Halloween & the Gospel
Halloween has been a widely debated subject among evangelicals for many years. Going back to the source, the essential origin of Halloween among historians is even debated about whether or not it was influenced by Romans, Celtics, or the Scots, and whether or not it was a time of celebration for the preparation of the cold winter months (hence, pumpkins, turnips, scarecrows) or remembering those souls in purgatory. Ultimately, it seems to be a collection of all those things. One big Autumn smorgasboard.
Obviously, considering today is “Reformation Day”, the early Reformers broke away from the Catholic church and opposed the festival. In that context, there is certainly something to take away from the reality of what it is, and the perception of what it is. And I do think there could be a distinction.
Many Christian Churches strongly oppose it. And many have taken it in, and used it as a way of Evangelism, offering candy to those dressed up in Biblical themes. Of course, technically, Biblically, you could dress up as witches and mystics (Saul), demons, mummies (the impact of Egypt in the Bible; Moses), Adam & Eve (I hope not), Zombies (taking the dead in Christ shall rise to the EXTREME interpretation), and even prostitutes (let’s also hope not, but plenty in the Bible). Or do as I did, and go back to Ezekiel in the valley of the dry bones, and dress as a skeleton.
So those could present a problem in Church circles, but by letter of the law, those are all Biblical scenarios. Probably wouldn’t be much fun for anyone if every kid dressed up as a cute angel (as if they really looked like the Precious Moments figures).
I don’t deny there may be a heightened sense of spiritual warfare on Halloween, but it’s the battle both ways. And I believe some are truly adamant abut redeeming the ‘holiday’.
We don’t exactly do that our Church, but I do use the Halloween to preach on…you know…Hell. And there is not a better time of the year (well anytime is good ultimately) to do so than on Halloween. The dead. And where there is no Christ, there is eternal death and torment. That’s a frightening reality. So I’ve seen very quality portrayals of scenes of death, triggering the cause of death and how sin is at its core.
Of course, then you have the hyper-emotional conundrum of scared kids and adults who make decisions purely based on ‘not wanting to go to hell’ versus ‘being a follower of Christ’ in a real and life-changing sense. So I certainly believe there is a balance in casting it aside and riding on the heels of a Halloween redemption.
But I fully admit, there is a sense of arrogant satisfaction preaching on hellfire and brimstone. And that’s where I have to be careful. Because it is a weighty thing. Seeing people jump out of their seats, eyes locked in, crying, unnatural response and curiosity brings a lot of fame to a preacher. It’s not always good fame, but people either love it or hate it. Of course, they hate to hear truth, and some will love it and sit back even more arrogantly and say things like “you get ’em preacher, all those sinners and backsliders…hell is close for them”. I’ve seen it. And I’ve heard those responses.
But if there is ever a time when I think more of hell and all things evil, it’s Halloween. And frankly, our culture has made Halloween exactly what it’s made Christmas. A commercial extravaganza. People make money. The core of what they do is not to make much of Satan, any more than making much of Christ during Christmas time.
So use the time to think Spiritually about the demonic forces and the dreadfulness of Hell. And use it as a tool to evangelize if you see fit. But don’t forget the Reformation today and the fact that you have freedom in Christ, declaring us righteous, making us justified, and freed from the bondage of sin. I don’t think God will strike you down if you use it as a time to cast off Satan’s demons and the evil of the world or use it as an evangelism tool. For through the steadfastness and courage of Martin Luther and the Reformation, and the glorious appeal of the Gospel, both are a means of glorifying Christ in the right attitude of the heart, no matter where our denominational methods have since split.