The Origins of Easter

TimeWatch Editorial
April 16, 2017

According to the Free Encyclopedia, The Restored Church of God (RCG) is one of the many churches to form following major doctrinal changes in the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) which was founded by Herbert W. Armstrong . The Restored Church of God claims to retain the tenets, style, and structure of the earlier Worldwide Church of God before Armstrong's death in 1986. It is one of the Seventh Day Sabbath Churches of God that emerged following the Worldwide Church of God ’s major schism in 1995. The Restored Church of God then was formed in May 1999, in the midst of ongoing upheaval in the wake of a departure from WCG's established beliefs. It is based in Wadsworth, Ohio.

But who is David C. Pack? According to the Restored Church of God website, RCG's founder and leader is David C. Pack (born 1948). As Pastor General of the Restored Church of God, David C. Pack oversees the operations of the church. He attended Ambassador College and entered WCG's ministry in 1971. Following the 1995 schism in WCG, Pack became a minister in the Global Church of God, but was fired on May 3, 1999, and established his own church. Since then, he has established over 50 congregations, authored more than 20 books, written hundreds of booklets and articles. One of those articles is entitled “The True Origin of Easter.” Here is how David C. Pack opens the article.

“Easter is a worldwide tradition involving many customs that people believe to be Christian. What is the origin of Lent and sunrise services? How did rabbits, eggs and hot cross buns become associated with Christ’s Resurrection? Is Easter mentioned in the Bible? Did the apostles and early Church keep it? The answers will shock you!” David C. Pack, “The True Origin of Easter,” The Restored Church of God website

The first thing that David Pack does is ask a very important question. Here is his question; “The Bible is the source for all things Christian. Does it mention Easter?”  Then he answers the questions: “Yes.” He then quotes the text in the Bible that mentions the term “Easter.”

Notice Acts 12:1. King Herod began to persecute the Church, culminating in the brutal death of the apostle James by sword. This pleased the Jews so much that the apostle Peter was also taken prisoner by Herod. The plan was to later deliver him to the Jews. Now read verse 4: “And when he [Herod] had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions [sixteen] of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.” David C. Pack, “The True Origin of Easter,” The Restored Church of God website

There are many who have used this text to justify the recognition of this “holiday.”  David Pack however explains the real problem this way.

“This passage is not talking about Easter. How do we know? The word translated Easter is the Greek word pascha (derived from the Hebrew word pesach; there is no original Greek word for Passover), and it has only one meaning. It always means Passover—it can never mean Easter! For this reason, we find a Hebrew word used in the Greek New Testament. Once again, this Hebrew word can only refer to Passover. And other translations, including the Revised Standard Version, correctly render this word Passover. Instead of endorsing Easter, this verse really proves that the Church was still observing the supposedly Jewish Passover ten years after the death of Christ!” David C. Pack, “The True Origin of Easter,” The Restored Church of God website

David Pack continues to clarify the inaccuracy of interpreting the Greek word pascha as “Easter.”

“Now let’s go to the other scriptures authorizing Easter. This presents a problem. There are NONE! There are absolutely no verses, anywhere in the Bible, that authorize or endorse the keeping of Easter celebration! The Bible says nothing about Lent, eggs and egg hunts, baskets of candy, etc., although it does mention hot cross buns and sunrise services as abominations, which God condemns.” David C. Pack, “The True Origin of Easter,” The Restored Church of God website

The beginning of the United States was accomplished without the celebration of Easter. The desires of the Pilgrims were clearly defined. Their hearts were filled with a desire to avoid at all costs the errors that had found their way into the worship of many.

“When the Puritans came to North America, they regarded the celebration of Easter—and the celebration of Christmas—with suspicion. They knew that pagans had celebrated the return of spring long before Christians celebrated Easter…for the first two hundred years of European life in North America, only a few states, mostly in the South, paid much attention to Easter.” Not until after the Civil War did Americans begin celebrating this holiday: “Easter first became an American tradition in the 1870s” (p. 5). Remarkable! The original 13 colonies of America began as a “Christian” nation, with the cry of “No king but King Jesus!” The nation did not observe Easter within an entire century of its founding. What happened to change this?” David C. Pack, “The True Origin of Easter,” The Restored Church of God website

Mr. Pack then asks the question. Where did Easter come from? His answer to that question regarding the origin of Easter is quite detailed.

“This is a description of an ancient Babylonian family—2,000 years before Christ—honoring the resurrection of their god, Tammuz, who was brought back from the underworld by his mother/wife, Ishtar (after whom the festival was named). As Ishtar was actually pronounced “Easter” in most Semitic dialects, it could be said that the event portrayed here is, in a sense, Easter. Of course, the occasion could easily have been a Phrygian family honoring Attis and Cybele, or perhaps a Phoenician family worshipping Adonis and Astarte. Also fitting the description well would be a heretic Israelite family honoring the Canaanite Baal and Ashtoreth. Or this depiction could just as easily represent any number of other immoral, pagan fertility celebrations of death and resurrection—including the modern Easter celebration as it has come to us through the Anglo-Saxon fertility rites of the goddess Eostre or Ostara. These are all the same festivals, separated only by time and culture.” David C. Pack, “The True Origin of Easter,” The Restored Church of God website

There are still those who insist that Easter is associated with the resurrection of Christ. However as David C. Pack states in his article, a fact that has been substantiated by historical record, “The vast majority of ecclesiastical and secular historians agree that the name of Easter and the traditions surrounding it are deeply rooted in pagan religion.”

Cameron A. Bowen

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