Friday, March 05, 2010

Why Lent?

The fact that some Adventist churches observe Ash Wednesday is characteristically controversial for Adventists on this and other blogs. However, I will never understand why so many Adventists insist on rejecting Lent.

Why do Adventists openly celebrate the death and resurrection of Christ on Holy Week (e.g., hymns, sermons, college campus passion plays, etc.) but reject Lent, the season preparing Christians for the observance of Holy Week? Why do Adventists freely celebrate Christmas (a day possibly instituted to parallel pagan feasts) in churches and homes with Christmas trees (a practice of probable pagan extraction), but reject Lent? Why the double standard?

What is it about Lent that these Adventists fear so much?

Is it the call to "Turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel?" or the reminder that "Dust thou art, and to dust thou shalt return?" Is it the reminder that one cannot prepare to celebrate Christ's resurrection without also probing one's heart, overcoming sin, and denying self? Is it the fact that this Christian practice alone preserves the biblical tradition of repenting with ashes? Is it the Roman-rite scripture readings for Ash Wednesday, which remind Christians: "This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly... sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own" (Is. 58:6-7)? Or are they offended by the authority of the people of God to establish their own annual fasts and feasts (cf. Esther 9:26-32)?

15 comments:

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The Lady Dragon said...

My personal opinion of why SDAs in particular and low church Protestants in general reject Lent is that they see no reason for gratuitous sacrifice.

If you are saved by faith alone, it is hard enough to explain why one ought to refrain from sin let alone offer to God any unrequired sacrifice. Sacrifice made for no other reason than love becomes a mystery and to the general Protestant nose smells like works. To the particular SDA nose it smells worse, like a papist con job dressed up like holiness.

Hugo Mendez said...

Well, it is probably not sacrifice; no doubt, Adventism is sacrificial in nature (dedicating a day to rest, avoiding certain foods, etc.)

It seems Lent offends some Adventists for being Catholic in origin or association, but so are many other feasts observed by Adventists. There is no compelling reason to exclude Ash Wednesday or Lent if one accepts Christmas and Easter.

Point being: it's time for the senseless double standard or taboo to be set aside.

Anonymous said...

1. Adventists observe Christmas and Easter, both of which have had extensive research conducted on them that persuasively shows Pagan roots (or affiliations if you desire) in both.

2. Adventists routinely dismiss Lent for the reason that it may have Pagan roots/affiliation, an assertion yet to be demonstrated to be true.

3. Double Standard = acceptance of observances that have been shown to have Pagan roots/affiliations, while not accepting an observance that simply may have Pagan roots/affiliation.

Excellent reasoning Hugo.

It should also be pointed out that, although Christmas and Easter both have biblical interpretational support for their respective observances, neither of them actually have a biblical precedent for their observances. Therefore, how can Adventists justify the observance of Christmas and Easter without clear biblical precedent? Does this not contradict their mantra, "the Bible and the Bible only"? Does this not evoke another double standard on their part when they routinely dismiss such observances as Lent, which does not have an Apostolic origin, while accepting those that do not have one either?

The Adventist conundrum!

Reason's disciple

The Lady Dragon said...

There are two types of sacrifice. First there is demanded sacrifice, SDAs whole heartedly embrace any sacrifice demanded either by their interpretation of Scripture or by their prophetess. Second, there is voluntary sacrifice, that is sacrifice that isn't required, but merely made out of love. It is this latter type of sacrifice that SDAs have no use for.

Still said...

Hugo wrote:

"There is no compelling reason to exclude Ash Wednesday or Lent if one accepts Christmas and Easter.

Point being: it's time for the senseless double standard or taboo to be set aside."


I totally agree with you on this one. This is a double standard that a lot of SDAs seem not to be aware of.

Quite strange!

Personally, I don't observe Christmas nor Easter.

remnant said...

1. Adventists observe Christmas and Easter, both of which have had extensive research conducted on them that persuasively shows Pagan roots (or affiliations if you desire) in both.

Uuhm, I don't observe Xmas or Easter? You will find that many Adventists do not celebrate Christmas the way the Catholic Church does. Much the same goes for Easter as well. These holidays, although meaningful in nature, are riddled with pagan influences. I grew up in former Yugoslavia, where I experienced 1st hand the differences between the Orthodox Easter and Catholic Easter; the Pagan influences are clearly there on both sides.


