Two or Three (.net)

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. - Jesus

3.17.2005

Atheists Attempt to Kill Easter Bunny

by danielg [+/-] show/hide

David Silverman, communications director of American Atheists recently mentioned in a Hannity & Colmes interview that he objects to the Easter bunny, since Easter is a religious holiday. Now, as we all know, Easter comes from the pagan celebration of Ishtar, which I suppose has fertility rites, hence the bunnies and eggs.

But the real questions that we should discuss are:

  • Should Christians celebrate Christian holidays with "pagan" roots, like Easter and Christmas?
  • Should Christians celebrate the Jewish holidays in a Christian way?
  • Should Christians celebrate alternative holidays whenever they want to?
Now the way I see it, there have traditionally been a few responses:

1. TOTAL ABSTENTION: No Holidays
Well, mostly cults do this, but some groups think that celebrating anything not explicitly mentioned in the New Testament is out, including birthdays and most holidays. Holidays are worldly. I guess for them, even the Jewish holy days are out too, cause they're Old Testament.

2. PARTIAL ABSTENTION: Only Observe Holidays that Don't Offend Religious Sensibilities
So no Christmas or Easter (pagan), but birthdays and Thanksgiving seem ok. Certainly not Halloween.

3. MODIFIED CELEBRATIONS: Creating Alternatives
Many Christian churches now offer alternative Halloween Celeberations, usually called Harvest Festivals or something like that. Fun for the kids, no demons or witches. Sounds good to me.

Interestingly, many more regular Christians are looking for alternatives to the commercialism of Christmas, not to mention it's pagan, secular, and Christian roots and bad timing (too close to Thanksgiving ;).

Many choose merely to volunteer in soup kitchens and not exchange gifts, or celebrate Christmas in a more subdued manner. Many Protestants have even begun to celebrate the more Catholic Feast of the Magi and Twelfth Night, which are the end of the Epiphany Observances. In part, these are attractive because they don't involve Satan Santa, because the latter part of the celebration is farther away from Thanksgiving, and because they are actually more closely aligned with the true biblical events.

4. MODIFIED CELEBRATIONS: Judaizing the Holidays
Instead of Easter, why not Celebrate Christian Passover with Jesus as the Lamb? Some groups advocate replacing the religious holiday celebrations with Christian versions of the holidays, and some actually advocate that Christians should celebrate ALL of the Jewish holidays that reflected the coming messiah.

5. ACCOMODATION: Celebrate Like the Culture, But Emphasize the True Meanings
Most Christians, I would imagine, have Ishtar Easter Egg hunts, even at their churches, and many have Santa as well at Christmas. But in their masses, church services, and homes, they remind us that "Jesus is the reason for the season." Is that good enough? Or is that a copout? It is hard to be an outcast in your culture by not participating, and many parents are concerned about making their kids social outcasts as well.

-----

Now me, I probably do a combination of 3, 4, and sad to say 5. But each year, I am deeply considering what values and events my family wants to emphasize, and we want to develop traditions focus on what has faith and meaning to us.

For Halloween, I'm not sure what we are going to do when my 1 year old gets old enough to know. Last year we just dressed her up as a pumpkin and left it at that. But maybe a harvest festival might be better.

Thanksgiving is a no-brainer. We love it. Thank God and pass the gravy.

For Christmas, because my wife is a born-again ex-Catholic (she was Catholic, but now is a Christian with Catholic sympathies), we may actually do the whole Epiphany Feasts. It seems more bibilcal to us.

For Easter, I'm really not sure. Probably just kind of ignore it. Maybe do the Stations of the Cross (darn those Catholics, they have some good observances despite their other doctrines and practices) .

In conclusion, we should all be free to obey our consciences, but I certainly think we should consider well what we are celebrating, and be willing to contradict our secular or religious traditions in the interest of our own integrity and committment to truth.

HT: World Mag

10 Comments:

  • That is a lot to think about. I have always felt pretty odd about giving and recieving gifts on Christmas. I wonder what kind of response I'd get this year if I refused to give/receive Christmas gifts?? It would be a strange experiment, one that I'm completely down for! I'll think about it :) (if I can find a way to go about it that doesn't give me glory, cause I'm sure people would think I'm self glorifying. Any suggestions?)

