Post by Mike Miller on Mar 6, 2019 11:54:09 GMT -5
I'm so glad you asked this question. My answer is: It depends. Let me explain.
First, we must note that Lent is nowhere found in Scripture. In fact, it was started by the Roman Catholic Church in the fourth century for priests, but then it was mandated for all Catholics in the fifth century. The Catholic Church claims it was a practice instituted by the apostles, but this is simply false. Since its institution, Catholics have changed the rules at various times. In fact, in the 17th century, the Catholic Church in Canada gave the ok to eat beavers on Fridays since it lived in water and therefore qualified as fish (NOTE: Fish is the only kind of meat Catholics are supposed to eat on Fridays during Lent). One diocese recently called for a fasting from cell phones on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. So, all of this is to say that Lent is a made up tradition that no one is required to follow.
Your question, though, is whether it is permissible for Christians to participate in Lent. Well, just as there is no mandate for participation, there is also no express prohibition. That's why I say "it depends." Frankly, I am uncomfortable with participating in any kind of practice instituted by the Roman Catholic Church. I would encourage people not to follow their rules, as that would demonstrate an implicit endorsement of their unbiblical mandate. However, I would also say that I have known Christians who want to be intentional in their preparation for Easter, so they will practice some kind of individual spiritual discipline during the weeks leading up to Easter. Some will fast from certain things or on certain days (which is a biblical practice, though not required for the Lenten season), some will read selected Scriptures focusing on the crucifixion and resurrection during this time, and some will even do these in participation with others. I cannot say that is wrong, and indeed it might be beneficial. The bottom line, however, really goes to motive. I would say that it is wrong for a Christian to participate in Lent out of a sense of obligation or as an effort to manipulate God or in obedience to the Catholic Church. But if if a Christian just sees the weeks prior to Easter as an opportune time to practice certain spiritual disciplines in order to benefit his or her spiritual life, then there is nothing wrong with it.
One other quick word about Ash Wednesday. I would discourage Christians from having a priest put ashes on their foreheads. Not only is this a purely unbiblical practice initiated by an unbiblical priesthood, but I see the ashes as directly violating the instruction of Jesus in Matthew 6:16-18, where He expressly forbids doing anything to draw attention to your fasting.
In summary, Lent is not a biblical practice, and I would discourage Christians from participating in the practices mandated by the Roman Catholic Church. But if anyone wants to use this season as an opportunity to practice some particular spiritual disciplines in a way that would help focus on the crucifixion and resurrection, I can see no harm in that. And really, I wouldn't call that Lent, since Lent is associated with the Roman Church. So, can a Christian participate in Lent? It depends . . . on what you mean by that and why you want to do it. Catholic Lent? No. Personal devotion? Sure.
Yes you have a point.. The Roman catholic church has beliefs that are contradictory to those who a Protestant however - your believes are truly from God. However do not be so harsh in your wording. As a Christian we should accept others religion as long as it is Christian .
Post by Mike Miller on Mar 11, 2019 9:16:13 GMT -5
Thanks for your comment. I never want to be considered harsh. That is certainly not my intention, and I'm sorry if I came across that way. However I do want to be clear that I do not consider the Roman Catholic Church to be Christian. The Catholic Church has officially declared what we Evangelicals believe to be anathema--namely that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. They consider this a d**nable heresy. Since they reject that belief so strongly, and since they reject the substitutionary atonement, which is the very heart of the Gospel, they have rejected one of the foundational beliefs of Christianity. That doesn't mean that I have anything against Catholics, but much of the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church is simply false and in direct contradiction with the Bible. Catholic teaching also encourages the communication with dead people and contains such doctrines as purgatory, transubstantiation, and the veneration of Mary. All of those doctrines are simply not Christian.
Again, I'm not trying to come across as harsh. I am merely speaking truth. You encourage me to accept the beliefs of others as long as those beliefs are Christian. I agree that we should do that regardless of church name or denominational affiliation. I cannot, however, accept the Roman Catholic religion.