A Constructive Christian Response to Halloween
Created by Jon Taylor - Tuesday 11 Oct 2016
Jon Taylor
Opinion is divided in relation to how and what Christians should do when Halloween comes round each year. Some view this festival as harmless fun, some recognise connections with paganism and the occult, some hide away and avoid it at all costs, some have church parties celebrating the Reformation or have light parties, whilst others seek to use the opportunity to share the gospel.
Concerns also arise because Halloween can create an unhealthy curiosity for the supernatural and the occult and can add to the barrage of occult material that children are exposed to. Information on the internet is too easily accessible and a disproportionate amount of children’s programs involve witches, ghosts, spells and magic etc.
Obviously, Halloween is not referred to in Scripture but we would be wise to consider both the root (its origins) and the fruit (is this spiritually helpful or harmful) for ourselves and others. Whatever we do in word or deed we should do in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him (Col.3:17).

The Root
Many, though not all trace Halloween back to Samhain which was a feast celebrating the final harvest, death and the onset of winter
[i] for the three days between October 31st and November 2nd by the Ancient Celts and Druids. Samhain is connected with death in which it was believed that the souls of those who had died earlier that year could at this special time migrate into the land of the dead. It was therefore considered to be an intermediate day or a no man’s land between the old year and the new one characterised by chaos.
Various evil entities could be appeased by offering food or other gifts (a treat) to avoid damage to crops or general mischief or upset (a trick). Some villagers decided to disguise themselves in masks and costumes and collected protection money from house to house to ensure that the ghosts would eventually leave.
‘Some embraced the season of haunting by engaging in occult practices such as divination and communication with the dead. They sought "divine" spirits (demons) and the spirits of their ancestors regarding weather forecasts for the coming year, crop expectations, and even romantic prospects. Bobbing for apples was one practice the pagans used to divine the spiritual world's "blessings" on a couple's romance.’
Catholic Influence
The origins of the word ‘Halloween’ are derived from ‘All Hallows Eve’ which occurred on the 31st October, All Saints Day occurred on the 1st November.
[iv]The Catholic Church attempted to ‘Christianize’ pagan practices and individuals went door knocking and selling small cakes in exchange for prayers for the dead relatives from a person’s house.[v] This is basically an unbiblical practise utilising emotional blackmail which again is unscriptural and an easy means of amassing wealth.
Travis Allen from ‘Grace to You’ explains what happened next…
‘As the centuries passed, Samhain and All Hallows Eve mixed together. On the one hand, pagan superstitions gave way to "Christianized" superstitions and provided more fodder for fear. People began to understand that the pagan ancestral spirits were demons and the diviners were practicing witchcraft and necromancy. On the other hand, the festival time provided greater opportunity for revelry. Trick-or-treat became a time when roving bands of young hooligans would go house-to-house gathering food and drink for their parties. Stingy householders ran the risk of a "trick" being played on their property from drunken young people.’
Scriptures to consider…
Johanna Michaelsen, a former Satanist and now an evangelical Christian, notes that Halloween is a day when many occult practices are glorified that are an abomination to God.
Deuteronomy 18:10-13 is relevant in relation to some of the wider practices employed around this time of year especially.
There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, 11 or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. 12 For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord, and because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them out from before you. 13 You shall be blameless before the Lord your God.
To reiterate, as Christians; in addition to examining the root, we should consider whether the fruit is wholesome and seek to walk not in darkness, but in the light. Ephesians 5:8-11 is helpful here…
‘For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.

A Gospel driven and gracious response
When trick and treaters come round, most are completely oblivious of the origins of Halloween, so a constructive response would be to act graciously. Therefore be ready with some sweets but also some tracts or to say something about the gospel or how the Lord Jesus is the light of the world.
Some Christians have light parties, harvest festivals or reformation celebrations. That is helpful to give the kids an alternative which will make them aware of pagan celebrations but also encourage them to enjoy a wholesome event. Of course, you could invite non-Christians to those events too.
Other Christians will hibernate for the evening, something I unfortunately have often done too often, though Christians are supposed to be in the world, not of it, but neither should we be in our small corners. How can you be salt and light if you hide away? However if you choose simply to not attend, be ready to provide a reasoned and helpful answer when others ask you why you didn’t celebrate Halloween.
Ultimately, it is about pleasing God rather than succumbing to peer- pressure of the basic principles of this world. Think and pray carefully.
‘Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one (Col. 4:6).’

[ii] Johanna Michaelsen New Booklet: Halloween! A warning to Christian Parents
[iii] Allen
[iv] Matt Slick Where did Halloween Come From? Can a Christian Celebrate it?
[v] Slick
[vi] Allen
[vii] Michaelsen 

Tuesday 11 Oct 2016