Christians practice lent for 40-46 days. In most cases, they fast, pray and give alms. However, this lent idea is among the fundamental disagreements between the Christian Branches, especially Protestants who disagree with it. So, Do Protestants celebrate lent?
Some Protestants celebrate lent, while some do not. Protestants do not find the word Lent in the Bible and insist that it is a corruption of authority from Catholics. However, they recognize the death and resurrection of Christ, meaning that their fasting and praying during this period is not mandatory—it depends on a person’s choice. Other Protestants, like Anglicans and Lutherans, practice and celebrate lent differently.
So, Why do some protestants reject lent? Is lent biblical according to Protestants? How do some Protestants celebrate lent? What do Protestants think of Ash Wednesday? Read on to find out.
Why do some protestants reject lent?
Lent is not biblical
Some Protestants reject lent for many reasons, but the key reason is that lent is unbiblical. Although the practices during lent are Biblical, Protestants argue that Lent as a word is not in the Bible. According to Catholics, Lent involves prayer, fasting, and works of generosity. Churches that conduct lent do it for 40 days.
First, Moses fasted for 40 days according to Exodus 34:28 “Moses stayed there with the LORD forty days and nights, eating and drinking nothing. He wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant–the Ten Commandments.” Also, Elijah’s fasting was done for 40 days. 1st Kings 19:8 says, ” Elijah got up, ate and drank, and the food gave him enough strength to walk forty days to Sinai, the holy mountain.” In addition, Jesus fasted for 40 days, as recorded in Matthew 4:1-11.
Therefore fasting is in the Bible, Prayer is heavy in the Bible, and the 40 days idea is in the Bible. The plain idea Lent is not mentioned is the underlying issue for Protestants.
Lent implies that Grace is earned
Protestants are against the idea that performing generous works during lent can be a way to earn blessings. The Bible says in Romans 5:17 that “For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.”
This verse implies that Grace is a gift to Christians who constantly strive to lead righteous lives and not just during the period of lent. It is like doing work to bribe Grace. Also, Jesus Christ encourages believers to fast in secrecy. In Matthew 6:16-18, there is a place where Jesus tells believers to wash their faces. However, people put a cross sign on their forehead using ashes which contradicts the idea of having a clean face that does not imply suffering.
Fasting can be done any time of the year
Although fasting is encouraged in the Bible, Lent makes it look like the only appropriate time that is compulsory is during lent. Catholics make it look like it is a law that Protestants cannot subscribe to.
Fasting is a choice among Protestants at individual levels; they can set aside time to fast, pray and glorify God for Jesus’ resurrection. In addition, repenting should be done daily and not just during Lent.
Lent is a corrupt practice by Catholics
Protestants believe that Lent is a Romish Popery which includes their tradition. Catholics make it look like protestants cannot grow spiritually because they do not practice lent. In addition, Protestants do not find anywhere in the Bible where apostles encourage the practice of lent for spiritual growth.
Is lent biblical according to Protestants?
Protestants do not find Lent biblical, which makes them reject lent because Protestants get their authority from the Bible. It is even believed that there is no word like ‘Lent’ in the Bible. The practicing of Lent involves fasting, praying, and doing works of generosity, all components that are encouraged in the Bible.
Fasting is encouraged through John the Baptist’s fasting in the Bible and Jesus’ fasting of 40 days. Jesus himself encouraged generosity all through his ministry. Therefore, the Lent thing comes from 40 days of fasting, then praying, which is encouraged throughout the Bible. However, acts like Ash Wednesday and announcing their fasting are discouraged in Matthew 6:16-18 which says, “And when you fast, do not put on a sad face as the hypocrites do. They neglect their appearance so that everyone will see that they are fasting. I assure you, they have already been paid in full. When you go without food, wash your face and comb your hair so that others cannot know that you are fasting— only your unseen Father will know. And your Father, who sees what you do in private, will reward you.” Also, the word itself is not biblical.
How do some Protestants celebrate lent?
While some Protestants do not celebrate lent in any way, Anglicans celebrate in a special way. Normally, Protestants do not have a mastered prayer that is word-by-word similar, but Anglicans have a certain prayer for Ash Wednesday. Anglicans recite their prayer on the first Sunday of lent, three days after Ash Wednesday. Their prayer prepares believers to fast and pray. On Lent’s second, third, fourth, and last Sundays, they still recite different prayers.
The Ash Wednesday prayer goes like this;
Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made. You forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission, and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Although practicing lent is optional for many Protestants, including Lutherans, the church stays in a lent mood. The Lutheran church is decorated with purple to symbolize the time when Jesus was crucified. He was forced to wear purple while carrying the cross.
Also, during Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, members of Lutherans observe a black color theme. The black theme symbolizes darkness. They maintain that only the power and resurrection of Christ can lift the darkness away from them.
What do Protestants think of Ash Wednesday?
Many protestant churches have different perspectives on Ash Wednesday. Some believe in and practice Ash Wednesday, while some do not. Lutherans and Anglicans are Protestants that believe in Ash Wednesday and practice it. They hold a service mass and smear Ash on their foreheads—done by religious leaders to the believers. They back up the Ash Celebration with verses like; Genesis 3:19, which says, “You will have to work hard and sweat to make the soil produce anything until you return to the soil from which you were formed. You were made from soil, and you will become soil again.”
Also, they preach Ezekiel 9:3-4 which says, “Then the dazzling light of the presence of the God of Israel rose from the winged creatures where it had been, and moved to the entrance of the Temple. The LORD called to the man dressed in linen, “Go through the whole city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the forehead of everyone who is distressed and troubled because of all the disgusting things being done in the city.”
Some protestant churches only hold an Ash Wednesday service that does not involve any ash-smearing activity. The Ash on the forehead is said to be a sign of public repentance. However, some Christian churches hold that it is against Christ’s teachings to believe in ash smearing and even to practice it. Matthew 6:16-18 says, “And when you fast, do not put on a sad face as the hypocrites do. They neglect their appearance so that everyone will see that they are fasting. I assure you, they have already been paid in full. When you go without food, wash your face and comb your hair so that others cannot know that you are fasting—only your Father, who is unseen, will know. And your Father, who sees what you do in private, will reward you.”
Some Protestant churches go ahead and ignore holding a service on that very day. However, they still start their fasting and praying on the same day. They fast from food and drinks and make other sacrifices. Also, some churches do not hold Ash Wednesday because they believe Jesus already did everything for them. However, these protestant churches do not condemn the practice. It is only that it is not a law in their churches, and an individual can choose to fast or not at personal levels.
As a devout Christian, I have always been passionate about the Christian faith. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology in college. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Since I am dedicated to spreading the word of God, I am actively involved in the Church. Additionally, I share his word online and cover diverse topics on the Christian faith through my platform. You can read more about me on the about us page.