Resources On Lent

  1. William Whittaker Contra Lent
  2. Richard Sibbes Contra Lent
  3. Owen Contra Lent, Easter, And The Normative Principle Of Worship
  4. With The Reformed Pubcast On Lent And Sola Scriptura
  5. The Reformed Defense Of Christian Liberty In 1530
  6. The Reformed Reject Lent In Basle In 1534
  7. The Westminster Divines On Holy Days
  8. Relevance” Leads Back To Rome
  9. Jacques Lefèvre d’Étaples On Lent
  10. Manton: Lent Is Just Another Phony Tradition
  11. Sacraments Versus Selective Piety
  12. Of King Cakes And Christian Liberty
  13. Lent: Of Good Intentions, Spiritual Disciplines, and Christian Freedom
  14. Directory of Publick Worship: Holy Days Have No Warrant in the Word
  15. On Good Intentions, Spiritual Disciplines, and Christian Freedom
  16. Calvin on Lent
  17. The Problem of Lent for Confessional Reformed Christians
  18. More Baseball Analogies: Lent is Like Spring Training
  19. Zwingli On Rejecting Lent and Protecting Christian Liberty
  20. Thomas Cartwright Contra Lent


  1. Great quotation from Dr. Hart. Christ alone, and what He has done, is all our boast before God. Without faith in Him alone, it is impossible to please God. Any work of sanctification is simply an expression of love and gratitude for the Savior who did it all for us. How presumptuous to think that anything we do could add anything to what he has done.

  2. I am thinking that the additions the churches have made, are no different than what the Pharisees were doing. They were making an effort to be pleasing to God by additions of self imposed, pious observances, but in the process looking to themselves, rather than means of grace that God had provided! That is the terrible danger of will worship, it makes something we have decided to do to be a way of acceptance with God, that we have added to His Word. “Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now perfected by the flesh.” Gal. 3:3

  3. To be sure, there are very pious reasons for observing Lent, but nowhere in Scripture is there any support for it. Similarly the Pharisees made up rules and regulations such as tithing mint and cummin, how many steps you could walk on the Sabbath while still keeping it holy, and adding phylacteries to their garments to make a show of super holiness. Were they honouring God or themselves by adding things to what God had made known?

  4. The Christian Sunday is an historical continuation of the Jewish Sabbath, only the day of the week changes, and runs back in absolutely unbroken continuity through the ages–through the ages before the Flood, through the years before the Fall–it and matrimony being the only monuments of the golden age of innocency. Each recurrent holy day stands to us, first, as a monument of the sovereignty of Jehovah as Creator, and secondly, as a monument of our redemption consummated in the resurrection of our Lord. Every Lord’s day when we celebrate the Holy Supper we repeat in a chain of unbroken continuity the memorial of his sacrificial death. And in the beautiful circle of the Christian year, Holy Week, Good Friday, Easter, we repeat in a far longer chain of unbroken continuity the Christian sacrament of the Supper, looking back over a vista of nearly eighteen centuries and three-quarters to its institution, and also over a vista nearly twice as long, of nearly three thousand five hundred years, to the institution of the first Passover and the redemption of Israel from the bondage of Egypt.

    • Dear Prof. Hodge,

      As happy as I am, as a historian, to hear from and commune with the dead, it would be helpful for the rest of us is you asked your medium, the person channeling you—visions of Saul come to mind—to identify himself and thus observe the comment policy.

      Thank you.

  5. Professor Clark, may I, assuming an extensive sympathy of views leading to friendship, presume to call you Scott? I am happy to have an opportunity, as a theologian, to have the opportunity to offer, in a spirit of brotherly charity, a perspective which may not have occurred to you as an historian, able one that you are. In order to hear from and commune with me in that “mystic sweet communion, with those whose rest is won” there was no need for a medium – not the Witch of Endor, nor Satan transformed into an angel of light, nor an angel from heaven, nor even a special revelation of the Spirit. You see, like Abel, I, being dead yet speak. I continue to speak by the medium of my writing, in this case through my Popular Lectures from which I quote above. If I may speak plainly, though with all goodwill, sometimes it can be helpful to the ecclesiastical historian to consult with the theologians. Inasmuch we have a mutual friend, Bill Smith, of the Reformed Episcopal Church, it might interest you to know that through my Outlines, I spoke at the Seminary from its founding and for many years thereafter, and Bill remains among the Reformed Episcopalians one, perhaps the only, who yet hears me speak. Now, if I may, speaking within that mystic communion you and I and all the saints in heaven and earth enjoy, I extend the warmest Christian greetings to you and all th0se associated with the Seminary, especially my friend Robert Godfrey, whose only fault is having become too Dutch, from me, but not only from me but from Dad and my younger brother, Wistar.

    Your friend.
    A.A (not a friend of Bill Wilson)

    • Prof Hodge,

      I am always your student.

      Would that you could persuade your friend Bill to embrace once again the sole magisterial authority of Scripture for the Christian faith and the Christian life. Would that he would at least live as uncomfortably among the Episcopalians as did Sibbes and Perkins and might, like them, eschew the Anglo-Catholicism of our age as they did in theirs.

