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Christian Holy Days

Updated on April 14, 2020
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Dr. David Thiessen is an educator, writer, pastor, and speaker. He has authored several books on a variety of topics including Archaeology

The CV-19 virus news

has kept our minds occupied and we forgot that last Sunday was Easter. We are on lockdown and our minds were focused on other issues or we may have posted an Easter article earlier.

What reminded us of the fact that we forgot to post our annual Easter article was when we came across an old college friend’s Facebook page in where he tried to present justification for the church in general celebrating Easter.

While his post is innocent enough, it reminded us of the fact that many pastors, missionaries, and other church leaders do not investigate an issue thoroughly enough and only present a very superficial explanation for the details related to this spring holiday. Here are his words

Hi everyone reading this. I came across information that until now I have not seen. I have copied it below. It comes from an email site, "news@booksaboutjews.com. Interesting. "There are a growing number of Christians who think that the celebration of “Easter” is rooted in pagan Babylonian tradition. One of the basic assumptions is that the name “Easter” is a Christian appropriation of “Ishtar”, a Babylonian fertility goddess. Even though the words may sound similar, they probably have no etymological connection. The English word “Easter” likely comes from the Proto-Germanic “austron”, which means “sunrise” – arguably a fitting name for a celebration that commemorates Jesus’ rising from the dead."

Wherever the name comes from, don't forget to give thanks today for the One who rose from the dead after paying the price for our transgressions.

There are several things that we find need a more detailed explanation.

First,

the meaning of the name does not matter in a majority of biblical cases. Many scholars and other christian figures tend to read more into a biblical figure than they should using only the meaning of the name of that figure.

This is why we have many scholars claiming that Nimrod was an evil ruthless tyrant because his name means skillful hunter and the Bible calls him a mighty hunter. But that is all we know of the man and to claim he was a tyrant based upon such slim data is erroneous.

The same goes for the name Easter. Actually no one knows where the name came from even though it has been proposed that it came from a Saxon goddess named Eastre/Eostre.

There may be a connection between the establishment of the Christian Easter and the pagan celebrations that took place as the festival Ostara at the time of the Spring Equinox. The timing for this was not by chance as the ancient unbeliever saw Spring as a time of renewal or rebirth.

Then Easter may have come from the early church when it started to change from celebrating Passover to celebrating Christ’s resurrection. In 325 AD the holiday was established at the Council of Nicaea.

While the origin of Easter may be unknown, the different traditions have come, like Christmas traditions, from different pagan beliefs. The Easter bunny came about because the Germanic people believed Ostara healed a sick bird by changing into a hare.

They solved the egg problem by saying that the bird, while still a bird, laid eggs as a gift for being healed. The ancient Babylonians held that the egg represented the hatching of Venus Ishtar while the ancient Egyptians and Persians used to color their eggs as they represented a renewal of life.

Second,

that quote shows that the pastor will look to anything positive to justify the modern church acceptance and practice of Easter. Unfortunately, the German term usually associated with the word Easter is ostern, and in turn ostern is related to ostara.

Neither term are usually defined as ‘sunrise’. The term ‘ost’ found in both words mean ‘east’. it is possible that the sunrise definition slipped in there at some point in history but that can’t be said for certain.

This is a minor point though and can be argued till doomsday. That is because there are others who claim that the word Easter came from Eostre, a word meaning ‘spring’. It is the next point that can be derived from that quote that is most disconcerting.

Third,

the lack of biblical support for the modern church to celebrate the modern holiday Easter or any supposed Christian holy day. The author of that quoted post did not go to scriptures to show that observance of Easter was okay.

To say that the Bible does not forbid creation of such days is merely an argument from silence and avoids the issue. The Bible actually does say something against creating and celebrating such days, it is just that Christian holy days like Easter and Christmas are so ingrained in the minds of believers it will be difficult to get them to change.

Both modern Christian holy days are filled with good feelings, wonderful family gatherings, good meals and a chance to celebrate what Christ did for everyone. Those are activities that are hard to let go of even when they are not in line with what scripture teaches.

The excuse that the ancient Hebrews created festivals for different events does not apply. The reason for this is if you look at the scriptures talking about those ancient festivals, the Hebrews did not get together and decide to create those festivals.

Leviticus 23 tells us it was God that created those festivals and the Hebrew observance was an act of obedience to him. At no time did God state that the Hebrews were free to create their own ‘religious’ holy days.

Then Jeremiah has one very clear sentence that tells us God’s view on this issue. It is found in chapter 10 verse 2 and it says--”Do not learn the way of the nations” There is no ambiguity in those words. Pagan festivals existed long before Christ were born and were the foundation for many of the modern ‘Christian’ festivals celebrated today.

Those people who introduced those new festivals into the church were not obeying God but doing exactly the opposite of what God had commanded. While most modern Christians are not aware of the introduction of these ‘Christian’ holy days into the church, they should be aware of biblical teaching and question their acceptance.

There are other scriptures that warn about introducing these supposed holy days into the church and they are Deut. 12:30-32, 18:9. Matthew 15:9 and Galatians 4:9-11

Fourth,

that quote does not appeal to the New Testament nor show what Christ did establish when it came to celebrating his life. In this area it needs to be pointed out that Christ did not teach nor command any of his disciples or followers to create ‘Christian holy days’.

But he was not silent on this issue. Christ did instruct his disciples and followers in what they should do if they want to celebrate his birth, life, death and resurrection. Luke 22: 14 to 20 provides everyone Jesus’ instructions.

They are to practice what is now called communion. It is done without fanfare, without bragging and in complete humbleness as the New Testament church member obeys God in his instructions to the church.

These simple act of remembrance is far more powerful than any supposed Christian Holy Day that man has created on their own since Jesus went back to heaven. There is no New Testament teaching instructing any member of Christ’s Church to set aside a special day and call it holy.

Humans cannot do that for they are not holy. Only God can do that. Some people may argue that there is a special holy day for modern Christians. They claim it is Sunday as Christ rose from the dead on that day and ascended into heaven also on that day.

But again, there is no biblical teaching to change the day that God established, the Sabbath, from Saturday to Sunday. Men were not given the power to create holy days for God’s church.

Finally,

that quote represents other issues best left for another day. Getting past the superficial and into the truth takes work. It also takes courage to speak out and try to make changes in the modern church and get it closer to what God wants to see done.

You will notice that Jesus’ instructions on how to celebrate his resurrection, etc., does not exclude family and friends gathering together some other time and having a great meal and so on. Some of the other traditions of Easter and other supposed Christian holy days can be left out, of course.

The church is not to be the same as the unbelieving world. If it means that to be different the church dispenses of the observance of these so called Christian holy days, then so be it.

The church needs to offer the world something it does not already have.


© 2020 David Thiessen

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    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      6 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Very interesting and in general along with my beliefs. I often wonder about Passover though and why Christians do not celebrate it; “And this day [the Passover day] shall be a memorial to you. And you shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations. You shall keep it a feast as a law forever” (Ex 12:14). But I fully agree that dates are simply arbitrary. I suppose in a way the set "Holidays" are a celebration of church and not God.

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