Thursday, February 18, 2010

Hollywood Seventh-day Adventist Church Observes Lent


Ash Wednesday at the Purple Church from Leslie Foster on Vimeo.

61 comments:

Still said...

When you wrote it was the Hollywood SDA church I was almost certain that it was pastor Ryan Bell's church (though I don't know how many SDA churches there are in Hollywood). And indeed, I was right.

This is why I was not surprised.

Hugo Mendez said...

I think it's a great idea.

In any case, I like Ryan Bell in many respects, and have many friends who attend church there.

remnant said...

Hi guys,

Can someone give me more information on this practise?

God bless, Remnant

Still said...

Hugo wrote:

"I like Ryan Bell in many respects"

Not surprising... He is a very liberal SDA and it would not surprise me if he would become a Catholic.

:-)

I like the reaction of one of the readers in Spectrum where Bell gives his position on Ash Wednesday:

Father Bell:

Since you seem intent on adopting a pagan practice that was started by the Roman Catholic Church in the seventh century, perhaps it would be good to change your title to Father as opposed to Pastor. Father Bell, being the bright young man that you are, you know very well that the tradition of Ash Wednesday was started by pagan Rome, and indeed the practice of putting the ashes on ones forehead in the sign of the cross is an adopted pagan practice. I have read your blog for some time now, and I know that if I were you, I would be ashamed to take my paycheck from a church (Seventh Day Adventist) whose teachings I didn't agree with. Why don't you start your own Sabbath keeping church, and stop pretending to be something you are not. I seriously doubt if many of your members up there in Hollywood (Especially The New Ones) even know what the Adventist church believes and teaches. Apply your pagan ashes tomorrow, but please Father Bell, don't call the practice christian!

Posted by: Don K. Molander (not verified) | 25 February 2009 at 2:35


Now, it seems that Fr. Jim appreciates what "Father" Bell is doing (one Catholic appreciating another "one", I guess) as he wrote:

"Bravo, I am delighted you are celebrating Ash Wednesday. I always tell my people "it is time to get your ashes in church."
Fr. Jim"


It is good to see how much an "Adventist" pastor is appreciated by Catholics.

;-)

Shepherd said...

Still,Don may not have known that the mark on the forehead began in the O.T read: Ez 9: 5 And I heard "GOD" say to the other men,
Follow him through the city and kill. Spare no one; have mercy on no one.6 Kill the old men, young men, young women, mothers, and children. But don't touch anyone who has the mark on his forehead. Start here at my Temple.
So they began with the leaders who were standing there at the Temple.
Pastor bell is an independent thinker, and is looking beyond the veil. His logic is once GOD said it, DO IT.
May the Spirit of enabling continue to shadow you.
Sharing and Learning

Nature.

Mike Senseney said...

Pagan??? Really???

"Ash Wednesday is a day of repentance and it marks the beginning of Lent. Ashes were used in ancient times, according to the Bible, to express mourning. Dusting oneself with ashes was the penitent's way of expressing sorrow for sins and faults. An ancient example of one expressing one's penitence is found in Job 42:3-6. Job says to God: "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. The other eye wandereth of its own accord. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." (vv. 5-6, KJV) Other examples are found in several other books of the Bible including, Numbers 19:9, 19:17, Jonah 3:6, Matthew 11:21, and Luke 10:13, and Hebrews 9:13. Ezekiel 9 also speaks of a linen-clad messenger marking the forehead of the city inhabitants that have sorrow over the sins of the people. All those without the mark are destroyed."

God bless all!!!

Still said...

Aaah Nature, always eager to show your misunderstanding of the Bible...

I am not surprised...

:-)

Hugo Mendez said...

Still,

What was that last comment supposed to accomplish!?

Hugo Mendez said...

Still,

"He is a very liberal SDA and it would not surprise me if he would become a Catholic."

Being liberal does not bring one any closer to Catholicism. Does support for women's ordination, gay marriage, etc. (aspects of Pr. Bell's message) make one more of a "Catholic?"

As for the rest of your comment... as long as you praise Malander's comment, perhaps you would like to defend the following claims in it:

"the tradition of Ash Wednesday was started by pagan Rome"

"putting the ashes on ones forehead in the sign of the cross is an adopted pagan practice"

The fact is, these statements are false. No evidence exists to support them; in fact, all available data data contradicts this claim. And yet, like many other Adventists, he is passing these old anti-Catholic fabrications along as fact.

"Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor."

Still said...

Hugo,

I should have been more precise.

When I used the term "liberal", I should have added "compared to the Adventist doctrines".

And also, when I referred to Molander's comments, I was referring to him calling Bell Father Bell.

Many things Ryan Bell say are closer to Catholicism than Adventism. In the video you shown, what he did was closer to Catholicism than Adventism. I even heard him preached and at time it was closer to Catholicism than Adventism. And I am not the only one thinking that way.

And, of course, the fact that Fr. Jim gave some kind of approval kind of proves my point...

;-) (wink wink)

Anonymous said...

If there were more such sda pastors I would indeed appreciate it.
Fr. Jim

Still said...

Here are more from "Father" Ryan made on Spectrum:

"oh and quickly on the "Father" issue. I have no problem with it. For many in my congregation, my wife and I almost literally function as parents. I understand why some are uncomfortable with the title and I am certainly not referred to as Father in my church (ha ha), but I don't think it makes a difference one way or another.
Posted by: Ryan Bell | 25 February 2009 at 4:54"



And then there is his declaration which almost looks like an absolution:

"Almighty God, in his mercy, has given his Son to die for us and, for his sake, forgives us all our sins. As a minister of the gospel, and by his promise and authority, I therefore declare to you the entire forgiveness of all your sins, in the name of the Father, and the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen."

I also found your challenge:

"I challenge Don to produce evidence that:

"the tradition of Ash Wednesday was started by pagan Rome"

"the practice of putting the ashes on ones forehead in the sign of the cross is an adopted pagan practice"

In fact, both of these claims are fabrications.
Posted by: Hugo Mendez | 23 February 2010 at 5:48"


So, these claims are fabrications? Can you prove your own claims? What is certain is that Lent and Ash Wednesday are not in the Bible and we know that they were not observed by the Church in the first centuries (more about this later).

Still said...

Now, concerning Lent and its origin, here is what the Catholic Encyclopedia says (entry: Lent):

" Some of the Fathers as early as the fifth century supported the view that this forty days' fast was of Apostolic institution. For example, St. Leo (d. 461) exhorts his hearers to abstain that they may "fulfill with their fasts the Apostolic institution of the forty days" — ut apostolica institutio quadraginta dierum jejuniis impleatur (P.L., LIV, 633), and the historian Socrates (d. 433) and St. Jerome (d. 420) use similar language (P.G., LXVII, 633; P.L., XXII, 475).

