Skip to comments.Baptists, Lent, and the Reformation Rummage Sale
Posted on 02/27/2011 10:55:58 AM PST by NYer
In recent years there have been a flurry of news articles prior to Lent, Holy Week, and Advent about how various Protestant groups and denominations have "discovered" that Catholic and Orthodox beliefs about the liturgical year are not nearly as "unbiblical" as many non-Catholics thought. Quite the contrary, as this Associated Baptist Press piece explains (ht: National Catholic Register):
Many Baptists are seeking to reclaim that pre-Easter focus -- historically called Lent -- which has been an integral part of many Christians experience since the earliest years of the church.
Its a biblical thing, not a made-up Catholic thing, says Kyle Henderson, pastor of First Baptist Church in Athens, Texas, acknowledging a robust Baptist suspicion of spiritual practices seen as too closely associated with the Roman Catholic Church or its distant cousins, the Anglicans.
Some Baptists say they sense those suspicions -- in part a legacy of the Protestant Reformation -- have left them with a diminished spiritual vocabulary.
There is an uneasy sense that something got lost, says Phyllis Tickle, whose 2008 book, The Great Emergence, chronicles the blurring of denominational distinctions in late 20th- and early 21st-century American Christianity.
Every 500 years or so, says Tickle, the church metaphorically holds a great rummage sale, getting rid of the junk that we believe no longer has value and finding treasures stuck in the attic because we didnt want them or were too naïve to know their true worth.
The Reformation was one of those rummage sales and the current great convergence is another, she maintains. For evangelicals, the long-forgotten treasures in the attic include a wide array of spiritual disciplines -- including Lent -- with roots in the churchs first centuries.
For Sterling Severns, discovering Lent and other seasons of the Christian year was an eye-opening experience, which he encountered at the first church he served after graduating from seminary.
It tapped into something in me that surprised me, says Severns, now pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church in Richmond, Va. I remember I almost felt as if Id been let in on a great secret.
For many folks who have been Catholic their entire lives, such comments might be a bit surprising. "Secret? How is it a secret? Don't all Christians know about Lent and Advent?" No, they surely don't. I wasn't aware of either Lent or Advent until I attended Bible college as a 20-year-old Fundamentalist, and even then they were spoken of in mostly cautious or negative ways (most of my profs viewed the Catholic Church with suspicion or disdain, but a couple were quite positive about Catholicism). But things have changed a lot in the past couple of decades and an growing number of Evangelical groups are embracingin various ways and to differing degreesaspects of the Catholic liturgical calendar.
An excellent book for Evangelicals who are curious about Catholic beliefs about worship, the liturgical calendar, and the sacraments is Evangelical Is Not Enough: Worship of God in Liturgy and Sacrament by Thomas Howard. Also see his essay, "Catholic Spirituality", from the collection, The Night Is Far Spent.
It’s very sad to say but where I live, the non-Catholic churches aren’t too kind or receptive to us Catholics. In fact, I’ve encountered many who are as hostile as certain FReepers. And, as usual, their thoughts/opinions are based on pure ignorance; they’ll just never see or admit that.
I wear a crucifix at all times, so I am subject to ridicule at work & in my social life since I am easily identified as one of “those Catholics”. But I really don’t care. And my 3 year old proudly wears her scapular & crucifix, too. We get some looks but I hope someday those things will serve as a precursor to some intellectually honest discussion about the Church.
And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,
that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
-- Matthew 6:16-18
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**In recent years there have been a flurry of news articles prior to Lent, Holy Week, and Advent about how various Protestant groups and denominations have “discovered” that Catholic and Orthodox beliefs about the liturgical year are not nearly as “unbiblical” as many non-Catholics thought. Quite the contrary, as this Associated Baptist Press piece explains (ht: National Catholic Register):**
Are other denominations waking up to the truth?
**Not that per se, but we do have many non-Catholics taking ashes on ash Wednesday.**
This is so true. All three Ash Wednesday Masses are crammed full.
Are people coming home to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church?
I think so.
You need to look up sack cloth and ashes in a Bible search program. It’s there!
Why are you yelling with all caps?? That’s too hard to read. Sorry, I skipped it.
So, Alex, are you Baptist or Evangelical? And does your church celebrate the biblical Lent?
Truth is alone and by itself. Few will embrace it. Falseness has many friends.
On the contrary. The spirit of Lent is the spirit of Christ Crucified. Therefore, whatever enables us to better understand Christ's Passion and Death, and deepens our responsive love for His great love toward us should be fostered during the Lenten season.
We can never truly be made clean.
Of course we can! John 20:21-23
So practices such as this are wasteful and useless.
