The other day on Moody Radio, they advertised a Moody Publishers book about why it is a good thing to celebrate Lent. I was disappointed.
I see a difference between churches that have practiced Lent for a long time (like Methodists and Lutherans); they settled at a certain point at their start (and, among other things, Lent and the so-called Christian calendar was a stopping point as to how far they wanted to reform). But what is happening is different: it is a fad that is affecting churches that had no previous tradition of practicing Lent and were probably, at one point, opposed to doing so. Some do ashes and give up something for the Lenten season. Others fast sometime during the 40 day period.
Fasting has its place, but the idea that giving something up is going to help me be godlier doesn't sit well. We overcome sin by getting closer to God, but ascetic practices do not do this, according to Paul below.
To me, the Scriptural text below settles matters. I don't know that I would die on this hill, however, nor would I separate over it. I can respect people who disagree with me on this, but to me this is further evidence that evangelicals are getting tired of the Bible and wanted more "religion." But, coming out of a Roman Catholic background as I do, I know I may not be as objective as I should be.
Colossians 2:18-23 settles matters for me:
18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions,[d] puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.
20 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— 21 “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” 22 (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings?23 These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.