the weblog of Alan Knox

Fall Festivals and Scary Masks

Posted by on Oct 24, 2007 in synchroblog | 52 comments

When I was growing up, I loved Halloween. I would usually spend hours and hours (the day before) deciding what kind of costume I would wear. I always made my own costumes – primarily because the stores were sold out, but also because the store ones were so bad and expensive. One year, I was a pirate and learned that mascara does not make good beard stubble. I also created an astronaut costume once, using an entire roll of aluminum foil. Once I was a zombie and had to go through several sticks of my mother’s lipstick before I found the right shade of red for blood. (Now that I look back, it seems that my costumes probably cost my mother more than a store bought costume would.)

Trick-or-Treating was always a blast! Since we lived several miles outside of the city, there were no neighborhoods around us. We would drive to all of our relatives houses, then run through at least one of the nicer neighborhoods on the way home. After trick-or-treating, my brother and I would compare bags to see who had the most candy. He usually did, because I ate mine while we were walking and riding.

I also enjoyed Halloween Carnivals. I liked the games and the candy. I liked seeing friends’ costumes and throwing pies and sack races. We would always have peanuts and cotton candy and candy apples and popcorn. It was always fun at the end of the evening to see whose costumes didn’t make it through the fun and festivities.

One year, a few friends and I decided to “haunt” one of their front yards. We all dressed up in scary costumes and waited in the bushes until someone came to knock on the door. Then we would jump out and scare them. One of my friends stuffed straw in his shirt, put on a big mask and hat, and sat very still in a rocking chair beside the door. He looked like a scarecrow. When someone walked up to the door and knocked, he would jump up. I think there were only three heart attacks that night. The funny thing is that my “scarecrow” friend would always get whacked in the head with a bagful of candy.

A few years ago, I was told that it was wrong for Christians to participate in Halloween. I trusted the people who told me, so I went along. Instead of having Halloween Carnivals, we had Fall Festivals. Instead of scary costumes, the children dressed in “nice” costumes: super heroes or princesses or cowboys or astronauts (Hey, I was an astronaut once…) or pirates (Or maybe pirates are too scary?). We would give the children candy and peanuts and cotton candy and candy apples and popcorn. You may think that this sounds surprisingly similar to a Halloween Carnival, but I assure you that this was no Halloween Carnival, it was a Fall Festival. Plus, since we were Christians, we put tracts in the goody bags that we handed out for the kids to put their candy in, because they were not trick-or-treating.

When we were planning the Fall Festival, we made sure to tell the boys and girls that were part of the church that they could dress up, but they were not supposed to dress up in scary costumes. No ghosts or witches or monsters or zombies (uh oh) or teachers… well, nice teachers may be okay. We drilled this into their heads for several weeks preceding the Fall Festival. And, they complied. They arrived at the Fall Festivals dressed as cowboys and soldiers and princesses and ballerinas.

But, there was a problem. You see, we also advertised this Fall Festival around the neighborhood. This would not just be church fun, this would be an outreach! And a few neighborhood boys and girls actually came to the Fall Festival! A success, right? Well, kinda.

You see, some of these neighborhood boys and girls wore scary costumes. There were one or two monsters and a witch. *gasp* What should we do? Should we make them take off their costumes? Maybe we could let them in, but just give them the cold shoulder. Maybe they wouldn’t stay long. Surely they would recognize that they don’t fit in here.

Of course, we didn’t have to worry about that. As soon as our “good” boys and girls in their “nice” costumes saw the neighborhood boys and girls in their scary costumes, they pointed and said in loud voices (as children always talk), “Look, Mom! Look, Dad! They’re wearing scary costumes! That’s bad, isn’t it?”

Yes, this was actually said by some children. Yes, the neighborhood boys and girls heard. Yes, the “bad” children’s parents heard as well. They also saw that that they and their children were given the “evil eye” – which, unfortunately, was not part of a “scary” mask. They noticed that the “good” boys and girls were praised for their costumes, but not the “bad” boys and girls. And, yes, it was suggested by several “good” parents that we ask the “scary” and “bad” kids to leave.

We were very happy with outreach, as long as we reached people who looked like us, acted like us, believed like us, and wore Halloween – I mean, Fall Festival – costumes like us. These attitudes are necessary if we are creating an isolated group. However, if it is our desire to remain in the world and if it is our desire to impact the world, then these attitudes are dangerous and contrary to the attitude of Jesus.

