Lent and Ash Wednesday are NOT pagan relics

Pastor Joseph Abrahamson dismantles  the myth that Lent and its practices have pagan origins.  An excerpt from his longer post on the subject:

The ancient Church chose to keep a fast during the forty days before Passover/Easter to focus on repentance and the gift of the Resurrection at Easter. St. Athanasius, who led at the Council of Nicea to defeat Arianism—a denial of Christ being truly God and man in one person—was a bishop in Alexandria, Egypt. He wrote annual Festival letters to the Church as they prepared to celebrate Easter. In the year 331 he wrote in order to encourage his congregations in Egypt to keep the Lenten fast for 40 days. Athanasius directs the readers to many Scriptural examples and exhortations to moderation, self-control, and fasting for repentance, Athanasius gives several Bible examples of the 40 day fast, especially of Christ’s 40 day fast, after which Athanasius wrote:

“The beginning of the fast of forty days is on the fifth of the month Phamenoth (we call Ash Wednesday); and when, as I have said, we have first been purified and prepared by those days, we begin the holy week of the great Easter on the tenth of the month Pharmuthi (Palm Sunday), in which, my beloved brethren, we should use more prolonged prayers, and fastings, and watchings, that we may be enabled to anoint our lintels with precious blood, and to escape the destroyer (Exod. xii. 7, 23.). Let us rest then, on the fifteenth of the month Pharmuthi (Easter Sunday Eve), for on the evening of that Saturday we hear the angels’ message, ‘Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is risen (Luke xxiv. 5).’ Immediately afterwards that great Sunday receives us, I mean on the sixteenth of the same month Pharmuthi (Easter Sunday morning), on which our Lord having risen, gave us peace towards our neighbours.

We learn from this that even at the time the Nicene Creed was written, at the time Constantine the Great ruled, the Western and Eastern Churches practiced a voluntary fast for 40 days before Easter.

That this was practiced in Rome and elsewhere is seen in St. Athanasius’ letter from the year 340 A.D. when he returns from a meeting of pastors/bishops from all around the world, and he encourages his own congregations to continue in the same practice of the 40 day Lenten fast as does “the rest of the whole world.”

In order to count the 40 days of Lent the Sundays of that season are not counted as part of the fast. Rather the Sundays are each a minor feast day. If you add the six feast Sundays to the 40 fast days you get 46 days. That means that the first day of the Fast of Lent is a Wednesday, just as Athanasius explained.

The 40 day fast does not come from the so-called “weeping of Tammuz” as claimed by the radical anti-Roman Catholic writer Alexander Hislop in his book The Two Babylons. Hislop made up myths and connections out of thin air because of his hatred for Roman Catholicism. Hislop’s views were adopted whole cloth by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who continued to republish Hislop’s book until 1987. Hislop’s book was cited in 22 different issues of the Jehovah’s Witnesses periodical The Watchtower from 1950 to 1978, and several times in the 1980s. From 1989 the Jehovah’s Witnesses stopped referring to Hilsop’s book, but they have kept Hislop’s teaching and use other sources.

The month of Tammuz in Old Testament times is roughly equivalent to our July. To the best evidence, that was when the Babylonian pagans, and the fallen Israelites mentioned in Ezekiel 8:14 would “weep for Tammuz”. Also, this weeping took place on the second day of that month, right after the new moon. Not for forty days.

Two basic facts: 1) The weeping for Tammuz was not a 40 day thing. That is Hislop’s fiction. 2) The month of Tammuz is 4 months after Easter. They aren’t even in the same time of year. ( From the The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature: Inana and Bilulu: an ulila to Inana: c.1.4.4 English Translation)

Many websites claim that the use of ashes on Ash Wednesday comes from pagan sources.

The ironic thing is that these websites cannot get their own stories straight. Some people assert that the ashes and Lent come from Nordic Odin worship, others that they come from pagan Roman cults, others that they come from ancient Hindu religions—and some try to maintain irrational combinations of the above very different imagined sources.

But ashes for Ash Wednesday do not come from any of these sources. The practice of believers using ashes to represent sorrow and repentance is well testified in the Bible. In the ancient world it was the natural formal response of those who are sorry for their sins:

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Snafu

    I didn’t even know internet atheists and the like are claiming also Lent to be of pagan origins!
    Calling Christian holidays/traditions pagan traditions is starting to get hilarious, so weak are the theories.

