Presbyterians celebrating Lent?

Discussion in 'General discussions' started by ericfromcowtown, Mar 11, 2009.

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  1. ericfromcowtown

    ericfromcowtown Puritan Board Sophomore

    I was at a luncheon with a colleague from work who turned away a delicious peach tart with the words "I gave up sweets for Lent." She is a member of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, which as far as I can tell is analogous to the liberal PCUSA. I wonder if celebrating Lent is the norm in the Presbyterian Church in Canada? Is Lent celebrated in any conservative Presbyterian or Reformed denominations? It all sounds very romish to me. :confused:
     
  2. Craig

    Craig Puritan Board Senior

    I know of at least one family that does Lent in my church...I think it is a bit Romish. I also think it diminishes Christ's sacrifice...but hey, it may be a matter of Chrisian liberty where some sanctify one day/season when another chooses a different day/season.
     
  3. Kevin

    Kevin Puritan Board Doctor

    Lent is observed ( I doubt that it is very much of a celebration) by many protestants. Anglicans & Lutherans most notably. Some main line Presbyterians as well have taken up the practice.

    I don't encourage it but I bet a few of the Anglicans here on the board would object to calling it "romish".
     
  4. Knoxienne

    Knoxienne Puritan Board Graduate

    I'm sure a lot of FV adherents practice it - there's a return to Rome among many who adhere to the FV theology.

    I don't know of it being practiced in the PCUSA, but it could very well be. Many folks in the more liberal denominations celebrate Hannukah, Ramadan, Kwanzaa and a whole lot of other stuff - in the name of "religious unity". :soapbox:
     
  5. uberkermit

    uberkermit Puritan Board Freshman

    It certainly seems to be sanctioned by the PCC. You can do a search on the denomination website, and find materials for Lent 2009. Sadly, the PCC seems to be an apostate denomination. In my church, we certainly do not observe Lent.
     
  6. Classical Presbyterian

    Classical Presbyterian Puritan Board Junior

    Well, Lent was not invented by Roman Catholics. The practice predates the formation of the RC church as we know it now.

    That being said, a season in the church that calls us to reflect upon our own sinfulness, our need for the blood of Christ shed to forgive sins and upon His suffering is not anything that I will condemn. I will only condemn it if it is touted as legalistic formulae or a mandate for all Christians.
     
  7. Kim G

    Kim G Puritan Board Junior

    I know a number of reformed people, PCA members included, who practice Lent. Instead of giving up something as a "sacrifice," they add something to their lives that will enrich them spiritually. Perhaps they'll read through the book of 1 Peter every day during that time, study a theology book, or spend more time with their spouse in prayer. The goal is spiritual growth, not a diminishing of Christ's sacrifice.

    I don't practice it, but I don't think that what they are doing is returning to Rome.
     
  8. MMasztal

    MMasztal Puritan Board Sophomore

    As an ex-RC, I'd have to describe Lent as one of many examples of works righteousness in that church. I'm not sure I'd go along with observing Lent as an exercise of Christian liberty.
     
  9. Scottish Lass

    Scottish Lass Puritan Board Doctor

    Lent was observed in the UMC church I spent time in as a teen, and the week preceding Resurrection Sunday is a big deal in the PC(USA) church I grew up in, but I think you'd find that it varies.
     
  10. Classical Presbyterian

    Classical Presbyterian Puritan Board Junior

    There is no question in my mind that Lent, as practiced in RC churches, is certainly wrong. Anyone noticed all the signs for fish sandwiches around town? So much for sacrifice....

    But in the end, to me it all boils down to conscience and the particulars of what you are saying by what you do in a season of preparation. The kind of Lent that I envision would be very similar to what the Scottish Presbyterians would do in the times prior to communion--fervent Scripture reading, prayer, confession before God, etc.
     
  11. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritan Board Doctor

    :ditto: to CP if that is what you (not CP particularly, but a general "you") see this time of year between February and April in the Gregorian calendar to signify, Godspeed in all sincerity.

    However the vast majority of PC(USA) persons and other mainliners I am around treat Lent as very much a time of penance and self-punishment, keeping from themselves the most trivial of things as a "sign". You should see the real anguish in some peoples faces when they "break" their "vow" and on the other hand how cavalierly others bandy about it. A symptom really of their overall faithlessness and trust in the real and full sacrifice of Christ on the Cross.
     
  12. jwithnell

    jwithnell Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    My guess is that "high church" practices are attractive when most everything in mainline Presbyterianism is stripped of meaning. Jesus? A good teacher maybe. The Bible? At best it "contains" the word of God at worst, it's a bunch of women-bashing fables. Worship? Take it or leave it when you have time.
     
  13. Davidius

    Davidius Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    There's nothing particularly "high church" about Lent. Although my current congregation is not very high church, the liturgy is still less ornate during Lent because it is a time of solemnity, somberness, etc. When you move into the private sphere, there isn't to my knowledge any low church/high church distinction to be made at all. Usually when I think of high church, I think of things like ecclesiology and sacramentology. Not even the Catholics believe that Lent bestows some kind of sacramental grace, and the only ritual it really entails is the imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday. If the patriarchs did it, why can't we? Usually what we on the Reformed side are concerned about is coercion, the "holy days of obligation" stuff, but that isn't an issue here.
     
  14. jaybird0827

    jaybird0827 PuritanBoard Honor Roll

    The PC(USA) has celebrated "lent" for years. In the 50's and 60's it was common in our area for these churches to hold "Ash Wednesday" services! No ashes though.

