Playing with Lenten Fire

If I didn’t know better, I would suppose that Crossway Books, the patron of the Gospel Coalition, is a subsidiary of McDonald’s. Here is the connection. McDonald’s has for a limited time made available Fish McBites and this offering just happens to coincide with the transition from Fat Tuesday to Ash Wednesday, and will be available through March. As one news story has it, “Brian Irwin, director of marketing for McDonald’s USA, told the Associated Press that research revealed parents want the seafood option. In keeping with its 2011 campaign to give customers a healthier choice, Irwin said the Fish McBites give parents another selection to choose from.” The reporter added that, “The poppable fish-bites will float on participating McDonald’s menus though March to coincide with the season of Lent.”

So where is the Gospel Coalition? Well, today the blog posted two items recommending Lent to is gospel allies. One says this:

Lent strikes many Protestants as the exclusive domain of Roman Catholics, but this season can serve any Christian as a unique time of preparation and repentance as we anticipate the death and resurrection of Jesus. On the Christian calendar, Lent (from Latin, meaning “fortieth”) is the 40 days beginning on Ash Wednesday and leading up to Easter Sunday. (Sundays aren’t counted, but generally set aside as days of renewal and celebration—”mini-Easters” of sorts.) Whatever you might think about popular practices, “Lent is first and foremost about the gospel making its way deeper into our lives,” Kendal Haug and Will Walker observe.

The editors of the blog at TGC also dug up a recommendation of Lent from Chuck Colson. He identifies five virtues: 1) searching the depths of our sin; 2) considering the sincerity of our fellowship; 3) reflecting on our mortality; 4) more opportunities for charity; and 5) preparation to celebrate Easter. Colson concludes:

And so, I invite you to a holy Lent. Take up the opportunity to dwell upon the grief of our broken world, the sin within your heart, and the deep love of God that exceeds these realities. Reflecting on the hospitality of God, consider the needs of your neighbor, especially those without life’s basic needs. And, most importantly, in the gritty details of Lent, don’t forget—Easter is coming!

Strikingly absent from these recommendations are any of the older Protestant warnings about church calendars and liberty of conscience or about the devotional assumptions that lay behind the practice of Lent for Roman Catholics. Here is one explanation of Lent’s meaning for Roman Catholic readers:

Though we were created lovingly by God to enjoy the goods of the earth, these goods can consume us, and even become the object of sinful pride, as our first parents in the garden demonstrated. By temporarily renouncing these goods through fasting, we willingly suffer their absence in our flesh as a way to attack sin.

Fasting hurts us, but, like the pain brought about from physical exercise, it is supposed to hurt us. And like exercise, the more pain we endure for God, the more we gain in spiritual rewards.

The desert, then, is the place for Lent not only because it represents the pain and consequences of sin, but also because it is a place of abstinence from the fruits of the earth. When we spiritually withdraw to the desert, its emptiness reminds us that the goods of the earth ultimately cannot satisfy us.

As much as I appreciate Rome’s attention to sin and its consequences — something that doesn’t come through when leaders speak of Christ’s self-sacrificial love as a model for social justice and the dignity of the human person — Lent has significance for Roman Catholics that it cannot have for Protestants. After all, Protestants don’t have a history of self-inflicted pain to merit spiritual rewards. If as the gospel allies would have it that Lent is to remind us of Christ, then we should also be reminded that nothing we do to attack sin can compare with what Christ accomplished in his own suffering and death. If Protestants deny themselves, it is part of sanctification, the mortification of the self, that comes daily and year round through the means of grace and the armor of God (Eph. 6). We don’t spend forty days a year denying self.

TGC’s mix-and-match piety, a dose of urban transformationalism from column A, a slice of Roman Catholic devotion from column B, and a dish of sweet (charismatic) and sour (Calvinist) conferences from column C is a undisciplined program by which to promote and defend the gospel. It is further evidence of why Protestantism needs confessional churches, not the parachurch agencies that pillage those those communions.

151 thoughts on “Playing with Lenten Fire

  1. This thread is reminding me (unfortunately) of what I have to look forward to today. Nothing brought up my bile as much as having to view the previous mayor of Chicago, corrupt as his city was/is, on a Wednesday after Mardi Gras evening news program with a cross of ashes on his forehead. The irony was beyond belief.

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  2. Are those who are saved by grace less corrupt in their politics? Zwingli was not one of the weaker brothers who had to eat sausages to show that they had been emancipated from from the roman antichrist.

    http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=1384

    “When Zwingli met with a group of Zurich leaders during Lent in 1522, not debate but ecclesiastical disobedience was on their minds. The printer Cristopher Froschauer served sausages, in conscious opposition to the Catholic Church’s Lenten fast requirements. All ate the meat but Zwingli himself, although he supported the action and it had in fact resulted from his biblical preaching. Eating those sausages, as historian Steven Ozment points out, was tantamount to burning a flag or draft card today.

    Zwingli instigated reform in a thoroughly pastoral fashion. While supporting the change in religious practice, he did not eat the meat because he did not want to endanger his position as pastor of the whole people. His sermon the following Sunday justified the abolition of the Lenten fast without condemning the traditionalists: “If you want to fast, do so; if you do not want to eat meat, don’t eat it”

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  3. “One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God.” — Rom 14.

    I would argue this makes a good case for private, not church-sponsored, observance if desired.

    (Speaking as a non-observer).

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  4. Jeff,

    Based upon Col. 2 maybe it would be better to warn our people that observing Lent has no value spiritually.

    Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence. (Col. 2:20-23)

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  5. That last paragraph is gold. Is the correct adjective “Hartian”?

    Really, the GC boys are being kind of wimpy with Lent observance. If we’re going down the road of men’s ideas to mortify the flesh why not flagellation?

    I. Life. Peter Damianus or Damiani (1007–1072), a friend of Hildebrand and zealous promoter of the moral reform of the clergy, was a native of Ravenna, had a very hard youth, but with the help of his brother Damianus (whose name he adopted he was enabled to study at Ravenna, Faenza and Parma. He acquired honor and fortune as a teacher of the liberal arts in his native city. In his thirtieth year he suddenly left the world and became a hermit at Fonte Avellano near Gubbio (Eugubium) in Umbria, following the example of his countryman, Romuald, whose life he described. He soon reached the height of ascetic holiness and became abbot and disciplinarian of the hermits and monks of the whole surrounding region. Even miracles were attributed to him.

    He systematized and popularized a method of meritorious self-flagellation in connection with the recital of the Psalms; each Psalm was accompanied with a hundred strokes of a leathern thong on the bare back, the whole Psalter with fifteen thousand strokes. This penance became a rage, and many a monk flogged himself to death to the music of the Psalms for his own benefit, or for the release of souls in purgatory. The greatest expert was Dominicus, who wore an iron cuirass around his bare body (hence called Loricatus), and so accelerated the strokes that he absolved without a break twelve Psalters; at last he died of exhaustion(1063). Even noble women ardently practiced “hoc purgatorii genus,” as Damiani calls it. He defended this self-imposed penance against the opponents as a voluntary imitation of the passion of Christ and the sufferings of martyrs, but he found it necessary also to check unnatural excesses among his disciples, and ordered that no one should be forced to scourge himself, and that forty Psalms with four thousand strokes at a time should be sufficient as a rule. (Schaff)

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  6. B: Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t every Lord’s Day a full size celebration of Easter?

    RS: Stand corrected, you are wrong. Every Lord’s Day is not a celebration of Easter, but it should be. The calendar for Easter has taken over to such a degree that each Lord’s Day when we are to celebrate the Lord’s Day since it is His day because it is the day He rose from the dead on, we are busy doing other things.

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  7. Since the venerable Bruce Settergren has dropped his own ball, I will have to quote him:

    “I’m giving up giving up things for Lent for Lent”.

    The desert, then, is the place for Lent …Protestants deny themselves…daily and year round

    My perpetual Lent must then be living in San Diego

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  8. “Protestant warnings about church calendars and liberty of conscience ”

    1) What WERE those warning based on anyway.

    2) the liberty of conscience issue makes sense when you have a church telling you you are OBLIGATED to keep Lent, and a state that is imposing a prayer book. Since nobody is doing that, liberty of conscience isn’t a credible issue.

    3) Why is there no ‘liberty of conscience” issue when a session decides to have a missions conference, reformation day psalm sing, or make a church listen to sermons on Romans for 2 years.

    4) neither the OPC or the PCA discipline anyone in any way for promoting Lent (in a non-roman catholic sense). So how does “confessionalism” help here? Do you want to bring changes against pastors who offer Lenten devotionals to parishioners?

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  9. Protestants trying to do Lent are like all the white guys who wore black hoodies after Trayvon was shot. “I am Trayvon Martin.” No we aren’t. You’re George Zimmerman. Even if you side with Trayvon, that’s not who you are in that story.

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  10. Protestants doing Lent is right next to saying the rosary. How do you get away from penance and purgation in Lent? MM’s, flagellation recommendation seems in line. Talk about a slippery slope.

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  11. Zrim: Richard, yes it should be, and one way to do it is weekly communion. So why have the Scottish Highland Presbyterians created the communion season that looks like the Lenten season (complete with tokens)?

    http://www.westminsterconfession.org/worship/the-scottish-communion-season.php

    RS: One, the purpose of communion has to do with the body and blood of Christ broken and poured out. The Lord’s Day is to be a celebration of the resurrection. Theologically one cannot have one without the other, but nothing is said about the resurrection in I Cor 11. Since Scripture does teach that people should not drink the cup in an unworthy manner and that if one does it can mean that one becomes sick or dies, it is only fitting that there should be a time of searching the heart, confession, and repentance before the Table. I guess I don’t really see Lent and a Communion Season as being all the same. Not to mention that there is no Mardi Gras before the Communion Season. Great link, though.

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  12. Richard, my point was that semi-revivalism under girds the communion season the way Catholicism does the Lenten season. As opposed to a Protestant theology that gives us Christ-centered Word and sacrament every Lord’s Day, both give us extended self-centered religiosity once a year. The similarities are striking.

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  13. Paul D., if Rome isn’t obligating Lenten practices, then what are all the claims about church authority about? If Rome doesn’t command anymore, if they try to persuade, then the difference with Protestantism is minimal (at least on authority grounds).

    The liberty of conscience issue makes most sense if Christ has indeed satisfied all the demands of the law and it has no claims on us. Then a life of sanctification replaces 40 days or Lent or Purpose.

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  14. Zrim: Richard, my point was that semi-revivalism under girds the communion season the way Catholicism does the Lenten season. As opposed to a Protestant theology that gives us Christ-centered Word and sacrament every Lord’s Day, both give us extended self-centered religiosity once a year. The similarities are striking.

    RS: The similarities may be striking to you, but not to others. Semi-revivalism is quite the proponent for preaching the Christ-centered Word every Lord’s Day and at other times as well. While there are larger seasons in certain Presbyterian traditons, those were special days in many cases and had many local churches coming together to celebrate it. Others observe the Table once a month in the local church and others once a quarter. Since there is no specific command regarding how often we are to observe the Table, it would appear to me that there is freedom to differ on that. However, as far as preaching goes, semi-revivalists stress preaching more it seems to me.

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  15. RS: The similarities may be striking to you, but not to others.

    Actually, similarities are striking to me, too. Leigh Schmidt wrote a whole (and compelling) book on this called Holy Fairs

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  16. Lent is so we can do Mardi Gras.
    But if Lent, why not Christmas?
    Wait a minute, most protestants already do Christmas.
    Is that performative romanism if you are confessionally P&R.
    Well yes, but most P&R are nominal, not confessional, OK?

    If there are any further questions, Bryan will explain.
    (And boy, will he. But you don’t have to click the link for the monograph for the technical justification/performative absolution from the lay brethren at CtC. Just celebrate Lent/Christmas/Easter anyway.)

    .

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  17. I think the pastoral situation dictates the response. In Roms 12, some Jewish believers still had a tender conscience re law regulations. They had not yet fully grasped that freedom in Christ meant they were no longer answerable to the commands of the law (an example being those today who insist we are still answerable to the Ten Commandments). Paul is very gentle and accommodating to such even if their conscience means they do not grasp their freedom and live with a sub-Christian freedom.

    Where Jewish regulations are being imposed on gentile believers (Galatians and Colossians) or the church at large he is much less accommodating. In fact, he is opposed root and branch for these are of no value in restraining the flesh. They belong to the shadow and not the substance. Holiness comes through recognising we have died with Christ and seeking what is above and not things on the earth. (Christ in heaven, the focus of our lives, is the moral means of drawing our hearts away from the things of this world and producing godliness… as we behold his face we are turned into his likeness from one degree of glory to the next).

    I have some patience with those believers in churches which have a semi-Judaistic tradition (anglicans for example) who still submit to regulations etc though they should have long since seen the weakness of this position. I have none for those who promote these regulations and suggest others do so. I have no patience with those who although free from these traditions are now embracing them as something new and exciting; they may have an appearance of wisdom but are as we have noted of no value in preventing the flesh.

    Incidentally Chuck Colson is not the now demised well-known C Colson.

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  18. Zrim: Richard, my point was that semi-revivalism under girds the communion season the way Catholicism does the Lenten season. As opposed to a Protestant theology that gives us Christ-centered Word and sacrament every Lord’s Day, both give us extended self-centered religiosity once a year. The similarities are striking.

    RS responded: The similarities may be striking to you, but not to others.

    Pat Roach: Actually, similarities are striking to me, too. Leigh Schmidt wrote a whole (and compelling) book on this called Holy Fairs

    RS: But of course the fact that a book was written on it settles the question. From the advertisement for the book: “Holy Fairs traces the roots of American camp-meeting revivalism to the communion festivals of early modern Scotland.” Zrim says: “both give us extended self-centered religiosity once a year. The similarities are striking.” The Bible says this, however, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.”

    One can draw the lines of similarity as they wish, I suppose. However, the Scots sure thought they were obeying Scripture to do what they were doing. Having a group of churches get together to celebrate the Table sure seems to promote the biblical idea of one Church. Camp-meeting revivalism is not the same thing as what the Scots or Edwards or Whitefield did in seeking biblical revival. The theology was different and the practices were different as well.

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  19. I don’t observe Lent, but I think there is error on both the Romanist and the Puritan extremes when it comes to the question of Lent in particular and the observance of the church calendar.

    On the one hand, against Rome I would assert (with my Puritan brethren) that the only “holy day of obligation” is the Lord’s Day, the Christian Sabbath. On the other hand, against some of my Puritan brethren who would assert that any observance of Lent or other feast days on the church calendar (for example, Christmas, Good Friday, Ascension Day, etc.) to be a sinful violation of the regulative principle (and thus an offering of “strange fire”), I say “balderdash”!

    If a professed believer observes lent (or any other observance on the traditional church calendar) out of conscience, and/or with a view to meriting God’s grace, then that IS sin, for the one who observes these things out of conscience has allowed his conscience to be enslaved by human custom (thus contradicting true liberty of conscience). And if a church requires its members to observe Lent or other church calendar observances as an obligation before God, that church is guilty of tyrannizing and binding the consciences of its people, contrary to God’s Word. On the other hand, if a believer chooses to observe lent (or any other season or observance on the traditional church calendar) in a spirit of Christian liberty, as an edifying (but not a morally binding) practice, and for the glory of God, then I would assert that believer has liberty to do so.

    “But Lent is a violation of the regulative principle!” To which I say: Balderdash! The regulative principle of worship governs the “elements” of worship; it does not restrict us with respect to voluntary “occasions” of worship. (Getting ashes smeared on one’s forhead on “Ash Wednesday” as an act of religious worship IS a violation of the regulative principle, for it is an unwarranted element; but a church offering Lenten devotional services with Scripture readings and prayer — two biblical elements of worship — would not be such a violation.) As long as the Sabbath Day is being honored as the one and only “holy day of obligation,” observance of voluntary evangelical feast days (as practiced, for example, in the continental Reformed tradition) out of Christian liberty, and for edification, is not prohibited, in my opinion. Nor should a voluntary observance of Lent be prohibited if certain brethren view it as edifying (again, as long as it is not observed as a “holy season of obligation” or in a Romish manner).

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  20. Richard, your defense strikes me as a form of Protestant narcissism: we can concoct elaborate penitential seasons because we’re us, but Catholics can’t because they’re them. And to add ironic insult to narcissistic injury, aren’t you the one who tells comfessionalists they haven’t gone far enough in their reforms? But if, as you say, semi-revivalism is quite the proponent for preaching the Christ-centered Word every Lord’s Day then can it not see that extraordinary penitential seasons at least have a way of undermining the ordinary, routine and regular exercise of the means of grace once a week?

    And while frequency may be liberty, it is interesting to note that the communion season’s tendency to undermine frequency parallels the medieval church’s practice of once a year.

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  21. We have a Presbyterian Reformed church in Des Moines that I believe only celebrates communion once a year (maybe twice — I can’t remember for sure). Great people, small church. Exclusive Psalmody as well.

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  22. DGH, how about a word on Lutheran preservation of the church calendar? Can you parse it a bit for us as helpful / unhelpful?

    Funny story: My daughter in LCMS Kindergarden declined the imposition of ashes in chapel yesterday, per our instruction. Ironically, most all the evangelical and baptist kids partook… their parents didn’t care or know enough to scruple. One of the baptists started making fun of my daughter for not having ashes and made her cry… the LCMS kids understood Christian liberty and didn’t bother her.

    At least the story has a happy ending. The baptist was disciplined, yellow slip, parental call, and had to eat lunch at a table all by herself. I suppose she could chalk it up as penance.

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  23. Maybe in light of Paul’s concern for the Galatians we might want to ask them what they find lacking in Jesus Christ.

    8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. 9 But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? 10 You observe days and months and seasons and years! 11 I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain.

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  24. Infrequent communion reminds me of the e-free church I used to go to where they had infrequent baptisms. There was no baptistery at the church so they had to be done in another church or in a swimming pool. It was tough to get the pastor to do them. Sprinkling is certainly easier logistically than dunking.

