Why I Don’t Observe Lent

By Roland Barnes - Posted at The Aquila Report

Published March 3, 2014

The practice of self-denial is to be the daily experience of the believer.

What merit or benefit is there in abstaining from something which God Himself has given us to enjoy and to bless our lives? If something is sinful, we ought to abstain from it, fast from it, every hour of the day, every day of the week, and every week of the year. If something is not sinful and not forbidden to us by God in His Word, then we are free to partake of it or not partake of it as our conscience is our guide. Given the faulty foundations upon faulty foundations upon which the practice of Lent was established, one wonders why such a practice is perpetuated.

Several years ago I was encouraged to consider the practice of observing Lent as a preparation for the Easter celebration of the resurrection. Honestly, I did not give it much serious thought, one way or the other. I had other things occupying my mind and it seemed harmless enough. However, sometime later I had the opportunity to study with Dr. Hughes Old. His writings as well as his lectures, compelled me to think more carefully about the observance of Lent. As a result of my study I have come to the settled conviction not to observe Lent or to promote its observance in the church. However, since Lent is a period of sober-minded fasting and spiritual discipline leading up to the celebration of the resurrection, I must state at the outset that I am not opposed to fasting, sober- mindedness, or the celebration of the resurrection.

Rather, it is the observance of a formal season of holy days called “Lent” that I have decided not to incorporate in my private and public devotions. In order to explain why I have come to this position I must first offer some clarifying thoughts and then give some consideration to the meaning and origins of the practice of Lent. As I have already stated I am not opposed to fasting, or to sober-minded reflection on the suffering of Jesus. However, the observance of Lent in the life of the church of the Middle Ages was a required fast, not voluntary or optional as it is in many churches today. In fact, the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) has made the observance of Lent obligatory for all its members. This is well established in the Canon Law of the RCC.


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