Lent catches on

The Washington Post has a weekend religious services directory that prints notices and advertisements from local churches.  I was surprised to see how many churches besides the usual liturgical denominations (Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran) are holding Ash Wednesday services, in a number of cases complete with the imposition of ashes.

The same issue included a wire article on how Protestants are increasingly adopting Lenten fasts:  via Lent Gets a 21st-Century Update – Religiontoday – News – Christianity.com.

It cites evangelicals who are taking on Facebook fasts and online fasts.  Methodists are asking their members to abstain from alcoholic beverages.  (I thought Methodists do that anyway!)  A number of liberal mainline Protestants are joining in an “Ecumenical Lenten Carbon” fast, in which members will mortify their flesh by lowering their carbon footprint.  The article mentions Catholics who are obliged to give up meat on Fridays and also the really rigorous Orthodox fast, which cuts out all meat and dairy every day for the entire season. (Does that include Sundays, which are feast days not counted in the 40 days?  If any of you are Orthodox, please let us know.)   In effect, this is a Vegan diet, and vegetarians in England are urging Christians to adopt the Eastern Orthodox fast this year.

Why do you think, in this age of constant indulgence, the Lenten disciplines are being taken up, to a certain extent, even by those traditions that normally haven’t practiced them?  What’s the attraction?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • SKPeterson

    And, what is the purpose of these “fasts”? It seems to be to bring attention to particular causes celebre or to prove one’s bona fides as a socially aware citizen. Most of these “fasts” that are being suggested have little or nothing to do with the actual purpose of Lenten fasting, which is to focus the mind, body and soul upon Christ and His work. Giving something up for Lent has become a trite exercise akin to new Year’s resolutions; rashly thought out, poorly executed, and rapidly discarded. If there was an increased focus on the reasons and practice of fasting it wouldn’t be as crass as this

    Lent is getting a makeover, especially in some Protestant traditions where it hasn’t always drawn strong interest. The carbon fast is one of several initiatives aimed at reinvigorating Lent by linking themes of fasting and abstention to wider social causes.

    “It’s exciting because it’s not just suffering” for its own sake, said Galvin, who lives in Everett, Mass. “It’s doing good.”

    And completely missing the point.

  • SKPeterson

    And, what is the purpose of these “fasts”? It seems to be to bring attention to particular causes celebre or to prove one’s bona fides as a socially aware citizen. Most of these “fasts” that are being suggested have little or nothing to do with the actual purpose of Lenten fasting, which is to focus the mind, body and soul upon Christ and His work. Giving something up for Lent has become a trite exercise akin to new Year’s resolutions; rashly thought out, poorly executed, and rapidly discarded. If there was an increased focus on the reasons and practice of fasting it wouldn’t be as crass as this

    Lent is getting a makeover, especially in some Protestant traditions where it hasn’t always drawn strong interest. The carbon fast is one of several initiatives aimed at reinvigorating Lent by linking themes of fasting and abstention to wider social causes.

    “It’s exciting because it’s not just suffering” for its own sake, said Galvin, who lives in Everett, Mass. “It’s doing good.”

    And completely missing the point.

  • Fr. Gregory Hogg

    Thanks again for a good blog, Dr. Veith. The Orthodox abstain from meat (except shellfish–e.g. shrimp) throughout the time of the fast, including Sundays. Wine and oil are permitted on some feast days, and on weekends, and fish is permitted on 25 March (the Annunciation) and on Palm Sunday. Metropolitan KALLISTOS has a wonderful overview of fasting in his edition of the Lenten Triodion.

    I have not forgotten, btw, about your inquiry on the Orthodox and suffering; now that my oldest son has located in the DC area, perhaps some time when I’m visiting him we could meet for coffee.

  • Fr. Gregory Hogg

    Thanks again for a good blog, Dr. Veith. The Orthodox abstain from meat (except shellfish–e.g. shrimp) throughout the time of the fast, including Sundays. Wine and oil are permitted on some feast days, and on weekends, and fish is permitted on 25 March (the Annunciation) and on Palm Sunday. Metropolitan KALLISTOS has a wonderful overview of fasting in his edition of the Lenten Triodion.

    I have not forgotten, btw, about your inquiry on the Orthodox and suffering; now that my oldest son has located in the DC area, perhaps some time when I’m visiting him we could meet for coffee.

  • Kirk

    @1: THIS!

    Pushing a social agenda by telling other people what they should fast from completely misses the point of Lent. My pastor (Anglican) said something great on Sunday: “The point of Lent is not to give up a bad habit for 30 days. You should give that up anyway. The point of Lent is to give up something good in order to attain something better.” I like that.

  • Kirk

    @1: THIS!

    Pushing a social agenda by telling other people what they should fast from completely misses the point of Lent. My pastor (Anglican) said something great on Sunday: “The point of Lent is not to give up a bad habit for 30 days. You should give that up anyway. The point of Lent is to give up something good in order to attain something better.” I like that.

  • Joe

    If it is not properly taught and properly focused, it would be better not to engage in any kind of fast.

  • Joe

    If it is not properly taught and properly focused, it would be better not to engage in any kind of fast.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    I don’t think I’m going to give anything up, but I am going to take the Syn. Pres. request to pray the litany every day and run with it. I agree with SK. Peterson though in seeing this trend of “Lent Catching on” as attempts by the Mainline Prots to further destroy any credibility that Christianity may have had left.
    As for Methodists. Perhaps there are a few bona fide Methodists left that refrain from Alcohol. They are the primary culprits for ruining the American beer industry, and giving the mob a stronger foot hold back in the 30′s. Most don’t know who Wesley was anymore.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    I don’t think I’m going to give anything up, but I am going to take the Syn. Pres. request to pray the litany every day and run with it. I agree with SK. Peterson though in seeing this trend of “Lent Catching on” as attempts by the Mainline Prots to further destroy any credibility that Christianity may have had left.
    As for Methodists. Perhaps there are a few bona fide Methodists left that refrain from Alcohol. They are the primary culprits for ruining the American beer industry, and giving the mob a stronger foot hold back in the 30′s. Most don’t know who Wesley was anymore.

