Many of us have read articles or seen memes floating around the internet that attempt to tie the celebration of Christ’s resurrection to some form of paganism. It seems to me that these rumors are perpetuated by a lack of knowledge regarding ancient Christianity, history, linguistics, and paganism.
THE ORIGIN OF THE NAMES
First of all, according to all ancient accounts of which I’m aware, Jesus Christ was crucified during the time of the Jewish Passover, which in Hebrew is called Pesach, and in Aramaic Pascha. The timing of the Jewish festival is tied to the cycle of the moon, but always lands somewhere in the spring. Christians from the most ancient times have seen Jesus’ death and resurrection as the fulfillment of the Passover holiday and have therefore kept the transliterated name for Passover, which is usually a derivative of the word “Pascha.” Continue reading Is Easter (Pascha) a Pagan Holiday?
JESUS IS THE GREAT I AM
When arguing with the Pharisees one day, we read in John 8:56 Jesus claimed,
Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.
For fairly good reasons, the Jews scratched their heads, a bit perplexed. Here was a fairly young man, roughly 30 years old, claiming to have known Abraham. So, not knowing his exact age they argue, You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?
Jesus said to them,
Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.
Continue reading Assaulting God, Part 3
I don’t normally write about the saints whose feast day we celebrate because there are many other better sources for that information such as The Prologue of Ohrid, the OCA’s website for Saint of the Day, and the humorous Onion Dome.
However, I have a particular admiration for St Clement of Rome (martyred in the year 99 or 101) because his writings helped guide me into Orthodoxy. I had heard several discussions over the past few years about the Great Apostasy, which in a nutshell says that after the time of the apostles the Christian Church quickly – or gradually, depending on the particular theory one buys into – fell into paganism and the Christian faith was not properly practiced or believed again until the Protestant Reformation.
Christianity: An insignificant sect or something more?
That idea bothered me because it meant that Christianity was nothing but a sect of Judaism that quickly died off and stayed lifeless for some 1400 years. The Reformers were doing nothing except trying to revive some long-dead cult of Judaism (doesn’t say much good about Jesus or his disciples). Continue reading St Clement of Rome
The God of the Living
I can think of no easy or short way to explain to a Christian culture, one that has been quite heavily influenced by secularization, the reasons why Orthodox Christians petition the saints for prayer. It is a great hurdle even for those who are interested in Orthodoxy. I know it shocked me when, at a Divine Liturgy, the priest asking Mary to intercede for us. I believe our trouble with this concept stems from a lack of understanding of what the Church is, what prayer is, and where God is. Continue reading Praying with the Saints
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9
Revolutions and Apostasies
As discussed in my previous post, for every revolution or reformation in the church, there is a counter-reformation. For the past five hundred years, thousands of groups have popped up exclaiming, “Aha! We finally got it! This is the New Testament Church!” Of course all of that begs the question: why should I believe that you are the one who finally got it right? Isn’t there a bit of arrogance in that assumption? Continue reading Scripture, Authority, and Tradition Part 8