R4E130826 – Halloween (Special Days Study Lesson) by Douglas Jacoby
1 What Is Wrong With Halloween
2 What Is Right With Halloween
3 What Is The Conclusion On Halloween
- Last fling before All Saints Day (All Hallows Evening)
- During the 8th century in the diocese of Rome, Pope Gregory III moved All Saints Day to November 1, officially designating October 31 “All Hallows Eve,” as people would be celebrating anyway. This is a common pattern in church history: coopting pagan celebrations.
- Irish traditions — to the U.S. during the immigration influx spurred by the potato famine of the 1840s.
- Samhain (pronounced “sah-win”), which means end of summer (warm weather), and also the time when the veil between our world and the world of the spirits is especially thin. It is a dangerous time.
- Bonfires — ward off spirits of the dead.
- Pumpkin carving (turnips) — Jack-o’-lanterns–to frighten the spirits.
- Wearing of costumes to confuse the evil spirits.
- This has become a highly divisive issue among Christians.
What’s wrong with Halloween
- Crass commercialism.
- Desensitization to the gory and the gruesome.
- Satanism (Galatians 5:20). Wiccans and Satanists, following parts of the old European religions, mark the day.
- The observance may suggest that the dark world is trivial, or even non-existent.
Multiple pagan roots
- Deuteronomy 18:10-12 — Well, is Halloween a time for real witchcraft, human sacrifice, or sorcery?
- Thursday — rename it “day five”?
- The 13th floor — boycott hotels that make allowances for this irrational fear?
- Christmas trees, Easter eggs, etc — abstain?
- Halloween: midway between a costume party and poking fun at the dark side.
- Not to say there is no dark side, or it is to be trifled with.
- Which is why there is such a range of opinions on this matter.
What’s right about Halloween
- God wants us to be able to celebrate life (John 10:10).
- This celebration brings unbelievers to our doorstep: an evangelistic opportunity (“all things to all men,” 1 Corinthians 9:22).
- Unfazed, believers can be confident even in the face of evil.
- So is there a balance, a golden mean between observance and non-observance that will please everyone?
The principle of moderation
- We should not seek moderation between vice and virtue — the ancient Greek notion of moderation. Christianity does not make moral compromises.
- A costume party is okay, but not when you begin to believe you are the character your costume indicates.
- Candy okay, but not when children gorge themselves with it and eventually drift into Type II diabetes.
- The celebration of the morbid and the satanic is, of course, never appropriate for a believer in Christ.
- Ironically, it is often thought that the devil is the one behind partying and celebrations. Yet a stronger biblical case can be made that God wants us to have fun (John 2–water into wine). Satan is the cosmic killjoy, not God.
- Make your own decision. Certainly no one is compelled to celebrate. Outside the United States, this is rarely observed.
- If you come from an occult background, you will probably want to have nothing to do with Halloween.
- If for other reasons you don’t partake, turn off the lights so as not to attract trick-or-treaters, and perhaps leave home.
- If you do take part, greet your neighbors, interact, don’t be dour.
- My advice is that each follow his own conscience, and form convictions based on scripture.
- I have offered my opinions in this lesson — as I did in the podcast on Harry Potter. I may be wrong.
- Yet the primary lesson of Halloween is probably not the point about whether it should be rejected or accepted, but how we treat our brothers and sisters in the faith.
- Does this become such an enormous issue that it determines whether we accept or reject our fellow believers, for whom Christ died?
- Don’t judge another Christian for observing or not observing Halloween.
- Conservative believers have a tendency to look down their noses at those more liberal in their views as careless, unfaithful to God, while liberals often despise conservatives as benighted fundamentalists.
- We cannot accurately judge the motivations of others, and the scriptures discourage us from trying to (1 Corinthians 4:1-5, Romans 14:6, James 4:11-12).
The wife of Pilate
- Note: If you haven’t yet listened to the podcast on Pontius Pilate, please do so now, as this will provide helpful background information so that you may better understand Claudia.
- What was it like to relocate because of your husband’s career?
- What was it like to move to a distant land?
- What was it like to move where people didn’t speak your language?
The text & Claudia’s dream
- Matthew 27:19: Besides, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream.”
- The dream was Thursday night / Friday morning of the Passion Week.
- Some early Christians said that her dream was sent by God to help her become a Christian.
- Others suggested that this was a scheme of Satan to thwart the crucifixion.
- In fact, God spoke through dreams to several other people in the course of biblical history. In particular, non-believers to whom he spoke include:
- Pharaoh (Genesis 40-41)
- Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2)
- Xerxes (Esther 6:1)
- The list is not exhaustive; the Lord spoke to many believers and non-believers alike, though it is not easy to discern whether or to what extent he still speaks to us by this means in our time.
In later legend:
- Orthodox saint!
- 4th C. Acts of Pilate — more elaborate. She appears in the earlier 2nd C. literature also.
- These documents tended to paint Christianity and Rome as relating positively. That is, they may have propaganda.
- Could she have become a Christian? In Acts we see several upper-class women responding to the gospel, so it cannot be ruled out. Yet there is no direct evidence for this speculation.
Lessons for us
- Learn from all the character of the Bible: major, minor; believer, non-believer; male, female…
- Be sensitive to subtle cues God may be giving us.
- [Repeated from Pilate lesson:] Don’t ignore your wife’s counsel. After all, women are often more spiritually attuned than men.
- If your husband is a knucklehead, do share spiritual input. Yet make it count; be strategic:
- The right subject.
- The right time.
- The right tone.