When it comes to the lengths Christians will go to justify their completely unbiblical infatuations I think the most absurd might well be the efforts some will go to present Halloween as ‘God-approved’ or perhaps even something that glorifies Messiah. In this message I am going to examine the claims of Kirk Cameron—a popular actor and Christian speaker—and Christian writer Jessica Brodie from her article: Is the Origin of Halloween Rooted in a Pagan Holiday?
While it will certainly play some role in the assessment of the claims made by Cameron and Brodie, I do not want to place a lot of emphasis on the known concerns with Halloween being connected to the ancient Samhain festival or its continued sacredness in modern Wiccan religion. Instead what I want to do is put more of a focus on the claims made with the assumption that they may have some amount of historical truth to them and weigh them against the whole counsel of Scripture.
All Hallows Eve And All Saints Day
The first thing we need to examine in detail is the claim that Halloween was started by “Christians” as a celebration of “all saints”—referring, of course, to those who have been given the formal title of “Saint” under Roman Catholicism. In a 2014 article titled Kirk Cameron on Halloween: ‘Christians Should Have the Biggest Party on the Block’ reporter Emma Koonse of The Christian Post records the actor as saying:
“The real origins have a lot to do with All Saints Day and All Hallows Eve. If you go back to old church calendars, especially Catholic calendars, they recognize the holiday All Saints Day, with All Hallows Eve the day before, when they would remember the dead. That's all tied in to Halloween.”
We’ll hold off on discussing the “remember the dead” part of that for the moment and focus on the commemoration of Roman Catholic “Saints”. To add to Cameron’s summation of the holiday, Brodie makes the following remarks in her article:
Halloween is a commingled word formed from both “All Hallows” and “Even,” or “E’en,” the Scottish word for evening. Hallow means “to make holy.”
Halloween is meant to refer to the evening before All Holies Day, also known as All Saints Day, a religious holiday in the Roman Catholic and many Protestant denominations of Christianity to honor Christians who have died (also called saints) and gone to heaven.
All Saints Day — also called All Hallows Day, All Holies Day, and Hallowmas — is celebrated November 1, which is why Halloween is celebrated October 31.
The day after All Saints Day, November 2, is called All Souls Day and honors all who have died regardless of their religious beliefs and presumed afterlife destination.
The triple-day festival is, in essence, a Christian observance known as Hallowtide to commemorate the dead.
With these two quotes we have Christian authors and speakers proposing that Halloween is a Christian celebration based on the historical point that the Roman Catholic Church initiated this holiday to honor their “Saints”. While this may sound like a noble gesture, let’s take a closer look at what Roman Catholic “Saints” are and whether the concept truly is biblical and “God-approved”.
In ancient Rome there were two ideologies that played a role when the Romans overtook a land and appropriated the religion and god(s) of the nation: interpretatio Romana and evocatio deorum. In the case of the first view, interpretatio Romana, a god appropriated into the Roman religion was assimilated into an existing Roman god with shared characteristics. So, let’s say the Romans conquered an area that had a god associated with the oceans. They would essentially take any unique characteristics of that god and attribute them to Neptune who would then replace that god. The second view, evocatio deorum, involves a “deal” of sorts the Romans would make with the god(s) of a region they are set to conquer and, upon successfully overtaking it, the god or gods of that territory would be given a place in the Roman pantheon.
Now let’s look at that word pantheon. A pantheon is the collective total of all gods in a polytheistic religion. So, the old Greco-Roman religion is a polytheistic religion with a pantheon of gods—Zeus/Jupiter, Cronus/Saturn, Poseidon/Neptune, Artemis/Diana, etc. As a side note, the word pagan in terms of religious usage is a reference to a polytheistic religion. While many today use the term to refer to any religion that is not part of Judeo-Christian faith, in reality pagans are those of a polytheistic religion, or who have a pantheon of gods. With regard to pagan polytheistic religions there are several characteristics that we see in practice.
