Since I became a Christian, I have attended Baptist, Evangelical, Pentecostal and Anglican churches. None of them have made a special mention of Lent or encouraged its observation. So without really knowing I have just assumed Lent was a Catholic thing.
The Bible expects Christians to fast from time to time. The way I understand it is that fasting is a personal decision you make with God and not something to be done at set times during the year.
I know the Bible talks about fasting, but I'm not convinced it "teaches" fasting.
More and more Protestant churches are practicing Ash Wednesday. Why?
The postmodern (Emerging, Emergent and Emergence) movements are growing by leaps and bounds within the Protestant denominations. Many postmodern Protestant denominations (mainline/liberal as well as evangelical) are getting increasingly involved in Spiritual Formation (which quotes many Catholic mystics), as well as Ash Wednesday, Lent, Advent, and other liturgical “holy days” first practiced in Roman Catholicism.
My point is, more and more Protestant churches are “giving in” to Catholic teachings and practices, not vice versa. Which brings us to the five solas. Protestant church leaders, who have traditionally held to the five solas, are presenting more and more practices from Catholicism, which does not hold to the five solas. As a Protestant who believes the five solas are the true teachings of God’s Word, I find this very troubling.
Now on to a discussion of Ash Wednesday itself. Regarding Ash Wednesday and Lent as times for true repentance, there are certainly many Catholics (and Protestants) who do not truly repent during these times. Why else the huge popularity of Mardi Gras the day before Ash Wednesday? In fact, there is an entire Catholic “Carnival” period between Christmas and Ash Wednesday: http://www.americancatholic.org/features/mardigras/ In light of this, it seems to me many Catholics are not truly repentant during Ash Wednesday and Lent – they are just playing church and/or trying to get to Heaven by “good works” and abstaining during Ash Wednesday and Lent.
I came across an excellent article by Craig Portwood exposing the pagan origin of Ash Wednesday. Click here for the original text of this article. In my repost below, I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].
“The pagan origin of Ash Wednesday”
by Craig Portwood
It’s not mentioned in the Bible. None of the apostles observed it. Nowhere are Christians commanded to keep it. It was not even officially practiced until nearly 1000 years after Christ’s resurrection. Like so many other non-biblical “Christian” customs, it has pagan roots. It’s a sad fact that modern Christianity has appropriated so many customs from the practice of the heathens, that one might wonder if it should still be called Christianity.
The early Pagan origins of Ash Wednesday
[The following drawing may appear irreverent, but I am including it anyway to illustrate how unbiblical the practice of Ash Wednesday is. Throughout the Old Testament, God condemned Israel for borrowing a number of "trivial" pagan practices from its neighbors. I believe our sinless Lord Jesus, knowing the pagan origin of "ashes on the forehead," would have refused to take part in this sinful practice.]
This ritual “imposition of the ashes” is purportedly in imitation of the repentant act of covering oneself in dust and ashes. The marking of believers on Ash Wednesday is done in combination of another extra-biblical routine called “Lent.” Despite Christ’s command to his followers to abstain from the practice of disfiguring their faces during fasting, it has become a regular practice. He also told us to wash our faces during a fast.
The practice of putting ashes on one’s forehead has been known from ancient times. In the Nordic pagan religion, placing ashes above one’s brow was believed to ensure the protection of the Norse god, Odin. This practice spread to Europe during the Vikings conquests. This laying on of ashes was done on Wednesday, the day named for Odin, Odin’s Day. Interestingly enough, according to Wikipedia, one of Odin’s names is Ygg. The same is Norse for the World Ash. This name Ygg, closely resembles the Vedic name Agni in pronunciation.
The Norse practice which has become known as Ash Wednesday was itself, drawn from the Vedic Indian religion. Ashes were believed to be the seed Agni , the Indian fire god. It is from this name that the Latins used for fire, ignis. It is from this root word that the English language got the words, ignite, igneous and ignition. Agni was said to have the authority to forgive sins. Ashes were also believed to be symbolic for the purifying blood of the Vedic god Shiva, which it is said had the power to cleanse sins.
Lent is a period of 40 days preceding the observance of Easter, where the observers are expected to fast or cease from having the use of some other “luxury.” Like the majority of modern, so-called Christian practices, its beginning can be traced to heathen practices.
In his book The Two Babylons, Alexander Hislop observed:
Let any one only read the atrocities that were commemorated during the ‘sacred fast’ or Pagan Lent, as described by Arnobius and Clemens Alexandrinus, and surely he must blush for the Christianity of those who, with the full knowledge of all these abominations, ‘went down to Egypt for help’ to stir up the languid devotion of the degenerate church, and who could find no more excellent way to ‘revive’ it, than by borrowing from so polluted a source; the absurdities and abominations connected with which the early Christian writers had held up to scorn. That Christians should ever think of introducing the Pagan abstinence of Lent was a sign of evil; it showed how low they had sunk, and it was also a cause of evil; it inevitably led to deeper degradation. Originally, even in Rome, Lent, with the preceding revelries of the carnival, was entirely unknown….
In the early 19th century, German explorer Alexander von Humboldt noted the practice among the pagans in Mexico, being held in the spring. His account states:
Three days after the vernal equinox…began a solemn fast of forty days in honour of the sun.
A Lent of forty days was also commemorated in Egypt. According to by English scholar John Landseer, in his Sabean Researches (1823), an Egyptian Lent of forty days was held in honor of Osiris.
