Friday, October 30, 2009

The 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. Poor Jack!

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 top) whose music kept me focused on God during my teen years, and Dr. Jerry Falwell (pictured middle) 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, (pictured bottom) 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.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for being willing to share about such a controversial day. Here are my thoughts regarding the subject and I hope are not viewed as a rebuke but as an encouragement to all who read it.
Seeing how the day after halloween is "All Saint's Day" we as the body of Christ would do well to "highlight" that, and make the eve before (known in the culture as halloween)a celebration of the great saints. Wouldn't it be a wonderful blessing to the generation of today and those to come; to "magnify' those that have left an eternal mark of value for us to be encouraged by as we live in a more and more "pagen" oriented culture today. I'd encourage your readers to "live in a manner worthy of our calling" and encourage one another to live in a way that doesn't pattern the culture's ways but to set new ones that make unbelievers wonder why we do what we do. How about a harvest party celebrating the faithfulness of God to us once again this year and highlighting some of the great saints of old and even of today. What about Nate Saint or Jim Elliot and how about Martin Burnham. A great book to read as a family is entitled: Jesus Freaks by dc talk and the Voice of the Martyrs.Another wonderful book of encouragement to live large for Christ is a book entitled: The Heavenly Man. Still another great way is to log on to Voice of the Martyrs website and read and pray for those who are persecuted for their faith and many who die because of living out their faith. What a great opportunity to be encouraged in our faith. I'd love to see our culture return to, or the church at least, return to making "All Saints Day" a special day that we celebrate rather then focus on a day rooted in occultic overtones. I wonder if we would focus on many of the "saints" if it wouldn't change us and encourage us to focus more on things that will out last this present life on earth and help us be more focused on the eternal perspective.