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.
I read another article earlier in the week about a Catholic and Baptist community that come together each year to celebrate Ash Wednesday. Have any of you experienced this in your parish or nearby community?
Nope,, cause we are Baptist. Catholic calendar is like a season ticket to disneyland,,,, way too many blackout dates.
It would have been great if the modern , non-mainline Protestant churches had held onto some of the meaningful Reformation/ post-Reformation traditions— like recitation of the Apostles’ Creed, the Gloria Patri, the doxology, hymns written before the 80’s and a choir instead of wannabe rockers up front, but all that has been kicked to the curb. Lenten liturgy, etc, forget it.
“Have any of you experienced this in your parish or nearby community?”
Not that per se, but we do have many non-Catholics taking ashes on ash Wednesday.
We have ecumenical services during the weeks of Lent with various different denominations. We come together to pray and discuss the meaning of Lent, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday.
If it’s not in the Bible, how can it be a “biblical thing”?
So, DR, what are you going to do for the High Feast Day of Sts. Insouciance and Dysfunctiona?
I swear, someday im going to write a book on why the Catholics need to adopt the baptist faith,, and then every day after, post an article about how the Catholics should move to unify with protestants on purely one-sided terms.
It’s weird how obsessed they are with Christians who don’t see them as “the” church. Yes,, before 1600, they were usually more wrong than right.
“I have always been struck by the arrogance of people who think that no one understood or followed the Bible until they came along 1600 years after the fact.”
Arrogance? Compare the church of the 1600s to the life of Christ,,,, and look how they squeal at being reformed. That, is a good example of high arrogance.
I suppose to some Lenten fasting and repentence is actually a vain work and a denial that Christ’s work is finished. His justice and righteousness covers us letting God see the cleanliness of Christ instead of our sins. We can never truly be made clean. So practices such as this are wasteful and useless. It is a feel good exercise nothing more. The limit should be to ask for forgiveness for our sins. Anything else is extrabiblical and borders on idolatry.
Ohhhh,, i dunno,
Hold a “rummage sale” where i get rid of things i have found to be quite superfluous to the teachings of Jesus? And not be angry that my preacher isn’t speaking latin? And write a letter to the local Bishop that if he will give up the pope and the heirarchy, that i think i can see a path towards his reunification with ME?
Actually, I have a friend who is Russian Orthodox and in the current practice, we’re pikers in comparison. There’s a lot we’ve lost in the “modernizing” of the Church.
8 See to it that NO ONE TAKES YOU CAPTIVE THROUGH PHILOSOPHY AND EMPTY DECEPTION, ACCORDING TO THE TRADITION OF MEN, ACCORDING TO THE ELEMENTARY PRINCIPLES OF THE WORLD, RATHER THAN ACCORDING TO CHRIST. 9 For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, 10 and IN HIM YOU HAVE BEEN MADE COMPLETE, and He is the head over all rule and authority; 11 and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; 12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.
16 THEREFORE NO ONE IS TO ACT AS YOUR JUDGE IN REGARD TO FOOD OR DRINK OR IN RESPECT TO A FESTIVAL or a new moon OR A SABBATH DAY 17 things which are a MERE SHADOW of what is to come; BUT THE SUBSTANCE BELONGS TO CHRIST.. 18 LET NO ONE KEEP DEFRAUDING YOU OF YOUR PRIZE BY DELIGHTING IN SELF ABASEMENT and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on vision he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, 19 and NOT HOLDING FAST TO THE HEAD, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God.
