Lent isn’t just for Catholics anymore

A Florida newspaper looks at how some Protestants are observing the season:

At almost 7 feet tall, the Rev. Clifford Johnson admits he likes to eat — a lot.

Except now. Now, Johnson and many members of his Northside Jacksonville church are in the thick of their 40-day Lenten sacrifice of things like TV, soda, Facebook and chocolate.

“It’s hard for me because I am a big guy, and I like to eat,” said Johnson, a former college and NBA basketball player.

All of that is normal for clergy and lay people participating in Lent, the 40-day sacrificial season designed to prepare Christians for Easter. But there is one fact that makes Johnson and his congregation different from most others
observing Lent: They’re Baptists — and theologically conservative ones at that.

Rather than rejecting Lent as something “too Catholic” or because it isn’t mentioned in the New Testament, Johnson said Zion Hope Missionary Baptist Church recognizes the spiritual value of the season.

We don’t want Easter to be a one-day event,” Johnson said. “We want people to enjoy the journey so Easter will be more meaningful and powerful in their lives.”

Historically, Lent is associated mostly with the Catholic Church. The practice dates back centuries and, in part, was viewed as a time to prepare converts for their entry into the church.

The practice was abandoned by many Protestant denominations after the Reformation and remains for many of them an unbiblical practice.

But not by all. Orthodox Christians never rejected Lent, and most Mainline Protestant groups, like the Episcopal and Methodist churches, and some Presbyterians, have kept it.

Read more.

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