It’s the Great Halloween Debate, Charlie Brown

It happens every year around this time, when nature eases the northern hemisphere into the Fall season with ever-cooling evenings and misty mornings.

When pumpkin-spiced everything invades North America, we can be sure the season is well underway, and along with pumpkin-spice, we’re sure to read an opinion or two about Halloween and Christianity.

It’s the Great Halloween Debate, Charlie Brown.

I’m not sure about you, but the Halloween issue is something I’ve struggled with as a Christ-follower (it’s right up there with what to do with Santa, the Easter Bunny, etc.).

What to do with Halloween is one of those be-in-the-world-but-not-of-the-world gray areas that so often divides Christians.

Yes, I’ve researched the history of Halloween and Christianity –  both the pagan roots of the holiday and it’s Catholic counterpart, All Saint’s Day. I’ve even read a few articles lately about what Christians should or should not do in regards to this day.  I’m just not sure I agree that there is one “right” way anymore.

The problem with the Great Halloween Debate is that scripture remains unclear on what to do with such holidays. How to celebrate (or not) is of the those “gray areas” where the Christian response is not dictated by scripture alone.

Unlike other potential sin issues on which scripture is clear, such as sexual immorality, dishonesty, theft, murder, and so forth, we read very little about what to do with man-made holidays.

For this reason, much of what we read on Halloween and Christianity tends to be human opinion rather than scripture-based mandates.

We’ll find similar opinionated arguments about whether or not we should celebrate Easter and Christmas, yet somehow Christians have managed to bring Christ to the center in many ways for those holidays in spite of their pagan roots.

During the Fall season, The Great Halloween Debate takes center stage in many Christian circles. Is there a "right" way to decide what to do about Christianity and Halloween?  And if so, who decides?  We might just be missing the most important thing in all of our Halloween discussions?

Is it possible then, that Halloween might be redeemed in the same way? Or are Halloween and Christianity simply incompatible?

Halloween and Christianity

Although we don’t find the word “Halloween” in scripture, we do find examples of debates over other worldly issues dividing the early church.

The Corinthian Church debated over meat that had been sacrificed to idols (see chapter 8 of 1 Corinthians), which some considered to be tainted, evil meat and as thus, inedible. Here’s what Paul had to say on the issue:

But food will not commend us to God; we are neither the worse if we do not eat, nor the better if we do eat.” 1 Cor. 8:8

According to this passage of scripture, those who ate meat that had been sacrificed to idols were neither right nor wrong.  It wasn’t better to do one OR the other. How can this be?

The morality of the meat debate depended not on the issue itself, but on their own personal convictions.  What is sin for some may not be sin for others in such scriptural gray areas.

Another example of debate over meat can be found in Romans 14.

Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.”Rom. 14:3-4

Once again Paul reminds these early Christians that the matter of whether or not one should eat meat sacrificed to idols is one of personal conviction.

Neither the partaker nor the abstainer should despise the other!

Then, in verse 5 of Romans 14, we find this interesting advice:

“One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.”

At first glance, this verse may be taken to speak to the Sabbath and on which day Christians should celebrate it.  But according to various Bible commentaries (Matthew Henry, Warren Wiersbe, etc.), it was more likely a reference to traditional Old Testament celebrations – whether or not to continue celebrating them.

According to Paul, “each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.” It’s up to us as individuals, gifted with the power of the Holy Spirit, to decide about Halloween and Christianity, for ourselves.

We so often look to other Christians for opinions on such gray areas, or we judge fellow believers as right or wrong based not on scripture, but on our own personal convictions. We are guilty of looking to others for how to walk out our faith here on Earth when we should be looking to the Lord alone.

Let the Lord tell you what to do!

I’ve come to the conclusion that I can’t tell you what to do about The Great Halloween Debate.  When it comes to Halloween and Christianity, each person must come to on his or her own personal conviction.

If your personal convictions allow you the freedom to celebrate it as “unto the Lord,” then by all means, do so! If your personal convictions require you to abstain from the “holiday,” then by all means, do so!

 And if you, like me, lie somewhere in between on the Great Halloween Debate, then let it be “as unto the Lord,” as well.

Maybe, just maybe, making the right choice for Halloween is not so much about the details of how we celebrate (or don’t celebrate) but the why behind it.

And any day with Jesus as the focus is a good day, in my opinion, whether we partake or abstain.

Romans 12:21

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Perhaps the best way to overcome evil, to be a light in the darkness, is to quit biting and devouring one another and focus on loving each other instead.