2. Adventists routinely dismiss Lent for the reason that it may have Pagan roots/affiliation, an assertion yet to be demonstrated to be true.

I have not even heard of Lent until two weeks ago when I read up on it on this blog and on the forums. I have also asked many of the church members in my church about this and no one seems to know much down here in Aus. I don't know, maybe is a US thing and there is much more of a following over there? Anyhow, why should Asventists 'introduce' Lent in their church?

3. Double Standard = acceptance of observances that have been shown to have Pagan roots/affiliations, while not accepting an observance that simply may have Pagan roots/affiliation.

Sorry, cannot agree with you here; from my side anyways.

God bless!

Remnant

Mike Senseney said...

Prophetic guidance from Ellen G. White, whose "writings are a continuing and authoritative source of truth which provide for the church comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction" for the Seventh day Adventist denomination:

"Shall We Have a Christmas Tree?"--God would be well pleased if on Christmas each church would have a Christmas tree on which shall be hung offerings, great and small, for these houses of worship. Letters of inquiry have come to us asking, Shall we have a Christmas tree? Will it not be like the world? We answer, You can make it like the world if you have a disposition to do so, or you can make it as unlike the world as possible. There is no particular sin in selecting a fragrant evergreen and placing it in our churches, but the sin lies in the motive which prompts to action and the use which is made of the gifts placed upon the tree. {AH 482.1}

The tree may be as tall and its branches as wide as shall best suit the occasion; but let its boughs be laden with the golden and silver fruit of your beneficence, and present this to Him as your Christmas gift. Let your donations be sanctified by prayer. {AH 482.2}

Christmas and New Year celebrations can and should be held in behalf of those who are helpless. God is glorified when we give to help those who have large families to support. {AH 482.3}

A Tree Laden With Offerings Is Not Sinful.--Let not the parents take the position that an evergreen placed in the church for the amusement of the Sabbath school scholars is a sin, for it may be made a great blessing. Keep before their minds benevolent objects. In no case should mere amusement be the object of these gatherings. While there may be some who will turn these occasions into seasons of careless levity, and whose minds will not receive the divine impress, to other minds and characters
483
these seasons will be highly beneficial. I am fully satisfied that innocent substitutes can be devised for many gatherings that demoralize. {AH 482.4}

Provide Innocent Enjoyment for the Day.--Will you not arise, my Christian brethren and sisters, and gird yourselves for duty in the fear of God, so arranging this matter that it shall not be dry and uninteresting, but full of innocent enjoyment that shall bear the signet of Heaven? I know the poorer class will respond to these suggestions. The most wealthy should also show an interest and bestow their gifts and offerings proportionate to the means with which God has entrusted them. Let there be recorded in the heavenly books such a Christmas as has never yet been seen because of the donations which shall be given for the sustaining of the work of God and the upbuilding of His kingdom. {AH 483.1}


The quotes above and more can be found by clicking here

Once again, by all appearances, the acceptance and use of things "pagan" and not found in the Bible, are "OK" if Mrs. White gives her blessing. But if other Christians celebrate the glorious events, and people, of God's work in this world...well...they are just deceived and led astray, no matter what they claim to be their inspiration and motiviation.

And if Mrs. White is deceived into using this pagan practice for the "glory of God" (and to raise money for "the work"), then how can she be trusted that she was not deceived in other matters of her inspiration?

Which also raises many interesting questions that become obvious if you think about the reasons why she gives her blessing to this otherwise clearly pagan practice with no Biblical guidelines to do so.

God bless all!!!

remnant said...

hi mike,

thank you for the quotes! it has certainly prompted me to re-value my thinking in terms of Xmas and Easter. I have been brought up not to enjoy Xmas because we needed to be "different" from the other Christians. This has in turn alienated Adventists and I don't even know how and why these festivals were so frowned upon where I grew up. I will certainly read up on this to get a peace of mind for myself on this topic.

But, keep in mind that her counsels to the people and her inspired writings are two totally different things. You cannot simply throw away all her writings simply because of this.

Sure, it does create a bit of confusion, but you cannot say that because of this all that came from her pen is not inspired. There is a clear difference between her writings relating to her visions and general advice and counsel she wrote throughout her career, be it for the Adventist Review publication or personal letters.

God bless!

Remnant

Anonymous said...