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  25. Brian – One of the baptists started making fun of my daughter for not having ashes and made her cry… the LCMS kids understood Christian liberty and didn’t bother her.

    At least the story has a happy ending. The baptist was disciplined, yellow slip, parental call, and had to eat lunch at a table all by herself. I suppose she could chalk it up as penance.

    Erik – There’s a really good quip in response to that story, but I just can’t come up with it.

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  26. Erik, one of the more ironic reasons for infrequency among the P&R is that frequency “is too Catholic.” In Calvin’s own day the medieval church observed only once a year, a context in which he advised at least weekly. Further, it’s curious how infrequency seems to end up making more of the sacrament than is warranted, something infrequenters allege against frequency, whereas routine has a way of keeping an understanding of its power limited. Is it any wonder that infrequency so often is associated with elaborate penitential pieties and seasons?

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  27. Zrim: Richard, your defense strikes me as a form of Protestant narcissism: we can concoct elaborate penitential seasons because we’re us, but Catholics can’t because they’re them.

    RS: I think you may be forgetting a few things, however. There is the Old Testament practice of calling Solemn Assemblies and there is still the command in the NT to examine yourself as well as fasting and prayer. The Solemn Assembly was not necessarily part of the Law that was done away with. I don’t think that the Sacramental seasons could be fairly and accurately described as elaborate.

    Zrim: And to add ironic insult to narcissistic injury, aren’t you the one who tells comfessionalists they haven’t gone far enough in their reforms?

    RS: Yes, I do say that some more reforming from the traditions and practices of Roman Catholicism needs to be done.

    Zrim: But if, as you say, semi-revivalism is quite the proponent for preaching the Christ-centered Word every Lord’s Day then can it not see that extraordinary penitential seasons at least have a way of undermining the ordinary, routine and regular exercise of the means of grace once a week?

    RS: No, it cannot see that, or at least I don’t. A person that decides to take several hours and devote it to prayer once a month does not see that as undermining the regular exercise of prayer, but instead as a way of enhancing what is normally done.

    Zrim: And while frequency may be liberty, it is interesting to note that the communion season’s tendency to undermine frequency parallels the medieval church’s practice of once a year.

    RS: Perhaps, perhaps not. If I understand things correctly, at least for some of the churches, they had their own communion seasons at times but then at other times would gather with other local churches in the area for a mutual time together.

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  28. Geoff,

    Just to quibble with your view a bit, what you describe is not really Lent, it is simply observing the Easter season, which yes, is a matter of conscience. But Lent historically has a definitive religious meaning and purpose, and Protestants, besides looking ridiculous trying to put a non-Catholic spin on it, should have nothing to do with it. It would be like a Protestant claiming he prays the rosary after confession, but instead of “Hail Mary”, prays, “Hail Jesus” so as not to be Catholic. You would want to mature his understanding and practice, not just leave it a matter of conscience.

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  29. Zrim, good point. Seasons and infrequencies seem just one more way to mitigate against ordinary in favor of extraordinary. Read revivalism, semi-revivalism, parachurch vs. confessionalism. Even with the emergent and much of modern high-church, they’re looking for transcendent experience, emphasis on experience.

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  30. Todd, bingo. I’m not sure how you remove purgation and penance from Lent, and why bother with the exercise? Really. It’s hard to not see this as a former RC, as merely aping. And once we’re aping, it begs the question; “why not just keep going?” If penance and unction are your thing; ‘making up in your body what’s lacking in Christ’s suffering’ kind of thing. There’s a whole religious and historical religious sect who offers this 24/7.

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  31. Richard, compared to the simplicity of the fourth commandment’s prescription–six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work–sacramental seasons could indeed be fairly and accurately described as elaborate. We should be working in those six days, not shutting the place down to gaze into spiritual navels.

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  32. Geoff, with Todd I would ask you what the theology behind Lenten observance is. I find it hard to associate it with anything other than Roman Catholic soteriology. This isn’t about church calendars.

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  33. Sean: Zrim, good point. Seasons and infrequencies seem just one more way to mitigate against ordinary in favor of extraordinary. Read revivalism, semi-revivalism, parachurch vs. confessionalism. Even with the emergent and much of modern high-church, they’re looking for transcendent experience, emphasis on experience.

    RS: It might depend on how one defines experience and what they mean by it. One dictionary definition of “experience” is knowledge gained by practice. The church in the book of Acts was known for getting together to study the Scriptures and pray on virtually a daily basis. Believers have been known to pray and seek the face of the Lord many times a week and not think of that as a transcendant experience as such, but simply doing what is commanded and that is to love and seek the Lord. After all, if one think of II Chronicles 7:14 as a description of true prayer, it involves humility and seeking the face of the Lord.

    Psalm 105:4 Seek the LORD and His strength; Seek His face continually.

    Acts 2: 42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
    43 Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles.
    44 And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common;
    45 and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.
    46 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart,
    47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved

    Acts 12:5 So Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God. 12 And when he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John who was also called Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying.

    Acts 16:5 So the churches were being strengthened in the faith, and were increasing in number daily.

    Acts 17:11 Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.

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  34. Zrim: Richard, compared to the simplicity of the fourth commandment’s prescription–six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God.

    RS: Yes, but we are also commanded to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength. There is no time of the week that escapes that command.

    Zrim: On it you shall not do any work–sacramental seasons could indeed be fairly and accurately described as elaborate. We should be working in those six days, not shutting the place down to gaze into spiritual navels.

    RS: The time is to be spent in seeking the face of the Lord. Note the verses (and there are others) I gave to Sean concerning the church in the book of Acts. Evidently they thought there was enough time in the day to seek the Lord on the other six days as well. The book of Acts does not seem to relate that their time spent in seeking the Lord was elaborate, but rather was worthy of commendation. The command is to get your work done in the six days, but it is not a command to refrain from seeking the Lord. I suppose if you wanted to take that command in a literalistic way we would not have sick days or vacations.

    Luke 10:38 Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. 40 But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; 42 but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

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  35. Richard, not at all literal–I take the command for six day labor to generally mean our created life which includes recreation, etc. an din contrast to the Sabbath which is reserved for our redemptive lives (this is where you charge compartmentalizing, but if God is Lord over all of life then it’s all in the family). So I’d see a better obedience in patronizing a pub as opposed to diving into the interior on Humiliation Thursday. But in citing Acts 2 you help make the case for frequency.

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  36. Richard, not at all literal–I take the command for six day labor to generally mean our created life which includes recreation, etc. and in contrast to the Sabbath which is reserved for our redemptive lives (this is where you charge compartmentalizing, but if God is Lord over all of life then it’s all in the family). So I’d see a better obedience in patronizing a pub as opposed to diving into the interior on Humiliation Thursday. But in citing Acts 2 you help make the case for frequency.

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  37. I am with you guys who question lent and other law/legal rules, rituals, regulations. My problem is that if you can see clearly these are ended for the believer in Christ then why do you still champion the keeping of the Ten Commandments. All are part and parcel of the law to which we have died in Christ. You have little credibility if you condemn one (days, seasons etc) and insist on the other (the Ten Words) especially as it is in the Ten Words that the command to keep the Sabbath lies which Paul says we have died to in Cols 2. Incidentally, the sabbath is not one day in seven; it is the seventh day. On ‘the sabbath’ Jesus was in the tomb (perhaps signifying the death of the old covenant of which sabbath was the sign). The first day of the week was not the sabbath – it was the first day of the week – the day of resurrection and new beginning. Worshipping on a Sunday is not keeping the sabbath.

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  38. D. G. Hart: It’s low church Protestants that drive me batty.

    RS: But at least you are now admitting that you are batty.

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  39. A Mulligan it is for Dr. Luther.

    DGH, to be clear, it’s an LCMS school, classical curriculum. Baptist school was somewhere on the list of options after “public” and just before “raised by wolves.”

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  40. “Since Lutherans “gave us the gospel” — Martin Luther and all that — I give them regular mulligans. It’s low church Protestants that drive me batty.”

    Thanks. We’re observing Lent by memorizing a Gerhardt hymn and 1 John 16-9. Most of the Lutherans I know who pay attention to Lent are doing something similar and/or reading a particular book of sermons or theology. Some will read Bondage of the Will or some other reformation classic every Lent.

    Those who don’t make a point (the majority of laity in the LCMS) to remember the church seasons at home will just notice the colors change at church and the readings. Our church does not use ashes at all (I believe our pastor, called 6 years ago, ended the practice).

    Romans 14 was written for this disagreement, and here is the crowning verse: “whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” Lutherans can observe the church year in faith and Presbyterians can reject it in faith–and either can be self-righteous about it, as if they were fulfilling a good work or avoiding a sin. I’ll not comment on our Roman friends, since they ironically don’t seem to pay too much attention to Paul’s letter to the Romans.

    Side note: infrequent communion was also practiced just two generations ago in the LCMS. Many old folks remember receiving it quarterly or yearly.

    No one has brought up the pre-medieval practice of Lent to prepare catechumens for entering the church. I believe they were instructed for in the Faith, then there was a waiting period for 40 days to make sure they were really, truly serious (ancient pietism!), then all the converts were baptized and received into the church and received communion on Easter. Not to say this defends the practice of observing Lent, but it wasn’t invented to self-flagellate, as some here seem to think. That came later.

