Reformed Christians and Lent

Reformed Christians have at their disposal great resources to recover a richer and deeper piety of self-denial. In his exposition of the Sermon on the Mount, the English Reformed writer William Perkins devoted fifteen pages to discussing Matthew 5:16, “when you fast,” by defining what a “religious fast” is, when it should be done, how it should be done, the distinction between private and public fasting, the joy of fasting, sincere fasting, and the use of private fasting in preparation for regular Sabbath-day worship. That today’s Reformed Christians are turning to Lent suggests that they have lost track of the Reformed practice of fasting and self-denial and feel a need for something objective and external to ratify outwardly the promises and consequent obligations of the Christian faith.

Reformed Christians have also lost a Reformed understanding of the holy sacraments, which are divinely instituted, objective ratifications of the promises made in the gospel. Unlike Lent, they are not “human innovations.” Perhaps, instead of Lent, Reformed Christians ought to ask their congregations to administer holy communion weekly. Properly administered, there would be a weekly call to self-examination and mortification of sin, the Reformed appropriation and application of the ascetic tradition. Observing the sacraments according to the proper Reformed understanding of them would render an official Lenten season irrelevant. Read more»

R. Scott Clark | “Reformed Christians and Lent” | March 31, 2023


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