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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

                 
Can Halloween Be an Entirely Innocent Practice?

pumokin

In the following material, we will present a brief case for abstinence from participation in Halloween. This is not say that Christians who choose to participate in Halloween are necessarily sinning; however they need to decide whether, by their participation, they bring honor to the Lord. We hope Christians will take a closer look at involvement based on the following discussion.

Not everything in life is clear cut and not everything has easy answers. All things considered, however, we think the most prudent and wise decision for Halloween is abstinence. Why? Based on our discussion to date, we can see that Halloween symbolism and activities today, although technically removed from their ancient practices, nevertheless retain the underlying associations for which they were intended. In other words, the very act of dressing or costuming oneself heralds back to the original purpose for which this was done.

As you evaluate this issue, here are some questions and comments to consider.

1) Can we truly align ourselves innocently with something traditionally and currently involved with the occult and be certain we will never be affected in any possible manner? In other words, in merely participating in Halloween, are we ignorantly skirting the territory of the devil? Historically, isn't this day the very day that the evil powers have chosen for themselves as special above all others--from the ancient Druids to the modern Druids, witches, and Satanists? Unfortunately, isn't it also true that most Christians don't even know this? But if the purpose of the Christian life is to glorify God, is it really possible to glorify God by imitating what occultists do on their special day however innocently? Should Christians be out on the occultist's favorite day imitating the things that historically and today are traced to something evil or occult, including even costuming, trick or treating, and setting out displays of fruit? As we saw, the purpose of setting out fruits and other food was to appease the spirits: "This appeasement of the spirits was celebrated in various ways according to locale and custom, with minor differences. One way to appease the dead was to set out bowls of fruit and other treats so they could partake of them and, once satisfied, they would leave in peace. Your child, when he goes door to door in the ritual of trick or treat, is re-enacting the ancient superstition." (Albert James Dager, "Hallowe'en: Should Christians Be A Part?", Media Spotlight.)

Costuming, etc., in good taste, are certainly neutral practices on any other day, e.g., costume parties. So it is not the practice per se but their association to this particular day and their original purpose on this day that raises the issue of involvement. Does this mean it is wrong for a mother to take her child out dressed as a carrot top to a few friends houses in the neighborhood for some candy? Again, we cannot say this is a sin, but only that it is probably not the best choice. Even some well-respected Christian scholars who oppose Halloween altogether aren't sure whether something like this falls under the individual conscience prescriptions in 1 Corinthians 10:23-29 and Romans 14. But even in cases like this, however innocent, one is still participating in Halloween. And 1 Corinthians 10:23-24--based on everything we know of Halloween--would seem to suggest that abstinence is the better of two choices: "'Everything is permissible'--but not everything is beneficial. 'Everything is permissible'--but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others." (1 Cor. 10:23-24, NIV)

2) Most people think that imitating these things on Halloween is innocent enough since we are not engaging in the original practices or intent. Nevertheless, as we will see below, the Scripture repeatedly tells us not to imitate the evil practices of the pagan nations. For example, when it says in 3 John 11, "Do not imitate that which is evil," it means do not copy it, imitate it or act it out. A. T. Robertson's Word Pictures of the Greek New Testament points out that the Greek for do not imitate, mh mimou is the present middle imperative in prohibition, i.e., do not have the habit of imitating. It comes from mimeomai which is from mimoj, an actor or mimic. So Scripture would seem to teach that we are not even to mimic, act out or copy that which the ancient occultists did on Halloween. Wouldn't this logically seem to apply to the current activities of Halloween? Isn't participation a form of imitation?

3) In partaking of Halloween, do we help, even indirectly, to publicize what may be the single most important day in the world of the occult? By our participation, do we give at least some credence to the occult simply because we participate in a day that originates in the world of the occult and is so special within it?

4) Can we, even indirectly, be setting up our own children to become familiar with the "flavor" or practices of the occult? Isn't it true that even when we send out our children dressed not as occult characters that it is impossible for them not to be intermingling with other kids who are dressed up as witches, sorcerers, the devil and demons, ghosts, and other occult themes? In fact, it is impossible for our children to avoid this. But could this exposure help pique at least some children's interest in such things? When our kids ask us why they and other kids dress up in costumes and why they trick or treat--i.e., where such practices came from--can we as their parents give them any other answer that is not tied back to evil, pagan, occult practice?

5) Isn't it also true that many kids enjoy Halloween merely for the "trick" aspect of it? And in this sense, aren't they "imitating" the ancient evil spirits that Samhain released on Halloween eve? And, in a day of burgeoning juvenile crime, do we want our youngsters out on this particular night when so many kids are planning mischief or property destruction? Isn't it also true that many other children are secretly fascinated by the scary and evil side to Halloween--witches, ghosts, demons, goblins and forbidden things? And is all this in harmony with what we read in Philippians 4:8 and other scriptures: "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." When the Apostle Paul tells us that we are to imitators of God, and of him as He is the imitator of Jesus, can we be imitators of God and godliness when we imitate the things of the devil on Halloween night?