    I’ll take evangelical/baptist interest in the church year seriously when they adopt the lectionary, spend 50 days observing Easter (less austere and exotic than Lent and Advent), and stop putting “40 Days of Life” signs in front of their churches.

    Questions (in good faith and sincere curiosity): Why do Reformed churches observe Reformation Day? Is this a controversy within your churches?

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  41. John T., the Reformed that are skeptical of penitential seasons are the same that confess WCF 19.5 and HC 86. You may say that lessens credibility but what keeps you from antinomianism?

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  42. Katy, some of us aren’t so sure Reformation Day isn’t self-congratulatory, which makes Reformationpaloozas among Calvinists especially odd given the man himself inhabits an unmarked grave.

    Quoth Scott Clark:

    Reformation Day, as we know it, perpetuates the pietist myth that the Reformation happened suddenly and in one-fell-swoop of religious experience (the so-called Turmerlebnis). It wasn’t and it didn’t. The Reformation doctrines developed gradually between 1513-21. In succession, and with fits and starts, Luther gradually realized the great Reformation solas. There are some Reformation solas with which we’re not all familiar. Luther’s first breakthrough happened during his lectures on the Psalms when he realized that Scripture teaches that we’re not just a little sinful but that we’re completely sinful, i.e., that the effects of sin are radical and affect every faculty. We’re not able to “do our part” or to “do what lies within us” toward justification because, as a consequence of the fall, all that lies “within us” is sin and death. Therefore the first Reformation sola was “solely unable.” This is the essential assumption behind sola gratia, the claim that justification is by grace alone. Grace is no longer to be reckoned a sort of medicinal stuff with which we are injected, with which we cooperate toward eventual justification. Luther came to understand that grace is God’s attitude of favor toward sinners. Grace isn’t something with which we are infused. Rather, God is gracious toward us. He shows us favor. He gives to us what we do not deserve: righteousness and life.

    I’d only add that it perpetuates the Great Man and Great Movement myths. Maybe Halloween is a better alternative on October 31.

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  43. DGH, todd, sean:

    So my reason for citing Rom 12 was precisely to set the boundary on criticisms.

    It’s one thing to say that the church (or parachurch?!) should not be advocating Lent. Full agreement.

    And it’s one thing again to say that we should be educating our members to imbibe Col 2 and not associate particular rules with increased spirituality. Full agreement again.

    It’s another to say about Lent that

    “Protestants … should have nothing to do with it.”
    “Protestants doing Lent is right next to saying the rosary. ”

    What does Paul mean by saying “One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind…. But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt?”

    Can we lighten up a bit?

    DGH: “I would ask you what the theology behind Lenten observance is.”

    A better question would be what the theology behind a particular person’s observance. This question as stated reminds me of the whole “Christmas trees are originally pagan symbols” discussion.

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  44. Jeff, don’t historical origins count for anything? I can’t imagine any person simply coming up with the forty days before a certain Sunday in the Spring as a time to practice certain spiritual disciplines.

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  45. As a Protestant, I have always faithfully practiced Lent as an opportunity to abstain “from the fruits of the earth.” I have always given up one particular earthly thing, namely, Lent itself.

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  46. Jeff,

    To be honest I have in mind protestant churches, particularly presbyterian, holding ash wednesday services and teaching a lenten calendar. Seems incredibly ahistorical. As far as individuals practicing, I thought Jesus’ whole idea about such things, including fasting, is that nobody else knows you’re doing it. And I still don’t know how you scrub Lent clean of it’s purgation and penance, the whole thing seems at odds with the ordinary and more particularly the lord’s day.

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  47. “I’d only add that it perpetuates the Great Man and Great Movement myths. Maybe Halloween is a better alternative on October 31.”

    Or All Saints Day, for all those anonymous saints, justified by the blood of Christ :-O

    Just having fun.

    What about the practice of wearing orange on July 12th? I know people that do that, but they are on the baptist end of Reformed (yes, yes, I know, no such thing….) Is that common?

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  48. Katy, I don’t know, but the Baptist-leaning among the Dutch Reformed avoid orange and black on October 31 (too Halloween-y).

    PS, tell Lily-the-Lutheran hi. You all live in St. Louis, right?

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  49. …Oh wait, some of you live in Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men good looking, and all the children are above average.

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  50. Todd wrote: “Just to quibble with your view a bit, what you describe is not really Lent, it is simply observing the Easter season, which yes, is a matter of conscience. But Lent historically has a definitive religious meaning and purpose, and Protestants, besides looking ridiculous trying to put a non-Catholic spin on it, should have nothing to do with it. It would be like a Protestant claiming he prays the rosary after confession, but instead of “Hail Mary”, prays, “Hail Jesus” so as not to be Catholic. You would want to mature his understanding and practice, not just leave it a matter of conscience.”

    GW: Hi, Todd. If I may quibble about your quibble, I think your distinction between Lent proper and the so-called “Easter season” is a bit artificial. In the traditional church calendar “Lent” is the season leading up to Easter, and thus it seems to me to be indistinguishable from it. I also think your comparison with a Protestant using the rosary but praying “Hail Jesus” instead of “Hail Mary” is an invalid illustration of your point. Using rosary beads in worship is not authorized in Scripture (hence it is contrary to the regulative principle), and even if one prays “Hail Jesus” such a devotional exercise obviously falls under our Lord’s ban against vain repetition. To compare that to a self-consciously Protestant observance of Lent as a voluntary season of intensified self-examination, repentance and fasting exercised, all exercised in a spirit of Christian liberty (and not in an attempt to merit God’s acceptance or out of a conscience bound to human tradition) is like comparing apples and oranges.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia (1976) defines Lent as: “…the period of six and one half weeks from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday. During Lent, for 40 days, excluding Sundays, fasting is recommended for all Catholics according to the laws of fast. This is reminiscent of the 40 days of our Lord’s unbroken fast (Mt. 4:3-4). The entire period of Lent is also a time of spiritual preparation for the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ. It is observed as a time of penitence other than fasting, and as a time of prayer.” (p. 346)

    Obviously there is some very “Catholic” stuff in that definition that we Protestants would not want to adopt. However, it serves to show that your distinction between “Lent” proper and the “Easter season” is artificial, since Lent is defined as the season of preparation for Good Friday and Easter Sunday (i.e., Lent IS the “Easter season”).

    One internet source defines Lent as follows: “Lent is the period from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday, during which Christians purify themselves by praying, fasting, repenting of their sins, and making changes and sacrifices in their lives. The final week of Lent is called Holy Week; during this period, observant Christians reflect specifically on the last days of Jesus Christ’s life.”

    Is there anything particularly Romish about voluntarily setting aside extra time for prayer, fasting, repentance or making voluntary sacrifices in one’s life, with a view to deeper mortification of sin? Minus the merit theology, the binding of consciences, and unbiblical practices like getting ashes smeared on one’s forehead, such practices can be edifying if pursued in the right manner. Some of us (myself included!) may regard such a practice to be unhelpful, even counterproductive, in our own Christian walk; but if some of our fellow believers find a non-Romish observance of the Lenten season to be edifying and a stimulation toward deeper devotion, are we not being a bit harsh if we judge them to be “immature” or judge their lenten devotional practices to be “ridiculous”?

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  51. DGH: don’t historical origins count for anything?

    Well, yes. To the historically informed.

    If I were to hazard a guess, I would say that fewer than 5% of Protestants have a historical understanding of the history behind the regulative principle and the origins of Lent.

    The Christians I’ve seen (specifically, teenagers) who want to “observe Lent” are thinking along the lines of private fasting. Less than mature? Yeah, probably. But on the list of issues I want to address with them, I’d much rather tackle “retreats” than “Lent.”

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  52. I don’t think I’ve ever met an LCMS member who wasn’t nice. That and Dad Rod on “The White Horse Inn” always impresses me as a fine fellow. One thing the LCMS do is weekly communion. The only down side to that that I’ve observed, at least locally, is it takes so long I think they shorten (and oversimplify) the sermon way too much.

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  53. Jeff, then every time you read “Lent” think “retreat” and you have what you need to address them. That’s what I do for Communion Season. You know, same stuff, different name.

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  54. Zrim quoting Scott Clark: Reformation Day, as we know it, perpetuates the pietist myth that the Reformation happened suddenly and in one-fell-swoop of religious experience (the so-called Turmerlebnis).

    RS: This sounds more like a straw-man. Does anyone (other than perhaps one here or there) actually believe that the Reformation happened suddenly and was a one-fell-swoop experience? It is not a day that is commanded and so there is liberty to remember a day that stands for a time when God in His sovereign grace brought the Gospel from obscurity and sent it out across the lands.

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  55. Richard, the point is that there can be a fair bit of hagiography that surrounds something like Reformation Day, a sort of Protestant version of apostolic succession. Was the Reformation a good thing? Of course. But God raised up every single pope just as much out of his sovereignty as he did Calvin and Luther. Once you grasp that the enthusiasm begins to wane, which I can see would give a semi-revivalist some pause.

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  56. “One thing the LCMS do is weekly communion.”

    Not quite true; many pastors are working toward that. It takes time and proper, patient catechism. I don’t know what percentage have weekly communion, but it’s under half. Twice a month is most common.

    “The only down side to that that I’ve observed, at least locally, is it takes so long I think they shorten (and oversimplify) the sermon way too much.”

    Very true. Preaching in the average LCMS churches can be very lazy and quite frankly, embarrassing. And it has nothing to do with whether communion is offered or not. Sermons usually aren’t longer for Matins (service without communion). Our pastor’s sermons have gotten up to about 30 minutes.

    Thanks for the kind words, but pastors and laity alike often are tempted to despair over the politics and outright wolves in our midst. As converts, my husband and I feel like the LCMS is running on a reputation (both of churches and schools) earned 60 years ago or more. I’m glad someone on here can take advantage of a good classical education, Lutheran or not. Our church no longer supports the school run by another lcms church since they’ve stopped being Lutheran, basically.

    Zrim, if I did live in StL, we probably wouldn’t be driving an hour to church. I only know (of) Lily from this blog.

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  57. Zrim: Richard, the point is that there can be a fair bit of hagiography that surrounds something like Reformation Day, a sort of Protestant version of apostolic succession. Was the Reformation a good thing? Of course. But God raised up every single pope just as much out of his sovereignty as he did Calvin and Luther. Once you grasp that the enthusiasm begins to wane, which I can see would give a semi-revivalist some pause.

    RS: But God raising up every single pope was an act of judgment and raising up Luther and Calvin to bring the Gospel back into focus is quite a different thing. Reformation day can be a day to reflect on how the traditions of men will eventually obscure the Gospel and as such be a background for teaching a pure Gospel.

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  58. Brian – DGH, to be clear, it’s an LCMS school, classical curriculum. Baptist school was somewhere on the list of options after “public” and just before “raised by wolves.”

    Erik – Nice.

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  59. Richard, I’d rather say his raising up of popes was an act of providence–leap frogging to judgment is an act of trying to discern providence, something semi-revivalists do but Belgic 13 warns against. You talk about the Reformation the way Bryan does of apostolic succession.

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  60. Geoff, my rebuttal quibble

    GW: I think your distinction between Lent proper and the so-called “Easter season” is a bit artificial. In the traditional church calendar “Lent” is the season leading up to Easter, and thus it seems to me to be indistinguishable from it.

    But Lent is just not about preparing for Easter in general, it is preparing for Easter through a certain theology of purification.

    GW: To compare that to a self-consciously Protestant observance of Lent

    I would say this is an oxymoron. Lent has a specific historical meaning, and it revolves around the RC view of purification. When you take away this meaning you really do not have Lent anymore, you have made up your own holiday or tradition. It would be like saying (I know you hate my analogies) that Kwanzaa is basically Christmas. No, it’s not.

    GW: “If some of our fellow believers find a non-Romish observance of the Lenten season to be edifying and a stimulation toward deeper devotion, are we not being a bit harsh if we judge them to be “immature” or judge their lenten devotional practices to be “ridiculous”?

    The “ridiculous” comment chiefly referred to Protestants with ash on their foreheads. Immature I would stick with, not as in childish, but as in not understanding the gospel as well as one should.

    According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “the real aim of Lent is, above all else, to prepare men for the celebration of the death and Resurrection of Christ…the better the preparation the more effective the celebration will be. One can effectively relive the mystery only with purified mind and heart. The purpose of Lent is to provide that purification by weaning men from sin and selfishness through self-denial and prayer, by creating in them the desire to do God’s will and to make His kingdom come by making it come first of all in their hearts.”

    We cannot purify ourselves through self-denial. And you cannot create within yourself by certain disciplines a desire to do God’s will.

    Gal. 3 – “Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? Have you experienced so much in vain—if it really was in vain? So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard?”

    Lent ultimately is self-made religion, with an unhealthy focus on self instead of faith in the objective truths of the gospel. Even fasting in the bible is not done “to grow spiritually closer to God,” but in response to the dire need of others, or in cases of coming judgment.

    So Lenten practices result in an unhealthy preoccupation with me and my works, instead of the finished work of Christ as my purification.

    If you want to strip away the entire RC meaning of Lent to simply say you are going to use this Easter season to pray more, spend some extra time each day confessing sin, etc…, but understanding that you cannot purify yourself by your disciplines, fine, but I don’t think you are then really observing Lent as it is historically understood, and even popularly understood. So maybe we are only disagreeing with what can be honestly called Lent.

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  61. I’m curious how the various folks on here read WCF 21.5:

    “5. The reading of the Scriptures with godly fear, the sound preaching and conscionable hearing of the Word, in obedience unto God, with understanding, faith, and reverence, singing of psalms with grace in the heart; as also, the due administration and worthy receiving of the sacraments instituted by Christ, are all parts of the ordinary religious worship of God: beside religious oaths, vows, solemn fastings, and thanksgivings upon special occasions, which are, in their several times and seasons, to be used in an holy and religious manner.”

    Reason I’m curious is particular to that last, bolded part. How do you get to “Lenten Fire” or even warnings of (ostensibly necessary) associations of “purgation and penance” to Lent when it seems the Standards themselves make at least some room for such “religious oaths, vows, solemn fastings, and thanksgivings upon special occasions as Lenten observances might fall under?”

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  62. I’ve been trying to eradicate lent for years now . . . but I occasionally find a little bit in my belly button anyway.

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  63. Todd wrote: “But Lent is just not about preparing for Easter in general, it is preparing for Easter through a certain theology of purification.”

    GW: Good point, Todd. I hadn’t thought carefully enough about the theology undergirding Lent. Thanks for giving me some good food for thought to ponder. I appreciate the dialogue (“iron sharpens iron” and all that).:-)

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  64. Zrim: Richard, I’d rather say his raising up of popes was an act of providence–leap frogging to judgment is an act of trying to discern providence, something semi-revivalists do but Belgic 13 warns against.

    RS: But Belgic 29 (the applicaple parts given below) says a true church and false one are easy to distinguish from each other. If we read the Belgic on providence, we can know that nothing happens apart from the hand of God. So do you have other reasons why God raises up false churches? By the way, take notice of how the Belgic tells us we can recognize true Christians.

    Zrim: You talk about the Reformation the way Bryan does of apostolic succession.

    RS: No, I think of the Reformation as an act of God and so admire what God did in it.

    Belgic 29 The true church can be recognized if it has the following marks: The church engages in the pure preaching of the gospel; it makes use of the pure administration of the sacraments as Christ instituted them; it practices church discipline for correcting faults. In short, it governs itself according to the pure Word of God, rejecting all things contrary to it and holding Jesus Christ as the only Head. By these marks one can be assured of recognizing the true church– and no one ought to be separated from it.

    As for those who can belong to the church, we can recognize them by the distinguishing marks of Christians: namely by faith, and by their fleeing from sin and pursuing righteousness, once they have received the one and only Savior, Jesus Christ. They love the true God and their neighbors, without turning to the right or left, and they crucify the flesh and its works.

    As for the false church, it assigns more authority to itself and its ordinances than to the Word of God; it does not want to subject itself to the yoke of Christ; it does not administer the sacraments as Christ commanded in his Word; it rather adds to them or subtracts from them as it pleases; it bases itself on men, more than on Jesus Christ; it persecutes those who live holy lives according to the Word of God and who rebuke it for its faults, greed, and idolatry.

    These two churches are easy to recognize and thus to distinguish from each other.

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  65. Richard, the point isn’t about true and false churches. It’s about over-reading historical phenomenon, which is why Belgic 13 is so helpful:

    We do not wish to inquire with undue curiosity into what he does that surpasses human understanding and is beyond our ability to comprehend. But in all humility and reverence we adore the just judgments of God, which are hidden from us, being content to be Christ’s disciples, so as to learn only what he shows us in his Word, without going beyond those limits.

    But some of us will see your admiration of the Reformation and raise you subscription to the forms you cite. Curious how those so giddy over the Reformation stop short of the ecclesiastical devotion it produced.

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  66. Todd, bingo on trying to have Lent without the theology of purification. Sort of like trying to have water without the wet.

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  67. Zrim: Richard, the point isn’t about true and false churches. It’s about over-reading historical phenomenon, which is why Belgic 13 is so helpful:

    RS: But my point rested on the issue of Scripture saying what is a true church and what is a false one and so it is not just a matter of interpreting providence. It is a matter of interpreting Scripture and is what Belgic 29 teaches.

    Belgic 13: We do not wish to inquire with undue curiosity into what he does that surpasses human understanding and is beyond our ability to comprehend. But in all humility and reverence we adore the just judgments of God, which are hidden from us, being content to be Christ’s disciples, so as to learn only what he shows us in his Word, without going beyond those limits.

    RS: In my mind I was stating what can be deduced from Scripture and the Belgic.

    Zrim: But some of us will see your admiration of the Reformation and raise you subscription to the forms you cite. Curious how those so giddy over the Reformation stop short of the ecclesiastical devotion it produced.

