(446) EMERGING TRENDS WITHIN THE CHURCH TODAY: RITUALS – 5 REASONS TO NOT OBSERVE LENT

3 Rs – RITUALS, RITUALS and RITUALS

While this one posting won’t do this subject justice, it important to start this discussion within the Evangelical Church because of the increasing interests in moving closer to Roman Catholicism and mystical practices from more Protestant groups such as the Emerging Church.  This time of year, it becomes very relevant during the time of Lent starting with Ash Wednesday.

=> I don’t necessarily want to discourage someone who feels participation in these practices are valuable to their walk. I would rather bring up these issues which are becoming popular but have little biblical support and instead if steeped in ancient church history and tradition.  In the end, will a Christian move further from God and closer to tradition for tradition sake by following a path that focuses on man-made ideas and rituals. It is important to ask why these rituals are becoming popular and understand the history behind them.  The final decision is up to you as to whether you participate in them or not.  

Consider this PART 1 of a more lengthy discussion on this subject.  I may not necessarily agree with each point of the following article – Pulpit & Pen sometimes take a more harsh view of these issues than I would.  That said, there are several important points that Evangelicals should take note of.  My comments are bracketed []  – 

Five Reasons to Not Observe Lent

BY PULPIT & PEN · FEBRUARY 10, 2016

“The truly wise man is he who always believes the Bible against the opinion of any man.” – R.A. Torrey

No more than 24 hours into the 2015 Lenten season and a plethora of Evangelical #lent posts began appearing in the social media world. The Lenten season and Evangelical’s strange desire to participate, is as confounding as it is misguided. This strange situation is undoubtedly the unholy fruit of rapidly increasing Biblical and confessional illiteracy within the overall Protestant church and its many denominations.

Here are five Biblical reasons as to why we ought not observe Lent:

(1) Protestantism and Roman Catholicism do not share the same Gospel.

While some Lutherans also observe Lent, it’s fair to say that Roman Catholics comprise the majority of participants. Protestants subscribing to Sola Scriptura would do well to avoid, in the eyes of unbelievers, seeming to equate oneself with Roman Catholicism and their false gospel. In fact, most Protestants do not observe any other Roman Catholic traditions such as regenerative infant baptism, so why pick and choose random doctrines from a theological cult?

=> [NOTE: I think both Roman Catholics (RC) and Protestants may be surprised on who will be in heaven. Many Roman Catholics believe in the core principles of faith in Christ and what He has done for sins.  However, formal Roman Catholic theology strays far off into a more works-based relationship based on the ideas of man instead of being based on Scripture alone.  I would be concerned for leaders within RC as to whether they have truly believed and placed their trust in Christ alone for salvation.]

(2) Lent has become a pop culture phenomena, an opportunity for braggadocio and personal gain.

Sadly, as Lent has become more in vogue, society has grasped ahold of the practice and it’s becoming increasingly secularized. With the massive growth in the seeker-sensitive church model and their desire to bring the world into the church, it should be no surprise that many Protestants “giving up” something for Lent do so quite publicly (which is addressed in point #4). Further, Lent is quickly becoming yet another tool in the global ecumenism movement with [other religions]….etc.

(3) We should be fasting year round. While we are not Biblically required to fast, the Bible presents fasting as something that is good, profitable, and beneficial.¹ There are countless Biblical examples of people fasting for a wide range of reasons, (e.g. before an important decision Acts 13:2, Acts 14:23) and at all different times of year. It’s a strange concept that leading up to remembering and celebrating Christ’s resurrection, where Liberty was greatly enlarged (WCF 20.1), one would do so with a sullen face. As Doug Wilson rightly points out, “…the glory of that liberty should feel, taste, and smell like glory, which means gladness and simplicity of heart (Acts 2:46). It does not mean a couple of months with no chocolate.”²

(4) Public announcements of Christian piety, especially in the area of fasting, are Biblically questionable. It’s interesting that a season promoted as denying self has grown into something illustrative of American consumerism. As mentioned at the outset, professing Evangelicals post pictures and status updates all throughout the strata of social media advertising their self-imposed restrictions and ashy foreheads. Without belaboring the point, Christians are called to fast in a spirit of humility as indicated in, but not limited to, Matthew 6:16-18, Isaiah 58:3-7, Psalm 69:10, and Nehemiah 1:4.

(5) While all churches utilize some kind of liturgy, teaching about repentance should not be limited to the Lenten season. Some have argued that Lent is a beneficial addition to a church’s liturgical calendar because it ensures the teaching of repentance at least once per year. The contention is that if repentance is only being taught from the pulpit once each year, there are much bigger problems than the observation of Lent. Repentance is a necessary response to the Biblical Gospel of Jesus Christ. Along with unwavering faith in Christ and His work on the cross, a life of repentance is a sign of a regenerated heart. This is not a subject to be given attention merely in the Lenten season. This is a subject that so permeates the true believer’s walk with Christ it should be an almost weekly reminder and a daily necessity in the regenerate heart.

Carl Trueman said it well when he wrote, “…just as celebrating July the Fourth makes sense for Americans but not for the English, the Chinese or the Lapps, so Ash Wednesday and Lent really make no sense to those who are Presbyterians, Baptists, or free church evangelicals.”³

The rest of the article can be found at http://pulpitandpen.org/2016/02/10/five-reasons-to-not-observe-lent/

 

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