In 2018, Americans will spend $9 billion on Halloween. 175 million Americans are expected to participate, down from the record 179 million who participated in 2017.

The last 100 years, Halloween has gradually become a national event, celebrated now by statesmen and workmen alike. Beginning with the Eisenhowers, American Presidents commemorated this holiday.

After Halloween 2017, the Business Insider recounted,

The White House transformed from a grandiose building into a haunted spectacle to celebrate Halloween eve on Monday. Giant spiders and their webs hung from the walls as Jack O’Lanters featuring the faces of previous presidents were scattered across the garden.

How should a Christian respond to Halloween?

American Christianity has long been plagued by the deadly sacred/secular divide. This sacred/secular divide claims that God speaks on Sunday mornings, but says nothing about the activities of the rest of the week, whether they be education, work, family life, or entertainment.

However, II Timothy 3:16-17 emphatically proclaims that all of God’s Word is sufficient and authoritative for all of life. Therefore, as Christians we should carefully examine the origins, symbols, and message of Halloween from a Biblical perspective.

In this post, we’ll begin by exploring the origin and meaning of Halloween. Next, we’ll outline how a Christian should Biblically think regarding Halloween. Last, we’ll describe the holiday christians should really be celebrating.

Where Did Halloween Come From?

Halloween’s sinister origins have been well-documented by both secular and Christian sources.

According history.com,

Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1.

This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31 they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.

In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.

To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes.

When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.

The Encyclopedia of Religion states,

On this occasion, it was believed that a gathering of supernatural forces occurred as during no other period of the year. The eve and day of Samhain were characterized as a time when the barriers between the human and supernatural worlds were broken. Otherworldly entities, such as the souls of the dead, were able to visit earthly inhabitants, and humans could take the opportunity to penetrate the domains of the gods and supernatural creatures.

Fiery tributes and sacrifices of animals, crops, and possibly human beings were made to appease supernatural powers who controlled the fertility of the land … Samhain acknowledged the entire spectrum of nonhuman forces that roamed the earth during the period (pp. 176-177).

Eventually, the Catholic Church adopted Halloween as “All Hallows Eve,” thus “Christianizing” the Holiday. In the 1800s, this Celebration came to America, where it evolved to its modern state.

Halloween Today

Today, as one of the top three days for Satanists, Halloween is to many Satanists what Christmas or Resurrection Day is to Christians. Indeed Anton LaVey, founder of the Church of Satan, once remarked, “I am glad that Christian parents let their children worship the devil at least one night out of the year. Welcome to Halloween.”

John Ramirez, a former Satanist and animal sacrificer, who once called himself “Lucifer’s son” and “a general to the kingdom of darkness,” strongly believes that Halloween is Satanic, dark, and evil, regardless of how one participates in it. He has these strong words to say,

We are quick on our feet to rush and honor the devil in so many ways. We see no harm in Halloween, because we think it is fun. We paint our faces, we wear our innocent costumes, we dress up our doorways—even churches dress up their entryways for Halloween with pumpkins. These actions are like giving the devil license, saying, “Here’s my church. You can have it.”

We think because we are not performing any demonic rituals or human sacrifices that we are on safe ground, but did you know that as soon as you dress up, whether you color yourself or put on a costume, the enemy owns you? Because by doing so, you have turned over your legal rights, and you have dedicated yourself and your kids to celebrating the devil’s holiday. You have just made a pact with the enemy, and you are already sacrificing your children spiritually by dressing them up and changing their identity.

Ramirez believes that Christians who celebrate Halloween could be opening themselves up to demonic activity, even if those same Christians are unaware of Halloween’s dark side.

What Does God’s Word Say Regarding Halloween’s Message?

Christ told His disciples, “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” I Thessalonians 5:22 warns Christians, “Abstain from all appearance of evil.”

