In a recent message, Nathan Finochio, pastor at Hillsong “church” gave ten reasons why you should celebrate Halloween. His piece shows a deep lack of discernment. In response, one ought to note significant godly reasons for not celebrating this so-called holiday. First, let us see Finochio’s list:
1. Don’t instill fear of the world.
2. Don’t teach them that the world has more fun.
3. Don’t teach them superstition.
4. Don’t teach them isolationism.
5. Don’t teach them a lack of faith.
6. Teach them common grace – candy is from God and that to the pure all things are pure.
7. Teach them the redemptive motif – that we reinterpret culture and give it a new meaning.
8. Teach them that the demonic works by willful agreement, bot [sic] accidental consumption.
9. Teach them in but not of, not out and not of.
10. Critique loudly what you see as you walk. Make them brave and discerning, not scared and superstitious.
So, here are the refutations of this so-called “Christian counsel.”
First, avoiding Halloween has nothing to do with fearing the world. Rather it has everything to do with fearing the Lord. “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil . . .” and ” The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever” (Prov. 8:13; Psalm 111:10). Among God’s commands, one finds the following:
When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee. Thou shalt be perfect with the LORD thy God. For these nations, which thou shalt possess, hearkened unto observers of times, and unto diviners: but as for thee, the LORD thy God hath not suffered thee so to do.
Furthermore, Paul spoke of darkness not mixing with light, nor Christ with Belial. See his admonition here:
2 Cor. 6:14-18
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
Second, avoiding Halloween has nothing to do with comparing the world with the “church” on a fun-meter. Many churches have their annual “Trunk and Treat” and have the children do the same as the world. Bringing this nonsense into the church and pretending that we have just as much fun as the world we are trading activities upon the wrong foundation. That is why “churches” galore have activities and programs, festivities and carnivals, to secure the attendance of families with children. One forgets that what you win these families with, is what you win them to. So, one has to outdo the world at every turn. The truth of the matter is that the “fun” of the world is short-lived and will one day be brought before the judgment-throne. Our goal is not to have as much, or more, fun than the world. But, instead, to
. . . hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.
Third, avoiding Halloween has nothing to do with superstition. Demons are no laughing matter. “But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.” The Apostle continues, “Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils. Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?” (2 Cor. 10:20-21).
Fourth, avoiding Halloween is not about isolation but about protection. Isolation is a loaded term and connotes that we are individually an island unto ourselves. But, the Lord ordered our separation or sanctification in His Word. To be separate is about holiness. “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you” (2 Cor. 6:17). And, “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Pet. 1:15-16). And, yet again, “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7:1).
Fifth, avoiding Halloween has nothing to do with a lack of faith. It has everything to do with faith working through love. Love for God, love for our children, and love for our fellow man. Believing God for all that He reveals in His word is the foundation for all. When Peter lists the virtues of the Christian, life look at how they are built on faith:
Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.2 Pet. 1:4-8 (emphasis added)
It is a gift from God when we exercise faith. Paul says it clearly, “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake (Phil. 1:29). Notice that to have faith is part of what is granted to the saints, and that is attached to suffering for Christ. Our children need to learn that avoiding Halloween will bring scorn from the unbelieving world. Whoever desires to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution (see 2 Tim. 3:12) It is in faithfulness to Christ, and not to unbelief that we are committed to avoiding the wickedness of the world. Indeed, our faith will have ramifications. Paul plainly states:
But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.2 Tim. 3:10-17
Sixth, avoiding Halloween has nothing to do with whether candy comes from God or not. By Finochio’s reasoning, “candy is from God and that to the pure all things are pure” would lead, no doubt, to where he would not wish to follow. Because one can claim to be “pure” and imbibe in and relate to many things that the Lord would look upon with disdain. Saying that candy is of ‘common grace’ [however interpreted] and that we can partake, is to miss the point. We do not avoid Halloween because candy is bad (though dentists may have something to say about that), but because the whole endeavor is ungodly, characterized by wickedness in costumes, and in some cases behavior. A tribute to demons does not sit well with our Christian profession that Christ has overcome the wicked powers. When we imitate the world we start towards a path that denies in practice what we claim to believe. Today, Halloween; tomorrow, Wiccan festivals!