  • Doug

    More crybaby nonsense from cultural Christian liars who love their traditions more than God. Ash Wed and Lent are most certainly pagan. This is how stupid you people are. You want to use the monthly calendar to “disprove” that it was not the weeping for Tammuz but ignore the Hebrew calendar when it comes to Lent.

    First of all, Jesus was not crucified on “Good Friday” and risen on “Easter”. Next thing you know, you’ll probably be trying to tell us that Easter & Christmas isn’t pagan and that candy canes symbolize Jesus b/c they are upside-down J’s.

    Jesus was crucified on PASSOVER and risen on FIRST FRUITS. The 40 days in the wilderness took place after His baptism which took place in the fall (most likely on Yom Kippur). These 40 days symbolized Israel’s 40 years in the wilderness after they were “baptized” in the Gulf of Aqaba (Red Sea).

    There were no 40 days that preceded Passover.

  • Tom Hering

    Ladies and gentlemen, introducing Grace’s brother – Doug! :-D

  • Gene Veith

    No, Doug. Christmas and Easter are not pagan. See this, to start with: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/geneveith/?s=christmas+pagan

    You don’t even engage the scholarship, the historical evidence, and the arguments presented here. Instead, you call names. “Crybaby”? “Cultural Christian Liars”? “Stupid”? Really, Doug? You think I am stupid?

    Anyone can disagree with any post, but namecalling is just childish and troll-like. That is not the level of discourse we follow on this blog.

    You are banned.

  • Gene Veith

    Am I too harsh, readers, in banning Doug from commenting? Now that we’re on Patheos, with a broader audience, we are likely to attract more trolls and those kinds of commenters that are so vicious that they make online discussions unpleasant and unproductive. Also now that we’re on Patheos, with a broader audience, I want this blog to be better than ever. So I’m thinking I should run a tighter ship and do more banning, as well as deleting comments that are demeaning, vicious, and otherwise inappropriate. It’s hard for me to keep up, but I’m going to try to do this when I see something I don’t want on my blog.

  • Abby

    Dr Veith @5 No, I don’t think you are too harsh regarding Doug. He didn’t provide and substantiation for anything he said. He just vilified the whole post. Good luck keeping a tighter ship. I agree with more deleting of comments. I even wish I had that option here to delete mine if I don’t like it after all. And, please, delete any of mine that are wrong too. I think it is important for the good of all. You are the owner. I trust what you know way over anything I know.

  • Abby

    In fact, I really like the “delete/edit” option that pops up after a comment is written over at John the Steadfast. That has helped me a lot. While I’m bringing up options — and this is also over at BJS — when you type in a Bible reference it automatically links to the section of the Bible from a Bible source. Instead of having to type the reference in. If possible.

    More regarding deleting — this is a teaching place. As well as entertaining. Reminds me of an atmosphere like the White Horse Inn. I love to read here.

  • Tom Hering

    More banning? Oh great. Now I can’t say anything. :-D But seriously, Doug earned his ban by being exceedingly nasty – not by general internet standards, but by Cranach standards, and I’m 100% for maintaining them.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com John

    Dr. Veith, I support your ban. I enjoy Cranach precisely because of the civil discourse it affords without having to wade through troll-poop. :-)

  • helen

    Thanks, Dr. Veith,
    BJS may have some helpful software, but I appreciate the level of the conversation here.
    If we want to read “Doug” we can find him (and numerous “relatives”) in the comments directed at anything remotely Christian in the NYT or WashPost.

    [I was amused at Tom Hering's 1st comment @3 and agree with the second one @8.] :)

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Dr. Veith has wielded the mighty ban hammer! :D

    Well done, sir!

  • dust

    It’s a shame in my humble opinion, but it’s your blog and now that you are getting paid you might want a more professional atmosphere, ha!

    But seriously, am amazed why folks don’t just ignore the comments if they don’t like them?

    Or give them another chance to change before you ban them..am assuming for life? oh my!

    of course, they can always just go use a computer with a different address, or use one of those devices to route their internet traffic?

    oops :)

    cheers!

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    Dr. Veith, the only way you can prevent your blog site from becoming a cess pool of inane chatter and unchristian banter, such as on BJS, is to wield the ban hammer, mightily and often.

    : )

  • helen

    [Even BJS has limits, and the Rev. McCain has discovered....] ;)

  • helen

    and == as!