    RS: Perhaps “giddy” is not the most accurate word, but I will admit to being enthused about what God did before, during, and after the Reformation in many ways. I would say that I do have a commitment to the Church, though indeed it is expressed differently than your thinking on the matter.

    Zrim: Todd, bingo on trying to have Lent without the theology of purification. Sort of like trying to have water without the wet.

    RS: Or to put it differently, like trying to baptize with only a drop or two. By the way, that was an attempt at dry humor on a very slightly moist subject from your view.

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  68. IgnaciusPugnacious.

    In WCF 21:5 “holy and religious” use is opposed to rote and superstitious.
    Romanism is in the cross hairs.

    The “APPENDIX, Touching Days and Places for Publick Worship” to the Directory for Worships says:

    THERE is no day commanded in scripture to be kept holy under the gospel but the
    Lord’s day, which is the Christian Sabbath.
    Festival days, vulgarly called Holy-days, having no warrant in the word of God,
    are not to be continued.
    Nevertheless, it is lawful and necessary, upon special emergent occasions, to
    separate a day or days for publick fasting or thanksgiving, as the several
    eminent and extraordinary dispensations of God’s providence shall administer
    cause and opportunity to his people.

    IOW no regular anniversary days every year like Dec. 25, Turkeyday and Easter.

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  69. Pugnacious, seeing as how the Westminster Divines were opposed to the liturgical calendar and also the prayer book, it is hard to see how this clause provides justification for Lent, not to mention the difference in piety that justification makes.

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  70. Richard, it’s one thing to determine the Roman communion is false, quite another to determine that every pope has been evidence of God’s judgment (why do I get the feeling you’re given to the God-is-judging-America stuff?). But you can have your Communion Season and Reformation Day. I just happen to think these things, like Lent and All Saints Day, are informed by a theology and piety more unfamiliar to both Scripture and any sense of propriety. So sue me.

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  71. Jeff Cagle to RS: Nice to see you quoting BC 29 on the marks of the believer.

    Belgic 29: As for those who can belong to the church, we can recognize them by the distinguishing marks of Christians: namely by faith, and by their fleeing from sin and pursuing righteousness, once they have received the one and only Savior, Jesus Christ. They love the true God and their neighbors, without turning to the right or left, and they crucify the flesh and its works.

    RS: I guess from some previous discussions here I wasn’t aware that people thought much of this part of the Belgic.

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  72. Zrim: Richard, it’s one thing to determine the Roman communion is false, quite another to determine that every pope has been evidence of God’s judgment

    RS: Romans 1:18-32 (and other locations) gives us a paradigm of the wrath and judgment of God. He judges by hardening hearts, blinding people to the truth, and turning people over to sin. When a “communion” teaches a false gospel and one very far from the true Gospel, it is a sign that the leaders have been turned over to a great blindness. Unless a pope tries to turn Rome back to the true Gospel, it is safe to assume that he believes the false gospel and as such is under judgment.

    Zrim: (why do I get the feeling you’re given to the God-is-judging-America stuff?).

    RS: Okay, God is judging the “churches” in America. However you want to put it, when you see a group of people descending together into greater sin and blindness and hardness of heart, there is a group of people under the spiritual judgment of God. So is this judgment on America as such? Maybe not, but there is a lot of judgment on groups in the land. As long as Romans 1:18-32 is true, then when you see any group of people descending into hardness of heart and sin, there is judgement.

    Isaiah 63:17 Why, O LORD, do You cause us to stray from Your ways And harden our heart from fearing You? Return for the sake of Your servants, the tribes of Your heritage.
    Isa 64:6 For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
    7 There is no one who calls on Your name, Who arouses himself to take hold of You; For You have hidden Your face from us And have delivered us into the power of our iniquities.
    8 But now, O LORD, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand.

    Amos 8:11 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD, “When I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, But rather for hearing the words of the LORD.

    Zrim: But you can have your Communion Season and Reformation Day. I just happen to think these things, like Lent and All Saints Day, are informed by a theology and piety more unfamiliar to both Scripture and any sense of propriety.

    RS: I am not sure why having times of confession and repentance (communion season) is against a true theology and piety informed by Scripture. I am also unsure what a time of thanksgiving for God bringing the Gospel to light and reforming the Church (at least to some degree) is against Scripture. I will leave your sense of propriety without remark.

    Zrim: So sue me.

    RS: My lawyer will be in touch.

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  73. Dr Hart:

    I write not as a roman catholic but as a protestant presbyterian. Rome certainly DOES obligate her members to fast and observe lent. Its “prescribed” and they are “bound” in canon law to do so.

    What I’m saying is that “nobody” (by which i mean nobody protestant) who advocates lenten fasting or observance (say, juts by topical bible studies, etc) are obligating anyone to do so. So if you raise the issue of ‘freedom of conscience” in such a context it seems pointless: You are free not to observe lent in any presby or baptist church. Probably Lutheran and Anglican too.

    I wonder BTW, if pca/opc churches following the confession CAN obligate any kind of fasting. Until I joined the PCA, i never heard any calls for ‘fasting”; even through Jesus obviously recommends the practice nobody ever really suggested it would be a good idea, or spent much time explaining what it was good for. And when we had calls for fasting, it was treated i think only as pious advice: since we were seeking to find a new pastor (iirc) it was commended to us as a way of focusing our minds on our need to beseech God.

    But it wasn’t obligatory.

    So again I ask, how is anyone’s liberty of conscience infringed by any of the contemporary calls for lent.

    And again: what is the issue with a “calendar” that arranges topical information about Jesus to correspond to various seasons? Is the church obligated to preach through books of the bible seriatim? and cant do the life of Jesus in a calendar format?

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  74. Dr Hart

    Were ALL the divines opposed to “the prayer book” or to the imposition BY THE STATE of a particular prayer book that contained objectionable rubrics.

    It makes a difference.

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  75. question for anti-ash folks

    Is repentance an “element of worship”?

    Is repentance allowed to include visible or audible signs? Is it wrong for me to cry when I’m sorry for my sins (audible sign)

    Is it not biblical to put ashes on ones head to show repentance?

    If drinking a cup of wine and eating a hunk of bread in rite prescribed by jesus can become a thimble of wine (or worse, juice) and a cracker, why can’t a biblical pattern of repentance with ashes on the head become a smear.

    and its voluntary, so so what?

    free exegetical point: I think the non-worship altar created by the transjordanian tribes in Joshua 22 is a pretty major fly in the regulative principle ointment, because it means a lot of personal pious practices can’t be subject to criticism if they aren’t used to rival the authorized worship. So “unbiblical” xmas trees, advent calendars, candles, or crosses on neck chains as ‘”reminders” is perfectly optional to be used with wisdom and prudence.

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  76. Paul,

    My question about Ash Wednesday is this . . . If it wasn’t already practiced by some, would any of us conclude from Scripture that the practice was needed in any way to express repentance?

    Burning palm leaves and using the ashes to make a symbol of the cross on my forehead is far removed from anything Scriptural as far as I can see. Even the “Transjordan non-worship altar” (as you referred to it) has some type of biblical precedent. Where is the Scriptural precedent for burning stuff and smearing ashes on my forehead in the shape of a cross. If you can supply that kind of warrant, then maybe I don’t have to suppress my pyromania after all.

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  77. I mean, if we’re going to put ashes on our head, where’s the sackcloth? Maybe a little smear on the forehead is ok to show our repentance, but we don’t want to be itchy.

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  78. Dr. Hart, taking your word for it that the Westminster Divines were “opposed to the liturgical calendar and also the prayer book,” it still leaves me wondering, if WCF 21.5 doesn’t justify Lent, how do “…religious oaths, vows, solemn fastings, and thanksgivings upon special occasions, which are, in their several times and seasons, to be used in an holy and religious manner” differ conceptually from Lenten religious oaths, vows, solemn fastings, which are in their several times and seasons, used in an holy and religious manner?

    I mean specifically, I grabbed the language of 21.5 directly off the OPC’s own WWW pages, not CtC’s, or the Bishop of Moscow’s. You’ve implied you don’t see how it justifies Lent. What then is 21.5 referring to, then, in a Reformed, even Confessional, context? Not what it justifies, but more than that, the language seems to imply that these practices, whatever the language of 21.5 is referring to, are not just permitted, but commended, arguably as “ordinary religious worship”. Hence the word, “beside at the beginning of the final clause in question.

    It would seem to me, that’s the plain reading of 21.5. Not that we are in any way to view any of these practices, whether or not done in the context of Lenten observances, as necessary for justification; that would contradict the plain teaching of scripture and the rest of the standards, but that 21.5 seems to treat such practices, seemingly otherwise indistinguishable from many Lenten observances (i.e. fastings, vows, etc.) as if they are or can be at least legitimate elements of “ordinary worship”.

    How then “Lenten Fire, unless such practices are couched in and expected of Christians within the context of a Roman doctrine of “penance,” which isn’t the case, even in Lutheran contexts? What are the Divines, who were apparently opposed to liturgical calendars, etc., referring to, then? What solemnizes a fast, or a vow, then? What do the Divines mean by “their several times and seasons?”