Seventh, avoiding Halloween has nothing to do with denying Christ’s redemption. Finochio says, we ought to teach our children the “redemptive motif – that we reinterpret culture and give it a new meaning (emphasis added).” This is a sleight of hand trick applied to theological discourse. Notice the two different words that are italicized: “redemptive” and “reinterpret.” In this assertion, Finochio would have us believe that the second is an exposition or an outworking of the first. That is, that redemption (the motif) is effectuated by our reinterpretation of culture. This is nonsense, pure and simple. First, Christ’s redemption of the Cosmos will occur when a New Heaven and New Earth appears. In robbing redemption of its actual meaning, and foisting a foreign notion onto the word, one is urged to do what has been long done by professing Christians in their accommodation and compromise with the world. When Pope Gregory ordered St. Augustine to evangelize the Angles in Kent in the 6ixth century, he told him to smash the idols but to retai the shrines and call them now by “Christian” saint names. And so, Christianization was merely the switching of monikers rather than the switching allegiance from idols to the living God. This “reinterpretation of culture” is much what has been witnessed many times over. It is an attempt to trick the world into becoming “Christian,” but in reality, it is more like the Ark letting in the water. Eventually, it is the culture that will dominate and the Church will find that Christianity itself has been redefined and, moreover, left behind.
Eighth, avoiding Halloween has nothing to do with thinking that the demonic works by magic [excuse the pun] but by willing adherents. This should jump out and land on the ironic papers. Is this not what Finochio is doing is to get parents to willingly participate in the Halloween activities? Of course, it is. If anything, he is soliciting parents to change their minds about Halloween and to go full-fledged in a willing faith to celebrate with the lost masses. By taking your children to these satanic festivities, no matter where they are housed or sponsored is to toy with giving them up to Moloch. Heed the warnings of Scripture. Speaking of Manasseh, we read:
2 Chron. 33:2-6
. . . But did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, like unto the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel. For he built again the high places which Hezekiah his father had broken down, and he reared up altars for Baalim, and made groves, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served them. Also he built altars in the house of the LORD, whereof the LORD had said, In Jerusalem shall my name be for ever. And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD. And he caused his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom: also he observed times, and used enchantments, and used witchcraft, and dealt with a familiar spirit, and with wizards: he wrought much evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger.
Also, Moses warned God’s people:
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Again, thou shalt say to the children of Israel, Whosoever he be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn in Israel, that giveth any of his seed unto Molech; he shall surely be put to death: the people of the land shall stone him with stones. And I will set my face against that man, and will cut him off from among his people; because he hath given of his seed unto Molech, to defile my sanctuary, and to profane my holy name. And if the people of the land do any ways hide their eyes from the man, when he giveth of his seed unto Molech, and kill him not: Then I will set my face against that man, and against his family, and will cut him off, and all that go a whoring after him, to commit whoredom with Molech, from among their people. And the soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, to go a whoring after them, I will even set my face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people. Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God. And ye shall keep my statutes, and do them: I am the LORD which sanctify you.Lev. 20:1-8
Ninth, avoiding Halloween has nothing to do with blurring the lines between in the world but not of it. In his poorly worded ninth principle, Finochio says, “Teach them in but not of, not out and not of.” Assuming I have understood him correctly, this again is a red herring. Not only does his statement confuse the issue, but it is also unhelpful for any positive action. Does he really imply that teaching our children that we are in the world but not of it, is to be done by taking them to activities in which those of the world relish and participate without blushing? I can understand the principle, that originated with Jesus, if we apply it to supermarket shopping or dry cleaning, but in celebration of the clearly demonic we will do great harm to our children in suggesting that we participate but it will not harm us, because unlike the others, we are not “of” the world. Remember what Haggai said:
In the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Ask now the priests concerning the law, saying, If one bear holy flesh in the skirt of his garment, and with his skirt do touch bread, or pottage, or wine, or oil, or any meat, shall it be holy? And the priests answered and said, No. Then said Haggai, If one that is unclean by a dead body touch any of these, shall it be unclean? And the priests answered and said, It shall be unclean. Then answered Haggai, and said, So is this people, and so is this nation before me, saith the LORD; and so is every work of their hands; and that which they offer there is unclean.Haggai 2:10-14
And, tenth, avoiding Halloween has nothing to do with making children scared or superstitious. Finochio says, “Critique loudly what you see as you walk. Make them brave and discerning, not scared and superstitious.” So, ignoring the obvious and intended allusions to the demonic in Halloween, how is it that we as parents will actually register our critique if we take our children to it? Again, this seems so ironic as the principle is not upheld by the entire program set forth by the Hillsong pastor. He wants us to participate in Halloween, but at the same time critique what we see. How will our children be discerning if we play both sides by critiquing and participating in the said celebration? Probably, and, one may guess here, Halloween is to be indulged, but other [questionable practices] are to be disdained and forsaken. But will this not make our children afraid of the other thing, whatever it is? This alleged tenth commandment from Finochio is certain to be violated, upon clear dereliction of duty, as parents keep their children from the wiles of the devil. Maybe the problem is in the advice!
I fear that Finochio is, in reality, Pinnochio.
[Author’s Note: Finochio’s Instagram rant can be found here]