In essence, can we pretend that we are not part of something when we cannot really avoid it? If it is impossible to participate in Halloween innocently because of the very nature of Halloween day and its implications, how can we logically think we aren't at least in some sense part of what it represents?

Now, let's look at some Scriptures to see if they have a bearing upon Halloween.

"...Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ." (1 Cor. 11:1)

"Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people." (Eph. 5:1-3)

"When you enter the land the Lord God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there." (Deut. 18:9)

"Hear what the Lord says to you...do not learn the ways of the nations...For the customs of the peoples are worthless..." (Jer. 10:1-3)

"Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: 'I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people. Therefore come out from them and be separate,' says the Lord. 'Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters,' says the Lord Almighty." (2 Cor. 6:14-18)

"Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good." (Rom. 12:9)

"Abstain from every form of evil." (1 Thess. 5:22)

"Beloved do not imitate what is evil." (3 Jn. 11)

"Be imitators of God....Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them." (Eph. 5:1, 8-11)

Do you think these Scriptures relate to the issue of Christian participation in Halloween? Is it possible to abstain from every form (or appearance, KJV) of evil and also send your child out dressed as a devil? Is it possible to not imitate or learn evil while imitating or "learning" modern symbolism of ancient evil practices? Is it possible to have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness--and still participate in Halloween? "This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth" (1 Jn. 1:5-6). Can Halloween be considered, at least in some sense, "walking in the darkness"?

When Scripture tells us we are not to learn the ways of the pagan nations, but that we are to learn that which is good (Deut. 18:9; Heb. 13:7; 3 Jn. 11, etc.), the term "learn" involves the following definition as given by A. T. Robertson in his Word Pictures of the New Testament: the "directing of one's mind to something and producing an external effect, learn; 1) as learning through instruction be taught, learn from someone (John 7:15); 2) as learning through inquiry, ascertain, discover, find out (Acts 23:27); 3) as learning through practice or experience, come to know, come to realize (Phil. 4:11; Heb. 5:8); 4) as achieving comprehension, understand, learn (Rev. 14:3)." This is the sense in which we should understand Deuteronomy 5:1, "And Moses summoned all Israel, and said to them, 'Hear, O Israel, the statues and the ordinances which I speak in your hearing this day, and you shall learn them and be careful to do them.'" The issue then, is whether our kids are imitating and learning something they shouldn't on Halloween?

Let's ask the final question. How does God, as He looks down on Halloween night, in full awareness of the events that have happened on this night historically and today, view little children, especially Christian children, dressed up as ghosts, devils, witches and goblins? Or even dressed up as innocent characters but going out on that very night so dedicated by occultists to their own activities? How does God view Christian parents, His own spiritual children, participating in an event, that on that very day, is so honored by occultists and the devil--the day on which so much evil has been committed historically, and is actually being committed on that very night?

If the Mafia or Ku Klux Klan had a special day, would Christian parents dress up their kids as little mafioso or klansmen and send them out at night to commemorate it, even in fun and jest?

The larger question all this raises--that of Christians innocently participating in Halloween is whether it involves a deliberate mockery of God on the part of the devil, i.e., to have God's own children participate symbolically in celebrations that are tributes to Satan, pagan gods, and all kinds of evil?

Again, what does God think of His little children walking around partaking in the very symbolism of the day occultists have claimed as their own, e.g., that witches have made their most sacred day of the year? Or that Satanists sacrifice babies on? Is it possible that we can see Satan deliberately mocking God by having children, and especially Christian children, actively participating in the symbolic activities on the very day which he, Satan, is most honored? Satan, of course, knows the meanings of these symbols--and so does God. If we think of who Satan is, what he does, and how he views Halloween, then how must God view little children being out on Halloween, Satan's special day even being sent out by Christian parents? Perhaps then it doesn't seem to look quite so innocent anymore.

The history of the occult makes it clear that Satan hates children and we know he hates Christians. Jesus Himself loved the children and said of them that the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. What do you think Jesus thinks of Halloween? If Jesus were sitting in your living room on October 31, would He encourage your children to go out trick-or-treating? Remember Halloween has sparked the interest of untold numbers of kids in the world of the occult. In light of this, Jesus also said "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it is better for him that a heavy millstone be hung around his neck and he be drowned in the depths of the sea" (Mt. 18:6).

