Halloween and Christians

It’s not hard to notice from my friends’ pages (and from my year spent in the States) that North America makes a far bigger deal out of Halloween than the rest of the West. I suspect that part of it is due to commercialism.

What intrigues me, however, is that many Christians get very involved too. So, let me ask you; do you not think that we, as Christians, should be avoiding Halloween? And why?

And, as a follow-up, where do you stand on Harry Potter? I’m intrigued to see if there’s any correllation.

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26 comments on “Halloween and Christians

  1. For one thing, the Halloween traditions we observe today have nothing to do with Samhain. They are of Victorian origin.

    To your main question: both are matters of Christian liberty and individual conscience, discretion and taste.

    I myself have nothing against the fantasy “magic” of human imagination, nor against exploring the dark side of the human psyche. There is no part of human nature or human life that God the Son did not adopt, incarnate, redeem and exalt in his own person.

    The fact that so many people here much such a fuss about how evil these things are disturbs me. I recall Jesus fielded such a question about the Jewish dietary laws, and He said that it’s what comes from the heart, not what goes into the belly, that makes you pure or impure. To the pure, all things are pure. I think it’s much the same with this.

    I stand ready to be accused of every kind of sin by those on the opposite side of the fence from me.

    • I would think also that I Corinthians 8 would be relevant here, as it would seem to be with many Christian practices that are pagan in origin. The argument there is that idols are merely things of this world, and do not represent gods that “really exist.” So participating in civil events or activities that are pagan in flavor should not affect a Christian’s faith one whit (although Paul was writing from a pastoral point of view about respecting your congregation’s comfort level with such things).

      • Right, although it should be said that you can’t run indefinitely with that principle, because just a few lines later in ch.10 Paul absolutely condemns participation in pagan rites — “the cup of demons.” When we say that the idolaters’ gods “don’t exist” that is not meant in either a materialist or a monist way. There are evil principalities and powers. They’re just not true gods, but subordinates and rebels. The Lamb alone is worthy of all honor and glory, not them.

        Now I don’t think Halloween is, in itself, an idolatrous act. However, it could be taken as one by some, so I agree with you that it falls into the ch.8 category.

    • agreed.

      i’ve read the harry potter books (and reading them ought to be a pre-requisate for judging them), and i see nothing in them that is more “evil” or “wicked” than what’s in the lord of the rings books (which i’ve also read, and are much better, of course). i don’t get what all the fuss is about there.

      • I don’t understand how people can read the Harry Potter books (which I think are terribly written) and be outraged yet say nothing of the magic and magicians/witches etc in the Narnia Chronicles.

        • I think that’s pushing it too far.

          Lewis sets up a fantasy framework in order to positively mirror the Christian faith, his intention in that regard is clear.

          Rowling, on the other hand, is not doing the same thing.

          That distinction needs to be maintained.

          • You know what, though? Most people I know my age didn’t realise that they were Christian books when they read them as children, they just thought they were fantasy books. Christianity isn’t actually mentioned in the books and it’s not until The Final Battle that it becomes super, super obvious.

            • true – but then to what extent do we allow the author’s intent to govern our understanding of the books?

              FWIW I first read the LW&W at primary school. Afterwards I found out that my teacher was a Christian and I began to understand the intent. But, at the time it was just a great story.

              Does that, however, undermine Lewis’s purpose? Or was he not trying to be as explicit as others would want him to be?

              • I read them all as a child, and again this year.

                I don’t think they should be judged by the author’s intentwhen that intent isn’t candidly stated in the content. I’m sure HP’s author isn’t trying to lead children astray with wicked, wicked stories of the occult. Her novels run on traditional fictional themes, good v. evil, triumph over hardship, etc.

                I think both series should be judged as by their audience’s understanding. They’re just stories.

                That said, though, if I had children, I wouldn’t buy them the HP books, but that’s based more on literary snobbery than anything else. I do think that it’s important for parents to remember that the books have aged with their original readership, that is, the first book was writen for kids of a certain age and each subsequent book was written for the same kids two or so years later. So I would hesitate to let a child who is the age of the intended readership of the first book read the last book, because it’s target is several years older and that’s reflected in the changing themes.

                • i think that, for parents, they shouldn’t let their kid read ANY book, even the bible, that they haven’t read. and they should be prepared to discuss every book with their child. in fact, they should initiate the discussion with their kids.

                  whatever one may think about the author’s intent, most stories (books, movies, plays, music) present opportunities to discuss important topics. and that opportunity is perhaps more valuable than a story that sticks neatly to a “christian worldview.”

                  also, it’s not fair to say that it doesn’t matter what lewis’ intent was, but judge the HP books because they weren’t written by a christian. i will say this for rowling: she presents a clear idea that good and evil are clearly defined, which is more than can be said for stupid george lucas.

                    • you’re right. sorry about my confusion. i worked too long today, and wasn’t clearly reading! 🙂

                      and i agree with you about intent. how many wonderful works of literature were penned by dirty rotten sinners? should those books be abandoned? i hope not! 🙂 (oh and it should go without saying that i’m a dirty rotten sinner, too, just happen to have embraced forgiveness!)

            • true – but then to what extent do we allow the author’s intent to govern our understanding of the books?

              FWIW I first read the LW&W at primary school. Afterwards I found out that my teacher was a Christian and I began to understand the intent. But, at the time it was just a great story.

              Does that, however, undermine Lewis’s purpose? Or was he not trying to be as explicit as others would want him to be?

  2. We don’t “do” Halloween because of our stance against the glorification of gore and evil that accompanies it. We use this time of year as a teaching tool with our children to take them to the Word regarding how God feels about the shedding of blood and about things such as witchcraft. We don’t view these things as harmless because we see that God doesn’t either. So, I think you can probably guess how we feel about Harry Potter.

