I know that many church goers are going to wonder why I would post an article that criticizes Easter. To be completely honest, I am tempted to just let it go, and not be the constant reminder, that we have gotten way off the narrow path, and that “Easter” and Christmas are just two clear reminders of a wrong turn that was made many, many, years ago, that apparently no one cares to be reminded of, much less repent of. It is not my desire to anger anyone, but I do desire to know of those few who have been enlightened as to the reality of our vast failures in search of God, through the ignorant worship of our Father, by way of a Pagan holy day. We need not remain in ignorance when the facts are so available. Father wants His children to worship Him in Spirit and in truth, and unfortunately that truth is diminished when we allow ourselves to be deceived in these false forms and rituals, and useless traditions.
The following is an excerpt of a free downloadable book by Alan Bunning called simply The Church. I pray that your anger will be put aside long enough to read the complete book.
It is time for TRUTH.
by Alan Bunning
s.4 Religious Holy Days
Of particular importance to many institutional “churches” are their religious holidays. Most of them observe special religious ceremonies according to a liturgical calendar such as Advent/Christmas and Lent/Easter. In honor of these religious holidays, they roll out additional decorations, candles, incense, cantatas, and programs. During these religious seasons, the “pastors” often prepare special sermons each week leading up to the climax Sunday which focuses exclusively on the special holy day. When other cultural holidays such as Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, etc. are added to the preaching cycle, more than a third of the Sunday sermons are already spoken for. Do you honestly think Jesus really cares? Of course, none of these holidays were ever celebrated by the early Church. In Scripture, the observance of any type of special day was a matter of personal freedom in the Lord. “Therefore, don’t let anyone judge you in regard to eating and drinking, or in respect of a festival, new moon, or Sabbath day.” (Col. 2:16). There was never any kind of proscribed liturgical calendar that was imposed upon the Church, for the observance of holidays was left to the individual. “One regards one day above another, another regards every day the same.” (Rom. 14:5). Why did the later so-called “church councils” seek to enforce standardized religious days upon their members, when the Scripture considers it to be an element of personal freedom? Jesus did not keep the Sabbath the way the Pharisees wanted and they concluded that He wasn’t from God (John 9:16)! Would you conclude that a brother is in error because he does not share your view of holidays?
s.4.1.2 Celebrating Eostre
Most institutional “churches” today consider Easter to be the most important religious holiday of the liturgical year. The early Church, however, never celebrated Easter which was an ancient pagan fertility ritual celebrated during the first full moon after the vernal equinox. The name “Easter” comes from Eostre (or Ostara) the Saxon goddess of spring and is synonymous with Astarte the Phoenician goddess of the moon. This goddess is also loosely connected to the worship of Asherah poles and Ishtar the Babylonian goddess of fertility. Some of the practices associated with this pagan holiday include:
The ancient Egyptians, Persians, Greece, and Romans used colored eggs during their pagan spring festivals as symbols of rebirth and fertility.
The Easter bunny (or Easter hare) was an ancient symbol of fertility because of its abundant reproduction cycle.
Hot cross buns
Sacred buns were offered to goddess Astarte by Cecrops the founder of Athens.
Children in Germany were told that if they were good, the Easter bunny would sneak into their house while they were asleep and lay colored eggs for them to find in the morning.
Should a Christian knowingly be engaging in these pagan practices? Again notice that these practices were steeped in pagan idolatry long before the institutional “churches” attempted to Christianize them. Many evangelical “churches” now readily admit that “Easter” is indeed the name of a pagan goddess and instead use names like “Resurrection Day”, yet their members continue to partake in the same pagan practices.
The early Church, in contrast, celebrated the Passover in remembrance of Christ’s death. This is not just as matter of semantics for the Greek word “paska” #3957 in Scripture refers to the Jewish Passover, not Easter. While Jesus was celebrating the Passover with His disciples, He commanded them: “Do this in remembrance of Me.” (Luke 22:19). As Jews, the disciples were no longer to celebrate the Passover in remembrance of their deliverance from Egypt, for now they were to celebrate it in remembrance of Jesus, the pure and spotless lamb who was slain on the exact day of the Passover, for now we are saved by His blood and the wrath of God “passes over” us. Jesus lifted up the Afikomen and said “this is My body” (Matt. 26:26, Mark 14:22, Luke 22:19, 1Cor. 11:24) and He lifted up the Cup of Redemption and said “this is My blood” (Matt. 26:27-28, Mark 14:23-24, Luke 22:20, 1Cor. 11:25) – both of which are elements of the Passover ceremony holding special significance. “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you declare the death of the Lord until He comes.” (1Cor. 11:26). History records that the Jews and Gentiles alike in the early Church faithfully celebrated the Christian Passover each year with the bread and the wine as the Scripture commands. “For Christ, our Passover, has been sacrificed, therefore let us keep the Feast.” (1Cor. 5:7-8).
So how did some “churches” later become deceived into celebrating the pagan holiday of Easter instead of the Passover? As it turns out, the Romans did not like it that the Passover sometimes fell in the middle of the week, so they began to hold their celebration on the following Sunday instead. The Church in Asia, however, continued to celebrate the Passover on the exact day as was passed on to them by the apostles John and Philip. This created a dispute and in 190 AD the so-called “bishop” of Rome attempted to excommunicate Polycrates of Ephesus and all of the Church leaders in Asia for following the apostolic tradition. These “heretics” were referred to as the “Quartodecimans” which comes from Latin meaning “fourteen” because the Passover is always celebrated on Nisan 14. Later, Constantine convened the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD which decided that Easter should be celebrated throughout the Church, which was set as the first Sunday after the first ecclesiastical full moon on or after the vernal equinox. They even added a rule that if the Passover just happened to fall on Easter Sunday, Easter must be postponed until the following Sunday. Unfortunately the disagreement over the date wasn’t the only problem, for the Roman “church” was not really celebrating the Passover anyway, but had distanced themselves from it completely in their festivities.
