fasting
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By In Scribblings, Theology, Wisdom, Worship

Herbertian Lessons for Lent

Guest post from Brian G Daigle, Headmaster of Sequitur Classical Academy

I live in an area where Mardi Gras is in full swing, and I can remember from my upbringing that Fat Tuesday was a last ditch effort at debauchery before the pseudo-spiritual practice of “giving something up for Lent” really began. In my youth I would give up some kind of chocolate or candy, something that appeared to be a fast, and I would join others around me in sharing with friends and family what I’ve given up and why. Around day thirty it would turn into some kind of joke about how long I’ve been able to go without this first-world luxury. My aristocratic sacrifice was hardly creating in me a clean heart. Those imaginings still haunt me and each year I must consider anew why this kind of extended fast ought to be recognized. (more…)

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By In Family and Children, Wisdom, Worship

Some Thoughts on Lent & Fasting

Every year around this time the internet is flooded with essays and interviews concerning Lent: Should we observe it? If we observe it, how should we observe it? And so on. Good folks disagree about these issues. But it is a good discussion to be having. I thought I’d chime in on the issue. Hopefully, I can help keep people thinking through the issue.

First, let me clear some ground here. I agree with many of my brothers who despise some of the Lenten practices. There are people who have superstitious views of the imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday, for instance. Here in Louisville, KY, we even had one church who set up shop in a local business so that you can get your ashes to go. This was a one-stop shop for groceries and a dose of humility and repentance. People who do this sort of thing are, in most cases, viewing the imposition of ashes as some type of talisman that is going to keep God off their backs for a little while longer. I have witnessed people through the years from many branches of the Christian church act as if the religious ritual itself (whether it is the imposition of ashes, fasting, attending worship, going to revival services, or whatever) was an end in itself. After you do the deed, then you are free to live any way you want outside of the time of that special rite. According to what God said through the prophet Isaiah in his opening salvo, he has never taken kindly to superstitious views of religious rituals (cf. Isa 1.10-20. Mind you, the rituals that God is condemning in Isaiah are the ones that he himself set up. These were not manmade rituals. These were God’s own rituals that were being abused by superstitious views.) Superstitious views of the imposition of ashes or even fasting have no place in the Christian Faith. (more…)

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By In Theology

A Neglected Means of Grace: Kuyper on Fasting

Abraham Kuyper’s little book on the Christian life, The Practice of Godliness, closes with a thorough commendation of fasting.

In Kuyper’s day, individual fasting had all but died out, and congregational fasting was non-existent. Kuyper laments: “We have become estranged from fasting, and we do not count it among the means of edification.”

According to Kuyper, fasting is a beneficial spiritual discipline the church cannot afford to abandon: “In these times of spiritual poverty not one means of grace or one channel of closer fellowship with God should be neglected.”

Some Protestants associate fasting with Roman Catholicism (in order to condemn or avoid it), but Kuyper says this is a mistake, stemming from a “biased reading of the Word, ignorance of the practices of our forefathers, and lack of earnestness in the pursuit of a godly life.” In fact, fasting has a robust protestant pedigree, and was “commonly practiced” and recommended by the reformers as “an expression of godly living.” But if fasting is a practice of godliness, it must be grounded ultimately in God’s word, and not mere human prescription. (more…)

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