It’s Easter! Let’s All Go To Church…

Posted on April 3, 2010
Filed Under For Further Thought... | 4 Comments

Tomorrow is a day in which millions of Americans will go to houses of worship.  Many of those same people will not set foot in an assembly hall for the rest of the year.  But, because it is Easter Sunday, they will dress in their best clothes and head out to fulfill their yearly obligation to God.  The question that may be considered to be sacrilege among those claiming to be Christians is:  Should we be celebrating Easter at all?  While perusing Facebook and some blogs this morning, I was pointed to an article well worth reading by Ferrel Jenkins entitled Should Christians Observe Easter? Brother Jenkins expresses the fact that Easter is not found in the Bible (save for the insertion of the term in a mistranslation) and that true Christians celebrate the resurrection of Christ each and every Sunday in the manner that He prescribed, through the partaking of the Lord’s Supper (as described in the latter half of 1 Corinthians 11).  Those who are truly concerned about New Testament Christianity will conclude that the religious observation of Easter is simply not biblical, and that we have a far greater obligation to God than to just attend an assembly of the saints one time per year!

Perhaps, however, the discussion needs to be taken a bit further.  While many Christians will argue that we, as New Testament Christians, should not celebrate the religious holiday of Easter, they will still still participate in what is deemed the “secular holiday.”  Many see nothing wrong with the practice of celebrating Easter’s traditions including decorating Easter eggs and upholding the Easter bunny.  A bit of research will reveal the background of these traditions, and show that they are not innocent in their founding.

Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary has this to say concerning Easter:

Easter was originally a pagan festival honoring Eostre, a Teutonic goddess of light and spring.  At the time of the vernal equinox (the day in the spring when the sun crosses the equator and day and night are of equal length), sacrifices were offered in her honor.  As early as the eighth century, the word was used to designate the annual Christian celebration of the resurrection of Christ.

Further examination shows that the customs adopted today as “secular” have actually come through a long line of religious practices.  Easter began as a celebration of Spring, worshiping the pagan goddess Eostre, or Ishtar.  Some have traced the holiday back to near the time of Noah!  From the website All About Jesus Christ:

The origin of Easter dates back to ancient times, not long after the global Flood recorded in Genesis 6-9 of the Bible. Nimrod, a grandson of Noah, had turned from following his grandfather’s God and had become a tyrannical ruler. According to the biblical record, as king, Nimrod created Babel, Nineveh, Asshur, Calla and other cities, all known for lifestyles that promoted unspeakable evil and perversion. When Nimrod died, his wife, Queen Semiramis, deified him as the Sun-god, or Life Giver. Later he would become known as Baal, and those who followed the religion Semiramis created in his name would be called Baal worshippers. They became associated with idolatry, demon worship, human sacrifice and other practices regarded as evil.

The origin of Easter involves the birth of Semiramis’ illegitimate son, Tammuz. Somehow, Semiramis convinced the people that Tammuz was actually Nimrod reborn. Since people had been looking for the promised savior since the beginning of mankind (see Genesis 3:15), they were persuaded by Semiramis to believe that Tammuz was that savior, even that he had been supernaturally conceived. Before long, in addition to worshipping Tammuz (or Nimrod reborn), the people also worshipped Semiramis herself as the goddess of fertility. In other cultures, she has been called Ishtar, Ashtur and yes, Easter.

The origin of Easter goes back to the springtime ritual instituted by Semiramis following the death of Tammuz, who, according to tradition, was killed by a wild boar. Legend has it that through the power of his mother’s tears, Tammuz was “resurrected” in the form of the new vegetation that appeared on the earth.

According to the Bible, it was in the city of Babel that the people created a tower in order to defy God. Up until that time, all the people on the earth spoke one language. The building of the tower led God, as recorded in Genesis 11:7, to confuse their tongues to keep them from being further unified in their false beliefs. As the people moved into other lands, many of them took their pagan practices with them.

Contemporary traditions such as the Easter Bunny and the Easter egg can also be traced back to the practices established by Semiramis. Because of their prolific nature, rabbits have long been associated with fertility and its goddess, Ishtar. Ancient Babylonians believed in a fable about an egg that fell into the Euphrates River from heaven and from which Queen Astarte (another name for Ishtar or Semiramis) was “hatched.”

Even the Catholic Encyclopedia confirms the pagan background of these practices, adopted later (in about 325 AD) into the Catholic Church as a way to bring pagans into their organization.  So, we have pagan worship and tradition brought into the Catholic Church as a manner to “convert” the pagans (is it really conversion if we are just adopting the same practices?).  Then we have the next step, adoption of the exact same practices as “secular tradition” and practiced in much the same way as they were practiced by the pagans, and as they are practiced by most of the religious world today.

The truth is, if we are honest with ourselves, true Christians often cannot be distinguished from any other religious people when it comes to the practices expressed on Easter Sunday.  We talk about our celebrations, and follow the exact same traditions as everyone else.  We buy special Easter clothes, we decorate Easter eggs, we have Easter baskets and Easter bunnies, and we go to what must be perceived to be special Easter Sunday assemblies.  We try to do everything that the rest of the world does, and then try to tell them that we are different, and that our only celebration of the resurrection of Christ is done every Sunday.  That may be true, but the appearance is another story!  The point here is that it is impossible (at least in the eye of the one who looks on from outside) to participate in the festivities that are historically religious, and claim that they have no religious connotation.

Is it wrong to buy a new dress?  Is it wrong to paint eggs with paint?  Is it wrong to own rabbits?  Is it wrong to attend assemblies of the saints?  Certainly not!  The problem arises when we do those things in association with a pagan or religious holiday.  Dismissing the religious connotation, or practicing in ignorance does not relieve us of our obligation to be different from the world.  While I am not naive enough to believe that this brief study will convince Christians to give up world like practices, I do hope that it will drive people on to further thought and study on the presentation they make of themselves to those around them!  When you go to worship with the saints tomorrow, will those on the outside think this is just exactly like every other Lord’s Day that you attend these assemblies, or will they think it is somehow a special Sunday, just like it is for them?