Celtic origin and modern celebration by Satanists aside, the mascots of Halloween include zombies, skeletons, spiders, death, and darkness. In contrast, the Bible celebrates life, light, truth, and freedom in Christ. As you read the following verses, ask yourself, what message is being proclaimed through Halloween? Does this message most glorify Christ or glorify Satan?

Darkness vs. Light

John 3:19-21 says, “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.”

Ephesians 5:11 commands,” And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.”

Does the message of Halloween most celebrate darkness or light?

Life vs. Death

“The thief cometh not but for to kill, and to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

Does Halloween’s message most celebrate life or death?

What Should Christians Should Do on October 31? 

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his ninety-five theses to the church door in Wurtenburg Germany, sparking a wave of reformation across Europe. For his stand, he was persecuted and excommunicated by the Roman Catholic Church.

Though by no means a perfect man, Luther’s commitment to understand and obey God’s Word is one every Christian should emulate.

Before Emperor Charles V, Luther boldly proclaimed, “My conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe…. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen.”

Reformation Day, October 31, should be a day for American Christians to bow before Christ the King and His Word in a spirit of humility, revival, and brokenness. It must be a day in which we evaluate every area of our lives by God’s perfect, holy, and eternal Word.

With broken Daniel, may we cry out to God,

O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments; We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments” (Daniel 9:3-5).

May we then claim His promise that “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9).

While Satanists pay homage to the Prince of darkness, may we humbly kneel before the King of Kings and Lord of lords, recognizing that He who has died for us is worthy alone of our sincere worship, heartfelt service, and faithful obedience.

Question: How can we use Halloween as an opportunity to draw closer to God, proclaim His gospel, and denounce the Prince of darkness?

Recommended Reading

Halloween: A Celebration of Evil

Is Halloween Evil? Why Witches, Occultists and Satanists Celebrate Halloween and Why You Should Not

Categories: Worldview

18 Comments

Chad · October 23, 2018 at 3:17 pm

Definitely agree with your perspective, thanks for this post.

Chad · October 23, 2018 at 4:09 pm

I think that the strength of 175 million Americans celebrating Halloween directly speaks to the lack of strength of Christian values in the United States.

    Joshua Bontrager · October 24, 2018 at 6:37 am

    Chad,

    And it also means that we as salt and light have our work cut out for us. God desires all humans to worship Him. It is our job to point others to Christ through His Word and the gospel.

Elizabeth · October 23, 2018 at 9:43 pm

This is also an opportunity to share the gospel.

    Joshua Bontrager · October 24, 2018 at 6:36 am

    Elizabeth,

    Yes. Amen! We can use this time to point others to the Prince of Life so that they may be turned “from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God.”

    What do you think are some practical ways we could share the gospel during Halloween season?

Lenny Anderson · October 24, 2018 at 7:33 am

Unfortunately your understanding and view of this holiday is lacking in most professing church goers. Its not surprising that modern christianity has embraced this along with other things to try to be like the world to try to win the world. On October 31st churches will have their party’s rationalizing this wickedness and will never even think about it. I believe this shows the true depth of a church and person’s daily commitment and also their belief in Christ not only now but in everyday life. What you believe or think about Jesus Christ will always effect the way you live life. What you do with Halloween just exposes a bit of the heart. May we pray for repentance and may the true church who is the Bride of Christ, who are filled with His love, hold up the banner of Truth during this holiday season and boldly proclaim the Gospel.

    Joshua Bontrager · October 27, 2018 at 11:30 am

    Lenny,

    Spot on. You said, “What you believe or think about Jesus Christ will always affect the way you live life.” Christ said, “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” We display our true beliefs through our actions.