1. The gods of a polytheistic religion are given some type of specific regional power, such as the god of the sky, the god of the seas, the god of the underworld, the goddess of love, the goddess of fertility, and so on.
2. There are special days set to honor each god with a feast, festival, and general celebration.
3. The worshipers of these gods pray to their gods.
4. Temples are built for the gods.
5. Statues of the gods are erected.
When we look at the system of Roman Catholic “Saints” we see all of these same characteristics. They are given a regional authority as the “Patron Saint” of lands, careers, and other important aspects of life. There are feasts, festivals, and celebrations held for them—some popular examples are “Saint Valentine’s Day” and “Saint Patrick’s Day”. Roman Catholics pray to the “Saints”. Roman Catholic Cathedrals are typically named for a “Saint”. And in most Roman Catholic Cathedrals and Churches you can find statues of the “Saints” erected. What Roman Catholicism has essentially done is used the old Roman principles of interpretatio Romana and evocatio deorum to create a whole pantheon of gods that they call “Saints” but in every way are a mirror of any other pagan pantheon of gods.
Interestingly enough, there is an ancient Roman Temple called The Pantheon that was dedicated to all of the gods of the Old Roman Religion. Today this building stands as a Roman Catholic Church. This is acknowledged by Brodie who says the following in her article:
In the early seventh century, the pope of the Roman Catholic church was gifted with the magnificent Roman Pantheon, a massive cylindrical architectural masterpiece.
The Pantheon used to serve as a Roman temple dedicated to the gods of an earlier era, and Pope Boniface IV removed the heretical statues and converted it into a Christian church. He dedicated it to all the Christians who had died for their faith in the first 300 years after Christ.
Brodie seeks to spin this in a way to justify the action, as a way of saying that the temple was pagan but now it’s a Christian building so all is well. There are, of course, multiple biblical problems with this line of thinking, but perhaps the most blatant and obvious one is this:
You must drive out all the inhabitants of the land before you. You must destroy all their idols and cast images, and demolish their high places.
—Numbers 33:52 (TLV)
You are to tear down their altars, smash their pillars, burn their Asherah poles in the fire and cut down the carved images of their gods, and you are to obliterate their name from that place.
—Deuteronomy 12:3 (TLV)
The commandment of God is to utterly destroy all of the idolatry when you take over a region. This is the exact opposite of the pagan polytheistic practices we looked at above. Instead of appropriating, assimilating, and absorbing the practices and gods of other religions into our faith, The Bible says to completely destroy them and not leave a trace of their memory—not to convert their pagan temple into a “cathedral” where you do exactly what was done in it before, only instead of venerating the old Greco-Roman gods they now venerate their gods they call “Saints”. If you continue in Deuteronomy 12, verse 30 says: “…be careful not to be trapped into imitating them after they have been destroyed before you. Do not inquire about their gods, saying, ‘How do these nations serve their gods? I will do the same.” So even if what Brodie and Cameron have claimed about the Roman Catholic Religion and its creation of Halloween being completely separate from the Celtic Samhain festival is true, its also still totally pagan and Roman Catholicism with its pantheon of gods (aka, “Saints”) is a wholly polytheistic pagan religion.
For The Dead
Let’s go back now and take a look at that statement Cameron made, “they would remember the dead,” and Brodie’s, “to commemorate the dead.” In these statements we find what may very well be the most concerning of all things said in defense of Halloween. Consider what The Bible says about this:
Do not cut your flesh or shave your forehead for the dead. (Leviticus 19:28, Deuteronomy 14:1)
Do not get involved with a fortune-teller, soothsayer, omen reader, or sorcerer, or one who casts spells, or a medium, a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. (Deuteronomy 18:10-11)
Do not give your tithe to the dead. (Deuteronomy 26:14)
Do not be involved with mediums and necromancers. (Leviticus 20:6, 27, Isaiah 8:19)
Clearly the biblical way is the exact opposite of having some sort of feast, festival, celebration, or holiday for the dead. This essentially means that Halloween is ultimately a form of ancient worship of the dead much like ancestral worship. I have to say that my mind is blown that there are even people out there claiming not just to be “Christians” but “Christian” teachers and leaders who would openly acknowledge that Halloween is a celebration for the dead and think that is somehow an acceptable practice for anyone who follows The Bible.
Yeshua said to let the dead bury the dead (Matthew 8:22, Luke 9:60). Why are “Christians” so infatuated with a holiday that at best is a celebration for the dead when the Gospel record plainly tells us God is not the God of the dead, but of the living? (see Mark 12:27)
One of the most popular holidays in Spanish culture is called Dia de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead). While not exactly the same as the Halloween or All Saints Day celebrations, it takes place on November 1-2 each year and is also a commemoration for the dead. It is celebrated with people painting their faces to look like decorated skulls.
Any type of ancestral worship and veneration of the dead is totally against Scripture. So even if a case can be made that Roman Catholicism created a celebration called All Hallow’s Eve, on the eve of All Saints Day, as a day to celebrate and venerate the dead—specifically those who had been “sainted” after their passing from this life, allegedly prior to any assimilation with the Celtic Samhain festival—it is still absolutely a Satanic practice that is forbidden by Scripture.
All of these things are completely opposed by Scripture and the commandments of The God of The Bible. My question is: How does any of this stuff being done for the dead glorify The God of the living?
Both Cameron and Brodie, in different ways, suggest that the most notable element of Halloween celebration—the donning of demonic-looking costumes—is actually a positive thing. Cameron suggests that this is historically a way of mocking devils as being beneath the Believer empowered by God’s Spirit while Brodie proposes that this is related to exorcising demons.
I find nowhere in The Bible where anyone had to dress up in a costume to make themselves look like a devil in order to demonstrate authority over or cast out a devil. Such suggestions used in defense of a Christian celebration of this holiday is beyond ludicrous, yet instead of deferring to Scripture Christians tend to just accept such arguments because they seem more interested in justifying their assimilation with secular and Satanic cultural activities than to come out from among them and be separate (2 Corinthians 6:17). The plain fact of the matter is that a festival for the dead where you dress up like something demonic-looking, whatever the reason may be, is totally against everything The Bible tells us to do as followers of Yeshua.
The Bible Is Clear
1 Corinthians 14:33 says that God is not a God of confusion, but of peace. Shortly after The Christian Post published their report on the interview with Kirk Cameron, an article was posted on a website called Skeptic titled Kirk Cameron and His Critics: Is Halloween Christian or Pagan? In this response to the statements made by Cameron, the author Eve Siebert states:
Halloween does have Christian roots. While it may also have some pagan elements, those are so intertwined with the Christian tradition that it is impossible to disentangle the strands. Kirk Cameron’s notions about Halloween are simplistic, poorly researched, and partly wrong, but those who criticize him by asserting that Halloween is simply a pagan holiday with a superficial Christian veneer are also using simplistic, poorly researched, and partly wrong arguments.
The thing that jumped out right away about this conclusion is that it demonstrates to us just how confusing the origins of Halloween really are. Is it originally the demonic Samhain festival or is it originally the Roman Catholic All Hallows Eve? Does it even matter, as both are ultimately the product of Satanic pagan religions?
This, of course, is not limited to Halloween either. Christmas and Easter certainly fall into this area of confusion as the origins and influences of various traditions associated with them are also uncertain as to their origin. But even the so-called “Christian” origins of these holidays are purely Roman Catholic and thus totally pagan.
Let’s face a harsh reality: Not everything that is “Christian”, whether in origin or modern practice, is biblical. In fact, the reality is that most of what is done in “Christianity” today is unbiblical and if we are truly honest totally opposed by The Bible. The most popular holidays among “Christians” today are in fact almost certainly a transgression of the commandment of God to not appropriate and assimilate the ways of pagans into our faith practice (Deuteronomy 12:29-31). This would make “Christian” celebration of holidays like Halloween, Christmas, and Easter a sin—as sin is properly defined in 1 John 3:4 as the breaking, transgressing, violating of The Torah.
The one who sows seeds of confusion and doubt is Satan, the lawless one, as we see in the events of Genesis 3. Yet the overwhelming majority of professing “Christians” today seem to be under a delusional force (2 Thessalonians 2:11) because they think they are following truth when in reality they follow the devil’s deception. Consider these words from the late A.W. Tozer:
History shows clearly enough that true spirituality has never at any time been the possession of the masses. In any given generation since the fall of the human race, only a few persons ever discerned the right way or walked in God's laws.
God's truth has never been popular. Wherever Christianity becomes popular, it is not on its way to die—it has already died.
At any time there are a few who see, and the rest are blinded. To stand by the truth of God against the current religious vogue is always unpopular and may be downright dangerous.
It never ceases to amaze me at what “Christians” will say to justify their actions. Popular holidays like Christmas and Easter are certainly problematic, but in many ways I can understand to a small degree why “Christians” would consider them so sacred. After all, they are convinced that these two holidays venerate two of the biggest events in the life of their “Jesus”—his birth and his resurrection. So, while it can easily be shown that it’s biblically impossible to date the birth of the real Messiah Yeshua to any winter month and the crucifixion and resurrection are clearly associated biblically with The Passover and First Fruits celebrations, I can understand how people who only know the lies of modern “Christian” religion blindly celebrate these holidays. But Halloween?
Regardless of whether Halloween is the Celtic Samhain festival rebranded or a veneration of the Roman Catholic pantheon of “Saints” it is still a wholly demonic festival. People defending “Christian” celebration of Halloween have literally looked at the Roman Pantheon temple which was converted into a Roman Catholic Cathedral now dedicated to all of the Roman Catholic “Saints” and venerate this like it’s some type of holy act. No, it’s a totally unbiblical act and the very type of thing that throughout Scripture provoked the wrath of God in Israel’s history.
Earlier one of the citations from Brodie’s article was talking about “to make holy”. Here’s the thing, you cannot “make holy” something that is not established as holy in The Bible. You don’t get to just make stuff up and say that it’s holy now because you said so. And yet this is how “Christianity” seems to operate. As a religion “Christianity” makes stuff up, seeks out something from The Bible that sounds like it supports what they made up, and calls it holy. That’s not holiness, that’s blasphemous.
The Biblical Alternative To Halloween
I have heard in the past preachers say that you can’t take something away from children without giving them something in its place, and so we must do some sort of Halloween alternative. As a result churches come up with things like “Hallelujah Parties” and “Trunk-or-Treat” events—I have even seen some come up with something they called “Neewollah” (Halloween spelled backwards). But The Bible never authorizes the development of alternatives for unbiblical pagan celebrations.
“Christian” celebrations of Halloween are nothing more than “churches” thinking that the way to win the world is to give the world the same worldliness that the world already gives the world. We are not told to “conquer demons” by dressing up like them and we are not told to draw the world to us by acting as worldly as they are. We are told to draw them in by lifting up the name of Yeshua. If you cannot attract the world to The Word through the name of Yeshua, the power of the Ruach HaKodesh (Spirit of Holiness), and The Bible then you are doing it wrong.
If “Christians” would just go to their Bible they would quickly find out that there is a festival that occurs relatively close to Halloween—The Feast of Tabernacles, more properly called Sukkot. Instead of a one-night event where the focus is on death and the dead or even the veneration of Roman Catholic “Saints” Sukkot is an eight-day celebration often nicknamed “the season of our joy”. It’s basically the ultimate fall festival thriving with prophetic significance.