Yes, I know that Halloween has pagan roots. Of course, Christmas and Easter also have pagan roots. Just as Christians in the past “Christianized” Christmas and Easter, many are attempting to “Christianze” Halloween by calling it “Fall Festival” or “Harvest Carnival” or something like that. Fine. I don’t have a problem with that. If someone decides that they do not want to dress up and go door-to-door asking for candy, I do not have a problem with that either. If someone decides that they are going to turn off their front door light and not give out candy, that is their choice.

Some Christians still take part in Halloween. This does not make them pagans, nor does it mean that they are being deceived, nor does it mean that they are too worldly. Other Christians prefer to take part in Fall Festivals. This does not make them more saintly, nor does it mean that they are closer to God, nor does it mean that they are more mature in Christ. We can recognize the differences, but we should not allow the differences to separate us. We have to look deeper than the “nice” or “scary” mask that a person wears.

However, when we start isolating ourselves from the world and other Christians, we are forgetting why we are here. When we start wagging our fingers at people – even Christians – who enjoy dressing up and having fun with their friends, we forget what it means to accept and love one another. When we condemn people for being different from us, we lose the chance to interact with them and get to know them and allow God to use us to disciple them – or use them to disciple us.

We can force people to wear “nice” costumes. Our concern should not be the mask that the person is wearing – whether it is “nice” or “scary”. The mask often hides what is underneath. So, instead of trying to change people and their behavior from the outside, let’s start by getting to know them as they are – accepting them as they are – and loving them as they are. Perhaps, then, we may find a “scary” person being changed into a Christ-like person… who may still look different than us.

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The October 24th SynchroBlog includes 26 people sharing their thoughts, their experiences, and their expertise on the subject of “A Christian Response to Halloween” (or at least something remotely connected to that idea.) Perhaps not all the writers are Christian, and that is actually even cooler. Please check out these offerings of love, and gore…uh, I mean lore.

Phil Wyman – The Christians and the Pagans Meet for Samhain
Lainie Petersen – Our Own Private Zombie: Death and the Spirit of Fear
Julie Clawson – Trappings of a World in Which we Do Not Believe
John Morehead – Rethinking Evangelical Postures on Halloween
Sonja Andrews – Vampire Protection
Adam Gonnereman – What’s So Bad About Halloween?
Reba Baskett – Halloween….why all the madness
Steve Hayes – Halloween Synchroblog
KW Leslie – The Christian Harvest Festival
John Smulo – Hallmark Halloween
Erin Word – H-A-double-L-O-double-U-double-E-N
Mike Bursell – Hallowe’en
Sam Norton – Do Not Be Afraid
Steve Hollinghurst – Removing Christendom from Halloween
David Fisher – Vampires or Leeches
Sally Coleman – Encountering hallow-tide Creatively
Kay – Halloween: Four Perspectives
Johnny Beloved – Apples and Razorblades
Alan Knox – Fall Festivals and Scary Masks
Dan Allen – Why Christians don’t like Zombies
Paul Walker – Peering Through the Negatives of Mission
Sea Raven – The Season of Samhain
Lew A – Halloween: My experiences
Timothy Victor – Appropriating Halloween and Creating Liminal Times
Nic Paton – Making Space for Halloween


52 Comments

Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 10-24-2007

    You and I were thinking alike on this one.

    Great post. I share your sentiment about not isolating ourselves from the world, even on Halloween.

  2. 10-24-2007

    Aaargh! When “outreach” turns into “scathing opportunities” then it does much, much more harm to community and our faith than good.

    Perhaps its just me, but such “invitational” approachs often try to be “squeeky clean” just end up annoying everyone and perpetuating a Pharisaical (how do you spell that?) culture.

    I want my kid to be the scariestest monster on the whole block! After all, I’ve read the good book and God/-ess can be scariest of them all.

  3. 10-24-2007

    Excellent post Alan- masks are simply masks- as for that Fall Festival outreach cringing away here- but hands up- yes we did once put tracts in candy bags… can’t believe I did that now!!!

