Friday, October 31, 2008

A Biblical View of Halloween

Years ago, when I was a young mother, I dressed up my little sweeties in cute costumes and took them to a few neighbor's houses so they could "trick or treat," like all of the other neighborhood children. Later, I became a bit more "enlightened," so I took them to "Halloween Alternative" Parties at church on October 31st, where they could get bags full of candy in a "more Christian way."

However, one Halloween about 16 years ago, a friend shared with me a tape by evangelist John Muncy, which pierced my heart and changed my view of Halloween forever! Wanting to revisit that discussion, I recently discovered a booklet called The Tricks and Treats of Halloween by John Muncy that is available as a Free Download. I highly recommend this booklet, if you really want to get a Biblical view of Halloween, as time and space will only allow me to skim the surface here.

Over the years, the celebration of Halloween has exploded. According to my research, it is now the second most celebrated holiday in America! Halloween specialty shops have opened up in cities all over the US, where people can buy their ghoulish paraphernalia. I'm amazed at how many people go "all out" in decorating their houses and yards, even using orange "Christmas" lights to light up their houses for October 31st. Not just children, but teens and even adults, celebrate Halloween by dressing up in a variety of costumes, going to haunted houses, having wild parties and pulling pranks.

A Halloween bonfire

A little bit of research into the history of Halloween is very enlightening. Its pagan origins can be traced all the way back to the worship of Baal, while most of the practices come from the ancient Celts and Druids. Halloween has deep roots in the ancient Celtic tribes of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and Brittany. On October 31, the Celtic tribes would celebrate the festival of Samhain, the lord of the dead. During this festival, Celts believed the souls of the dead -- including ghosts, goblins, and witches -- returned to mingle with the living. In order to scare away the evil spirits, people would light bonfires (from "bone fires"), into which bones of slaughtered livestock were thrown to ward off evil spirits. Costumes and masks were also worn at the festivals in an attempt to pacify the evil spirts.

The term "Halloween" is shortened from "All Hallows' Even", as it is the eve of "All Hallows' Day", which is also known as All Saints' Day. It was a day of religious festivities in various northern European Pagan traditions, until Popes Gregory III and Gregory IV moved the old Christian feast of All Saints' Day from May 13th to November 1st. This was quite common -- as Christianity spread across Europe, many Christian holidays were moved to dates that coincided with pagan holidays. The intent was to counter pagan influences and provide Christian alternatives; however, the result was the "Christianization" of pagan rituals. Thus, Samhain was absorbed into Halloween.

Most Christians today don't take the time to learn about the symbolism behind popular Halloween icons. For instance, the "Jack-o-Lantern" comes from an old Irish legend about a poor man named Jack, who died and was turned away from heaven because of his sins, but was also barred from hell because he had tricked the devil. Because it was so dark, he begged for a lamp to light his way, and the devil threw him a flaming coal from the fires of Hell. Jack put the coal inside of a turnip, and was condemned to wander the earth with his Jack-o-Lantern, perpetually searching for rest for his spirit. Many Irish today still light candles in turnips to ward off evil spirits. Because pumpkins are more plentiful in North America and easier to carve than turnips, most Jack-o-Lanterns in the US are made out of pumpkins.

In addition to its pagan origins, modern Halloween observances glorify Satan and the dark things of this world, rather than glorifying Jesus, who is the light of the world. They also throw open the doors to many occult practices, which are clearly forbidden in Scripture.

Consider the warning found in Deuteronomy 18:10-14:

"There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch,
or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee. Thou shalt be perfect with the LORD thy God. For these nations, which thou shalt possess, hearkened unto observers of times, and unto diviners: but as for thee, the LORD thy God hath not suffered thee so to do."

It is common for Christians today to read through these verses without batting an eye, because we are unfamiliar with these terms. The booklet by John Muncy clearly defines each of these terms and shows how Halloween incorporates all nine of the forbidden practices! Also, it is important to emphasize that the passage above states that "all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord." God does not take involvement in these acitivies as "innocent" or "harmless fun." He says these occult practices are disgusting, detestable and deplorable to Him!

I love what John Muncy says -- A Christian celebrating Halloween makes about as much sense as a Jew celebrating Hitler's birthday!!

In this Halloween greeting card from 1904, divination is depicted:
the young woman looking into a mirror in a darkened room
hopes to catch a glimpse of the face of her future husband. -- from Wikipedia

So what's a Christian to do? Many Christians, having recognized the evil in observing Halloween, have embraced Halloween Alternatives, like I did as a young mother. However, I have come to believe that these aren't the best approach for Christians either. Consider the following article which I discovered while doing my research:

Are "Harvest Parties" for Christians?
originally published in the Colorado Christian News, October 1995(author's name not published)

"What are you doing for Halloween?" Ask a Christian parent this question, and be prepared to hear an answer like, "Nothing! We don't celebrate Halloween." Thunder crashes, and you creep away, embarassed for even asking.

"What are you doing ON Halloween?" Ask the same parent this slightly altered question, and their whole manner and response brightens. "Why," they begin, as birds begin to sing and sunshine breaks through the cumulus clouds. "We're all going to the Harvest Party at church!" A choir sings. A trumpet sounds. You feel privileged just knowing these saints.

Let's take a look at the typical Harvest Party.
It is a celebration.
It is chaperoned (usually).
It may have costumes.
Games are played.
Contests are held.
Food abounds.
Music blares.
Everyone enjoys themselves.

