I'm not ready to throw in the towel yet, but that “gloomy Dane,” as he was known, may have been on to something. By the way, pagans, God still loves you!
The Rev. C. L. “Skip” Lindeman
La Cañada Flintridge
If Christians can’t reach a consensus on such essential practices as baptism and communion, then I doubt we’ll ever have a united position on Halloween. Since the Bible doesn’t prohibit children from dressing up in costumes and going door to door to ask for candy, I wouldn’t prohibit it either. I personally believe that a Christian family can enjoy many Halloween traditions without compromising their devotion to Jesus Christ. We certainly have with our kids over the years.
In the early days of the church, Christians disagreed on which kinds of foods were moral to eat (offered to idols, or not). Paul’s answer was: “accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions.... Let each man be fully convinced in his own mind” (Romans 14:1, 5). On biblical non-specifics, Holy Spirit-directed conscience should be our guide. If I feel guilty celebrating Halloween traditions, I shouldn’t participate.
I believe Halloween has lost much of its pagan roots in our culture, much as Christmas trees have. But Christian participants still need to use discretion and caution. Many people emphasize the satanic/demonic in their Halloween decorations; others focus on violence and gore. During my lifetime these emphases have greatly intensified. Such focus on spiritual darkness can lead the undiscerning down a destructive path. And it is unquestionably wrong for Christians to endorse or encourage such things. Whatever the occasion, the Bible urges us: “Set your mind on the things above” (Colossians 3:2). Here’s a Christian Halloween thought: The dead will rise in Christ at his return, with glory, and not gore.
Pastor Jon Barta
Valley Baptist Church
Does Halloween really deserve this much attention? My threshold for major holidays includes a paid day off work, for starters. Halloween is the evening of a single day, no matter how hard retailers try to get us to spend Labor Day until the end of October purchasing seasonal gimcracks.
Next, and yes, it feels weird to uphold tradition, but when did Halloween become anything other than children wearing costumes, having some mildly scary fun, and, most important, getting lots of candy?
Back in my youth during the Jurassic, in the fall, before snow started falling on my 10-mile barefooted walk to school, my tiny town held a community event on Halloween night very like the Montrose “Spooktacular.”
The night before was “beggar's night,” for trick-or-treating in addition to on Halloween. Logistically talented kids, especially if a parent or sibling would drive us, could cover the entire town and many of the surrounding farms, and cadge a pillowcase full of candy, enough to last us until Christmas.
Churches were completely uninvolved, as I recall. Certainly ours had zero Halloween programming. I think I would have noticed if a group of kids in a town of numerous churches weren't participating for religious reasons in this equal-opportunity tooth-rotting.
Our congregation would have been otherwise engaged, getting ready for “Harvest Home,” a pre-Thanksgiving gathering of food to donate to the county home and an area orphanage. (Told you it was the Jurassic.)
The Luther League would have been busy with a big hayride with a neighboring youth group, for variety in the gene pool. Our choir had to start working on extra music for Advent mid-week services.
I assume churches have even busier schedules nowadays. Plus I see my religious friends with a full plate of comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable, pushing for economic justice, ending wars, promoting the spiritual over shopping year-round, little things like that. Who has time to fuss about a minor holiday with a history including both sacred and secular elements?
Can Christianity come to terms with Halloween, which may or may not have lost its pagan roots? Who cares? Now please pass me the candy bowl so I can pick out the dark chocolates.