Can a Christian Celebrate Halloween?
Dr. Guy T. Mann
Greetings from the heartland of America. My name is Guy T. Mann, and this is my first ever published blog. Hey, I just thought of something. The word blog is a noun and a verb at the same time. That’s really neat. I bet I’m the first person to ever discover that. Very cool. Anywho, I really hope you like my blog. I would like to thank the senior leadership at Growth Project for giving me this opportunity. Especially Robert Houghton. He is the driving force behind GP and a much better partner than that other guy: “Dr.” somebody. I hope you find my unique perspective on life both challenging and entertaining. And if you get a little angry from time to time, that’s ok too. That means we are treading ground that may be familiar, but also a bit scary. Nothing wrong with that. So, let’s get started.
As you know, it is Halloween season once again. For those of you who may not know, the name “Halloween” is derived from the Catholic Church. November 1st is referred to by Catholics as All Saint’s Day. At one time, it was shortened to simply Hallow’s. By default, October 31 became known as Hallow’s Eve which then morphed into the traditional Halloween. I don’t know what happened to the ‘v’ or where the ‘n’ came from. Probably has something to do with Da Vinci in some way.
One of the more interesting questions that arises in Christianity this time every year is whether it is right for Believers to celebrate Halloween. There are plenty of views on this in the Christian community and, as always, the people who speak the loudest about this are usually the people who are most wrong. You can always count on the 21st Century Pharisees to state loudly and clearly that “any Christian who celebrates Halloween is sinning”. When asked to produce something from Scripture that supports their claim, they generally default to claiming even more loudly that you are even a bigger sinner for questioning them. These modern day Judaizers are way more interested in you paying heed to the ultimate authority for right and wrong: Themselves. So, while they wander in a self-imposed wilderness of legalism, I decided to see what (if anything) the Scripture says on this matter.
First, I turned to the internet. You know what? There’s a lot of weird stuff on there. I probably shouldn’t have done that. Then I did what I should have done first and went straight to God’s Word. I found a very interesting chapter that I think addresses this entire idea. Nope, you will not find the word Halloween in the concordance. I know. But I did stumble across Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. In particular, I read chapter 8 of that letter because it seemed apropos to this discussion. In that letter, the new Corinthian Christians were asking Paul if it was forbidden for them to buy and eat meat that had been offered as a blood sacrifice to pagan idols. Granted, the letter doesn’t mention Halloween by name, but it does have some horror-related elements. There are evil, pagan worshipping people. There are evil, pagan gods. There is blood sacrifice to the evil, pagan gods. In fact, I’m going to stop talking about evil, pagan gods and sacrifices. I’m getting a little freaked out.
Once these sacrifices took place, the meat would then be sold in the marketplace for food. Though these new Christians in Corinth were no longer pagans themselves, they still needed to buy groceries. But they were in a pickle. The only meat they could buy had been sacrificed to false gods. But they were now Believers in the true God. They couldn’t buy and eat this “tainted” meat that had been used in such a blasphemous way, could they? That was the question implied by Paul’s answer in chapter 8 of 1st Corinthians. Let’s be clear. The easiest answer and the quickest way to remedy this situation would have been for Paul to just say: “No”! If he had simply prohibited the people’s access to this meat, it would have quickly answered the question and even more quickly ended the discussion. But it would not have been true. How do we know this? Because he gave us the true answer in this chapter.
Simply stated, Paul wrote that if they could eat the idol meat without sinning, then it was permissible for them to do so. He stated that there is only one God and that other gods and idols amounted to nothing. This meant that the sacrifices were sacrificed to nothing. He then makes an interesting comment. He says, “for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse” (1 Corinthians 8:8). Paul is saying here that it does not matter. It is, in fact, a matter of conscience. He claims that, if you eat the meat, that’s fine. If you don’t eat the meat, that’s fine. He applied grace to an issue that others were trying to use to shackle these new Believers with non-Biblical rules and regulations. The only stipulation he places is the same one he places on everything we do with our freedom in Christ. He states that if anything we do causes another Believer to stumble and sin, then that will become sin to us even if we do not have a problem with it.
