Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Baptists And Lent

Dr. Harmon on Lent:

Can Baptists observe Lent? All Baptist congregations observe some sort of calendar in their worship. Though many Baptists may profess that they "judge all days to be alike," in reality they do "judge one day to be better than another" (Rom. 14:5), as many expect certain days and seasons of the year to be recognized in worship services. Some of these, like Christmas and Easter, are the inheritance of the patristic church. Other special dates on the calendar of a Baptist church reflect the secular calendar. If Baptists already observe a calendar without worrying that such observances are unbiblical and hinder congregational freedom, and if they have already granted pride of place in this calendar to two feasts of patristic origin, then they can observe the Christian year, including Lent.

An extreme example of the Baptist neglect of Lent is the longtime celebration by one Baptist college of the week prior to Easter Sunday as "Resurrection Week." Without the observance of Lent, and Holy Week in particular, Easter Sunday fails to keep in proper balance the Cross and the Resurrection as the two main New Testament paradigms for the Christian life. The dominant paradigm for Christian discipleship this side of heaven is "sharing in his sufferings" (Phil. 3:10). Baptists not only can but should observe Lent, because it will help them take up the cross and follow Christ in the midst of a suffering world.


See also: "Lent--Why Bother?" in Christianity Today and "Lent--Why Bother? To Take Up the Cross" now available online.

1 comment:

The Rev. Mr. David Gillespie said...

Good piece; raises good questions. Thanks.