Is it really OK for protestant evangelicals to participate in Lent? Brief word from Pastor Luke Simmons

Lent is first mentioned in the fifth canon produced at the Council of Nicea (canons were practical directions in addition to the Creed).

Nicea took place when the Christian church was unified — before the East/West split of 1054, & before the Reformation in 1517.

In this fifth canon, Lent is not explained, just mentioned, indicating that many churches were already practicing Lent as a 40-day season of fasting, prayer, and preparation for Easter.

Long before Nicea, Christians had begun celebrating Easter Sunday as a day to commemorate the Lord’s resurrection. Many of these early churches fasted for two or three days in preparation for this special day.

Additionally, many early churches celebrated baptism on Easter Sunday and instituted fasting as a way for baptismal candidates to mourn their past sins, consider their need for cleansing through Christ’s blood, and anticipate their baptism

By the time of the Council of Nicea, many churches had extended this time to forty days, modeled after the forty days of Jesus’ fasting in preparation for His public ministry (Matthew 4:1-2).

If a person affirm the truths of the Nicene Creed, he can also joyfully practice Lent. The same pastors and church leaders who formed that great statement of faith also affirmed Lent as a practice to grow in faith.

So, historically speaking, Lent is more of a Christian practice than a Roman Catholic practice.

It’s neither commanded or prohibited by Scripture, which means you are neither commanded nor prohibited from participating.

If your motivation for Lent is to be gimmicky or trendy or cool, please do something else.

On the other hand, if your desire is to engage people with an ancient Christian practice that will help their hearts soften in preparation for Easter, then go for it.

Lent has lasted for hundreds of years because pastors and leaders courageously called people to deny themselves and focus on Jesus (which is rarely cool).

In the end, practice it or don’t — but know that you can, as an evangelical protestant, participate in good conscience.

HT: Luke Simmons. You can read more about Luke here.

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