In last week’s blog (April 17, 2013) I asked the question as to why is it that during the holyday/holiday season such as Resurrection Sunday (Easter) we recently observed and other holydays such as Christmas and New Years, I get these “reminders” that these days are pagan and that we are somehow causing God to be angry?
And why is it that during this time of the year I often hear and read arguments that if and when we keep these holidays we are practicing paganism and not being Christian?
These are the thoughts that I want to continue to discuss.
It saddens me when I see other Christians being led away from their flocks to other folds because of a lack of knowledge or understanding of God’s word – especially in regard to holydays. I see them being led away by opinions and Bible interpretations that are never challenged by anyone. Organizations such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses come foremost to mind as I say these things.
Do not misunderstand, I have no hard feelings or animosities toward any Jehovah’s Witnesses member. In fact, some of my best colleagues and friends in my life have been from this organization. But, I have spent countless hours of discussions with them and read much of their literature to understand their teachings and their doctrines that I have difficulty in accepting. I do not mind what they believe. It is when they and similar organizations start condemning and proselytizing Christians of other churches that I strongly take issue. Their goals are to 1) separate themselves from other Christian organizations and 2) separate believers from other Christian organizations to themselves. I believe that what God wants foremost is for us together be worshipping Christ. There is no one “true” way of doing this!
Referring back to Christian holy days, let me state this scenario: You have a friend who is celebrating a birthday and he believes that the Boston Red Sox are the best baseball team in the world. If you, a Yankee fan, attend and celebrate his birthday by eating cake and ice cream, does that turn you into a Boston Red Sox fan? Of course not! Yet, cultists – Christians who are exclusive and have separated themselves from other Christians because of doctrines – often illogically use God’s word in this manner.
According to a Jehovah’s Witnesses article, “What Does the Bible Say About Easter?”:
“The celebration of Easter is not based on the Bible. If you look into its history, though, you will see the true meaning of Easter—it is a tradition based on ancient fertility rites.”
According to The Encyclopedia Britannica:
The English name Easter is of uncertain origin; the Anglo-Saxon priest Venerable Bede in the 8th century derived it from the Anglo-Saxon spring goddess Eostre.
Easter is an English word. The Greeks and Romans called it Pascha. This is why Easter is Pasqua in Italian. In Spanish it is Pascua. And in French it is Paques – not Ishtar, a Canaanite goddess of love, war and sex. Ishtar was never a dominant god in Rome or Byzantium. Most scholars believe that Easter derives its name from Eostre or Ostara, a pagan goddess of Germanic origin. English and German are two of the very few languages that use some variation of this word Easter (or, in German, Ostern) as a name for this holiday. Most other European languages use one form or another of the Latin name for Easter, Pascha, which is derived from the Hebrew Pesach, meaning Passover.
Yet, cults,such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, say many Christians are copying the ways of pagans and that God is displeased with them for doing this. How do they know? Well, I believe they wrongly use Bible verses such as Deuteronomy 12:30-31…
Watch out for yourself for fear you may be entrapped after them, after they have been annihilated from before you, and for fear you may inquire respecting their gods, saying, ‘How was it these nations used to serve their gods? And I, yes, I, will do the same way.’ You must not do that way to Jehovah your God, for everything detestable to Jehovah that he does hate they have done to their gods, for even their sons and their daughters they regularly burn in the fire to their gods. (New World Translation)
And Jeremiah 10:2…..
This is what Jehovah has said: “Do not learn the way of the nations at all, and do not be struck with terror even at the signs of the heavens, because the nations are struck with terror at them. (New World Translation)
These verses do not say Christians will become pagans if they keep holydays in honor of Christ that used to fall on pagan days of the year. True Christians do not inquire about other gods in order to worship them. Christians have Jesus Christ as their primary focus and offer prayers and sacrifices of praise that are pleasing to Him. Period.
Here is a thought: could it be God has planned or has allowed this so-called “blending of paganism” to happen? Yes, you are reading this correctly. I believe God may deliberately have allowed Easter and Christmas traditions for the unbelievers to celebrate also.
Easter and Christmas for the Godless
As you may be aware, what we Christians have been seeing more and more in the United States and the Western world is the commercialization of Easter and Christmas – especially Christmas. These seasons have mostly been focusing on shopping – on materialism – not on Christ.
Also, the educational system – the public schools – especially the colleges and universities – have been working relentlessly to instill in mankind the notion that there is no God. They have been a strong vehicle in taking God out of Christmas and Easter. Christ, for the most part has been removed from these holidays altogether in our society today. Therefore …
Now, let me speculate here. This is, after all, a blog, not a “Thus-saith-the-Lord” platform. Since this society has become more and more “God-less” rather than pagan, if many people want to keep Jesus Christ out of Easter and Christmas then:
1) Let them sing only Christmas songs about Santa Claus.
2) Let them only tell stories about Rudolf the Red-nosed reindeer.
3) Let them only watch movies about the Grinch Who Stole Christmas.
4) Let them only hunt for Easter eggs, supposedly brought by the Easter rabbit.
5) Let them only hug each other under mistletoe.
As the godless world attends to its “Fa – la – la” parties (nothing evil here), we Christians freely can celebrate Christ bringing “Joy to the World”.
Even if nonbelievers keep Christmas and Easter, how are they pagans? Santa Claus is not even worshiped by them as a god. Neither are Rudolf the Red-Nosed reindeer, Frosty the Snowman or the Easter Bunny. If they are gods just go to your local Board of Education in your town and demand that schools stop teaching these caricatures to our children and see what happens.
Godlessness is still godless. There are no gods whatsoever here! There is nothing pagan here! The fact that these holidays may have latent carry-over traditions and customs from ancient days does not mean anything to me. It is not significant.
The practices of praying and sacrificing in worship to other beings, entities or personalities other than God of the Bible is what constitutes paganism.
Now, there is nothing wrong with Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny; the Christmas tree or Peter Cottontail. To me, they are meaningless and harmless. But if you as a Christian are bothered spiritually in regard to this then by all means follow your conscience and ignore what I am saying here.
My point is this: let us Christians honor Jesus Christ during these holidays. Let us worship him without any concerns or worries that we have become in any way pagans for doing so. Since Christ has been ushered out by the world and replaced with other customs that really do not pertain to us, let us continue praising Christ for what He, not an ancient pagan god or goddess, has done in our lives.
Easter and Christmas for the Evangelist
Rather than seeing the Godlessness and negatives of Easter and Christmas, why not use these time periods to witness for Christ? Why not introduce to the godless, Jesus Christ and why and how Christmas and Easter are celebrated by us? What opportunities abound!
Worshiping Jesus Christ on these days does not make anyone pagan. We Christians are not learning about the ways of pagan ancient gods. We are not bowing down to Christmas trees or wreaths. We are not pagan.
If I Am Wrong
If I am wrong about all I have said and God DOES object to the Christmas and Easter traditions, then at the resurrection, as I am ascending to meet Jesus Christ at His return to earth in the clouds, I am going to wave to my fellow Jehovah’s Witnesses and other Christians who had been against these holidays and tell them I was wrong. Then afterwards, I will invite them to a restaurant and enjoy pizza and discuss the new, never-before-observed holydays and holidays that we will celebrate in the millenniums and eons yet ahead (a future blog here).