Review of Religions | October 2018
While Halloween is being celebrated across the globe this week, we thought it would be interesting to hear from a Christian perspective on this holiday.
As a child I grew up in a household where my parents would have called themselves Christians and yet only attending church to have their children baptised, or go to a wedding or funeral. They sent me to a Christian school and I am most grateful for that.
My childhood memories of Halloween are of carving a face into pumpkin and placing a candle inside it. I had no concept of what the significance of this was. We would have baked potatoes, sausages and beans for our evening meal shared with neighbours and friends. I believe very few people would have known the meaning of what they were doing. This celebration changed very little for many years.
Most Christian and non-Christian children celebrating Halloween are dressed up in costumes.
The first time I encountered the Halloween we have now come to know in the United Kingdom was on a trip to the United States a number of years ago. I was there during their Halloween celebrations and what I experienced there troubled me greatly. I became a committed Christian forty years ago and it was only then that I began to see the world through very different eyes. The site of houses decorated with symbols of death and children dressed up as skeletons and wearing awful masks shocked me to my core. Now I have watched our country, gripped by this worship of spiritual darkness, decline into the same place as America.
My main concern is that many church going Christians are allowing their children to be affected by this because of the peer pressure which is rife in our schools. Opening up their children to all sorts of dangers because they believe it is harmless fun! They are feeding their children’s minds with fear and giving them a distorted view of what Halloween represents. Many do not even know that our Christian roots reveal that Halloween is so called because it was the day where prayers were said for hallowed (or holy) people who have died.
The actual day of Halloween is called All Souls Day where prayers are said for all souls who have died. This tradition began in the Catholic Church where it is still very important but many of the Protestant Churches do not recognise it at all. According to Catholic belief, the soul of a person who dies can go to one of three places. The first is heaven, where a person who dies in a state of perfect grace and communion with God goes, for example the saints. The second is hell, where those who die in a state of mortal sin are naturally condemned by their choice. The intermediate option is purgatory, which is thought to be where most people, free of mortal sin, but still in a state of lesser (venial) sin, must go. Purgatory is necessary so that souls can be cleansed and perfected before they enter into heaven. Consistent with these teachings and traditions, Catholics believe that through the prayers of the faithful on Earth, the dead are cleansed of their sins so they may enter into heaven.
Unfortunately even the Catholic Church is not exempt from corruption as some churches in the past have used this to raise money for the church. They were called indulgences which were sold as a spiritual pardon to the poor and applied to the souls of the dead (or the living) to buy people a place in heaven. This shows that none are above deception and temptation.
Fortunately there are many Christian churches and organisations working to reverse the ill effects that Halloween has brought into our world. They now organise Light Parties and introduce children to a different way to celebrate. World Vision is a charity involved in this work and they also have an antidote to the Trick or Treat craze. They give away, free of charge, ‘Bags of Hope’ which contain a Bible-based storybook and activity sheet. Christians who take up this opportunity only have to cover the cost of the postage to have them delivered. On the front of these bags there is a picture of a pumpkin with a smiling and happy face which takes me back to the innocence of my childhood. These bags enable Christians, who have children knock on their door, to introduce them to a loving God and His ways. It also gives them an opportunity to keep these children and their parents in their prayers and then trust that these families will seek God and follow Him.
Another aspect of Trick or treat which troubles me is that these children are trying to manipulate people into giving them sweet treats. We are now being warned that our children’s health is in danger because of the volume of sugar we now consume. Obesity, rotting teeth and general bad health are a few of the dangers they have to face. I know from experience that sugar can be addictive and I thank God that I have been released from that. Parents would be horrified if their children were addicted to any other substance and yet they, and many churches, use sweet treats to reward their children on so many occasions. Fortunately there are those who are now working to educate people who are totally unaware of this hidden threat to our children’s future.
History shows us that whatever God does He does in the light but the powers of darkness will always try to produce a counterfeit to deceive us and lead us astray. We must remain in His Light for the darkness cannot overcome the smallest spark of light.
For me the worst part of all that goes on at Halloween is that it is being used to keep children in the bondage of fear instead the freedom and innocence of childhood. May our Lord bless all those who work to bring His Light into the darkness of what Halloween has now become!
About the Author: Brenda Benton has worked in a worldwide interdenominational women’s ministry, serving as a chapter president, and has been a public speaker for over 20 years, which has taken her as far as Canada and the US.