But the best modern scholars are almost unanimous in rejecting this view, for in the existing remains of the first three centuries we find both considerable diversity of practice regarding the fast before Easter and also a gradual process of development in the matter of its duration. The passage of primary importance is one quoted by Eusebius (Hist. Eccl., V, xxiv) from a letter of St. Irenaeus to Pope Victor in connection with the Easter controversy. There Irenaeus says that there is not only a controversy about the time of keeping Easter but also regarding the preliminary fast. "For", he continues, "some think they ought to fast for one day, others for two days, and others even for several, while others reckon forty hours both of day and night to their fast ". He also urges that this variety of usage is of ancient date, which implies that there could have been no Apostolic tradition on the subject. Rufinus, who translated Eusebius into Latin towards the close of the fourth century, seems so to have punctuated this passage as to make Irenaeus say that some people fasted for forty days. Formerly some difference of opinion existed as to the proper reading, but modern criticism (e.g., in the edition of Schwartz commissioned by the Berlin Academy) pronounces strongly in favor of the text translated above. We may then fairly conclude that Irenaeus about the year 190 knew nothing of any Easter fast of forty days.

The same inference must be drawn from the language of Tertullian only a few years later...

...And there is the same silence observable in all the pre-Nicene Fathers, though many had occasion to mention such an Apostolic institution if it had existed. We may note for example that there is no mention of Lent in St. Dionysius of Alexandria (ed. Feltoe, 94 sqq.) or in the "Didascalia", which Funk attributes to about the yearkú yet both speak diffusely of the paschal fast...


So, obviously, Lent doesn't come from an apostolic tradition and not being mentioned in the Bible, we can say that it has no Christian origin.

So, where does it come from?

The name, Lent, is a Teutonic word and suggest then a pagan origin (which is not surprising considering the habit of the Church to appropriate for herself pagan celebrations like Christmas or Easter, after "christianizing" them, of course :-) ).

Armando said...

What is significance and symbolism of ashes used in the Bible? In the Church the priest says something like this "Turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel." as to renew or baptismal promise (repentance).

Isaiah questions it (58:5)
against other passages such as:
Esther 4:3
Daniel 9:3
Job 42:6
Matthew 11:21
Hebrews 9:13
Fortunately for us it is also revealed within the deuterocanonicals that ashes were put on peoples head (Judith 4:11).
Ashes has long been used as a symbol of repentence. Jesus alluded to its use in Matthew 11:21. Paul alludes to its use in Hebrews 9:13, perhaps the use died down as we don't find any record of it until later on after many centuries. But the question I ask is, (like Isaiah) is it acceptable? If it was acceptable then, what makes it unacceptable now?

Armando said...

What is significance and symbolism of ashes used in the Bible? In the Church the priest says something like this "Turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel." as to renew or remind us of our baptismal promise (repentance).

Isaiah questions it (58:5)
against other passages such as:
Esther 4:3
Daniel 9:3
Job 42:6
Matthew 11:21
Hebrews 9:13

Fortunately for us it is also revealed within the deuterocanonicals that ashes were put on peoples head (Judith 4:11).
Ashes has long been used as a symbol of repentence in the OT. Jesus alluded to its use in Matthew 11:21. Paul alludes to its use in Hebrews 9:13, perhaps the use died down as we don't find any record of it until later on after many centuries. But the question I ask is, (like Isaiah) is it acceptable? If it was acceptable then, what makes it unacceptable now?

I would appreciate your thoughts on this.

Anonymous said...

Hi -

I am new to your SDA2RC blog, but I wanted to chime in. Lent could not have been started by the Catholic church in the 7th century, seeing it was referenced in the 5th canon of the council of Nicea in 325.

Bill

Hugo Mendez said...

Still,

The person issuing a claim must provide evidence for his claim. When I assert his claims are baseless, what evidence is there for me to provide? His lack of evidence indicts him.

If you want scholarly reconstructions of the origin of Lent or Ash Wednesday traditions, read sources such as the following:

Here are the two links:

Gregory Dix

Thomas J. Talley


Now, to respond to your arguments:

>>>"obviously, Lent doesn't come from an apostolic tradition and not being mentioned in the Bible, we can say that it has no Christian origin."

1. Who claimed a forty-day Lent was an apostolic* tradition? Find me one sentence I have ever made to that effect. (Now that being said a pre-Paschal fast of several hours or 1-2 days, may have 1st century roots, but that's another story).
2. Just because something does not have biblical or apostolic origin does not mean "it has no Christian origin." All it means is that later* centuries of Christians originated it; that's it. It most certainly has a Christian origin, but a 4th century one. Read the above texts, and the sources they examine, to trace that evolution.


>>>"So, where does it come from? The name, Lent, is a Teutonic word and suggest then a pagan origin"

The name used for this fasting season in English (a Germanic language) is "Lent." The word is derived from a W. Germanic word for "spring" (rooted in the concept of "lengthened days"), the season in which it occurs. The fact that the name in a given Germanic language group happens to have a Germanic origin is hardly surprising, and does not necessarily recommend the conclusion that the observance itself is Germanic in origin. (Of course, in other languages, different names are used, rooted in entirely different roots: Lt. quadragesima, reflected in the Sp. cuaresma; Fr. careme; Gk. sarakosti or tessarakoste, etc.

Patristic sources demonstrate that the season of Lent (as a 40 day fast) achieved its ultimate length in the 4th century Eastern Mediterranean world. One would do better to consult these numerous sources. I find it amazing that you cite the Catholic Encyclopedia (which cites so many of these writers: Sts. Irenaeus, Leo, Dionysus, etc.), and proceed to ignore their content altogether to suggest a Germanic/Teutonic origin to the fast simply on the basis of what word for the fast is preferred in a 20th century Germanic language.

Unfortunately, the so-called "sources" the average lay Adventist reads make claims just as tenuous (or better yet, void).

And so we return to the original topic: the claim that "the tradition of Ash Wednesday was started by pagan Rome." That claim is a polemical lie, a fabrication, misinformation.

Hugo Mendez said...

As for Ryan Bell's comments,

If you have an issue with an Adventist pastor being called "father," ask Ellen White why she called William Miller "Father Miller": "He was indeed rightly called ‘Father Miller,’ for he had a watchful care over those who came under his ministrations, was affectionate in his manner, of a genial disposition and tender heart" (1T 21).

Ryan Bell accepts "father" for similar reasons. What I find amazing is that he extensively qualifies the use of the term, and you could care less: "I can understand why some are uncomfortable" "I am certainly not referred to as Father in my church" "I don't think it makes a difference one way or another."

>>>And then there is his declaration which almost looks like an absolution:

"Almighty God, in his mercy, has given his Son to die for us and, for his sake, forgives us all our sins. As a minister of the gospel, and by his promise and authority, I therefore declare to you the entire forgiveness of all your sins, in the name of the Father, and the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen."

