This is my reply to a letter I recieved regarding my article Dabbling in the Occult.  I post it here for your consideration.   

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Dear Friend,

I appreciate your kindness in expressing concern over my article Dabbling in the Occult. I have spent the last number of days in prayer and Bible study, ransacking the Scriptures and the Internet for all I could find pertinent to the topic.

Graveyard Under Snow by Caspar David Friedrich

I agree with you that Halloween, with its focus on death and all manner of demonically inspired characters, is an especially good time to share the good news of eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. It would be wrong to hide the Gospel from those who are lost and blinded to the truth by the god of this world. “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:3-6).

However, we must be very careful not to embrace worldly means in our endeavor to spread the truth. For example, we would both agree, I believe, that using rock music with Christian words in order to reach the lost would be gross compromise. We would reference:

Romans 12:2 “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

2 Cor. 6:14-18 “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in [them]; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean [thing]; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”

Would not these same principles apply to every means of evangelism? Evangelism is necessary, commanded by our Lord. However, should we evangelize the lost through participation in their celebration of a pagan holiday?

Now I must back up and explain that, yes, Halloween is indeed a pagan holiday. As I stated in my article, Halloween began with the Druids as the feast of Samhein. It was a three day event focused on worshiping pagan deities, appeasing evil spirits through sacrifices, communicating with the dead, etc. It was not until the 800s that Pope Boniface IV moved the Catholic holiday All Saint’s Day from May 13 to November 1. This was probably done to “Christianize” the pagan holiday. “Christianizing” pagan practices and holidays was a common practice of the Catholic church.

Allow me to share the perspective of several modern day pagans on Halloween. The first is Isaac Bonewits, author of several pagan books (about witches, Wicca, Druids). In his article The Real Origins of Halloween he writes,

“The Christian Church was unable to get the people to stop celebrating this holiday, so they simply sprinkled a little holy water on it and gave it new names, as they did with other Paleopagan holidays and customs. This was a form of calendrical imperialism, co- opting Paleopagan sacred times, as they had Paleopagan sacred places (most if not all of the great cathedrals of Europe were built on top of earlier Paleopagan shrines and sacred groves). So when Fundamentalists come to your local school board and try to get Halloween removed from the public schools because ‘it’s a Pagan holiday,’ they are perfectly correct. Of course, Valentine’s Day/Lupercalia, Easter/Eostre, and Christmas/Yule also have many Paleopagan elements associated with their dating and/or symbols, as the Jehovah’s Witnesses and others have pointed out for decades. So if we decide to rid the public schools of all holidays that have Pagan aspects to them, there won’t be many left for the kids to enjoy.”

Mr. Bonewits does not see the holiday as being evil. He and other neopagans celebrate by taking the kids trick-or-treating, handing out candy, having parties, and participating in divination. He also states “Halloween is a time to deepen our connection to the cycles of the seasons, to the generations that have come before us and those that will follow, and to the Gods and Goddesses we worship.” He claims that the evil symbols associated with Halloween (“ghosts, skeletons, black cats, ugly witches, demons, monsters, and Jack O’Lanterns”) are not really evil. “The ones that are negative were added by people opposed to the holiday.”

(It is actually very sad to read his articles. He and other pagans would say they are NOT worshiping the lord of death or Satan. They are simply worshiping ancient gods and goddesses. The poor man does not know how blinded he is! The worship of any false god is ultimately worshiping Satan. The Bible is clear that demons are behind all false gods that have been worshiped throughout history. 1 Cor. 10:20-21 “But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils.” See also Lev. 17:7, Deut. 32:16-18, and Ps. 106:36-37)

The second perspective comes from a former witch (now born again) named Valerie Duffy. Berit Kjos in her 1999 article Halloween, a Seductive Bridge Between Two Worlds, writes,

Valerie knows all too well why Neopagans love Halloween. The old Celtic “sabbat” is their main feast — a window of time when the walls between the physical and spiritual worlds supposedly become thin enough to allow easy crossovers. This was the time to catch up with one’s ancestors and other spirits from the underworld. But don’t think the Vigil of Samhain was just a fun holiday. The ‘Lord of the Dead’, Samhain himself, is no deity to laugh at. Valerie explains why:

‘On October 31, black-cloaked Druids bearing torches would go door to door to select humans for their New Year’s sacrifice to the Lord of the Dead. In return for the child or infant, they would leave a hollowed turnip with candle light shining through the carved face — a satanic counterfeit for the biblical Passover.

