Will is dressing up as a ghost for Halloween. I was shocked. He has his Indiana Jones costume that he wears everywhere. I thought at least he would 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: “Exactly, 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.”

Yes, then there is  that. Christians on Halloween. Scared to celebrate. Some with more than their pinky toe 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 my friend, that Satan is my 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 all of us students who turned off the light. 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) were 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, I’m 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 thing that young kids are having to recover from. Its not sexual promiscuity, its not our greed or materialism, its not moms and dads who can’t demonstrate commitment and love, its not a compromise of the Gospel. Its witchcraft. Its 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 that 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 House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. 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. Find him everywhere: Find him everywhere

    99 replies to "Jesus with His Lights Turned off on Halloween"

    • Michael

      “Jesus with his lights turned off on Halloween?”

      Is this the same Michael C Patton that writes greats posts on theology? Or are you just trying to be funny with this post?

      Are you seriously saying Jesus would have participated in Halloween during His earthly ministry? There were plenty of Pagan festivals in Jesus’ day, yet I read no recollection Him participating in the Scriptures. Perhaps it was one of the “many other things that Jesus did” which John did not write about?

    • drwayman

      Maybe he should be the HOLY GHOST 🙂

    • Susanne

      Love this!

    • cherylu

      Michael Patton,

      Since there are two Michael’s here, I will use your last name so as not to cause confusion.

      It seems to me that there is a huge interest in the occult in society today in general. TV shows, the books that are for sale in the bookstores out there, and the games that are marketed to the youth of today have huge amounts of occultic themes in them.

      This statement from an older “Religious Tolderance” article throws a lot of light on this area:

      Wiccan growth rate:

      A second important statistic is the rate of growth of the Wiccan community. “In May, 1998, the Chicago Tribune reported that, though difficult to quantify due to lack of formal organization, neo-paganism is the fastest-growing religion in North America with the Internet being the prime means of proselytizing.” 1 Ms. Curott estimates a doubling in size every 18 months. This growth rate seems quite high, but appears to have some credibility in the Wiccan community. The ARIS survey of the American adult population indicates a growth in the Wiccan community of 17 fold between 1990 and 2001 – the highest of any faith group monitored. This would indicate a doubling in numbers of adherents about ever 30 months. 2 Maria Alupoaicei, who co-authored the book “Generation Hex” claims that “The numbers of [Wiccan] adherents are doubling every 30 months.” We suspect that she derived her estimate from this essay. She notes that there are over 700,000 websites for Wiccans on the Internet.

      If the latter growth rate is accurate and if it continues, then Wicca would be the third largest religious group in the U.S. by about 2012, behind Christianity and Judaism, and ahead of Islam.

      http://www.religioustolerance.org/wic_nbr1.htm

      It seems to me that your view as portrayed in this article and elsewhere that the occult is not any particular problem for the kids in this country is maybe a bit naive. (Unless I am misunderstanding you completely).

    • Jason Kanz

      Thank you Dr Patton for writing this article. I think there can be danger in some of the stuff promoted through the halloween season, but I don’t believe it should lead us to hide, as I have quite regretably done for too many years.

      Using the analogy of the porch light, I think that Christians need to be a bright shining beacon, a city on a hill, even on halloween. So, regarding tracts, do you encourage them provided you also give the biggest, best candy in the neighborhood?

      Thanks.

    • Ed Kratz

      Cheryl,

      I think my issue here with Halloween is that in our modern culture there is virtually no association with this as a pagan holiday. I have never met anyone (esp. kids or parents) who understand this as a celebration of a pagan holiday. I am glad that we have taken it over and, in my view, redeemed it, sterilized it, and changed it, so that any pagan association is virtually gone. I think it is only the conservative Christian community that keeps that part of it alive through our continued anxiety about it.

      I simply say let it die and have fun. It has been hundreds of years since it had the pagan meaning. Participation in it is now a great opportunity.

    • cherylu

      Michael,

      Regarding you last comment to me:

      http://www.witchway.net/

      http://www.suite101.com/content/wiccan-halloween—modern-witches-celebrate-samhain-a294648

      There is still a very real connection between Halloween and it’s pagan roots in at least the wiccan parts of society as these two articles certainly show.

      I think we need to be very careful in this area. Maybe you haven’t met anyone that thinks of it as anything more then just a fun day, but the connection is still very much there. And if Wicca is still growing like it was in the article I linked above says it was at that time, that connection is going to become more and more obvious in society at large.

    • Marv

      Hey, Michael,

      I’m an oddball, because not only do I not celebrate Halloween, I don’t celebrate Hitler’s birthday either. Not even a Hitler’s birthday alternative. I know I’m a bit of a wet blanket on this. It just doesn’t seem like something worth celebrating.

      I know, I could just make it a fun day, something for the kiddos. Talk about Storm Troopers… They would look so cute in little Sturmabteilung suits.

      Haunted houses are so much fun at Halloween, laughing it up at all those cute little (harmless) manifestations of evil, vampires, zombies, axe-murderers.

      Why not a Holo-house. You can imagine the cute little things that could be set up there.

      The point in this kind of heavy handed response is that while sure, the cultural reponse to the domain of Satan, notions such as monsters and poltergeists and such can be fun and not be all that consequential, necessarily, I just have to ask… just, why is it… again… that citizens of the kingdom of God are celebrating manifestations of the domain of Satan?

      Even by banalizing them?

      Even by cuting them up?

      Even by sticking to clowns and pricesses?

      Even by providing alternatives?

      I mean sometime, somewhere, don’t we stand up and say, okay, kids, this one just isn’t for us?

      Otherwise, why not have our lights on the evening of April 20? “Süßes oder Saures”

    • Hodge

      “I simply say let it die and have fun. It has been hundreds of years since it had the pagan meaning.”

      Yes, now it’s just a self worshiping, atheistic holiday. That’s so much better. I don’t have a problem with Christians participating in holidays that were once pagan, but can we at least make those holidays about Christ, or are we to segregate that part of our lives from Christ for the fun of it? There’s a little too much hedonism in your Christian hedonism in this statement, Michael. Your statement to Cheryl should have been:

      “It has been hundreds of years since it had the pagan meaning. It now has secular meanings that lean toward the pure pleasure of the self and communing around that pleasure, absent of God. We ought to partake in festivities for the sake of Christ, acknowledging Him in all that we do, and as Christians, make it about Him. It would be sanctified, then, with our conscious effort to center all things on Him.”

    • Dr Mike

      I changed up my name here so the “Michaels” won’t get confused.

      Michael C Patton,

      I understand you are attaching it to Halloween specifically, but in your post you sarcastically say “Witchcraft is the primary thing that young kids are having to recover from.”

      Actually it is very troubling.

      “In fact, three-quarters of America’s youth (73%) have engaged in at least one type of psychic or witchcraft-related activity, beyond mere media exposure or horoscope usage.”

      http://www.barna.org/barna-update/article/5-barna-update/164-new-research-explores-teenage-views-and-behavior-regarding-the-supernatural

      I’m not saying every kid who does Halloween will become a witch. But we must be very careful here. All things are lawful but not all things are beneficial.

    • Cadis

      Hodge,

      Based on your reasoning though wouldn’t the celebrations of birthdays both of family members and noteworthy historical figures be considered idolatry?

      Not all festivities are Christian..4th of July, President’s day, Ground Hog Day, Arbor Day, Mother’s Day, Veteran’s Day etc, etc…Halloween is for kids , it is not to celebrate Christ and it does not need to dishonor him either.

    • jim

      From treats to sex
      Hodge:
      Is sex only for pro-creation. Or do we (often) engage in this activity purely for our own self-interest with no intent consciously being on Christ. (of course within a marriage)

      As long as it is not dishonouring to God , I believe God would not be upset with kids getting dressed up and receiving candy anymore than with adult pleasures I guess I won’t be coming to your house( LOL) Is it possible for Jesus to be the center of my life wtihout being the only thing in my life?

    • Randall

      It seems that there is quite a difference between being cloistered on Halloween and embracing it. Those are not the only two alternatives. If the world is coming to us, it IS a great opportunity to give good candy, generously, as well as something of the gospel in written form.

      But that is far from celebrating it, and I believe the cautions of the other commentators about the spirit of the world are well-taken. Perhaps it’s all so normal to our neighbors now, and even to us, exactly because we have been drawn into the world system, which at its core (according to scripture) is ruled by Satan.

      Last observation – while it certainly is appropriate to challenge each other about why we do or don’t participate, and do so in love using the truth of scripture, I find it disconcerting how your original post mocked and ridiculed those who have a genuine concern about the things of the Lord. Maybe they need some loving instruction from the scripture about how to improve their witness, and some of your citations did just that. It seems that sticking to that approach would go much farther toward achieveing your apparent goal of reaching the lost than a sarcastic diatribe against fellow brothers and sisters in the family of God.