  • Grace

    Tom @ 3

    “Ladies and gentlemen, introducing Grace’s brother – Doug!”

    Even if you meant that as some sort of sarcastic remark, it’s dishonest Tom. I’m surprised and saddened, you have personally referrenced me in such a way.

  • Grace

    There will always be a great number of people who will call Christmas and Resurrection Sunday pagan. The world is full of those who don’t believe in God, and have no interest in studying HIS Word. We can pray for them, perhaps someday, they will believe.

  • Tom Hering

    Grace, my comment @ 3 was a reference to your oft-repeated slander, which is very much like Doug’s slander @ 2, that many of us here follow the traditions of men rather than God and His Word. If it bothers you that I made fun of your slandering, then stop slandering us, please.

  • Grace

    Tom,

    Disagreeing with you is not slander. If you can call what I state, using Scripture, as slander. Then I would say, that just disagreeing with you, or the way you define Scripture is slander.

    Now you’ve chosen to call whatever I write, which does not agree with your belief “slander” – that is not true. It’s simply disagreeing with you. Denominations, or churches disagree all the time, sometimes using Scripture, and sometimes using their leaders beliefs as the STANDARD of their own.

    Slander is defined in this way:
    slander
    1. Law Oral communication of false statements injurious to a person’s reputation.
    2. A false and malicious statement or report about someone.

    It’s a personal attack Tom.

    You and others have made fun of Calvary Chapel, making up names to reword the way Chapel is written, that isn’t right. Neither is claiming CC has endless abuse, which is either sexual, or child abuse, that has not been heard in a court of law, OR, no one has been convicted of such a crime. It’s one thing to state the truth, it’s another to take blog posts from other blogs, and print them here, dragging a Church such as CC in a light which isn’t honest.

  • Grace
  • Tom Hering

    Grace, you haven’t “just” used Scripture to challenge Lutheran doctrine. On many occasions you’ve come right out and accused us of following the doctrines of men rather than Scripture. Even of always following the doctrines of men rather than Scripture. So stop pretending, now, that you’ve never expressed anything but a reasonable disagreement. We all know you better than that.

  • Tom Hering

    Oh, and when have I made fun of Calvary Chapel, or said a word against it? Prove this accusation or apologize.

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    What I discovered is that the moderator of BJS would rather feature comments that gratify his XXXXL size ego and bring contempt on the Gospel. The reason I finally got banned there, something I’m extremely proud of, by the way, (in fact, I had pastors call me and congratulate me), is that I had the audacity to tell the BJS site owner that a pastor who has nearly 85% of his congregation never coming to church on Sunday probably has better things to do with his time than set himself up as the policeman/judge/jury/executioner of all things LCMS.

    But I would not anticipate that you, Helen, would really even bother to try to understand that since you seem to be quite eager to pile on during the BJS gossip fests. But hey, everyone has to have a hobby, I guess.

  • Grace

    Tom,

    I have referred to the “traditions of men” at times. And I believe it’s true. I have never called you names Tom, nor have I compared you to someone, as you have done to me, on this thread.

    Slander is a personal attack, on an individual, within our own sphere, such as this blog, or our church, family, etc.

    This blog makes attacks on doctrine all the time. If it’s in black and white and can be proven, with substantial credentials, then it’s no longer “slander” – One can look at some of the strange cults who have done things, we have all read in the News media, it’s a proven fact as to what they have done.

    Leaders of churches have written articles and books, etc., which shed very serious light on their leadership, especially when it doesn’t align to Scripture.

    Be careful Tom, personal “slander” against another individual isn’t taken lightly.

  • Tom Hering

    I’m sorry for my comment @ 3, because it turned another thread into something that’s all about you, Grace. I’m stopping my end of this little spat right now.

  • Dr Luther in the 21st Century

    This discussion has become about everything, but about Lent and Ash Wednesday. Could we get back to the topic at hand, the historicity of these traditions as a Christian not Pagan practice?

  • Gene Veith

    Guys, don’t pick fights. That’s exactly what I’m tired of. And will strike out. As Dr. Luther reminds us, the topic is LENT.

  • mikeb

    Folks, I am ashamed. How many of you are well read, college educated intellectuals? It’s not slander to write something on a blog, true or false, and never will be. Slander is spoken. Libel is written.