Let’s not be like Sally in It’s a Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. She worried over whom to believe – Linus or her other friends.  Rather than forming her own convictions, Sally allowed herself to be swayed by others throughout the night, leading to a lot of unnecessary worry and eventual frustration.

Let’s drop the Great Halloween Debate, shall we?

Instead, let’s just follow hard after Christ and quit worrying about what others are doing (or not doing).

For His glory!

Jen :)

Sharing with : Grace and Truth

The Pumpkin Gospel

A few years ago, I was searching for a fall-themed object lesson for our group of AWANA kids. I found a lot of great Thanksgiving craft ideas and even Halloween ideas, but nothing that really struck me, until I ran across the Pumpkin Gospel, also known as the Pumpkin Parable.

Although traditional pumpkin carving is associated with Halloween, this object lesson is all about the Light – how Jesus changes us from the inside out. When children learn this lesson, they will remember it year after year during the Fall season.

You see, I’m learning that perhaps even pagan holidays like Halloween can be redeemed!

Kids love holidays.  They love pumpkins.  They also love stories.  Additionally, they need to be exposed to ideas over and over again for information to take root.  The Pumpkin Gospel is a perfect Fall fit!

Preparations:  

You will need a table to stand at and a medium to large sized, prepared pumpkin.  To prepare the pumpkin:

  • cut out a hole in the top and clean out the majority of the goo, but save it.
  •  Next, cut out a face with eyes, nose and a smiling mouth, but save the pieces you remove.
  • Then, put the removed pieces back into place so that the pumpkin looks uncut.
  • Set aside a few of the cleaner seeds to use at the beginning.
  • Then, put the rest of the gooey seeds and pulp back in the middle of the pumpkin and replace the top.

The idea is to have the majority of the work done ahead of time so that you don’t have long pauses in your story/object lesson while you’re teaching the Pumpkin Gospel.  You will also need a cookie sheet or tablecloth to contain the pumpkin mess during your story, and a candle and matches.

Pumpkin Gospel Story:

Once there was a Gardener who planted seeds in His garden (show clean pumpkin seeds).  Each day the Gardener cared for the seeds.  He watered them, pulled weeds from around them, and sheltered them from the heat of the sun.  The seeds grew into seedlings, which developed into plants, until one day, they produced fruit – pumpkins!  The pleased Gardener looked out at His garden and said, “It is good!”

Use this powerful Fall object lesson to teach  the gospel! The Pumpkin Gospel teaches kids gospel truths in a way they will remember every Fall! This  free, printable Bible lesson works for AWANA, homeschool, children's church, Sunday School, harvest parties, preschool, youth group, etc. Fall fun|Bible lesson|object lesson|teach kids the gospel|pumpkin activities|pumpkin gospel|pumpkin parable

 

The Pumpkin Gospel

One day, the Gardener went out into his field and picked a special pumpkin (place pumpkin on the table – on top of a cookie sheet or tablecloth, etc. with the uncarved side facing the audience).  It was a bit dirty from laying in the garden, so he brought it inside and gently wiped it off (wipe off exterior of pumpkin).  Now the pumpkin looked clean on the outside, but what about the inside?

The Gardener took a knife and cut open the top of the pumpkin (pretend to cut open the top again and take it off).  And what did He find?  A bunch of slimy, yucky goo! (show kids the goop – maybe even let them touch it if you have a small enough group).  The Gardener wanted His special pumpkin to be beautiful, so He carefully scraped out all of the goo inside until the pumpkin was as clean inside as it was on the outside! (Remove goo and throw away. Show children the clean interior)

But the Gardener still wasn’t satisfied with the pumpkin.  He decided it needed a face!  So, He carefully cut out two eyes, a nose, and a big smiling mouth (Turn the carved side of the pumpkin to face the audience. Poke out the eyes, nose and mouth you carved out previously).  Now the Gardener’s special pumpkin looked clean AND happy.

But the Gardener still wasn’t satisfied with the pumpkin.  So, He put a light inside of it (insert candle and light it).  The pumpkin glowed so beautifully!  The Gardener’s special project was complete.

When friends and neighbors saw the Gardeners special pumpkin, they marveled at how He took something ordinary from His garden, cleaned it inside and out, put His light inside, and made it something extraordinary!

