Halloween/Fall Fest/Church?

Well it’s that time of year again. Candy, ghosts, goblins, Hocus Pocus 2, and the debate from Christians on this day. From one side you are worshiping Satan if you are not fully against. From another side you’re seen as legalistic, fanatical, or maybe even unreasonable. So which is it? What if those aren’t the only two options? A common tactic people will use to try and prove their point of view is to claim that there are only two options: theirs and an equally bad but opposite one. I could do the same with my wife on a movie choice. “There’s not much on tv. All we have to choose from is a documentary on how mailboxes are made (the bad option I give to make mine seem more appealing and right), or (insert my fighting, explosion, or really funny show she usually will not watch!).

What do I mean by another option? Romans 14 is a great chapter to help guide what we do from here. The chapter starts off with an explanation and how we as believers should approach each other on, we could say, grey areas. It says, “Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters.” Now, let me make a clarification here right from the beginning so as not to inadvertently cause quarrels in my appeal to not cause them. This chapter is about Jews and Gentiles coming together as the church and learning to do life together, worship together, and patiently dealing with one another’s personal convictions over what we could label secondary issues.

So Halloween. Is it pagan or Christian in origin? The answer: it’s complicated. Let’s understand the roots of where it came from, so that we can see what decision is best for us to make today. Crosswalk.com has a great article on this. It says, “The name Halloween is a blending of the words All Hallows’ and Even or E’en (referring to the evening before All Holies Day, or All Saints’ Day, which is November 1). The term hallow means ‘holy’ – you may recall reciting it in the Lord’s Prayer, ‘Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name’ (Matthew 6:9).”

According to much tradition, the early church set up All Saint’s Day to honor the saints, martyrs, and those who have died of the past. However, this was originally celebrated in the spring. Now this is where some of the theories of our modern day celebration of All Saint’s Day or Halloween come in. Countryliving.com says about the changing of this celebration, “Pope Boniface IV began All Saints Day in the early 7th century when he dedicated the Pantheon in Rome to the saints, but the day was May 13. In the next century, Pope Gregory III changed the day to November 1 when he dedicated a chapel in St. Peter’s Basilica to the saints.”

The changing of the days to this time is believed by many to be intentional to offset the pagan, Gaelic celebration of Samhain. According to some who followed this celebration, the veil between our world and the “otherworld” was open and gave spirits access to earth. The response was people offered food and animals. They even dressed up in costume to disguise themselves and be left alone from the spirits, who would not recognize them as human.

What you’re going to find if you take a deep dive into investigating the origins of Halloween or All Hallow’s Day is a mix of ideas. It did seem to start from Christian roots. But yes, it also seems to be a mix of pagan roots as well. Even if it was mixed to offset some wrong practices, some of the old practices seem to still be present.

Then the question still remains: do we participate in this holiday? We could respond with another question. Do we participate in Christmas or even Easter, which also have some pagan practices connected to them as well? Jesus was not born on December 25th, but the church moved to that day in much the same way as Halloween was moved to October 31st. We might say, “Yeah but, Christmas and Easter are purely about Jesus and what He did.” True, but the days to celebrate those amazing events were specifically chosen to offset other pagan holidays. “What are you saying Kyle? Should we examine even Christmas and Easter to see if what we do on those days are right?” Yes!

My advice and thoughts on this. Take it for what it is. Have the discussion about what this day is about and what you believe. Churches you should be open and upfront with each other about this. If you have questions, ask them. If you have hesitations or reservations, let them be known. But do it with gentleness and respect. Going back to Romans 14. This is the guidelines for how we respectfully and charitably respond to these issues. There are so many great points in that chapter. It tells us, “be fully convinced in their own mind”, don’t treat each other “with contempt”, “make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister”, and “make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” Don’t make unjustified claims such as, “Brother so and so is worshipping the devil and doesn’t know the Bible, because they are ok with doing a festival around this date”, if you haven’t even talked to them, or know if they are in fact, worshiping the devil. Christians who are not convicted about doing stuff around this day don’t gossip or talk about someone who does have convictions. It goes both ways.

Everything we do should be for the glory of God. We should “reject every kind of evil” or “abstain from all appearance of evil” as 1 Thessalonians 5:22 tells us. So having the important conversation of what we should and shouldn’t do is never an exercise in futility. It’s essential and part of the responsibility of the Christian. But it’s also the function of the Christian to strive for unity and love. We must never gossip and talk down on others who feel differently about some certain issue. It’s never right for us to go on social media and blast them for how unholy they are according to your standards. Instead, in love we should approach them as a brother or sister in the spirit and teaching of Matthew 18:15-17. We discuss, we talk, we listen. I’ve never seen issues come to a Godly resolution when church people arrogantly, condescendingly, or aggressively push their view with no hint of love.

Just some thoughts I’ve had as we come into this season. This is in no means saying we accept everything and not to oppose Halloween or any other celebration, belief system, or new teaching that comes out. Absolutely not. I’ve simply seen too much opposition in the church body that my heart is that we remember the unity and love we are supposed to have. The love for each other we’re supposed to have that Jesus said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: