By Nathan Jones
Is Halloween permissible and does it provide an outreach opportunity?
In this "The Truth Will Set You Free" TWave Radio episode, Pastor Vic Batista of Calvary Chapel Aventura located in the Miami, Florida area and I will look at whether Christians should participate in Halloween.
Kirk Cameron, who starred in the original Left Behind movies, came out with an article in the Christian Post that supported Halloween. He pointed back to All Hallows Eve and how it was originally Christian. He explained how celebrants would wear costumes and masks to make fun of evil and to show that Jesus had finally conquered evil on the Cross. That he said is how Halloween started out.
Cameron makes the case that we should embrace Halloween as an opportunity for outreach. We should have big block parties where we invite kids and share the Gospel with them. We should give them tracts and show them that Jesus defeated evil. We should use Halloween as Christians he says.
I kind of agree with Kirk Cameron there. It's a shame when Christians circle the wagons and the kids stay inside and can't do anything. Halloween is indeed an opportunity to share the Gospel. There is truck-in-treating, and whatever parties the churches hold. There are lots of great churches holding outreach events like that and use Halloween as an opportunity to share Christ.
Vic Batista: Absolutely, Halloween is a great evangelistic opportunity. When I was serving in another ministry down in South Beach, Florida (Nathan, I think you visited there with me once...)
Nathan Jones: Yeah, you were really suffering for the Lord there on the beach, weren’t you?
Vic Batista: We sure were! But, actually, on Halloween that's what our ministry would do. We would go out and evangelize in those areas such as South Beach.
I also agree with you that we do have to take certain holidays for the Lord. God has not given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power and of might. That is why I definitely look at Halloween as an evangelistic opportunity. We are not supposed to hide behind closed doors.
But, if people don't want to celebrate Halloween and they want to totally avoid it, we can certainly understand that as well.
In my neighborhood and the surrounding, what happens is that people like to celebrate Halloween with shooting, so then what happens is there are also certain dangers associated with Halloween and being out on the streets. That is part of the reason why my family is not out there, because of flying bullets.
Nathan Jones: Wow! That's quite a different side of Miami than the South Beach side.
Sometimes we as Christians get so worried that we are going to mess up that our faith almost becomes works-based. So, for different Christians, they need to go back to Acts 15 when the Church was trying to decide whether the new Christian converts needed to follow the Jewish Law or not. Do we live under the Mosaic Law with its 613 rules and regulations? Or, do we live under God's grace where God leads through the Holy Spirit in us and that we are spiritually mature enough to make wise decisions.
The Church in Acts 15 concluded that food sacrificed to idols was nothing. It's nonsense, so go ahead and eat the food. But, if eating it causes a stumbling block in your life, and if your faith is really challenged by that, then don't eat the food.
The Church's decision as led by the Holy Spirit applies to many areas in our life, such as Halloween. Some people even have trouble with Easter and Christmas. Okay, if those days are a stumbling block to you, and if you feel you will be pulled into something dark and evil, or you have decided you want to live a certain way that pleases the Lord according to your mind, then don't participate in Halloween. Don't do Christmas or Easter.
But, and this is the point, those people cannot then turn around and condemn other people and say Christians cannot celebrate Christmas and Easter and Halloween because I don't. That should never be the case at all. Read all throughout the New Testament, especially in Romans 8, that through Jesus Christ the law of the spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. So, if a Christian in good conscious wants to go out trick-or-treating, they don't have to feel like they are worshiping the Devil or evil or some such thing. They are just having fun and can be using Halloween as an opportunity to share the Gospel. If somebody really feels burdened that they cannot participate, then they should not do so, but the one who does not cannot tell the one who does that they are wrong.
Vic Batista: Excellent point! One of the things that you just mentioned was grace. We cannot forgot grace right in the midst of our celebrations. You are absolutely right. That's why in terms of being divided, I see there's so much, "I don't do this because you do this, and I don't do that and neither should you." No, what is the Holy Spirit leading you to do? If your brother likes to eat a burger but you don't, let him eat it, right, and don't you be condemning him for doing so.
Nathan Jones: Exactly. I know a number of Catholics that celebrate Lent. They only meat they eat is fish and that's it, and they don't eat for a certain amount of time. I for one have never practiced Lent. I just don't see it. But, they are doing so as an object of worship to the Lord.
We can choose to do fasting. We can do full fasts with no food whatsoever, or we could just drink liquids, or we can abstain from certain foods. When we do so, we do so because we serve the Lord. See, that is the wonder of living under grace, because when you live under grace everything should be an object of worship to the Lord. It's not you have to do this and this and that and this, it's whatever you put your heart to serving the Lord. As long as it's not sin, then you are worshiping the Lord. We live under that grace to worship the Lord every minute of every day and however when pleases Him.
Vic Batista: That is the freedom that we have in Christ. That is why I love our outreach ministry called "The Truth Will Set You Free."
Nathan Jones: That's the perfect title for your radio program, because it is True that truth sets us free. Christ Jesus sets us free not only only from our own sin and our enslavement to sin, but to the idea of having to live under all these different rules and regulations.
People have got to remember that when the Mosaic Law was formed, the Hebrew people had just been taken out of Egypt. They had lived under paganism for 400 years. They didn't truly know God, so God like little children had to teach them to don't do this and don't do that, and do this and do that, in order to help them understand what it was to live and serve the Lord. They always struggled with living like that because they never understood that the relationship with the Lord was really about a heart issue. They would do stuff and say, "I'm pleasing the Lord," but their hearts were far from Him.
Because of Jesus death on the cross, we now live under grace. Not it's not do this and do that, rather it's about how our heart and our relationship is with Jesus Christ. That's more important than the do's and the don'ts.
Vic Batista: Christian living is about conviction. One of the things that we encourage people to do is not to violate their conscience in terms of what the Holy Spirit has told them to do. But, at the same time, we should not point our fingers at others for their choices and how they want to celebrate or hold certain holidays. It has to be a personal conviction, and then follow that if the Lord has lead you to celebrate this event. Do it if the Holy Spirit has lead you, or don't. At the same time don't be putting a yolk over your brothers and sisters.
Nathan Jones: Exactly. Our ministry is inundated every Christmas and Easter with emails from people asking what do we think about celebrating these holidays. They'll accuse, "How dare you guys say that it is okay to celebrate Christmas." I'm like, "Are you telling me it's wrong to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ? Is that what you are saying?"
When it comes to Easter, detractors will say the holiday is pagan and it's all about the goddess Ishtar. Certainly there were pagan elements people tried to put into Easter, like anything Christians. But, I worship Resurrection Day which is the day the Lord was resurrected. I'm not going to not do so because someone has tried to put pagan elements into it. I just ignore the pagan elements.
In the third and last segment of our discussion on whether Christians should participate in Halloween, Vic and I will explore the dangers and see if the holiday can be reclaimed for the Christian faith.