    By Blogger ~Kat, at 3/18/2005 8:22 AM  

  • Giving gifts at Christmas is a way for us, as Christians, to recognize the gift God the Father gave us in His only Son, Jesus Christ. That gift led to the sacrifice of Good Friday & the triumph of the Resurrection! When we give up our time to shop & spend money on gifts for our loved ones, to donate time & money to the poor & underpriveledged, we are imitating Christ, as Paul suggessts we do! Hence, God gets the glory when our giving is rightly ordered to be in imitation of His giving!

    By Anonymous Moochie, at 3/18/2005 3:24 PM  

  • "For Christmas, because my wife is a born-again ex-Catholic (she was Catholic, but now is a Christian with Catholic sympathies), we may actually do the whole Epiphany Feasts. It seems more bibilcal to us."

    BTW . . . Catholics are Christians! They baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, & the Holy Spirit as mandated in Scripture, through which they, as do all Christican, die with Christ & are born again, as Scripture says.

    And here you've stumbled onto the reason for worshiping God in a liturgical year, with set feasts & celebrations. In effect, you get to live Biblical events!

    By Anonymous Moochie, at 3/18/2005 3:34 PM  

  • Well, the whole argument over what makes a Christian is a good one to have, but probably not here.

    By what I call a biblical, admittedly protestant view, not all Catholics are true Christians, any more than all Baptists or Methodists or any denomination are.

    What makes one a christian is not taking the sacraments or being baptized or confirmed. I had done all three in the Catholic tradition when young, but was not a Christian until I *understood* and *believed* the gospel, at which point I was regenerated (a.k.a. born-again). After that, I was baptized as a believer (like the apostles did in the book of Acts).

    So anyone, Catholic or otherwise, who has not understood and believed the gospel (children and the handicapped may be an exception) is certainly NOT a Christian, except in a cultural sense.

    By Blogger papa, at 3/18/2005 4:20 PM  

  • "By what I call a biblical, admittedly protestant view, not all Catholics are true Christians, any more than all Baptists or Methodists or any denomination are."

    What gives you the right to judge what 's in the hearts of others? How do you know? Can you tell by looking?

    Wouldn't the more Christian response be to focus on one's self & pray for everybody else?

    Just a thought.

    By Anonymous Moochie, at 3/18/2005 9:30 PM  

  • Yeah, I agree that we imitate Christ through gift-giving. Now that I see where that comes from, I guess a better way to phrase myself is: I usually exchange gifts with nonbelievers around me. They aren't imitating Christ. So for them, Christmas is not about learning to be more like Christ, but about other things. Perhaps the experiment should be praying to God to ask Him what He would have me buy people for Christmas. And then obeying that command. Who knows how He'd use them!!!!

    By Blogger ~Kat, at 3/18/2005 9:56 PM  

  • Exactly, Kat! We, as Christians, can use Christmas as an opportunity to evangelize in many ways. Some can be very subtle & effective. For example, I've given some folks the music of one of my favorite Christian bands, The Innocence Mission, because their songs are from a Christican worldview but aren't as directly about faith, God, or worship as, say, someone like Jeremy Camp's or Sarah Hart's stuff is. I'm always amazed that they come back to me & remark how peaceful & content their music is - which can be a possible lead-in for me to let them know what's behind the music! Very cool.

    By Anonymous Moochie, at 3/18/2005 10:28 PM  

  • My wife and I are both former Catholics, me marginal and her more dedicated. I can tell you that, while my wife was a "good" person and me not so much, neither of us were Christians because in all our years of exposure in the Catholic church, we were never presented with the simple gospel, and so could not believe.

    Paul the Apostle said "how can people believe what they have not heard, and how can they hear if no one tells them?" Romans 10:14. Though in the church, we were not Christians, and many of our family and friends were and are just like us.

    I am not judging anyone, but my experience in both Catholic and Protestant churches is that many people, by their own admission, have never heard the gospel message (they say so when you tell them), and upon hearing it, openly state that they don't believe it.

    Many of them are devoted to their religious practices, and in their own way, to God, but without knowledge. They are like the religious Jews that Paul talked of in Romans 10:2, saying "For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge."

    Another reason I know that many in church are not Christians is by their own admission. In many protestant churches, there are altar calls, and testimonials, so you see and hear from people all the time who were not Christian and now are. Many of them were churchgoers for a long time before believing.