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  79. If you’re a protestant and want to do a season of consecration, pick a time frame, as with fasting, do it so that no one else knows you’re doing it(wash your forehead, no self-righteous displays). Don’t unintentionally or wittingly bind another’s conscience by your actions and don’t forsake the Lord’s day. Only you and God should know about it.

    Matt 6:1 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
    2 “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

    The Lord’s Prayer

    5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

    God seems to be big on guarding against self-promotion in your personal consecration, even to Him. He seems to think your public/personal consecration to Him, even under the guise of ‘witnessing Christ’ to others has more to do with your self-righteousness than piety toward Him. But what does God know about the heart?! We already know 2nd temple Judaism wasn’t a religion of works and self-rightesousness. Carry on ashy protestants.

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  80. Erik,

    No serenade
    No fire brigade
    Just Pyromania

    Hmmm . . . Maybe there’s something to this Lenten stuff. After all, it’s better to burn out than fade away.

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  81. Paul, the post never mentioned freedom of conscience. It was about bad theology. Someone who recommends Lent (aside for all the historical baggage of liberty of conscience and the sacrament of penance and wrong beliefs about Easter) is also guilty of bad pastoral advice — unless you want to be very clear to distinguish this Lent from that Lent. But then why not simply call it fasting? (odd that so many would talk about fasting at only one forty-day period in the year.)

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  82. Paul, seeing how to this day the Free Church, Irish Presbyterians, and Covenanters refuse to use even a bulletin for the order of service, I’d say that a major portion of the Assembly was opposed to the Prayer Book entirely. That’s part of the reason I get blow back when I recommend read prayers. Read prayers are not spiritual. They are rote.

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  83. Ignatius, no one is denying fasting. Fasting is part of religious devotion. What some are denying is turning into a certain limited time during the year. What could possibly be the justification for doing that (which is what Lent does)?

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  84. By the way, against my better judgment I tried the Fish McBites. They gave me raging heart burn. Playing with Lenten Fire indeed!

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  85. Dr Hart the post says

    “Strikingly absent from these recommendations are any of the older Protestant warnings about church calendars and liberty of conscience”

    so I assumed you were trying to make a case that protestant advocates of lent were ignoring an actual liberty of conscience issue with lent.

    And I think “not calling it lent” is up there were refusing to call it Easter, or ChristMASS, and every advocate I’ve seen has indicated that it was not obligatory, its just piously useful to focus on a topic with added solemnity as a community. I think that’s superior to the hypothetical utility of fasting with no actual practice that seems to be the norm otherwise.

    Can we really infer what the assembly meant by the beliefs of a few denominations now? I admit the majority of divines were against it. I’m also certain it was not all. In any case “in their times and SEASONS” seems to me like the kind of committee document that everyone can read in his own sense.

    Thanks for the interaction and clarification.

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  86. Dr. Hart, does Lent do that? Which again begs the question, whose Lent? Anglicans’? RCs’? Lutherans’?

    I don’t think anyone, not even Roman Catholics with their doctrine of penance and purgation as part of their Lenten observances, would agree that repentance and fasting and the like are only to be engaged in at certain times of the year and not at all times. But at their very essences, fastings & religious vows (even lifelong ones) are time-bound, i.e. “limited” things.

    The reasoning, it seems at least in large part, behind observing “seasons and times” of fasting and special vows, etc., are ostensibly to exercise the mind of the worshipers on the historical reality of Christ’s work on their behalf. Situated as we all are in time, it seems such seasons and times are a practical way to redeem the time we live in by considering the events of Christ’s life and work in our own day.

    How is this “fire” unless you hear it recommended as meritorious for salvation? I haven’t heard of any Protestant doing so. Not even functional RCs like the Bishop of Moscow or NT Wright.

    Perhaps folks should just take exception to the last sentence of WCF 21.5.

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  87. What could justify a limited fast during the year?

    1. all fasts should be limited. Otherwise you die.:)

    2. if a church calendar focusing on events of the life of Christ over one year is clearly useful pedagogically, a fast as part of that seems sensible.

    3. having a set time for something means people can and do participate in it communally. That may be of value, though it may bring dangers. Its great when sabbatarians are all together in church experiencing the same ‘fast’ from work and entertainment. It stinks when half your friends at church go on and on about how awesome the football game was.

    4. having a fast at all is justified by simple biblical citation. The circumstances of the fast are regulated by “the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word”. And it is common to human actions and societies to do things as annual observances.

    5. the light of nature and xian prudence probably argue against 6 hour sunday meetings with singing. So maybe 40 days is too much. Make it a week. or just the fridays of a month.

    6. Its adiaphoral, so why not use an ancient form of doing the action that made sense to a lot of people over time, the objectionable elements having been purged. (not obligatory, not releasing anyone from temporal guilt, etc)

    I bet you could think of a few more.

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  88. Dr. Hart,
    Excellent, just excellent…..although Happy Meals do make me happy!
    For those that want specific limitations I would suggest they try out the following plan:
    …work for six days, rest for one day, and repeat….. What a delight!

    Have a great weekend,
    Ginger

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  89. I’ll offer some evidence in support of Paul Duggan’s point regarding the Divines and their position on a prayer book and a calendar. Check out this BCP as amended by the Westminster Divines and published in 1661. I do understand that this was proffered by them given the reality that Charles II was now on the throne and the Church of England wasn’t going Presbyterian. Nonetheless, they pu this forth as an alternative to a BCP that contained some doctrinal confusion and practices based on man’s tradition.

    The Book of Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacraments
    and other rites and ceremonies of the Church
    As Amended by the Westminster Divines in the Royal Commission of 1661

    http://tinyurl.com/amo7cqm

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  90. Erik, did you hear about the time John Murray and the Dalai Lama played a round of golf together and got into a discussion on the nature of a blessing?… (as he sets the table for him)

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  91. Right in the middle of their disagreement at the 12th tee, Bill Murray came from behind and asked to play through. And as he did he was heard mumbling, “the Dalai’s view on blessings is off… a bunch of over-realized eschatology…”

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  92. Today I’ve used an elevator in a Catholic hospital several times. The elevator includes a screen cycling through various points of information. Here is one of them:

    First Sunday of Lent
    “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.” Luke 4:12

    So what’s the idea? The failure to observe Lent is testing God? Or is it something else?

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  93. Ignatius, the question stands, why call fasting Lent? It’s like calling my pastor pope. I could do that. I’m not binding anyone’s conscience. Dutch Calvinists used to call their pastors dominie, as in papa. So it wouldn’t be far fetched to call my pastor pope. And yet there is baggage.

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  94. Paul, so go ahead. Fast. Fast with your friends. Why go to such limits to defend Lent or those who recommend it? It’s like you’re looking for ways to be Canadian without living in Canada. Or you could just use the generic North America — hence, fast.

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  95. Jack, can you verify that any of the compilers of this BCP actually participated at the Westminster Assembly. Thomas Manton was a clerk. It seems that a lot of politics were going on between 1660, the Restoration, and 1662, the Act of Uniformity. I can well imagine some pastors looking for ways to maintain a collective order. But would this accurately reflect their views? Also, it seems odd to site an edition published 200 years later in the U.S. Don’t get me wrong. I actually appreciate this BCP. But I don’t know that it reflects the commissioners of the 1640s.

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  96. Darryl, according to Wiki, eight of the twenty men who put their names to this amended BCP were also numbered among the Westminster Divines:

    Anthony Tuckney, John Conant, William Spurstow, John Wallis, Edward Calamy, Matthew Newcomen, Edward Reynolds, John Lightfoot… Not to mention the clerk Manton.

    As to siting this edition, it’s all I can find. But it does claim to be a republication of the 1661 original. The Google scanning team obviously needs to go further back into the archives! And yes, as I alluded to in in my comments, politics were afoot and very probably part of the rationale for this offering. Charles II was on the throne and a fallback position was arguably in view by these men. But it’s hard to find a clear line between Church and State even among the Divines and the Parliament dominated by Presbyterians, as the history of the 1640’s to 1660’s shows. Interestingly, the very objections that the Puritans/Prebyterians had, over the years, to the previous BCP were incorporated into this revision.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_the_Westminster_Divines

    http://books.google.com/books?id=G33ZAAAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

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  97. Zrim

    ‘John T., the Reformed that are skeptical of penitential seasons are the same that confess WCF 19.5 and HC 86. You may say that lessens credibility but what keeps you from antinomianism?”

    What keeps me from antinomianism is recognising that in Christ I have died to sin (just as I have died to the law). The life I now live I live to God. The new life I have and the indwelling Spirit who focusses me on Christ and thus I am changed into his likeness are the dynamic of godliness. Of course, all Scripture is profitable for instruction in righteousness, including the law. However, I am not under the authority of law else I would need to obey it as it stands without considering its value and teaching through the prism of Christ; I would be living as a Jew.

    No, death with Christ means I have died to the authorities that controlled in the old life – sin, Satan, the world, flesh, and the law. I am obligated to none. My life is seeking the things above not the things on the earth.

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  98. We are told that those who now advocate lent do not seek to bind it on conscience. A couple of points.

    1. What starts as simply suggesting, if embraced, becomes in time a habit that eventually binds the conscience. If enough people advocate it it becomes institutionalised and imposed.

