Is Easter pagan in origin?

BIG Questions

It pops up repeatedly on social media this time each year.

A graphic on Facebook proclaims that “Easter was originally the celebration of Ishtar, the Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of fertility.”

A meme on Twitter touts, “The real reason Easter exists: meet the Germanic goddess Eostre, her existence began with the Anglo-Saxon Pagans.”

Attempt to fact-check suchclaims via the internet, and you’ll find as many contradicting “historical facts” as you’ll find fish in the Aquarium where I work. (Even dictionaries and other purveyors of etymology can’t seem to agree on the origins of the word “Easter.”)

So didpagan cults celebrate something called “Easter” prior to Christianity?

Ultimately, the answer to that question really doesn’t matter. Because, regardless of what title we assign to this coming Sunday, the BIGGER question is this: “did the resurrection of Jesus Christ that Christians celebrate on Sunday actually happen?”

“But Matt,” a skeptic may…

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Confessions of an Ex-Dispensationalist or the Rapture Left Behind

It seems it’s becoming a tradition on this platform that during important liturgical seasons in the church calendar I post material that has nothing to do with it. I am not deliberately trying to be contrarian but it always seems to turn out that way. This time around I want to talk about the rapture, something that is usually not discussed during this period but then again it does not have its own designated period. However, I do think Easter is probably the most appropriate time to talk about it. I have never discussed it here before but this time I have been prompted to do so by a recent conversation I had with a friend. Continue reading “Confessions of an Ex-Dispensationalist or the Rapture Left Behind”

Leaving Behind the Rapture

Renowned New Testament scholar and theologian, N.T. Wright once remarked,

Little did Paul know how his colourful metaphors for Jesus’ second coming would be misunderstood two millennia later.

He was talking about the popular misunderstanding of scripture that is the rapture.  Continue reading “Leaving Behind the Rapture”

Human Son of God, Divine Son of Man

Christians, and to a lesser extent the rest of the world, have over the centuries wrestled with the identity of Jesus of Nazareth ever since his first followers encountered him in 1st century Roman Palestine. Probably, the most well-known challenge of the Church has been navigating the intricacies of Trinitarian theology. How is Jesus the same as God yet different from him and how does the Holy Spirit fit into all of this? However, there is a subtler problem which comes from not paying attention to how Jesus understands and identifies himself in the New Testament. Christians consistently mistake what one of his most well-known titles mean with another title’s meaning who’s meaning is very counterintuitive. This is one of those situations you really have to pay attention because this is going to be a deep, long dive into what the scriptures actually say. Continue reading “Human Son of God, Divine Son of Man”

Last Things

Re-imagining the Future Today

“If not heaven then what do we look to?” This is a question a friend asked me after drumming incessantly that heaven is not the ultimate goal for Christians. In every single conversation where he brought up heaven as the reward, I would not fail to correct him. It was only inevitable that he would ask what he asked. That question demands more than a quick attempt to provide a replacement hope. I have pondered, over the last couple of months what a future new heaven and earth instead of a disembodied heaven means for life in the present. I realised we have invested so much of our imagination, our theology, our hope, in the heavenly afterlife that we have do not have a vision of what happens after that. We have an eschatology that misses the point with our preoccupation with what happens when you die. This is not to say what happens after death is not important but that is not the whole story. What then is? Continue reading “Last Things”

Is the Bible Patriarchal?

It’s been a while since I blogged about the role of men and women in the family, church and the larger society. Since I last wrote about it, I realised the issue was more complex than I had imagined and so I decided instead to take my time to learn more before I wrote about it again. Continue reading “Is the Bible Patriarchal?”

The Future of Heaven

In a former post on Christian eschatology, I briefly sketched out the key ways the New Testament talks about the future, what it means and its implications for the present. It was an attempt to answer the question of what we should look forward to if heaven is not the ultimate goal. I did say heaven is important but it is not nearly the whole story. What then should we do with heaven? I made the claim that eschatology, the study of the eschaton i.e. the last things, was really about God’s future. What is God going to do, who is it with and what will it involve? The plans of God involve his creation which includes heaven. Questions about heaven usually revolve around our destiny or that of our loved ones? It is highly personalized so we forget that heaven itself might have a future. Now if heaven has a future that suggests it has a purpose, a reason for why it was made. Why is there a heaven at all? We have to go back to the beginning. Continue reading “The Future of Heaven”