Friday, October 24, 2008

There is spiritual merit in Halloween

What is the history of Halloween? Without question, the history of Halloween is founded in occult themes. There is no debating that. Much of our holiday traditions goes way back to Scotland and Ireland where Druid Priests celebrated a special day in honor of Saman, Lord of the Dead. The belief was that on the eve of this celebration, Saman called together all the souls of those who had died the previous year and who currently inhabited the bodies of animals, to return to their homes. Bon-fires were lit to scare off these spirits and children would dress in costumes to confuse these wandering souls.

Jack-o-lanterns also go back to this era, only they started as large rutabagas, carved with gross faces and lit with candles. This is due to a tale about a man named Jack who was a notorious drunkard but who was also smart. The fable says that when he died, he was turned away from both heaven and hell. As a result, he put a glowing coal into a carved turnip and he has been wandering the earth ever since.

So should Christians participate in Halloween? I really do not believe there is one “right” or “wrong” answer to that question for every person. Much like the issue of Christians eating meat offering to idols back in the days of the Apostle Paul, we must each follow our own conscience on this one. There is simply not one right answer for every believer. Our family has always put out jack-o-lanterns and participated in trick-or-treating but that does not mean that every Believer should. But is there any merit in Halloween that we can all agree on? I think there definitely is.

In 834 AD, in order to combat these occult practices, Pope Gregory IV moved the church festival of “All Saints Day” to November 1. This was a day to honor all the Saints who had died. The eve of the festival was called, “All Hallows E’en” (E’en is a contraction for evening). So let’s start a new Halloween tradition. Let’s take time to reflect on such great saints. First, we can remember saints of theology. These are individuals from the pages of Scripture whose life message greatly influence us for Jesus still today. For me, this is a man like Joshua who led Israel in possessing the Promised Land.

There are also saints of history. These are individuals who lived in history but are now with the Lord but whose testimony for Christ still impact us today. For me, that includes men like singer/songwriter, Keith Green (pictured)whose music kept me focused on God during my teen years, and Dr. Jerry Falwell who greatly impacted my life through the ministry of Liberty University. Finally, there are saints of family. These would be family members or close friends who are now with Jesus but whose heritage causes us to walk with Jesus today. For me, this is my Grandpa Distler, who was a pastor for some 50 years.

You see, even Halloween can become a spiritual beneficial holiday for all of us. After all, it was on Halloween in 1517 that a great man of God named Martin Luther climbed some steps in Germany and posted his “95 Thesis” on the doors of the Wittenberg Church setting off the “Great Reformation.”


Hunter said...

Jack-o-lanterns are not about a guy named jack who was drunk. If that was the case it would be named Man or Male. The carved pumpkin came about to trap bad spirits who wanted to do harm to good people on and around All Hallows Eve. This time of year – the true New Year – is when the world between physical & spiritual is at its thinnest. Good spirits are happy & don’t want to do harm. Bad spirits did so they used pumpkins to trap the spirits.

Halloween is not about evil. Especially in this day & age. It's about silly fun.

Anonymous said...

I truly believe that participating 'publicly' in Halloween trick or treating but 'silently' reflecting on the worthiness of dead saints is doing a disservice to your flock. God plainly states in the scripture to abstain from even the appearance of evil. I believe kids dressed up as ghouls, witches, goblins or anything horror...or even dressing up as an angel amongst all the ghoulish costumes is not abstaining from the appearance of evil. It doesn't even set a christian apart from it. Participating is 'okaying' it by your very participation. There is no ministry in it either. Running around with costumes on just like everyone else isn't a witness for Christ. Churches that do the same thing, only on their own grounds, are just as guilty. As a pastor, you should be leading in that example, not blending yourself in with the world cause it's fun. All sin is 'fun', but it's still sin. And protecting our kids spiritually is our job as parents..especially in the area of occultic practices like Halloween, no matter how innocent it looks. Make your own celebration, be it harvest related or not without having to have the same Halloween dress up theme that makes it look the same...but don't take a worldly, pagan, satanic celebration and try to make it out as good ol' fun that God would just shrug at and say, "'s just my children having a little fun." He wouldn't.

Pastor Scott said...

There you have it folks! Hunter and Anonymous have given us two differing views on Halloween. I would continue to say that whether you take Hunters view or the view of Anonymous, Halloween can still be a day of spiritual benefit if you will take the time, as Hebrews 11 does, and remember the saints who have gone before us, allowing their life's message to conintue to motivate us to live for Jesus today. Let's remember that October 31 is still a day that the Lord has made...let us rejoice and be gald in it!