  • gm

    The reason Lent is becoming “popular” is because of the
    arridity of many Church services today, especially the Evangelical
    ones. I think people have grown up and now see that life is full of
    sadness, injustice, dilemmas, many of which cannot be “fixed”.
    The traditions of old reflect this in the serious, solemn, reverential
    music and practices.
    It’s good to wake up and realize our Churches rich practices
    go farther back than the 1970′s….. They may even benfit…

  • gm

    The reason Lent is becoming “popular” is because of the
    arridity of many Church services today, especially the Evangelical
    ones. I think people have grown up and now see that life is full of
    sadness, injustice, dilemmas, many of which cannot be “fixed”.
    The traditions of old reflect this in the serious, solemn, reverential
    music and practices.
    It’s good to wake up and realize our Churches rich practices
    go farther back than the 1970′s….. They may even benfit…

  • Dan Kempin

    Interesting responses.

    I agree that the article quoted is trying to hijack the practice of lenten fasting into a form of political activism. I think it is also true that there is, as Dr. Veith suggests, an “attraction” to the mild ascetecism of lent. (Why else would someone want to hijack it?)

    I have no objective proof of this trend, but it resonates with me and I think the question posed is interesting. In a culture that is almost militantly self indulgent, why is self denial getting noticed? In a theological culture where piety was personalized and internalized to the extreme, why is there now an openness to the structured, external practice of lent?

  • Dan Kempin

    Interesting responses.

    I agree that the article quoted is trying to hijack the practice of lenten fasting into a form of political activism. I think it is also true that there is, as Dr. Veith suggests, an “attraction” to the mild ascetecism of lent. (Why else would someone want to hijack it?)

    I have no objective proof of this trend, but it resonates with me and I think the question posed is interesting. In a culture that is almost militantly self indulgent, why is self denial getting noticed? In a theological culture where piety was personalized and internalized to the extreme, why is there now an openness to the structured, external practice of lent?

  • SKPeterson

    I also prayed the litany this morning with my devotions, so maybe I’ve addedsomething for Lent. I’m such a rebel.

  • SKPeterson

    I also prayed the litany this morning with my devotions, so maybe I’ve addedsomething for Lent. I’m such a rebel.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Bror steals my thunder about Methodists–to add a touch, keep in mind that it’s the Methodist Episcopal Church, so they’re not that historically hostile to the church calendar. That said, the church has gone around a few theological changes since Wesley–the circuit riders gave way to revivalism, that to the Social Gospel (what Bror is complaining about, rightly), and from there to theological liberalism. As Bror says, most Methodists today wouldn’t recognize Wesley if he tied his horse to the church flagpole.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Bror steals my thunder about Methodists–to add a touch, keep in mind that it’s the Methodist Episcopal Church, so they’re not that historically hostile to the church calendar. That said, the church has gone around a few theological changes since Wesley–the circuit riders gave way to revivalism, that to the Social Gospel (what Bror is complaining about, rightly), and from there to theological liberalism. As Bror says, most Methodists today wouldn’t recognize Wesley if he tied his horse to the church flagpole.

  • SKPeterson

    Dan @7 – I would posit that this phenomenon fits in perfectly with a sort of post-modern disdain for material culture that manifests itself, for example, in the smug dismissal of Wal-Mart (and the people who shop there) as a means to signal one’s group identity. This is just a mutated form of self denial as self indulgence, nothing more than modern examples of those Jesus describes as ones who fast in public and make faces to show their piety to their fellow men. At least that’s how I read it. Doubtless, there are many who undertake these fasts as a serious attempt at spiritual discipline, I just didn’t get that impression from the article.

  • SKPeterson

    Dan @7 – I would posit that this phenomenon fits in perfectly with a sort of post-modern disdain for material culture that manifests itself, for example, in the smug dismissal of Wal-Mart (and the people who shop there) as a means to signal one’s group identity. This is just a mutated form of self denial as self indulgence, nothing more than modern examples of those Jesus describes as ones who fast in public and make faces to show their piety to their fellow men. At least that’s how I read it. Doubtless, there are many who undertake these fasts as a serious attempt at spiritual discipline, I just didn’t get that impression from the article.

  • helen

    I had a supervisor whose apparent closest contact with Christianity was a Lutheran Grandmother half the continent away in Wisconsin.
    He was giving up something for Lent, “not because he believed the superstition, but as a discipline.” On Good Friday he said he was glad Lent was almost over, because he had given up swearing!
    [He never did, in my hearing, but we were strictly office acquaintances.]
    His family celebrated Easter with a big dinner.

  • helen

    I had a supervisor whose apparent closest contact with Christianity was a Lutheran Grandmother half the continent away in Wisconsin.
    He was giving up something for Lent, “not because he believed the superstition, but as a discipline.” On Good Friday he said he was glad Lent was almost over, because he had given up swearing!
    [He never did, in my hearing, but we were strictly office acquaintances.]
    His family celebrated Easter with a big dinner.

  • Kyralessa

    In the Orthodox fast of Great Lent, the 40 days are counted differently (and Sundays are not excluded).

    The 40 days this year are from March 7th to April 15th. The days after that are Lazarus Saturday, Palm Sunday, and Holy Week. Those days are fast days as well, but they’re not counted as part of the 40 days.

  • Kyralessa

    In the Orthodox fast of Great Lent, the 40 days are counted differently (and Sundays are not excluded).

    The 40 days this year are from March 7th to April 15th. The days after that are Lazarus Saturday, Palm Sunday, and Holy Week. Those days are fast days as well, but they’re not counted as part of the 40 days.

  • Dan Kempin

    SKPeterson,

    This seems to have touched a nerve with you. Why is that? Are you opposed to the whole idea of lenten fasting, or are you offended because you DO fast and resent the attempt to encroach?

  • Dan Kempin

    SKPeterson,

    This seems to have touched a nerve with you. Why is that? Are you opposed to the whole idea of lenten fasting, or are you offended because you DO fast and resent the attempt to encroach?

  • Grace

    Fasting is Biblical, but Jesus gives very clear ways in which it should be done in Matthew. The idea of lent is not in the Bible.

    “Lent is getting a makeover, especially in some Protestant traditions where it hasn’t always drawn strong interest. The carbon fast is one of several initiatives aimed at reinvigorating Lent by linking themes of fasting and abstention to wider social causes.”

    “Carbon” fast has a ring, or rather a loud noise, of Rick Warren and the Emergent Church – fasting and abstention, using social causes and issues?

    Environmentalism and religion: The climate of faith
    Published by Matt Dernoga, March 2nd, 2010
    An excerpt from article:

    “An organization, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good (CACG), has taken up the Pope’s challenge, launching the Facebook campaign “Go Green for Lent.” Several Anglican Bishops are calling for a “carbon fast” to reduce their environmental footprint, and the Archdiocese of Washington has made a calendar listing 40 ideas for reducing that footprint.

