Vestiges of Rome?
As Easter approaches, I thought that it would be appropriate to bring up the topic of “church holidays” as they are called. Specifically, the observance of Lent has been on my mind & heart the last several weeks. Several reformed congregations officially recognize the “Season of Lent” and encourage their members to observe this “season”. I don’t know about others, but I’m very uncomfortable with the reintroduction of observances that were a yoke of legalism on believers, instituted as a natural result of the false gospel that taught (and still teaches) that Christians can and must perform some kind of work to keep their salvation. I can’t help but think of men like Zwingli of Zurich, a champion of the reformation, who openly stood against the oppression of Rome by opposing the observance of Lent, which culminated in the Affair of the Sausages in 1522. While Zwingli certainly wasn’t the perfect theologian, he was one of the earliest reformers who was eventually killed (along with 24 other protestant pastors), quartered & burned by the army of Rome for his cry of Sola Scriptura. Although Calvin & Zwingli weren’t in unison on many issues, Calvin also opposed the observance of Lent and, in fact, called it a corruption. The authors of the Westminster Confession of Faith (the “divines”) would have considered the church sanctioned observance of Lent to be:
“…according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan…” WCF 21.1
Of course, many/most of the reformed congregations with which I’m familiar make the observance voluntary, but the fact that they officially recognize this observance as a “sanctioned” church season seems to be opening the door to the same errors that corrupted the church in the early centuries after Christ’s ascension. I think my father-in-law said it best when I inquired about his opinion of this observance:
“…Paul said it perfectly in Romans 14:5-8 and also in Colossians 2:16-22 and the scathing denunciation of Galatians 4:10,11–YOU OBSERVE DAYS AND MONTHS AND SEASONS AND YEARS. I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored over you in vain.”
May we walk in the grace and freedom that was afforded us by Christ’s perfect sacrifice!
March 23, 2012 – Update
Doug Wilson has an excellent post on his Blog & Mablog site about the observance of Lent that is a good perspective and definitely worth the read, even if only for the humor that he’s worked into the post. He makes very salient points about voluntarily choosing to observe Lent. Here is the link: On Being a Lentendud.