Annual Halloween post!

Will is dressing up as a ghost for Halloween. I was shocked. He has an Indiana Jones costume that he wears everywhere. Or, I thought he might choose the Storm Trooper costume. I have given up on him being a superhero (Batman, Vigilante, Green Lantern, or any other DC character). Sigh… but a ghost? Where did that come from?

My Fundamentalist right pinky toe started to speak.

Toe: “You know what is going to happen if he dresses up as a Ghost.”

Me: “No, what?”

Toe: “Satan.”

Me: “Say what?”

Toe: “Satan will have a foothold. You and your family will have compromised to evil.”

Me: “How so? I don’t get it.”

Toe: “Ghosts are demons. Or at least they are demonic. Therefore, your son is taking his first step toward practicing demonology. It is a form of Satan worship.”

Me: “Say what?”

Toe: “See, you have already compromised and you don’t recognize it! Next thing you know, Katelynn and Kylee will be dressing up as witches.”

Me: “To what end?”

Toe: “What?”

Me: “To what end? So what? Who cares?”

Toe: “I want a new master. You can just go watch Harry Potter for all I care.”

Christians on Halloween. Scared to celebrate. Some with more than their pinky toes doing the talking. You know the ones. They are the only ones in the neighborhood who have their lights turned off. “Oh, here come the kids. They are going to come to our door. If we open it, we will have compromised and, in effect, told them that Satan is our friend, that Satan is our pal. Turn off the lights and HIDE! It is the only Christian thing to do.

Ahem…please. Help us.

I can’t believe I am going to say this but, WWJD? Really, what would Jesus do? Can you see it? Jesus with his lights turned off on Halloween? That would be the Jesus history never knew. That would be the Jesus of western Fundamentalism. The one who is not a friend of sinners and tax gatherers. The Jesus that was never accused of being a drunkard. The Jesus who looked from a distance at the wedding of Cana, waiting for the sinners to wipe the dust off their feet before he talked to them. The Jesus who saw a child dressed up as a ghost and said, “I can’t take this anymore. It is not worth it. Give me that stone so that I can turn it into bread.”

Mark Young, my friend and former missions prof at DTS (now the president of Denver Seminary), used to talk about this in his missions 101 class. Oh, the shame of us students who had turned off the lights. We left the class crying, looking for little witches and ghosts to hug. His thesis: Christians are not Christians on Halloween. Not because they have compromised and participated, but precisely because they don’t participate. The one day of the year where children (“Permit them to come to me…” Mark 10:14) are attempting to come to us and we shut the door and turn off the lights. We left the class in tears and began to plan what we were going to be for Halloween.

Toe (yes, he’s back): “But…but…but…It is not about the lights being on. Its not about giving out candy. Its about participating in the evil deeds of darkness. Don’t you know the roots of Halloween?”

Give me a break. Who have you been reading? Whoever it is, stop. First of all, how many kids do you know that are into witchcraft, Satan worship, or necromancy? What happened? Your eight-year-old was walking down the street in her witch costume and thought to herself: “I suddenly feel myself tempted to say a chant and worship Satan”?

Toe: “No, it happens subtly. You know, like with Harry Potter.”

Yeah, that is right. In twenty-first century America, I can see how much satanism has grown because of Harry Potter and Halloween. Witchcraft is the primary evil from which young kids have to recover. It’s not sexual promiscuity, it’s not greed or materialism, it’s not moms and dads who can’t demonstrate commitment and love, it’s not a compromise of the Gospel. It’s witchcraft. It’s our kids becoming ghosts on Halloween.

Sorry. Will is going to be a ghost. You can turn off your lights.

(Oh, and one more thing. Don’t just give out tracts…Shame, shame. Give out the best candy in the neighborhood. Let people know you are the house that is not cheap.)

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    29 replies to "Jesus with His Lights Out on Halloween"

    • Marv

      Halloween is a wonderful evangelistic tool. But let us not overlook other ways we can embrace the occult for Jesus.

