Halloween, All-Saints Day and Reformation Day

As one observes the history of Halloween, this day becomes something of a metaphor for spiritual battles and positioning on a corporate and personal level.  Halloween began as a pagan holiday (Samhain), celebrated among Celts of Ireland and Great Britain.  Eventually, immigrants from Ireland and Scotland brought the festival to America.  The celebration is rooted in spiritism, where the use of the Jack-o-latern was to ward off an evil wandering spirit, and trick or treat represents spirits of the dead who would come looking for food or provision and if they were not provided, then a practical joke would be played on the household.  Throughout history this has been represented as innocently as begging children to Druidic priests making sacrificial demands.

Countering this, Pope Gregory in the 9th Century then moved All-Saints Day to November 1, in order to bring a more spiritual mindset to the season.  All-Saints Day, was simply a celebration feast of all the Catholic Saints.  

Later, those following the Reformation in the 16th Century instituted a Reformation Day that would celebrate Martin Luther’s posting of the 95 Theses on the door at Wittenburg, protesting many actions and teachings of the Catholic church.  The color for the day was red to remember the martyrs during the reformation who would fight to put the Word of God in the hands of all people and rally around the “solas” of the reformation:  Sola Fide (faith alone), Sola Gratia (grace alone), Solus Christus (Christ alone), Sola Scriptura (scripture alone), and Soli Deo Gloria (God’s glory alone).

Since that time, churches, communities and individual families have wrestled with the holiday and what to do with it.  Today, many mainstream believers just say that it’s all in good fun and that the real evil history of it is far removed.  Others, hold to a view that because of its association they will have nothing to do with it.  Churches, as well, have taken differing approaches.  The church I grew up actually put on a haunted house for several years or took the youth group to haunted houses.As the church historically has battled for what to do on October 31 or November 1, so have families.  While ultimately it is up to your conscience (and with risking being called a “prude”) allow me to offer you a few pastoral thoughts:

“When you come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations.10 There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer 11 or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, 12 for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. And because of these abominations the Lord your God is driving them out before you. 13 You shall be blameless before the Lord your God, 14 for these nations, which you are about to dispossess, listen to fortune-tellers and to diviners. But as for you, the Lord your God has not allowed you to do this. Deut.18:9-14 

So, for those of you who agree that there is such a connection with Halloween to evil things, we are clearly called to abstain for any hint of participation in things that the Lord would consider an abomination.For others of you, you may not be so convinced as to the direct correlation in our day to such evil practices.  You probably refrain from “slasher” films and maintain an innocence in it all, which is commendable.  To you, I submit this passage regarding a “gray” area for the Corinthian church.  Particularly reflect on verses 31-33:

23 “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. 24 Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. 25 Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 26 For “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.” 27 If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 28 But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— 29 I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience? 30 If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks?

31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, 33 just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.

1 Corinthians 10:23-33  

Now, this should not be a point of divide amongst families or church communities.  But as we have been attempting to present to you on a weekly basis, scripture is to be responded to no matter how radical it may appear.  I have compromised in these matters along the way myself.  In fact, in light of a recent post on “The Golden Compass” I am reminded that the decision process with entertainment is very similar to the subject of Halloween.  May our consciences be guided by scripture and nothing less for the Glory of God!

In light of all this, I DO ENCOURAGE YOU to come TONIGHT to our Wild West Fall Fest.  It will be a great time and certainly offer a better environment for our fellowship as well as sharing the gospel with others who may attend from the greater community.  So, come and enjoy and seek out those you do not know. 

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