Halloween: Should Christians Participate?/Program 4

By: Dr. John Weldon, Dr. James Bjornstad; ©1996
Why do we buy pumpkins, carve a face in them, and place a candle inside to light up the face? What does that symbolize? Why are Ouija boards, séances, white witchcraft, black witchcraft, even Satanism associated with Halloween?



Ankerberg: Welcome to our program. We’re examining the topic, “Should Christians Be Involved and Participate in Any of the Activities of Halloween?” Notice, I said, Should “Christians” be involved or practice any of the activities of Halloween? If you’re not a Christian and you do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ, most likely you won’t understand why we’re asking this question. Some of the programs we do here on The John Ankerberg Show are for those of you who do not know God or do not believe in Jesus Christ. In those programs I try to present the evidence that proves that Jesus Christ is God and that all of us as human beings on earth should accept His wonderful gift of forgiveness for our sins and be willing to follow Him. But in today’s program and in this series, I’m talking to those of you who are Christians who love Jesus Christ and have promised to follow Him.
In the worldview or philosophy of life that Jesus Christ has given to us, He warns us about not going to certain sources, occult sources if you will, to find out information about life after death, about the future, about whom we will marry, what luck we will have on our job, etc. As you will see in today’s program, people who turn to astrology or a fortuneteller or a palmist or look into crystal balls or play with Ouija boards or listen to channelers, those who let spirits speak through them, such as Edgar Cayce or a thousand different other channelers in Los Angeles today, or witchcraft, either white or black witchcraft, those who use spells or omens or magical powers to manipulate people or events—all of these activities and more fall under the category of occult activity which the God of the Bible says stay away from. Why? Because God says there are evil angels, evil spirits who sometimes empower these activities and real things happen, but it’s all a deception spiritually to pull people away from the real and living God. Now, how does Halloween relate to these areas of the occult? Dr. John Weldon explains.
Weldon: To the question, are the activities of Halloween in any way connected to the world of the occult, let me assure you that they definitely are. Several days before Halloween we find our children’s classrooms decorated with ghosts and witches and black cats. The kids are all out buying costumes related to the occult. What do you think these symbols mean? Let me again assure that these symbols and many of the practices associated with Halloween are clearly related to the world of the occult!
Ankerberg: By the way, what is the definition of the word occult? What does it mean? Here’s a quick definition.
Weldon: What is the definition of the word “occult”? The occult actually means something hidden. And it’s used in the sense of establishing contact with supernatural forces in order to get power and knowledge from them.
Ankerberg: Now, before we talk about where we got pumpkins, why we carve them, why it is that Ouija boards are pulled out and used at parties, why séances, bobbing for apples, and witchcraft are all associated with Halloween, let’s give a quick review of how Halloween and the occult are connected to practices in past history that the Bible strictly condemns. Here’s Dr. John Weldon.
Weldon: How are Halloween and the occult connected? Well, they’re connected both historically and today. Historically we find that many of the practices of the occult, such as seeking contact with the spirit world, various forms of divination, were practiced by the ancient Celtic peoples who came from Asia and settled in the British Isles and in Northern France. We see that today, many of the practices of Halloween are also involved in the occult. It’s a special day of witches where they believe that the line connecting the material and spiritual worlds is thinnest and it’s one of the best times for establishing contact with the spirits.
Ankerberg: Now let’s talk about pumpkins. Why is it that at Halloween we buy a pumpkin, carve a face on it, put a candle inside of it and light it, and then place the pumpkin that’s lit out on the porch? What does it mean? Where did this practice come from? Dr. James Bjornstad, Professor of Philosophy at Cedarville College, explains.
Bjornstad: Why do we have pumpkins on Halloween? Pumpkins or jack-o’-lanterns really find their origin back in the beginning. It would seem that witches back in Celtic times, in order to go to their coven meetings which were secretive, would have to travel along a dark path. And it has been said that they might take a skull or some hollowed object, put a candle in it and use it as a light in order to find their way. There are also some myths that are given in the Irish culture regarding Jack, who when he was not allowed in heaven or hell, wandered the earth and apparently was eating a turnip when the devil tossed him a hot coal and put it in the turnip and used it as he would wander about. But the jack-o’-lantern, the pumpkin, has its association back there in the beginning with that worship of spirits and involvement with those that had died.
