Saturday, April 25, 2009

Defending Easter

Pagans are claiming, and some Christians are believing, that "Easter" comes from ancient pagan rites honoring an Anglo-Saxon goddess, Ēostre. Some have even gone so far as to attempt to link Ēostre with the Babylonian goddess, Ishtar. Here, I present a defense.

Please note that the connection between the word "Easter" and the word "Ishtar" (or "Ēastre" or "Ēostre" or any of the others which may or may not be possibly somehow related) is spurious at best. If you believe the one and only ancient reference claiming such a connection (the 8th century monk St. Bede), then yes, there may be a very, very distant connection.

If instead you believe authoritative and scholarly sources, then you will learn that our "Easter" was named after the month in which it fell, "Eostur-monath" (now known as April), which meant simply 'the month of opening' or 'the month of beginnings' (see Ronald Hutton, "The Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain", Oxford University Press, p. 180). Plus, "Ēostre" literally means "east" or "dawn", so the goddess was named for the direction. Shall we no longer say "East" because a commonly derived word was used to name a false god? Shall we rename July and August as well?

In Latin-derived languages, "Easter" is not the word for Resurrection Day. The word is derived from "Pascha" (which refers to Passover), such as in Spanish, "Pascua", in Italian, "Pasqua", French, "Pâques", and so forth. In any language, "Ēostre" and "Pascha" deriviatives refer to the season, not to a specific day. To be precise, in English we should be saying "Eastertide" and "Resurrection Sunday", but we usually speak of "Lent" and "Holy Week" and "Easter". (Oddly enough, the more liturgical sects, like the Roman Catholics, do a much better job of keeping the names straight.)

Many people also say "the fourth of July" when they mean "Independence Day", which minimizes the importance of the celebration. People also say "random" when they mean "spontaneous", which deflects blame from their own thoughtless behaviors. Most people do not even understand the true meaning of "apology", thinking it has something to do with regret. I do not dispute the fact that people change the language through laziness and ignorance. But I do not believe they do it out of irreverence. Some well-meaning people even claim that "X-mas" is somehow irreverent, because they have so little understanding of etymology, orthography, and hermeneutics. That doesn't make them bad Christians, just ignorant ones.

Yes, the Easter Bunny represents fertility. It is not Christian. And the brightly painted eggs represent both rebirth and the sunlight of Spring. While these symbols are not Christian, they are not anti-Christian either. There is nothing wrong with sunlight or fertility. "It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. " (Galatians 5:1, NASB)

One of the fascinating things about neo-pagans is the way they desperately claw for any possiblity of continuity to some ancient religion. They will try to claim they are getting back to the root of the "original religion". Neo-paganism was effectively invented single-handedly by Gerald Gardner in the 1940's in Great Britain (see Craig S. Hawkins, "Goddess Worship, Witchcraft and Neo-Paganism", Zondervan Publishing House, p. 23). It has no connection to anything ancient, so they claim everything. Check out most neo-pagan or Wicca websites, and you will see the great disparity in their claims, because there is no actual history.

One of the greatest dangers of neo-paganism, Wicca, and such, is that they will discount your claims of the truth because they practice moral relativism. That is to say, they say that "truth" is personal and relative, not absolute and objective. To combat this logic, I suggest you read

Don't let the neo-pagans steal Easter.

Monday, April 13, 2009

My first blog ever

I am brand new to blogging, so please be patient with me. I will be using this space for the purpose of Christian Apologetics.

Let me start by defining apologetics: (1) systematic argumentative discourse in defense (as of a doctrine) or (2) a branch of theology devoted to the defense of the divine origin and authority of Christianity. ("apologetics." Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2009. Merriam-Webster Online. 13 April 2009 <>, hereafter "Merriam-Webster")

So, you can count on me to use this forum to discuss matters relating to the logical support for Christianity. Naturally, this will also mean refutation of conflicting belief systems. I do not intent to offend anybody, but I'm sure some feelings will get hurt.

The Apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:29 to "Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear." (New American Standard Bible : 1995 Update. LaHabra, CA : The Lockman Foundation, 1995, S. Eph 4:29, hereafter abbreviated "NASB") To "edify" is literally to build up, and therefore is used to mean "to instruct and improve especially in moral and religious knowledge" (Merriam-Webster).

So let's examine what "building" is. We can consider parenting and primary education to be new construction, and just about everything else is remodeling. When one remodels, one is attempting to make improvements on the existing. Sometimes, insufficient structures are found hiding underneath the wall coverings. This may be surface problems with the paint, or deep problems with the wood or metal that give support to the whole. The rotten must be removed, but if the wall is load-bearing, a structure must be put in place before the old is removed.

Therefore, I intend this site to give structure to support a person in their walk, but it will also necessarily be tearing out the old. Please be careful and kind when using the Bible, or any other factual information, to support your position. You may be knocking down somebody's walls.