October 31 holds great significance for many Christians including Seventh-day Adventists. The anniversary of Martin Luther’s posting of the Ninety-five Theses in Wittenberg, Germany is imminent. To say that this was a major pivot point in ecclesiastical alteration is a major understatement. Last year was the landmark quincentennial, and though 501 is less zingy than 500 is, it would behoove us, in 2018, 2019, and beyond, to harken back to that remarkable display of conviction and courage.
Unfortunately, the above-mentioned date, not only this year, but numerous years prior, is eagerly anticipated by millions, including those who claim faith, whether nominally or even sincerely, for more trivial reasons. The remembrance of the Protestant Reformation seems to be overshadowed by pumpkins, costumes, candy, etc. On second thought, did I just use the word “trivial” prematurely?
In one respect, of course not. Dressing up like a ghost and buying a large bag of Snickers should almost not be mentioned in the same article as are our spiritual ancestors and the sacrifices they made in their quest to shine light through the Dark Ages. However, the actual bedrock of Halloween should not be ignored. I would suggest that this upcoming “holiday” is a much subtler yet still insidious attempt of the devil to keep the truth of God’s word shrouded.
This article will by no means be a historical tome, but for the sake of context, we will get an airplane view of Halloween’s initial development.
Halloween, October 31st, is the last day of the Celtic calendar. It was originally a pagan holiday honoring the dead, and dates back over 2000 years. The name Halloween refers to “All Hallows’ Eve,” the evening before All Saints’ Day, or November 1st. This was a holiday created by the Roman Catholics in an attempt to convert pagans. The Catholic Church honored the dead saints on this day that was designated. This is to mirror the pagan traditions that can be traced back to the druids a Celtic culture in Ireland, Britain, and Northern Europe. Roots lay in the Feast of Samhain, which was annually October 31st, to honor the dead. Samhain signifies “summer’s end,” or the beginning of November. Samhain was a harvest festival with huge, sacred “bone-fires” – that’s where we get the word bonfire – marking the end of the Celtic year and the beginning of a new one. Many of the practices involved in this celebration were fed on superstition. The Celts believed the souls of the dead roamed the streets and villages at night. Since not all the spirits were thought to be friendly, gifts and treats were left out to pacify the evil ones and to ensure the next year’s crop would be plentiful. They also dressed up in disguises to confuse the vengeful spirits. These customs gradually evolved into trick-or-treating.
The debate as to whether or not it is acceptable for Bible believers to participate in Halloween, in the conventional sense at least, has been waged for who knows how long. I will by no means claim to be able to end the debate. My primary hope and objective are to encourage my fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord who are wrestling with this decision to think critically and pray fervently.
Secondarily, I charge those who do agree with my stance to exercise patience with and respect for those who are on the other side of the debate. It is unfair and myopic to define one’s overall walk with Jesus and eternal destiny by just one factor or another.
With that said, it is clear that Halloween has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. This holiday is as sourced by Satan as was the serpent’s first lie in the Garden of Eden, and it is not a coincidence that these two things overlap substantially. October 31 has been largely relegated as little more than an innocent outlet of amusement for children, when in actuality it is an underrated and sinister vehicle for the perpetuation of the false assertion that humans are naturally immortal.
Though Adventists are primarily identified as Sabbath-keepers (it’s in our church’s name, after all), our adherence to the biblical evidence that death is an unconscious sleep at best and a kibosh on one’s existence at worst is just as indispensable a load-bearing pillar within our theological infrastructure, as well as our end-time mission. We have, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, determined the relevance of the Sabbath within the parameters of the Three Angels’ Messages.
However, we cannot disregard how relevant our understanding of the nature of humanity is within the same parameters, especially considering what we are told in various parts of Revelation and other passages like 2 Corinthians 11 about how the enemy and his evil angels will unleash a tumult of confusing signs and wonders during the final moments of earth’s history, and this will be predicated on the dangerously popular belief that those who die do not actually die.
Adventism’s state-of-the-dead doctrine is not just another peculiarity at which most other denominations can chuckle and scoff. It is not even just an avenue of connection with Jehovah’s Witnesses and the like. It is literally a matter of life and death, for Satan has crafted and is executing a plan, cloaked by a smiling skeleton mask and dipped in milk chocolate, that can and will dull the world’s senses to the truth of God’s word and its invitation for all to enjoy eternity in the new earth, thus rendering as many people as possible unprepared for Jesus’ soon return.
Because of all this, I lovingly yet urgently recommend that those who read this article decide not to swim in the shark-infested waters of Halloween observance.