  4. 10-24-2007

    Absolutely loved the post. Thanks for sharing. Some of the story reminded me of my past *shudders*

    We are doing tunk-r-treat this year in our back parking lot (downtown church).

    We are having members decorate their trunks and have treats in them. Children can come dressed in their costume (whatever it is)and go trunk to trunk for treating.

    We are hoping to provide 25-30 trunks for them to get candy in more safe enviorment.

    NO TRACKS ALLOWED :)

  5. 10-24-2007

    Alan:

    This post captures in a nutshell what is so wrong with most evangelistic “outreaches”. When the church insists on people cleaning up before coming onto our turf, we have only ourselves to blame when they say “no thanks”.

  6. 10-24-2007

    i dressed up as moses once for a costume contest. i lost to a guy with no head. i vowed on that day, at 8 years old never to dress up as a boring bible character again.they did awesome stuff but none of them were headless or anything cool like that. i don’t care what they say at the fall festivals.
    -dan

  7. 10-24-2007

    Alan –

    Good thoughts. I am constantly amazed and appalled by how terrified “Christians” are of themselves, other people, the world in general, God, Life . . .

  8. 10-24-2007

    The irony is that Christmas and Easter and Halloween were never pagan festivals, but Harvest Festivals are!

    So people rejected a Christian festival because they mistakenly thought it was a pagan one, and then adopted a REAL pagan celebration instead.

    That’s funny, or it would be, if they weren’t so nasty about it.

  9. 10-24-2007

    This is such a great post. It really is amazing what we pass on to kids in subtle ways.
    It is hard to teach love your neighbors when all your kids (or us adults) see are “bad” costumes.

  10. 10-24-2007

    Erin,

    Yes, we cannot isolate ourselves from the world and continue to be salt and light and carry out God’s mission.

    Tim,

    Thanks for the comment. The world is not squeaky clean, and we should not expect people to be squeky clean when they come to us or when we go to them. By the way, we’re not squeaky clean either.

    Sally,

    Yes, masks are masks, whether they are scary masks or nice masks. I think as followers of Christ, we should attempt more and more to live without a mask. Of course, that could be even scarier.

    Jeff,

    I hope the children and the adults have a great time!

    Lainie,

    We can’t clean ouselves up, why should we expect others to clean themselves up? We have to learn to accept and love people in their messiness.

    Dan,

    You could always combine them into a Zombie Moses.

    Sea Raven,

    In general, I think we’re afraid of what we can’t control. When we learn that we can’t control anything, we may learn to trust God more.

    Steve Hayes,

    Interesting point. I wonder if people don’t know, or if they don’t care because they’re comfortable with their own traditions?

    Reba,

    I think there was an opportunity to show the love and acceptance to God to the neighborhood families. At least God is more faithful than we are.

    -Alan

  11. 10-24-2007

    Allan
    For a minute there I thought I was at TomintheBox with elder Eric writing until I realized I have had the exact same experiences at the ol’ Fall Festival.
    Absolutely too funny and too true.

    Ed

  12. 10-24-2007

    At my church’s Fall Fest we had to dress up as Bible characters or go without a costume. I showed up one year as a cat (there were cats on the Ark right!) and had to change my “inappropriate” costume. It was really sad.

  13. 10-24-2007

    Alan,

    This is a Hallowe’en homerun. Great job.

  14. 10-24-2007

    Ed (tenjuices),

    I wish it were satire like Tom in the Box.

    Julie,

    A cat? I cannot believe someone would dress up like a dreaded, evil, satanic kitty. Do you not understand that you might have led some people astray by dressing as a cat?

    ded,

    Thank you! And welcome to the blogosphere!

    -Alan

  15. 10-25-2007

    Wow, so the moral of the story is that Christian kids dressed up as nice Bible characters are the scariest monster costumes around?

    “Look mommy! It’s a boy dressed up as a Pharisee monster. That’s bad! huh mommy?”

  16. 10-25-2007

    Great post! I’ve been through the whole cycle of Halloween beliefs. I’ve thought it was fine. I thought it was evil. I tried to “Christianize” it by giving out tracts with the candy (a really popular move).

    Now? I dress my kids up in fun costumes, and they have a blast. We trick or treat with scary unbelievers all around us. Yet my kids are not devil worshippers (yet). And our neighbors don’t think of us as the weird religious people they try to avoid at all costs.

