Mar 29th, 2020
Hello and welcome to season 2 episode 71 of The Berean Manifesto, brought to you by The Ekklesian House. This is Pastor Bill and over the next 10 minutes, or so, we are going to be talking about April Fool’s Day.
April first, in most cultures around the world, is known as April Fools Day. All the articles I’ve read about the origins of April Fool’s Day claim that its origins are steeped in mystery, they also put stock in a theory that attributes the tradition to the transition from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar as dictated at The Council of Trent in the mid-1500's. Those who then continued to follow the Julian calendar celebrating New Year’s Day on April first became the butt of the joke for those who now celebrated New Years Day on January first. With only a few spare moments and the rudimentary research skills taught to high schoolers, you can easily debunk this theory and its claims. First off, there are references to April Fools Day as far back as the 1300’s, some 200 years before the council of Trent. Second, the Julian calendar instituted in BC 45 by Julius Caesar starts its New Year on the 1st of January with a few pagan sects recognizing the beginning of Spring as the beginning of the New Year despite what the calendar dictated. To understand where I’m going here, let’s look at some history surrounding The Roman Empire and the Christian faith. There’s little debate as to whether the Roman Empire crucified a man they called Jesus in or around 33 AD. It’s historical fact that the followers of that man then exploded in number and were subsequently hunted down and mercilessly slaughtered anywhere they were found by the Jewish authority of the day. It’s well known that the Jewish people follow the Lunar Calendar that celebrates New Years day on or around April 1st, and the Christian Church inherited this calendar. In 64 AD Roman Emperor Nero outlawed Christianity and proceeded to persecute, torture, and execute Christians in the slowest, most horrible ways he could imagine. Roman persecution of Christians continued for almost the next two-hundred and fifty years until Christianity was declared legal in the Roman Empire. Ten years later, in 323 AD, Christianity was declared the official religion of the Roman Empire. What isn’t well cataloged is how the Roman Empire dealt with the cognitive dissidence between the Lunar Calendar followed by the Christian church and the Julian Calendar followed by the Empire. What we do know is that when the Catholic Church commenced the Council of Trent in response to the reformation sparked by Martin Luther, one of the things they did was to introduce the Gregorian Calendar. This new calendar fixed discrepancies with the Julian Calendar that the Catholic Church found unacceptable, as well as boosted their authority that was being challenged by The Reformation.
There’s this story told in circles when studying the early church about the origins of April Fool’s Day, see if it sounds familiar. When Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire the Christian Church adopted the Julian calendar and began recognizing January 1st as New Year’s Day, there were holdouts who continued to follow the calendar they always had and celebrated the New Year on April 1st. It was an important day to believers in that not only was April 1st the beginning of the Lunar Calendar year, but the early church celebrated this time of year as the time of Jesus’ birth as well as his death and resurrection. They were called fools for still observing New Years Day on April 1st and others played pranks on them.
If you’re a regular to The Berean Manifesto then this should go without saying, but I’m going to say it for those listening or reading who don’t know. The platform of The Berean Manifesto is to present teaching, primarily Biblical, from my personal point of view. It is then the responsibility of the listener or reader, not to blindly take my word, but to seek out evidence, preferably Biblical, on their own to decide for themselves what they believe. Therefore, as we pivot for the rest of this episode, I will not be qualifying statements like, “in my opinion,” or, “it’s been my experience,” or anything else along those lines since that sentiment is implied.
For decades there has been this running argument, that its participants want to call a debate, on whether there is a God. He wouldn’t be much of a God if He needed me to defend His existence, so I refrain from wasting my time in that manner.
On the one side of the argument, you have Christian apologists and the other atheists. There are two types of atheist. The first is the one who says that for lack of evidence they aren’t sure there is a God. They’re agnostic, like Thomas, they have trouble believing without quantifiable evidence. The second type is someone who truly believes there is no God; the fool. I’m not calling them a fool, the Bible calls them a fool, Psalms 14:1a CSB says, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There’s no God.” I’m pretty sure people like this don’t actually exist anyway, or at least I’ve never found one, and Proverbs 23:9 CSB advises, “Don’t speak to a fool, for he will despise the insight of your words.” So, we’re not really going to concern ourselves with that category. And my advice when encountering agnostics is to love and when possible to love extravagantly.
In closing, I want to invite everyone to join me in transforming April Fool’s Day into a new Christian holiday. A day of prayer and fasting where we bring before God our friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers who need a Thomas moment with God. Saul got one on the road to Damascus. Pastor Robert Morris of Gateway Church had one in a roadside motel. Jesus is still moving in mighty ways on the Earth and we, His people, will humble ourselves and cry out for the lost together.
Starting at 12AM April 1st in The Independent State of Samoa through 12AM April 2nd on the island of Niue we will celebrate the first annual Global Day of Fasting and Prayer. Head on over to Google to search when that starts and ends in your local time. For instance, 12AM April 1st in The Independent State of Somoa here in North Texas where I live, is 5AM March 31st and goes through 6AM April 2nd my time. Join me for 49 hours of petitioning God to move on the hearts of an unbelieving world.
This is Pastor Bill saying, “Until next time…”