Explanation of the Pumpkin Gospel:

We are like pumpkins and God is  the Gardener.  God creates us and cares for us. He “chooses” us from all of the other pumpkins, but inside we all have the yucky goo – sin. (Read Rom. 3:23 and Rom. 6:23)

Just like the Gardener cleaned out his pumpkin’s goo, God wants to clean out all our sin, too. So, He sent his Son Jesus to die for our sins, to take the punishment we deserved. (Read Rom. 5:8, John 3:16, and 1 John 1:9)

Just like the Gardener gave the pumpkin a new face, God makes us a new creation! (Read 2 Cor. 5:17)

Just like the Gardener put His light into the pumpkin to make it shine, so God gives us His light to shine through us!  (Read 2 Cor. 4:6 and Mt. 5:16)

So, when we let God clean out our sin, by believing that Jesus died to pay the punishment that we deserve, He turns us into new creations that can shine for Him!  And when others see our light, then they might want to learn how to have a light of their own, too!

 

Pumpkin Gospel free printable long pin

Religion vs. Relationship Pumpkin Gospel Alternate

In an alternate version of the Pumpkin Gospel, you can also demonstrate the difference between being saved by grace and trying to “earn” salvation through works.  All you will need is a second pumpkin with a face that is painted on (rather than cut out).  The story about this pumpkin is along the lines of wanting to be “chosen” but not allowing the Gardener to clean out the inside.

So, the pumpkin wears a painted face (tries to make itself acceptable on the outside), but inside, it’s still full of yucky goo.  Without removing the goo, there’s no room for the Gardener’s light, so the pumpkin cannot shine.

Many people try to make themselves acceptable to God in their own way ( just like Adam and Eve in the Garden).  They might go to church and act like Christians, and they might even believe in God.  But unless they trust that Jesus paid the price for their sins, then the sin remains on the inside.  They cannot become new creatures without allowing Christ to remove their sin.  So, the light of Christ cannot be in them.   (Read Eph. 2:8-10) This pumpkin gospel lesson would work especially well with older children, perhaps even youth age.

*This post makes use of affiliate links. For more information please visit the About page for Being Confident of This. Thank you for helping to support this blog!

Note: I have recently learned that there are a variety of books available to help with this object lesson. This one seems closest:

And Here is one for little hands:

 

So, if you’re looking for a fall family activity or even an object lesson for your church or homeschool group, consider redeeming a little bit of Halloween and using the Pumpkin Gospel.  Year after year when children see pumpkins lit up, they can remember the story of Who put the light inside of them!

If you have other ideas or stories for redeeming Halloween, I’d love to hear them in the comments!

Jen :)

Pumpkin Gospel FREE Printable

This year I’ve added a special bonus for my newsletter subscribers. Just fill in the information below to access the free printable version, which includes preparation instructions and the Pumpkin Gospel parable for you to read!

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Also sharing this post with: The Mommy Club at Crystal and Co, Salt and Light Linkup

 

Halloween Redemption?

I’ve seen it in the gentle coloring of the trees outside of our home, that yearly reminder that Fall is here. Right along with Fall comes the harvest season: cornstalks and hay bales and apples and pumpkins… and the “holiday” of Halloween, possibly one of the most controversial holidays for those who are in Christ.

I’m not sure about you, but the Halloween issue is something I’ve always struggled with as a Christ-follower (it’s right up there with what to do with Santa, the Easter Bunny, etc.).  What to do with Halloween is one of those be-in-the-world-but-not-of-the-world gray areas that seems to so often divide Christians.

Halloween and Christians

 

Yes, I’ve researched both the pagan roots for the holiday and it’s Catholic counterpart, All Saint’s Day. And I’ve read a few articles lately about what Christians should or should not do in regards to this day.  I’m just not sure I agree anymore.

When I was growing up, my family did not dress-up or trick-or-treat, but we did hand out candy from our house during the years that we were not in missionary training (before we went overseas). However, my husband (who also grew up in a Bible believing home) and his siblings donned costumes and went door-to-door up through their teenage years! :)

So, when our firstborn came along, we weren’t sure which path to choose.  We had the desire to please the Lord in our parenting choices, but we honestly weren’t really sure where to draw the line between freedom in Christ and being “set apart” in this area.

At first, we decided to participate only in our church’s fall festival, a Halloween alternative which was held on the same evening as Halloween, without costumes, but with games and candy.  It was so much fun for the whole family!

However,  my philosophical brain rejected the idea that it would be somehow “acceptable” to participate in a candy-oriented event on the same night as Halloween as long as we called it by another name and held it at a church yet  “unacceptable” to dress in a costume and go trick-or-treating.  Weren’t we still celebrating the holiday, just in a different way?

And what about our other “Christian” holidays, like Christmas and Easter.  Weren’t those dates  and even  many of our traditions borrowed from pagan holidays as well? (I know I was shocked when I researched the origins of Christmas in particular.)  Yet, over the centuries, we’ve managed to bring Christ into the center of those holidays.

