The reality of Easter is what matters

HARARE - Every year, we are never short of people, including Christians, who misguidedly attack Easter and Christmas celebrations as if Christians are committing a great sin by taking over originally pagan celebrations to serve the cause of Christ.

Now, I must make it clear from the onset that I am a Christ-follower — a born-again Christian who believes in the Bible as the divinely inspired Word of God which is our supreme guide in all matters of faith and conduct.

The fact that Easter has pagan origins is not in dispute. Some Christians are in fact blindly still following pagan practices associated with Easter’s pagan origins — practices like Easter bunnies, eggs and rabbits.

These pagan practices have nothing to do with the real reason for Easter, which is the celebration of the death of Christ to pay the penalty of our sins, and his resurrection that showed victory over sin and death.

From this stance two questions become pertinent:

* Are these events concerning Christ worth celebrating?

* If they are what is the justification for celebrating Christ during what used to be pagan practices?

So, firstly, are the events surrounding the death and resurrection of Christ worth celebrating? There can be no doubt that without the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, there would be no basis for the Christian faith.

All the four Gospel writers reflect the importance of events that happened in Jesus’ final week on earth. Luke devotes a quarter of his Gospel to these events, Matthew and Mark devote a third each to these events while John’s gospel devotes half of its length to the events we associate with Easter.

Clearly, this shows that the gospel writers believe that these events constitute the foundation of our Christian faith. In this case therefore these events are worth celebrating, which is why Christians the world over take the events surrounding the Easter story very seriously.

This leads us to the next question. If these events are worth celebrating what is the justification for doing so during what used to be pagan practices?  Does this not promote syncretism?

But this is where we come to a paradox: By trying to wipe out deeply rooted cultural practices and trying to evangelise on a clean slate we in fact create the very syncretism we fear.

On the other hand, by building on those cultural forms we are more likely to have Christians of integrity (who are whole) rather than those who maintain schizophrenic, syncretistic lives.

Christmas and Easter celebrations have become functional substitute for ceremonies which were pagan in origin.

Christians who criticise functional substitutes for pagan practices are usually unaware that they do it all the time. A big case in point is how we all unconsciously use names of the days of the week and months of the year which were associated with pagan gods.

The question now is: Are we worshipping pagan gods by using their names in our days of the week and months of the year?  The answer, at least for Christians, is clearly NO.

Words are symbols which acquire common meanings through consensus. Hence when we talk of Easter our semantic agreement as Christians is that of celebrating the death and resurrection of Christ.

The fact that “Easter” is derived from Eostre, the name of the Anglo-Saxon lunar goddess is as irrelevant to us as the fact that Sunday was the day to worship the sun god.

Easter is about celebrating the death and resurrection of Christ, not a sign of Christians being “blinded by the invasion of Greek god worshippers as they observe a pagan holiday whose origins are related to the death and resurrection of the pagan god Inana”.

We conclude by saying that celebrating Easter is a valid way of honouring God, and by no means a mockery of him.

* Musasiwa is the principal of Domboshawa Theological College.

Comments (1)

uyu ndiye akarasika manje uyu. you dont even know a thing better keep quite. i would love to meet you and explain things that you dont know mufundisi. but for now i can say keep going but you are going to fall into a pit.

luke - 18 April 2017

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.