  6. Dear Scott (and please do call me A.A. with no anonymity implied),

    I have no need to persuade my friend Bill (not Wilson) of the magisterial authority of Scripture. He believes and confesses the 39 Articles: “Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation. In the name of the Holy Scripture we do understand those canonical Books of the Old and New Testament, of whose authority was never any doubt in the Church” (VI). However, he also believes Article XX: “The Church hath power to decree Rites or Ceremonies, and authority in Controversies of Faith: and yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain any thing that is contrary to God’s Word written, neither may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another. Wherefore, although the Church be a witness and a keeper of Holy Writ, yet, as it ought not to decree any thing against the same, so besides the same ought it not to enforce any thing to be believed for necessity of Salvation” and Article XXXIV: “It is not necessary that Traditions and Ceremonies be in all places one, or utterly like; for at all times they have been divers, and may be changed according to the diversity of countries, times, and men’s manners, so that nothing be ordained against God’s Word. Whosoever, through his private judgment, willingly and purposely, doth openly break the Traditions and Ceremonies of the Church, which be not repugnant to the Word of God, and be ordained and approved by common authority, ought to be rebuked openly, (that others may fear to do the like,) as he that offendeth against the common order of the Church, and hurteth the authority of the Magistrate, and woundeth the consciences of the weak brethren” save for the next to last phrase re the Magistrate.

    Moreover, Bill (not Wilson)e, holding as he does the Articles’ doctrine of justification and of the Sacraments has no sympathy for Anglo-catholicism. He is an Anglican who holds to the doctrine and practice of the Articles and 1662 BCP. On the other hand the ACs wish historically to go back behind Cranmer and the English Reformation to the Church of England of Henry VIII, Catholic but not Roman.

    I am somewhat surprised to have to tell you these things about my friend, Bill (not Wilson).

    You may recall that, while I strongly criticized Romish doctrine and practice, I held that Rome was a church to the extent that its baptism is valid (contra Thornwell) I also did not hold to jure divino Presbyterianism (again contra Thornwell). J.A. “Thorny” Thornwell, had he lived, would have found me, as he did my father, a little to catholic in spirit.

    I will take this opportunity to extend warm Christian greetings not only from me and my dad and brother, but from B.B. (Warfield not King, though not being omniscient I maintain hope about King) and from Das with whom a I am presently smoking a good cigar.

    • Dear A. A. Hodge Imposter.
      The real Dr. Hodge would know the dangers that Jesus saw in adding human traditions, like lent, to the precepts actually given in Scripture. He would know that Jesus warned the Pharisees: “You are destroying the Word of God through your tradition that you have handed down. And do many things like that.” Mark 7:13

    • Bill,

      Hodge did not defend the Anglican principle found in Anglican Art. XX:

      The Church hath power to decree Rites or Ceremonies, and authority in Controversies of Faith: and yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain any thing that is contrary to God’s Word written….

      The Westminster Divines convened to address this very article, among others, and responded this way:

      The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men…. (1.6).

      But the acceptable way of worshiping the true God is instituted by himself, and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be worshiped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scripture.

      According to the Anglican Articles, the church has authority to do whatever is not forbidden. Lent is not explicitly forbidden, ergo the church has authority to institute Lent. The Reformed principle is that the church has no authority to institute any practice that is not taught explicitly or implicitly by God’s Word.

      Hodge defended the latter principle in his Commentary on the Westminster Confession:

      That God in his word has prescribed for us how we may worship him acceptably, and that it is an offence to him and a sin in us either to neglect to worship and serve him in the way prescribed, or to attempt to serve him in any way not prescribed. (p. 367)

      We have already seen, under Chapter i., that God has given us in the Holy Scriptures an infallible, authoritative, complete and perspicuous rule of faith and practice. That “the whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for his own glory and man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture.” It hence necessarily follows that since God has prescribed the mode in which we are acceptably to worship and serve him, it must be an offence to him and a sin in us for us either to neglect his way, or in preference to practice our own (p. 368).

      As before shown from Scripture, not only all teaching for doctrine the commandments of men, but all manner of will-worship, of self-chosen acts and forms of worship, are an abomination to God. At the same time, of course, there are, as the Confession admits, Chapter i., § 6, some circumstances concerning the worship of God and the government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the word. These relate obviously to the application of the principles and “general rules” laid down in Scripture for our guidance in worship and ecclesiastical government to the varying times and circumstances of the case in hand. But we have in no case any right, upon the ground of taste, fashion or expediency, to go beyond the clear warrant of Scripture (p. 369).

  7. Dear Ms. Werner,

    You write as though you know me very well. Have you read a lot of me?

    Scott I know; Bill I know; you I know not, which makes me think perhaps you don’t know me either. I am known for having a rather more catholic spirit than some among the Reformed.

    Have a blessed non-observance of Easter. I know it’s a relief not to have to buy and fix a ham and the other stuff those will Romanizing tendencies do.

    Your rather distant friend,

    • Bill, the problem is not with fixing a ham or other cultural activities we might have around Easter, as long as we do not make them part of our worship so that we seek to please God through them. That is the problem with Lent, it is a tradition, some churches have invented, to add to the precepts given, in Scripture, on how we are to please God in our worship and piety.

  8. Scott,

    I know, of course, that A.A. Hodge was no Anglican. He was a Presbyterian and a virile one. I read just recently his comments on the regulative principle which you quote above. This, however, from Dr Patton’s biographical essay has stuck with me through the years since I read it first close to 40 years ago. Hodge, I suppose, would be regarded an “inconsistent” Presbyterian in this regard as well as his not holding the jure divino view of church government: “…he loved to dwell upon the historical continuity of the Church through all the centuries; accordingly he loved the “Christian year,” and the great liturgical formulas that bind the centuries together.” This is entirely consistent with quote from Hodge himself I posted above on March 3.

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