesses more than we need campaigns. We need witnesses, men and woman who are simply telling what they have seen and heard.

When we witness it increases our Biblical knowledge

There is an epidemic of biblical illiteracy today. Not just in the world but in the local church. And it has serious consequences. Jesus told the Sadducees in Matthew 22:29, “You are in error because you do not know the word of God….” Same for us. We pay a price for not knowing the Bible. It weakens our witness. It shatters our confidence. It undermines our faith

When we witness it reveals our Biblical weaknesses

I am convinced that most Christians won’t realize how little they know until they are asked to explain or defend what they know. Sharing your faith is not only a great spiritual discipline, but it reveals areas that we need to improve. I Peter 3:15 says, “Always be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks you the reason for the hope that you have.”

One of the most embarrassing experiences I had as a young pastor was explaining the spirit of prophecy to a Mormon couple in Franklin, Tennessee. I’ll never forget it. And I’m glad I won’t. Because the mistakes that I made and the lessons I learned serve me well to this day. I didn’t realize how confused I was or sounded until I was asked to explain my belief. That’s a benefit of sharing your faith.

Witnessing is living and sharing the good news of Jesus. It’s a lifestyle. It’s inviting someone to church. It’s praying for a co-worker. It’s attending a graduation or funeral or wedding of a non-believing friend. We should never expect a church to do what only individual church members can do. Ellen White puts it this way:

“Everywhere there is a tendency to substitute the work of organizations for effort…Christ commits to his followers an individual work—a work that cannot be done by proxy.” Ministry of Healing p.147

For many the summer is a season of outreach, mission, and evangelism.  This series will look at practical ways to expand the kingdom of God.

Question. Who was the person primarily responsible for you becoming a Christian?