“Christianity Today” on Ash Wednesday and Lent

Sola Scriptura or the Traditions of Men, Which Do You Choose?


Tonight is what Catholics, and now some Protestants, call Ash Wednesday

Christianity Today calls itself “A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction”.  And while we in the Living Church of God are not part of the evangelical Protestant movement, I thought that evangelicals at least claimed to get their teachings and practices from the Bible.

Instead, Christianity Today indicates that keeping pagan holidays like Ash Wednesday and Lent is up to the individual as the individual feels moved (and even though they add “in the light of Scripture”, Scripture condemns many practices associated with those holidays).

Notice this from the online article at CT on Lent:

The approach of the Lenten season brings a furrow to the evangelical brow. What are we to do with it? For congregations that follow the church year there is no problem: Christians will do what they have always done. They will use Lent as a time for taking spiritual inventory…The word “Lent” itself doesn’t help us much. It is derived from an Anglo-Saxon word meaning “to lengthen” and refers to a season when the days become longer, i.e., spring…

The first break in Lenten observance in Europe may have occurred in 1522 when Ulrich Zwingli sided with certain Zurich printers who insisted they had to have something more invigorating to eat than fish on Fridays to carry out their duties. In the years since, dispensations have gradually eroded the discipline of the holy season in the traditional churches…

Once the Paraclete takes command of our lives, once he personally fills us with the love of God, there is no further need to be troubled about Lent. Or about Pentecost, or Christmas, or Easter, or any other “special day” or “days” on the church calendar. We can attend stated services or not attend; fast or not fast; kneel or not kneel. We are free to do as the Holy Spirit directs, in the light of Scripture…

Whether we keep the specific observances or not depends on many contingent factors-some of them personal, some related to background and upbringing. I need Lent. I hope to be in my church on Ash Wednesday as a worshiper.

Calling Lent “a holy season” appears blasphemous.  While that may be CT’s approach, that certainly is not the approach of those who believe that they should listen to the God of the Bible.

Regarding Ash Wednesday, The Catholic Encyclopedia reports:

Ash Wednesday
The Wednesday after Quinquagesima Sunday, which is the first day of the Lenten fast.

The name dies cinerum (day of ashes) which it bears in the Roman Missal is found in the earliest existing copies of the Gregorian Sacramentary and probably dates from at least the eighth century. On this day all the faithful according to ancient custom are exhorted to approach the altar before the beginning of Mass, and there the priest, dipping his thumb into ashes previously blessed, marks the forehead (Ash Wednesday. The Catholic Encyclopedia).

Neither the Bible (which was not written in a Teutonic language) nor its translations (which sometimes are) uses the terms Lent or Ash Wednesday. Nor does it seem to positively describe any of the processes associated with Ash Wednesday.

Practices associated with Ash Wednesday and Lent do not come from “the light of Scripture”–they are traditions of men. Hence they should not be considered practices that “the faithful” would participate in.

Several articles of related interest may include:

Is Lent a Christian Holiday? When did it originate? What about Ash Wednesday? If you observe them, do you know why?
Did Early Christians Celebrate Easter? If not, when did this happen? What do scholars and the Bible reveal?
Tradition and Scripture: From the Bible and Church Writings Are traditions on equal par with scripture? Many believe that is what Peter, John, and Paul taught. But did they?
Sola Scriptura or Prima Luther? What Did Martin Luther Really Believe About the Bible? Though he is known for his public sola Scriptura teaching, did Martin Luther’s writings about the Bible suggest he felt that prima Luther was his ultimate authority? Statements from him changing and/or discounting 18 books of the Bible are included. Do you really want to know the truth?
Is There “An Annual Worship Calendar” In the Bible? This paper provides a biblical and historical critique of several articles, including one by WCG which states that this should be a local decision. What do the Holy Days mean? Also you can click here for the calendar of Holy Days.

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