Belief Gives Power: Why You Shouldn’t Fear Halloween

Halloween is not inherently good or evil. For most Christians, Halloween is great. It’s an excuse to take a night off, dress up, and eat some candy. As long as the Holy Spirit doesn’t convict you that participating is not something you should do, go right ahead.

Like so many other things in life, cultural celebrations and holidays are tools that can be used for good or evil. So, similar to eating meat that has been sacrificed to idols, or even eating meat in general, whether or not we as Christians should participate is something depends entirely on the individual. This means the Holy Spirit, and not a universal rule, should be what we rely on to make the decision.

I’ve seen a lot of theology surrounding Halloween that states things like “the appearance, history, or hidden methodology for Halloween is bad, so Christians should not participate in it.” These statements normally include the idea that “having anything to do with Halloween is essentially Satan worship.”

There are a lot of reasons why this kind of thinking doesn’t work, but the most vital aspect is the way it defines the whole based on a part. It’s like calling an ax bad because axes can be used as weapons of violence and murder, so we shouldn’t own them; and if we do, we should be especially careful to never let our children close to them.

The obvious problem here is a lot of people use axes to cut down trees, and most modern axes are designed specifically for that purpose. They would be an impractical tool for violence at best; there’s a reason you don’t see a lot of people sporting axes in The Walking Dead.

Halloween, like many other things, seems to frequently fall victim to this kind of theology. The original festival and history has to do with witchcraft and spirits of the dead, so spooky designs and costumes in that theme remain key to Halloween in many ways. Therefore, Halloween is assumed to be a holiday all about witchcraft and demons and spirits…except most Americans don’t even believe in any of those things.

Every aspect of modern Halloween has been purposefully commercialized and hijacked a hundred times over since its inception in order to create a family-friendly “dress up and eat candy” holiday.

Sure, there are probably a few people out there who use the events for wicked purposes, but unless you intentionally go looking for that, you’re not going to find it. If you don’t like witch, spirit, or skeleton costumes or decorations, those are also easy enough to avoid.

I want to be clear that I’m not advocating a policy where unless someone is in your face trying to sell you a spellbook, you can safely assume everything is fine. Be wise, use your discernment, test every spirit, and trust the Holy Spirit.

The important factor for Halloween, which also applies to many things like Harry Potter or games that include “magic,” is that in modern society, magic is “fake news.” Even people that research old witchcraft knowledge or old religious ideas for use in novels to make their characters more authentic do so from the perspective that none of it is real. This includes series like The Iron Druid, Wizard Dresden, or American Gods which incorporate many very accurate elements of real religions and witchcraft practices.

These things are based on belief, and belief is the part of religion that gives it power—and the same goes for witchcraft.

That doesn’t mean that anytime someone modern uses witchcraft in a book, game, or holiday, it automatically becomes harmless. What it means for most people is that something other than the book, game, or holiday itself would have to influence them towards witchcraft before it would be a temptation to them.

This all goes back to the fundamental truth that seems to be forgotten in the midst of condemnation: “Life is what you make of it.” It is written that “it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is Truth”  (1 John 5: 6), and “For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16: 7).

God’s Holy Spirit, which lives inside us, bears witness to our actions, and we are judged not according to the outward appearance of things, but by our motivations, intentions, and beliefs.

For someone who used to be Wiccan, dressing up as a witch or even going trick-or-treating could be a constant temptation to partake of their old sins again. But for someone who has never practiced or been tempted by witchcraft, dressing up, spending time with friends, and eating candy is just a great way to have fun and build relationships.

We can’t make Halloween good for the converted Wiccan, and we shouldn’t ruin it for the innocent.

Everything we do, especially when we are discerning good from evil, needs to be based on the same measure that God uses: Our hearts. Since we all have different pasts, beliefs, and temptations, most things are going to have very different implications for different people.

Outside of murder, theft, lying, stealing, idolatry, parental obedience, false witness, sabbath, and coveting, we are going to have to use wisdom to discern what is good for an individual. As Acts Chapter 15, and almost anything written by Paul, makes very clear, we are not subject to the old law, but rather the Law of Grace.

We are therefore not free to Sin, but are judged individually according to the content of our heart.

Phil Dickerson

First things first, Philip is a B.A. writer for Geeks Under Grace. He has been a theology and Christian life writer for three years. In his spare time you can find him creatively sharing bad puns, and doing batman impersonations to annoy his lovely wife.

3 Comments

  1. James Albert on November 15, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    Very thoughtful and balanced article (and awesome Yoda carving)!

  2. keg504 on October 31, 2017 at 10:14 pm

    I don’t understand your argument. What it seems to suggest is that if you don’t believe in something it has no power. But you also seem to suggest that not believing also makes something not true. Is that what you are trying to say here?

    • Philip Dickerson on November 3, 2017 at 6:17 pm

      essentially yes. though im not saying belief changes the nature of the thing itself. what im saying is that in everything people do, it has a different meaning and significance based on many things about that person. the argument itself is from 1 Cor. chp 8, and romans 14:23. every action we take has a heart implication, and that heart is what gives things power and makes things sinful or not.

      so im relying on the idea that halloween itself is not inherently an evil or sinful thing, like murder or actual witchcraft.

      also on the idea that dressing up as something is very different than actually trying to become something. and especially when people dont even believe these things are real, dressing up is (almost) never going to lead them to want to become it.

      so im talking about the fact that halloween is dress up. not cultic demon worship. and so every christian should be sensitive to the holy spirit, to see if its okay with God for them to dress up, rather than just blindly accepting or regecting halloween based on calling it good or evil by nature.

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