  • helen

    To think it all started out as a humorous (I thought) response to a verbal assault.
    [I haven't been around long enough, obviously!]
    I apologize for mentioning the Rev. McCain. (In fact, I’ll give him up for Lent.) ;)

    Back to Lent: we did not hear about the “modern” version of pagan beliefs at church tonight. [Most of these "Christianity is rehashed paganism" ranters don't know what paganism was either.] We did have some history of the use of ashes and their meaning in the New and Old Testaments.

    Many of the Roman Catholic students were coming out of Mass at the RC student center as I arrived at work this morning, and I met one of them, still marked, when I left this evening. Our Anglican staff used to be identified after attendance at morning service, too. Actually, if I wanted to be obvious (and take off work) I could have gone this morning. I don’t usually, so I didn’t today.
    [Generally speaking, church activities (if any) aren't mentioned much. You can advertise Girl Scout cookies to all the staff, but mentioning a service at your church would only be done for your funeral!] :(

  • mikeb

    Now, to the topic at hand…

    I say so what? What if Lent, Easter, and Christmas really have pagan origins? So what? Did Jesus still die and rise again?

    Doesn’t the Bible have lots of examples of God using inferior means to accomplish great things? Didn’t he use an old man and his aged wife to bring about his covenent people? Didn’t he use a whore to conquer Jerhico? And as I recall he used an unwed pregnant teen to bring Salvation itself. He uses dirty water, stale bread, and cheap wine and makes them perfect in order that we might be made perfect.

    So if He used pagan things for His purposes its not so bad. Jesus said some of his sheep were of another flock, so maybe through the spoken Word faithful pastors have coopted and Christ has made them new again. Would that be so bad?

  • tODD

    The horse of germanity having long ago left the barn, I feel it’s worth pointing out to DLit2C (@26) that you never, never get the conversation back on track by saying, “Hey, guys, you should talk about the original topic!”

    For one thing, such an exhortation is every bit as off-topic as the comments to which it is addressed. And, as such, it fails to move the conversation forward in the suggested fashion.

    If you feel the conversation has gone in a direction you don’t like, and you want to push it in your direction, you don’t chide those who are talking, you add your voice to them, and you say things that are in keeping with what you want to talk about.

    That way, you give people something to respond to. You give people a reason to get back on topic — or, at least, on the topic you wish to pursue.

    And, at the risk of biting the hand that hosts this blog, I’m sorry, Dr. Veith (@27), but you derailed the conversation yourself. If you wanted to keep the discussion here about Lent and pagan myths, then you shouldn’t have (1) announced to Doug that he was banned and, more importantly, (2) then invited conversation on that banning. You could’ve waited a day and made a separate post on it, asking us to comment there. But it’s hardly fair to complain to us that we’ve gone off topic when it was you yourself who took us there.

    Finally, did anyone else enjoy the irony of Paul McCain (@23) being “extremely proud” about being banned from a site run by a man with an “XXXXL size ego”? I mean, I, uh, hear tell that there’s not a little camaraderie among those who have similarly been banned from McCain’s various internet efforts.

  • tODD

    That said, prompted by the (on-topic) comments by MikeB (@30) and Helen (@29) …

    I do think, frankly, it’s weird that we call Easter “Easter”. I mean, it’s what we call it (in English, at least), and, language being what it is, I think it’s reasonable to continue doing so. That it (likely?) has pagan origins no more concerns me than do the obvious pagan origins of the days of the week, or the planets. Again, that’s just what we call them for identification purposes; we’re not saying anything theological in so doing.

    But it’s all the more strange, given that many other languages don’t have the same etymology for their term for Easter. I just don’t get it. And yet, nor can I whole-heartedly endorse “Resurrection Sunday”, which just feels awkward. If we had to change our usage as a body, I’d go with “Pascha”, personally.

    Anyhow, prompted by Doug’s claims, I found this site. Which appears to be somewhat of a kindred spirit to Doug’s comment — if only in content, and not in tone. I have to admit, I’m a bit weak when it comes to knowing my Israelite law, so I can’t immediately tell if that site is ridiculous or not. Some of it seems unsupported (the notion of an “early seder” appears to be derived solely from the desired conclusion). And I’m unsure to what degree this recapitulates the whole Quartodecimanist controversy. Or, really, what that controversy was about.

    I do like the idea, though, of Jesus dying on the same day that the Passover lambs were killed, and being raised on the first day of the feast of firstfruits.

