This is one of my staunchly Christian articles. I really do appreciate some of my friends who read this who do not share my faith, but have been reading my stuff and commenting on it. If you have any questions, I’d be glad to answer. This is more of a “defense” article (I haven’t been attacked, but I’m feeling ornery).
I don’t mean to start a controversy or a fight, but I’d like to briefly explain my thoughts on Halloween.
There are 2 camps within Christian movements.
#1 – Use it as an opportunity to reach the community, get ’em in the doors, etc. Nothing wrong with it, if observed in the right spirit.
#2 – Avoid it at all costs. Those who do not are in the wrong.
I grew up trick or treating. I have fond memories of putting a blanket on my head and running into various objects up and down my street. Of course, it was a different world. Kids weren’t worried about eating razor blades as much in 1983. I actually remember the first year the hospital began x-raying the candy. We did it just for the novelty of it. We didn’t have the concerns about it like we do today, but I digress.
I was at another church tonight with my kids decked out in costumes. It was **packed out** to the point of being nearly unpleasant to be there, because of the huge crowd. But I had to admire the fact that they had the “gumption” to have what has obviously become a huge success numbers wise.
I have to wonder how many people through the years have been reached by that church, even ultimately to the point of being brought in as part of the body.
Do I have any basis for supporting this, biblically?
Why yes, I believe I do.
16 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols.
17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there.
18 A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to dispute with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.
19 Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting?
20 You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we want to know what they mean.”
21 (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)
23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.
28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’
32 When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.”
The way I read this passage, Paul is in a city full of pagans, heathens, whatever label you want to call them. As he is reasoning with them, he uses a bit of imagery that they are familiar with – the statue to an unknown god.
I’ve not done alot of mythological studies in my life (though I have some), but the way I understand it is that some of the city-states in ancient Greece wanted to appease all of their gods. So much so, that they made this statue in order to appease the gods they were unaware of or didn’t know about. Sort of a “just in case we left anyone out” statue, yes?
By christian beliefs then and now, this is idol worship. One of the big no-no’s, and in a very obvious manner. Isn’t there a “10 commandment” about graven images?
The thing I can’t understand and reconcile in my own head is this. Paul, one of the greatest writers, teachers, and general all-around awesome guys in the Bible used something that wasn’t Christian in order to reach those who weren’t Christian. He used an idol as a demonstration in order to tell people about who Christ was. Many Christians today, in the same opportunity, would’ve taken the opportunity to grab an axe, chop the idol’s head off, end up thrown in jail, reaching no one, as long as their conscience was clear and they stood up for their personal belief system. Paul showed us that we should consider closely before dying on hills that weren’t meant to be fought over.
Please do not read me as supporting or endorsing the obviously paganistic roots of Halloween. That’s not the point here. Paul didn’t worship the idol, after all.
I cannot possibly reconcile a legalistic approach to Halloween when the opportunity is out there to engage our community, reaching people, and many of us are flat out completely missing a huge opportunity to smile at the kids, to make a connection with the parents, and maybe, just maybe, even reach a family and see their lives changed. Does legalism trump evangelism?
How can legalism trump evangelism?
It seems that if one was to have a true approach to Halloween that was sound and consistent year round, they would also be against other holidays rituals that may contain pagan roots – and boy, I found plenty – the Christmas Ham, Yule Logs, Anything with the word “Yule”, Mistletoe, Easter Eggs, Easter Bunnies (both symbols of fertility in many ancient religons)…the list can and does go on. I don’t have time to write the book that it would take to do a full set of research on this.
Note, as I was researching this list, I hit a huge number of reference sites that point out the controversies involved by ultra-conservative groups that oppose having Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day, etc. as part of a Christian celebration, claiming that these holidays are not Christian, but rather pagan in origin, and were simply absorbed or adapted into the Christian calendar.
If I’m going to live by a legalistic interpretation of the things around me, I must apply that interpretation to every facet of my life. To do less is to have a wildly varying outlook, dependant solely on my whims and perceptions instead of what the Word of God says is important and is not.
Too many Christians and churches spend so much time, energy, and thoughts avoiding anyone that doesn’t look like them or talk like them, that they forget that those are the people we are supposed to be in the middle of. Christ was.
I cast this rock, knowing a 100 more could be cast back at me for a thousand reasons. But I made no impact tonight for my faith, and I reached no hurting people tonight with hope, and I just don’t like that one bit.