Halloween and Martin Luther: What we all have in common

October 31 marks a day that has brought much conflict to men and women of faith. There are people who lock their doors and close their blinds on this night. Others head to church to have contained fun, while still some venture into their neighborhoods with pillowcases in hand. Yes, Halloween has caused quite a bit of fuss among Christians.

This evening also marks another moment of conflict and searching for truth. For on this day 500 years ago, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg, beginning the Reformation. What do Martin Luther and Christians in 2017 have in common on October 31? We all desire to shed light in the darkness.

A little bit of history

If we are to celebrate or reject Halloween, we should know its origins. While some argue over where it earned its beginnings, it’s generally accepted that it began with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. The Celts celebrated their new year November 1, and they believed the ghosts of the dead roamed the earth the night of October 31. While some believe the Celts welcomed and celebrated these ghosts, dressing up in their honor, others believe the Celts thought the ghosts caused harm, leading to their wearing of masks in order to ward off the spirits.

Years later, Pope Gregory IV moved All Saints Day, a day to honor all martyrs and saints, from May 13 to November 1. Some hold to the belief he did this specifically to take away from the paganism of October 31. As the gospel began to spread, this evening became known as All Hallows’ Eve, a way for people who followed God to mock Satan and the demonic realm.

Eventually, the celebration of pagan rituals and honoring martyrs gave way to festivals and then parties and, eventually, walking door-to-door asking for money and food. Here is where we see our version of Halloween take shape.

Is it coincidence Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses on the same day people mocked evil and deceit and lies? Maybe. Should Christians not participate in Halloween because they think it’s evil? Maybe. You can remain sure of this, though, whatever your stance on Halloween: We do not need to fear evil will overcome good.

Light in the darkness

Whether or not you done costumes and ring neighbors’ doorbells asking for candy each October 31 does not determine how true to your faith you are. It seems we have assigned Halloween with one of two labels: satanic or harmless. But what if it’s neither of those things? What if we have given this evening entirely too much power over the way we respond to evil?

Yes, Halloween most likely began with ghosts and evil spirits. But Jesus never taught His followers to fear the darkness or hide from confronting evil. He also never taught people to ignore evil or flirt with it as long as you aren’t actually participating in it.

Halloween provides us with an opportunity to shine light in the darkness. Like Martin Luther spreading the truth of scripture in the midst of false teaching, we can spread the truth of the power of Christ over evil.

How do we spread truth when it comes to Halloween? The first way is by not shutting ourselves away on a night when we have the opportunity to share the light with families who literally come knocking on our doors. What Satan means for evil, God uses for good. If you believe Halloween to be a dark and evil night, then don’t hide from it. Speak truth into it.

This is not to say you should feel the need to dress up and participate. If trick-or-treating does not sit well with your spirit, then follow through with that conviction. But if you’re able to use this time to share God’s love and truth by answering your door and handing out candy, you may want to think through your reasons for turning off your porch light.

Fear no evil

It’s clear Satan desires to use Halloween as a way to desensitize us to his domain on this earth. While many people who practice witchcraft and other rituals do not celebrate Halloween because they feel it ridicules the power of what they believe, there is certainly a sense of creepiness and darkness to the night.

But here is where we draw courage from Martin Luther. In the midst of the darkness of his day, he risked his reputation and his life when he stood behind the truth that evil holds no power over Jesus Christ. As Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses for all to see, he sent a message to Satan. He said evil will never overcome the light of Christ.

We can do the same. We either fear Halloween or we ignore the evil that fights the truth on this night. Instead of fearing or ignoring, it’s time to nail our truth on our doors for all to see. It’s time to tell Satan he doesn’t hold ultimate power over us, because we fight using the truth, and this truth sets all men free.

Imagine how our lives would change if we truly believed the darkness cannot overcome the light. We need to remain on guard against evil, but we don’t need to fear it, for Christ wins in the end.

As you look toward Halloween tonight and every October 31, make the decision to shine light into the darkness. Remind Satan you don’t fear evil. Follow Martin Luther and choose to speak out about truth instead of hiding away or ignoring the false beliefs that suffocate mankind.   

You may not begin the next Reformation, but you will find your spirit strengthened as you let go of fear or apathy and dive into obeying Jesus’ commission of telling all people the truth of the gospel.

Let’s Talk About It: How can you refocus your attitude to fear no evil? 



18 Replies to “Halloween and Martin Luther: What we all have in common”

  1. I LOVE this! I have been thinking about whether or not I should be celebrating Halloween with my little one because I felt so conflicted. On one end, I understood the history of Halloween, but on the other hand, I didn’t think Halloween to be harmful to my faith. Thank you for committing to the ground of shining a light because I believe that this night is a wonderful opportunity to be active in faith and not hiding behind it! I will be sharing this on FB:)

  2. We did the Halloween thing with our kids. But we drew a line at what costumes they could wear. No ghosts, witches, etc. Now, we are grandparents. We don’t like near our grandkids (would love to). My husband started a routine a couple of years back. Doorbell rings. He grabs candy & puts his hand out the mailslot to drop candy into their bags. I open the door a bit to see that they all got candy. For us, this turns it into just having fun with the kids. And they all go away laughing. What better sound than that!

  3. Thought provoking article on this unique day of remembrance when Luther proclaimed “Sola Scriptura”, “Sola Fide”, “Sola Gratia”, “Solus Christus”, “Soli Deo Gloria” (Scripture alone, faith alone, grace alone, Christ alone, to the glory of God alone).

  4. I appreciate the article. We allow our children to participate in Halloween but put restrictions on what we will allow them to dress up as. We also are selective in houses we will trek to. Thank you for the history and for reminding us not to fear evil! Good always overcomes! God bless!

  5. Very thought provoking. I’m not so sure where I stand, but I always want to err on the side of love and light…. I’d hate to think that anyone ever thought I “hid” because I didn’t participate. Thanks for daring to write about a controversial topic. You presented both sides very honestly, fairly and logically. Nicely done!

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