Should Christians celebrate Halloween, Harvest Festivals or Reformation Day?

Halloween originates from the Celts celebration of their new year (November 1) with a festival acknowledging summer’s end and winter’s beginning.

This time of year was often associated with the superstition that souls of the dead freely roamed the earth. Dismayed by this pagan celebration, Pope Gregory III moved the Christian holiday, All Saints Day, from May 13 to November 1 to counter the pagan influence on Christians. The night prior to All Saints Day, October 31, became known as “All Hallows Eve”, which is now celebrated as Halloween.

Harvest/Fall Festivals are Christian alternatives to the superstitious, evil and gory elements that often accompany Halloween. During these festivals, churches request that no one wear scary costumes and some claim this to be an evangelistic outreach. Unfortunately, many don’t preach the biblical Gospel, but rather the watered-down, man-centered, "You can live your best life now" false gospel.

Reformation Day commemorates the day a Catholic priest, Martin Luther, nailed his “95 Theses” to the door of Schlosskirche (Castle Church), also known as All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg, on October 31, 1517.

Luther’s theses detailed his grievances against the Roman Catholic church’s sale of indulgences. The people were erroneously taught that faith in Christ alone wasn't sufficient to secure one’s salvation, and that good works along with indulgences were necessary for a person to be justified before the sight of God. But when Martin Luther studied the holy Scriptures himself, he found the truth of the Gospel; that no amount of “good” works or indulgences, or any effort of man could satisfy the wrath of a holy and just God against the putrid sins of a depraved and unholy people. Only by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, is any person's eternal salvation secured (Ephesians 2:8-9).

In a recent interview with local Pastor, Eric “Gunny” Hartman regarding Reformation Day, he shared, “The Reformation Celebration is a teaching tool to help generations understand the importance of Reformation ideals that compel us to pursue God's glory alone. There's terminal ignorance within the body of Christ regarding doctrinal distinctives and we could use a recovery of the biblical Gospel in our day as was the case in the 1500s.”

When asked if there were any positive reasons for couples to celebrate the Reformation, Pastor Gunny said, “The story of Martin Luther and his wife, Katharina von Bora helps to show that a biblical marriage is more than just having feelings for each other, but living out God's design in such a way as to bring Him glory through the sanctification of one another, raising godly children, and serving together for the advancement of Christ’s kingdom.”

So which occasion should Christians celebrate: Halloween, Harvest/Fall Festivals, or Reformation Day? It’s clear that no true believer of Jesus Christ should celebrate Halloween (Deut 18:10-12, 1 Tim 4:7). But can Christians hand out candy with Gospel tracts to children ringing their doorbells? Sure, if after much prayer, you’re led by God to do so.

Should Christians celebrate Harvest/Fall Festivals? Only if a biblical presentation of the Gospel is preached to all in attendance, and if it’s the primary purpose of the festival. Otherwise, it’s only a wasteful, “Christianized” version of Halloween.

Should Christians celebrate Reformation Day? Absolutely! This day has nothing to do with a pagan celebration, but everything to do with exhorting believers “to press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14)

Local Reformation Day events:

Providence Church (972) 926-3433

4101 E. Park Blvd., Plano, Texas 75074
Bible Marathon - Friday, Oct. 28, 2011 from 7-10 p.m.
Reformation Celebration - Saturday, Oct. 29, 2011 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

Reformation Sunday - Oct. 30, 2011 with guest speaker:

Mike Gendron of Proclaiming the Gospel Ministries will be speaking on "The Reformation and the Providence of God"

200 W N Woody Road, Azle, Texas 76020
Reformation Day Celebration - Sunday, October 30, 2011 from 7-9 p.m.

Redeemer Church (817) 367-2639

126 N. Judd Street, Fort Worth, Texas 76108
Reformation Sunday - Sunday, Oct. 30, 2011 from 10 a.m.-1:15 p.m. with guest speaker: Dr. Jeffrey Bingham, Professor of Theological Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary