Sunday, October 21, 2007

A question about Halloween

I’d like to know your opinion about how Christians should approach Halloween.

Some see it as a pagan event to be shunned entirely. Some feel like it is safe to participate from afar – at church or a church-sponsored program. Some see it as a chance to evangelize those who come to their door. Some feel comfortable joining in the revelry without qualification.

I’d especially like your opinion about evangelizing those who come to your door. Lately I’ve been thinking about evangelism more like it were a tag-team match or relay race. The people I interact with, even those I share the gospel with, may not come to Christ today or tomorrow or next year, but they may eventually come to Christ, and my contribution may well be an important step in that process.

My quandary is whether evangelizing trick-or-treaters is taking part in the relay or dropping the baton. What I don’t want is to teach the couple of dozen kids that come to my door on Halloween that Christians are weirdoes and party poopers. I don’t want to be the guy who ruins every party with an Amway pitch because he not only makes people dislike him but also Amway.

So does evangelizing trick-or-treaters do good or harm? I’d like to know what you think.

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Some useful resources I've found:
Here's an article at Stand to Reason. (It may require a free login.)
Here's an article from the Christian Research Institute.

11 comments:

Nicest Girl said...

I am not a Christian, so I apologize that I can not give you an answer to your advice, but I did want to say...

Halloween is not, actually, a pagan religious holiday in America.

Here is a brief history:

Behind the name... Halloween, or the Hallow E'en as they call it in Ireland , means All Hallows Eve, or the night before the 'All Hallows', also called 'All Hallowmas', or 'All Saints', or 'All Souls' Day, observed on November 1. In old English the word 'Hallow' meant 'sanctify'. Roman Catholics, Episcopalians and Lutherians used to observe All Hallows Day to honor all Saints in heaven, known or unknown. They used to consider it with all solemnity as one of the most significant observances of the Church year. And Catholics, all and sundry, was obliged to attend Mass. The Romans observed the holiday of Feralia, intended to give rest and peace to the departed. Participants made sacrifices in honor of the dead, offered up prayers for them, and made oblations to them. The festival was celebrated on February 21, the end of the Roman year. In the 7th century, Pope Boniface IV introduced All Saints' Day to replace the pagan festival of the dead. It was observed on May 13. Later, Gregory III changed the date to November 1. The Greek Orthodox Church observes it on the first Sunday after Pentecost. Despite this connection with the Roman Church, the American version of Halloween Day celebration owes its origin to the ancient (pre-Christian) Druidic fire festival called "Samhain", celebrated by the Celts in Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Samhain is pronounced "sow-in", with "sow" rhyming with cow. In Ireland the festival was known as Samhein, or La Samon, the Feast of the Sun. In Scotland, the celebration was known as Hallowe'en. In Welsh it's Nos Galen-gaeof (that is, the Night of the Winter Calends. According to the Irish English dictionary published by the Irish Texts Society: "Samhain, All Hallowtide, the feast of the dead in Pagan and Christian times, signalizing the close of harvest and the initiation of the winter season, lasting till May, during which troops (esp. the Fiann) were quartered. Faeries were imagined as particularly active at this season. From it the half year is reckoned. also called Feile Moingfinne (Snow Goddess).(1) The Scottish Gaelis Dictionary defines it as "Hallowtide. The Feast of All Soula. Sam + Fuin = end of summer."(2) Contrary to the information published by many organizations, there is no archaeological or literary evidence to indicate that Samhain was a deity. The Celtic Gods of the dead were Gwynn ap Nudd for the British, and Arawn for the Welsh. The Irish did not have a "lord of death" as such. Thus most of the customs connected with the Day are remnants of the ancient religious beliefs and rituals, first of the Druids and then transcended amongst the Roman Christians who conquered them.

From: The Holiday Spot

Hope that helps.

e-Mom said...

I like your blog. You have a lot of serious thought going on here.

As for Halloween, maybe the old adage applies, "love the sinner but hate the sin." I think we should and can communicate love to Halloween revellers, without joining in with the occultish aspects. Jesus managed to balance holy living and dining with sinners. So should we. Blessings.

ChrisB said...

e-mom,

Thanks for the kind words.

As for Halloween, I guess part of my conundrum is that I'm not sure Halloween is really "occultish" for most people.

And, of course, how do we communicate love to our neighbors in this?

Jay Adkins said...

Great post! I made a few posts a couple of years ago on this very topic, one of which you can find here: Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?, if you're interested.