    But it’s not just Catholics and not just for 40 days. Evangelicals, considered some of the most conservative Christians around, have formed several organizations in recent years such as the Evangelical Environmental Network, Evangelicals for Social Action and The Evangelical Climate Initiative. In 2006, 86 Evangelical leaders signed a document titled “Climate Change: A Call to Action.” This included Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church, the largest Evangelical church in America.”
    http://itsgettinghotinhere.org/2010/03/02/environmentalism-and-religion-the-climate-of-faith/

    Many of us do not consider Saddleback Evangelical, but Emergent Church.

    “Why do you think, in this age of constant indulgence, the Lenten disciplines are being taken up, to a certain extent, even by those traditions that normally haven’t practiced them? What’s the attraction?”

    Maybe they want to be part of an “Ecumenical” movement – one global church.

    The LORD made clear how we are to fast, below is the passage of Scripture which tells us how we are to fast.

    16 Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

    17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;

    18 That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.
    Matthew 6

    The words of Christ regarding fasting forgotten!

  • Grace

    Fasting is Biblical, but Jesus gives very clear ways in which it should be done in Matthew. The idea of lent is not in the Bible.

    “Lent is getting a makeover, especially in some Protestant traditions where it hasn’t always drawn strong interest. The carbon fast is one of several initiatives aimed at reinvigorating Lent by linking themes of fasting and abstention to wider social causes.”

    “Carbon” fast has a ring, or rather a loud noise, of Rick Warren and the Emergent Church – fasting and abstention, using social causes and issues?

    Environmentalism and religion: The climate of faith
    Published by Matt Dernoga, March 2nd, 2010
    An excerpt from article:

    “An organization, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good (CACG), has taken up the Pope’s challenge, launching the Facebook campaign “Go Green for Lent.” Several Anglican Bishops are calling for a “carbon fast” to reduce their environmental footprint, and the Archdiocese of Washington has made a calendar listing 40 ideas for reducing that footprint.

    But it’s not just Catholics and not just for 40 days. Evangelicals, considered some of the most conservative Christians around, have formed several organizations in recent years such as the Evangelical Environmental Network, Evangelicals for Social Action and The Evangelical Climate Initiative. In 2006, 86 Evangelical leaders signed a document titled “Climate Change: A Call to Action.” This included Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church, the largest Evangelical church in America.”
    http://itsgettinghotinhere.org/2010/03/02/environmentalism-and-religion-the-climate-of-faith/

    Many of us do not consider Saddleback Evangelical, but Emergent Church.

    “Why do you think, in this age of constant indulgence, the Lenten disciplines are being taken up, to a certain extent, even by those traditions that normally haven’t practiced them? What’s the attraction?”

    Maybe they want to be part of an “Ecumenical” movement – one global church.

    The LORD made clear how we are to fast, below is the passage of Scripture which tells us how we are to fast.

    16 Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

    17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;

    18 That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.
    Matthew 6

    The words of Christ regarding fasting forgotten!

  • http://blog.captainthin.net/ Captain Thin

    I think Gm @6 is probably right to some extent. Many Christians (evangelical or otherwise) discover that the pop-culture Christianity they grew up with was too shallow, and often simply ignores the problems of suffering. There’s a depth and richness to be found in embracing some of the more ancient traditions of the Church, even if they are merely tradition.

    I myself am giving up Facebook for the third year. I find it a good thing to give up because I often think while I’m at the computer that “I should check Facebook.” Now whenever the thought occurs, I instead take to the opportunity to spend a minute or two in prayer. A good way to bring prayer out of its “daily devotional time” slot and into every waking hour of the day.

  • http://blog.captainthin.net/ Captain Thin

    I think Gm @6 is probably right to some extent. Many Christians (evangelical or otherwise) discover that the pop-culture Christianity they grew up with was too shallow, and often simply ignores the problems of suffering. There’s a depth and richness to be found in embracing some of the more ancient traditions of the Church, even if they are merely tradition.

    I myself am giving up Facebook for the third year. I find it a good thing to give up because I often think while I’m at the computer that “I should check Facebook.” Now whenever the thought occurs, I instead take to the opportunity to spend a minute or two in prayer. A good way to bring prayer out of its “daily devotional time” slot and into every waking hour of the day.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I could go all sorts of ways on this. It’s more than a little painful to the causes du jour shoehorned into a longstanding tradition, on one hand. But, on the other hand, if we’re going to preclude any acts of worship undertaken with less than pure motives, could we still encourage anyone to go to church or read their Bible? God knows how self-centered I am when doing those things.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I could go all sorts of ways on this. It’s more than a little painful to the causes du jour shoehorned into a longstanding tradition, on one hand. But, on the other hand, if we’re going to preclude any acts of worship undertaken with less than pure motives, could we still encourage anyone to go to church or read their Bible? God knows how self-centered I am when doing those things.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    But regardless of my own take, I’m reminded somewhat of traveling. I love to travel, and my wife and I used to take a yearly trip abroad before our son was born.

    Travel is fun because it breaks you out of your routine. Of course, different people travel in different ways for different reasons. Some people seek out comfort. Others danger. Myself, I’ve always been a sucker for learning about other cultures, chasing after some (often elusive) notion of authenticity. I don’t want to be the guy getting bilked at the American chain hotel, where every employee speaks perfect English, and directs me to restaurants recommended by Fodor’s with special English-only menus, where I eat after following around some student tour guide holding up some umbrella, rattling off some rote patter. Oh no. (And no offense if that’s your style; it’s just not mine.)

    I enjoy being slightly uncomfortable, sitting in a restaurant where no one speaks my language, and the wait staff rolls their eyes at me as I attempt to drive home what I want in broken speech. I enjoy trying to fit in, learning the local customs, and so on.

    It’s just a chance to pretend you’re someone else for a time. To learn to think like someone else. To see the world differently.

    I say all this, because to me, there’s not a small amount of religious tourism going on among Evangelicals today. They’ve grown up in a religion that is, in many ways, like America: young, without much history, having seemingly sprung forth from nothing. And much as I, an American, enjoy traveling to places with oodles of history — where they say, “Oh, 15th century castles? Yes, we have several dozens of those here. Why?” — these people enjoy traipsing about in denominations that are much more rooted in history. Like me, they may pick and choose which aspects they want to engage in (“Akvavit yes, lutefisk no”). They may repeat behaviors they have seen others doing, without entirely understanding why these things are done (“Okay, so the chef gets mad when we dip the fish in soy sauce before we eat it”). And, like me, they may make the locals roll their eyes when they attempt to engage in customs wrong. Or the locals might find it rather charming that the tourists are even trying. I guess it depends.

