Should we call it Easter?

Heaven Forbid We Call It Easter!


Dr. Randy White
Sarcasm alert: If you don't like sarcastic truth-telling, don't read further.

This is the week we often call “Holy Week.” There’s nothing Holy about it, at least not any more so than last week or next week. Holy Week includes Maundy Thursday, in which many mainline Protestant churches stop in recognition of the last supper. Most of us will call Friday “Good Friday,” even though it is the day of the crucifixion. On Sunday, most Christians will get up, go to church, and celebrate the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Many of these people will call the day, “Easter.”

In recent years, there has arisen a segment of Christianity that goes into cardiac arrest at the sound of the word Easter. Just the word causes this segment to begin crying foul. The PAGAN ALERT is sent forth, and the poor soul who said “Easter” is deemed a heretic worthy of Old Testament style stoning as the punishment for mixing paganism with Christianity. In the frenzy, some church members get an old-fashioned religion brand of gossip-treatment because they sent an Easter card (Heaven forbid!). Some people leave churches because the pastor used the word Easter (apparently a sign that he has adopted paganism and syncretism.)

My advice to good Berean’s: Please calm down!

Two traits of a good Berean are:

  1. Berean’s check facts
  2. Berean’s are consistent in their application of truth

In the great Easter-panic of the pagan-hypersensitive Christian culture, they’ve forgotten these two traits.

First, the facts. They often get in the way of a good story, don’t they. Does the name Easter come from Ishtar, the Babylonian goddess? Because the words sound alike, and because Ishtar supposedly had a spring celebration, it must be true that Easter comes from Ishtar, right? Well, not so fast. If you’re fact-checking (you should be), then you find that there is nothing substantive that makes this a sure-thing. There are lots of footnotes in articles, but they are references to someone else who built their argument on the same flimsy truth. The “Pagan alert” articles from Christmas and Easter mostly quote one another. I think good Bereans have to say, “there isn’t enough evidence to start the witch trial.”

Second, the consistency. Let’s suppose, for a moment, that Easter has pagan origins. (Suppose is as far as anyone can go, by the way.) And, if it does have pagan origins, let’s also assume that real Christians should not use the word because it somehow praises Ishtar, honors the devil, and might turn our kids into filthy globins. Now, with all these suppositions, we forbid the use of the sound that e-a-s-t-e-r makes. (All this, even though we are just using the word, which has supposedly been borrowed from her name. We are not putting on Ishtar crowns and sacrificing virgins to her glory).

But what about the sound that s-u-n-d-a-y makes? It’s the day of the sun (not the Son). And Monday? That’s the day of the moon. And Tuesday? Things are getting worse, this is the day Tiu’s day, and Tiu is the pagan Germanic god of war and sky. And Wednesday (mid-week Bible study day) is Woden’s Day; he’s the Norse hunting god. And what would a good pagan week be without a day to Thor, the god of thunder? Be careful when the weekend comes about because Friday is dedicated to Freya, the Norse goddess of lust and procreation. Saturday is the day for Saturn, not the planet by the same name, but the god of agriculture.

The fact of the matter is, we use words of pagan origin EVERY DAY. And we’re not pagan. We’re not even thinking about becoming pagan. Many of us are learning to grow in God’s Word, and we’re becoming more like Christ. Even on Thor’s day.

Word’s Mean Something

Our real problem is that word’s mean something, and what they mean is determined by the general populace. I wished words had a fixed meaning, but they don’t. If you talked about someone being gay in the 1950s, you meant something entirely different than if you did so today. Today, the word Easter means “the day we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ” just as Thursday means “the fifth day of the week, the one before Friday.” Just like it would be insane to get Christian society to stop calling it Thursday to halt the adoration of Thor, it is absurd to get Christian to stop calling it Easter to stem the love of Ishtar.

Word of faith problem

Many of the people who are on the “Don’t say Easter” bandwagon also reject Word of Faith theology (which I also reject). The rejection is based on our conviction that the spoken word does not “vibe” into some kind of reality, as WOF teaches. But why do those who are scared of the word Easter not catch the inconsistency? The sound-waves of e-a-s-t-e-r are not going to cause Ishtar to rise again. They won’t give the devil any power. They won’t turn your children to filthy globins.

Your thoughts?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter. Use the comment box below.

And Happy Easter!