Should Christians Celebrate Easter?

Perhaps the question itself strikes you as bizarre, odd, or novel. Why would this question be raised? What could be wrong with celebrating the resurrection of Christ? If you’ve run in Reformed circles for any length of time, you’ve probably heard these arguments repeated every year. Hopefully you have given them consideration, and hold your convictions based upon a study of the issues. My own views have been reforming on this issue, and I hope this post will be an “introduction” to the reasons why some Reformed Christians do not recognize Easter (or the other “evangelical” holidays, for that matter.) I am going to list out the argument, as I understand it, for not celebrating, followed by a danger to consider if you chose to celebrate.

Why Not? 
The basic argument hinges on what the church is authorized to do by Christ. Jesus alone is Head of the church, and this means that the relationship which church authority has to Christ is instrumental, or ministerial. If you consider the issue of doctrine, this relationship becomes plain. All Protestants ought to confess that the church has no authority to declare, teach, or confess doctrines which are not taught in the Scriptures, the Word of Christ. The Bible alone is authoritative, and the pastor is a minister of Christ–he has no right to invent or teach his own doctrine, but only what Christ has taught in His Word.

Likewise, the church has only a ministerial authority when it comes to the public worship of the church. Christ has not given the church the authority to practice anything in worship that they please. The Scriptures, with worship as well as doctrine, are the sole infallible rule for the church. Historically this doctrine has been known as the “regulative principle of worship”–Christians ought only to worship God in the way He has commanded. The church has no authority to bind the conscience with practices and ceremonies not instituted in the Word of God. Jesus condemned the Pharisees for adding their own human traditions to the worship of God: “in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matt. 15:9, KJV).

Now, it is the conviction of all Reformed Christians that God has set apart one day in seven–the Lord’s Day–for His worship in public, private, and families. The reason why we worship God on the first day of the week under the Gospel administration is because Christ was resurrected on the first day. In other words, we celebrate the resurrection of Christ on every Christian Sabbath. God has given us one day every week for this celebration–not one day per year. Hence, Easter is wholly inadequate for what it seeks to accomplish.

A Danger to Consider
Let me explain the chief danger I see in celebrating Easter. Easter is a man-made tradition. There is no command in Scripture to set aside day X every year to specifically celebrate the resurrection. The Lord’s Day is a divine institution, established by God in His Word. With that said, here is the danger I see:

Christians often place a greater emphasis on Easter than on every other Lord’s Day during the year. What does this mean? Well, it means we are placing more importance upon what has been established by men, then by what has been established by God. Many people who skip public worship throughout the year show up on Easter. Many people who fail to rejoice in the Gospel every Sabbath will celebrate on Easter. Many businesses which would be gladly open for commerce every Lord’s Day will be closed on Easter. 

We give more weight to the traditions of men than the commands of God.


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