    But maybe that provides a guide for those of us living in these older religions popular with tourists, as it were. We could be the locals that simply glare at the tourists, rolling our eyes and wishing they’d go away. Or we could welcome them, try to explain things, and make them want to come back.

    Or maybe I’m abusing this extended metaphor. Your call.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    But regardless of my own take, I’m reminded somewhat of traveling. I love to travel, and my wife and I used to take a yearly trip abroad before our son was born.

    Travel is fun because it breaks you out of your routine. Of course, different people travel in different ways for different reasons. Some people seek out comfort. Others danger. Myself, I’ve always been a sucker for learning about other cultures, chasing after some (often elusive) notion of authenticity. I don’t want to be the guy getting bilked at the American chain hotel, where every employee speaks perfect English, and directs me to restaurants recommended by Fodor’s with special English-only menus, where I eat after following around some student tour guide holding up some umbrella, rattling off some rote patter. Oh no. (And no offense if that’s your style; it’s just not mine.)

    I enjoy being slightly uncomfortable, sitting in a restaurant where no one speaks my language, and the wait staff rolls their eyes at me as I attempt to drive home what I want in broken speech. I enjoy trying to fit in, learning the local customs, and so on.

    It’s just a chance to pretend you’re someone else for a time. To learn to think like someone else. To see the world differently.

    I say all this, because to me, there’s not a small amount of religious tourism going on among Evangelicals today. They’ve grown up in a religion that is, in many ways, like America: young, without much history, having seemingly sprung forth from nothing. And much as I, an American, enjoy traveling to places with oodles of history — where they say, “Oh, 15th century castles? Yes, we have several dozens of those here. Why?” — these people enjoy traipsing about in denominations that are much more rooted in history. Like me, they may pick and choose which aspects they want to engage in (“Akvavit yes, lutefisk no”). They may repeat behaviors they have seen others doing, without entirely understanding why these things are done (“Okay, so the chef gets mad when we dip the fish in soy sauce before we eat it”). And, like me, they may make the locals roll their eyes when they attempt to engage in customs wrong. Or the locals might find it rather charming that the tourists are even trying. I guess it depends.

    But maybe that provides a guide for those of us living in these older religions popular with tourists, as it were. We could be the locals that simply glare at the tourists, rolling our eyes and wishing they’d go away. Or we could welcome them, try to explain things, and make them want to come back.

    Or maybe I’m abusing this extended metaphor. Your call.

  • Booklover

    Perhaps the previous reticence of some Christian denominations to observe Lent has been because it is so very Christ-centered, so very cross-centered. There is no focus on self but on Christ. And as Captain Thin brought out, there is that problem of suffering brought out in the season of Lent.

    Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted

    Stricken, smitten, and afflicted,
    See him dying on the tree!
    ‘Tis the Christ, by man rejected;
    Yes, my soul, ’tis He, ’tis He.
    ‘Tis the long expected prophet,
    David’s son, yet David’s Lord.
    Proofs I see sufficient of it:
    ‘Tis the true and faithful Word.

    Tell me, ye who hear him groaning,
    Was there ever grief like His?
    Friends through fear his cause disowning,
    Foes insulting his distress;
    Many hands were raised to wound him,
    None would interpose to save;
    But the deepest stroke that pierced him
    Was the stroke that justice gave.

    Ye who think of sin but lightly
    Nor suppose the evil great
    Here may view its nature rightly,
    Here its guilt may estimate.
    Mark the sacrifice appointed;
    See who bears the awful load;
    ‘Tis the Word, the Lord’s Anointed,
    Son of Man and Son of God.

    Here we have a firm foundation;
    Here the refuge of the lost;
    Christ’s the rock of our salvation,
    His the name of which we boast.
    Lamb of God, for sinners wounded,
    Sacrifice to cancel guilt!
    None shall ever be confounded
    Who on Him their hope have built.

  • Booklover

    Perhaps the previous reticence of some Christian denominations to observe Lent has been because it is so very Christ-centered, so very cross-centered. There is no focus on self but on Christ. And as Captain Thin brought out, there is that problem of suffering brought out in the season of Lent.

    Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted

    Stricken, smitten, and afflicted,
    See him dying on the tree!
    ‘Tis the Christ, by man rejected;
    Yes, my soul, ’tis He, ’tis He.
    ‘Tis the long expected prophet,
    David’s son, yet David’s Lord.
    Proofs I see sufficient of it:
    ‘Tis the true and faithful Word.

    Tell me, ye who hear him groaning,
    Was there ever grief like His?
    Friends through fear his cause disowning,
    Foes insulting his distress;
    Many hands were raised to wound him,
    None would interpose to save;
    But the deepest stroke that pierced him
    Was the stroke that justice gave.

    Ye who think of sin but lightly
    Nor suppose the evil great
    Here may view its nature rightly,
    Here its guilt may estimate.
    Mark the sacrifice appointed;
    See who bears the awful load;
    ‘Tis the Word, the Lord’s Anointed,
    Son of Man and Son of God.

    Here we have a firm foundation;
    Here the refuge of the lost;
    Christ’s the rock of our salvation,
    His the name of which we boast.
    Lamb of God, for sinners wounded,
    Sacrifice to cancel guilt!
    None shall ever be confounded
    Who on Him their hope have built.

  • Dan Kempin

    tODD, #17,

    A beautiful and insightful word picture. A worthwhile read that I will be pondering for a while. Thank you for the perspective.

  • Dan Kempin

    tODD, #17,

    A beautiful and insightful word picture. A worthwhile read that I will be pondering for a while. Thank you for the perspective.

  • SKPeterson

    Dan – Maybe it has, but I hope not. It’s just something that struck me when reading the article. Most likely, I could blame it on my life in the ELCA and watching these sorts of initiatives become commonplace to the exclusion of the Gospel and where appearance has become more important than substance. I’m not that bitter though even if I sound like it; I’ve found a good refuge in the LCMS, but this sort of thing must bring up some resentment in me. My apologies.

    Frankly, I’m not as disciplined as I’d like to be, so maybe Lent will be a good time to try somewhat fitfully to incorporate more of a discipline into my devotional life. But it won’t involve reducing my carbon footprint ;) .