    • […] Christians to discuss Halloween. Check out Joe Carter’s piece, and C. Michael Patton’s piece. It will be interesting to experience Halloween in Caronport. This village has had a mixed […]

    • Rick Bowden

      I agree with you on participation, but respectfully disagree with you on types of costumes for kids of certain ages. While Samantha Stevens, and Casper and Wendy will probably not “lead” anyone, even children, into the occult, Harry Potter may, indeed. I let my kids see the movies, but I took a moment and explained that the practice of witchcraft, however morphed by Hollywood, is a real practice. I did this as a duty, lest my kids become ignorant or desensitized to the subject. Also, beyond this, there are numerous, less occult-leaning costumes that kids can be encouraged to put on; one need not give in to their natural inclinations to follow the popular trends of wearing occult-type costumes. While they won’t become possessed by the devil, certainly it is a prudent parental practice to guide children in a more positive spiritual direction, in all matters and choices. I respectfully offer, in the spirit of open dialogue and Christian brotherhood, my own views on this subject, on my website, above. God bless you.

    • cherylu

      Michael Patton,

      Just one more comment here from me at the moment. You said this: I am glad that we have taken it over and, in my view, redeemed it, sterilized it, and changed it, so that any pagan association is virtually gone. I think it is only the conservative Christian community that keeps that part of it alive through our continued anxiety about it.

      I don’t know what kids school Halloween parties are like now since I haven’t had kids in elementary school for many, many years. However, at that time I saw what those kids wore and was around those parties. The costumes that a lot of the kids wore would certainly make me doubt the validity of your statement back then. Maybe they didn’t think of what they were doing as “pagan” but the ghoulish customs that were being worn by many of those little kids didn’t look very “redeemed or sterilized” to me. And my boys both had the same kindergarten teacher and she wore a very frightening looking witches custom to both of their parties. (Christian objections aside, I thought she looked way too scary for it to be a wise choice for a bunch of 5 year olds.)

    • Hodge

      Cadis,

      So your argument is that it’s OK to segregate celebrations as purely for self fulfillment because that’s what we do as Americans? Anything that is not for the glory of God through Christ is sin. I think the Bible is clear on that.

      Jim,

      “The Christian Case against Contraception” by Bryan C. Hodge. Feel free to read.

      “As long as it is not dishonouring to God , I believe God would not be upset with kids getting dressed up and receiving candy anymore than with adult pleasures”

      Well, as long as it is not dishonoring to God, I believe God would be OK if you murdered your neighbor. Too bad that worshiping the self is dishonoring God, or you would have a great argument for antinomianism.

      “Is it possible for Jesus to be the center of my life wtihout being the only thing in my life?”

      Of course. It’s not possible for Jesus to be the center of your life without being the center of your life. Your life is lived out in moment by moment, day by day, periods of time. It does not exist apart from these. Hence, to argue that Jesus is the center of your life, and hence, it is OK to seek pleasure for yourself apart from Him at particular times, as long as you in general give Him the time of day for the rest of your life, is pitting the particular against the general. In reality, it’s better to worship Jesus all the time instead of only when Baal isn’t having a dinner party.

    • Hodge

      Michael,

      Would you relate this issue to the weaker brother issue? If so, should you shame the weaker brother into participating in something he thinks is wrong? If not, why does it not apply?

    • Cadis

      No Hodge, it was not my argument but merely an observation. I realize that we honor Christ in all things, believe me, after 25 years of scrubbing toilets and kitchen floors I’m quite aware that I do all things as unto the Lord. I can honor him in even those things so why not on Halloween ?

      Another observation…Hansel and Gretel, Snow White, The Wizard of Oz, HR Puff and Stuff, Casper, The Odyssey, Broom Hilda, The Muenster’s , The Adam’s Family, The Ghost Busters, Macbeth, The Hobbit, The Midnight Ride of Sleepy Hollow , A Christmas Carol, The Flying Dutchman, Hamlet, Rapunzel, Jack and the Beanstalk, Frankenstein, Dracula, Bewitched and Harry Potter and on and on …??
      This is fiction. Do we just pull our kids out of anything that does not directly honor God or that even in many ways does dishonor God. I think that would mean pulling them out of public schools and society at large. I don’t view participating in Halloween as a compromise anymore than I think reading fiction to a child is lying to them. Unless of course you are reading fiction to them and encouraging them to believe that it is true front page news. That would be a tad warped.