  17. 10-25-2007

    Those Halloween masks are not the problem…it’s the ones we wear all year long. You know, the “spiritual”, “I have no problems”, “Wear a happy face” masks.
    The believer who dresses up as the devil one night of the year doesn’t have a problem with authenticity. The one who adjusts his halo every morning before he opens the door, does.
    Kat

  18. 10-25-2007

    Those Halloween masks are not the problem…it’s the ones we wear all year long. You know, the “spiritual”, “I have no problems”, “Wear a happy face” masks.
    The believer who dresses up as the devil one night of the year doesn’t have a problem with authenticity. The one who adjusts his halo every morning before he opens the door, does.
    Kat

  19. 10-25-2007

    Those Halloween masks are not the problem…it’s the ones we wear all year long. You know, the “spiritual”, “I have no problems”, “Wear a happy face” masks.
    The believer who dresses up as the devil one night of the year doesn’t have a problem with authenticity. The one who adjusts his halo every morning before he opens the door, does.
    Kat

  20. 10-25-2007

    Those Halloween masks are not the problem…it’s the ones we wear all year long. You know, the “spiritual”, “I have no problems”, “Wear a happy face” masks.
    The believer who dresses up as the devil one night of the year doesn’t have a problem with authenticity. The one who adjusts his halo every morning before he opens the door, does.
    Kat

  21. 10-25-2007

    Those Halloween masks are not the problem…it’s the ones we wear all year long. You know, the “spiritual”, “I have no problems”, “Wear a happy face” masks.
    The believer who dresses up as the devil one night of the year doesn’t have a problem with authenticity. The one who adjusts his halo every morning before he opens the door, does.
    Kat

  22. 10-25-2007

    Those Halloween masks are not the problem…it’s the ones we wear all year long. You know, the “spiritual”, “I have no problems”, “Wear a happy face” masks.
    The believer who dresses up as the devil one night of the year doesn’t have a problem with authenticity. The one who adjusts his halo every morning before he opens the door, does.
    Kat

  23. 10-25-2007

    Those Halloween masks are not the problem…it’s the ones we wear all year long. You know, the “spiritual”, “I have no problems”, “Wear a happy face” masks.
    The believer who dresses up as the devil one night of the year doesn’t have a problem with authenticity. The one who adjusts his halo every morning before he opens the door, does.
    Kat

  24. 10-25-2007

    Great stuff as usual, Alan.

    Our good isn’t God and unless we are seeking Him and pointing others to Him through Jesus it will never be the best. And our fear of things doesn’t and won’t ever point others to Him.

    I just highjacked the synchroblog with a joining in post, a day late, and I have no idea what that even means or how I should have participated, but it is what it is. :) Yet again a day late and a dollar short.

  25. 10-25-2007

    Phil,

    Actually, I would say that Christians who put on “masks” to appear to be better are the scariest of all.

    Richard J,

    Have fun and enjoy the interaction with your neighbors!

    Kat,

    Exactly!

    Bryan,

    Great post! I hope you join the synchroblog.

    -Alan

  26. 10-26-2007

    Wow great post!
    And that’s my concern which I didn’t elaborate on when I questioned the overall effectiveness of ‘harvest parties’.
    It’s sad that we can begin to teach our kids how to be exclusive and self righteous and somehow, someone thinks it’s holiness.

  27. 10-26-2007

    I found your blog today through Dave Black’s and have really enjoyed what I have read thus far. Our family has been on all sides of this issue in the 22 years we have had children. We’ve gone from trick or treating, to Fall Festivals, to turning out the lights in our home. Now our whole family sits in our driveway, giving out candy and tracts. This is this year’s tract http://www.customtractsource.com/Creepy-Cash_p_0-142.html

    Some seem to be implying that giving out tracts is wrong in this circumstance, I don’t feel that it is. I guess it could be if you handed out the “why Halloween is evil” type. But as Christians, we should take every opportunity to share the gospel. How often do 100 people come to your door on a given evening, expecting you to give them something?

    This has also been a great opportunity for our 5 daughters to reach out to those in our neighborhood. Though they don’t don costumes, they eagerly greet each person with a smile and candy. We have never had anyone refuse a tract on Halloween, and often we have them asking for more for family members and friends. My husband also does some simple slight of hand tricks for the kids when they stop by… which they love.