What does this have to do with Christians celebrating Halloween? Well, if the Bible is saying that one Believer cannot universally tell other Believers that they cannot eat meat that was sacrificed to an evil, pagan idol, then what makes Believers today think they can universally tell other Believers they can’t go trick-or-treating? Or that they can’t watch scary movies? Or that they can’t take part in Halloween activities? I gotta believe, in the grand scheme of things, that eating meat that came from a blood sacrifice to an evil idol is just a bit more serious than dressing up in an Iron Man costume and decorating your house with fake ghosts. Don’t you think? So, I will say what the Bible says. If you want to take part in Halloween, that’s fine. If you don’t want to take part in Halloween, that’s fine. You’re no better if you do and no worse if you don’t. That seems to me to be the Biblical way to handle this. But, just to be safe I will cover all of the bases.
My greeting from a grace perspective: Happy Halloween! My greeting from a legalistic perspective: Burn in hell you Halloween loving heretic! Either way, have a great time.
Since Dr. Mann is going to be a regular contributor to the Growth Project blog, we thought you would be interested in hearing about his amazing life. Classically trained in both Reformed theology and ballet, Guy is the quintessential “Renaissance Man”. His unique perspective on life and culture will engage our minds and tweak our hearts. Dr. Mann’s posts will deal with virtually all aspects of life and provide insights that will challenge and probably enrage most of us.
Born in 1965 in Tupelo, Mississippi, Guy was raised in a very typically American home. His parents were loving and disciplined, and Guy had a very unspectacular childhood in most respects. His childhood days were like most of his contemporaries, filled with daily ballet lessons and pie eating contests. Aside from the normal hijinks that come with being a rambunctious child, Dr. Mann’s childhood was unmarred by any serious infractions. The only exception to this spotless adolescent record was his unfortunate arrest and incarceration for an incident at Elvis Presley’s boyhood home. While details are sketchy, eyewitness accounts allege that Guy was touring the home with many other Elvis fans. After he remarked aloud that Slim Whitman had sold more records than Elvis in Turku, Finland, the crowd immediately turned on Guy. Once he was released from the hospital, Guy was arrested and spent several months in jail. Being a minor, those records were of course expunged, and he lived a quiet life afterward.
After graduating from college, Guy applied for and was accepted into graduate school at Princeton University. He immediately began to pursue a PhD in Bugs. It was only after the first year of study that he realized the program was, in fact, a study of insects and not a study of the famous Warner Brothers cartoon rabbit. Disappointed but not dejected, Guy finished his coursework and was awarded his doctorate. His PhD dissertation entitled Bugs: I Thought it Meant Something Else, was well received in academic circles around the globe.
One of the most ambitious projects Dr. Mann ever participated in was his failed campaign for President of the United States during the 1985 election. He attributed his failure to two very important missteps. 1) He wrongly underestimated the popularity of current President Ronald Reagan. Dr. Mann had polling data that showed people were tiring of Reagan and wanted a change. Turns out that was wrong. 2) There was no Presidential election in 1985. Just the year prior, Reagan had been elected in one of the biggest landslides in US electoral history. Sensing his window for political success may have closed, Guy moved on to bigger and better things.
For the next 30 years Dr. Mann took on a series of odd jobs in communities all across this great nation. Feeling he had accomplished all he could as a drifter, he retired in May, 2018 and settled somewhere in the Midwest. It was at this time that Dr. Mann first discovered the internet. This strange new world opened up a plethora of opportunities for Guy, and he decided to take advantage of this by starting his own blog: A Mann’s World: Musings From a Regular Guy. After submitting his blog posts to a number of high profile media sites, he found his home here at Growth Project. He emails his work to us from an undisclosed location in a bunker deep beneath the American heartland. His unique take on theology, the culture, and the world at large will challenge your thinking and inflame your emotions. You may disagree with him, but we feel you will not be able to ignore him. His is a voice that must be heard. So, please welcome Dr. Mann as our newest Growth Project blogger and please send all complaints to him at: email@example.com He will get back to you just as soon as he buys a computer. The views and ideas posited by Guy T. Mann are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Growth Project and its subsidiaries.
Dr. Purvis started Growth Project with Robert Houghton after spending 20 years on active duty as a Chaplain in the United States Navy. After many moves and multiple deployments, he settled in Winter Haven, Florida to do God’s will. A glutton for educational punishment Danny has a BA in English from Carson-Newman College, an MDiv from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; a ThM from Princeton Theological Seminary; and a PhD in Organizational Leadership from Regent University. He has been married to his wife Kimberly (whom he met when they were 6 years old) for nearly 30 years and they have four wonderful children.