If you actually knew/experienced liturgical churches, you would recognize Bell's formula as rooted in the Lutheran tradition:

In the mercy of almighty God, Jesus Christ was given to die for us, and for his sake God forgives us all our sins. As a called and ordained minister of the church of Christ, and by his authority, I therefore declare to you the entire forgiveness of all your sins, in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. (Evangelical Lutheran Worship, p. 96)

Here is a Methodist church using the same formula.

The formula itself is minimalistic. It requires that the minister only "declare" that God "forgives you" "by His (!) promise and authority"--not the ministers. It does not "absolve"; it merely acknowledges what God has done. This is why many Protestant churches feel comfortable creating and using such liturgical formulae. These formulae themselves are intrinsically polemical against Catholic theology.

Ryan Bell is not Catholic; he is far closer to a mainline Protestant.

Shepherd said...

Hugo, Thanks for the Pastor Bell's placebo absolution, That was new to me,,
Nature.

Still said...

Hugo wrote:

"Who claimed a forty-day Lent was an apostolic* tradition?"

Hugo, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, it was some Fathers of the Church who supported the idea that Lent was a Apostolic institution (follow the link that I provided in my previous comment). So ask them... :-)

Hugo Mendez said...

Still,

You should smile less, considering how much you are getting wrong. I repeat: "Who claimed A FORTY-DAY LENT was an apostolic* tradition." Please, as I have asked you before, pay close attention to my qualifiers. (I already noted that pre-Paschal fast, the seminal basis for lent, may have been a 1st century tradition.)

I also will interpret the brevity of your response as a tacit admission that you were wrong. Thank you for the apology.

Hugo Mendez said...

My apologies for being curt; I'm stressed this week.

Enjoy your night. lol

Still said...

Hugo wrote:

"You should smile less, considering how much you are getting wrong."

Smile less? Come on, is it my fault if I am in a good mood?? :-)

Getting wrong? So you think.

You wrote:

"I also will interpret the brevity of your response as a tacit admission that you were wrong. Thank you for the apology."

I would say that you should stop interpreting as obviously you are getting it wrong.

Concerning your question: "Who claimed A FORTY-DAY LENT was an apostolic* tradition?" I gave you the reference of the Catholic Encyclopedia which mentioned that some Church Fathers supported the idea that it was an apostolic tradition (and then the Encyclopedia mentions the fact that modern scholars refute that claim. But this doesn't prevent that in the past many people wrongly believed that it was an apostolic tradition. And today, many people think that way).

Hugo Mendez said...

Yes, Still, the opening line of the quote you gave asserts this was the belief of some 4th-5th century fathers. But I was speaking of today; this is why I then immediately asked, "Find me one sentence I have ever made to that effect." (I should have used the term "today"; that was my error... so the blame falls back on me. We were reading the same words with two different time periods in mind.)

So who is making that claim today? Not me; not the Catholic sources even you cite. Who? You claim: "And today, many people think that way." I welcome you to produce evidence of modern individuals claiming as much. I have trouble finding anyone (!) who makes the claim; certainly not the "many" you assert exist.In fact, Still, I am almost certain this is a filler/exaggerated claim you created moments ago with no basis in fact, which is hardly surprising based on your defense of Don M's misinformation.

What I take greatest issue with is the way you used the fact that the 40 day fast does not have apostolic origin (which all Catholic sources acknowledge):

>>"So, obviously, Lent doesn't come from an apostolic tradition and not being mentioned in the Bible, we can say that it has no Christian origin."

Here, you assume that if something does not originate in the first century, that they are necessarily "pagan." This is, of course, fallacious; things can have a later Christian origin. Did you care to admit you error? No.

I also noted that the name for the fast in English cannot be used to support a Germanic origin to the feast. Numerous indications exist to demonstrate that the feast is, rather, Mediterranean in origin; and of course, other languages use other names for the fast. Did you care to admit your approach was flawed, and your suggestions wrong? No.

When you criticized a fellow Adventist, and I demonstrated that the term of address "father" for a pastor was embraced by Ellen White in one instance, and that Ryan Bell's absolution formula is Protestant and inherently polemical against Catholic faith, did you care to admit Ryan Bell is not authentically "Catholic"? No. Silence.

And when I asserted Don M.'s misinformation was utterly baseless, were you willing to agree? No. Instead you asked me for evidence for my criticisms, and provided fallacious "evidence" of your own that Lent is pagan. Now, after I have provided you with many sources that trace the evolution of Lent and make no reference to a (non-existent) pagan precedent, have you retracted your suggestion that Lent has a pagan origin?

No.
The silence continues.

And this is why our conversation goes nowhere on this blog. Because even when individuals are wrong, they refuse to admit it, but simply press on.

Still said...

Hugo,

Concerning the use of the expression "Father Miller", it is not the same context and certainly not in the same way a priest is called "Father".

With Ellen White, it was a term of endearment, which is not the same when it is used for a priest where it is a title.

You said that "Ryan Bell accepts "father" for similar reasons". Maybe.

You add, "What I find amazing is that he extensively qualifies the use of the term, and you could care less".

Hugo, I don't know for you, but I know Ryan Bell.

He is a progressive Adventist who doesn't recognize himself in traditional Adventism (for example, the Three Angels message is not his cup of tea). If you listen to him and/or read his writings on the internet, one can see that he is really interested in social issues (which is a good thing, by the way. But we have to be careful that it doesn't become a kind of Liberation theology) and he wants Christianity to be relevant to society (which I can understand). The only problem with that is that one has to be careful not to follow one's own agenda rather than following Christ.

Now, considering the formula, "I therefore declare to you the entire forgiveness of all your sins" you would notice that he said "your sins" while the Methodist formula (see the link you mentioned) says, "I therefore declare to you the entire forgiveness of all our sins". This is a detail maybe, but when you add all the details one after another (the last one being Lent), you wonder (and I am obviously not the only one based one the reactions on Spectrum) where Ryan Bell is going or if he is still a SDA.

Hugo Mendez said...

Yes, Ryan Bell is a progressive Adventist, and may undermine essential/integral elements of historical Adventism, and may not feel ultimate ties to the denomination. Feel free to criticize him for those places where he truly deviates from authentic Adventist theology, but do not begin crying "Catholic" wolf for his characteristically Protestant practices.

>>>"You said that "Ryan Bell accepts "father" for similar reasons". Maybe."

I want to know precisely what makes that a "maybe"? How dis*similar is the use? Be explicit, provide evidence, or abandon your public criticism.

>>>Now, considering the formula. . . This is a detail maybe, but when you add all the details one after another (the last one being Lent), you wonder"

A series of "details" means nothing if, contextually, each is unproblematic. That is the difference between Ryan and you: he is thinking thoughtfully through each, you are reacting to the superficial appearances of each. He is expressing each in a balanced, classically Protestant way; you are dismissing them based on tenuous suggestions they are "pagan" and mere association with Catholicism.