    • Hodge

      Cadis,

      I’m sorry, but you seem to be mistaking my argument for someone else’s. My argument is that we need to celebrate Halloween by making it about Christ. So, no, I wouldn’t be stopping my kids from reading fiction because fiction is a great way to illustrate Christ and have those discussions with them. Halloween, or anything else, is the same. My point is against the hedonistic idea that we should just celebrate something for fun. The phrase “for fun” displays the primary purpose of why we are to do something. It is the reason why we do it. “For fun” really means “for the pleasure of self.” We have a real epidemic among evangelicals in this culture who don’t seem to get that the worship and exaltation of nothing is still something. The Self is our god. It is our Baal. So who cares if Halloween was once used by witches. I’m more concerned about the way it used by “unreflective” evangelicals today, who think that worshiping the self is harmless fun. So put on the costume and read that story to your kids, but do so for the primary purpose of glorifying God through Christ, not for the primary purpose of pleasure of the self.

    • The Toe Voice

      Lets revive the day back again. Why can’t we go back to the churches initiative and remember all the Christians of history in place of this dark day? I wouldn’t mind dressing like a monk, I just won’t mess with my hair though. I won’t compromise, I rather turn off the lights than participate in a day when human sacrifices are going on, I don’t mind being laughed at, Jesus would view Halloween as he would leaven during Passover.

    • Cadis

      Wow Sorry Hodge! I must have misread you. I thought I understood what you were saying. I’ll have to re-read your posts in light of what you know have made clear to me, I’m not sure how I got confused.

    • Hodge

      Cadis,

      No problem. I’ve probably done that a few times myself. 🙂

    • Rick

      Standing ovation from me.

      I too took Mark Young’s class. The man is a giant.

    • Stevie Glor

      I decided about 15 years ago that October 31s, like all other nights. belong to their Creator, and so I – with other of His children – will choose to celebrate HIS night … with fellowship, family, laughter, giving children candy (even if they’re dressed up like creeps and ghouls – in fact, I’ll whisper a little prayer as I slip candy in their bag!)

      WOW! Who could think of a better way to draw people/strangers to your home, where your porch is filled with laughter and music … where the Love of Christ permeates the air ….

      so I agree with you.

      I take back the night that is our Fathers!

    • Marv

      Yes, it and the other 365 days are the Lord’s days, and we should rejoice and be glad in it. However, as I somewhat incoherently opined earlier, my conclusion has long been that while the day is perfectly good and clean, and as fit a day for celebration as any other, I have no more reason to celebrate representations of evil than I have to celebrate Hitler’s birthday. April 20 is just as good and clean a day as any other, and I can certainly celebrate something on that day despite its evil association. What I don’t think is right is to celebrate that day in any way because of its evil associations.

      Will I celebrate on Oct. 31? Sure. We pretty much always celebrate Reformation day, but not as an alternative to Halloween. Just because it also is on Oct. 31. It is a much better reason to celebrate.

      It wouldn’t really matter how benignly we would celebrate a day like Hitler’s birthday or a day that celebrates evil, darkness, monstrosity, cruelty, and abominations. I still have to ask why it would occur to me to participate in that celebration as a Christian?

      “Who could think of a better way to draw people/strangers to your home?” I certainly hope we could think of a better way than jollifying the evil undead.

      • Ed Kratz

        This is an excerpt from Mark Young’s lecture on contextualization from my World Mission class I took 1 1/2 years ago. I love how he gets to the main point by asking what function does candy and jack-o-lanterns serve on October 31st.

        So after Halloween, I go down the street to intentionally meet my neighbors and I knock on the first dark house. Introduce myself, you know my name – oh I’ve heard about you. You’re the professor down at DTS. Yeah, yeah that’s me, I’m working down – we were missionaries, oh that’s wonderful; you know we really love the Lord. Oh that’s good. I said you know I noticed on Halloween night that your house was dark. She said oh yeah, we don’t engage in Halloween. Really? No, no, no, we go down to the church, we have a harvest festival at church. Really? Yeah, yeah we believe that Halloween is the night of the devil, night of satan. No kidding? Yeah. She said in fact I meant to talk to you about your jack-o-lanterns, they were offensive to me. Really? She said yeah. You know several centuries ago in England those jack-o-lanterns were used to ward off evil spirits. Oh, okay. So I went to two or three others house, got basically the same story. The dark houses where the Christians live. They were all at church having a harvest festival. Why? Why would a Christian choose not to be at home on the night that 82 children walk up to your front door? What on earth would possess a Christian not to want to be there? So I did some investigation. Indeed, you can on the Internet you can find stories of how these jack-o-lanterns were used in ancient pagan religions to scare away saints and so then I decided maybe the Internet wasn’t the best place to look so I actually began to read Celtic history and began to understand a bit about that world and lo and behold I asked myself the question finally after all my reading, what difference does it make? In 1995, in south Garland, what function did this cultural form fulfill? What did it do? Did it drive away demons that night? What function did that jack-o-lantern perform on October 31st, 1995 in south Garland? Because that’s the ultimate question. What did it do?