    I also want to clarify, that we do this, and other outreaches as a part of our family evangelism ministry; not recommending any church. We have found that people are much more accepting of the gospel, and of tracts, when they don’t feel like you want something out of them. Many feel like the only reason they are invited to a church is to be a number… or to be parted with their money. By not ever mentioning a church, just talking to the person one-2-one, that element is removed, and we are able to share the gospel with them… no strings attached.

    As far as sheltering our children, I believe at times, it is necessary… that’s why we homeschool our children, but when it comes to sharing the gospel, that’s a whole other ballgame. We can’t expect those without Christ to behave as Christians (I could write pages about my thoughts on this) and we are to have a tender heart towards them… realizing that without Christ they will spend eternity in hell. This should humble us, because we are filthy sinners just like they are, excepting that we have been covered by a blood sacrifice. If I teach my daughters anything, I hope that they learn to love all men, and to look at them through Christ’s eyes… those that are full of compassion.

  28. 10-26-2007

    Sorry, my link didn’t work.

    Creepy Cash

  29. 10-26-2007

    David F.,

    Yes, we can teach children to be exclusive or inclusive… accepting or rejecting. I know that I’ve taught exclusion and rejection by my actions too many times.

    Lora,

    Thank you for sharing your plans. I like the idea of personal interaction with the people who come to your neighborhood, and of taking Christ to them instead of inviting them to a church meeting.

    -Alan

  30. 10-14-2011

    This is such a touchy issue with so many people. I liked your thoughts Alan. Personally, for my family, we do not celebrate Halloween except to give out candy and tracts, but we live in a place where no body comes. In the last six years we have given out about 10 bags of candy.

    The reason we do not celebrate Halloween is really two fold. First, me being a pastor of a church, I have some weak brethren that would be seriously offended if my kids participated in Halloween. So, we do not go. Instead we buy our kids tons of candy and we get together with others families who have our same view and play games (no costumes, cause why celebrate it half way and make it look “Christian” – if you are going to not do it, then don’t, at least that is my mind). Secondly, we do not simply because of the evil implications with the scary costumes. If there were no ghosts, zombies, witches, etc associated with it, then we would probably join in. Here in Quebec, it is portrayed very dark, very evil, and we just would rather stay away from it. I find a bit of a mixed message to promote the life of Jesus, then dress up like a dead man. Others who do not see it that way is fine with me. This is a personal evaluation.

    I’ve never been a fan of the “fall festival” or “harvest festival.” I find it tries to place a Christian mask over Halloween. Alan, the last one we went to was in NC with you guys at the church we attended, and I remember the church kids saying things about the other kids wearing scary costumes.

    I personally have no problem with people in my church letting their kids trick-or-treat. I have no problem with the costumes they might or might not wear. But, for the two reasons above, my family stays away. We find that we can share Christ in other ways, and missing Halloween will not ruin my kids life.

    So, good post Alan. I just lean on the side of not participating. I will give out the candy and even comment on the cool costumes, yet besides that, we do not practice it. But, we keep our lights on.

  31. 10-14-2011

    The Fightin Fundie “church” we used to attend did not have “fall festivals” because of course they are just evil Halloween costumes in disguise…we had Reformers night were they watched movies about the Reformers…after learning about the difference between the “Magesterial Reformers” and the ‘Radical Reformers” the next “Halloween” while watching the movie about Luther, I leaned over to Stacy and whispered to her, who knew the real monsters would be on the screen in here! So glad to be done with all that rot! Lol.

    “Accordingly, it must and dare not be considered a trifling matter but a most serious one to seek counsel against this and to save our souls from the Jews, that is, from the devil and from eternal death. My advice, as I said earlier, is: First, that their synagogues be burned down, and that all who are able toss sulphur and pitch; it would be good if someone could also throw in some hellfire. Second, that all their books their prayer books, their Talmudic writings, also the entire Bible– be taken from them, not leaving them one leaf, and that these be preserved for those who may be converted. Third, that they be forbidden on pain of death to praise God, to give thanks, to pray, and to teach publicly among us and in our country. Fourth, that they be forbidden to utter the name of God within our hearing. For we cannot with a good conscience listen to this or tolerate it.”