The Methodist formula is awkward because of mixed number: "I therefore declare to you** the entire forgiveness of all our** sins." The formula appears adapted to emphasize that the pastor has shared in the same experience of repentance as the congregation, is also receiving forgiveness. Of course, this is not an essential point, because the minister is still making the declaration (and your issue was with the "I declare to you the entire forgiveness of all y/our sins"). Either way, the minister is declaring forgiveness to someone (whether some or all), and he is doing so in a classically Protestant way. Meanwhile, you were comparing the statement to something akin to a Catholic absolution, which it is not.

>>>"and I am obviously not the only one based one the reactions on Spectrum"

Yes, this puts you in the same class as those who are denouncing him, claiming "Ash Wednesday was started by pagan Rome." Poor company to keep.

Hugo Mendez said...

...And the silence continues on whether Lent is pagan, and whether you recognize that you were mistaken in your approach/suggestions.

Unsurprising.

Still said...

Hugo wrote:

"And when I asserted Don M.'s misinformation was utterly baseless, were you willing to agree?"

Your position is not tenable. First of all, Don M. was making a comment to other SDAs. He was not making a demonstration. When you are with other Catholics, do you always bring proofs of what you say. I doubt it. So to challenge his claim was fair game. But to say it was fabrication or misinformation, this time you are making a claim that you have to prove as well.

Now, you mentioned two name, Gregory Dix and Thomas J. Talley.

Here is what Wikipedia says about Gregory Dix:

"Dix was not just a liturgical scholar, he was also an able ecclesiastical politician. A convinced Anglican Papalist, he sought reunion with the Holy See and was against any developments which might make such a union impossible."

As for Thomas J. Talley, being an Episcopalian, he was not far from the Catholic Church (and his writings, above all "The Origins of the Liturgical Year" are very popular in Catholic circles (universities, websites like www.americancatholic.org or www.archdioceseofanchorage.org, etc)). Like it is written in Wikipedia, "In keeping with Anglican tradition and theology, the Episcopal Church considers itself "Protestant, yet Catholic"."

And these are the people you want me to go to for an unbiased opinion about Catholic practices?

Still said...

Hugo,

One question: "Do you know Ryan Bell personally"?

Hugo Mendez said...

Still,

If a man issues a claim, he must be willing to defend it when such is requested of him. In his case, the claims he made were misinformed--am I right, or am I wrong?

Furthermore, Gregory Dix was the greatest liturgical scholar of the 20th century. No class in the history of Christian worship will not make reference to him, or read his writings. These are not sectarian writers; these are scholars universally respected in this field, and they achieved this fame precisely because of the quality of their scholarship. The fact you must look up Dix in wikipedia is a clear sign your are underprepared for this discussion.

Furthermore, if you would actually read Talley's writings, you would see that he examines the pagan precedents to certain Christian practices (e.g., in his discussion of Christmas). The fact none stand behind the observance of Lent (neither in Talley, nor int he writings of other mainstream scholars, nor in the historical data), is further indication that Lent does not have such roots.

Honestly, Still, do you think the most established names in liturgical scholarship are trying to obscure the "pagan origin of Lent" when they so freely demonstrate the pagan precedents behind other Christian observances?

Bias is excluding a scholar because of their denomination (as you have). An unbiased approach reads, considers the historical data they analyze, criticizes it, and weigh the merits of their scholarship as objectively as possible.

If you have evidence that Lent was a pagan observance, then provide it. Otherwise Still, admit the claim is false. This is my final challenge to you; my time is valuable.

Hugo Mendez said...

1. No, I have never met Ryan Bell, though several of my friends are among his close friends, speak of his character and philosophy personally to me, and attend his church. If you would like me to ask them to comment on this matter, I will.

2. I'm sorry; I don't live in California, and I am no longer Adventist.

3. I do not know Pope Benedict XVI personally either.

4. Did your personal knowledge of Ryan Bell allow you to incorrectly identify a Protestant "declaration of forgiveness" as a Catholic absolution? Did it allow you to recognize legitimate uses of the term "father"?

5. Ryan Bell has published an incredible material online, which material I actively read. The fact I have not shaken his hand does not make me any less informed about his various views, which he has made quite public.

6. You claim to "know" him. Are you so close to him that you can better represent his theological views than his many writings, and my friends who work with him several days a week? And if so, would you care to reveal your name, so we can verify that relationship?

7. When will you ever answer my questions and challenges?? I tire of your silence.

Still said...

Hugo,

So, you don't know him. But I do (you will have to take me at my word as I prefer to stay anonymous).

In fact, read my first comment (which is also the first comment) where I wrote that, when you wrote about a SDA church celebrating Lent in Hollywood, I was almost certain that it was Bell's church. I wrote that I was not surprised because I knew this is the kind of things he could do.

The fact that you like him is not a surprise for me as there are many similitudes between the both of you:
- You are/were both SDAs who were critical of the church and "left" it in one way or another, you literally by becoming a Catholic and him by being/becoming a progressive Adventist (rejecting the traditional raison d'etre of the SDA church).
- You are both young people interested in spiritual matters
- You are both in doctoral studies
- You are both active in your faith
- You both like writing
(I could add that you are both misguided... :-) No, here I am joking... )

Concerning the use of the term "Father", an (conservative) Adventist would not use that term.

Now the reason I use Wikipedia is because it is an easy access for people to check by themselves and also to avoid "biased" sources. For example, if I had cited SDA sources, it would have been easy for some people (cough, cough.. **Fr. Jim**... cough, cough **Lady Dragon**... cough, cough...) to say that there are just bigot or liars. It is not that Wikipedia is perfect or thorough but at least it is not something that can be accused of being SDA.

This is why also I am cautious with sources that are close to Catholicism (this is why I also mentioned the entries for Wikipedia, because they mentioned the proximity of Dix (an Anglican Papalist)and Talley ("Protestant, yet Catholic") to Catholicism). Not that they are invalid by definition, but I don't consider them as impartial sources (meaning that I would need additional sources).

Hugo Mendez said...

Still,

As regards the sources I cited, what matters is the historical data they present, and the quality of their scholarship. The only sources of note are the sources on which they base their conclusions.

And again, all my previous criticisms of your skepticism stand. Do you think the most established names in liturgical scholarship are trying to obscure the "pagan origin of Lent" when they so freely demonstrate the pagan precedents behind other Christian observances? Answer me (in fact, answer me any of the dozens of questions I have already asked you). And when you claim they are partial--in what are they partial? Do you mean that they are partial when introduced into the debate we are presently holding? The subject we are debating was not an interest in their writing. They are engaged in an accurate reconstruction of the history of Ash Wednesday and Lent, not in this discussion over the petty, baseless claims Adventists make.