Certainly, nothing to get concerned about, right? The problem, however, lies in the billing. The Harvest Party is usually referred to as the Christian alternative to traditional Halloween hijinx. Alternative, however, implies substitute. It assumes our children need something to take the place of Halloween, since they won't be participating in the secular and pagan celebrations. It suggests our kids are missing out on something. And indeed they are, if we allow them to spend Halloween in celebration.

If we are to train our children to be soldiers in the army of Christ, why would we sign a pass for them to go on leave when the battle is escalating on the front lines?

As a child of four, I contacted the first of many spirit guides (read: demons) while playing with a Kindergarten classmates' ouija board at a chaperoned Halloween party. This spiritual assault ignited an intrigue with the supernatural that culminated in my lifestyle as a practicing witch: divination, necromancy, channeling, astrology, psychic ability, and spell working. It wasn't until I was twenty that I met the real Jesus Christ, and was released from the trap that Satan had set for this young prisoner of war sixteen years earlier.

There are too many casualities on Halloween and far too few troops fighing the enemy. Instead of partying on Halloween, teach your children how to fight. Keep them aware that the fight isn't against occultists, non-Christians, Christians who feel differently than we about Halloween, or institutions that promote Halloween, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers or darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Ephesians 6:12).

How do we teach our children to wrestle spiritually?

Discourage them from participating in traditional Halloween activities (2 Timothy 2:4). Then tell them why.

Encourage them to pray on a regular, daily basis (Ephesians 6:18).

Let them know first hand the power that we have in prayer. All Christians should know how to fight on their knees.

Remind them to be alert and self-controlled (1 Corinthians 16:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:6).

Give them the discipline of knowing it is their responsibility to keep watch. They, themselves, might also become casualties in the war.

Make certain they are prepared for battle (Ephesians 6:11). Do they know the truth? Stand on the Word of God? Have faith? Know the gospel? Are they righteous? Are they saved?…

Instead of celebrating, what's a Christian to do on Satan's feast day? PRAY! Intercession and spiritual warfare should be the first item on our agenda. It is NOT a last resort!

Join with other families in the church. Have the pastor announce a night of spiritual battle.

Organize a group of Christians parents and students from your children's school or homeschool group. As a family, designate the seven nights before October 31 as Family Prayer Outreach nights.

Pray for protection. Pray over both those who engage in prayer warfare and over those who will be out trick-or-treating or at Halloween parties. October 31 is a prime recruiting time for witches and Satanists…and a time for interested kids to experiment. Pray that the Lord keeps our kids from falling prey to those who worship the enemy.

Pray for discernment. Let the Holy Spirit direct you to specific prayer requests. Pray that the children who are "out there" will somehow "know" to keep away from certain activities. I have relatives who, even though they were not Christians, "knew" that ouija boards and levitation games were dangerous.

Pray that the Lord hinder the occult rituals. For four years, I lived in a building which over looked a cemetery where occult ceremonial markings were often found. ON certain occult feast days, usually between midnight and 3am, I would look down into the darkness and kneel at my window binding the demons that controlled the ceremonies. I'll never know this side of heaven what effect my prayers had. Maybe a potential sacrifice escaped. Maybe the occultists weren't successful in summoning their demon. Maybe a new, young recruit decided that this was not the lifestyle he thought he wanted.

Pray for the salvation of the occultists. Jesus Christ died for those whom Satan holds captive and deceived, for those who mock Him, who deny His deity or His existence. He doesn't want them to perish, but to come to Him calling Him Father, Lord. Pray the veil is lifted from their eyes, the Lord allows them to see clearly their spiritual condition and their only hope lies in Jesus Christ.

Pray also, about whether the Lord would have you take a more active role in bringing the gospel to Satan's servants.

Let your children know that this is effective warfare. They must know their prayers are heard and acted on by our Father. Let them know they can make a difference. Come October 31, they'll know they have a job to do.

This post linked up with:


Growing Home


Jules said...

I want to tahnk you for this post. Halloween is a recent 'import' where I live. It was never around when I was growing up although we'd see it mentioned on TV or in books (usually American) but recently it has become quite popular in Australia and New Zealand.

As a Christian, we've always avoided it. At first because just the thought of kids dressing up as witches and goblins put us off, but later as we learnt more about it. Some local churches offer "Light Parties" and often try to get non-church kids involved but since I've never been to one, I can't really comment. However, just last Sunday there was an article in our church newsletter encouraging us to use Halloween as an opportunity to present the gospel in some small way when children come to the door. We're still thinking on that one.

Off now to check the link you posted. Once again, thank you.

Laurel said...

Wish I'd read this before Halloween. We have held the same convictions for over 20 years (and, with 13 children). Yet, I haven't had very clear answers to give those who question me, other than "I don't believe ____." I am going to study your resources more fully.


Laurel :)

KristinC said...

Very well stated. I was wondering if I may have your permission to share this with a few people? We are currently having to stay home from our church due to our personal conflict w/ halloween things this coming Sunday and many are not understanding why.

The Proverbs 31 Sanctuary said...

Thank you for your post, I found you at a wise women builds her home, I used to be involved in the occult practices and feel so blessed that I found the Lord. I now strive to be a light for others that are where I was. Thank you. Tara (The Proverbs 31 Sanctuary)

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