By Colleen Tinker
This week a Kenyan news source ran a story entitled, “Why Adventists Don’t Celebrate Easter”. The three reasons listed by Washington Odhiambo in Hivisasa fit the Adventist worldview perfectly, but they differ slightly from the explanations one hears in the United States.
The three reasons and their explanations follow.
- Easter is not biblical: The Kenyan argument, as stated in Hivisasa, is that the Bible nowhere designates Jesus’ suffering, death, and resurrection as “Easter” but merely signifies the resurrection as occurring on “fie first day of the week” or on “the third day after His death.”
- Time for outreach: the second reason the story states is that Adventists use this Christian holiday to launch Total Member Involvement mission such as “making visitations to hospitals, religious camps, and even music extravaganzas.”
- Baptism in place of Easter: Finally the article states that Adventists “argue that baptism through water is the only form or the remembrance of the death and resurrection of Jesus that the Bible prescribes.”
The article concludes by stating that Adventist also do not consider December 25 to be a divinely-prescribed date to celebrate Jesus’ birth.
Adventists use various nuanced arguments to explain why Easter Sunday is not an important remembrance of Jesus’ finished work. No matter what specific arguments and distractions Adventists use in different geographic and demographic regions, the fact remains that Adventists do not understand the significance of the resurrection because they do not understand that we receive eternal life in our own immaterial spirits because Jesus rose from the dead.
For Adventists, salvation is marked by loyalty to the seventh-day Sabbath and by increasingly successful law-keeping. The Resurrection, however, is the reason we have new birth and life when we believe and trust in the work of the Lord Jesus (Rom. 8:9–17).
Adventism eclipses the resurrection because it is the heart of our eternal life. The Lord Jesus, not the Sabbath, is the focus and source of our trust, faith, and eternal security. Easter, often sneeringly mocked by Adventists as the day when Christians honor the sun in their sunrise services held on “The venerable Day of the Sun”, is a non-issue within their theological paradigm.
Ironically, however, Adventists instinctively know that there is something overwhelmingly special about the day, because more than any other day, Easter receive the brunt of their disdain.
The joy of knowing that Jesus broke the bonds of death and guarantees eternal life in Jesus is a joy Adventists cannot know. As long as they misunderstand what Jesus actually accomplished in finishing His atonement on the cross and in rising from death and ascending to SIT, His work finished, at the Father’s side, they cannot hope to know why Christians celebrate on Easter!
He is risen!