Is the Southern District of the LCMS falling for Pagan Lies? Let’s hope not. They should read BJS more.

Circuit 1 of the Southern District has submitted an overture to its district to discontinue the use of “Easter” from the LCMS.  You can find it on page 8 here.

This is when we would suggest here at BJS that the district consider reading the “Redeeming Holy Days from Pagan Lies” series which has become one of the best series we have ever published here at BJS.  Pastor Joseph Abrahamson’s knowledge and hard work in producing these should be spread far and wide.

Here a link to the series.

You can find there many of these pagan (and all too often their deceived Christian friends) lies confronted and shown the truth regarding the holy days of the Church and their origins.


About Pastor Joshua Scheer

Pastor Joshua Scheer is the Senior Pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He is also the Editor-in-chief of Brothers of John the Steadfast. He oversees all of the work done by Steadfast Lutherans. He is a regular host of Concord Matters on KFUO. Pastor Scheer and his lovely wife Holly (who writes and manages the Katie Luther Sisters) have four children and enjoy living in Wyoming.


Is the Southern District of the LCMS falling for Pagan Lies? Let’s hope not. They should read BJS more. — 32 Comments

  1. Dear BJS,
    I read the overture, and it does make sense; I think written by some conservative men. But yes, I do understand dropping Easter, or Christmas, etc. would be tough.

    We cannot help what culture has done to what we once considered “duh”, but we simply can remind all, “Easter, The Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ”. At least that is what I had on the bulletin cover.

  2. Pr. Abrahamson’s articles on the topic are indeed very excellent. Hopefully, they will be seen and the language of the overture taken into consideration.

    Yet, I also think the overture makes valid point. I don’t find saying things like Happy Easter to be of much help in our culture. People do often think of bunnies, eggs, candy, baskets, etc. But saying Happy Resurrection Day makes a powerful statement about what we as Christians believe, teach, and confess regarding the death and resurrection of Christ. Alleluia, Christ is risen!

  3. @T-rav #2

    Dear T Rav,
    Makes sense what you say. Using the logic of what our Church Fathers did replacing pagan holidays with Christian celebrations, time for our replacement names?

    Christmas – Birth of our Lord Jesus Christ
    Easter – Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ
    Ascension – OK, that stays the same, “Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ” (OK, but how many celebrate it this Thursday? I will!)

    But I am used to the names, change it when I am gone.

  4. Pr. Prentice,

    I hear you when it comes to being used to these names. I try to say Resurrection Day more often, but do find myself saying Easter, too.

    I’m not necessarily saying the name “Easter” should be officially changed, but I really do see a challenge in calling Christ’s Resurrection “Easter.”

    Christmas at least has the name of “Christ” in it and many places in society balk at the name “Christmas” preferring to celebrate a Winter Festival or something else.

  5. Renaming Easter is sectarian. I’m surprised their District President allowed that in the workbook.

  6. @Tim Schenks #5

    I don’t think they’re suggesting renaming Easter. It’s not like they’re coming up with a whole new name. That would indeed be sectarian. That day has at least a few names, Easter being one of them. I can also think of Resurrection Day and Pascha. They’re suggesting the discontinuation of the term Easter.

  7. WHEREAS, there is no true theological or biblical reference connected to the term, “Easter,” and the history of the word “Easter” has its roots as a derivative of Ishtar or Astarte, the name of a pagan goddess of fertility celebrated during the Spring Solstice

    The overture is merely objecting to the word “Easter”.  Is the origin mentioned above a pagan lie?  I couldn’t find a reference to the word in Pr Abrahamson’s articles, but I probably missed it.  Please provide a more specific link.

  8. Changing names and definitions is what liberal theologians do. We don’t do that.

  9. @Tim Schenks #10

    Nobody has suggested this by any means. No name change, no new name, and certainly no definition is being changed. The overture suggests discontinuing one of the names that are used for that particular season and day on the church calendar.