20 IF YOU HAVE DIED WITH CHRIST TO THE ELEMENTARY PRINCIPLES OF THE WORLD (See verses 8, 16 above for details on what the Apostle Paul means by "the elementary principles of the world") IF YOU HAVE DIED WITH CHRIST TO THE ELEMENTARY PRINCIPLES OF THE WORLD. WHY, AS IF YOU WERE LIVING IN THE WORLD, DO YOU SUBMIT TO DECREES SUCH AS, 21 Do not handle, DO NOT TASTE, DO NOT TOUCH! 22 (WHICH ALL REFER TO THINGS DESTINED TO PERISH WITH USE)IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE COMMANDMENTS AND TEACHINGS OF MEN? 23 These are matters which have, to be sure, the APPEARANCE OF WISDOM IN SELF-MADE RELIGION AND SELF-ABASEMENT AND SEVERE TREATMENT OF THE BODY BUT ARE OF NO VALUE AGAINST FLESHLY INDULGENCE. (Colossians 2:8-23, NASB Emphasis added)
The Holy Spirit Himself testifies about what will characterize the times we are living in:
1 But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will FALL AWAY FROM THE FAITH, PAYING ATTENTION TO DECEITFUL SPRITS AND DOCTRINES OF DEMONS, 2 by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, 3 men who forbid marriage AND ADVOCATE ABSTAINING FROM FOODS which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; 5 for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer. (1 Timothy 4:1-5, NASB Emphasis added) The Lord Jesus Christ also speaks of the folly of self abasement via abstaining from foods:
After Jesus called the crowd to Him, He said to them, HEAR AND UNDERSTAND.
IT IS NOT WHAT ENTERS INTO THE MOUTH THAT DEFILES THE MAN , BUT WHAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH, THIS DEFILES THE MAN.
Then the disciples came and said to Him, Do You know that THE PHARISEES WERE OFFENDED WHEN THEY HEARD THIS STATEMENT?
But He answered and said, Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted. Let them alone; THEY ARE BLIND GUIDES OF THE BLIND. AND IF A BLIND MAN GUIDES ABLIND MAN, BOTH WILL FALL INTO A PIT.
Peter said to Him, EXPLAIN THE PARABLE TO US.
Jesus said, ARE YOU STILL LACKING IN UNDERSTANDING ALSO?
DO YOU NOT KNOW THAT EVERYTHING THAT GOES INTO THE MOUTH PASSES INTO THE STOMACH, AND IS ELIMINATED? (Mark's account in Mark chapter 7:18-19 adds the following insight into the matter: 18 "He said to them, Are even you likewise without understanding? Do you not realize that EVERYTHING THAT GOES INTO A PERSON FROM OUTSIDE CANNOT DEFILE, 19 since it enters not the heart but the stomach and passes out into the latrine? THUS HE HAS DECLARED ALL FOODS CLEAN")
BUT THE THINGS THAT PROCEED OUT OF THE MOUTH COME FROM THE HEART, AND T H O S E DEFILE THE MAN.
For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.
These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man. (Matthew 15:10-20, NASB, Emphasis added)
Christins are FREE in Christ and not under obligation to abstain from anything during Lent because although abstaining and self abasement has:
"the APPEARANCE OF WISDOM IN SELF-MADE RELIGION AND SELF-ABASEMENT AND SEVERE TREATMENT OF THE BODY BUT ARE OF NO VALUE AGAINST FLESHLY INDULGENCE."
In other words to do so: is WORTHLESS and of NO VALUE! I didn't say this, God did and if anyone has a problem with the above, you can take it up with Him.
We also picked up some non-Catholics customs I remember from childhood.
Protestant friends kept poor boxes with them and dropped small change into them when they denied themselves candy or a treat.
The boxes were collected by their Sunday school teachers on Easter and the money sent to the needy.
Our church has something similar now with children giving their change from self-denied treats to Project Rice Bowl. Nice.
Teaches them a lot about self-denial, the needs of others, penitence, and ties in with Christ’s temptations.
Baptists are part of a general "primitive church" movement which acknowledges the truth that the first-generation church, as constituted directly under Christ, was necessarily inerrant and that the fruit of the early church fell not far from that tree. This is why Baptists are interested in the earliest Christian adaptations of Jewish tradition, in this case Passover.
For Catholics to lay claim to the early church from which we all derive makes as much sense as a child pressing a claim to superior ownership of his siblings parents.
Its weird how obsessed they are with Christians who dont see them as the church. Yes,, before 1600, they were usually more wrong than right.
Amen to that brother. I too wonder why they spend so much time and effort on ecumenical things, as if there is some kind of frequent flyer rewards waiting for them because they belong to a certain church.
Roman Catholics and Bible believing Baptist are so far apart on so many issues and to simply blow that off with invitations to Swim the Tiber are, at least to this individual, silly.
Moses, Elijah, and Jesus all had 40-day fasts to prepare themselves spiritually for some great work. Were they doing something unbiblical?