Chad · October 24, 2018 at 8:25 am

The other day I was walking in the mall. I overheard a conversation going on at the Jewelry pagoda. Customers were talking with the the worker about how they live in a real live haunted house with real ghosts and that how at Halloween they use their house as a haunted house for customers. The worker acted like it was cool and interesting. When they left I approached the worker and asked what they were taking about, which led to talking about her personal experience with ghosts, which led to that they might be just demonic spirits not ghosts, which led to her personal experience with Christianity, which led to where her personal walk with Christ is now, to where her family was at with their faith. We talked about a broad topic of things. Her past drug use, problems in her past denomination, problems with her family. Her husband and her being unequally yoked (her voluntary admission). In each I tried to bring the biblical perspective and at the same time encourage her. Everyday is an opportunity. I don’t personally think that taking the Holiday of Halloween and trying to turn it into something Christiany is the way to go. We have tried that throughout history and it never seems to work. It makes me wonder how if this country was established by Pigrims, Puritans, and Quakers and founded by Christian men how we got Halloween here in the United States as a custom that was brought in from elsewhere in the 1800’s and that it took off and grew into what it is now. There is obviously some bending and catering to the worldly and the secular going on and what’s more it crosses over from worldly to demonic even. People might say that just because I do something worldly it doesn’t mean that I am a satan worshiper. Or just because I celebrate Halloween doesn’t mean i am serving satan. But when thinking about 1 John, it was painting a picture to me. That we are either practicing righteousness or we are missing the mark. If we are not practicing righteousness then we are a law of our own and we are practicing lawlessness. It seemed to paint no middle ground, no neutral. By not practicing righteousness, by following my own desires and my own ideas of what is ok or not ok, by going the way of the world because it seems harmless, or because my reasons for doing something (Halloween) are better than someone else’s reasons for doing the same thing, or because I am just trying to use something evil for a good purpose. It seemed to say that missing the mark is serving satan’s purposes. Something either serves God or it serves satan. This is just my perspective.

Rachel · October 24, 2018 at 10:59 am

Thanks Josh, I really appreciate your post! I have never celebrated Halloween, but never took the time to research why I didn’t…so thanks 😀
In reply to a question you asked in one of the above comments: one of the ways that we share the gospel is to leave our entry-way light on on October 31st and instead of just handing out candy to the kids that came, we also would hand out gospel tracts. Back when some of my other siblings + cousins were teens, we got dressed up on October 31st. We took gospel tracts and DVDs and instead of only taking candy…we would hand out those gospel tracts + DVDs to all the people that were handing out candy to trick or treaters. I know not all Christians I know thought it was a good idea (some were actually against it and if you disagree with me that’s okay 😀) but hey, it’s the one day out of the year that people actually want us to come to there doors. (Any other day, they will probably think we are Mormons or J.W’s if we go door to door handing out tracts and sharing the gospel.)

    Joshua Bontrager · October 27, 2018 at 11:29 am

    Rachel,

    Thanks for using this day as an opportunity to share the gospel!

Hannah · October 24, 2018 at 1:01 pm

Great post. Thank you for taking the time to write it. My family doesn’t celebrate Halloween any more and sometimes I can’t imagine why we did in the first place.

Elizabeth · October 24, 2018 at 1:30 pm

My favorite Bible verse is the one that says when we dress up in a costume or color ourselves that the enemy owns us and we’ve made a pact with the Devil.

Chad · October 24, 2018 at 2:26 pm

Another thought is that there are also Christians that do not believe in Halloween or believe in celebrating Halloween but at the same time do not mind raising and harvesting pumpkins specifically to make profits and capitalize off of the Halloween industry, selling truckload after truckload after truckload, with almost all of which going into the hands of Halloweeners. So they are not celebrating or making anybody celebrate but they sure are making lots of money off of those who do. I personally do not believe in this form of capitalism. I don’t think it’s right.

Grace F. · October 24, 2018 at 9:14 pm

I don’t believe in celebrating Halloween; however, I am a volunteer at a Good News Club (public school ministry), and I am the “grade shepherd” for 5th grade. The kids always want to know if it’s right or wrong to celebrate Halloween, and although most of them do celebrate it, they all have their own ideas as to what Halloween is (and none of them are good – even kids recognize the evil in it). Because having a Bible club in a public school is already such a big deal, we have to be extremely careful what we say about these things so we don’t get in trouble. I don’t really know how to respond and I’d love to be better equipped to handle all the Halloween talk. Thoughts? Thanks for tackling these hard + controversial topics!

