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The Great Easter Lie

Resurrection Sunday & Paganism

I have a terrible struggle coming to terms with why pastors, knowing what we know about Who Jesus is and what this—the most holy of days on the Christian calendar—represents, still choose to wallow in ignorance. I can’t believe pastors still allow Easter egg hunts. It’s disgusting. Just calling the day “Easter” blasphemes God.

Satan hates Resurrection Sunday. That’s why we have bunnies and brightly colored eggs and baby chicks and grass and flowers and other signifiers of fertility rites. This is classic Satan: pretty-up sin. This stuff absolutely stinks in God’s nostrils, but we find it charming. Harmless. Cute. We run out and buy Easter clothes. Easter baskets for our kids. I can at least understand the lazy Christian who does not study or even who does not read the bible at all. But there is no excuse whatsoever—none—for our ignorant pastors. Any pastor who embraces this “Easter” nonsense is simply unworthy of his call. He is fooling himself and his flock who are themselves too ignorant to call the pastor out on this issue: this affront to the cross. If your church calls this day “Easter,” your pastor is wallowing in ignorance. If your church is having an Easter Egg hunt or Easter Egg roll, your pastor is wallowing in ignorance.

Your pastor either does not know or is too weak to do anything about it. I also have to imagine some pastors stick with this abomination out of sheer stubbornness. This Is What We’ve Always Done. Still other pastors just never give stuff like this any thought. These pastors are on autopilot: never questioning, never examining. On cruise control, just collecting a paycheck without ever examining or reexamining their convictions.

I've heard it argued that continuing with Easter traditions and other holiday traditions is a means of evangelism, and that it is okay to use these pagan traditions because the unsaved are going to observe them anyway, so the opportunity is there to win souls to Christ. To become all things that we might win some. Which is faulty, dangerous and corrupt thinking. Compromising your belief system in the name of winning new converts to that belief system you are compromising is simply absurd. The ends, beloved, do not justify the means. Putting a huge EASTER banner outside your church, when you know the word “Easter” is derived from pagan worship (see below), attempts to win folks to a religion you knowingly undermine. “If I put the term ‘Resurrection Sunday’ on a sign, how many people will know what that is? Nobody,” a pastor told me. “If I put the word ‘Easter’ on a sign, how many people know what that is? Everybody.”

I’d rather sit in an empty building by myself than to slander the God I worship by reducing Him to the status of Just Another God. By that way of thinking, why not offer Christian Porn. You want to win souls to Christ? You want to fill up the pews Sunday? Open a Christian Hooters. Why stop with Easter bunnies? Why not invite Playboy bunnies into your worship system? There is absolutely no significant difference between an Easter bunny and a Playboy bunny: both are abominations unto God.

Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.
20 … the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord's table and the table of demons. —I Corinthians 10:14, 20-21

Long before Easter became the holiday it is today, the spring festival was celebrated by people around the world. Although associated with the sun and the Vernal Equinox, the Easter celebration was originally based on the lunar calendar. The name Easter is derived from the Saxon Eostre (which is synonymous with the name of the Phoenician Goddess of the Moon, Astarte), a Germanic goddess of spring and the deity who measured time. A Jewish festival, Purim, also celebrated in the spring, has as it central character and heroine, Esther who, as queen, kept the evil Haman from killing her people. Even the very word moon derives from the Sanskrit mas or ma, meaning “to measure.”

Many scholars have suggested that the reason that the moon was chosen by the ancients as the way to measure time was the link between the female cycle and the cycle of the moon. A lunar month of 28 days gave 13 periods in 364 days, which was the solar equivalent of 52 weeks. The ancient Hebrews had long followed a lunar calendar, as had most other ancient cultures. Thus humans could match their natural lives with the nature of the night sky above them.

As Christianity grew and spread throughout the world, it was common practice to adopt, modify, convert or take over existing non-Christian festivals, sacred locations and even names, and assimilate them into the Christian theology. The Romans used this method of cultural absorption for centuries as a way of expanding and firming up the Empire. Given the fact that Christianity had its roots in Roman ways, it is not surprising that the same technique was used to spread belief in Christ. The best example of this was in ancient Britain where the bearers of the Cross built their churches and monasteries on the very sites where far more ancient rites had been held.

Because Eostre, also know as Ostara, was the goddess of spring and her symbolism dealt with renewal and rebirth, the Christian belief in the resurrection of Christ fit well with those themes. The connection between Christ's Resurrection and Jewish Passover, which, in addition to the dramatic story of the flight from Egypt, also contains elements of a spring celebration, made the merging of the two religious traditions easily accomplished.

