Why Is There Is No War on Easter?
In 1 Corinthians 15:14, the Apostle Paul makes the astounding claim that, "if [Jesus] Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain." And he's correct; if Jesus is still dead, then Christians are wasting their time. This fact makes it even more odd that there doesn't appear to be a cultural war on Easter the way that there is on Christmas.
In an excellent interview for Religion News Service, historian Dr. Gary Bowler speaks with Jonathan Merritt about why there isn't a war on Easter like there seems to be on Christmas.
I encourage you to read the interview, it's well worth your time. I'm going to provide some excerpts to whet your appetite and some brief commentary on what I believe is a topic of vital importance for Christians.
Dr. Gary Bowler is an historian whose focus is religion, although he has a wide variety of interests. Receiving his PhD. from Kings College in London, Bowler currently teaches at the University of Manitoba. While his interests are varied, much of his writing is about Christmas. A recent book by Bowler is titled Christmas in the Crosshairs: Two-Thousand Years of Denouncing and Defending the World’s Most Celebrated Holiday. His status as a respected historian and his emphasis on Christmas make him uniquely gifted to answer Jonathan Merritt's questions.
Starting off the interview with a question about the War on Christmas, Merritt references President Trump. Without equivocation, Dr. Bowler answers in the affirmative that there is and has been a continuous War on Christmas by society. He then adds that Trump "is referring to a particular front in that conflict: the debate over what public space is to be given in the USA to religion. Thus, his emphasis on the ability to say 'Merry Christmas' as opposed to 'Happy Holidays' or to send a Christmas card instead of one mentioning 'Season’s Greetings.'"
Dr. Bowler then inserts the important note: "The war, however, is much older than this aspect and contains many more points of contention."
And this is where the meat of the interview begins.
Briefly interacting with the history of Christmas, Dr. Bowler clears up some confusion about the supposed pagan influences on the holiday. He then provides a summary of the history of the War on Christmas.
After Merritt asks, "which holiday [Christmas or Easter] has been more important to Christian communities?" Dr. Bowler replies, "Theologically speaking, Easter is the most important date. The Resurrection outranks the Incarnation, Ascension, etc."
To be clear, while I understand and, hence, agree with that claim, I'm not a big fan of separating the Incarnation from the Resurrection and Ascension. Theologically, it's better if we view the entire life and ministry of Jesus while on this earth as a singular event. Eliminate any one of the events, and the gospel falls apart.