        Response: Welcoming your neighbors.

        Instructor: It welcomed, it welcomed people. It said to them, come up to my house tonight. It also communicated participation in this holiday. Part of a structure? Sure it’s a part of a structure, it’s a part of a structure you could call it a community, a place where people lived and organized their lives with one another. Well what meaning did those 82 kids ascribe to that jack-o-lantern when they saw it or those jack-o-lanterns outside my front door? What meaning did they ascribe to? Candy! Guy has candy. May be, nice guy. Anything in my worldview that makes me want to be a nice guy? Sure, it’s called the love of Christ for the lost. That type of cultural analysis it seems to me has far, far, far more validity than what happened with this particular kind of cultural object 600 years ago in England but yet Christians are willing to step out of their communities and not be home when 82 kids walk up to their front door because they’re bringing a function and a meaning from 600 years ago into a cultural form today..

    • Marv

      I should have said “other 364” unless we are talking about leap year.

    • StuartB

      Meat offered to idols. Same principle applies here. If you aren’t free, so be it. Don’t take others freedom away. And we won’t give up our freedom because we aren’t causing you to stumble.

      “Anything that is not for the glory of God through Christ is sin.” No, it is not. Do not twist Scripture. There are things in this world that are not sin that are also not for the glory of God through Christ. And way to misrepresent and pervert Jim’s example.

      And since when has “The Self” not been everyone’s Baal throughout history, along with Baal?

      Kudos once again to CMP for thinking and applying.

    • Hodge

      Stuart,

      Actually, it goes the other way as well. If you mock a weaker brother and shame him into celebrating it, you are in sin as well.

      And I’m sorry, but arguing that I’m twisting Scripture that says, “WHATEVER you do, do it for the glory of God,” and then turn and say that some things can be done to not glorify God and still be OK (um, isn’t disobeying this command a sin, Stuart?), is completely absurd. Please explain how I perverted Jim’s example? He gave a false analogy and argued that we can just practice some things for ourselves. Not sure what you’re reading.

      I never said that Self wasn’t Baal. I believe there are only two religions: worship of Self and worship of God. I see nothing else. You’ve refuted nothing I’ve said by simply stating your unbelief in it. I’m sorry but please provide some arguments with your disagreements if you want to be taken seriously.

    • Hodge

      Here’s the actual quote: “So, whether you eat or drink, or WHATEVER you do, do EVERYTHING for the glory of God.” (1 Cor 10:31)

    • John From Down Under

      Hey Hodge (post # 30)!

      By definition then , would 1 Cor 10:31 render it sinful going to a ball game? I don’t see how rooting for my team of preference glorifies God (though a good dose of exegetical pilates may help make a case for it)

      Not trying to trick you, I am genuinely interested in your response 🙂

    • Bible Study

      I agree that there is nothing wrong with celebrating Halloween. I don’t see the evil in little kids having fun and eating candy. I can’t believe some say that letting kids enjoy themselves on Halloween is evil. I guess it is the Pharisee within them that wants to be holier than thou. Afterall, they get attention for being so “holy”. Oh well, I let my little girl participate, we just trust in JEsus and have fun. Thank God for Halloween. I sure my little girl will grow up thanking him for all the free candy, lol. I had a discussion on this topic at another blog recently. You would be suprised just how many people condemn those who do celebrate halloween.

    • Michael

      John From Down Under,

      What is your understanding of 1 Cor. 10:31 and the phrase “whatever you do”?