Furthermore, what exactly does the Bible have to say about such celebrations?  In the Old Testament we find many yearly festivals celebrated that always served as reminders to God’s chosen people, such as Passover, etc.  But after Christ, the only command to repeat any such “celebration” for the purpose of remembering was that of what we now call communion – “do this in remembrance of me.”

In Galatians 5, Paul advises:

 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.

Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

He’s talking to the Galatians specifically about circumcision and how futile it is now that Christ has come.  In fact, in verse 2 he warns that if they allow themselves to be circumcised, then Christ will not be “of value” to them.  Why?  Because they are trusting in the Law rather than a Savior.  Then, in verse 6, he offers this truth:

“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value.

The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”

The outward acts that made up so much of the OT Law no longer matter!  What matters is that faith relationship we have because of Jesus.  When we read even further on in this chapter, we find once again that the only thing that matters is love:

13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free.

 But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.

14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

It seems to me that in gray areas that the Bible doesn’t specifically address, there is grace.  Because of Christ, we have freedom from human regulation.  The most important thing is not what we “do” in that regards, but in how we love, through faith – each other, as well as the lost.

Since the Bible does not take a crystal clear stance on the celebrating of specific holidays such as Halloween, Christmas, Easter, and so forth we finally decided to err on the side of grace in this gray area.

So, for a few years, we allowed our children to trick-or-treat at select locations, usually church events around town (for safety reasons).

We took the opportunity to discuss why Halloween can be an evil day, depending on how it is celebrated.  We talked a lot about good vs. evil and how the spiritual realm is real and present, but that we need not fear it because “God is bigger than the boogeyman” (to steal a line from the Veggietales tune).

Then, a few years ago, my husband decided to return to full-time ministry as the pastor of a small, country church.

And one of the things we decided to do as an outreach event in our new-to-us, small-town community was to host a trunk-r-treat event. If you haven’t heard of trunk-r-treats, people line up their opened car trunks, decorated in various themes, in a parking lot or downtown, and  hand out candy from their trunks instead of from their homes.  For our small church, it was a big deal!

The big night arrived, cold and wet.

We drove to the downtown parking lot we had chosen for the event, spirits high in spite of the bad weather.  The sprinkling slowed a bit to a slight mist and trunks began to open as we set up our decorations.  We had Star Wars themed trunks, farm trunks, and even one trunk that looked like a giant mouth with razor-sharp teeth!

Trunk-or-treat, Christians and Halloween

Then the costumed families began to arrive, and for an hour and a half, we had a steady stream of trick-or-treaters.  We smiled at them.  We gave them candy.  We served hot drinks in the unseasonably cold weather.

We told parents about our children’s program and youth group.  We laughed at inventive costumes. We invited them to fellowship with us.  We handed out gospel literature. And eventually, we actually ran out of candy!

In the weeks that followed, we saw very little tangible results from our first trunk-r-treat.  No new families stopped by our church to visit.  Some might even call it a failed outreach event.

But that event marked the beginning of a slow change in that church, a willingness to start thinking outside of the “church” box.  They began to see, with fresh eyes, the lost in our community.  They realized that even small churches can serve in big ways!

This year will be our second attempt at the trunk-r-treat event.  I hope we will reach even more of our community. We plan to utilize the Pumpkin Gospel object lesson to demonstrate the gospel in visual form (kids love stories!).  Whether or not it’s the best way to deal with a historically evil holiday, I know the Lord sees past the exterior to the desires and the motives of our hearts.  I hope what our children take away from this in the future is that Halloween is a day to remember that we live in a fallen world.  Evil is real, but so is God.  We have a light to shine in the darkness!

So, maybe, just maybe, making the right choice for Halloween is not so much about the details of how we “celebrate” but the why behind it.  And any day with Jesus as the focus is a good day, in my opinion.

I just have to wonder what satan thinks about a bunch of Christ-loving people hijacking his evil day in an attempt to demonstrate the gospel to an entire community?

If sinners can be redeemed, and Christmas can be redeemed, and Easter can be redeemed…..

then maybe Halloween can, too?

And if the best way for you to overcome evil is to follow convictions about abstaining, then by all means, follow your own convictions!  It’s okay for the Body of Christ to disagree on how to best glorify the Lord on this one day, really it is. :)

Perhaps the best way to be a light in the darkness is to quit biting and devouring one another and focus on loving each other instead.

Romans 12:21

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Jen :)