On observing Lent

Image source: 10 tips for making the season of Lent more meaningful

Kathee and I are about to visit relatives in Florida. (As an aside, I am praying that it is 20 below here in Minnesota while we are gone!). I hope it is like the image below but much colder! (Image source).
Kathee reminded me tonight that it is lenten season and our Catholic relatives will probably be observing lent. This lead us into a conversation about why Baptists don't celebrate Lent. Latest my brother and sister-in-law came by for coffee and dessert and the discussion continued.

What will follow are some links about Lent but I'll take a stab at answering the question first:

  • I don't feel it is wrong to celebrate certain traditions if the traditions do not violate the Scriptures. If one has a tradition of Ancestor Worship - well that is idolatry and violates many Scriptures. For example Exodus 20:3, "You shall have no other gods before Me". Baptists like to claim that we only look to the Scriptures for our authority, but in fact we have traditions that really are not rooted in the Scriptures. This is not unique to Baptists. For example: the white wedding dress, the wedding ring, the diamond engagement ring, ham at Easter, celebrating Christmas, the Christmas tree, et cetera.
  • While I do not celebrate Lent, I don't see it as a tradition that is hostile to, dangerous, or counter to the tenets of Scripture. But if one believes that Lenten traditions somehow confers grace or somehow makes one closer to Christ, the celebration of Lent would be unscriptural. 
  • I observe that Lent is an ancient tradition but it is not a tradition rooted in the New Testament. Contrast Lent with Baptism or the Lord's Table. In the case of the later, one sees them introduced in the Gospels, practiced in the book of Acts, and explained in the Epistles. 
    • Baptism
      • Introduced in the Gospels: Luke 3:16, "John answered, saying to all, “I indeed baptize you with water"; Matthew 28:19, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit"
      • Practiced in the book of Acts 8:38-39, "So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. Now when they came up out of the water ... "
      • Explained in the Epistles: Romans 6:3-4, "Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life."
    • The Lord's Table
      • Introduced in the Gospels: Matthew 26:27, "Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, 'Drink from it, all of you.'"
      • Practiced in the book of Acts 2:46, "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers."
      • Explained in the Epistles: 1 Corinthians 11:25, "In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”"
  • One does not find Lenten tradition in the New Testament.
Here are some articles relating to Lent.
  • History of Lent. Comment: Roman Catholic. Interesting historical information.
  • Why Baptists Don’t Do Lent. "If we set aside a particular period for fasting and self-denial, then it might be admitting that gorging and indulgence is OK the rest of the year"
  • Lent Is About Jesus: A Free Devotional Guide. Comment: Pro-Lent. Operative quote: "[it] can serve any Christian as a unique time of preparation and repentance as we anticipate the death and resurrection of Jesus"
  • To Lent or reLent? Some thoughts on a recent post at The Gospel Coalition. Comment: Rebuttal to the above. Quote: "moralizing John’s preparatory ministry is terrible–hermeneutically, theologically, and practically."
  • Should Baptists Observe Lent?. Comment: Great article. Operative quote: "it is difficult to reconcile Lent with our Baptist ideas about New Testament authority. Though it has a very long heritage, Lent should be viewed as an extra-Biblical human tradition"

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