    • Hodge

      John,

      I think the problem is that we’re starting with our experience and then binding the text with it. That is, of course, eisegesis. This text, however, is a little difficult to get around. I honestly have never had Christians argue the point with me that some things Christians do don’t have to glorify God, so this is a bit new to me. The text, however, is clear. The problem is that we are so hedonistic in our outlook on life that half of what we do is for ourselves with absolutely no intention of glorifying God with it. Hence, we entertain ourselves to death. If someone wants to glorify God with entertainment, so be it; but we need to shy away from a theology that is produced in justification of our self worship rather than in reflection of the biblical texts. I’m not really into watching sports myself, but I think watching sports can glorify God; but again, the Christian has to make a conscious effort to think about it in those terms and to be in a state of thanksgiving and worship for that in which they choose to partake. However, I don’t think becoming atheists for short periods of time is fitting for a Christian.

    • Gary Simmons

      If Jesus actually had restricted himself from participating in anything and everything that had pagan roots, he would have had a very hard time speaking Greek.

      In order to avoid any traces of anything that had pagan meaning when used by pagans, Jesus would be forced to not use the traditional Greek words for heaven, earth, sun, moon, time, Hades/death/Underworld, since these were all names of gods. Even the word we translate as “whale” would be forbidden since that word was once used to refer to a mythical sea beast god [Ceto, by name].

      John in Revelation was also negligent in using the word Abyss, since that was also a god.

      And Paul was the worst of all. He dared to say “grace” by using charis. The charites (plural of charis) were also divinities in Hesiod’s Theogony. You can read the short version via Wikipedia or the longer one via Perseus in Greek or English.

      It would also be shameful for Epaphroditus to keep his name, since his name includes a reference to Aphrodite. Shame on Paul for not making him adopt a proper Christian name. Like Paul. Oh wait — Jesus actually gave Paul a Greek name.

      Ok, but seriously folks. Words and rituals don’t magically retain their former meanings when they are employed in a new context. They don’t “secretly” or “subtly” retain ancient meanings. That’s utter garbage.

    • Gary Simmons

      I’m sorry for my harsh tone above. I haven’t had sleep in 36 hours and I’m a little cranky. Time for night-night.

    • Ed Kratz

      Here’s the main problem I have with Christians and Halloween

      I agree with CMP’s premise that the holiday is so removed from its pagan roots that render the symbolisms meaningless as expounded by Mark Young. I should have read the post more carefully before posting his lecture excerpt but it does amplify the thesis of the post. There are Christians who see no harm in celebrating Halloween because of it.

      On the other hand, there are Christians who cannot divorce the symbolism from Satan or evil and therefore, it goes against their conscience to uphold the holiday in any form. They cannot participate in it.

      The problem comes when we try to impose one view over the other. While I wholeheartedly agree that turning off our lights is akin to being anti-neighborly (and turning away the little kiddies) and running afoul of reaching out to others, I wouldn’t insist that the one for whom the holiday is problematic, participate. I have done this in the past and learned to stop it. But neither should Christians who take that stand insist that those of us that have no problem with choosing to participate by passing out candy, cease to do so because we are not glorifying God.

    • Jude

      I think it borders on the hypocritical sometimes.

      We complain about the culture stripping Christmas and Easter of their religious connotations when there’s a sizable population around that genuinely practice and celebrate them.

      And yet Halloween is somehow a stronger holiday to keep its own (dubious) religious backgrounds in the midst of the same culture, when there’s a hardly a real percentage of folks championing for its “original” celebrations.

      Do we tell people who have no love for our Lord to stop celebrating Christmas and Resurrection Sunday? If Christians ought not to celebrate Halloween, it only makes sense that we demand the same of people who would celebrate “our” holidays…

    • Marv

      If participation in X activity is non-problematic to begin with, then the good-neighbor, nice-guy Christian, people-warming idea is a praiseworthy though not obligatory thing, though it doesn’t redeem the activity from anything, since it needs no redemption.

      If participation in X activity is inappropriate for Christians to begin with, then harnessing it to get evangelistic mileage out of it not only does not redeem the activity, it taints the efforts at evangelism.

      To say Halloween is a positive thing because it can be used evangelistically is a circular argument.

    • Dave Z

      I thought the same thing as John from Down Under (comment 32). I think we should campaign for the Lord’s Prayer to be recited during the seventh inning stretch at all baseball games and during half time at football games, etc. Maybe that would shift the focus off our own self-worshipping desire to be entertained.

