Discussion with a Protestant reg. "unbiblical" nature of Lent

It began as a defense of the Lent and Ash Wednesday to a friend, but the Protestant in question then asserted that Lent was both man-made and un-biblical. I questioned his resistance to man-made things, particularly in light of the Bible itself not appearing ex nihilo, and then pointed out some of the biblical foundations for the season, in addition to linking to this tract:

ewtn.com/library/liturgy/histlent.txt

He responded thusly (and I’ll spare the passages he quotes lest this get overlong)(and I should mention that I myself am confused as to whether his commentary is meant to follow or precede the supplied verses):

"
These are the two main points given in the article posted on the reason for lent… Both are anti-biblical as there is no need for any extra-biblical works for atonement other than the atoning work of Jesus on the cross.

“yet are we still sinners: and where there is sin, there must be expiation.”
“Lent, then, is a time consecrated in an especial manner to penance; and this penance is mainly practiced by fasting. Fasting is an abstinence, which man voluntarily imposes upon himself as an expiation for sin”

// He goes on to provide definitions for penance and expiation, making the very wise decision to define terms before an argument

Expiation is not needed because any man who is truly born again is set free from sin!

(1 Corinthians 6:9-11 KJV)(Romans 6:1-2, 4-7, 11-15, 17-18, 22 KJV) (Romans 8:1-4 KJV)(1 John 1:6-7 KJV)(2 Corinthians 5:17-19 KJV)

I am no longer a sinner but a saint!

// Cue spit take

(1 Corinthians 1:2 KJV)(Romans 1:7 KJV)

No need for penance here!

(Hebrews 10:10-14, 16-20 KJV)

No need for priests to absolve my sin!

(1 Timothy 2:5-6 KJV)

Anything which adds to the finished work of the cross is another gospel!
(Galatians 1:9 KJV)
"

So I’m thinking of submitting Colossians 1:24, in regards to working alongside Christ’s sacrifice.

To be honest, I’ve never met a “once-saved, always saved” type. The idea is so alien, I’m not sure how to tackle it. :shrug:

What type of strange protestant denomination was he? For the past 45 years that I know about, the Protestants I know have always gone to church on Ash Wednesday and gotten their ashes, celebrated Lent (although not in the same way Catholics do), etc.

I don’t think they’re keeping track anymore. Non-denominational is all I can extract.

For the past 45 years that I know about, the Protestants I know have always gone to church on Ash Wednesday and gotten their ashes, celebrated Lent (although not in the same way Catholics do), etc.

That’s been my experience as well, at least with the Lutherans. The Methodists are swell.

Regarding his truly remarkable claim, “I am no longer a sinner but a saint!”, I think I might say that even Saints are sinners, and leave him with 1 John 1:8-10.

Most of the protestant denominations do not celebrate Ash Wednesday or Lent. Least the ones in america dont. Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterian etc. A protestant who does celebrate Lent and receives ashes is an exception not the norm.

You may ask him why he ignores Jesus teaching about fasting. Jesus didn’t say IF you fast, He said WHEN you fast.

So ask your friend when the last time he fasted was? And if he hasn’t, why he is disobeying Christ?

I would also ask him if he believes he is one of the branches on the True Vine of Jesus. (He’ll say yes). Then ask him if branches are ever removed from the True Vine, why they are removed, and what happens to them.

Yeah, I’ve never understood OSAS. On that front, you may find Jesus’s “He who endures until the end…” (Mark 13:13, and approximately a million other places) and St. Paul’s “I am a sinner” (1 Timothy something, I think) useful. (He may say that St. Paul was saying that he was a sinner before being “saved,” but that’s not what the words say. He says “I am,” not “I was.”)

Further, the bible is completely full of people going off to do penance and fasting (OT and NT), including Jesus Himself.

This is from me, a non-denominational protestant; What you are running into is a response to the “expiation” of sin comment in the article. We (most non-denominational protestants) don’t believe we can expiate our sin, but rather Jesus did all the expiation needed, IF they are defining “expiate” as paying for, covering, wiping out, etc… We can, however, expiate the earthly consequences, guilt, etc… associated with sin, and can show amends for our sin, and that may be a point I would make.

If they are against the general practice of Lent, there is no need to be. Fasting is clearly called for in scripture, and the model was indeed OT models, and the model of Jesus fasting as well. Fasting is seen to bring the person more inline with God, concentrating on the spiritual instead of the physical etc… “Lent” itself is obviously a-biblical, as “Lent” is not written out in scripture, but the idea is there, so if arguing for it, or at least showing how it can indeed work for Christians, that’s how I’d do it.