  • dust

    Veith at 27…at the risk of banishment, oh sweet Jesus, say it isn’t so! but, why did it take you so many years to get “tired of” the friction?

    No biggy, but is sounds a bit “corporate” :)

    cheers!

  • SKPeterson

    See if you can guess who I am now.

    If you all weren’t so beholden to the traditions of men, you’d see that the Bible says nothing about celebrating Easter. The Apostles celebrated the LAST SUPPER, that is not a power given to us to do. Insistence upon celebrating the life of Christ is at odds with the festivals and celebrations INSTITUTED BY GOD in the Old Testament.

    “And you shall offer the Passover sacrifice to the Lord your God, from the flock or the herd, lat the place that the Lord will choose, to make his name dwell there.” – Deut. 16:2.

    “Thus he shall make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleannesses of the people of Israel and because of their transgressions, all their sins. And so he shall do for the tent of meeting, which dwells with them in the midst of their uncleannesses.” – Lev. 16:16.

    Pagan festivals were incorporated into the Roman Catholic church to draw attention away for God’s holy plan for his people. These traditions were then brought in wholesale by Martin Luther who did not leave the falsities of Rome behind. Since he hated the Jews, he wanted to eliminate their festivals that were practiced by God’s Chosen People and turn them away from God’s plan for their lives.

    “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” – Jer. 29:11.

  • mikeb

    Poor SK

  • SKPeterson

    Todd @ 32 – The notion of the seder noted on your site is probably not correct, but it does get at something about Jewish law. I believe Werner Elert covered this in his awesome book Eucharist and Church Fellowship in the First Four Centuries, but it may come from someplace else. Anyhow, within Judaism there is also the thank offering, the todah, similar to the seder, but different. In fact, todah means thanksgiving, which in the Greek gets translated as eucharistia. I don’t know about you, but that starts to ring a few bells of familiarity.

    Anyhow, the todah is given a fairly comprehensive overview here: http://catholiceducation.org/articles/apologetics/ap0124.html, but also from what I have read, the celebration of todah meals in the run-up to Pascha (like your rename suggestion, btw) seems to have been something of a norm. Passover celebrates God’s great deliverance for the Jews, so it would seem to make sense that there would be several thank offering meals leading into the thanksgiving remembrance of God’s working in the Passover. So, again, we see clear Jewish precedents for much of what transpires in our churches in celebration of feasts, holy days, and liturgy; not a complete dependence, but a significant reliance on the OT precedents for the form of worship (with much of our liturgy being from Revelation), the prayers, etc. This is stuff I find fascinatng, so I’m always intrigued by the Doug’s of the world who see in any fixed celebration or notion of a liturgical year, something unChristian and pagan.

  • Abby

    I get excited about Lent and Holy Week (the most important week in the history of the world). Which is why, on a regular basis, I attend a Bible study led by a man steeped in Old Testament and Jewish thinking. He lived in Israel for several years and takes groups back yearly. I might label them Christian “Messianics.”

    A few weeks ago we got to Genesis 15 and 16. This verse stumped everyone including the teacher — who has countless Jewish reference books, speaks Hebrew, and has friends who are Rabbi’s for questions. And that is: Genesis 15:17 http://www.esvbible.org/search/Genesis+15%3A17/

    Tim Keller, I think, actually explained that verse. (You would have to hear the whole context.) He is not Lutheran (but he used to be one — might in his heart still secretly be one! — he’s Presbyterian). But this sermon is so excellent on the Covenants. I may be wrong, but I think he described Law and Gospel wonderfully. And included the covenant of marriage, both between man and woman, and Christ and the Church.

    It so Lenten (to me) that I felt impelled to share it: http://sermons2.redeemer.com/sermons/covenant-relationship I wonder why we Lutherans don’t ever express it this way? (I hope it is not because it is deemed wrong somehow.)

    It seemed to me that it could also fit the discussion on the other thread regarding marriage and divorce. Since he relates dynamics in marriage to the Old and New Covenants as well. I hope some of you might enjoy this. It is rich.

  • Abby

    Forgot to add that I asked a Baptist friend of mine if “they” observe Lent (because I was going to church last night for Ash Wednesday). She said, ‘no.’ I can hardly comprehend being in a church that does not celebrate liturgical seasons. Another reason I am a Lutheran from “before I was born.” :)

  • mikeb

    Abby – my grandpa’s Baptist church had an Advent wreath last time I visited. They viewed it as the build up to Christmas, perhaps a bit differently than our time to contemplative season. Nonetheless I was shocked. But I think Lent might be a bridge too far.