  10. @Tim Schenks #10

    @Tim Schenks #5

    Amen! We are the “one holy catholic and apostolic church,” not “me -n- my Bible restorationists.”

    Easter Blessings+,
    -Matt Mills
    “When it is not necessary to change, it is necessary not to change.” -Lucius Cary, Viscount Falkland

  11. I’ve noticed the last several years in the mailed flyers I get from the non-demonational family centers that they no longer refer to Easter as Easter — they use the phrase this group is promoting.

    I’m all for celebrating Easter 52 times a year — every Sunday.

  12. @Matt Mills #12

    Then you guys will have to help me understand. This comes from one of pastor Abrahamson’s articles:

    “While most languages adapt the word פסח Pesach “Passover” as the term for Easter/Passover, German and English adopted the local month name.”

    English speakers very easily could have called it Pascha, which is Greek for Passover, to stay connected to the rest of the one, holy, and apostolic church. But they didn’t.

    So my confusion is that if this is the argument against dropping the term Easter, how aren’t we already sectarian from the word go since English speakers changed it in the beginning? Also what’s sectarian about saying Resurrection Day? Are we observing something else?

    Again, I’m not necessarily saying we should discontinue the name Easter. But it’s not without problems. As a child, when I heard Easter my first thought was Easter bunnies and eggs. I’m afraid this is the thought today, even for many adults in the church. I think this is a valid argument and maybe should be studied. I also see where it’s problematic to discontinue words merely because people misunderstand them. Should we then discontinue justification and other big theological terms?

    Pr. Scheer points out the problem of buying into the pagan lies. I also disagree with the idea that just because it’s not in the bible we shouldn’t use it.

  13. @T-rav #14

    Whenever breathing deeply into a paper bag for a few minutes, and unplugging/throwing away the TV would solve the “problem” as well as changing the established practice of centuries, I suggest the former.

    Easter Blessings+,
    -Matt Mills

  14. @John Marquardt #13

    We ought to be careful though. We don’t want to fall on the other side of the that’s too Catholic ditch. Just because non-denoms do something doesn’t make it right or wrong.

    Amen! I love that proper preface in the DS that says, “who on this day overcame death and the grave.”

  15. @Matt Mills #15

    I still do not understand how it is sectarian to drop a word that could be called sectarian to begin with. I very much hope nobody really gets criticized and called sectarian or liberal for saying Resurrection Day. That is after all what the day and season is about.

    Ok, I think I have nothing more to add, and I think I’ve caused the thread to drift from its original purpose regarding holy days and pagan lies.

  16. I have a better idea.

    Instead of trying to rename Easter, how about reminding congregations what Easter really is?

  17. “WHEREAS, the term “Easter” in Old English usually Ēastrun, -on, or -an; also Ēastru, -o; and Ēostre), also called Pasch (derived, through Latin: Pascha and Greek Πάσχα Paskha, from Aramaic: אחספ, cognate to Hebrew: פ ַסחֶּ Pesaḥ),[or Resurrection Sunday; and (ref:”

    Did they seriously use Wikipedia for a language reference? Right after that they commit a “No True Scotsman” fallacy.

    I’m having a hard time controlling my laughter.

  18. Quoth the Resolution:

    “RESOLVED, THAT the LCMS Committee on Worship and the CTCR, officially declare and establish Easter Sunday as Resurrection Sunday, and the remaining Sundays prior to Ascension be titled Sundays after the Resurrection, thus removing the titles Easter Sunday, and Sundays after Easter until Ascension and Pentecost Celebration.” (emphasis added)

    In our reckoning of the church year, we do not relegate “Easter” to one particular Sunday. We are currently in the midst of the Season of Easter, which began on the Day of the Resurrecion of Our Lord. The Sundays therein are not designated “Sundays after Easter” but rather “Sundays OF Easter.” The world doesn’t celebrate this season, but we do. The bunnies and eggs and candy don’t last, but we keep our Paschal candle lit until the Ascension and our white paraments until Pentecost. This stuff means something, as I try to teach to my Sunday school children.