    -Martin Luther (On the Jews and Their Lies)

  32. 10-14-2011

    Alan:

    Simply Beautiful

  33. 10-18-2011

    Is it OK to dress up as the devil for Halloween?

  34. 10-18-2011

    Ron,

    Not if it offends your own conscience or if you know it offends a brother or sister in Christ.

    -Alan

  35. 10-18-2011

    What if it doesn’t?

  36. 10-18-2011

    Ron,

    So, if you don’t think something is a sin, and you don’t think any other brother or sister would be offended (i.e., they wouldn’t think it would be a sin or you don’t think it would lead them toward sin)… and you’re still worried about doing it? It sounds like you would have a conscience issue…

    Otherwise, why not?

    -Alan

  37. 10-18-2011

    I am not worried about doing it. I just wanted to see what you would say. I would never do it, nor do I think a follower of Jesus should dress up as the devil for Halloween (unless they are doing a play talking about his future destruction – or something like that). Would that not only provoke God? I know we do not really know what he looks like, so I am not stating that we can dress up exactly like him. But, how is it possible that a follower of Jesus to dress up as His Lord’s enemy for fun? My point is simple. After reading all the comments on the Halloween issue, and pretty much everyone’s cool with doing it, and even some saying they want to dress up as the scariest in their neighborhood, I am not sure if we have thought it through all the way. If under grace, all is good for Halloween, then, like you said, dressing up as the devil is OK. But how is parading around as the devil on Halloween not wrong even for the person with the “clear conscience”?

    I am reading a book right now, and by “chance” I came across this text this morning. The book is called “Read The Bible For Life” by George Guthrie. He is interviewing a guy named J. Daniel Hays, and they are discussing how can we in today’s world understand some of the OT laws and know how to apply them? They mention the law prohibiting the children of Israel from cooking a young goat in its mother’s milk (Exodus 34:26). Supposedly, that was because of a pagan practice that God did not want Israel to partake in. Here is what their conclusion was from the text:

    “The unbelievers in our culture do not normally cook baby goats in the mother’s milk, but some common practices in our culture have non-Christian religious overtones that we should avoid. What about horoscopes? Ouija boards? Certain aspects of Halloween? Perhaps the principle behind some of the strange law in the Old Testament is, ‘Don’t mess with unhealthy spiritual influences from your culture.'” (p.107).

    I thought that was a good comment to address on this post. Like I said in my first comment, one of the main reasons I do not practice Halloween is because of the association of death, evil, and darkness. We can down play the association, but it is still there and it is real. I am not sure dressing up as the devil for Halloween is something any believer should do. I mean, if we are right about salvation in that we are eternally secure, and we can not lose it, does not mean that I would go up to God and slap His face, just because I’m covered by grace. I am not sure provoking Him by dressing up as His enemy for Halloween is much different than that.

  38. 10-18-2011

    Ron,

    From your previous comment, I thought that dressing as Satan would not offend your conscience or another Christian’s conscience. However, it is obvious that it would offend your conscience. Because of that, I would never dress as Satan around you, whether I thought it was fine or not.

    By the way, some Gentile Christians made the same arguments that you’ve listed here about meat sacrificed to idols, which was obviously associated with the worship of those pagan gods.

    -Alan

  39. 10-18-2011

    I was not asking for me, but in general. What would you think of someone in your church dressed up as the devil for Halloween? What would be your reaction?

    On the reference to meat sacrificed to idols, Paul’s conclusion was to not do it. But, that is not my main argument. I am trying to get to the bottom of what God thinks about it, not fellow believers or conscience.

    So, putting aside what others think for a minute. What do you think God would think about one of His children dressing up as the devil, His enemy as well as theirs? Would it provoke Him to anger? That is what I am trying to find out.

  40. 10-18-2011

    Ron,

    Actually, on the reference to meat sacrificed to idols, Paul said that there is nothing wrong with it because idols are nothing (1 Corinthians 8:4-6). However, even though there is nothing wrong with eating meat sacrificed to idols, Paul said he would never do it again if it caused a brother or sister to stumble (1 Corinthians 8:7-13). He makes this distinction very clear in 1 Corinthians 10:25-29 as well. That passage is even more interesting because Paul says to eat whatever an unbeliever sets before you, unless someone is concerned that “this has been offered in sacrifice.”