      That’s all for now. I need to go brush my teeth and put on my pajamas for the glory of God. I have an early dental appointment for the glory of God in the morning and I want to get up early enough to decide which pair of socks will bring God the most glory. But it’s kind of chilly tonight, so before I go to bed I’m going to put another blanket on the bed for the glory of God. [/sarcasm]

      @Michael in comment 34 – I think it’d be safe to view Paul’s statement as a generalization, not an absolute – a form of hyperbole. Everyone (I think) recognizes hyperbole in scripture, but drops it pretty quickly when it gets in the way of proof-texting. For example, do you want to apply the same absolute literal hermeneutic to the next verse? Really? No offence ever to Greeks, Jews or the church? If that’s the case, Paul seems to have broken his own command at times. Either that, or he was expressing a general principle, an attitude that should be characteristic of Christians, and I think he makes his point clear in verse 33 – glorifiying God as opposed to glorifying self. I think the context of the passage is telling us to be aware of how our decisions affect others. In this sense, I think Darby, the ASV and the NIV translate verse 32 more effectively – do not cause others to “stumble,” and that is the context of verse 31. I certainly do not see it as forbidding a nice afternoon at the ballpark or governing a bedtime ritual.

    • John From Down Under

      Do we all consciously glorify God through our mundane activities? I don’t mow my lawn thinking I’m going to glorify God, I just do it because it’s grown and it needs cutting. I don’t wash my car thinking ‘I’m about to glorify God’ but I do it because it’s dirty and it needs washing. I have to repent for every time I craved ice-cream because I didn’t want to eat it for God’s glory but for my own pleasure. Would it not be more noetically congruous to accept that v.31 may be referring to one’s disposition rather than a literal abstinence from ANYTHING where we don’t consciously glorify God?

      All I’m saying is that if 1 Cor 10:31 is a bona fide imperative for a total ban on those non-honoring God activities, many of us are in DEEP trouble. At the end of the day, if participation in a certain practice violates one’s conscience, they should definitely abstain, but those who are ‘comfortable’ with a position that says ‘this falls within the sphere of my Christian liberty which I am free to exercise’, need not be condemned. So I am inclined to agree with Lisa on this one.

      Undoubtedly the theological heavyweights will love to refute this point, but healthy debate is welcome.

      Ironically, Halloween is not a popular festivity here in Australia so this is almost a non-event for us.

    • John From Down Under

      THANKS HODGE!

      Michael (not Patton, but Michael from post # 34): My revolutionary suggestion would be that “whatever you do” means…well….w-h-a-t-e-v-e-r you do!!!

      Nonetheless, while I’m not an exegetical giant I would dare suggest that context should matter in such categorical interpretations. At the risk of stating the obvious, 1 Cor 10:31 is the conclusive statement of the preceding passage (at least from v27 onwards), hence v.31 beginning with ‘So…’[Gk. Ουν]. Using it as a stand-alone self sufficient point may be a little slippery.

      Paul seems to be addressing the issue of [a] weak conscience, [b] the associated guilt that comes with it and more importantly, [c] the cause of needless offences that could result from eating food sacrificed to idols, which as we know would have been quite common in pagan-central Corinth. He seems to be employing some linear thinking that culminates in the ‘avoid offences’ imperative.

      Is not v.31 a fragment then of the whole context? Can we build our theology on a fragment? To literalise v.31 as an imperative of a complete embargo from all non-honoring God activities may border on hermeneutical malpractice. We may then have to say that “pray without ceasing” literally means 24/7 non-stop audible vocalization to God. Is v.31 maybe pointing to a disposition of the heart similar to Colossians 3:17?

    • Michael T.

      Hodge,

      Funny how often you assert that “all” doesn’t really mean “all” while here, even though it be completely absurd, you insist “everything” mean “everything”. Sorry when I pick out which pair of jeans to wear tommorrow I’m not going to pick out the pair that is “most glorifying to God”. How would one even determine such a thing (especially when the only difference between the 5 pairs of jeans I own is a slightly different tinge of blue)?

      Also if everything we do has been determined by God that we do is it really possible for us not to glorify God. I mean after all isn’t the reason even evil happens is that God is glorified by it??

    • DeePee

      Curious if anyone can tell me the origin of the anti-Halloween movement in the evangelical community? As a child, I recall having the best Halloween parties at Baptist churches. When did the anti-Halloween shift begin? What was the impetus for the shift in thinking? Was it a sermon? A particular pastor or church? I vaguely recall a vocal and increasingly hostile attitude towards Halloween beginning in the early ’90s.