Nothing could be farther from the truth. Our penance should strive to endure some pain in order to expiate the sinful pleasure that is always the substance of sin. This can take on a variety of forms, and no two people are the same in this matter. As an example, try renouncing television for 48 hours and devoting those hours to prayer, fasting and reading scripture. Most importantly, offer it up to God as repentance for your sins. You will be rewarded with a renewed strength of faith.
Lent is a season of soul-searching and repentance. It is a season for reflection and taking stock. Lent originated in the very earliest days of the Church as a preparatory time for Easter, when the faithful rededicated themselves and when converts were instructed in the faith and prepared for baptism. By observing the forty days of Lent, the individual Christian imitates Jesus withdrawal into the wilderness for forty days. All churches that have a continuous history extending before AD 1500 observe Lent. The ancient church that wrote, collected, canonized, and propagated the New Testament also observed Lent, believing it to be a commandment from the apostles.
Lent began in the apostolic era and was universal in the ancient church. For this reason, Lent is observed by the various Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran, and Anglican denominations, by Roman Catholics, and by Eastern Orthodox Churches.
It is much easier to explain who stopped observing it and why.
In the 16th century, many Calvinists and Anabaptists discarded all Christian holy days, on the theory that they were Roman innovations. That was their best information at the time, but today we know that they were wrong. In the late 19th century, ancient Christian documents came to light. The Didache from the first century, the Apostolic Constitutions from the third century, and the diaries of Egeria of the fourth century; all which give evidence of the Christian calendar and holy days.
NYer. I agree with all your points. I was playing devil’s advocate.
I see from your freeper profile that you are in PA. At one time, PA hosted large catholic communities. Has that changed?
I wear a crucifix at all times, so I am subject to ridicule at work & in my social life since I am easily identified as one of those Catholics. But I really dont care.
Ditto! The same was true in my previous job. They 'tolerated' me, even the self-proclaimed catholics, none of whom wore a crucifix. I am proud of my faith and never attempted to conceal who I am. During my years with the state, I was intrigued by the fact that on Ash Wednesday, a priest would come to the State Capitol to administer ashes to the "hard working" legislators. Knowing when and where he would be, I took it upon my self to let secretaries in the governor's office know so they could pass this information on to other staffers. Over the years, the secretaries would begin asking me for that information on Monday, even though it was publicly posted next to every elevator bank. I graciously accommodated them. Last year, the line was so long that it snaked out the door and down the hall :-) I am no longer there but I pray someone else will take on this task and keep the publicans in step with their professed faith.
The Baptist Church was formed in 1609 by John Smyth, in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
When I was Protestant, we always observed Lent. I don’t remember the details of how the various congregations (either Congregational or Presbyterian) observed Lent, because Sunday School was held during the adult worship services. However, in Sunday School, we always discussed Lent, talked about giving things up, and did works of service to others.
Not in 33 A.D., eight Sundays after the Resurrection. The Church hung out in the catacombs for a few centuries (doubts? Go to San Calista in Rome sometime and see them) before an emperor was friendly enough to make the Church legal.
Which in no way counters anything I wrote ("Baptists are part of a general "primitive church" movement..."). It does, however, verify that you attach identity to formal institution and not any actual system of belief.
“Its very sad to say but where I live, the non-Catholic churches arent too kind or receptive to us Catholics.”
“I see from your freeper profile that you are in PA. At one time, PA hosted large catholic communities. Has that changed?”
I am also a bit surprised by your comments. I also live in Western Pennsylvania, and it seems to me that, at least where I live, a large majority of people are Catholic.
oh please....Baptists are indeed protestant and not necessarily good at it. If you are not Catholic, are christian, then you are protestant....
were there bad people in the Catholic church, you betcha but to call the protestant revolution a reformation is to ignore fact. First of all you revolt from without, you reform from within and a reformation should improve not alter the organization. The "revolters" denied some of the basic tenants of the church, completely changed some of the most basic teachings of Catholicism to a point that they are almost unrecognizable as Christial "denominations"...but go ahead and do your own thing, Christ warned that there would be "false witnesses" and there are...started with Martin Luther
I grew up in johnstown and now live in Pittsburgh. While it is accurate to say a majority identify as “Catholic”, I have found many are CINOs. In addition, where I am in the city, there is much New Age, humanist bullcrap as well as many mainline Protestant churches openly advocating gay marriage. The non-lib Protestants I’ve met consider me to be”unsaved” and barely a Christian. Add to that the fundie churches around here & you will see that although our bishop is prominent in the local media with some other high-profile Catholics (like the Rooneys), everyday encounters are generally unfriendly.
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