I walked into a heated discussion in the comments section revolving around Joe Carter's post Trick or Tract: Satan, Jack Chick, and Other Halloween Horrors. The article was mainly about how scary and misguided the fundamentalist Jack Chick tracts had been to young Joe, and his denunciation of them now for use as a Halloween tract. Many commenters shared similar stories of their bad experiences with Chick tracts.
Examining one particular Chick tract more closely, Mr. Carter seems to be saying that its twisted, fundamentalistic response to Halloween, that seeks to inspire "irrational fear" in the hearts and minds of young children, is more dangerous and "demonically-inspired" than the holiday itself. While Mr. Carter's article makes a good case that Chick tracts are not the best Christian response to Halloween, he really doesn't address how we should respond as Christians. He says he mostly disagreed with a post on the topic by Bonnie from Intellectuelle, but reading her article tonight, I thought she made good points about the holiday's associations that should be considered by believers deciding what to do about Halloween.
Interestingly she read the comments I had posted (see below) at Joe Carter's site and thanked me, saying that my thoughts echoed her own.
Thanks for the post. Judging from the comments alone, it seems Halloween is one of those holidays on which the opinions of Christians are quite divided.
The day is perhaps an innocent diversion to some, an occasion for dressing up in costume, eating candy, having fun. Yet in America it is a holiday that has associations with the evil side of life-- for example, at this time of year all the TV networks bring out the horror movies and films dealing with the occult-- obviously because being frightened and spooked is associated with Halloween.
The holiday may have Christian roots, as one poster commented, or perhaps it is more pagan in origin. I suppose that if one as a Christian has given the matter some thought and prayed about it and then decided that they can celebrate the holiday in good conscience, that's fine. I like dressing up in costume and so in the past, I have enjoyed going to costume parties on Halloween. The parties were not at all "ghoulish", although some people might have dressed up as ghosts or something sinister.
Having had personal experiences with the reality of spiritual warfare since then, I have more questions and reservations now about the nature of Halloween. I don't want to inadvertently celebrate a day that in any way gives glory to Satan or demons.
I agree that unreasonable fear (or obsession) with Satan is unhealthy, but respect for the reality of the satanic realm is healthy and wise.
The world in its ignorance may enjoy the thrill of being scared by Hollywood versions of satanic activity, but satanic evil is far more subtle and yet far more horrible than what is portrayed in such movies. I don't think Christians should dismiss this lightly, but rather should resolve to be armed with biblical insight about the nature of such warfare. It is because of my own experiences in this area that I have some hesitations about Halloween. However, I would only caution fellow believers to consider whether they in good conscience can celebrate the day to bring glory to God, and not cause others to stumble.
The Dane of Nowheresville makes a case that Halloween can be celebrated in good conscience by a believer, Tim Challies of Challies.com talks about why he's celebrating it, and John Fischer of Breakpoint argues convincingly that a "hiding-from-Halloween" strategy by believers is counter-productive to the gospel.
Mr. Fisher's argument that on a holiday such as Halloween, Christians should be engaging our neighbors, rather than creating safe alternative (e.g. Harvest Celebration) that separates us from them, is compelling. Nevertheless, a holiday associated with evil and the dark side is one that many Christians (including me) have hesitations about participating in, especially if one has encountered the reality of the dark world and rightly, doesn't regard it as a joke.
I think this is a tough question to decide, but one in which we have freedom to act according to the dictates of conscience before the Lord.
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. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God (Romans 14: 5-6, ESV)
As for me and my wife, if we are home, we might as well give out candy and be neighborly.
P.S. Here's what seems to be a sensible post from a Christian family that has "evolved" in its stance on Halloween.