  • tODD

    For what it’s worth, I think Lent is actually catching on among Evangelicals — to some degree, among some of them, at least. Mainly, I’ve seen this among my Baptist relatives, one of whom I know is giving up something for Lent (though, to her credit, she didn’t really try to advertise it). Which, you know, is not the most liturgical way of observing Lent.

    I think they just mainly appreciate the lead-up/anticipation value of Lent (and Advent) — you know, pre-Easter and pre-Christmas — even if they don’t get the full impact of the liturgical season. But I’ve never once heard them discuss Epiphany or End Times (which is a pity, because I’ve always thought the juxtaposition of End Times to Advent was genius).

  • Abby

    Keller doesn’t bring in the Sacraments here, which he could have as well (maybe for time’s sake — but I do know we depart from him on his “representational” beliefs regarding those). My brother is married to a woman who is Pentecostal. They only receive Holy Communion once per year (New Year’s Eve)! I can’t comprehend that either. (As well as, you have to be rebaptized as an adult.) I love being Lutheran.

  • Abby

    Todd @40 Speaking of “catching on with Evangelicals” : ” Lutheran congregations ditching their confession/absolution are doing so just while a lot of Evangelicals are viewing it now as a “best practice.” (My pastor last Sunday said he spoke recently to a large group of Evangelicals and he used “confession/absolution” with them. They expressed that they were very appreciative because in their usual setting they are always told that they are “good.” (How could anyone swallow that?) They really appreciated being introduced to this unknown thing of actually confessing sin and being pronounced forgiven by God through the pastor. Some “Lutheran” churches are absolutely unrecognizable anymore. And they’re throwing out the most important pieces. I predict they will not last long. Like Robert Schuller’s church which now belongs to the Roman Catholics! http://cyberbrethren.com/2013/02/14/the-proglem-with-the-hot-new-thing/

    It seems like, as they say, Lutherans are always 20 (or 40?) years behind the times!

  • http://deepeningwaters.com JD Loofbourrow

    With regard to the term “Easter,” I grew up hearing many of my elders say that this was a word that was derived from the name of the pagan goddess “Eostre” and that it should not be used. Instead we should all say “Resurrection Sunday.” which is fine but I feel, like tODD, that this term just sounds weird; aesthetically its kind of awkward to me. Later on I did a study on various holidays and their origins and found a few sources (which I don’t have now) that said the term “Easter” comes not from Eostre but from an old Germanic word that referred to the sun rising in the east. Some of what I have found on line more recently suggests that both are true and that Eostre got her name from the sunrise.

    Whatever the case, I agree with mike b @ 30, though I actually would be very happy to learn that Christian holidays have nothing to do with pagan holidays. I am not sure why it matters to me but I am very happy about Abrahamson’s research.

    As for the banning issue: The old proverb says “discretion makes a man slow to anger and it is to his glory to overlook a matter.” The sudden banning of Doug (at least it seemed sudden to me since I haven’t seen him here before) was surprising to me. Certainly he deserved it, no question, but, good as it was, I think a warning or maybe even two (depending on the situation) would be a better kindness. Of course that may be the policy already and I just missed the previous warnings. I agree, though, that bans will certainly be necessary to retain the quality of discussion.

  • Grace

    Abby @ 42 “” Lutheran congregations ditching their confession/absolution are doing so just while a lot of Evangelicals are viewing it now as a “best practice.” (My pastor last Sunday said he spoke recently to a large group of Evangelicals and he used “confession/absolution” with them. They expressed that they were very appreciative because in their usual setting they are always told that they are “good.”

    Abby, who are the so called “Evangelicals” who are now viewing “confession/absolution” as a good thing? Do you have a list, of which your pastor was referring to? Did he name the groups/denominations?

    Regarding “Robert Schuller’s church which now belongs to the Roman Catholics!

    It’s isn’t a matter of “belonging” per se. RCC bought it. The Crystal Cathedral/Schuller’s doctrine, (if you can call it that) was not accepted among MOST of the denominations and groups here in California.