Easter is about bunnies and candy

and baby chicks and pagan fertility rites. Resurrection Sunday is about an innocent and sinless man Who was brutally tortured and lynched, rusted iron spikes driven through His hands and feet. A Man punished for our crimes—yours and mine—Who suffered unimaginable pain and agony, stretched wide and using all of His diminishing strength to push back against sharp splinters in an effort to raise his body enough to expand his lungs to breathe. A Man Who was abandoned by God, the only Man in all creation from Whom God turned away His face. And Who ultimately gave up His life, dying, abandoned and alone, for us.

He wasn’t dead three days. He was crucified at 4:00 P.M. on the first day, and soldiers came to break His legs to prevent Him from pushing His body up to breathe, Breaking His legs would hasten His death before the Sabbath began at sundown. Only, when the soldiers arrived, they found Him to be already dead.

Criminals in those days lost their right to a proper burial and the Romans would have thrown His body on the garbage dump outside the city. Instead, Joseph of Arimathea, a wealthy and honored member of the Jewish council, went to Pilate and asked for permission to have His body so he could give it a decent burial (John 19:50-52). This was a stand that could have cost Joseph dearly. He was a secret disciple of Jesus (John 19:38).

Joseph and Nicodemus, another secret disciple, took Jesus from the cross and carried His body to a new tomb that was likely Joseph’s. This tomb was prepared in a garden near Golgotha and one in which no man had been laid before (vv. 53-56). It was likely a man-made cave cut out of one of the many limestone hills in the area around Jerusalem. Such a tomb was large enough to walk into. They carefully wrapped Jesus’ body in long strips of cloth, pouring in a mixture of myrrh and aloes (John 19:39). Both of these spices were obtained from trees and were expensive. It states in the book of John that Nicodemus contributed about a hundred pound weight of these spices, which was an amount fit for royalty. (1)

The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments. On the Sabbath {the Second Day) they rested according to the commandment. [Luke 22:55-56]

On the morning of the Third Day, the women returned intending to further prepare Jesus’ body for long-term burial. They were greeted there by an angel whose glorious countenance frightened them. But the angel told them to not be afraid, for he had been sent with good news. Jesus was alive, just as He’d predicted. The angel invited the women to come and see the place where Jesus had laid.

I once walked into church and found Easter eggs on the communion table.

The children’s ministry director was handing out rewards and surprises, using the communion table—with the Bible open on it—as, well, a table. Toys, trinkets, papers, notes, water bottle—whatever the leader needed—were piled on top of the large, decorative bible. Literally tossed onto the open pages of Psalms. And, adding perhaps the ultimate insult to the ultimate injury, next to the Bible, on the table of sacrament—a carton of brightly colored plastic Easter eggs. Colorful plastic eggs filled with candy for the children, amassed on the table whose single purpose is to signify the unquantifiable suffering of our Lord, His body broken for us, His blood shed for our sin. And when I spoke to the senior pastor about it, he defended the practice, saying, "We no longer set tables before God," an incomprehensibly stupid point of view, but this was a guy who routinely took the opposite view of any opinion I had, no matter how indefensible his position. This was a guy more invested in winning than in ministering, a guy who could be taught nothing, who could learn nothing, who could never be wrong. And this is how ignorant we are. How foolish we are. Now, a communion table is not magic, is not sacred. There's nothing uniquely special about the wood itself. But what that table represents is the very core of our belief system. and while I think Church Folk tend to go overboard, treating the communion table like a religious talisman (and thus offending God, Who explicitly condemns the worship of objects (or statues—note Catholicism), seeing these pagan symbols casually displayed upon it offended me terribly.

Your eggs and your rabbits and your pagan practices demean and impugn the dignity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So does your gossiping, your backbiting, your pettiness, your meanness, your Church Folk foolishness. Roll your eyes and call me extreme if you want, your idolatry spits on the cross of Calvary and crucifies Christ over and over again. because We've Always Done It doesn't make it right. Mama 'Nem may not have known any better, but we do. And we are held to account for this grave insult to a God we presume to worship. We who call ourselves "Christian" need to tighten up our game and insist our leaders do the same. If we're unwilling to honor God, too busy getting our hair done to be bothered studying and learning, then we really should stop insulting God further by running around using His name.

Christopher J. Priest
1 April 2007/3 April 2011
(1) Includes excerpt from FamileTimes.Net

PraiseNet Resurrection Essentials   The Whitewashed Tomb   The Suffering Servant   Kingdom Dying   WABBIT SEASON   The 7 Last Sayings   The Problem With The Passion