  • SKPeterson

    Dan – Maybe it has, but I hope not. It’s just something that struck me when reading the article. Most likely, I could blame it on my life in the ELCA and watching these sorts of initiatives become commonplace to the exclusion of the Gospel and where appearance has become more important than substance. I’m not that bitter though even if I sound like it; I’ve found a good refuge in the LCMS, but this sort of thing must bring up some resentment in me. My apologies.

    Frankly, I’m not as disciplined as I’d like to be, so maybe Lent will be a good time to try somewhat fitfully to incorporate more of a discipline into my devotional life. But it won’t involve reducing my carbon footprint ;) .

  • Dan Kempin

    SK, #20,

    Fair enough. For the record, you didn’t strike me as bitter. I just wasn’t sure I understood your perspective. Makes sense now.

  • Dan Kempin

    SK, #20,

    Fair enough. For the record, you didn’t strike me as bitter. I just wasn’t sure I understood your perspective. Makes sense now.

  • http://blog.captainthin.net/ Captain Thin

    To those who are concerned that other Christians are apparently linking Lenten fasting to social justice concerns, I’d point out that the biblical idea of fasting has everything to do with social justice. Consider Isaiah 58:6-7.

    “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke. Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh.”

    The passages both preceding and following this selection are also very relevant and good to consider during any discussion of fasting, but for the sake of brevity I leave them out.

  • http://blog.captainthin.net/ Captain Thin

    To those who are concerned that other Christians are apparently linking Lenten fasting to social justice concerns, I’d point out that the biblical idea of fasting has everything to do with social justice. Consider Isaiah 58:6-7.

    “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke. Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh.”

    The passages both preceding and following this selection are also very relevant and good to consider during any discussion of fasting, but for the sake of brevity I leave them out.

  • Grace

    “But maybe that provides a guide for those of us living in these older religions popular with tourists, as it were.”

    A mistake often made by those who belong to a particular denomination or group is; those who don’t belong to that denomination have never stepped foot in any other church, but the one they were raised in. They also contend that these unlearned individuals have never studied other’s beliefs – Both of which are false, at least for many in our family, friends and countless others who are Believers. Not everyone is so gullible that they avoid the study of the Bible, searching out the truth of God’s Word.

    I have attended and visited, – - the Roman Catholic Church, Pentecostal Churches, Lutheran, Apostolic Church, Presbyterian, Congregational, Assembly of God, Baptist, Christian Missionary Alliance, Southern Baptist, United Church of Christ, many different Bible Churches, Church of God, Methodist, Brethren, ….. I could name more, but I think you get the idea.

    Even as a teen I often accepted invitations from my friends to attend their church – I invited my friends to attend my church, … they often did, and then stayed.

    The oldest church is that of Christ, spoken of in the Gospels and the rest of the new Testament. The church was not formed after Christ died and arose, it began by HIM here on earth. No one is living in an older religion than that spoken of by the LORD and His Apostles. Studying the Bible is key, there is no other Gospel but that of the LORD Jesus Christ.

  • Grace

    “But maybe that provides a guide for those of us living in these older religions popular with tourists, as it were.”

    A mistake often made by those who belong to a particular denomination or group is; those who don’t belong to that denomination have never stepped foot in any other church, but the one they were raised in. They also contend that these unlearned individuals have never studied other’s beliefs – Both of which are false, at least for many in our family, friends and countless others who are Believers. Not everyone is so gullible that they avoid the study of the Bible, searching out the truth of God’s Word.

    I have attended and visited, – - the Roman Catholic Church, Pentecostal Churches, Lutheran, Apostolic Church, Presbyterian, Congregational, Assembly of God, Baptist, Christian Missionary Alliance, Southern Baptist, United Church of Christ, many different Bible Churches, Church of God, Methodist, Brethren, ….. I could name more, but I think you get the idea.

    Even as a teen I often accepted invitations from my friends to attend their church – I invited my friends to attend my church, … they often did, and then stayed.

    The oldest church is that of Christ, spoken of in the Gospels and the rest of the new Testament. The church was not formed after Christ died and arose, it began by HIM here on earth. No one is living in an older religion than that spoken of by the LORD and His Apostles. Studying the Bible is key, there is no other Gospel but that of the LORD Jesus Christ.

  • vivianc

    I agree with SKPeterson. Having seen countless “lock-up” overnights to make people “aware” of world hunger, and many people shave their heads because a friend is in radiation therapy and lost all their hair, and seeing countless funds raised for awareness of this cancer, that disease, etc, I’m just revolted pretty much by all of it, including all the “carbon footprint” abstainers. Whenever I hear people talking about this, there is always just that little inner glow of self-satisfaction and self-righteousness that frankly turns my stomach. Those who are hungry need food, a better socio-political system, and full property ownership rights. They do NOT need some spoiled Westerners pretending they understand hunger because they spend 24 hours without food. If I have serious cancer, I just want healing, and it won’t make any difference to me whether my friends cut their hair or not. Most of this stuff is just outer behavior that makes people feel as if they are actually solving a problem, while gaining for them public approbation. The really serious issues we each have, such as dying to ourselves, remain unaddressed.

  • vivianc

    I agree with SKPeterson. Having seen countless “lock-up” overnights to make people “aware” of world hunger, and many people shave their heads because a friend is in radiation therapy and lost all their hair, and seeing countless funds raised for awareness of this cancer, that disease, etc, I’m just revolted pretty much by all of it, including all the “carbon footprint” abstainers. Whenever I hear people talking about this, there is always just that little inner glow of self-satisfaction and self-righteousness that frankly turns my stomach. Those who are hungry need food, a better socio-political system, and full property ownership rights. They do NOT need some spoiled Westerners pretending they understand hunger because they spend 24 hours without food. If I have serious cancer, I just want healing, and it won’t make any difference to me whether my friends cut their hair or not. Most of this stuff is just outer behavior that makes people feel as if they are actually solving a problem, while gaining for them public approbation. The really serious issues we each have, such as dying to ourselves, remain unaddressed.

  • Grace

    vivianc – 24

    Dear Vivianc,

    You are right as you say ” The really serious issues we each have, such as dying to ourselves, remain unaddressed.” – whatever it is within us is retched, we either cannot or will not address it.

    My heart goes out to you Vivianc,…. I don’t know you, but I have known others just like you, …. may God comfort you. I have, and will continue to pray for you. It’s just past 11 PM here on the west coast. If you post, I will answer you my friend….. God loves you, and so do I.