  3. Actually, a lot of modern Halloween customs originated here in the states, so it makes sense that they’re more popular here.

    Do I think that Christians should be avoiding Halloween? Depends. Like Scott, I think it’s up to conscience and taste- there are certainly Halloween celebrations that are harmful, and there are certainly ones that are benign. I don’t even care about the day at all, myself.

    As for Harry Potter- it’s a fantasy that isn’t attempting to place itself in a realistic Christian world-view. If it pretended to be such, it would be in error and should be avoided. However, it’s pure fantasy. There are much worse things a pre-teen could be reading (I think the latter books are inappropriate for young children), like- let’s say- Pullman’s His Dark Materials, which are anti-Christian.

  4. As said above, there’s really no pagan undertone in most of the mainstream US Halloween celebrations. Those that I’ve been to have been about dressing up and eating sweets. I think halloween is fun.

    I think the HP books are really poorly written but I honestly don’t see how people can call them evil or misleading to our children or whatever without saying the same of Narnia. Sure, we know the intent behind Narnia, but it’s still a bunch of stories where people worship a giant lion (and if you read the books as an adult, some of the wording and imagery really is strongly worshipful and glorious) and battle magicians and witches (except that I first wrote magicians and nephews, oops). Are the churches tacitly (or even overtly) saying that it’s ok to acknowledge in fiction witches and magicians as long as they’re the baddies?

    I just see hypocracy.

    • If I may, allow me to defend Narnia…

      Aslan, from book 1, was never intended as a “pagan” figure…he was a symbolic Jesus. Lewis never hid that. He put in there enough clues about that for the reader to figure it out. In fact, he went as far as to say in the story (paraphrased) that he (Aslan) was also in our world…and that he hoped that the Pevensies, by knowing him in Narnia, would get to know Him in their own world too. Almost everything in those stories made sure to come around and point to the Real Thing.

      And all Lewis’ “magicians” and “witches” were evil (if you remember the White Witch, the Green Witch, and Uncle Andrew)

      So despite Narnia and HP having witches and wizards, their treatment and presentation is NOT the same. Neither is the intention of their respective authors (and to me the intention matters). I’m not saying J.K. Rowling is purposely intending to turn children into evil or whatnot (I honestly think she just wanted to tell a story).

      I’ve read the HP books, and while they’re not the most brilliantly written thing out there (I prefer Lewis’ writing a lot more), I think they’re still fun.

      But I personally can’t put Harry Potter and Narnia on the exact same page. While the Narnia series can certainly stand alone as simply stories, their underlying message cannot be ignored…at least from a Christian standpoint. I think Lewis made sure of that. And in that sense, I think he did a good job in not betraying the “witchcraft is bad” part by limiting it only to the villainous characters. He might have been aware that, if he was to write a story with a Christian undertone, he had a responsibility not only with the story, but with the audience who would later read it. J.K. Rowling doesn’t necessarily have that same responsibility.

      But again, these are just my own conclusions. 🙂 I love the Narnia books.

      …and with that in mind, I think someone else has mentioned Lord of the Rings, which indeed was written by a Christian author and has wizards and magic from both sides (good and evil). I can’t speak for those since I haven’t read them, though. =P

      Anyway…not meaning to offend; just to drop my two cents 🙂

      • As I said in my other comments to this post, I don’t think you can judge a book by it’s author’s intentions. I love the Narnia books but when I read them as a child (and I’ve polled a lot of my friends who say the same) I didn’t realise that Aslan was supposed to be Jesus. And I say that as a minister’s child. Reading them as an adult, it’s obvious, but as I child I thought it was just a fantasy series.

      • …and with that in mind, I think someone else has mentioned Lord of the Rings, which indeed was written by a Christian author and has wizards and magic from both sides (good and evil). I can’t speak for those since I haven’t read them, though. =P

        that was me! and speaking as a big old word nerd, you really should read them. they are such excellently crafted books. and while there is the use of magic in a fantasy world by both the good and evil sides of the book, i would still argue that tolkien wrote from a decidely “christian” perspective.

        • I think LoTR is different again. Tolkein set about weaving Christian motifs through the story without writing a straight allegory. In that sense I think it’s a job well done and certainly one can learn a fair amount about how biblical typology works from seeing how Tolkein does the job.

        • I’m really intrigued by that 🙂 LOTR books, I mean. I’ve seen the movies and I enjoyed them, but I’m sure the books have a lot more to say. I haven’t even read The Hobbit, for that matter…

          I remember in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, there was mention of the Emperor’s “Deep Magic from the Dawn of Time”, which I take as symbolizing the Old Law (I could be wrong), or at least our first bondage to sin, which brings forth death/being separated from God. Whereas the “Deeper Magic” took place when Aslan, an innocent sacrifice, took Edmund’s place (Like Christ dying on our behalf for our sins).

          Any thoughts on this one? 🙂 Anyone?

  5. Heh, I don’t know how I missed this post, but I’m glad I didn’t get in on it in the beginning.

    My kids’ schools don’t allow scary costume. They do read stories to the kids I’d rather they didn’t, but I don’t make an issue of it. However, my kids know where I stand on it. We usuaally carve pumpkin faces. This year we grew pumpkins, but haven’t carved them, yet. I guess it’ll be a “fall project” instead. We’re mostly interested in baking the seeds. 🙂 We usually go to a church party that’s called something like, “Harvest Party.” They have a carnival type thing inside the church with games and booths and such where they give out candy and toys.

    Where do I stand on Harry Potter? I stand on his nose and I step down onto his glasses and then I twist my foot down hard. 😉

  6. Halloween

    Joshua 24:15 “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in hose land ye dwell; but as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.”

    Halloween should not be observed by Christians.

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