  • mikeb

    My grandparents had the great privilege of hosting a foreign exchange student who was Eastern Orthodox. I found the nearest parish and we all attended their Paschal Vigil, conveniently schedule one week after ‘our’ Easter due to the calendar disagreement that we won’t get into. (What a beautiful service, though I prefer English and being a participant and not an observer.) I noted that they never referred to the Holy Day as Easter, even in conversation. I kind of like the term ‘Holy Pascha’ but I think this is a secondary issue. Do any of our pastors know what term the ancient liturgical calendar used?

  • Grace

    JD @ 43 YOU WROTE: “Instead we should all say “Resurrection Sunday.” which is fine but I feel, like tODD, that this term just sounds weird; aesthetically its kind of awkward to me.”

    The day Christ Jesus arose was HIS “Resurrection” – the term “Resurrection Sunday” fits the day we set aside very well.

    As for “pagans” – they know very well they are just making noise when they shout about Christian obervances as “pagan” – they do the same thing with a Christmas tree.

    One of the Scriptures which is used to argue against tree’s is:

    1 Hear ye the word which the LORD speaketh unto you, O house of Israel:

    2 Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.

    3 For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.

    4 They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.
    Jeremiah 10

    The Christmas tree didn’t exist at the time of Jeremiah’s writing. What Jeremiah was talking about in this passage is idolatry. He was condemning them of making idols – cutting down a tree, then shaping it into an image, decking it with silver and gold. then it became their god. When we are through with our Christmas tree’s we either throw them in the trash, (if they are real) or we store them in the box they came in for next Christmas.

    The problem with Christmas begins when we think only of what we want, how much we can have, that is the danger – not worshiping the the LORD and realizing why we celebrate Christmas. Many also make the claim we don’t know the date of Christ’s birth, which is true, but that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate our Savior’s birth. Another claim that’s made is; the Bible doesn’t direct us to celebrate Christ’s birth – that’s true, but the Bible doesn’t tell us we CANNOT celebrate Christ’s birth.

  • Abby

    mikeb@45 Was the service from midnight to 3am including breakfast? I also have gone to several of those. I like as well, the Wednesday service during Holy Week (Holy Oil) and their Good Friday service — which is generally packed with people. I mentioned to an Orthodox priest recently that I was surprised how many regulars didn’t attend the “Vigil.” He said they had a couple of other service times as well. I teased him, ‘Don’t they know that is the most important day in all of history?!” He laughed.

  • mikeb

    Abby – I think it was 9ish until midnight on Saturday night at this parish. Gradually, before 12am all of the candles were extinguished except for those on a special cross/staff/processional-candle-thingie (that’s the technical term!) and the entire company marched around the outside of the church three times following the priest. When we reentered the sanctuary it was Easter, err Holy Pascha, all of the candles had been re-lit and the singing (in Greek) took a decidedly happy tone.

  • Abby

    This sounded like Lent to me: “It happened when we were baptized: we died with Christ and were raised to life. It happens over and over again when we confess sin and hear the Word of forgiveness: we are raised to life again with Christ. It is simply a repetition of what God did when we were baptized.” Herbert Mueller, LCMS First Vice President

    http://wmltblog.org/2013/01/a-matter-of-death-and-life/

  • SKPeterson

    Pascha was a very commonly used word. I assume that after Christianity moved north out of the Mediterranean and into Germanic lands that Easter may have had more common linguistic currency. Anyhow, we still see remnants of the Pascha in the language of the Paschal Lamb and Paschal Feast. Lutherans also used to celebrate Vigil, but maybe that was lost in the Great Americanization where it was deemed “too Catholic.”

  • Tom

    I think that there is overwhelming evidence that these are pagan at the roots. And to say that atheiest conjur up this is not an intellectual counter. Following these holidays doesnt make you more holy, especially when you use the terms the holiday brings you closer to god. If you need pagan holidays to bring you closer to the creator than he isnt near you. If you had an old girlfriend before you were maried and you two picked a date for mariage than later maried your bride on the same day you planed to mary your old girlfriend how would she feel? If your heart belongs to Him there is no room for another. Constatine was a pagan worshiper a politian like Clinton or Bush holding a bible.Reason for yourself and the Creator you have been lied to all your life worship Him in spirit and truth.And for the Israel gods choosen crowd I know those who call themselves jews who are not–The priest hood of Israel is over and done with Israel is antichrist they dont believe in the savior and mock him to this day. Lies Lies Lies


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