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Does Easter Have Roots More Pagan than Christian?
And if so, is this a problem?

Most of our holidays have "pagan origins." This was quite intentional as the leaders of the Church at various times wanted to transform pre-Christian holidays to a Christian purpose. Rather than trying to outlaw a "pagan" festival, why not simply change the meaning of the celebration? Seems sensible to me.

Easter is, of course, the celebration of Christ's resurrection. As is the case with most Christian holidays, it commemorates an event in the life of Christ -- this is its biblical foundation.

Why are Easter and Christmas for that matter not mentioned in the Bible?

Simply because when the New Testament books were written these holidays were in a formative stage, just as was Christian worship and prayer life itself.

Why are customs that seem to have little to do with the central idea of Easter still so widely practiced, such as decorating Easter eggs, or consuming tons of chocolate candy? Simply because these are popular activities that people would continue to engage in even if the church made a major effort to "purify" the holiday. (Also, many businesses thrive through the manufacture and sale of holiday related products.)

For more on holiday spending: How much is enough?

When you think about it, almost everything we do in church or as part of our Christian life has "pagan" origins. Prayer, public worship, the reading of scripture, the building of churches, the election of church officers, taking up an offering, the appointing or ordination of clergy, preaching, missionary activity among the poor. You name it; it has pagan roots. If we were to abandon everything that has pagan roots, there would be nothing left.

Besides, I think it is a virtue to recognize the truth in traditions other than our own ... and borrow freely from them. Let more light shine.

For more on the history, date and meaning of Easter ... including how the holiday got its name.

Charles Henderson

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The Rev. Charles P. Henderson is a Presbyterian minister and Executive Director of
He is the author of God and Science (John Knox Press, 1986).  
A revised and expanded version of the book is appearing here.
God and Science (Hypertext Edition, 2005).
He is also editor of a new book, featuring articles by world class scientists and theologians, and illustrating the leading views on the relationship between science and religion:
Faith, Science and the Future (CrossCurrents Press, 2007).

Charles also tracks the boundry between the virtual and the real at his blog: Next World Design, focusing on the mediation of art, science and spirituality in the metaverse.  

For more information about Charles Henderson.
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