      1. Arrange a seance for the neighborhood children. See if you can bring up the spirit of Samuel (it’s biblical!) to show them the Bible is true.
      2. Do some white magic and cast a spell over your whole block. What ya wanna bet you get more conversions next time you go door to door.
      3. Include a horoscope in your church bulletin. Secret: whatever your sign is, it tells you “read your Bible more.”
      4. Put a Tarot reader table next to the coffee stand in the lobby. Make sure it closes down five minutes before the service or folks might stay out there too long.
      5. If you have a book table, consider adding some select Santoria items.
      6. Pastors, learn a little voodoo. That way funerals can take on a whole new life, so to speak.

    • Pastor Matt

      Great post! Especially as a guy currently writing a book on zombies and theology.

    • Matthew

      Let’s not forget celebrating Christmas and Easter. Those occultic rituals the church has already embraced….bunch of heathens… Granted my Luther and Calvin Jack – o – Lanterns do look pretty cool.

      Nauck nauck nauck

    • Marv

      Michael, RE: your annual tradition (a custom more honor’d in the breach than the observance).

      Why this post is appalling and should be discontinued:

      1. NOT because you present an apologia for your conviction of using the cultural activities of Halloween for evangelistic purposes, despite the current (not ancient) practices of celebrating terror, cruelty, murder, bloodshed, occult practices, and traditional imagery that is representative of the kingdom of Satan… Go fer it.

      2. But because you opine that those of us with a contrary opinion are (a) unChristlike, (b) unChristian, (c) shameful.

      No, shame on you. You should do the first without doing the second. Not to mention employing silly arguments to support it (e.g. “Well, your kid saw a Harry Potter film and he hasn’t become a Satanist, so there!)

    • Topher

      I can’t find the exact quote but didn’t Voltaire say something to the effect, “The problem is not that Christians oppose witchcraft because it is superstitious nonsense, but they oppose is because they think it actually works.”

      Come on people, “This Present Darkness” was fiction.

    • Eric Granata

      My family does not celebrate Halloween, not because we are scared, but because there is nothing redeeming about the holiday. Easter and Christmas, though celebrated around pagan holidays, focus on the birth and resurrection of Christ. As far as I can tell, Halloween is a celebration of fear and unbridled consumption (of candy).

      Another thing that bothers me about the Halloween discussion is that people talk like Christians shouldn’t behave any differently than the rest of the world. Do you see the problem with that thinking?

      Our kids have plenty of opportunities to dress up in costume and eat candy throughout the year.

    • Jason Funk

      I can’t agree with Eric more.

    • ruben

      I don’t get the concept of Halloween but I do sense something numinous and good in old monster movies so not everything scary and strange is a celebration of evil.

    • Ed Kratz

      Scary does not equate to “not of the Lord.” The fear we produce is our own making. Dinasours are about the scariest thing I can think of. Snakes come in a close second.

      In the end, I don’t even know if it is a question of having grace (as that implies a stooping and “allowance” for something that is wrong). I think it is an issue that it is just not wrong to dress up on a day that no longer has any associations with its past. To call it wrong is legalism in my opinion. And, again in my opinion, to turn your lights out borders on sin.

    • Steve Martin

      I dressed up as a kid and went trick or treating on Halloween as a kid.

      It was just plain fun.

      I still worship the Lord and receive the Sacraments (which He commanded that we receive).

      I don’t see a problem with it.

      Of course many do go overboard. That can be a problem with anything.

    • Steve Martin

      There is no real focus on Christ or the gospel at birthday parties, either. But I have gone to many of those and have let my children attend those, as well.

    • Mike

      Really? This needs to be discussed?

      It’s not a matter of personal opinions or judgments: Paul provides all the guidance we need regarding such matters. And he doesn’t resort to labeling another person’s convictions as “sin” or some form of “legalism.”

      Where’s the love of Christ in our dealings with and consideration of others?

      Rom 14:6 – “He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God.” –

      Rom 14:3 – “The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him.”

      Rom 14:5 – “One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind.”