Hello Remnant,

You seem to imply that my statement, "Adventists observe Christmas and Easter," as being incorrect because, as you said, "Uuhm, I don't observe Xmas or Easter? You will find that many Adventists do not celebrate Christmas the way the Catholic Church does. Much the same goes for Easter as well." However, your statement does not invalidate my claim. My claim was that "Adventists" do indeed observe Christmas and Easter, which I know that many of them do. Therefore, my statement was correct. Furthermore, you attempted to invalidate my assertion by stating that Adventists do not celebrate Christmas like Catholics do. However, this point is moot. The very fact that Adventists observe Christmas and Easter at all (which are both influenced by Pagan affiliations) is what is truly important in this discussion. Adventists routinely dismiss such observances as going to church on Sunday or observing Ash Wednesday or Lent, because these observances are purportedly attached to Pagan influences. Yet when it comes to the observances of Christmas and Easter, this same criteria for dismissing the other observances is put aside and ignored. This is a double standard.

And I find it quite amazing that you, having grown up in former Yugoslavia, and having experienced the differences "1st hand" between the Orthodox and Catholic observances of Easter, have never heard of Lent? The forty days before Holy Week? Really? And you imagine Lent to be a "US thing"?? If the Roman Catholic church and the Orthodox church both observe Lent, how could it possibly be a "US thing"? Neither of those churches have their origin in the US. Then again, if you meant that Lent was a "US thing" among Adventists, then please disregard my previous comments, since I realize your statement can be taken in that way, and very well might have been meant in that way.

You asked why Adventists should introduce Lent into their church. The answer can simply be for a deeper religious experience. Or perhaps as an appropriate way to prepare oneself for Holy Week and Easter. Or perhaps for the purpose of practicing self-denial. There are many different ways a person could rationalize the observance of Lent, and no doubt most, if not all, of these reasons are utilized by Catholics and others who observe Lent already.

Finally, you stated that you disagreed with my logical conclusion regarding the Adventist double standard. But since I was referring to "Adventists" generally, and indeed there are Adventists (perhaps the majority of them) that do observe, in some fashion, Christmas and Easter (as even your own comment intimated: "You will find that many Adventists do not celebrate Christmas the way the Catholic Church does"), the double standard does indeed exist. Therefore, my logical conclusion is, well, logical. Your disagreement on this point is ill-advised.

Reason's disciple

remnant said...

Hey Reason's disciple,

I was only stating my view on Lent. I have never heard of Lent in my entire life! And yes, I never celebrated Christmas or Easter.

Yugoslavia was a 3rd Catholic, a 3rd Orthodox and a 3rd Muslim. It was a unique place to be an Adventist because our religious affiliations did not go with the nationalistic affiliations and "being proud" of our people/country/land.

This is why many, if not most Adventists from those parts of the world paid particular attention to make sure that they did not "follow" any festival or a custom which Catholics/Orthodox/Muslim majority did, so everyone can say they are "different".

My childhood was indeed messed up wasn't it!!

God bless, Remnant

Anonymous said...

"Sure, it does create a bit of confusion, but you cannot say that because of this all that came from her pen is not inspired. There is a clear difference between her writings relating to her visions and general advice and counsel she wrote throughout her career, be it for the Adventist Review publication or personal letters."

Interesting. Which, in your opinion, are the "inspired" utterances:

1. "her visions"

or

2. the "general advice and counsel she wrote throughout her career, be it for the Adventist Review publication or personal letters"?

If her "inspired" utterances are found in her "general advice and counsel she wrote throughout her career", then how does one sift through and make sense of what exactly are the "inspired" passages versus the ones that are not?

Thus we have another Adventist conundrum: Which utterances of Ellen White are the truly "inspired by the Lord" utterances, and which are not? What is the appropriate criteria to employ while distinguishing between them? And how does one come to know that their particular criteria is indeed the correct one to apply?

Confusion indeed.

Reason's disciple

Mike Senseney said...

Hi Remnant,

God bless you...it wasn't that your childhood was so messed up (let's face it... we could all, along with our own kids, probably go on The Oprah Show and talk about that ad nauseum..lol:-)...it's more that this world is messed up, and we just happen to be trying to make some sense out of it all. I think we all know (at least all of us who post here) that Jesus is the answer. Let's keep praying for each other that we grow closer and deeper with Him and in Him.