    2. Why preach it at all if it has no biblical authority? What right has anyone to advocate what has no biblical mandate and what is actually disapproved.

    3. It is one thing for Paul to allow weak consciences but quite another to allow weak consciences (or misguided preachers) to turn their own weakness into a theology that adds to Christ which they actually preach and promote. Lent is an example of religious practice that fails to recognise we have died with Christ and live in a realm where rudimentary religion has no place. It has an appearance of wisdom but is of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

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  99. Darryl, to be clear I agree with your statement –
    It seems that a lot of politics were going on between 1660, the Restoration, and 1662, the Act of Uniformity. I can well imagine some pastors looking for ways to maintain a collective order.
    – I believe at the same time this book was put forth, the Presbyterians were also hoping to win concessions that would allow freedom of conscience as to individual ministers using the BCP. It was a messy time and as Letham notes in his book, The Westminster Assembly, although the Presbyterians were clear on liberty of conscience and the communion of saints (Chapter s 20 and 26) even they pretty much ignored that when it came to their dealings with the Independents (p. 299 including footnote).

    So I don’t see this as evidence that the Divines were advocating a mandated use of the BCP and a church calendar. Interestingly, as pertains to the topic of this thread, there is no Penitential Office for Ash Wednesday in this 1661 Presb. BCP (nor was there in England’s 1552, 1559, or 1662). It was the U.S. Episcopal Church that incorporated that RC practice into their 1892 and 1928 books. The U.S. Episcopal has always been institutionally less reformed than England.

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  100. John T., that’s more or less something those who confess WCF 19.5 and HC 86 could affirm (i.e. not under law but grace). So why is it a problem to affirm the abiding nature of the moral law on believers and reject penitential seasons? Can you see how rejecting the binding nature of the moral law might give some reason to suspect an antinomian impulse?

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  101. Hello Jack,
    We’ve been here before.
    Manton wrote a preface or commended the Standards, but did not attend.
    Thos. Case got left out of your list.
    So the bottom line is 9 of 20 at the Savoy were former West. divines as compared to the 105 total who attended the West. Assembly in the first place.
    And the point is?
    If I didn’t know better I’d say this is tantamount to CtC’s clutching at straws when it comes to the universal consent of patristic fathers regarding the cause du jour.

    Banner of Truth’s 1982 reprint of James Reid’s 1811 Memoirs of the Westminster Divines is out of print, but Vol.2 can be found on Google here

    thanks

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  102. Anthony Tuckney, John Conant, William Spurstow, John Wallis, Edward Calamy, Matthew Newcomen, Edward Reynolds, John Lightfoot…

    Whoops. John Wallis was a scribe at West. so your original number of eight is correct, Jack.
    My error

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  103. Dr. Hart, the reason for calling it Lent is very simple (if Wikipedia is to be believed in this case):

    This word initially simply meant spring (as in the German language Lenz and Dutch lente) and derives from the Germanic root for long because in the spring the days visibly lengthen.

    In other words, (baggage notwithstanding) a fast, or “…a rose, by any other name…”.

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  104. Bob S wrote, And the point is?

    Uh, it’s called the historical record. No agenda from this corner. You may be assuming something that is not there, but which can be used as fodder for comment conspiracy fun…

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  105. Jack,
    My point was if it is the historical record, it is decidedly the minute one; the exception and not the rule.
    To keep referring to “the Divines” as if those who signed the Savoy were the same as or the majority of the divines that attended the Westminster is to play word games/equivocate. That is what I am objecting to.
    The Preface to the Directory for Publick Worship pretty much tells us in no uncertain terms, what the divines – who were largely ministers in the Anglican church – thought about the BCP. While it was useful in its day, further reformation was needed because of its abuse in binding consciences by the prelates, its hindrance to the preaching and its compliance with the papist service.

    Yeah Erik, I saw that link at Amazon, but was looking for the text being up at Google. I got my copy of Reid in ’91.

    IP, Lent is a rote and superstitious affair, not a holy and religious one according to the context of the entire Standards that comes automatically once a year. IOW it is not of apostolic origin. Weaker brethren misled by romanism may think it spiritual, but it is not scriptural, hence superstition again comes into play.

    Neither was the altar erected by the two and a half tribes used for sacrifice, i.e. worship. Hence no violation of the RPW.

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  106. Bob S, it is in the historical record. I offered as some evidence in support of Paul’s point. Not definite nor dispositive. Believe it or not I actually agree that the BCP needing reforming (as I already commented) and that it was better to do away with its mandated use in that that would be binding consciences apart from Scripture (violating WCF 20). Nonetheless, the BCP as amended by these Presbyterians seems in the ballpark of conforming to reformed worship (e.g. chanting the Psalms) and doing away with what wasn’t conformable to the Word of God in the CoE BCP.

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  107. As a previous commenter should know, these words:

    Their sorrows shall be multiplied to other gods that haste.
    Of their drink offerings of blood I will no offering make
    Yeah neither I their very names upon my lips will take
    Ps 16:4 Metrical

    Very strongly teach piety of keeping very far away from the idolatrous practices of false worship. Lent is idolatrous because it is inexorably tied to the idolatrous system centered on the mass. (Shocking I know, but yes the mass is idolatrous)

    My question is: where is the sackcloth, and why only ashes on the one day?

    So for all those thinking Lent is at the very worst not so bad — are you so sure that God is really all that thrilled?

    When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts?
    Isa 1:12

    And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams
    1 Sam 15:22

    I’m sure if your are sincere enough (or convinced enough in your own mind) that God will find it acceptable. It doesn’t matter if it is the commandment of men or the suggestion of Satan really, as long as you mean it be devotional to God, because surely Christ would never ask you this: “When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand?

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  108. Andrew, you might want to not assume and instead read my comments more carefully or what I have written on my blog. I am not promoting Lent. I don’t keep Lent. And the BCP as amended by a small minority of Divines doesn’t observe it nor Ash Wednesday. I am in the OPC and would be pleased as punch if more churches only observed one holy day, i.e. the Lord’s day. It’s this kind of knee-jerk reaction that inhibits a further understanding of the somewhat complex and uneven history that surrounds the development of our confessions and catechisms. You might want to read Richard Muller’s “Calvin and the Reformed Tradition” – recommended by R.S. Clark.

    Where’s Mother Kirk when we need her?

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  109. Hi Jack, your first comment read:

    I’ll offer some evidence in support of Paul Duggan’s point regarding the Divines and their position on a prayer book and a calendar. Check out this BCP as amended by the Westminster Divines and published in 1661.

    It should have read “amended by a tenth of the original West. Divines”. That makes all the difference in the world.

    Paul’s point(s)?
    They were pretty pathetic/beautiful banalities.

    2. A church calendar was clearly reprobated by the Westminster divines.

    4. If the RPW doesn’t (and don’t worry, it does), arguably the “general rules of the Word” already preclude “annual observances common to human societies and actions” in worship.

    5. One of the general rules of the Word is ‘avoiding even the appearance of evil’. Hence the reformed objection to the dregs of AntiChrist or his footprints in the worship of God. IOW Good Friday fasts, Lent, Advent etc. See RSC’s latest on Good Intentions at the Heidelblog.

    6. The RC paraphernalia is not adiaphora according to Rome. It is the essence of piety/faithful walking by sight. But then the 40 days, the title Lent etc. would have to go. Indeed. So what are we arguing for again? Rote and superstitious fasting and prayer or the holy and religious use thereof? Can’t tell the difference? Then we’re only demonstrating our incompetence to the question. Best then to ask about rather than positively ssert this kind of nonsense.

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  110. I haven’t read through all the comments, so someone may have already said this, but it seems to me that, as long as we realize that our conscious is bound only by Scripture, and not by Church tradition, Protestants can participate in Lent.

    So long as it’s a personal decision and doesn’t turn into legalism or public display, I see no problem with taking time to re-double our efforts to grow nearer to Christ.

    Yes, this is a daily practice anyway for the Protestant, but who can honestly say that we don’t wander and become distracted in this fallen world?

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  111. 1. To my esteemed cousin Andrew

    Whether Lent is ‘inexorably” tied to the false practices of idolatrous roman catholicism is the question under consideration. It seems to me to say you can’t do any kind of thing like Lent because it is inexorably tied to the RCC is to beg the question.

    2. to Dr Hart I’m not even doing lent, other than trying to remember the sufferings of Christ more. I’m just standing for adiaphora to remain adiaphora.

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  112. Bob S, thanks. Next time I’ll remember that this is a court room and not a blog. I’ll try to weigh my words more carefully when commenting knowing you’ll be parsing.

    Just to note: What I offered was indeed “some” evidence of support of a BCP and a calendar by the Divines. If I meant “all” I would have argued that and hardly would have been the one to point out it was only eight. And additionally, if I thought it was clear evidence of their preferring that book and calendar I doubt I would have made the point that most likely politics played a role in their offering their amended version.

    Can I get off with just a warning? 😉

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  113. Come on, Jackie.
    If you want the last word, just ask for it.
    Here, hold at your hand and I’ll give it to ya.
    There. Got it?
    Don’t drop it now.

    Bub S(miley face)

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