- “Do this in remembrance of Me.” (Jesus Christ, quoted by Luke, c. 60 AD)
- “For Christ, our Passover, has been sacrificed, therefore let us keep the Feast.” (Paul of Tarsus, Corinthians, Book I, c. 55 AD)
- “For Anicetus could not persuade Polycarp to forego the observance [of Passover] inasmuch as these things had always been observed by John the disciple of our Lord, and by other apostles with whom he had been conversant.” (Irenaeus, Lost Writings, c. 180 AD)
- “These all kept the Passover on the fourteenth day, in accordance with the Gospel, without ever deviating from it, but following the rule of faith.” (Polycrates, Epistle to Victor, c. 190 AD)
- “Again, he who considers that ‘Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us’ and that it is his duty to keep the feast by eating of the flesh of the Word, never ceases to keep the paschal feast; for the Pascha means ‘Passover’, and he is ever striving in all his thoughts, words, and deeds, to pass over from the things of this life to God, and is hastening towards the city of God.” (Origen, De Principiis, Book VII, c. 248 AD)
- “Following their example up to the present time all the bishops of Asia – as themselves also receiving the rule from an unimpeachable authority, to wit, the evangelist John, who leaned on the Lord’s breast, and drank in instructions spiritual without doubt – were in the way of celebrating the Passover feast, without question, every year, whenever the fourteenth day of the moon had come, and the lamb was sacrificed by the Jews after the equinox was past.” (Anatolius, The Pascal Canon, c. 283 AD)
- “If any one celebrates the Passover along with the Jews, or receives the emblems of their feast, he is a partaker with those that killed the Lord and His apostles.” (attributed to Ignatius, Epistle to Philippians, c. 350 AD)
- “It is therefore your duty, brethren, who are redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, to observe the days of Easter exactly, with all care, after the vernal equinox….But no longer be concerned about keeping the feast with the Jews, for we now have no communion with them.” (Apostolic Constitutions, Book II, c. 390 AD)
In defiance to the Jesus’ instructions (Matt. 26:26-28, Mark 14:22-24, Luke 22:19-20), the “church” in Rome no longer celebrated the Passover, and what they did celebrate was not on the Passover anyway. Instead of partaking of the bread and wine in the context of a meal, they substituted a wafer cracker and a thimble of grape juice and divorced them completely from their meanings in the Passover ceremony (calling it “mass” or “communion”). In order to distance themselves from the Jews, they no longer celebrated the Lord’s death in the Passover (1Cor. 11:26), but instead began to celebrate Easter as more of a generic resurrection holiday, inclusive of the pagan traditions as well. The Romans in particular had always celebrated the vernal equinox as the death and resurrection of Attis who was supposedly born of the virgin fertility goddess Cybele. Thus, when their pagan holiday coincided with Easter, the pagans often quarreled with the Christians about which deity was really the imitation of the other. Indeed, the pagan groups today are still more than happy to set the Christians straight about the origins of their practices, for they have always been in favor of returning to the “true meaning of Easter”.
s.4.1.3 We Don’t Really Mean It
Up until now, many Christians have been completely unaware that they have been perpetuating pagan practices in their holiday celebrations each year. This is not to pass judgment on them, for many have done this in ignorance with honorable intentions. But what will you do now? Again, there is not necessarily one right course of action for there are several valid possibilities discussed below. But unfortunately, even after learning these things, some have chosen to harden their hearts and persist in their pagan practices. They continue to celebrate these syncretistic pagan holidays because they don’t feel like they are doing anything wrong. They say, “We are not worshipping these things. We don’t take these pagan meanings seriously.” And now you know why Israel had trouble tearing down the Asherah poles (Deut. 12:2-3, 1Ki. 3:3, 15:14, 22:42-43, 2Ki. 12:2-3, 14:4, 15:4, 15:35)! “But while these people worshipped the Lord, they also served their idols, both their children and children’s children – as their fathers did, so they do to this day.” (2Ki. 17:41). If these things are really not idols to you, then let’s see how willing you would be to give them up. Unfortunately, some would never give up their warm family traditions passed down to them by mom and dad, even though they are blatantly pagan in origin, without anything to do with Jesus. How they love their special raisin cakes (Hos. 3:1). They teach their children worship songs about an omnipotent pagan deity who brings them gifts during the night and then with a straight face say they are not involved in any pagan practices. They lie to the children about this false god and then they celebrate all the traditions associated with this false god. Think about it, if Christmas and Easter solely had something to do with the gospel of Christ, do you think the world would really be this interested in them? Of course, there would be nothing intrinsically wrong with giving gifts in July, or bringing a tree into your house in October, but what message does it send when Christians only observe these pagan practices in conjunction with a pagan holiday? Do you find a need to give gifts or decorate a tree during the rest of the year, or only when there is a pagan holiday? If these things were truly Christian, then why not do them everyday [s.4.4]? Of all of the topics in this book, this issue tends to be disproportionately controversial in particular, as many Christians are simply unwilling to give up their sacred pagan traditions for the sake of the truth alone.