Ankerberg: Now, another practice that takes place all through the year but mainly at Halloween is the use of Ouija boards. What is the Ouija board? Why do we object to it? It’s because the Ouija board is a method of divination. Webster defines divination as “an act or practice of trying to foretell future events or the unknown by occult means.” Dr. Weldon tells us more about why God objects to our using the Ouija board.
Weldon: How is divination connected to Halloween? Well, it goes back to the ancient Celts. Halloween was their new year, and so there was a natural interest in what would happen in the new year. And various means of divination were employed in order to attempt to find out what the new year would hold for people. Today, many people on Halloween, many children, pull out the Ouija board and attempt to contact the spirit world in order to find out information about the future.
The problem with the Ouija board is that it is not a game. Even though it has sold something like 20 million sets, it is far more than a game. It was developed by people who were involved in the occult, and it was developed as a way to establish contact with the spirit world. And we have to ask, “Who are the spirits that are being contacted through Ouija boards?” All the evidence suggests that these are evil spirits. The information that they give and the things that happen to people who use Ouija boards, even children, proves that they are not good spirits and that this is a very dangerous pastime and should be avoided. No parent should ever allow his child to become involved in using a Ouija board on Halloween or any other day. A good book that documents the dangers of Halloween would be Ed Gruss’s book on the Ouija board.
Ankerberg: Next, Dr. James Bjornstad is a professor of philosophy. As such, he has heard a lot from students and parents about what happened to them as a result of using the Ouija board.
Bjornstad: Through the years I have heard much from children and teenagers and parents about activity on Halloween that revolved around a séance, perhaps even the possibility of levitation. And usually included would be a game called the Ouija board. What about those things? The question has often been asked, “Are they associated in any way with Halloween?” And surprisingly, maybe not surprisingly, the answer is, yes, they are.
When you go back in history and Halloween and you begin to see the beginning of it, where back there with the Celts you had the understanding that the god of the dead allowed the dead to run around, you begin to understand something of séances and Ouija boards. If it is true, as they say—and of course, it’s not from a biblical perspective—but if it is true that the dead are out there, that they have gone from this physical plane to the next plane and that they desire to have contact with us, how would they have contact with us? See, it would seem to me they would have to find some way to communicate with us here. And so the obvious thing would be to have a séance, a place whereby the spirits could communicate with us. And that’s where the séance comes from.
Now, the second question might be: Well, how do we know the message that they give? Well, they might use the medium, you know, the trance medium, what we call “channeling” today, to speak through the medium. Or they might use a board in which they could spell out answers and say yes or no. And that board, historically, is a board that today we call the Ouija board. So the background of these things that we do on Halloween, a séance and gathering around the experience something that occurs, using a Ouija board to try to get messages really have their background in the occult and they are pagan. They deal again with aspects not where the dead communicate with us but demons.
Ankerberg: Now, before we move on, you heard Dr. Weldon use the word divination and we defined it via Webster. But what is a biblical definition of divination? Well, divination is the art of obtaining secret or illegitimate knowledge of the future by occult methods unsanctioned by God. Now, the Bible reveals that there is artificial or fake divination as well as real Satanic divination. For example, there are fake fortunetellers and fake channelers. On the other hand, the God of the Bible tells us that some of these practices are used and empowered by real evil spirits. Dr. Weldon clarifies this further.
Weldon: Divination is the attempt to predict the future through various occult means. Astrologers attempt to divine the future through astrology charts. People may use Tarot cards or I Ching hexagrams or various other means. The reason why it’s dangerous and the reason why the Bible condemns divination is because people are contacting spirits and powers of darkness that will not give them the truth about the future and, in fact, will ultimately seek to lead them astray and give them false information. Let me read you some of the Scriptures that we find in the Bible about divination.
In Leviticus 19:26: “Do not practice divination or sorcery.” In Deuteronomy 18:10-11, “Let no one be found among you who practices divination.” 2 Kings 21:6, referring to one of the kings of Israel, “He practiced sorcery and divination. He did much evil in the eyes of the Lord, provoking Him to anger.”