    God bless you,
    Grace

  • Grace

    vivianc – 24

    Dear Vivianc,

    You are right as you say ” The really serious issues we each have, such as dying to ourselves, remain unaddressed.” – whatever it is within us is retched, we either cannot or will not address it.

    My heart goes out to you Vivianc,…. I don’t know you, but I have known others just like you, …. may God comfort you. I have, and will continue to pray for you. It’s just past 11 PM here on the west coast. If you post, I will answer you my friend….. God loves you, and so do I.

    God bless you,
    Grace

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    OK, I’ve got a question–grew up in those “awful teetotaling” Methodist churches (smile to Bror) and have spent my adulthood among (awful teetotaling) Baptists, so I have little clue about the origins of Lent.

    Now I don’t see a specific Scriptural command to do this (like Purim, Passover, etc..) or a simple sequence of events (Christmas, Easter) for inserting it into the liturgical year, so I’m wondering; is it strongly linked with the last couple of months while Jesus made His way into Jerusalem, or is it more of a cultural application of the principles of fasting and such?

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    OK, I’ve got a question–grew up in those “awful teetotaling” Methodist churches (smile to Bror) and have spent my adulthood among (awful teetotaling) Baptists, so I have little clue about the origins of Lent.

    Now I don’t see a specific Scriptural command to do this (like Purim, Passover, etc..) or a simple sequence of events (Christmas, Easter) for inserting it into the liturgical year, so I’m wondering; is it strongly linked with the last couple of months while Jesus made His way into Jerusalem, or is it more of a cultural application of the principles of fasting and such?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bubba (@26), I’m a bit confused. You appear familiar with “the liturgical year” … but not Lent? Lent is part of the liturgical calendar. And, of course, none of the observances in the liturgical calendar are commanded scripturally — including Christmas or Easter. It’s adiaphora, albeit adiaphora that has a very long tradition and which the Church has long found useful.

    That said, Lent is more than merely focused on the last days/months of Jesus’ life, though clearly that is there, especially towards the end of Lent. The 40 days (and the tradition of fasting) both allude to Jesus’ 40 days of fasting in the desert, before he began his public ministry. In that sense, the 40 days of Lent point forward to the culmination of his ministry. Of course, it is not possible to appreciate Jesus’ ministry without simultaneously appreciating our necessitating it, so Lent is characterized by an attitude of repentance — which may manifest itself in believers as fasting (though I believe only Catholics require this, to some degree).

    I honestly forget the full spectrum of what will be covered in Lent vis-a-vis the readings, but it picks up where Epiphany left off, to some degree.

    Does that answer your question?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bubba (@26), I’m a bit confused. You appear familiar with “the liturgical year” … but not Lent? Lent is part of the liturgical calendar. And, of course, none of the observances in the liturgical calendar are commanded scripturally — including Christmas or Easter. It’s adiaphora, albeit adiaphora that has a very long tradition and which the Church has long found useful.

    That said, Lent is more than merely focused on the last days/months of Jesus’ life, though clearly that is there, especially towards the end of Lent. The 40 days (and the tradition of fasting) both allude to Jesus’ 40 days of fasting in the desert, before he began his public ministry. In that sense, the 40 days of Lent point forward to the culmination of his ministry. Of course, it is not possible to appreciate Jesus’ ministry without simultaneously appreciating our necessitating it, so Lent is characterized by an attitude of repentance — which may manifest itself in believers as fasting (though I believe only Catholics require this, to some degree).

    I honestly forget the full spectrum of what will be covered in Lent vis-a-vis the readings, but it picks up where Epiphany left off, to some degree.

    Does that answer your question?

  • James Hescock

    I think people are looking for something more tangible to engage in regarding the faith. This is not to negate the ministry of the Word (as in preaching) but to support it and incorporate it. People are looking for ways to incorporate the more conceptual into the more concrete aspects of human lives.

    Iow, I think this is a great example for the peoples’ need for “And Sacrament” ministry – not just Word, but Word AND Sacrament. The attraction to Lent shows that.

  • James Hescock

    I think people are looking for something more tangible to engage in regarding the faith. This is not to negate the ministry of the Word (as in preaching) but to support it and incorporate it. People are looking for ways to incorporate the more conceptual into the more concrete aspects of human lives.

    Iow, I think this is a great example for the peoples’ need for “And Sacrament” ministry – not just Word, but Word AND Sacrament. The attraction to Lent shows that.

  • http://rolliesword.blogspot.com Rollin

    According to the Bible, we should be giving up sin for Jesus. Self flagelation went out with the dark ages. Giving up something for Lent seems to me is mostly playing games with God.

  • http://rolliesword.blogspot.com Rollin

    According to the Bible, we should be giving up sin for Jesus. Self flagelation went out with the dark ages. Giving up something for Lent seems to me is mostly playing games with God.

  • Booklover

    Bubba, here is what is written in the Treasury of Daily Prayer concerning Lent:

    The resurrection of Jesus is our great salvation. To prepare to celebrate the Feast of the Resurrection (Easter), the Church sets aside a period of preparation. In AD 325, the Council of Nicaea recorded the first reference to the specific number of days of Lent: forty. This forty-day preparation was first prescribed for baptismal candidates and became known as Lent (from the Old English word for “spring”). During this period, the candidates were examined in preparation for Baptism at the Easter (or Paschal) Vigil. Later, these forty days were associated with Jesus’ forty days in the desert prior to his temptation (Matthew 4) and with the forty years the children of Israel spent in the wilderness (Numbers 14:34) and became a period of preparation for every Christian.

    Ash Wednesday begins the observance of Lent. The placing of ashes on the forehead is a sign of penitence and a reminder of human mortality. The Sundays during this season are not “of Lent” but “in Lent.” Thus the Sundays retain an Easter tone and may be less solemn than the midweek services that congregations typically offer. The observances of Lent are concrete reminders of the greater solemnity of this season, yet Lutherans emphasize the Gospel of Christ as central even to this penitential season.

  • Booklover

    Bubba, here is what is written in the Treasury of Daily Prayer concerning Lent:

    The resurrection of Jesus is our great salvation. To prepare to celebrate the Feast of the Resurrection (Easter), the Church sets aside a period of preparation. In AD 325, the Council of Nicaea recorded the first reference to the specific number of days of Lent: forty. This forty-day preparation was first prescribed for baptismal candidates and became known as Lent (from the Old English word for “spring”). During this period, the candidates were examined in preparation for Baptism at the Easter (or Paschal) Vigil. Later, these forty days were associated with Jesus’ forty days in the desert prior to his temptation (Matthew 4) and with the forty years the children of Israel spent in the wilderness (Numbers 14:34) and became a period of preparation for every Christian.