‘In the reveling that took place on that night to Samhain, the demons supposedly loosed for the night would pass over the homes ‘marked’ by the carved lantern. Those families had provided the required gift or sacrifice. Other homes could be hit — sometimes with sudden death.

‘The children selected for sacrifice were tossed into a bonfire. The Druids called it a bone-fire since only the bones were left. From the agonizing screams of the dying, the divining priests would foretell the future of the village.’”

It seems to be mostly Christians who do not see Halloween as a pagan holiday. Yes, there is, as you say, “nothing ‘inherently evil’ about dressing up in appropriate costumes, getting candy from neighbors and handing out candy to neighbors” any other time of the year, but, according to a former high priest of Wicca, Tom Sanguinet, at Halloween these fun customs unfortunately represent evil practices. He writes, “Trick or Treat is a reenactment of the Druidic practices. The candy has replaced the human sacrifices of old, but it is still an appeasement of those deceptive evil spirits. The traditional response to those who do not treat is to have a trick played on them. When you give out Halloween candy, you are, in essence providing a sacrifice to false gods. You are participating in idolatry.”

(I know this sounds rather extreme. I’m just telling how a former pagan who is now saved views the festivities.)

Oftentimes what one generation allows in moderation the next practices in excess. Halloween was not really celebrated in America until the late 1800s when the Irish came here as a result of the potato famine. The Puritans would not allow it before then. Gradually the holiday has been accepted and now participation is taken for granted, even in Christian circles. It is sobering to think that small areas of compromise in our lives today may result in major aberrations in future generations.

Well, what about Christmas and Easter? If we cut out Halloween, would not consistency demand the elimination of these holidays also? Honestly, I haven’t had time to research these yet. Yes, these holidays have pagan roots also, but to my currently un-researched way of thinking there is a big difference. While Christmas and Easter have major Christian emphases—the birth, crucifixion, and resurrection of Christ—there is absolutely nothing Christian about Halloween.

As I researched the topic of Halloween, I came across articles representative of nearly every view on the subject. It is vital to go back to the authority of the Word of God. We know from Scripture that paganism, witchcraft, and the Occult are abominable to the Lord (Ex. 22:18, Lev. 19:26-31, Lev. 20:27, Deut. 18:10-14). God tells us to “come out from among them and be ye separate…touch not the unclean thing” (2 Cor. 6:17). Eph. 5:11 “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.”

When Christians dress up in costumes along with everyone else on this day (even cute, innocent costumes) and go trick-or-treating, how does a non-Christian discern the difference? One pagan said that they liked Halloween so much because that was the time when Christians and pagans worshiped the same god. It appears to them that the Christian is celebrating Halloween just like them. The Bible says, “Only let your conversation [conduct, manner of living] be as it becometh the gospel of Christ” (Phil. 1:27a).

Yes, share the Gospel. Be out on the street talking, witnessing to neighbors you wouldn’t see otherwise. Take full advantage of their willingness to talk on that night. Yes, give a gospel witness and tracts to those who come knocking at your door. But wouldn’t it be better to do it un-costumed and without participating in the festivities in any way, so as not to give an uncertain picture?

I Thess. 5:21-22 “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil.”

Dear friend, please know that if you do not agree with my conclusions, I will not think harshly of you.  I truly appreciate your questioning me on my article. It drove me to the Word of God, forced me to deepen my study, and further substantiate my convictions. I simply share these thoughts for your prayerful consideration.

 

Dearly,

Vida

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© Copyright 2007 by Vida Earnshaw

(Note: The first painting above is titled Graveyard Under Snow by Caspar David Friedrich.  The second is The Crystal Ball by John William Waterhouse.)

 

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