    Some don’t see it that way. Some also don’t see any problem with removing the term “Lutheran” from their church names and web sites. Coincidence? As Descartes said just before he disappeared, “I think not.”

    Tom W.

  19. @T-rav #17
    It’s sectarian to divide ourselves from our own history. It’s sectarian to be unnecessarily “different” from the rest of the body of Christ.

    Look, if by some infernal juggle the Southern District actually pulled this off, (rather than just looking like pietistic “doofi”) faithful Christian parents would still be hiding candy for their kids. Perhaps they’d even start talking about the “Resurrection Bunny.” In a few generations we’d be right back where we started; what’s next? Cross through “Resurrection Sunday” and replace it w/ “Absolutely no bunnies actual physical resurrection (of Jesus) Sunday”?

    Again, breathe slowly into a paper bag for a few minutes. This is a non-issue, and it makes us look like cranks to give it any credence.

    Pax Christi+,
    -Matt Mills

  20. Why just Easter? Why not ditch using Christmas also? Isn’t Christmas tainted by Santa and consumerism and secular moralizing?

  21. @Rev_aggie #23

    Exactly what I was thinking. The argument sounds familiar… Oh yeah, that’s the “problem” with Christmas.

    #15 sounds appropriate.

  22. I have taught exactly the opposite of what Pr.Abrahamson historically demonstrates is incorrect, from original sources that “Easter” is not specifically derived from pagan religion:

    “The word Easter comes either from the old Anglo-Saxon word meaning “to shine”-possibly to describe the months of the year when the sun began to get brighter and higher during the day. Or it may come from the word “to baptize” indicating the Baptisms which took place on Easter. In 1525 William Tyndale used the Middle-English word “ester” = “Easter” as a translation for Passover and the day of Christ’s Resurrection. The word had already been long used and understood as referring to the day of Christ’s Resurrection when Tyndale made his translation.”

    Never again will I so teach and correct what I have taught. This is just the 1st reason for not dropping the word “Easter” and I think there are others as indicated in your responses above, hopefully summing up your insights:

    2nd reason: Substituting “Resurrection Sunday” has the danger of avoiding the specificity of the bodily resurrection of our Lord. Yes, as a child, I thought of my Easter basket (in particular!) but I also thought of the smell of lilies and the sheer joy of the congregation celebrating our risen Lord. Easter is about Jesus coming out of the tomb. Calling Easter “Resurrection Sunday” could easily denigrate into positive thinking enthusiasm that we all need a resurrection, God gives us a resurrection, etc. Joel Osteen could preach that! Further Resurrection Day and the use of that term is probably better to describe the third article of Creed, that is “the resurrection of the body”, or as it is discussion, the general resurrection.

    3. Yes, I just wrote, I thought of Easter basket with the word “Easter” but I also thought of “what am I getting for Christmas” when I thought of Christmas! And Santa Claus, the Christmas tree, etc. Lots of children think about all that regarding Easter and Christmas. Does that mean the word “Christmas” is bad? I do not think so. It means Christ Mass and the problem is taking the Mass out of Christmas. Is the word “Halloween” bad? No. Properly taught it means All Hallows (Saints) Eve. My children called Halloween, Christmas and Easter the “sugar holidays”. Oh, that’s bad! Yes…no. Sugar is sweet so are the Saints, the Birth of our Savior and His resurrection! Right away the impulse is to legislate and not to educate. I get tired of the LCMS and the making of new canon laws. BTW: The ELCA changed by legislation and not education. Have the names of these holy days been abused by pagans…and Christians? Yes. But what Luther had to say about Holy Baptism, specifically baptism of infants, may also apply here:

    “For if it were not right and true in itself, it could not be misused nor sinned against. The saying is: Abusus non tollit, sed confirmat substantiam, Abuse does not destroy the essence, but confirms it. For gold is not the less gold though a harlot wear it in sin and shame.”