    Ash Wednesday begins the observance of Lent. The placing of ashes on the forehead is a sign of penitence and a reminder of human mortality. The Sundays during this season are not “of Lent” but “in Lent.” Thus the Sundays retain an Easter tone and may be less solemn than the midweek services that congregations typically offer. The observances of Lent are concrete reminders of the greater solemnity of this season, yet Lutherans emphasize the Gospel of Christ as central even to this penitential season.

  • Grace

    Penitence is repentance. Once we have repented of our sins we are cleansed from all unrighteousness.

    If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness 1 John 1:9

    Giving up candy, cookies, French fries, meat, TV, internet, or any other item has nothing to do with repentance. No one can win repentance by giving up something for 40 days or a lifetime – it is only through repenting to the LORD for your sins that you receive forgiveness. If you believe giving up your fav food, or anything else will win repentance through penitence, you’re right back through the Roman Catholic door -

  • Grace

    Penitence is repentance. Once we have repented of our sins we are cleansed from all unrighteousness.

    If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness 1 John 1:9

    Giving up candy, cookies, French fries, meat, TV, internet, or any other item has nothing to do with repentance. No one can win repentance by giving up something for 40 days or a lifetime – it is only through repenting to the LORD for your sins that you receive forgiveness. If you believe giving up your fav food, or anything else will win repentance through penitence, you’re right back through the Roman Catholic door -

  • Grace

    Rollin – 29

    “According to the Bible, we should be giving up sin for Jesus. Self flagelation went out with the dark ages. Giving up something for Lent seems to me is mostly playing games with God.”

    You slammed the nail, and split the wood!

    Instead of giving up your fav food, why not look upon the obvious sins the LORD Jesus spoke of in the Bible, and so did His Apostles.

    If you can give up your fav food, why not give up your favorite sin? – God says you do have an escape:

    There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
    1 Corinthians 10:13

    Or is that escape only for ice cream, wine, TV, pizza and all the silly things you can think of. How about SIN?

  • Grace

    Rollin – 29

    “According to the Bible, we should be giving up sin for Jesus. Self flagelation went out with the dark ages. Giving up something for Lent seems to me is mostly playing games with God.”

    You slammed the nail, and split the wood!

    Instead of giving up your fav food, why not look upon the obvious sins the LORD Jesus spoke of in the Bible, and so did His Apostles.

    If you can give up your fav food, why not give up your favorite sin? – God says you do have an escape:

    There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
    1 Corinthians 10:13

    Or is that escape only for ice cream, wine, TV, pizza and all the silly things you can think of. How about SIN?

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    tODD, Booklover, that’ll do it. What I was getting at with Lent in the liturgical calendar is that you can’t link it as closely to Biblical events as you can with other days in that calendar–which is fine.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    tODD, Booklover, that’ll do it. What I was getting at with Lent in the liturgical calendar is that you can’t link it as closely to Biblical events as you can with other days in that calendar–which is fine.

  • Kyralessa

    Grace, no one thinks that giving up a favorite food is the same thing as repentance. In the Orthodox Church, we give up meat, fish, and dairy foods for 40 days…but we don’t think that’s the same thing as repentance either. The church fathers even say that fasting without also increasing prayer is the “fast of demons”; for demons do not eat, but neither do they pray.

    The purpose of fasting is to conquer our passions, the impulses leading us to sin. Prayer and repentance are an integral part of that; just giving up food doesn’t accomplish anything by itself.

  • Kyralessa

    Grace, no one thinks that giving up a favorite food is the same thing as repentance. In the Orthodox Church, we give up meat, fish, and dairy foods for 40 days…but we don’t think that’s the same thing as repentance either. The church fathers even say that fasting without also increasing prayer is the “fast of demons”; for demons do not eat, but neither do they pray.

    The purpose of fasting is to conquer our passions, the impulses leading us to sin. Prayer and repentance are an integral part of that; just giving up food doesn’t accomplish anything by itself.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Kyralessa said (@34) “The purpose of fasting is to conquer our passions, the impulses leading us to sin.” Is it?

    How’s it work out, then? Are you sinning less?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Kyralessa said (@34) “The purpose of fasting is to conquer our passions, the impulses leading us to sin.” Is it?

    How’s it work out, then? Are you sinning less?

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    When thinking of fasting, I remember our Lord’s words regarding why His disciples did not fast, but John’s did; the time will come, He said, when He would be taken away and they would fast–fasting in mourning.

    Along those lines, the Pilgrims (no high church people these separatists) held times of “solemn humiliation”–times of fasting to mourn the reality of their sins.

    Which, as tODD hints, is a better rationale for fasting than avoiding sin, as Paul noted that self-denial of the body doesn’t do any good, spiritually speaking.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    When thinking of fasting, I remember our Lord’s words regarding why His disciples did not fast, but John’s did; the time will come, He said, when He would be taken away and they would fast–fasting in mourning.

    Along those lines, the Pilgrims (no high church people these separatists) held times of “solemn humiliation”–times of fasting to mourn the reality of their sins.

    Which, as tODD hints, is a better rationale for fasting than avoiding sin, as Paul noted that self-denial of the body doesn’t do any good, spiritually speaking.

  • Kyralessa

    @tODD, the testimony of the Orthodox Church over twenty centuries is that a regimen of prayer, fasting, and repentance is a good way to work on conquering one’s passions. As for whether it happens to be working out for me, right at this moment, and whether I myself am sinning less, don’t you think that’s a rather personal matter?

    Certainly no one has to take the Orthodox Church’s word for it that sinning less is possible. You can read Romans 6 for yourself.

  • Kyralessa

    @tODD, the testimony of the Orthodox Church over twenty centuries is that a regimen of prayer, fasting, and repentance is a good way to work on conquering one’s passions. As for whether it happens to be working out for me, right at this moment, and whether I myself am sinning less, don’t you think that’s a rather personal matter?

    Certainly no one has to take the Orthodox Church’s word for it that sinning less is possible. You can read Romans 6 for yourself.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Kyralessa (@37), I have read Romans 6 for myself. What’s more, I also went on to read Romans 7:

    So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

    Seems like Paul says the solution is Jesus, not trying harder.

