As I write this it is Ash Wednesday evening. (Actually it is about an hour after midnight so it isn’t Ash Wednesday anymore, but I don’t care. Deal with it.) And my purpose in writing this is quite simple: I want you, my fellow evangelicals, to acknowledge and show an increased respect for the season of Lent.
Lent is not very big among evangelicals, for the simple reason that evangelicals have a serious and profound distrust of anything liturgical. This distrust stems from the lingering influence of the Puritans, who were all about simplifying belief, worship, and practice as much as possible.
As a former Catholic who was turned off by excesses in Catholic belief and practice, I get the Puritan emphasis on simplification. I do not believe that Scripture and tradition are to be viewed as equally authoritative, but instead that tradition ought to be judged and held in check by Scripture.
We evangelicals are in no danger whatsoever of falling into the same ditch as our Catholic brethren who have elevated tradition to a place of equal authority with Scripture. Instead, we have fallen into the ditch on the opposite side of the road. We believe that we who live in the present moment are the end-all, be-all of what God is doing in the world, and we are completely clueless as to our place in the grand scheme of what God has done throughout the 2,000-year history of the church.
I would like for us to get a clue. That is why I am taking this opportunity to plug Lent. Continue reading “What Is Lent and Why Should We Bother With It? An Ash Wednesday Primer”