    • Robert

      It seems that it’s become somewhat fashionable among reformed folks to not only distance themselves from “fundamentalism”, but to speak with a condescending attitude towards those of the fundamentalist camp. As one who was once a part of the fundamentalist movement and now a confessional reformed Baptist, I would urge my reformed brethren to beware of pride. They are not enemies. I thank God for those fundamentalist who taught me to revere, love, and trust God’s Word and I thank God for the Reformed that have taught me to better understand it.

    • Skaggers

      I love the comments each year to this post… it is almost as devisive as Armenian v Calvinism.. I am glad we take the “how to/not to celebrate halloween” essential of the faith so seriously.

      I know you won’t, but don’t forget to repost Dan Wallace’s halloween blog too!


    • Mike

      Ah, yes, the great “Armenian v Calvinism” debate.

      Actually did my dissertation on it.

    • Randall

      I concur with Marv and others…it’s not as “black and white” as this post makes it…Jesus celebrated activities that were not inherently evil…we don’t see Him joining in pagan practices. We’re not wild-eyed see-no-evil types…we have better things to do than “celebrate” a “holiday” that is fun at best, is actually based on a premise of extortion (think about it…give me a treat or I’ll “trick” – I.e., harm – you), and at worst has deep occult connections. Not celebrating, though, is not withdrawal…in fact, it can be a way to be “salt” and “light” – offers an opportunity to have a conversation about why.

      If believers choose to participate with eyes wide open and with a view toward advancing God’s purposes, that’s their decision. But let’s not help Satan by beating up on our fellow brothers and sisters who have a different view. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

    • jonathan

      i just hope your pinky toe isnt your conscience.

      Wisdom will be justified by her children.

    • jim

      marv, totally disagreed with your opionion. RE: despite the current (not ancient) practices of celebrating terror, cruelty, murder, bloodshed, occult practices, and traditional imagery that is representative of the kingdom of Satan… Go fer it.” What ?? Turn to almost any of the books of the old testament and you will see cruelty, murder, bloodshed, that doesn’t define Satan….think of David, and all of Israel and the battles and prophets. The point being that kids dressing up and getting candy is nothing but that. As for the comment that it is a practice of extortion, it may be committed by some but by far is not practiced where I live. The kids don’t even say “Trick or Treat”…… I am not condeming anybody’s view on this but agree that legalism kills grace …I have seen it practiced many times over. So if your intent on turning out your lights…fine , mine will be on.

    • Bill Fortenberry

      Mr. Patton,

      I noticed that you answered the question of what Jesus would do in regards to leaving His light on without even attempting to answer the question of what Jesus would do in regards to allowing a child under His authority to participate in Halloween. Would you mind providing an answer to the second question?

    • Jen~Beautiful Mess

      Read this post a few years ago and it made this “non-participant….PARTICIPATE!”

      We set out on mission to serve our neighbors by setting up a photo booth and having a giveaway (where we get neighbors name and phone numbers–and time to chat them up while waiting)

      Thank you for being an instrument of change in our life!
      Read about it here:

    • Dallas

      Would Jesus celebrate Halloween?
      Absolutely not! Halloween would have been considered divination by any Jew of Jesus’ era. On this issue Jesus reaction would be the same as any other Jewish person striving to be faithful to God’s commands.

      Would Jesus celebrate Easter and Christmas?
      Probably not, as many of the symbols now used had pagan origins, and would have been regarded as divination. There is, however a big difference between Easter/Christmas and HELLoween; The symbols of easter and Christmas have been redefined so that they do not carry their pagan meanings any longer. The symbols HELLoween however, have never lost their pagan meanings. While most who celebrate do not have any faith in the occult practices the symbols themselves still carry the occultic meaning, which could potentially open a door for Satan. The Bible says that Satan seeks to enter like a thief. Satan does not require his victims to believe in him in the way the Lord requires faith. The devil will slither through any door he can.

      Would Jesus receive children on Halloween?
      Yes, but not on Halloween’s terms. Jesus engages with the culture not in terms dictated by the culture but as a revolutionary, dictating to the culture the terms of engagement.