God wants us to trust in His control and sovereignty over the future and not to seek out people who are involved in the occult because those individuals are tied into the world of evil spirits and the information we get will harm us and not help us.
Ankerberg: Another practice at Halloween is bobbing for apples. Where in the world did this practice come from? What was the meaning of it when people did it in past history and why did they bob for apples specifically at Halloween? Dr. James Bjornstad reveals the interesting history behind this practice.
Bjornstad: So frequently today in house parties and sometimes even in church parties you’ll see a tub filled with water and beautiful apples that are placed therein. And, of course, you will watch as children and teens come up and they put their hands behind their back and their head goes down and they duck for apples. The question might be, where did that come from? How did that practice originate?
Well, interestingly, we go back again to that time prior to Christ. And during that time when the evil spirits, the spirits of the dead, were running around, there were people who were trying to get information from them. The Bible refers to this as divination. And divination is the idea of gaining information from the supernatural area apart from God. So this is not a method really of seeking God, this is trying to get some indication of what you should do, who you should marry, some decision in life that’s related to knowledge elsewhere. It seems back at that time what they did is they would use apples, and the ducking for apples might give them, as they were bite into the apple, an indication of who their future husband might be. I mean, divination was big. Sometimes at midnight they would sit and they’d watch in the mirror and peel an apple and if they saw a vision it would be of their husband, their future husband; and if they didn’t see a vision it might mean that they would never marry. But, interestingly, divination, trying to get information from the spirits, was very, very dominant back at that time.
And today here we are doing the same types of things. Back then it seems that in certain villages they would write a message on a stone or some indication of who they were, throw it in the fire and the next morning they would try to find the stone. And if any stone was missing, it was expected that person would not be alive at the next Halloween. But trying to get information about their lives from the supernatural apart from God. And yet here we are today, one of the practices that they did, ducking for apples—you have it in church parties, you have it in house parties—we’re doing the same thing. Where did it come from? Well, it comes from the occult; it comes from paganism. Now, I know you might say, “But I wasn’t trying to think of who I’m going to marry or whatever.” But that’s the practice. That’s where it comes from.
Ankerberg: Now, Halloween is also associated with witches and black cats. Almost every one of our public schools has a Halloween party, but many of our teachers in our public schools are taking it one step further. Dr. James Bjornstad explains.
Bjornstad: In education today we see increasingly the occult brought in. Although usually it’s never identified as the occult, as witchcraft or anything else. I think, for example, of one teacher who wanted to get the idea across of beings and spirit beings that one could contact, spirit guides. She never talked about spirit guides or spiritism or demons, but simply said to the children, “An imaginary playmate, an imaginary friend. Develop someone that you can talk to that is imaginary” and whatever. And, of course, the step is at that lower grade, once they develop that, then the next thing would be there is something to it and hopefully the child would go into witchcraft and would begin to work with that spirit and develop that spirit. There are those that say that if something goes wrong, there are spells that you can use. If you’re not feeling well, there are spells that would heal you, that would give you energy. If you get mad at someone or something bad happens, well, these spells work in that case.
And I kid you not, John, I’ve seen children, I’ve even seen teens in Christian schools who have picked up on the idea of spells and have developed them, and when they get mad at a teacher or somebody, actually try to do that. And, see, the interesting thing is, they never see it as witchcraft or whatever. In fact, they don’t see it as anything wrong, because it has been introduced in such a way that it’s almost neutral, as though there’s nothing wrong with this. And that’s part of the problem that I have in the age that we live. Things are presented not as they really are. Good packaging, if I can put it that way. Now, how does that connect, you know, with the occult?
Ankerberg: Thanks for tuning in today. Next week we will wrap up this series on “Halloween: Should Christians Participate?” We will talk about the practices of Halloween and give the reasons why we think Christians should not let their children go Trick or Treating, dress up in costumes of ghosts, witches or goblins and carve pumpkins. At the same time, we’ll talk about what we think you should do, how you can use this occult holiday to love and witness to your friends and neighbors. I hope that you won’t miss this important program.


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