I hope this helps a little.

Blessings,

Jay

Steven (website manager for incpu.blogspot.com) said...

Hello, Great question!

My name is Steven Henry and I'm a follower of Christ and my family and I pray for our nation and actively share the gospel with people as much as we can.

One good way to tell if 'Halloween' is good or not is to examine the mood and what is being celebrated... As I study God's Word, I see that God celebrates life and He is life, while sin brought death and Jesus said that Satan has been a murder from the beginning... So, as I look around, I notice how many people celebrate death and violence at this time and I know that doesn't please God, it just adds to the pains and miseries of life. Jesus said: " The thief comes to steal, kill and to destroy, but I have come that they may have life and have it more abundantly " (John 10:10. Also, as a soul-winner, I have been noticing how there almost seems to be an antagonism to the preaching of the gospel around this time... I think that's a thought worth considering... so for myself, I don't participate in those type of activities ~ However, I think this is a wonderful time to give out gospel tracts with some small candy and such! We especially like the tracts at http://www.livingwaters.com because they are unique, creative and work great as conversation starters or even just to give to people...

I don't know if that made any sense, but I hope something there helped...

your friend and a servant of Christ, Steven

MilePost13 said...

Here's how we approach it: http://trunkortreatobx.com/

Jeff Gill said...

I'm not a big fan of passing out tracts for Halloween. I am a big fan of trick-or-treating. I also think Halloween is a great time to connect with people. I wrote about that subject just a few days ago: Halloween: the Christian's second most important holiday

(Also, please forgive my posting a link to my own blog on my very first visit to yours.
And, I found you via the BlogRush widget)

Prayer Warrior - Matt said...

It's probably very simple to know whether Halloween is good or not. Just take a look at it's fruit. I don't see much healthy good fruit coming out of Halloween. I only see death and horror. Not any good fruit there. Sure there are some "harmless" outfits and fun, but the majority of it is based on fear, and it's not the holy godly kind of fear.

Galatians 5:22,23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

We need to love those that are involved with Halloween and give them the Gospel in love and in truth.

Lord Jesus, I pray that we come closer to You and not be led into a path that dishonors You. We love You and need to follow You completely. Help us to give Your Gospel to all those around us and show them Your love, but not to compromise our walk with You in any way. In Your perfect name I pray this prayer Jesus, Amen.

Annette said...

hmm... a pandora's box it is, to ask questions about Hallowe'en. I find, like you do, people are either for it, or definitely against it.

As for evangelizing trick or treaters. You could do a tract --- while making sure you give decent treats. You could say something like "God bless you as you go around tonight" Doesn't have to be in your face evangelism, just something that makes mention of the one we serve.

For most people (non-christians mostly)... Hallowe'en is just candy and fun. That's all. For others it isn't. Does it have some "icky" overtones? Well yeah...gives Hollywood a reason to produce scary movies. The media encourages the "ickiness". Does that mean that it's all wrong?

That's like saying we can't do Easter or Christmas because somewhere in it all you'll find something that's not so good about those days either...if you look into the history of it all.

Let others know you are a believer. Keep your heart open to them. And bless them on their way. :)

ModMomMuse said...

I posted this on http://www.challies.com/

For twelve months I have lived in close community with the families in our townhouse neighborhood. I have made every effort to serve Christ through my behavior in loving them, and serving them as possible—meals for a new widow, meals for a new momma. I watch one family’s children an hour every week, tutor another’s. When an emergency arises, I have been the “safe home” for children and adults alike. None of this has been with my permission, but all by God’s prompting, and even pressing. For me to lock up the house, disappear and shut all the lights off would be anomalous. The neighbors, who see me active in the community every day, would think I was ill! They would be concerned for me. I do not think that would in any way testify to my faith. It is the daily acting out of my faith, including praying for and with these families, that is a true measure of how I serve God, not a closed-door policy one day a year.
Those people who close themselves up once a year…is your door open the other 364 days? It is a very different approach to loving your neighbor as yourself, and I just don’t get it. With a happy greeting & good treats I will love the children in this cluster with whom we daily interact and play—they should feel no shame for having fun on this exciting night that holds the energy of a mini prom! They know nothing of historical significance—only that it’s an outdoor costume party! I want to see their costumes, love them and continue the relationship we have established. It’s a bad day to be cold and hard.

Jon said...

A little late on the reply, here, but if you read this...

Halloween has as much to do with paganism as Christmas has to do with Jesus.