Why is the Liberty to choose terminology so important on Easter?
By Janine Morgan
▪ BACKGROUND ▪
DID YOU KNOW?
▪Beginning in 1605, over 54 of the finest Bible translators in the world were chosen by God to write the King James Version of the Holy Bible
▪The King James Version of the Holy Bible is globally accepted as the most accurate
▪Luke composed the book of Acts
▪The word, "Easter" is in Acts 12:4
Holy Bible - King James Version
1·Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church.
2·And he killed James the brother of John with the sword.
3·And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.)
4·And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after EASTER to bring him forth to the people.
▪ THE STORY ▪
For more than 500 years we have been calling the Day of Resurrection, "Easter", whether it is an accurate label or not...it really doesn't matter.
The word "Easter" is commonly believed to have pagan roots, but many scholars are making some strong arguments that this may not be so.
Besides, Easter is our go-to term, not Resurrection Sunday.
Here are 5 reasons you and your church should continue to call it Easter:
1. Resurrection Sunday isn't a commonly used term.
2. Easter Sunday is the biggest day of the year for most churches.
More unchurched people go to church on Easter than any other Sunday of the year. It's also when they're more likely to make real commitments to Jesus than any other day.
Why would I close that door by using a term I have to interpret?
3. Using The Word Won't Tempt Anyone To Worship Pagan Gods
The primary argument against using the term Easter to celebrate the risen Christ is that the word may have pagan roots. (Or it may not. More on that in Point 4).
But calling it Easter doesn't mean my church is worshiping the Anglo-Saxon goddess Ēostre any more than calling it Resurrection Sunday means we're worshiping the pagan Sun God. We're also not worshiping the Norse god Frigg on Good Friday.
While we're at it, no one thinks we're compromising with paganism when we use the terms January and March, which were named after the Roman gods Janus and Mars. We also accept the names of the planets without worshiping the Roman gods they were named after.
4. Easter May Not Be Pagan After All
The origin of the word Easter is obscure. It's commonly believed to have pagan roots, but many scholars are making some strong arguments that this may not be so. Anthony McRoy in his ChristiantyToday.com article, Was Easter Borrowed from a Pagan Holiday?, claims there's plenty of reason to doubt what has come to be considered common knowledge.
The ongoing turmoil over Easter's supposed Babylonian etymology may all be based on some sloppy scholarship.
In another well-researched paper, Why We Should not Passover Easter, Nick Sayers claims that root of the word Easter is Tyndale's translation of the word Passover. In fact, according to Sayers, the ongoing turmoil over Easter's supposed Babylonian etymology may all be based on some sloppy scholarship by Alexander Hislop, a 19th century anti-Catholic conspiracy theorist who "boldly claimed Easter was pagan, but offered little proof."
In another article, Roger Patterson claims that Easter comes from auferstehung - a German word meaning ... wait for it ... resurrection.
5. People Matter More than Terminology
A while ago, I watched as a friendly Facebook conversation among pastors turned into a theological battle. All because one pastor insisted that any church using the term Easter was compromising with paganism.
After watching the back-and-forth battle escalate, I clicked on the instigator's name to read his Facebook page. On it, he describes his church as "one of the few churches that actually preaches the cross." So maybe we should be more worried about pride than paganism.
How many people have turned away from the church and the message of the resurrection, not because they reject Jesus, but because they can't see him clearly through the fog of churches and ministers claiming a false moral superiority while causing divisiveness over petty issues?
If you prefer Resurrection Sunday, that's great. Keep using it. But don't condemn churches that call it Easter.
Celebrate Jesus and his resurrection this Sunday and every day. And work alongside others who celebrate it with you - no matter what they call it.
"Borrowed" and paraphrased excerpts from Karl Vaters.