Usually, though it is a “simple” matter of the liturgical calendar being, by and large, rejected by many non-denoms and evangelical churches. Then, you are also running into a different view of penance which is related to Lent, but is a larger theological issue.

Although there are Protestants who observe Lent, the idea of having oneself being anointed with ashes on one’s forehead on Ash Wednesday for all to see is foreign to Scripture. In fact, Jesus teaches the opposite:

“Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:16-18)

I was watching EWTN a couple of years ago when they were teaching about Lent. And although you can find ECF’s who observed it a few hundred years after the time of Christ, the priest on the program admitted that the concept of Lent, in the way it’s observed today, was borrowed from a pagan religion. I did some research, & I found out that pagan religion it was borrowed from was Babylon.

So, if you decide to observe Lent, observe it for the Lord - but not as a means of merely giving something up that you value for 40 days, just to go back to it once the 40 days is over - but give your whole self to the Lord. When that happens, the “once-saved, always-saved” concept taught in Scripture will make more sense (John 3:16; 10:27-29; Romans 8:38-39; etc). Our “life” is “eternal” with Christ that cannot end, just as His “eternal” reign will never end, once we genuinely repent & accept Jesus not just as our Savior, but also our Lord. “Lord” means “Master,” & masters have slaves. That is why Christians are called “slaves (Greek: doulos) of Christ,” instead of servants. The difference is that a slave is owned by his/her master, while a servant is not. A slave can’t “quit” being a slave, nor stop “believing” he/she is a slave, like a servant can. Those who stop believing that Christ is their Lord were never truly “slaves of Christ” to begin with (1 John 2:19), but merely servants. The “life” of a genuinely repentant “slave of Christ” is eternal. Therefore, the slave’s salvation cannot ever end, once they genuinely repent. Those who “claim” to be servants of Christ who walk away later believed in an “easy-believism” that involved no commitment & no conviction, which is unbiblical.

I am a slave of Christ, & I believe in the assurance of my salvation based on the written Word of God (1 John 5:13). Are you a “slave of Christ” or just a servant?

Grace to you.

I live in the South. Most protestants do Lent around here. And Ashes. If not at their churches, they show up at ours.
God bless them.

I was raised Methodist and became Catholic as a young adult. I recall the Lent of my childhood (late 70’s and early 80’s) and that of my Methodist, Presbyterian, and Lutheran friends wasn’t quite like the ones of our Catholic friends (who went meatless on Fridays), but we still observed Lent in our own denominations. I think you’ll find most mainline Protestant denominations that are liturgical in nature do recognize Lent. I live in the Midwest and many of the Methodist, Episcopalian, and Lutheran churches in my city held Ash Wednesday services this week and see Lent as a reflective and sacrificial time. Some individual members of those denominations may fast and abstain during this time, but they usually don’t fast in the sense that Catholics do and certainly not like Eastern Orthodox.

A quick glance at the “official” websites of the Protestant denominations I mentioned above show they as a whole, do observe Lent, although individual churches in your community many downplay it based on the pastor’s preferences.

The Baptists and their many off-shoots (First Baptist, Southern Baptist, etc), I do not know about and would be surprised if they did celebrate Lent.

Thank you for sanctifying us at CAF.

The purpose of the ashes is not to show or boast on fasting. When the ashes are placed on the faithful the Priest says: “For dust you are and to dust you shall return”. Some people chose to keep the ashes, and this is a way to evangelize, because the true meaning of the ashes is a witness that we are all sinners in need of repentance and that through Jesus all sins are forgiven through faith. Surely you don’t want to criticize a way to evangelize and bring others to Christ.

For one who criticizes so freely after admitting to having done research for one thing but not to another, it just shows a selective manner of just bashing another brother/sister. This is not constructive at all.

The 40 days of lent represent the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert, fasting. Since we want to be slaves to Christ, we imitate and remember the season of Lent in His name. And just because this season is highlighted for Christ, it doesn’t mean it is the only season we fast and/or are encouraged to fast. Surely you would not want to criticize such an imitation of Christ.

Then the arrogance and boastful declaration of being a slave of Christ and your assurance is in direct contradiction to what you just declared about doing things in hiding. Further, the pedantic question of being either a slave or a servant not only presupposes the other person’s beliefs but fails to properly show a distinction. Further, to invoke knowledge of the “genuinely repentant” is also a travesty and not biblical! For only God knows the heart. Surely you don’t claim such a knowledge.

I leave you with a prayer from St. Ephrem the Syrian:

O Lord and Master of my life!

Take from me the spirit of sloth,
faint-heartedness, lust of power, and idle talk.

But give rather the spirit of chastity,
humility, patience, and love to Thy servant.