      Will I be celebrating this Halloween
      Yes, but it won’t be the dispicable Halloween. Instead I will celebrate the 494th anniversary of Martin Luther’s nailing the Ninety-Five Thesis on the church door. That is an event much more worthy of celebration by Christian… and much more Christ- honoring activity to do on October 31.

    • Eric P.

      It’s Reductio ad absurdum time!

      (1) Jehovah’s Witnesses have many legalistic beliefs that deny the Gospel and the deity of Christ. Thus, their practices derive from unbiblical religion that is sinful for Christians. (Paul says that those who follow another Gospel are accursed, Galatians 1:8-9).

      (2) Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse to celebrate any holidays, on legalistic grounds.

      (3) Therefore, in refusing to celebrate Halloween, Christians are participating in the “appearance of evil,” since that is the exact same “deeds of darkness” that legalistic Christ-denying Jehovah’s Witnesses practice. This could even “open a door for Satan” to draw us into further sinful legalism and denying Christ’s deity.

      I probably wouldn’t actually make that argument without my tongue firmly in my cheek (ath id ith rigth now, thee), but it’s just as valid as any of the anti-Halloween arguments. If celebrating Halloween bears connotations of anti-biblical sin, so does not celebrating it. The only way out I can see is to argue, as Scripture does, that “to the pure, all things are pure.”

      Also: If you think you shouldn’t do anything that has its origins in paganism, look at a calendar sometime– you’re doing it right now. According to etymology, your schedule has activities on Sun’s Day, Moon’s Day, Tyr’s Day, Woden’s Day, Thor’s Day, Frija’s Day, and Saturn’s Day. Does that make you a pagan, or have these direct references to pagan gods simply become completely benign as the culture and language shifted? If that can happen with days of the week, why not with pumpkins?

    • jim

      Satain can have no part of a Christian….slither away evil one. As well the religious leaders of Jesus day would also say that Christ was not practicing Christ-honoring activities by eating at sinner’s homes and mingling with the unclean…….just saying!

    • Shane

      Can you spot the Irony?

      As was previously pointed out, Halloween is a celebration mainly focused on fear.

      Proverbs 8:13 tells me the fear of the Lord is to hate evil and the verse finishes off by including evil behaviour.

      However – will I take the occasion as an opportunity to show love and engage with my community and share the good news – you bet I will!

      I’ll be at our Church’s ‘light party’ – helping run games for the kids. And take the opportunity to draw the biggest light and attention to the fact of why what we’re doing is different than others and why that’s important.

      The occult is real and thrives in darkness and shadow. We should not ignore it or be afraid to confront it. Turning off our lights and hiding on the day is not what I believe Jesus would have done.

      Would he have gone along with it? are you kidding me?!? Not a chance.

      Use the opportunity to contrast the darkness of this world with the love and light of the kingdom!

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    • Diane

      Excellent article Michael. I had to do a comment because I had hit a “like” button above on the first comment thinking it was to your article, sorry, that was an error since I did not agree to the comment that followed. But I did absolutely agree with your article, well done….

    • […] reader recently emailed asking my thoughts on Halloween, providing an article titled, Jesus With His Lights Out On Halloween. In the past, I was much more tolerant of Halloween than I am now, but I think this has much to do […]

    • elizabeth

      Jesus is beautiful! I know for me and my family we won’t join in Halloween .
      1. we do believe in “evil” and we stay away or we get hurt or others
      2. Jesus forgave anyone who wanted Him to but he never joined in. Jesus drank but never was a drunk. Jesus hung out with sinners but he never joined in after all we all are sinners besides Jesus, God and Holy Spirit
      3. The old ancient parties were fun just like Halloween but fun isn’t always good.
      4. Why not celebrate the real meaning of death its wonderful and scary. heaven and hell. And teach truth by example and words.
      5. Its a great way to teach your children about God’s word.
      I don’t think Jesus celebrates Halloween I think Jesus celebrates when we are saved from our sins and will be in heaven with Him. And thats the oppisite of Halloween

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