In his live video on October 14th, Rich Penkoski from Warriors for Christ church went on an hour-long rant about why Christians should not celebrate Halloween, during which he banned at least a couple of viewers from his page for arguing against his position. To one commenter he said, “I can’t stand uneducated Christians!” To another, “You might want to go study before you go running your mouth, because you have no idea what you’re talking about.” I’m not sure exactly what the comments entailed because after the person was banned the comment was unavailable, but that didn’t sound like the loving, caring pastor I expected to hear when I started the video. I will now list five statements made in the video and then explain why they are completely preposterous.
1. “[You’re] introducing your children to the occult as early as one year old.”
If you have ever read your horoscope or watched Bewitched then you have been introduced to the occult. Anything relating to witchcraft and astrology are occult practices. Other practices that are included in the term “occult” today include ESP, the belief of reincarnation, and faith healing. Faith healing is a big part of Charismatic churches, including Warriors for Christ. Therefore, if you attend a charismatic church, such as Warriors for Christ, you are being exposed to occult practices.
2. “Do you know where the jack-o-lanterns origins came from? It derives from the Druids ghastly remnants of the severed human head. They probably decorated their houses and temples with bloody severed heads.”
There is no proof that these things actually occurred. His use of the word “probably,” indicates this as well. The Druids did celebrate Samhain “summer’s end,” which marks the end of the Pagan sacred year; and they did slaughter animals based on what they needed to survive winter and what they had to feed the animals from their spring harvest. Pagans today do still celebrate the end of the harvest and honor their ancestors who have passed. Some Christians today use this time to honor the martyrs of the Christian faith. Personally, I like to use this time to remember Martin Luther and the reformation, which just so happens to have fallen on October 31st five hundred years ago.
3. “Dressing your kids in Halloween costumes is indeed participating in a Satanic festival.”
There are some festivals around the world that are pagan or even Satanic in nature and some do involve the wearing of costumes. However, to say that putting a three-year-old in a superman costume and letting them in a bounce house on the church lawn is participating in a Satanic festival, is quite a stretch.
4. “You cannot claim to be a Christian and want to do these things.”
Scriptures are quoted throughout the video and their posts to support this claim, but they have all been taken out of context to suit their own agenda. Here are some of the verses and what they actually mean:
• Matthew 9:4 “But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts?”
In this verse, Jesus was replying to the men that were accusing Him of blasphemy because He said that He could forgive sins. The evil in their hearts was that they did not see Him as God but as a mere man.
• Romans 12:21 “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
This verse is about keeping peace in your heart, even when people are trying to persecute you. While you may be tempted to get sweet revenge on your adversary, you should “not be overcome by evil.”
• 1 Thess. 5:21-22 “but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.”
This verse is referring to false doctrine. “Test[ing] everything” is the measuring of what is being taught in the Name of God to the Word of God. “Hold fast to what is good [teaching]. Abstain from false prophets and false teachers.
5. “If you are doing this year after year you are practicing sin and you need to stop.”
I have just demonstrated how the scriptures being used to support their claims were taken out of context and I have yet to see any scripture that even remotely indicates that dressing in costume and eating candy with your neighborhood friends, is a sin. “Where there is no law there is no transgression” (Romans 4:15). Opinion is one thing, but something like Halloween falls under religious liberty.
I would like to also point out that self-righteousness IS a sin. Self-righteous by definition is “convinced of one’s own righteousness especially in contrast with the action and beliefs of others” (Merriam-Webster). In the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, Jesus told the story of “some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt” (Luke 18: 9-14). The treatment given to people who disagree with Pastor Rich Penkoski’s stance on Halloween is appalling. It is self-righteous behavior and is not becoming of someone who calls them self a church leader.
There is nothing wrong with being cognitive about how you approach Halloween, in fact I strongly encourage it. Even during Christmas, while my kids are staring at the Wal-Mart gift catalog with their eyes bulging out, I have to stop and remind them that Jesus is the reason that we are celebrating. Many churches use Halloween as a chance for a community outreach and if we can be the light on the darkest of days, that is a good thing. There is no compromise here if our focus is still on Christ. Just imagine what would happen if we did heed the advice of Warriors for Christ church. If all of the Christians were to suddenly shut their doors and hide away on October 31st, then it could indeed become Satan’s holiday.
Higginbotham, Joyce & River. Paganism: An Introduction to Earth-Centered Religions. Llewellyn Publications, 2002.
McDowell, Josh & Stewart, Don. Handbook of Today’s Religions: Understanding the Occult. Here’s Life Publishers, Inc., 1982
Pelayo, Cina. (2015, August 4). 10 Satanic Celebrations Held Around the World. Retrieved from http://www.therichest.com