You continue to ignore my challenges, and refuse to admit the error of those who suggest "the tradition of Ash Wednesday was started by pagan Rome," Lent has a pagan origin, etc. There is not a shred of evidence for these claims. All the evidence points otherwise. Are you biding your time trying to find something, anything, that can confirm your preexisting prejudice?

I am done. I have midterms next week and am not going to play games with you, Still. Admit your error, prove your point from reputed sources and historical data, or continue your shameful silence.

Tim Craggs said...

Test 1

Tim Craggs said...

Hi guys. Sorry to have been absent for a while. I have given up weekday blogging for lent to give myself more time for work and prayer. Still, I will happily pick up where Hugo left off. Do answer his questions and I qill respond. Tim / clement

Still said...

Hugo,

I have to admit that you've got nerve.

Shameful silence?? Let me tell you just in case you think that you are the only one being busy. I have a life too.

If I recall correctly, when you didn't manifest yourself for days (even weeks if I don't make a mistake) not that long ago, nobody here spoke about your "shameful silence".

And you spoke about midterms for next week. Well, don't worry, I will not be around speaking of your "shameful silence" if you fail to find five minutes to write a post.

Sincerely and "shamefully" yours,

Still

Hugo Mendez said...

Still,

You have written more than a dozen comments on this thread, continue to respond on a daily or semi-daily basis, and with replies several paragraphs long. This is not a matter of you not having enough time. Rather, this is about you frankly answering my repeated questions.

Was "the tradition of Ash Wednesday started by pagan Rome"? A simple "yes" or "no" will suffice; the statement is either true or it is false.

Do I expect you will answer my question? ..I have little reason to believe so at this point.

Anonymous said...

I'm a long time reader of this blog, and I would like to weigh in on the current discussion:

Still, the "shameful silence" that Hugo is referring to is your constant refusal to answer his questions. It has nothing to do with not posting comments. Hugo has asked many, many times for you to answer his questions, and since you have continued to post many, many comments, and yet have remained *silent in regards to said questions; therefore your silence is "shameful".

How could you not(!) understand this??

On other online forums you would immediately be classified as a "troll" for this type of behavior.

I have been reading this blog for quite sometime, and like you I prefer to remain anonymous. I have observed that Hugo is a very honest and fair individual, therefore I highly respect him for it. I consider your behavior on this blog as being very disrespectful of him, and quite honestly, shameful. You should apologize, and begin answering the questions that are asked of you.

Hugo Mendez said...

Anonymous,

"Hugo is a very honest and fair individual"

Thanks....but I do recognize my tone has been out of line on this thread.

Anonymous said...

To Hugo,

Your tone has not been "out of line". It has been appropriate for the situation. Remember, it is not a sin to be frustrated. Even Jesus became frustrated several times with his opponents. Based upon Still's behavior, I don't think you have been "out of line" at all. There is nothing wrong with what you have said in your conversation with him. Continue to hold his feet to the fire, Hugo, as that is the best way to deal with someone of his mentality.

Best regards!

Still said...

Well, if Hugo (and our anonymous visitor) took the time to read my comments carefully, he would have noticed that I have answered his questions.

Granted, it was not a yes or no answer, but I am sure that he is educated enough to read a more elaborated answer.

By the way Hugo, can you provide any evidence from Dix or Talley where they prove that Ash Wednesday (and Lent) is a Christian celebration in origin and where they show where it comes from (since it was not celebrated at the beginning by the Christians)?

Hugo Mendez said...

Still,

>>>"I have answered his questions. Granted, it was not a yes or no answer, but I am sure that he is educated enough to read a more elaborated answer."

Honestly, where is your answer? Would you mind repeating it? If two people have told you they cannot find your answer, that may mean something.

>>>"can you provide any evidence from Dix or Talley where they prove that Ash Wednesday (and Lent) is a Christian celebration in origin and where they show where it comes from (since it was not celebrated at the beginning by the Christians)?"

Are you kidding me!??

Did you read the passages I sent you!? Did you read the appropriate pages (which load immediately when you click on the above links)? Talley, p. 183 ff.? Dix pp. 354 ff.? Those pages reconstruct the origin and evolution of Lent. I linked you to the very pages that trace that history!! The evolution of Lent is too much to recount in a single comment, which is why I directly linked you to the very pages that discuss them.

I...

I am at a complete loss for words.

The Lady Dragon said...

Hugo, do you feel as though you have just been turned upon and rent?

Hugo Mendez said...

Lady Dragon,

This exchange has been unbelievable. I have written long responses, and almost everything I have written is summarily ignored/overlooked/I don't know.

Above all, when I directly ask questions or issue challenges, I receive no response to them. Every new comment is yet another game.

I am at a loss... I'm shocked.

The Lady Dragon said...

I don't know why you are shocked. You have merely come face to face with 1a textbook example of invincible ignorance and 2) the fulfillment of Jesus' words regarding pearls and swine.

Still said...

Hugo,

If we can avoid the drama tone, it would be profitable to everybody (and Lady Dragon, if you have nothing more constructive to say, maybe you should avoid manifesting yourself. I know that you have "dragon" in your name but you are not showing the best of yourself).

Hugo, I have read the links that you provided but they don't show any evidence as for the origin. Here is for example what it is written from the first link (Dix):

"The observance of Lent has varied wideley in Christian history and so has its definition. Given such variety, it is unlikely that we can ever identify a single origin for this major fast of the liturgical year."

Another example from Talley:

"The institution of Lent, unlike that of Holy Week and Easer, is not directly due to the initiative of the Jerusalem church, though it was early adopted there and formed part of that 'Jerusalem model' of liturgy which began to spread in the later fourth century."

So, from these texts, we can see that Lent was adopted early in the Christian church but no one seems to know where it comes from.

Don't forget that the question you asked was about the origin as Don M. said it came from pagan Rome.

Here is the answers I gave earlier:

1) "I should have been more precise... also, when I referred to Molander's comments, I was referring to him calling Bell Father Bell."
By this, I indicated what I was considering in Don M.'s comment (I was not considering his claim about pagan Rome).

2) "So, obviously, Lent doesn't come from an apostolic tradition and not being mentioned in the Bible, we can say that it has no Christian origin".
By this, I meant that it was not biblical and that early Christians didn't celebrate it.
(to which you answered: "2. Just because something does not have biblical or apostolic origin does not mean "it has no Christian origin." All it means is that later* centuries of Christians originated it; that's it. It most certainly has a Christian origin, but a 4th century one. Read the above texts, and the sources they examine, to trace that evolution."
I would agree with that answer)

3)"The name, Lent, is a Teutonic word and suggest then a pagan origin (which is not surprising considering the habit of the Church to appropriate for herself pagan celebrations like Christmas or Easter, after "christianizing" them, of course"
By this, I meant that the fact that the name comes from a proto-germanic language (like Yule (linked to Christmas)or Easter) suggested a pagan origin (afer all, Yule is pagan and we find also pagan elements in Easter (like rabbits and eggs, both being symbols of fertility)).

Hugo Mendez said...

Still,

You erroneously attributed the following statement to Dix (in fact, penned by Talley): "The observance of Lent has varied widely in Christian history and so has its definition. Given that variation, it is unlikely that we can ever identify a single origin for this major fast of the liturgical year." As suggested in the very next sentence, that variation is found in, for instance, the differences between the Roman, Byzantine, and Coptic calculations of Lent, which, in turn, rest on such questions as: does one count Sabbaths in Lent? are the Tridium or Holy Week are part of Lent? were baptisms ordinarily performed at Easter (which is not the case in the Coptic tradition), so that the fast emerged a form of baptismal preparation? etc. (Notice these questions are fundamentally rooted in Christian calendric and liturgical concerns). Talley's essay, of course, attempts to reconstruct the origin of the Byzantine Lent in particular, and traces it to an Alexandrine post-Epiphany fast commemorating Jesus' 40 days in the wilderness.

Case in point: the history of "Lent" in the various rites of the ancient Church is complex. But notice, the historical sources and various modern reconstructions of that history observe that Lent is fundamentally rooted in Christian concerns. Although extensive discussion exists for the possible pagan origin of, or precedents for, Christmas, one finds no such discussion in the case of Pascha or Lent. Lent did not emerge (wholesale or otherwise) from a previous pagan practice, for which, incidentally, there is no attestation. The diversity of Lenten observances themselves suggests an organic growth from existing Christian ritual traditions and their respective concerns. You are nowhere given a blank check to suggest that Lent has pagan roots; the evidence for pagan origin simply is not there, and in fact, all the evidence points to the contrary.

>>>"1) . . .By this, I indicated what I was considering in Don M.'s comment (I was not considering his claim about pagan Rome)."

And yet, Still, a full day after you said that, you decided to challenge my very dismissal of Don M's claims (!): "So, these claims are fabrications? Can you prove your own claims?" And not only that, but you proceeded to make such assertions as, "we can say that it has no Christian origin," "Lent, is a Teutonic word and suggest then a pagan origin." You gave every appearance that you were defending Don's assertions at that point. And further, when I twice challenged you to explicitly deny Don M's claims, you did not. The time has long since passed for you to convincingly claim that you did not attempt at least some defense of Dom M.'s assertions over and against my dismissal of them. And if you do not agree with his baseless assertions, then explicitly disown them in your very next comment, and let's be done with them, shall we?

>>>"2) . . . I would agree with that answer"

Thank you.

>>>"3) . . .By this, I meant that the fact that the name comes from a proto-germanic language (like Yule (linked to Christmas)or Easter) suggested a pagan origin (afer all, Yule is pagan and we find also pagan elements in Easter (like rabbits and eggs, both being symbols of fertility))."

And yet, as the historical sources indicate, Lent is not Germanic in origin, and is not traceable to pagan observances. Yes, you "suggested a pagan origin" from the Germanic name "Lent," but you were incorrect (and historically/linguistically short-sighted) in this assertion. I hope you will publicly disown this suggestion too, seeing as a 40-day Lent crystallized in the 4th century Mediterranean world, and from Christian liturgical concerns.

The Lady Dragon said...

Still wrote: Lady Dragon, if you have nothing more constructive to say, maybe you should avoid manifesting yourself. I know that you have "dragon" in your name but you are not showing the best of yourself.

Still:

You would not say so if you understood the term invincible ignorance. In point of fact, I was being very compassionate towards you and giving you an "out" for your attitudes. Ask Hugo if you don't believe me.

Still said...

Hugo wrote:

"You erroneously attributed the following statement to Dix "

Nope, as I wrote: "Here is for example what it is written from the first link (Dix)"

When I wrote "(Dix)", it was just to designate this first link (since you put the first link as "Gregory Dix" and the second one as "Thomas Talley"). As I said before, I have read the texts and when the text says "Gregory Dix, for example, wrote of the matter" it is obvious that it is not Dix who wrote that text (unless he speaks about himself at the third person (which is always possible :-) )).

"You decided to challenge my very dismissal of Don M's claim"

I already answered to that. I wrote that "to challenge his claim was fair game. But to say it was fabrication or misinformation, this time you are making a claim that you have to prove as well." Don't forget that you presented no evidence when you said that. So, on one hand, you asked Don M. to provide evidence while on the other hand you allowed yourself to make claims (that it was fabrication and misinformation) without bringing any evidence in your comments. So, as I said before, to ask him for some evidence was fair game, but to add that it was fabrication without bringing yourself evidence was not.

"Yes, you "suggested a pagan origin" from the Germanic name "Lent," but you were incorrect (and historically/linguistically short-sighted) in this assertion."

Oh, so the name "Lent" is not Germanic? Can you tell us where it comes from then (unless you are speaking about something else as you were not very precised when you said the my assertion was incorrect)?

Also, what you wrote is interesting: "40-day Lent crystallized in the 4th century Mediterranean world, and from Christian liturgical concerns.". But it was the name "lent" that was chosen. Don't you think it is a curious choice?

You wrote that "as the historical sources indicate, Lent is not Germanic in origin". No one is claiming that. It is just the name that is Germanic.

Then you added that Lent "is not traceable to pagan observances". Well, it is where I disagree. In Ash Wednesday, the ashes are called sacred ashes. Here is what we can read from Cardinal James Francis Stafford in his homily (found on the Vatican website):

"We have gathered at the tomb of Peter, in this Vatican Patriarchal Basilica that contains the whole world, for the liturgy of the sacred Ashes that marks the beginning of Lent." (emphasis mine)

Do we ever found mentions of sacred ashes in the Bible (though of course ashes are mentioned)?

But you find a lot of references to ashes in ancient Rome rituals or other pagan religions (see here and here for example).

Some authors (and not just Hislop, your favorite author) think that Lent has some pagan origins. For example, one author says (link):

"The ancient Persians had a religious festival, which they annually celebrated, called the " Salutation of Mithras (the sun-god)," and during it forty
days were set apart for sacrifice and thanksgiving...
... The same practice was found among the ancient Mexicans and Peruvians. The Mexicans had a forty days' fast, in memory of Quetzalcoatl, who was tempted and fasted forty days on a mountain. Lord Kingsborough says : " The temptation of Quetzalcoatl and the fast of forty days are very curious and mysterious."
"

Still said...

Lady Dragon wrote:

"I was being very compassionate towards you"

(LOL) Thank you for your compassion.

:-)

The Lady Dragon said...

Still,

Don't thank me, clearly it was wasted.

Still said...

Lady Dragon,

Compassion is never wasted.

remnant said...

Hugo/Still,

Maybe the origins of Lent go back much further than the 4th century?

Ezek 8:14
"So He brought me to the door of the north gate of the Lord’s house; and to my dismay, women were sitting there weeping for Tammuz."

tāmmûz: A masculine proper noun Tammuz. It refers to a popular and widely known fertility god in the ancient Middle East (Ezek. 8:14). It had other names in different nations, Astarte, Ishtar, etc.

Tammuz is a Sumerian fertility god similar to the Greek god Adonis.

It is interesting to note that the pagans also observed the fasting practise of 40 days for Tammuz. Furthermore, they also believed he was supposed to have resurrected at Easter.

Coincidence?

One more 'coincidence'. Pagan art depicts the child (Tammuz) and mother (Semiramus) with the glory of the Sun around their heads.

Similar paintings of the child (Jesus) and mother (Mary) with halos or of the Sun around their heads are everywhere.

God bless, Remnant

Mike Senseney said...

Hi Still and Remnant,

Oh my goodness...you mean to tell me that the pagans fasted for 40 days to their gods. We know that these gods are false and therefore if we were to fast for 40 days that would make us just like them wouldn't it?

And what would that make of Jesus who went out and fasted for 40 days?

Oh my gosh...now I have to reconsider if my acceptance and worship of Jesus has not been just one big pagan deception under which I've fallen prey.

Please help me come to the truth of this matter so that I can abandon paganism. I think you might be on to something here that has deceived all of us, including you.

I cannot find anywhere in the Bible where God commanded Jesus to fast for 40 days. All I can find in Matthew 4 and Mark 1 is that "the Spirit" led Jesus into the wilderness. But what Spirit? Don't we need to "test" all spirits by the scriptures and the scriptures alone to avoid deception? And if this Spirit was leading Jesus to fast for 40 days like those pagans did, do we need to worry that Jesus was deceived? And if Jesus was deceived into pagan practices, how can we trust Him, since He wasn't following the scriptures and the scriptures alone?

And thank you for pointing out the use of ashes in pagan religions. That is important to know as we become free from these deceptions.

But I'm a bit confused about this one with the ashes, because in the OT, there are many documented cases of holy followers of God covering themselves with ashes as they repent of, and mourn over, their sins. But then since the pagans used ashes in their rituals, I guess that ends the discussion and we should not do as the pagans do. So I guess those guys who said they believed in the True Creator God were also deceived, as was Jesus, as are Catholics, as are protestants...everyone it would appear but Adventists.

And yet, if Jesus was deceived by the pagans and did as the pagans did, then it would appear that you are deceived too by following Him and that would make you subject to pagan deceptions.

It seems that our only protection is to become atheists.

Yes...I'm being a wise-acre...but do you get it?

God bless all!!!

The Lady Dragon said...

Lent is a wonderful experience. Lent is when we journey into the desert with Jesus, just the two of us alone. Great things always come out of desert experiences.

Moses spent 40 years in the desert and then God used him to lead Israel out of slavery.

Israel went into the desert as slaves and fourty years later came out as the People of God.

Jesus went into the desert for fourty days and come out strengthed to do His Father's will.

Desert experiences are purging and strengthening, they are times of growth. The problem with society today is that we are bereft of desert experiences.

The Church understands that and gives us the opportunity to go into the desert every year and to seek the face of God in a special way. We go into the desert, hopefully to die to self and on Easter to rise with Christ in a special way.

Instead of saying, "You go, guys. Good on ya'" our SDA acquaintances holler "pagan practice, pagan practice!"

What is wrong with that picture?

Still said...

Lady Dragon wrote:

"Instead of saying, "You go, guys. Good on ya'" our SDA acquaintances holler "pagan practice, pagan practice!"

What is wrong with that picture?"


It is an interesting question. There are several ways of answering it.

First, let's start by saying that you are right: Lent can be a wonderful experience for those who are sincerely putting their hearts in it.

This being said, I'd like to answer your question by presenting the following verses:

"Peter said to them, 'Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit'.

And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, 'Be saved from this perverse generation!'"

(Acts 2:38,40)

and also

"Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world." (James 1:27)

With these 2 texts, we see that in our spiritual life there should be a double action, one part linked to God, the other one linked to the world:
1) the part linked to God corresponds to the first part of each text:

"Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins"

and

"to visit orphans and widows in their distress"

2) the part related to the world corresponds to the second part of each text:

"Be saved from this perverse generation!"

and

"to keep oneself unstained by the world"


This double action is necessary and mandatory.

It explains also why there are two kinds of reactions. There are people (that I will call "the mystics") who are interested in the spiritual experience (and may be less focusing, for one reason or another, on the "purity" (please, notice the quotes here) of it) and there are people (that I will call "the puritans") interested in staying unstained (from idolatry, paganism, unhealthy food, entertainment...) from the world (and they may be less focusing on the spiritual experience).

The "mystics" and the "puritans" don't have the same spiritual experience and they will have the tendency to look at the other group with dismay and find faults (and, of course, each group will think of itself as being in the right).

The ideal, of course, is to be both a "mystic" and a "puritan" (this is what Acts 2:38,40 and James 1:27 ask usto be). This is not easy because I believe that we naturally fall into one of these categories, meaning that we have to work and struggle to grasp the other side that is less familiar to us.

remnant said...

still,

you forgot the 3rd group, the hypocrites! those who profess they are "puritan" or "mystics", but actually aren't deep down!

"hypocrite, dissembler, dissimulator, phony, phoney, pretender - a person who professes beliefs and opinions that he or she does not hold in order to conceal his or her real feelings or motives"

LadyDragon,

I must admit I did not know anything about this Lent practise until I saw this blog the other day and the Hollywood SDA church practising it. The motives are great, who doesn't want to be closer to Jesus? We all do!

So good on you for wanting to "walk with Jesus"! I wish more people thought about this,, especially SDAs including me!

But, I do not need to wait each year to fast or walk with Jesus because I can do this any day. Is God more prone to listen to you during this period, just because the church has set this time of the year for this? No!

Jesus did spend 40 days in the desert beng tempted by Satan, but He did not say or suggest His followers need to do the same, even make a festival of it worldwide. Neither did He hint at such a practise.

We need to die to self DAILY and seek the face of God DAILY, not reflect and ponder on this thought for 40 days every year.

The intention and the meaning behind Lent is great, and certainly not pagan. But, what we are arguing is that this practise is NOT rooted in the Bible. How many partriarchs practised Lent? How many Apostles practised Lent? None. That's the point, it was introduced into the early Church by other sources.

Do you agree with this or not? This is my point.

God bless, Remnant

The Lady Dragon said...

Still:

Lent unites the best of both purity and mysticism. That is the whole purpose of going into the desert to spend time alone with Christ. It purifies you, it strengthens you for when you return to the world. Remember all those times that Jesus went into the desert to pray even during his active ministry? He recognized the value of taking time to be alone with God. Without that a life of purity is impossible.

So what we see here, is a group of people who clearly have no understanding of the purpose of Lent or the experience of Lent or the attendant blessings of Lent, jumping up and down hollering "pagan practice, pagan practice!!" What's up with that?

It reminds me of Martha telling Jesus to tell her sister to get herself into the kitchen and help with the work.

Hugo Mendez said...

Still,

>>>" you put the first link as "Gregory Dix" and the second one as "Thomas Talley""

Mental error. Apologies.

>>>"to challenge his claim was fair game. But to say it was fabrication or misinformation, this time you are making a claim that you have to prove as well."

Whatever. I will take that challenge any day.

"Oh, so the name "Lent" is not Germanic?"

Did you read what I wrote a week ago??: "The word is derived from a W. Germanic word for "spring" (rooted in the concept of "lengthened days"), the season in which it occurs."

>>>"Also, what you wrote is interesting: "40-day Lent crystallized in the 4th century Mediterranean world, and from Christian liturgical concerns.". But it was the name "lent" that was chosen. Don't you think it is a curious choice?"

First of all, you failed to respond to the most relevant point of all: "In other languages, different names are used, rooted in entirely different roots: Lt. quadragesima, reflected in the Sp. cuaresma; Fr. careme; Gk. sarakosti or tessarakoste, etc." The name "Lent" is not the original name for the fasting season--not by hundreds of years--and is still localized only within one (Germanic) language group. And no, it is not curious that a Germanic language would chose a neutral Germanic word for "spring" to describe a fast that occurs in spring; it is entirely reasonable.

>>>You wrote that "as the historical sources indicate, Lent is not Germanic in origin". No one is claiming that. It is just the name that is Germanic.

Still, you cited the fact that the word "Lent" is Germanic to suggest a pagan origin to Lent: "The name, Lent, is a Teutonic word and suggest then a pagan origin." If you did not mean to suggest Lent is rooted in Germanic paganism by appeal to the fact that the root is Germanic, then in which pagan culture should we be searching for the origin of Lent?

>>>"Do we ever found mentions of sacred ashes in the Bible (though of course ashes are mentioned)?"

First of all, the term "sacred ashes" could easily be manipulated in this context; we do not ascribe any magical power to the ashes applied on Ash Wednesday. Rather, "sacred" objects and materials are simply those set apart for religious use. And yes, sacred ashes were reserved for use in Old Testament purification rituals (Num. 19); ashes had a liturgical purpose in the Hebrew Bible, apart from the pious use of ashes to express religious devotion and penitence.

>>>"But you find a lot of references to ashes in ancient Rome rituals or other pagan religion"

You also find references to grain, liquid, and animal sacrifices in pagan religions... and the Bible. You find reference to the use of incense in pagan religions... and the Bible. You find reference to eternally burning lamps in pagan religions.... and the Bible. You find reference to water purification rituals in pagan religions... and the Bible. You find references to priests in pagan religions... and the Bible. You find reference to sacred meals in pagan religions... and the Bible. You find reference to Temples in pagan religions.... and the Bible. You find reference to images of supernatural beings adorning Temple walls.... as also in the Bible (Cherubim).

(cont.)

Hugo Mendez said...

(cont.)


>>>"observe that Hindus also apply ashes in various religious observances."

Do you, therefore, mean to suggest that the practice of blessing and distributing ashes in the Western Church is derived from, or inspired by, Hindu vibhuti? Would you like to trace the derivation of the Christian practice from vidbhuti? I doubt you believe the two have a direct relationship (you have not explicitly claimed as much); in that case then, there truly is no need to mention this example, any more than one must cite every superficial similarity between ancient Israelite religion and pagan religions.

Are such superficially similar convergences (e.g., ashes in Hinduism) worth more than the biblical tradition of applying ashes, the ancient Christian practice of signing the cross on one's forehead, and the ancient Christian practice of blessing materials used in religious observances (e.g., water, oil, food, ashes)?

>>>"Some authors (and not just Hislop, your favorite author) think that Lent has some pagan origins."

And so to demonstrate your point..... you quote a book written in 1906 (!) by an agnostic critic of Christianity?? Who cites these fasts within a chapter citing pagan similarities to the Gospel details on the life of Christ in an attempt to cast doubt on Christianity? Which book, incidentally, as its source, cites Lord Kinsborough, who believed the Mexicans were descendants a lost tribe of Israel: "Kingsborough considered that the ancient Mexican temples resembled the architectural style of the Jewish temples. He noted that the Jews and the ancient Mexicans both placed fringes on their garments, and he considered that this highlighted similarities in the attire of the two respective cultures. . . .However, the examples he cites of the similarities between the Jewish and ancient Mexican cultures are extremely generalized or exaggerated. Kingsborough did not give any consideration to the possibility that the ancient Mexicans had the natural ability to develop their own knowledge and skills." (Link)

And apparently, you do not believe Christians had the ability to develop their own fasts.

Do you realize how dubious the sources used to confirm a pagan origin to Lent truly are?

And would you like to tell me how a Mesoamerican fast to Quetzalcoatl found its way all the way to Europe so Christianity could universally mimic it? And if you do not believe it inspired the observance of Lent (which it could not have), why cite it at all? It clearly has no place in a discussion on the origin of Lent. And read pp. 172-3 of this book by Eric Thompson (the foremost Mesoamericanist of the mid 20th century); it recounts many different fasting traditions in Mesoamerica. Notice how many fasts, of how many different durations, existed: 13 20, 40, 60 days. Does it not occur to you that finding a 40 day fast in a pagan culture is not that difficult, nor is finding a 15 day fast, a 7 day fast, or a fast of any other duration?

Still, I was once like you. I was told by Adventists I trusted that Lent was pagan in origin. I believed it; it had to be true. And do you know what? Once I actually began reading what recognized scholars in the field had to say, I realized that those claims were based on the most tenuous and embarrassing of sources.

Hugo Mendez said...

Remnant,

>>>"It is interesting to note that the pagans also observed the fasting practise of 40 days for Tammuz. Furthermore, they also believed he was supposed to have resurrected at Easter."

No, this is incorrect:

"In the hot midsummer month of Tammuz the festival of the god Tammuz (Sumerian Dumuzi) was held. On the second day there was lamentation. On the ninth, sixteenth, and seventeenth days there were torch-lit processions. During the three last days an image of Tammuz was buried. In this festival Tammuz' death was lamented and possible his return to live celebrated." (Geoffery W. Bromiley, "Religions: Assyria and Babylonia," International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, W.B. Eerdman's, 89).

Clearly, the observance did not last 40 days (being localized within a 29-day lunar month, beginning with the 2nd day of the month), nor did it occur in the spring (Passover/Easter time).