PROVE ALL THINGS Be Ready Always to Give an Answer
Val J Aspenns
Easter Sunday morning devout believers by the millions will be engaged in what they feel to be the reenactment of the resurrection drama. The ceremony will more than likely be staged in some scenic setting. It's all quite impressive. I remember Easter as a boy. Having been brought up in one of the major Christian religions, I recall the sunrise service — the pomp, the pageantry, the communion, the joyous announcement that "Christ is risen." I recall the hot-cross buns, the colorful eggs, the chocolate bunnies, new clothes, the games. All of it seemed so wholesome, so Christian. I am not keeping Easter this year, and I haven't for nearly 20 years. There is a reason. Isn't it peculiar that in the Bible, which Christians accept as the revealed, written Word of God, there is absolutely no command, no example — not even a hint — that Easter should be observed. On the other hand, we are given a strong warning not to improvise on how to worship God. One who is "the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end" (the Creator God) states, "... If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book" (Revelation 22:18). No matter if we take these words as a threat or a promise, the sobering warning remains. But isn't God being unreasonable? What's wrong with these quaint, cherished customs that everybody loves? No problem, except, "Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen... " (Jeremiah 10:2). But surely, Easter is not "heathen." One doesn't need to be a Rhodes scholar to get to the roots of Easter observance. It's as simple as a trip to a library. For example, look up the article "Easter" in The New Funk & Wagnall's Encyclopedia: "... it (Easter) embodies traditions of an ancient time antedating the rise of Christianity. The origin of its name is lost in the dim past; some scholars believe it probably is derived from Eastre, Anglo-Saxon name of a Teutonic goddess of spring and fertility... "Her festival was celebrated on the vernal equinox, and traditions associated with the festival service in the familiar Easter bunny, symbol of the fertile rabbit, and in the equally familiar colored Easter eggs originally painted with gay hues to represent the sunlight of spring... Such festivals, and the myths and legends which explain their origin, abounded in ancient religions." That's Christianity? The roots are suspect, but let's go on. Easter, Astarte, Eostre, Ishtar... What's in a name? "It is not a Christian name. It bears its Chaldean origin on its very forehead. Easter is nothing else than Astarte, one of the titles of Beltis, the queen of heaven ... That name, as found by Layard on the Assyrian monuments, is Ishtar." (See The Two Babylons, by Alexander Hislop, page 103.) Continuing, "The worship of Bel and Astarte was very early introduced into Britain, along with the Druids, 'the priests of the groves.'" The Old Testament is profuse in documenting this pagan type of idolatrous worship. Note Jeremiah 7:18- 19: "The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven... "Do they provoke me to anger? saith the Lord: do they not provoke themselves to the confusion of their own faces?" Notice that cakes were offered to the "queen." Could this be the origin of the hot-cross buns? "The 'buns'... were used in the worship of the queen of heaven, the goddess Easter, as early as the days of Cecrops, the founder of Athens — that is, 1,500 years before the Christian era" (ibid., page 108). Other pagan traditions revolving around the spring festivities include the commemoration of the death and resurrection of Tammuz, otherwise known as Bacchus (the lamented one). He was often pictured (and worshiped) as a little child in his mother's arms (ibid., pages 21-22). This adoration of Tammuz was enacted by the believers with"... their faces toward the east: and they worshiped the sun toward the east (at sunrise)... "Sunrise service? Sounds familiar, and God comments on this tradition in Ezekiel 8. He has a word for it. It's spelled: abomination! As decades and centuries passed, the dominant "Christian" Church headquartered at Rome continued to bring the heathen masses into the fold by amalgamating their pagan practices, apparently oblivious of Jeremiah 10:2. And so the nominal Christianity grew, but was the God of the Bible in it? The deceived, misled, misguided world (see Revelation 12:9) has its Easter. The God of heaven has given us the Holy Days. In the springtime, when nature bursts forth with new life, God ordained special feasts. A time of gladness and of profound meaning — for young and old alike. Through these days God unfolds His master plan: the purpose of life, the precious sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the incredible potential that we have of being born into the very Family of God. Now that's something to celebrate and get excited about.