    Instead of encouraging people to give up, e.g., candy, for lent, every family received a special "Lenten Offering" calendar type folder. You were supposed to put in a quarter every day beginning on "Ash Wednesday" and then on each of the last two days a "special offering" for which a space was provided that suggested something considerably more than a quarter. I think it went to special denominational causes.
     
  15. tcalbrecht

    tcalbrecht Puritan Board Junior

    I was recently listening to the new RC radio station in town. They had a Q&A program with a priest and the quesiton fo fasting during Lent came up. I was surprised to hear the priest claim the RC church defined fasting as only three regular meals a day.
     
  16. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    If we look at historical beliefs and what has been important to Presbyterians, the invention of observances like Lent is decidedly not a Presbyterian thing; sort of like Baptists baptizing babies.
     
  17. tcalbrecht

    tcalbrecht Puritan Board Junior

    What about "whatever is not commanded is forbidden"?

    Then there is the indirect coercion of group behavior. If a church schedules a “special service” on Ash Wednesday they are coercing the congregation into behavior that is not commanded in the Bible. Even if they apply the “you are not required to attend” disclaimer, the subtlety of groupthink filters through and they may feel compelled to attend for that reason alone.

    Pastors and elders need to avoid ego trips and be very careful to guard the liberty of the flock wrt the worship of God. They must not allow our liberty to be twisted into conformity without the clearest of direction.
     
  18. Davidius

    Davidius Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    This seems like the best answer to the OP (we seem to have drifted into the general expediency of Lent), if the OP is talking about official ecclesiastical observance.

    There isn't anything about historical Presbyterianism that would condemn the private celebration of Lent, though, right?
     
  19. Augusta

    Augusta Puritan Board Doctor

    God doesn't change, he doesn't require one type of worship in church and another in private. We can only, always, worship him in the way that he has commanded us to, historically. :book2:
     
  20. Whitefield

    Whitefield Puritan Board Junior

    Does this mean we are to worship in private exactly like we worship in public? Nothing is to be left out of (or added to) our private worship that isn't in corporate worship?
     
  21. Augusta

    Augusta Puritan Board Doctor

    Nothing is to be added certainly. Obviously we cannot do the things like the sacraments that are to be administered by the officers of the church.
     
  22. Ex Nihilo

    Ex Nihilo Puritan Board Senior

    Surely private fasts are still a good thing to do -- just not sure about the forty days formulation. I've celebrated Lent before, and I think that when I did it and when most other young Protestants do it, it is experimentation with invented traditions. On the other hand, I gave up coffee, which was a very good thing to give up; it's just that it probably would have been better if I hadn't had the gratification of feeling that I was doing something exotic and meritorious. I'm not saying that everyone who celebrates Lent feels this way -- just noting that it could be a temptation for some.
     
  23. Davidius

    Davidius Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    This, of course, could also apply to evening services on Sunday, any mid-week services, or bible studies/small groups.


    This is what I'm saying. The RPW does not prohibit private observance of special days. The WCF allows even for official fasts to be called by the Church. Looking at the bible, 40 days seems to be an appropriate number. I think we should cool off on the witch hunt.
     
  24. historyb

    historyb Puritan Board Junior

    Before I left the Catholic Church I was on an email list which did that, I loved telling people I didn't give up anything for Lent their reactions were priceless

    I remember something close to this when I was a kid in the PCUSA, we had a little cardboard house and put a penny in each day and than on Easter we took the full house to SS
     
  25. Ex Nihilo

    Ex Nihilo Puritan Board Senior

    That's fair enough. I think what I was getting at is that observing Lent is sometimes part of building an individualized, eclectic faith instead of submitting to one's own tradition. I see nothing wrong with institutionalized fasting -- as you say, it's confessional -- nor with the forty days length itself. I am just cautious about the motivations of people who take it upon themselves to observe a forty-day fast at the same particular time that other traditions are doing so, especially when it's not accompanied by the usual motivations behind public and private fasts. Is it better to practice a 40-day fast at that time of year instead of another? I don't think so, yet I think some Protestants who dabble in this tradition feel that giving something up "for Lent" is somehow more spiritual than a fast any other time of the year. It's also a bit showier; it's common for people to tell others what they have given up for Lent; and that goes against Jesus' instructions for private fasts.

    Again, however, I am not prepared to argue that observing Lent is always wrong. I am just identifying certain issues I see with Presbyterians observing Lent. My caution is not directly applicable to someone who belongs to a Lent-observing tradition, as you do -- that is, I'm neither condoning nor critiquing Anglican tradition as observed by Anglicans in this particular post. I'm not equal to that task. :)
     
  26. Whitefield

    Whitefield Puritan Board Junior

    Not to be contentious, but which is it? "he doesn't require one type of worship in church and another in private" or "we cannot do all the things in private we do in public (i.e., sacraments)"? These are incompatible statements.
     
  27. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Even in private, it still needs to be without superstition, will worship, coercion, offense, etc.

     
  28. Reformed Baptist

    Reformed Baptist Puritan Board Sophomore

    So much for the regulative principle.
     
  29. historyb

    historyb Puritan Board Junior

    Isn't that just for cooperate worship for the people that follow that type of thing?
     
  30. Whitefield

    Whitefield Puritan Board Junior

    When did fasting become superstition?
     
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