There is a spiritual signature which bears witness to the spirit of these traditions. It is called Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras. It is the custom of living it up to get our fill of all the enjoyment the world has to offer before setting off to “Church” in mock repentance on Ash Wednesday. Such celebrations are an indication of the spirit behind the facade.
Christ made it plain in John 4:23-24:
But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
To be sure, those who observe modern “Christian” practices are religious. They may have personal conviction, but they are missing a vital element of the faith. They are lacking truth.
Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
The Bible tells us in chapter 9 of the book of Hebrews, that we are made clean by the shed blood of Jesus Christ. No amount of ritual or work of the hand of man can accomplish this.
1st Peter 1:13-16 tells us:
Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
The word holy means set apart, different from the rest. If we keep traditions which are not of God, how can we be holy? From what then are we different if we do as they do?
Not everyone has the conviction nor the courage to be set apart from the rest of the world. The sad truth is that mainstream Christianity lost her way, having fallen into apostasy long ago. This apostate tradition is continued by priests, pastors and preachers, ordained not by God in the power of the Holy Spirit, but by men in the spirit of the world.
And their followers wouldn’t have it any other way.
© 2010 Craig Portwood http://davemosher.wordpress.com/2012...raig-portwood/
buzzard, you are so right
The postmodern (Emerging, Emergent and Emergence) movements are growing by leaps and bounds within the Protestant denominations.
Many postmodern Protestant denominations (mainline/liberal as well as evangelical) are getting increasingly involved in Spiritual Formation (which quotes many Catholic mystics), as well as Ash Wednesday, Lent, Advent, and other liturgical “holy days” first practiced in Roman Catholicism.
I led our Wednesday night study last night and before we started, I made it a point to look at everyone. I announced I was checking to make sure we didn't have any ash students in the class. They all looked at me like I was crazy. :lol2
There is of course the story of Jesus and Satan in the wilderness and many examples in the Old Testament where fasting was practiced
We do Ash Wednesday, I see nothing wrong with it.....we use it to signify repentance. It is for us turn away from sin and to be faithful to Gospel.......
Not a watered down version of RCC. Be careful how you lump some churches together, because you do not know.
Prayer and fasting are seen throughout the Bible. We didn't do Fat Tuesday or whatever and all that other stuff, Mardi Gras, etc.
Our focus is solely on repentence, prayer and for some who feel led to do it, fasting.
THats why I don't celebrate it. It isn't in the Bible and isn't scriptural, so I don't celebrate it.
with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes: And I prayed unto the Lord God,
and made my confession... " Daniel 9:34
Luke 2:37 "And she was a widow of about 44 years, which departed not
from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day."
Fasting in itself is of no spiritual value (Isaiah 58; Jeremiah 14:12; I Corinthians 8:8) –
"that which is of the flesh is flesh," John 3:6 – but it is the attitude of a heart sincerely seeking Him to which God responds with blessing.
There are many, many more examples from the bible......it's not about a "holiday" so to speak. So many are missing the point. It's just about setting apart a time to observe this part of year where Jesus gave the ultimate sacrifice...yes we are thankful all year, but this time of year, like his birth is a lil more special. Don't judge. It makes me no less a child of God because I observe Ash Wednesday and Lent.......
Whatever happened to be ye separate?
I sure would not want that discussion with God at judgment. :nope
The pick and choosing of Cafeteria Christianity through convenience is the norm these days, based on feelings over faith.
If only the modern day church knew about the men who gave up their lives defending the gospel from Romanism instead of copying them. :tsk
There were other times people in the Bible fasted, we all know that. It's also called "afflicting the soul".
Remember also that Jesus said don't fast to be seen by men (Matthew 6:16-18) and don't do it as some regular religious ritual as the Pharisees (Matthew 9:14-17), we have Jesus even more than the disciples did.
I guess the question is, if you didn't fast with your church, would you feel guilty that you're doing something wrong? Did you fast before your church told you to? Would you have conceived of this on your own?
Now now, no one said you're less a child of God. Let's be careful with our words.Quote:
Don't judge. It makes me no less a child of God because I observe Ash Wednesday and Lent......
Our church doesn't tell us to fast. Its a decision we make privately, if we choose to. I have done it privately at other times of the year, when I felt prayer and fasting were needed for example a sick friend, or when I need to get something else right with God.
I don't always fast. Sometimes its not a physical fast. Maybe an emotional thing I give up, like holding a grudge or hurt, then I let it go. Or I give forgiveness. You see its an individual, private thing between you and God.
It is in the New Testment....
You say you wouldn't want that discussion with God at judgement. What are you trying to say? That I am not saved? I don't understand.
Because I have been saved and put my faith in Jesus Christ, and cannot believe you would question someone's salvation.
Because I fast (on my own) and do celebrate this time of year Lent (well Jesus kinda did make a big sacrifice for us)....you question my loyalty and salvation?
You don't even know me. Yet you equate my "Christianity" to a cafeteria. You have no idea how "inconvenient" my Christianity is, yet I love it. It is hard to face people who make fun of you for following Jesus. I have no cable to avoid flilth on tv. People think I am nuts at Halloween for giving out bible tracks. No fancy vacations at our house, nope we make the kids go with us on mission trips. You get the picture.
Some people would say they love Jesus more than they do their religion. To each his/her own, I guess. :shrugQuote:
You have no idea how "inconvenient" my Christianity is, yet I love it.
So if your Protestant church starts observing advent, and using advent candles, is that basically a Catholic import, or is there any good biblical reason to add this in?
There's "Biblical" reasons for patterns of days and such, but not really for "Advent" in particular.