    In fact, this is a perfect illustration of the question that you are asking me. Some Gentile Christians associated meat sacrificed to idols as participating in worshiping the false gods represented by those idols. When they saw another Christian eating that meat, they would think that Christian is worshiping a false god and not the one true God. Note, Paul says that this is not actually happening, but that the “weak” brother or sister would think it was happening, and so that “weak” brother or sister would be offended or perhaps caused to sin. In this case, Paul said, don’t eat that meat. Period. Ever. Even though the person has freedom in Christ to eat whatever he or she wants to eat.

    Refusing to eat meat has nothing to do with the meat itself or even the idols. Instead, it’s all about having concern for other Christians.

    If I saw someone dressed in a red suit with horns and a pitchfork, it would not bother me, nor would it cause me to sin or to worship Satan. If I knew that it did offend someone else, then I would recommend against it, even if I thought the person had the freedom in Christ to wear that costume.

    -Alan

  41. 10-18-2011

    Ron,

    While thinking about meat sacrificed to idols, don’t forget about all the passages in the Old Testament in which God expresses his anger and wrath concerning idols and false gods. While meat sacrificed to idols seems like an unimportant opinion to us, it has huge theological and relational implications. In fact, I would be surprised if you can’t find just as many (perhaps even more) passages in the OT in which God expresses his wrath concerning idols when compared with those concerning Satan.

    -Alan

  42. 10-18-2011

    I agree with the idols comparison as well as the application of eating meat sacrificed to idols. But, in 1 Corinthians 10:18-22 Paul makes a distinction between eating the meat offered to idols and participating in the actual ceremonies. Even though idols are nothing, there is still demonic activity going on. We are not to have fellowship with both the Lord and demons. V.27-30 speak of eating at someones house. V.18-22 speaks of partaking in idol worship. Paul says, ‘yes’ eat the food at the house (unless they claim it was offered to idols), and, ‘no’ do not partake with demonic activity. There is a distinction made in the text.

    Someone dressing as Satan for Halloween would not make me stumble, nor would it make me worship him. If it did, then my faith would really be weak, or non-existent.

    But, that is not my point or question.
    What do you think God thinks of one of His children dressing up as His enemy? Does it provoke Him?

    The answer to that question is really important when it comes to Halloween’s emphasis on death, evil, and darkness. A good question to ask is “will it offend a fellow believer?” A better question to ask is “will it offend my Lord?” While the two questions are closely related, they may have 2 different answers.

  43. 10-18-2011

    Ron,

    Actually, my answer to your question is not as important as the answer given by the person dressing as Satan, or a demon, or a ghost, or a politician, or an astronaut, or anything else. Is the person doing it for the purpose of participating in a ceremony as an enemy of God? Or, is the person dressing as one of those things for a different reason? (Remember the meat sacrificed to idols HAD been offered in sacrifice to that false god as worship to that false god in an actual ceremony… whether the person eating the meat participated in the actual ceremony or not.)

    -Alan

  44. 10-18-2011

    That is kind of my point. Is does not really matter the intentions of the person if God is not OK with it. The best intentions do not make it right or wrong when it comes to my question. I am not talking about the `meat` offered, rather the participating part. All can agree the meat eating is OK as long as it does not offend. I`m cool with that. But, it`s the partaking in the offering of the meat that I am speaking of. Paul said it was wrong cause it was partaking with demons.

    I would argue that Halloween borders, and even cross that line. Most do not think of it that way, but it does not change what it is. A clear conscience in this situation is of no concern. Are they partaking in something that they should not? The reason for the devil costume thought was simply to illustrate how far someone could easily go in celebrating (partaking) in Halloween. If it is OK, then it is OK all the way. But, I would argue that wearing the devil costume would be wrong as it would provoke God. Who cares what the person thinks if God is offended. The fact is, is that God would be offended. So I do not need to ask them. I ask myself, not if my conscience is affected, rather is God provoked by my association, and even boasting, in wearing a devil costume. I do not think anyone can argue that God would not be offended by that. So why dance with the devil when you do not have to. I think the same case can be made for dressing up as witches, vampires, and any other thing that represents death, evil, and darkness. And if that is the case, then why even participate? That is where I am coming from.