    Though we are not to judge others, we are to be realistic - not everyone in the sound of our voices, even in church, are believers. We should not automatically treat them as if they are, especially if they openly defy the gospel or don't display a life that reflects their faiath, lest we play into their false beliefs that they are Christians.

    Even Paul said "if you say you have faith, but not works, you probably don't have faith!" If I said, would you say I am judging. I would say, judge yourself by what I just said!

    I hope I am being clear. I don't judge Catholics or protestants as being automatically Christians or not - the fact is, some are and some are not. Some believe and some are just wear the cultural label but have no idea what a true christian beleives. But the bible tells us what makes and does not make a person a Christian.

    By Blogger papa, at 3/18/2005 10:35 PM  

  • "I can tell you that, while my wife was a "good" person and me not so much, neither of us were Christians because in all our years of exposure in the Catholic church, we were never presented with the simple gospel, and so could not believe. "

    Yes, there are folks of lukewarm faith out there & we all know what Christ said about them! But, as you know, the Gospel in proclaimed in Catholic Churches every day around the world; in fact, there are at least 3 readings, one from the OT, one from the Psalms, on Sunday an extra NT reading, & one from the Gospels. Every day. So the fault does not lie with the Catholic Church - or any other faith community, for that matter - unless, as Scripture warns us, another, a false Gospel is being preached. But that's not the case in the vast majority of denominations, really. No, the problem lies with us. Remember the parable of the sower (Matt 13:1-9): some of us are the path, or the rocky ground, or the rich soil. The Holy Spirit is calling eash of us & we choose to respond in different ways. Face it, the Gospel is a stumbling block, isn't it? Especially in our current cultural climate; there are so very many things that seek to keep us from living the Gospel in every part of our lives & we all know what they are. We have to be willing to meet the Gospel more than half way sometimes. Christ knew this, of course; it was because of "hard teaching" that "many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him" as we are told in John 6:66 (& that chapter contains one of the hardest for some folks). It's not about simplifying the Gospel so folks *get it* or adding peppy, modern music & a firey 30 minute sermon every Sunday. Those things speak to our earthly wants & our emotions. Musical styles come & go. And, frankly, not everyone who is called to serve God in a pastoral way can be the best speaker! An emotional faith can rarely last very long, as with the "rocky ground" folks from Matthew. So, if you're saying that it's up to us to allow the Gospel to produce the good works Eph 2:10 tells us were prepared "in advance" for us, the I agree. But I can't agree that the Gospel has to be put in a "simple" way in order for folks faith to come alive. I also have to disagree with this statement, Seeker:

    "We should not automatically treat them as if they are, especially if they openly defy the gospel or don't display a life that reflects their faiath, lest we play into their false beliefs that they are Christians."

    What happened to Matt 7:12? The Golden Rule: "So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets." We're all sinners & we're all gonna blow it sooner or later. But Christ will always take us back! Judas chose to despair & die whereas Peter chose to repent. I don't see the good in treating others as if they were Judas as a default. Why not assume the best in everyone? Why not see Christ in everyone, regardless of who they are or where they might be on their faith journey, & respond accordingly? They still made in the image & likeness of God, right? Remember: "Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me." (Matt 25:40) & it's converse: "Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me." (Matt 25:45). (Hmm . . . seems to be a Matthew kinda day! Not that there's anything wrong with that!)

    "Even Paul said 'if you say you have faith, but not works, you probably don't have faith!'"

    But there's not "probably" about it, is there?! James 2:14-18: "What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Go in peace, be warmed and filled,' without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead." (My emphasis.) OK, so it's not all Matthew today! But it's still a "least of my brothers" kind of quote. The point is, we shouldn't change how we relate to others based on the witness they demonstrate. Maybe all they need is for someone (like you & me!) to show them compassion (from the Latin, meaning to "suffer with") & be the Gospel for them! In the words of St Francis of Assisi: "Preach the Gospel always; when necessary, use words."

    By Anonymous Moochie, at 3/19/2005 5:21 PM  

  • Yikes! Long comment. Sorry. I'm gonna take a nap now. ;)

    By Anonymous Moochie, at 3/19/2005 5:21 PM  

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