    And if the matter is too personal for you to discuss your results, then know this: when you fail to conquer our passions, do not despair. Instead, repeat with Paul, “Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

    And you will fail. Repeatedly. Humiliatingly. Read Romans 7 again. And if, by some chance, you convince yourself that you are succeeding at conquering your sinful nature, beware! Because at that point, your sinful nature is fooling you, trying to get you to look away from Jesus and towards your own works. In other words, it is when you think you are conquering your passions that you are most likely to be caving to them.

    Look to Jesus, not your own deeds.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Kyralessa (@37), I have read Romans 6 for myself. What’s more, I also went on to read Romans 7:

    So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

    Seems like Paul says the solution is Jesus, not trying harder.

    And if the matter is too personal for you to discuss your results, then know this: when you fail to conquer our passions, do not despair. Instead, repeat with Paul, “Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

    And you will fail. Repeatedly. Humiliatingly. Read Romans 7 again. And if, by some chance, you convince yourself that you are succeeding at conquering your sinful nature, beware! Because at that point, your sinful nature is fooling you, trying to get you to look away from Jesus and towards your own works. In other words, it is when you think you are conquering your passions that you are most likely to be caving to them.

    Look to Jesus, not your own deeds.

  • Fr. Gregory Hogg

    Keep reading, tODD, and you’ll find these lines from 1 Corinthians 9. This is perhaps a more fitting context within which to view fasting in the Christian life:

    24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. 25 And everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; 27 but I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.

  • Fr. Gregory Hogg

    Keep reading, tODD, and you’ll find these lines from 1 Corinthians 9. This is perhaps a more fitting context within which to view fasting in the Christian life:

    24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. 25 And everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; 27 but I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.

  • Kyralessa

    tODD, I’m not sure where all this is coming from, but if you think you’re earnestly saving an Orthodox from attempting to attain salvation by his own efforts, you’re barking up entirely the wrong tree. No Orthodox is under any illusion that he’s saved by his own efforts to become holy. That doesn’t change the fact that God calls us to be holy.

    There may be people (if they’re not just caricatures) who think that we can save ourselves through our ascetic efforts without any need of God’s grace. There may also be people who think that because God’s grace covers us, sin isn’t a big deal. (Indeed, Paul addresses such people.) I don’t belong to either group.

    I mentioned why the Orthodox fast. I didn’t say that everyone needs to do this, and I don’t think I passed judgment on anyone who doesn’t. This is what my church recommends for my spiritual life, and so it’s what I try to do.

    If I may be perhaps overly frank, your “Is it working?” question comes across rather flippantly and reminds me of Matthew 22:15. I would prefer polite discussion over rhetorical questions.

  • Kyralessa

    tODD, I’m not sure where all this is coming from, but if you think you’re earnestly saving an Orthodox from attempting to attain salvation by his own efforts, you’re barking up entirely the wrong tree. No Orthodox is under any illusion that he’s saved by his own efforts to become holy. That doesn’t change the fact that God calls us to be holy.

    There may be people (if they’re not just caricatures) who think that we can save ourselves through our ascetic efforts without any need of God’s grace. There may also be people who think that because God’s grace covers us, sin isn’t a big deal. (Indeed, Paul addresses such people.) I don’t belong to either group.

    I mentioned why the Orthodox fast. I didn’t say that everyone needs to do this, and I don’t think I passed judgment on anyone who doesn’t. This is what my church recommends for my spiritual life, and so it’s what I try to do.

    If I may be perhaps overly frank, your “Is it working?” question comes across rather flippantly and reminds me of Matthew 22:15. I would prefer polite discussion over rhetorical questions.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Colossians 2:20-23 says it for me; self-imposed mortification of the body does not achieve Godliness.

    The 1 Corinthians 9 passage speaks metaphorically, as Paul’s ministry was not achieved by having the 50-something apostle training like a 20-something Greek pagan athlete, as if Paul were facing his midlife crisis, and the Corvette and Mustang were 19 centuries in the future.

    This is reemphasized in 1 Timothy 4:8, where Paul notes that bodily exercise profits a little–not what you would suggest of Paul were trying to beat the sin nature into submission by self-mortification.

    It was rather, again, a metaphor that could be used to describe the Christian life.

    Regarding tODD’s “is it working?”, well, if we are to suggest that all “snark” is the mode of the Pharisees, what do we say to Paul as the Holy Spirit guided him to write Galatians 5:12? Or John the Baptist with his “brood of vipers” comment, or our Lord with his “whitewashed tombs” comments?

    I don’t have to make the claim that it’s a perfect metaphor–I’m sure tODD would deny this–to point out that a touch of sarcasm does have its place in Godly discourse.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Colossians 2:20-23 says it for me; self-imposed mortification of the body does not achieve Godliness.

    The 1 Corinthians 9 passage speaks metaphorically, as Paul’s ministry was not achieved by having the 50-something apostle training like a 20-something Greek pagan athlete, as if Paul were facing his midlife crisis, and the Corvette and Mustang were 19 centuries in the future.

    This is reemphasized in 1 Timothy 4:8, where Paul notes that bodily exercise profits a little–not what you would suggest of Paul were trying to beat the sin nature into submission by self-mortification.

    It was rather, again, a metaphor that could be used to describe the Christian life.

    Regarding tODD’s “is it working?”, well, if we are to suggest that all “snark” is the mode of the Pharisees, what do we say to Paul as the Holy Spirit guided him to write Galatians 5:12? Or John the Baptist with his “brood of vipers” comment, or our Lord with his “whitewashed tombs” comments?

    I don’t have to make the claim that it’s a perfect metaphor–I’m sure tODD would deny this–to point out that a touch of sarcasm does have its place in Godly discourse.

  • Kyralessa

    Well, fasting isn’t exactly self-flagellation. Perhaps those of you setting us straight by saying what the purpose of fasting isn’t could now take a different tack and tell us what you think the true purpose is. Assuming there is a purpose, of course, given that fasting is mentioned in the Bible a fair number of times.

    (I already mentioned that the Orthodox Church teaches that fasting, by itself, without increased prayer, is worse than useless. But I will mention it again in case anyone missed it.)

  • Kyralessa

    Well, fasting isn’t exactly self-flagellation. Perhaps those of you setting us straight by saying what the purpose of fasting isn’t could now take a different tack and tell us what you think the true purpose is. Assuming there is a purpose, of course, given that fasting is mentioned in the Bible a fair number of times.

    (I already mentioned that the Orthodox Church teaches that fasting, by itself, without increased prayer, is worse than useless. But I will mention it again in case anyone missed it.)