SHOULD A CHRISTAIN CELEBRATE HALLOWEEN?
INTRO! Some years ago when the Harry Potter books were being made into movies, people wanted me to address the subject from the Pulpit. In so doing, I addressed Halloween and Harry Potter. This is from my public address (sermon), along with a few additional thoughts.
“TO THE PURE ALL THINGS ARE PURE”
Every year at Halloween people ask me, “Is it alright to celebrate Halloween?” And every year I tell people the same thing: “To the pure all things are pure.” What I mean by that is, if you have a problem with it, “Don’t,” if you don’t have a problem with it, “Do it and have fun.” Personally I have no problem with Halloween. Here’s why:
ILLUSTRATION: Now that I look back on it, this is somewhat surprising. Remember I grew up “Pilgrim Holiness.” As “Holiness,” practically everything was wrong except going to church – yet we were allowed to celebrate Halloween. And celebrate it we did! We’d go out with pillowcases, fill them up, come home, empty them, and go out again. Afterwards, those of us who went out together would compare our goodies and even trade for our favorite candies. Never once, not for a moment, did any of us think we were honoring Satan by going “trick or treat.” Why? We never even thought of it as Satan’s day, it was a time for us to have good clean fun and get all kinds of goodies.
I still remember the Halloween parties where we would get prizes for the best costume. The person who remained unidentified for the longest time won the ultimate prize. How clearly I remember Bob Westcott – we were all night trying to figure out who was under that outfit. Finally, somebody recognized the boots – Bobby boy won first place.
When Sheryl and I directed the Youth group at Mt Pleasant Church we would run a Scare Mare at Halloween. Hundreds of kids came through. The last room was a funeral parlor. By then they’d be scared to death. We’d give the plan of salvation. We had hundred’s of “decisions.” How many “disciples” was another story. We would say afterwards, “Just because you scare the hell out of people doesn’t mean you put them in heaven.”
WHAT AM I SAYING? If you want Halloween to be an evil holiday, then most likely for you it will be. If you want Halloween to be a time of clean, wholesome fun – it will be. “To the pure all things are pure.”
1 Cor. 8:4-6 tells us:
 So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one.  For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many "gods" and many "lords"),  yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.
IN OTHER WORDS Paul is saying, “I could eat food offered to idols and it would never bother me, because I know idols are nothing. Only God is God.” Again, “to the pure all things are pure.”
I must be honest, I have not read any of the Harry Potter books, nor have I seen the movie. One prominent southern Baptist pastor called Harry’s world “dangerous, evil and perverted.” Charles Colson, whom I have come to respect and trust, says of Harry and his friends: “they develop courage, loyalty and a willingness to sacrifice for one another – even at the risk of their lives, not bad lessons in a self-centered world.”
Again, when it comes to Harry Potter, my counsel is “to the pure all things are pure.”
NOTE! Since writing my above thoughts I have seen two of the Potter movies, and still concur with Charles Colson. Recently (Oct 2007), although not stated in her novels, Howling (the author), when asked why Dumbledore, master wizard and Headmaster of Hogwarts, never seems to find “true love," responded, “Dumbledore is gay."
Howling never says if she approves or disapproves of Dumbledore’s sexual persuasion – just that he is “gay.” Sadly, that’s how the world sees “homosexuality” – it’s apart of our world and we need to accept it as such. They do not understand righteousness, be it heterosexual or homosexual. Do I look on this latest news (development) with favor? Absolutely not! Sin is never pure even if its intent is pure.
Halloween is an annual celebration, but just what is it actually a celebration of? And how did this peculiar custom originate? Is it, as some claim, a kind of demon worship? Or is it just a harmless vestige of some ancient pagan ritual?
The word itself, "Halloween," actually has its origins in the Catholic Church. It comes from a contracted corruption of All Hallows Eve. November 1, "All Hollows Day" (or "All Saints Day"), is a Catholic day of observance in honor of saints. But, in the 5th century BC, in Celtic Ireland, summer officially ended on October 31. The holiday was called Samhain (sow-en), the Celtic New year.
Irish immigrants fleeing their country’s potato famine brought the custom of Halloween to America in the 1840’s. At that time, the favorite pranks in New England included tipping over outhouses and unhinging fence gates.
The custom of trick-or-treating is thought to have originated not with the Irish Celts, but with a ninth-century European custom called “souling.” On November 2, All Souls Day, early Christians would walk from village to village begging for "soul cakes," made out of square pieces of bread with currants. The more soul cakes the beggars would receive, the more prayers they would promise to say on behalf of the dead relatives of the donors. At the time, it was believed that the dead remained in limbo for a time after death, and that prayer, even by strangers, could expedite a soul's passage to heaven.
So, although some cults may have adopted Halloween as their favorite "holiday," the day itself did not grow out of evil practices. It grew out of the rituals of Celts celebrating a new year, and out of Medieval prayer rituals of Europeans. And today, even many churches have Halloween parties or pumpkin carving events for the kids. After all, the day itself is only as evil as one cares to make it.
© 1995-2002 by Jerry Wilson References: Charles Panati, Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things, 1987; and Dr. Joseph Gahagan, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Personal letter, 1997
IS THE CHRISTMAS TREE A HEATHAN CUSTOM?
If you do any research at all on what we know today as “the Christmas tree,” inevitably you will come across an article saying that the Christmas tree is a pagan tradition, and therefore as true believers it is wrong to put up a Christmas tree.
Most of you, actually I would hope it would be all of you, would say, “Pastor that’s ridiculous!” Why? Because to you the Christmas tree is a symbol representing the season of our Saviour’s birth. Even if it were pagan, which it is not, it would not be pagan to you. Why? “To the pure all things are pure.”