    4. Summarily changing even a word in the Church is the germ for confusion. Does such a change promote sound doctrine and good practice? I think it could be the opposite effect. And for those going to the Southern District convention, entertaining this, I can imagine someone just rolling his eyes, Oh, what are up to now? Don’t we have better things to do? If we are confused by the constantly “new and improved” Church, the worldy and confused won’t be helped.

    5. Pr. Abrahamson’s careful reading and reporting of historical sources also points out something else, like the old saying, “Do something twice in a congregation and it’s a tradition”, even worse: truth, as he has taught in his BJS articles. And then pastors and laymen uncritically teaching scholarship that is incorrect. Paganism itself is in the “air” ever since the Englightenment and the devil, the “father of lies”, will subtley insinuate falsehoods to the Church. Right after 9/11, my brother-in-law sent out a photo showing someone on top of the World Trade Center, with one of the jets coming at him. It took me a minute to figure out that was impossible and my brother-in-law was only falsely aggravating a horrible situation. Not good. Using the word Easter is not false doctrine but using untested scholarship is, the wrong picture. Maybe in so much talk, especially on the internet, the old WWII saying is right on target: “Loose lips, sink ships”.

    Peace in Christ our Lord,
    Pr. Schroeder

  23. Ok. I’ve spent some time breathing into a paper bag, so here goes…

    For those who seemingly cannot be bothered to read Rev. Abrahamson’s very clear and comprehensive articles, please let me summarize some salient points.

    First—and I know this may be hard to believe—but contrary to Wikipedia, THERE IS NO CONNECTION BETWEEN THE HIGH HOLY CHRISTIAN HOLIDAY OF EASTER AND ANY GODDESS NAMED “EOSTRA”, or whatever. In fact, the ACTUAL evidence indicates that such a goddess never actually existed.

    To point; the first historical mention of said “goddess” comes from the Venerable Bede in the 8th Century. (I am going from memory on dates. Please provide correction as needed.) Bede was providing a name-list of the “English” months of his day and their meanings. All but two of the months were clearly named for what was done in them. Like “Blood-Month” was the month in which the butchering was done. Again, going on memory here, but you get the drift. All months were named for an important event that occurred in them! Except two. One of these months was the month in which Easter normally fell and also bore that name. (Catch that?)

    Not knowing the origin of the names of these two months, Bede SPECULATED that they were the names of forgotten pagan goddesses. This is the FIRST appearance of the “name” of the “goddess” “Eostra”. (Hint; whenever a historian begins an assertion with, “It must be that…”, he’s blowin’ smoke ‘cause he ain’t got nothin’.)

    One-thousand years later (please let that sink in), based solely on Bede’s single speculation, one of the Grimm brothers INVENTED FROM WHOLE-CLOTH THE HISTORY AND EXISTENCE OF EOSTRA AND HER SUPPOSED DESCENT FROM THE NEAR EASTERN ISHTA OR ASHTORETH. Please let me restate that: Outside of Bede’s speculation and Grimm’s invention there is no evidence that such a goddess ever existed, much less was descended from some ancient Near/Middle-Eastern deities. And Grimm’s writing remains the authority on the subject.

    As for the origin of the term “Easter” among Germanic-speaking peoples, Rev. Abrahamson presents a well-argued case that the word is very similar to the Old-English word for “washing” (and Old-English and Old-German are closer than kissing-cousins). Like much of the ancient Church, the “English” largely reserved Baptisms (check the root meaning of that word (but don’t use Wikipedia!)) for what the rest of the non-Germanic Church called “Pascha”, making it a time of the year of great “washings”. Thus, based on the evidence, the reasonable conclusion would be that, like the other months, “Easter-month” was named for a significant annual event that normally occurred that month—in this case, Baptism, or “washing”. Or, we could just make something up.

