Reformation Day

Celebrating the roots of the Protestant Reformation is yet another alternative to Halloween. PCA News reports that Children's Ministry International advocates turning Oct. 31 into a holiday that commemorates the day that Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on the Wittenburg church door.

Brad Winsted, director of Children's Ministry International, suggests Christians throw a party at church where all dress as characters from the Reformation. He says he has dressed up as John Calvin, Martin Luther, a peasant, and even John Tetzel (the salesman of those infamous indulgences). "When I couldn't get a 16th century idea, then I dressed as a Bible character," Winsted told PCA News. According to Winsted, a church fellowship hall can be transformed into Wittenburg, Germany or Geneva.

Children's Ministry International has developed a small booklet, "Heroes of the Reformation," explaining many of these ideas, along with lessons on the lives of Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox and other reformers. (Call 1-888-345-4264).

Too Far?

Other Christians attempt to use the fear factor of Halloween to their advantage. "Hell House," a ministry of the Abundant Life Christian Center in Arvada, Colo., is a franchised, church-sponsored haunted house that opens around Halloween. Other "fear-inducing outreaches" include Judgment House and Revelation Walk.

The stated idea behind these Christian alternatives to Halloween is to put the devil on center stage. In Hell House, for example, "demons" guide kids through scenes "depicting the hell and destruction that Satan and this world can bestow on those who choose not to serve Jesus Christ." Kids are led through such staged traumas as an abortion, a suicide, a school shooting or death by AIDS - then into a meeting in "hell" with the "devil."

"Hell House is an absolute must because of the timely topics it deals with in an aggressive fashion. Through the vehicle of drama, it vividly communicates to every witness that there is a spiritual battle raging each day that we live. That battle is for the eternal destiny of their soul, and if they choose to follow the world's pathway the results will be a very real hell on earth in their lives as well as an eternal hell," Hell House's Website explains.

Finally, the kids are rescued out of hell by angels who take them to "heaven" to meet "Jesus." Before they leave, the kids can pray for their salvation.

Spreading The Word Instead

Rather than blasting Halloween as the devil's night, says Rafael Martinez (with TVBSA), "Christians should earnestly set about to provide an answer to every man who would need to hear about avoiding any involvement with the darker side of the day. Reasons -- not railings -- are the need of the hour for the church."

Martinez suggests that pastors and other church leaders directly spread sound, balanced and Biblical admonitions to the Christians they lead. People need to be aware of Halloween's spiritual snares, he says. "The sheer amount of misinformation about the occult alone is a major problem that garbles clear communication. Add to this the temptation to evangelical smugness about being 'in the light' and a miltantly witch-hunting posture, and the task of intelligent dialogue about the dangers of Halloween becomes almost impossible.

"Encouraging others to avoid Halloween's occult snares to please God out of love for His direction should be done in the right spirit," adds Martinez. It should be done "out of love for their spiritual condition, yet with passion, tempered by humility and a commitment to truth."

Original publication date: October 31, 2001