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Repent of Lent?

As a lifelong Baptist, this piece by Brian Lee in The Federalist had the effect of preaching to the choir (albeit written by a Pastor of a Reformed Church). He equates the modern day Evangelicals’ fascination with observations of Lent with something Pharasaical, of attempting somehow to earn or justify our own salvation:


Here are a few ‘graphs that help sum up the post:

“The problem with even the evangelical, self-imposed fast is that it creates a little law for us to obey, a rule that is within our reach. It is, not surprisingly, a law of our own making, for the law of God — love God and neighbor with your whole heart, soul, mind and strength — is impossible to obey, even for a moment. If we fulfill our personal law, we have confirmed ourselves in the conceit that we aren’t so badly off after all.

“The standard reply, of course, is that the penitence of Lent is not about scoring brownie points, but about meditating on the passion of Christ, and joining in his suffering. The ashes are applied in the shape of a cross to remind us of the cross, and the death we must each die to our sins and our bodily passions.

“Two problems present themselves with this view. First, it underestimates our sin. Remember, Jesus listed pride and deceit as two of the things that bubble up from within our hearts. As sinners, we can’t help taking pride in the things we do to give our salvation a little push, so engaging in such self-prescribed spiritual disciplines just gives us more sin — the sin of pride — to repent of.

“Second, and more fundamentally, is the uniqueness and purpose of Christ’s sufferings. Jesus didn’t die to purify his own soul, but ours. He fasted for forty days in the wilderness on our behalf, so we wouldn’t have to; not as a model, but as a substitute. His passion was not a discipline that made his heart pure in its love for his Father, it was the price to be paid for our sins, and he paid it in full.”

Well said, Pastor Lee.

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