    So, it turns out that Easter was not named after some goddess named “Eoster” (or whatever). Rather, the Old-English month “Eoster” was named after… Easter! And the “goddess” turns out to be a very late pagan invention being used to attempt to replace the historic Christian high-feast of Easter.

    This is all part of the unfounded belief that the Church replaced pagan festivals with Christian festivals, which is simply popular malarkey. And it is a false belief which any reading of Rev. Abrahamson’s writings should be sufficient to dispel.

    “Popular malarkey” of course brings us back around to Wikipedia. Here is an interesting article from The Federalist as to why there is no evidence that Neil Tyson makes stuff up that shows just how Wikipedia “works”: Wikipedia is simply the self-justification of the culture’s current narrative.

    The mere existence of this overture should be troubling to everyone who considers the Biblical narrative more compelling than the cultural narrative.

    soli Deo gloria,

  24. Using the same logic, we should also eliminate use of the term “Trinity,” because it’s not in the Bible either, and is reportedly derived from pagan influences.

  25. I wouldn’t get too worked up over this one, guys. It’ll never pass.

    True. However, the fact that we would even consider allowing the world to determine what to exclude from our ecclesiastical vocabulary ought to be cause for concern. Hell, before you know it we’ll be seeking the world’s advice on how to worship.

    Oh, wait.

    Tom W.

  26. @DCO Tom #29

    Indeed. What struck me most about this, is that it came as a voice from an entire district… which leads me to believe that there aren’t enough well formed pastors and laity, let alone a district president, in the Southern District to guide the delegates to more wholesome resolutions. It is simply more evidence that we have entire districts of this Synod that are out in la-la-land.

    As my college age daughter replied when I mentioned this situation in passing to her: she made a diving motion with her hand and asked me if I knew what that was. She said, “My faith in humanity.” If even the Church has lost it’s mind, together with the capacity for rational thought, what hope does the world have at large?

    Your hashtag is more apropos than I originally thought.

  27. Okay, we need a little perspective. In my district, I am on my third cycle on the resolutions committee, and have attended the last synodical convention, noticing how they did things there.

    First off, this is an overture. I would be upset with Circuit 1 for submitting this. It has ‘liberal’ fingerprints in wanting to change the name, but also touches of extreme ‘right wing’ for having touches of bemoaning the secularization of the word Easter. Either way, I find it sectarian. And to quote my left-of-center colleagues in my area, “this is a waste of time, a distraction from Kingdom work.”

    Second, it is a submission, and does need to be recorded and dealt with. I complain with others about secrecy, whether CRM guys (why are they there?) and the DRP for starters. Don’t bury this under the rug. It is out there, so follow the rules and deal with it openly.

    Third, it is not a resolution. I would hope that the Southern Resolutions Committee will have smarter, cooler, more experienced heads in processing all the overtures. My committee has something similar, in an overture that seemed boneheaded. What we are doing in dropping it in an Omnibus. I would suggest Southern do the same: formally reject it. By passing the Omnibus, the district convention can say ” we are not going to do this” for whatever stated reason. (should be synod, not something the district can do,… too bad they couldn’t just say this is a stupid idea…) Heck, sometimes (like at synod) you just run out of time, and it never makes the floor, dying like a pocket veto at the district convention.

    In a way I am glad that it is public, so we can publicly take a stand. This is what we believe teach and confess. This is what we reject and condemn. I hope some good can come out of this. And pray that Pres. Harrison’s Koinania and visitation can start to work properly. This overture hints at our lack of concordia, understanding of Church and Office, and general poor catechesis.

  28. Second, it is a submission, and does need to be recorded and dealt with. I complain with others about secrecy, whether CRM guys (why are they there?) and the DRP for starters. Don’t bury this under the rug. It is out there, so follow the rules and deal with it openly.


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