Yea, Lord and King! Grant me to see my own errors
and not to judge my brother,
for Thou art blessed unto ages of ages.

Amen.

:confused:
I was raised Methodist and became Catholic as a young adult. I recall the Lent of my childhood (late 70’s and early 80’s) and that of my Methodist, Presbyterian, and Lutheran friends wasn’t quite like the ones of our Catholic friends (who went meatless on Fridays), but we still observed Lent in our own denominations. I think you’ll find most mainline Protestant denominations that are liturgical continue to recognize Lent. I live in the Midwest and many of the Methodist, Episcopalian, and Lutheran churches in my city held Ash Wednesday services this week and see Lent as a reflective and sacrificial time. Some individual members of those denominations may fast and abstain during this time, but they usually don’t fast in the sense that Catholics do and certainly not like Eastern Orthodox.

A quick glance at the “official” websites of the Protestant denominations I mentioned above show, as a whole, they do observe Lent, although individual churches in your own community many downplay it based on the pastor’s preferences.

I do not know about Baptists and their many off-shoots (First Baptist, Southern Baptist, but I would be surprised if they did celebrate Lent, since I don’t believe they are very liturgical when it comes to their services.

umc.org/what-we-believe/why-ashes-on-ash-wednesday

pcusa.org/resource/ash-wednesday-service/

While receiving ashes may not be as widespread, observances of Ash Wednesday are rather common. AME’s, Anglicans, Moravians, Some Baptists, Lutherans, many Reformed, Methodists, Weslyans, and others.

Jon

:amen::blessyou:

Then let me ask you this question: since you admit that you are a slave of Christ, & not just a servant, do you believe that you can’t lose your salvation - even to unbelief or committing a “mortal” sin, or do you believe your salvation can be lost which would make you a servant & not a slave?

There are a myriad of threads that deal with OSAS, feel free to search for them or open a new thread.

It is not proper to depart from the OP. But keep in mind, I am in full agreement with Paul in Philippians 3.

Your post has been properly addressed.

A word of advice. You are already dealing with the same subject in several threads, and that can be seen as proselytizing, which is banned per forum rules. If you are so willing to discuss this subject, a new thread is the proper way to go about it.

Also, it is proper and logical to first provide a definition of the things being discussed.

Amen.

I thought I’d add this little commentary on the history and meaning of Ash Wednesday from a Lutheran perspective.

Ash Wednesday, originally called dies cinerum (day of ashes) is mentioned in the earliest copies of the Gregorian Sacramentary, and probably dates from at least the 8th Century. One of the earliest descriptions of Ash Wednesday is found in the writings of the Anglo-Saxon abbot Aelfric (955-1020). In his Lives of the Saints, he writes, “We read in the books both in the Old Law and in the New that the men who repented of their sins bestrewed themselves with ashes and clothed their bodies with sackcloth. Now let us do this little at the beginning of our Lent that we strew ashes upon our heads to signify that we ought to repent of our sins during the Lenten fast.” Aelfric then proceeds to tell the tale of a man who refused to go to church for the ashes and was accidentally killed several days later in a boar hunt! This quotation confirms what we know from other sources, that throughout the Middle Ages ashes were sprinkled on the head, rather than anointed on the forehead as in our day.

As Aelfric suggests, the pouring of ashes on one’s body (and dressing in sackcloth, a very rough material) as an outer manifestation of inner repentance or mourning is an ancient practice. It is mentioned several times in the Old Testament. What is probably the earliest occurrence is found at the very end of the book of Job. Job, having been rebuked by God, confesses, “Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6). Other examples are found in 2 Samuel 13:19, Esther 4:1,3, Isaiah 61:3, Jeremiah 6:26, Ezekiel 27:30, and Daniel 9:3. In the New Testament, Jesus alludes to the practice in Matthew 11:21: “Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.”

orlutheran.com/html/ash.html

The use of sack cloth and, indeed, ashes, as an outer manifestation of inner repentance is as old as scripture, and a practice going back the eighth century.

Jon

Thank you, Jon! :thumbsup:

BCE or BC?

Nehemiah 9:1 “…fasting and in sackcloth, and with earth upon their heads.”
Judith 4:11 “…put ashes on their heads and spread out their sackcloth…”
Daniel 9:3 “… seeking him by prayer and supplications with fasting and sackcloth and ashes.”

Perhaps you would like to disclose your “research” sources?

And if you have looked at the right places, such as the OT, you would have found numerous examples of repentance and fasting with ashes/earth on the heads and wearing of sackcloth.

Daniel 9:3
Judith 4:11
Nehemiah 9:1

If you have done your research without any bias, why would you start looking at pagan practices? It says so much about your objectivity.

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