As for Mrs. White and her writings and inspiration...well...that is something each person needs to determine for themselves. I read all of her books...in fact I made a point of doing so as I prayed about what my relationship with her would be. All I can offer you in this area are my prayers that God continue to lead you...and He will.

As for Christmas and Easter, I embraced the joyless view of them, as you do, for many years. But there are many things, I've found, that we can be joyful about in this world.

How could there be a joyless response from anyone, especially those of mankind who are sinners, to the miracle of the Incarnation where God became one of us to save us from our sins? And how could there be a joyless response from anyone who reaches that point where they UNDERSTAND that Jesus gave His life for us on the cross, died and was buried, and then on the third day rose from the dead freeing us from sin and death if we believe in, and follow Him? Unless of course we somehow find greater joy in sin and death... that would prevent us from following Jesus...and I believe there are some who do feel this way...so sad, so tragic.

My point is that the Incarnation, God becoming man in Jesus Christ, was such a momentous event in salvation history, that people who understand that event, would celebrate it on some day of the year, if not every day of the year.

And the resurrection of Jesus, in my opinion, is the greatest and most magnificent event in salvation history up to this point in time (with the exception of personally discovering God's love for me). And that event, if no other, is cause to celebrate and rejoice and enjoy JOY!!!

These events are too big to be ignored, and too glorious for joy to be suppressed.

The fact that Christmas and Easter are days for the entire Church to celebrate these two remarkable events of God's love and focus on Jesus, is a necessary good for man.

The fact that Christmas and Easter supplanted two pagan celebrations, proves to me that the Light who came into this world, is more powerful than the darkness who thrives in this world.

We have so much time to sacrifice and do penance and suffer the ills of this world. So two days to celebrate God coming to save us, and saving us, does not seem so extravagant or misguided to me.

It is ok to enjoy the things of God...it really is!

I like what Reason's disciple and others have said on this thread regarding Lent. This is my first Lent as a Catholic, and I cannot begin to tell you what a blessing this time is for me this year (but I would be happy to if you would like:-)

My prayers are with you as you "re-value" your thinking on Christmas and Easter. We all need to take time, from time to time, and re-value our lives, our thoughts, and our relationships. And that my friend is one of the first and greatest blessings of Lent right there! Time to "re-value"! Thank you Remnant...I like that! See you are already doing what Lent was meant for, and you do not even know what it is...wasn't there something in the Bible about those who do something good without even being aware of the teachings regarding that something?

God bless all!!!
p.s. If you are really interested in a really good perspective on the whole pagan/Christian thing, I highly recommend the book, "The Everlasting Man" by G.K. Chesterton! Take care Remnant!

Shepherd said...

Reasons disciple is correct in saying : > If her "inspired" utterances are found in her "general advice and counsel she wrote throughout her career", then how does one sift through and make sense of what exactly are the "inspired" passages versus the ones that are not?

Deut 18:18 I will send them a prophet like you from among their own people; "I will tell him WHAT TO SAY", and he[c] will tell the people everything I command.19 (F)He will speak in my name, and I[d] will punish anyone who refuses to obey him.20 But if any prophet dares to speak a message in my name when I did not command him to do so, he must die for it, and so must any prophet who speaks in the name of other gods.

Therefore a prophet is not ON and OFF, A prophet is full time in teaching and writings .

Remnant cannot have it both ways, .If she is a prophet obey and observe Christmas, If she is not dump the denominational experiment.

Nature.

bdemiler said...

First of all. If you are trying to say of another believer that he or she is wrong then you have gone a far way from following the words of God. Secondly, the Seventh Day Adventist church stands on following the words of God rather than traditions of man. That is the key difference from other faiths. I dont think it makes any sense to argue and at the same time find excuses for why you observe something constructed by men. If we really wanted to be exactly like Christ then we would look to see what he did. He was a jew was he not? He kept all laws and observed the Sabbath a holy day instituted by God as a sign of his followers. Yet, many of you go against that. Interesting! Is it not the same person you worship? So why should his laws have less value? Is it because it associates with Judaism or Adventism which you sourly reject? The only true faith and love shown to God is obedience. Why only serve God once a year? Or for a special week. While the devil laughs at our foolishness and mockry of God. Everyday should be a sacrifice not when we feel like it. Or trying to show off your supposed holyness.