The Feast of Sukkot typically occurs in late September or early October, as the time of the Feast is based on the Hebrew calendar, which doesn’t align with the Gregorian calendar used by most of secular society today. Regardless, it is, as I said, relatively close to the Halloween festival that occurs at the end of October.
Sukkot is typically celebrated with a simple structure called a sukkah. If you are unfamiliar with it, the sukkah is sort of a makeshift temporary shelter traditionally made with a simple wood frame, three walls made of grass, bamboo, wood, or some other such material, and a canopy or roof made from leafy tree branches. Scripture indicates that the only people truly required to make a sukkah during the Feast of Tabernacles are bloodline Israelites who are physically living in the land of Israel during the Feast. Beyond that there is some debate as to whether or not all who celebrate the Feast should make a sukkah, as under the new covenant we are all grafted into the cultivated olive tree of Israel. But this is a discussion for another time.
While these debates may not be settled, for purposes of this message we are looking at this as the true biblical alternative to Halloween, particularly for “Christian churches”. Since churches have the means to host any other kind of “Halloween alternative” events they have come up with, certainly they have the means to build a traditional sukkah and make it the centerpiece of their Sukkot festival. As Sukkot is an eight-day celebration, a church could easily have a standard fall festival type event on their property—think things like hayrides, farm animals, and other such attractions that families would enjoy.
It’s pretty amazing to me that once you commit to doing Bible things in Bible ways—once you make that decision to really come out from among them and be separate—you quickly find out that there are actually fully biblical alternatives to worldly secular-pagan holidays like Halloween—as well as Christmas and Easter. You don’t have to make stuff up. You don’t have to brainstorm some “less worldly, less Satanic, but still unbiblical” alternative event for your community. You can actually do something we are commanded to do in The Bible, something Yeshua and all of the Apostles did, and use that to attract the community. I would venture to say that if a church community built a large sukkah and set out all sorts of games and wholesome fall festival type attractions they would attract just as many people from the local area as they would with the worldly, demonic, and pagan alternatives to Halloween. So there really is no excuse for a church to do what’s biblical instead of what’s pagan.
A popular Christian pastor of a generation past, C.H. Spurgeon, once said that if you need to host a carnival to get people to come to your church you will need to continue hosting carnivals to keep them coming back. What if instead of hosting worldly and even pagan events to attract people, you used The Bible, the name of Yeshua lifted up, the power of The Holy Spirit, and Bible Feasts to attract people?
Think about it, if the thing you draw people with is the thing you will need to use to keep them coming back, as Spurgeon suggests, then it only seems logical that if Bible things done in Bible ways are used to draw them in the first place then those same Bible things done in Bible ways will be what keeps them coming back. I know, this makes entirely too much sense, right? Especially when the alternative is to draw people through compromise and hypocrisy.
Then, if Bible things being done in Bible ways are what keeps them coming, and if they are drawn so much to the holy that any attempt to embrace the worldly and the pagan would push them away, then you would actually have a ministry accomplishing The Gospel—leading people to follow Yeshua and His Torah lifestyle. I know, again I am making way too much sense but the truth is the truth.
If you have read through this message and you still are not totally convinced that Halloween is something best shunned as a follower of Yeshua, I would like to ask you a question. Throughout Scripture we see The Father’s attitude and response to anytime Israel embraced the ways and traditions of the nations, especially in regard to pagan religious practices. One need only to read the biblical accounts regarding things like Molech worship, Ba’al worship, Asherah worship, incense burned in the high places, molding of golden calves, and numerous other examples. With this in mind, and with a host of actual biblical Feasts we can celebrate, why would you even want to take a chance with any “holiday” that is not based in Scripture—whether it be Halloween, Christmas, Easter, one of the popular feast days for a Roman Catholic “Saint”, or anything else?
If you are still on the fence about this matter, please take time to really think long and hard about that question.
~Blessings and Shalom~
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