Do you believe the Lent Fad is a good thing, a slippery slope toward Romanism, or something else?

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.

Please opine!

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.

The new Lent fad is a bad thing and very likely part of a slippery slope.
17% (4 votes)
Lent has never been a good practice, but not a hill to die on.
46% (11 votes)
Lent has never been a good practice, and is a hill to die on.
17% (4 votes)
I practice lent and would encourage others to do so.
0% (0 votes)
It all depends upon what practices are included and excluded (please elaborate).
17% (4 votes)
Other
4% (1 vote)
Total votes: 24
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There are 7 Comments

Ed Vasicek's picture

Jim, your sense of humor never ceases to amaze me!

"The Midrash Detective"

JSwaim's picture

I too have heard that add and I'm sorry that Moody is promoting lent.

I think the verse from Colossians is the key verse that speaks against the practice.

I think that Lent takes sin less seriously than we should.  Consider James 4:8-10 or rather than follow that passage, give up coffee for a week!  

On the other hand, I think Lent minimizes that fact that Christ has borne our sin and that we are right with God by faith alone.  No temporary sacrifice on my part improves on the work of Christ. 

Ken S's picture

In the evangelical circles where I have heard Lent spoken of favorably, it is really nothing more than a scheduled fast with the idea being that having fewer distractions may better facilitate closeness with God. For example, one lady chose not to wear make up during Lent, and after not wearing make up for a time she realized how much of her identity she had attached to her looks. She chose to continue not wearing make up after Lent was over.

I have never heard it spoken of in terms the practice itself getting someone closer to God. Just that things that we may not realize can get in the way of being closer to God, and sometimes giving them up for a time helps us to see this with new eyes.

I do not practice Lent myself and have no plans to start, but I don't see the harm in practicing as described above. I'm not familiar enough with how all denominations practice, and there may well be some taking it in a different direction that is problematic.

Ed Vasicek's picture

So how do you harmonize something like this with the Colossians passages cited above?  The text seems to say that doing or not doing things to the body does nothing in the battle against the sinful nature.  I am interpreting it too broadly, do you think?

"The Midrash Detective"

Ed Vasicek's picture

Matthew 5:16-19, 

16 “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

"The Midrash Detective"