Need Help defending the Church and Lent


What would be a good rebuttal to a protestant who states that Lent is not biblical based on 1 Timothy 4 1-5

“Now the Spirit explicitly says that in the last times some will turn away from the faith by paying attention to deceitful spirits and demonic instructions through the hypocrisy of liars with branded consciences. They forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected when received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the invocation of God in prayer.”

Thanks for the help.


Point out that nowhere does the Bible say that it, itself, is the sole rule of faith, but that in several instances is does say that the Church is firmly in charge.

It has the power to bind and loose, given by Christ – in other words, it has His authority.

It is guided to “all truth” by the Holy Spirit, and the “gates of Hades” will never prevail against it – in other words, it has Christ’s guarantee of guidance and protection from error.

You can search or to find the exact chapter/verse. Good luck!



From the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible:

4:3 forbid marriage: Timothy is put on guard against teachers who deny the goodness of marriage. Even Paul, who actively promotes celibacy (1 Cor 7:25-26), firmly upholds the propriety and sanctity of married life (Eph 5:21-33). See note on 1 Cor 7:1. abstinence from foods: Possibly a reference to the dietary restrictions of the Old Covenant (Lev 11). The warning is issued because these laws are no longer binding upon believers in the New Covenant (Mk 7:18-19; Acts 10:9-16). Some suggest this twofold ban on marriage and certain foods reflects an incipient form of Gnosticism, a second-century heresy that saw the material world as evil and called adherents to rise above the demands of their physical life as far as possible. Timothy is cautioned, not against asceticism itself, but against deviant forms of it that develop when the goodness of creation is denied (4:4; Gen 1:31).

The Church does not advocate permanent abstinence from flesh (meat). It’s a special sacrifice meant to call to mind the fact that Christ sacrifice of his flesh on Good Friday.

This passage is speaking of those who mandate abstinence in a permanent way, and also forbid marriage. The Church, obviously, does no such thing. Paul’s response is regarding people who argued that the material world was evil. Thus they believed that marriage is evil because sex is a physical act, and even eating most kinds of food was evil. This is what he is speaking of. To think it is a commentary on Lent is ridiculous and totally out of context.

See also Haydock Bible Commentary and Biblia Clerus for further commentary on this passage. St. John Chrysostom’s commentary is particularly helpful.

Jesus said that we would fast in the days to come (Mark 2:20) as he himself did (Matthew 4:2). To say otherwise is unbiblical.


That passage is referring to heretical sects that forbade marriage and eating meat as intrinsically evil acts. The Church does not forbid marriage or the eating of meat as wrong. What she does do is prescribe fasts for penitential periods.

Look how often fasting is mentioned in the Bible. Also, check out how Jesus fasted for 40 days in the desert. The 40 day Lenten period of fasting and penance is just like that and is a preparation for celebrating the suffering, death, and resurrection of Christ.



I would ask them where in the Bible it speaks of Christmas and commemorating the Lord’s birth.

I would then say that the Church encourages us to pray, fast and give alms during Lent, in commemoration of the Lord’s 40 day fast, and His passion, death and resurrection.

Have him read Matthew 6. Clearly the Lord expects us to pray, fast and give alms, and tells us how to do it.


Such hardness of heart does violence to the Body of Christ! First, pray for them, as they are in darkness as to the roots of our faith. Then, ask them about:

Matthew 9:15 Jesus answered, "How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.

Mark 2:19 Jesus answered, "How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them.

Mark 2:20 But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast.

Luke 5:34 Jesus answered, "Can you make the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them?

Luke 5:35 But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast."

Lent is denying ourselves in solidarity with Christ. Lent is discipline. Lent draws us closer to the Love of God in Christ. How shallow their faith! Ask them, since fasting is older than the bible, why they do not fast.

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Turn the questioning back on them. They are the ones who need to explain (and, not to us!) why they have given up so much of what Christ taught…

Christ’s peace.


I have Protestants in my family who say that giving up things for Lent is “legalistic” and is a “works” based thing.

I saw a good rebuttal to “faith only” in John Martinoni’s site, “Bible Christian Society”. This will also help with answering why we have Lent.

Also, on the radio the other night I heard a rambling Fundamentalist preacher say that on Ash Wednesday, “the Roman Catholics go to the priest and he marks them, with the mark of the beast. They even have a pope who comes from Germany. You know what their money is called? Its called a mark!” Pretty laughable stuff for Catholics but this is what some of the opposition says about us. I find that during Lent, we, as Catholics need to be prepared to defend why we do the things we do and how it ties in to our faith.
Of course the base of much of their debate is that they don’t believe that the Catholic church has authority to do any of what it does. As far as they are concerned its not Christ’s Church. Happy Lent every body!



That is why I wonder if they were prefigured by those who left Christ in John 6. Does it take a deeper faith to believe as they do, or as the Catholic Church teaches? They do not believe in much of what Christ and the Apostles taught, preferring OSAS, SS,SF and the other heresies.

Christ’s peace.


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