    • MShep2

      CMP,

      I usually get a lot from this blog – even when I don’t agree with all that is said. You and the other posters support what you say by Scripture. However, sometimes I think you need to preface your posts (as some bloggers do) with “Warning: Rant Alert.” You did this in your post about Christian Music where the theme seemed to be “All CCM is vapid and unrealistic.” Recommendation: Just listen to secular music, even if it is not Christ-honoring. You have exhibited the same binary response to this issue. Since some Christians refuse to celebrate Halloween, our response should be to ignore anyone’s concerns about it and embrace it totally.

      However, as you may have gleaned from the discussion here, it is much more complex than that. I will not repeat what was already said but instead add another example. In an article by Rebecca Hagelin (http://townhall.com/columnists/RebeccaHagelin/2010/10/26/halloweens_sexual_trend) she warns about the sexualization of Halloween costumes for kids.

    • Michael

      Dave Z and John From Down Under,

      Wow, you guys have just reinterpreted a verse that has had one dominant understanding in Christianity for centuries. This is not hyperbole at all. It is the chief end of man, to glory God forever. And Paul is saying we should do it in everything. The Reformers recaptured this idea, since Rome had taken the stance you do, separating the secular from the holy. There is an argument to 1 Corinthians 10 and you cannot simply say this 1 verse is hyperbole since that would throw out the whole point he’s making here.

      Please cite any conservative scholar or theologian who takes this verse as hyperbole. John, you are pushing it to far, asking the wrong question. We should ask how we can glorify God in all we do, not if it’s okay to watch football games.

    • Alex

      John From Down Under / Hodge,

      The disagreement on the text seems to be more heavily in the application. The question could be profitably phrased as follows:

      In order for a a Christian to glorify God in something, must he conciously be thinking about that activity’s relation to God’s glory continuously, without pause, whilst participating in it? Or can he frequently, though not constantly, thank God for his life generally, and for particulars, though it be before or after the occurence of the event?

      Both seem to be glorifying to God, but the former seems to be a nonsense application. What are the ramifications of such a praxis for driving? If I must constantly be in thought about thanking God for driving, I put myself in great danger (indeed, liklihood) of wrecking my car and harming myself, my family, and / or others.

      And this is not eisegesis — the text says simplying to glorify God in everything by thanking him in our hearts. We have one understanding of this “thanking God” that is possible semantically and practically, and another that is possible semanticaaly but not practically — otherwise Paul the tentmaker, Jesus the carpenter, and Alex the lab technician couldn’t work profitably. Thus, the “constant” interpretation is nonsensical.

      This has a relatively small bearing on the topic at hand, but does seem to be a rather important matter nonetheless.

    • Michael

      “After one’s own birthday, the two major Satanic holidays are Walpurgisnacht (May 1st) and Halloween.”

      The Satanic Bible, by Anton Levey, Page 96, Segment on Religious Holidays

    • Hodge

      Dave,

      You’re simply arguing from the descriptive to the prescriptive. So you basically are suggesting that we should not do all to the glory of God, since it’s hyperbole (I love it when evangelicals don’t like what Scripture says and then turn into hyperbole, so they don’t actually have to be challenged by it). So what the text really says in your mind is the exact opposite: “You don’t need to do everything for the glory of God. Just glorify God in a general way.” Unfortunately, Paul actually lists specifics and then goes to the general from them, so everything here means everything, and whatever means whatever. I’m sorry, but arguing that we can worship the self sometimes because all does not need to glorify God is pretty pagan. Of course, you would not put it that way, but what exactly do you call an act that seeks self pleasure in the absence of God’s glory?
      The next statement is actually absolute as well. The word aproskopos actually means to have a clear conscience toward someone, to be blameless toward them. So your argument falls flat, unless you want to argue that we should not always have a clear conscience and be blameless before them. I think this is why Paul warned people about the wrangling about of words and Peter warned about twisting Scripture to one’s own destruction. You’re trying to argue for segregated hedonism in a Christian’s life, and the Bible isn’t with you on it.

      Michael,

      Once again, you could use some language study. The word pas is to be translated according the context. The context indicates that pas means everything here, since it is continuing a merism that signifies everything (whether you eat or drink–two polar opposites that express totality). There’s nothing here that indicates otherwise.
      I’m sorry that you don’t put on your PJ’s and brush your teeth in a state of thanksgiving and awareness of God’s presence and work in your life as you worship Him. Perhaps atheism is our default religion and we need…

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