Trick or Treat
Wednesday, October 31, 2018, is listed on the calendar as Halloween. Every year, Americans spend billions of dollars on costumes, decorations, candy, and other Halloween items. In 2017, Halloween spending reached $9.1 billion, a significant increase compared to the $8.4 billion spent in 2016. The average consumer spends between $169 and $183 on Halloween items. Individuals who never make Halloween purchases can enjoy a savings of up to $12,000 by the age of sixty-five. They are also likely to benefit from fewer costly trips to the dentist to fill cavities and treat tooth decay caused by the consumption all that Halloween candy.
What are the origins of Halloween? In 609, Pope Boniface IV instituted May 13 as All Martyrs’ Day to honor all martyrs. Pope Gregory III later moved the date to November 1, extended the celebration to include all saints, and changed the name to All Saints’ Day. The day was also called All Hallows’ Day, and the night before was referred to as All Hallows’ Eve. Over time, the holiday became known as Halloween.
Pope Gregory III likely established November 1 as the date for All Saints’ Day to counter Samhain, the pagan festival of the dead celebrated by the Celts of Europe on October 31 and November 1. The Celts believed the curtain dividing the living and the dead was lifted during Samhain to allow the spirits of the dead to walk the earth. During the festival, the Celts built bonfires to keep evil spirits away, and they wore costumes to confuse the ghosts.
Over the centuries, beliefs and practices from Samhain and All Saints Day mixed, and pagan practices grew in popularity. For example, the poor would go from house to house begging for “soul cakes.” In exchange, they would pray for the souls of the deceased relatives of those giving the cakes. Single women practiced divination games with apples in the hope of discovering the name of their future husbands.
October 31 is also the date known as Reformation Day. On that day in 1517, Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-five Theses to the door of the Catholic church in Wittenberg, Germany, an act often viewed as the catalyst for the Protestant Reformation. Many of Luther’s beliefs can be applauded, such as his criticism of papal authority and his belief that Scripture is the only authority in matters of faith and practice (sola Scriptura).
Fellow Baptists ask me if Baptists are Protestant. My answer is no. Baptists did not come out of the Catholic church either. The history of Baptist beliefs can be traced to the time of Christ. Various groups of these believers were referred to by other names. For details, I recommend reading J.M. Carroll’s The Trail of Blood.
I appreciate the Reformation movement but do not celebrate it as part of my heritage or lineage. I have gone trick-or-treating in days gone by but will not this year. When I have pastored churches, I have usually led those churches to offer an alternative to Halloween by holding a Harvest Fest. Jacksonville College hosts Harvest Fest each year on campus. This year’s event will be held on Tuesday, October 30. I have held evangelistic events on Halloween to share the gospel and have seen many saved. We need to remind ourselves and those to whom we minister of who we are and why we do and do not do as others.
Jacksonville College exists to provide a quality education from a biblical worldview that challenges minds, transforms lives, and equips students for servant leadership and lifelong learning.
We are thankful for our churches that financially support us to enable us to fulfill our mission. We celebrate every day because of what God is doing at Jacksonville College. What a treat!
The Jacksonville College worship team led in worship during Chapel on September 26. Visitors included the JC Board of Trustees and the Golden Jubilee from First Baptist Church, Jacksonville.
The guest speaker during Chapel on September 26 was Dr. Bob Pearle, pastor of Birchman Baptist Church in Fort Worth and member of the JC Board of Trustees. Dr. Pearle used his award-winning dog, Molly, to demonstrate biblical principles.
Jacksonville College employees and students enjoyed Jag Day at First Baptist Church in Jacksonville on September 9. Pictured are Coach Aaron Smith (standing) and members of the JC men’s basketball team.
New 8-Week Term