Trick or Treat?

What is the biblical perspective about this ever-popular October night? Join our guest blogger, Brian Miller, as he presents his findings on things a Christian should consider if embracing the practices of this “fall festival.” But you don’t have to take our word for it; apply Acts 17:11, and search the Scriptures to see whether these things are so.
It’s a question that likely will be repeated ad nauseam at a front door near you very soon.
It’s also a question that any serious follower of Christ ought to give thoughtful consideration to regarding this pagan celebration. Is Halloween a harmless treat, or is it a potentially dangerous trick?
 Let’s start with some of the stats on Halloween.

Did you know. . .

… 69 percent of Americans say they will celebrate Halloween this year, up from 65 percent last year?
 … those celebrating will spend a record $10.6 billion on Halloween this year? That’s right, billion with a “b.” That averages to more than $100/person!
… Halloween is the third largest “party” event of the year, surpassed by only New Year’s Eve and the Super Bowl?
In other words, nearly 7 out of every 10 Americans celebrate Halloween, and it is big business.

But it's harmless, right?

Isn't it just carving pumpkins or getting the kids dressed up as their favorite superhero or princess or animal or fictional character and going door-to-door collecting candy. Adults dress up, too, and attend costume parties and have a little fun. No harm, no foul.
My first personal memory of Halloween was at an aunt and uncle’s house when I was quite young, probably three or four. My youngest aunt, then a teenager, was dressed up as Raggedy Ann and was going trick-or-treating. I recall that I was terrified―probably of the scary costumes―and hid under the kitchen table that night.
I think we may have carved pumpkins one year when I was a little boy, and when I was in elementary school, my brothers and I prevailed upon our parents to go to a community Halloween party at the local gym. But as I grew up, my parents’ convictions about Halloween must have stiffened, because I don’t ever remember celebrating it in any form after that, other than buying clearance candy the following week.
Never a fan of Halloween or horror movies, I always considered it my least favorite “holiday” as a teen and young adult – it’s not a holiday, by the way … yet. I spent most Halloween nights with my lights off to discourage trick-or-treaters. I was to Halloween what Scrooge was to Christmas.
But somewhere along the line, I got my arm twisted to dress up and attend an adult Halloween shindig one year, and after that, I thought it was pretty fun to be someone else for an evening and have a good ol’ time. I dressed up as my favorite football player one year, a music star I resembled another, and there were other costumes that I look back at with bemusement, but more accurately, shame.
You see, those―what my carnal mind considered―innocent parties were far from.

I Corinthians 10:31 
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

There certainly was not any glorification of God involved. There was plenty of glorification of self. And ungodly behavior. And in hindsight, pagan and occult practices.

But getting back to taking kids trick-or-treating―there’s nothing wrong with that, right?
“For a Christian to celebrate Halloween would be as proper as a Holocaust survivor trying to celebrate Hitler’s birthday.” Those were the words of Pat Matrisciana, the late founder of Jeremiah Films, one of which was Halloween: Trick or Treat?
That was just one of the resources I encountered when I had the idea of writing about the pagan occult origins of Halloween this week (and after I had already written the lede to this article). The inspiration came after listening to the late Dr. Chuck Missler’s two-part presentation Halloween: Invitation to the Occult? on his YouTube channel (Koinonia House) recently. 
Let me say this: I couldn’t even begin to describe the rabbit hole down which I ended up going, but here’s the briefest synopsis.

A Short History Lesson

Halloween traces its roots to the pagan Celtic celebration of the dead, Samhain, which began on the night of October 31. Samhain was a “threshold” festival, during which it was believed the boundary between this world and the “otherworld” thinned and allowed for spirits to easily pass between them. The festival involved divination, ancestor worship, costumes to disguise oneself from those spirits, and other occult practices. Samhain is still celebrated today by neo-pagans and wiccans.
In the ninth century, the Roman Catholic Church endorsed November 1 as “All Saints’ Day” (or All Hallows’ Day) to either replace or coincide with Samhain, and later November 2 became “All Souls’ Day.” Over time, those two celebrations influenced and were influenced by Samhain. Eventually, they syncretized to become the precursor of the modern Halloween celebration.
Halloween was not celebrated in the United States until the latter 19th century, when it was brought here by the influx of (especially) Irish and Scottish immigrants. It has since grown to become one of the most popular events of the year in this country.
Seemingly innocent Halloween symbols and traditions such as jack-o’-lanterns, black cats, broomsticks, costumes, apple dunking, trick or treat, skulls, bonfires, ghosts―the list goes on―all have roots in pagan sorcery, witchcraft, even Satanism.
I’ve only barely skimmed the surface on this topic, but I will say this:

The occult is real, and it’s dangerous, malevolent, and deceitful. These are powerful, sentient beings who use the seemingly innocent to maim and to claim far too many. Halloween is an opportune time to entrap the undiscerning. I was once naïve and easy prey myself.

Ephesians 6:12
 
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

A Berean Challenge (Acts 17:11)

This is not to say that each of us cannot make our own decision regarding the celebration of Halloween, trick-or-treating, pumpkin-carving and the like, but I would encourage parents especially to be aware of its troubling history and potential perils. And don’t take my word for it―do your own research and prayerfully consider it.
There are ways Christians can take what is meant for evil and use it for good. Some churches use this evening to host an alternative activity as an outreach to the community. It's a good night to hand out not just candy, but gospel tracts. Dr. Missler encouraged putting on a play―Saul and the witch of Endor is one good topical story, and Martin Luther, who sparked the Reformation when he nailed his 95 theses―not coincidentally on Oct. 31―to the Wittenberg Castle church door some 505 years ago, is another.
To God alone be the glory, and I thank Him for His grace and mercy towards me when I could not see.
Author Bio:
Brian Miller is a longtime newspaper columnist and freelance writer. He and his wife Bethany, a fellow “preacher’s kid” (and talented musician and chef) split their time between Eveleth, MN, and South Padre Island, TX. Brian seeks to use lessons learned in his life of God’s unchanging love, grace, mercy, and faithfulness to bring hope to others who may be struggling. The Millers are seeking God’s guidance for future ministry opportunities and appreciate your prayers. You may write to him at bd1976@pm.me.

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