    Joshua Bontrager · October 27, 2018 at 11:28 am

    Grace,

    Thanks for ministering to the kids through the Good News Club! Christ said, “Be ye wise as serpents, and harmless (or innocent) as doves.” Your challenge is to disciple and evangelize these kids with God’s Word, which speaks to all of life, while striving to retain the influence you have with them.

    Here’s an idea I have. Especially for the kids who recognize the evil in Halloween, you could ask them questions like the following, either in a group or individual setting: “How do you feel about Halloween?” “Is Halloween good or evil?” “Why do you think it’s good or evil?” “What’s good or evil about it?”

    You might then explain how Halloween is a perfect example of the contrast between our God, who is life and light, and Satan, who is darkness and death. Maybe you could use it to transition into the differences between Satan and the God of the Bible and how Christ came to set us free from sin, death, and darkness (everything celebrated in Halloween).

    Definitely pray for wisdom to best communicate God’s truth in the public schools!

Laura · October 27, 2018 at 2:54 pm

During this season, we like to celebrate Fall and Thanksgiving, the abundance of harvest and God’s creation. We see nothing wrong with going to wholesome farm pumpkin patches with hay rides and bringing home some pumpkins to decorate the front porch (uncarved so we can eat them later!)
On Halloween, our children would dress up as something innocent such as a bunny rabbit or cowboy and trick-or-treat in our street with the other children. This was 30 years ago, so maybe things have gotten worse, but back then it was fairly harmless. We definitely discussed not liking the scary parts of Halloween and how Jesus is our protector against Evil.

Chad · November 3, 2018 at 12:10 pm

With Halloween past and the sale racks of Halloween candy and half price Halloween costumes going, I saw many Christian leaders supporting and not shunning Halloween. One reason that was given in support of Halloween by Christian leaders was kind of a philosophical and cultural argument. That whether something is ok or not has nothing to do with what purpose or use the thing was started for or who even started it (pagan or non pagan), but instead the only thing that matters is what the thing is being used for currently. If the reason of Halloween now is not evil for purposes and it’s relatively harmless then there is nothing wrong with it. I’ve seen scripture used like Paul’s letter to the Corinthians about food offered to idols that if you buy it the market place then it is ok. And I’ve heard Christian liberty as the validation for partaking in Halloween. All this has a sound of it being authorized by scripture because it sounds so sweet and smooth and they stop there and say it’s all good, let’s go get some costumes and candy it will be fun and it’s harmless. At this point what do I say to Christian Halloween participants of which there are many? Some would say that if that bible does not say that we can’t then that is the same as permission. Some would say that is just harmless fun. So, I guess when it all comes down to it, I say to all…….
Who do these things serve? We have a Christian call to die to self, are we living up to this call when we go after harmless fun for ourselves and are we teaching our children then same? “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me…”. It’s no longer about us, we are dead. It is now longer about my rights, my independence, and my own ideas. It’s about us giving up our rights and becoming a bondservants of Christ and slaves to righteousness. So I guess if we can say that as Christ’s Brother and also His Special Bride that Halloween does these things and celebrates Jesus’s work on the cross then partake in Halloween. If we can say with a clear conscience that by trick or treating or by providing to those who do that we are identifying with Jesus’s crucifixion where He gave up all of His rights for us, then go ahead partake. If we can say that the Creator of the Universe and the King of Heaven and Earth set His rights aside and came and died a tortuous criminal’s death so we could freely celebrate Halloween then go ahead, do it. If you don’t feel this way, then don’t.

Anonymous · November 19, 2018 at 3:48 pm

Does your family do anything differently on Halloween?

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