  45. 10-18-2011

    Ron,

    You said, “The fact is, is that God would be offended.” So, there’s really no reason for us to discuss this, because you’ve already made your decision. I agree that you should not participate.

    -Alan

  46. 10-19-2011

    I know that. If it is true, then should any believer? That is the point. Is there a universal principle that we (all believers) should follow?

  47. 10-19-2011

    Ron,

    Should any believer participate? Not while they are around someone who is offended or thinks it is wrong… that is the universal principle.

    -Alan

  48. 10-23-2011

    I totally believe in NOT rejecting any unbelievers when they celebrate Halloween. And I am 100% all for handing out books of John, Bibles, or tracts that share Christ. I also think a good idea is to walk around witnessing to people going house to house.

    BUT I do NOT agree when it comes to Christians partaking and blending in with things of this world. Meaning, I don’t think as Christians we should dress up in gory costumes, put up “scary” or gory decorations, attend Halloween parties held by unbelievers dressed in costume dancing to worldly music, etc. If we do go to one of these parties, we should go without costume and be a witness and light and hope that you will have an opportunity to share Christ. We should NEVER try to “blend” in just to be liked or “relevant.” Jesus calls us to be separate from the world, NOT resemble the world.

    We NEED to be careful as Christians NOT to be deceived in thinking … “ohhhhh its OK to partake just a little!!!” Halloween is a pagan “holiday” that we should NOT take part in but ONLY to love the people who do and share the Gospel with them.

  49. 10-24-2011

    Joey,

    Thanks for the comment and for continuing the discussion. Obviously, as evident in the comment thread here, Christians have different opinions on this topic. How would you respond to a Christian who disagrees with you? Would you continue to share your life with that person, or do you determine that a person is not a child of God based on their views on this topic?

    -Alan

  50. 9-4-2012

    (Alan, I received this reply from one of my FB friends concerning this post……thought I’d share with you….since it’s become this person’s volunteer duty to be my theology barometer lately)

    Sorry, Tom…you did it again. I cannot remain silent on false ‘theology’….HOW do we WIN the world if we look and live just like them. I seem to recall MANY verses that command: Come out from among them and be ‘separate’. God: I have created you to be a ‘special’ people. ‘I have set you apart’. Be separate from those who practice pagan rituals/traditions. What do you do with those scriptures?

    If we follow this line of reasoning that would mean that we must practice homosexuality in order to relate to the homosexual. We must get slobbering drunk with the alcoholic in order to relate to the alcoholic. We must mingle in the pig sty with the prodogal in order to relate to the prodogal. Please explain by using scripture where Christ and ANY of His followers practiced this line of reasoning in order to win the lost.

  51. 9-4-2012

    Alan,

    Yeah, sorry my friend, but I default on His words that we are set apart. What does The World have to do with The Kingdom? Nothing.

    As a former occultist, I would have laughed in your face had you approached me, pre-Salvation, with this concept of a “fall festival” which had all the trappings of Halloween but none of the paganism. I would have mocked you for trying to be something you are not.

    As a covenant son I shall not mock you, but I will speak openly and say that Halloween is its own evil, and it has nothing at all to do with The People of God. Nothing. The Holy Roman Catholic Cult has been known to take paganism and then slap the face of Jesus onto it making it now Holy and Acceptable. I ain’t no Catholic, so I find such a practice foul and worldy.

    I ain’t The World. I am Kingdom. I am no longer an occultist. I am now a son.

    Taking that which is designed to illuminate evil and seeking to make it less evil by changing its name to accommodate your Christianity is foolish. Please don’t take that personally, Alan. It’s simply a mistake so many make in their vain efforts to become more reachable and relevant to The World, in the hopes they might be saved.

    Let me ask you: If you had it on your heart to reach out to ongoing homosexuals, would you become one to give Jesus more credibility with them? Exactly.

    We are holy since He is Holy. No compromises.

  52. 9-5-2012

    Tom,

    Thanks for the heads. The “conversation” was very telling…

    Donald,

    In this post, I was not suggesting that believers “Christianize” Halloween by doing “Fall Festivals.” I was simply giving an account of what one group did.

    Also, for someone who connected Halloween to occult practices, I would never recommend that person takes part in Halloween, and I would not take part around that person.

    -Alan