Albert James Dager presents the following argument against any participation in Halloween. Although we do not necessarily agree with everything stated, we think he makes some good points:

"To engage in revelry associated with such an anti-Christ festivity as Halloween is a slap in our Lord's face....As pastors and teachers have the responsibility of educating parents, the responsibility of educating children in the commandments of God weighs heavily upon the shoulders of parents. But no more so in this age or society than in ages past. The difference is that today children rule many homes, Christian and non Christian alike. For that reason, compromise is the easy way out for parents who, thinking they are showing love by acquiescence, are really destroying their children's spiritual life. No matter what the evil, parents are forever searching for alternatives in order that their children not feel deprived of the world's fun. When it comes to Halloween, Christians decide to substitute their own parties for the world's. Instead of calling their festivities 'Halloween parties,' they call them 'Harvest Festivals' and dress them in biblical costumes. But that's what Halloween is: a harvest festival. And many children wear biblical costumes for Halloween anyway, so what's the difference except in the compromise of their minds? You can be sure that to most children it's still Halloween that they're celebrating....It isn't going to traumatize children if they aren't allowed to join in some things just because 'everyone else is doing it.' It's the responsibility of Christian parents to teach their children the truth from the beginning; not to wait until they've been sufficiently infected by the world that they must be deprogrammed at a later date. Children who are taught to love Jesus will understand that, because of that love, they shouldn't have anything to do with the celebration that glorifies the power of God's enemies." (Albert James Dager, "Halloween--Should Christians Be Apart?," Media Spotlight, 1986, P.O. Box 1288, Costa Mesa, CA 92628-1288.)

Unfortunately, the Christian church never truly Christianized Halloween--the Roman church merely baptized it with its own unique, if unbiblical, beliefs concerning sin, the saints and purgatory. We think the solution is for the Christian church to follow the lead of the great Reformer, Martin Luther. Let's make Halloween a universal day to joyfully celebrate and teach the Reformation and all it implies to us and our children, especially the doctrines of Scripture alone (Scripture, not the church, as the final authority), faith alone (justification by grace through faith alone), and glory to God alone--not glory to the church. And certainly not glory to the devil.

But, some parents will argue, "My kids do not care about the Reformation--they want to go out trick-or-treating. The last thing in the world they want to do is stay home and hear stories about Jesus or learn Bible doctrine." Of course, maybe that's the problem? Have we been educating our children properly and scripturally as God has commanded us to?

God commands that we are to teach our children doctrine. Consider Deuteronomy 4:5-10, especially in light of the testimony we give on Halloween, either one way or another. Moses writes,

See, I have taught you decrees and laws as the Lord my God commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it. Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, "Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people." What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him? And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today? Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Remember the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horab, when he said to me, "Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children." (Deut. 4:5-10)

In other words, just as the ancient Israelites could offer a testimony of God before the surrounding nations by obeying and teaching the commandments and statutes of God--and by this glorify God before the nations--so Christians can do something similar on Halloween. By obeying and teaching the doctrines relating to the Reformation on the day of Halloween, Christians can become a testimony to their neighbors around them concerning the greatness and power of these teachings to change lives and glorify the one true God.

In fact, hardly any endeavor in life is more rewarding or exciting than learning Bible doctrine. We only wish we had the space to go into this. Of course, if parents have never learned the joy and adventure of studying theology, then obviously their kids never have. But, for those who know the rewards of learning doctrine for themselves and their children, not to mention its impact in society through the church, what better night to do this on?

In conclusion, here are some things to consider concerning whether or not your children should participate in Halloween:

1) It is the most sacred day of witchcraft and other occultism.

2) It was and is believed to be the only day of the year in which the devil's help could especially be invoked for a variety of things; it remains a special day to Satanists.

3) Human sacrifice was and is offered (perhaps most commonly) on this day.

4) It has and will continue to encourage occult activity on the part of both children and adults.

5) It is a special day to call on spirits via the Ouija board and other forms of spiritism.

6) It is a day noted historically for divination.

7) It helps support pagan philosophies and practices such as reincarnation, animism, Shamanism and Druidism.

8) It is of help to the practices and beliefs of mediums and psychical researchers by encouraging people's interest in things like ghosts and poltergeists.

9) Occultists use this day especially for proselytization concerning their professions and activities.

10) It can unequally yoke Christians and pagans.

11) Probably no Halloween activity or symbol can be found that does not go back to pagan occultism.

12) Christian participation in Halloween may, in fact, be a ploy of the devil to mock God.

13) "Whatever is not of faith is sin" (Rom. 14:23).


For more information on "Halloween" see our Resource Center for Halloween: Should Christians Participate? (VHS videotape series - $39 + $5 S&H) listed under "Social Issues") and The Facts on Halloween (booklet - $5 + $2 S&H) listed under "The Anker Series." For credit card orders you may call 1-800-805-3030.

     

 

 


 

 

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