Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Protestantism: Giving Up Fasting For Lent Since 1517 AD

Whoever said Protestants don't give up anything for Lent!?...


Canadian said...

He he he he he he.......good post.

I hate the haphazard attitude to fasting in Protestantism and my own life. In Orthodoxy you fast with the church and under guidance, you don't just wing it. I know Great Lent has started, and I have not told my Priest that I am going to enter the catechumenate yet, so I am cheating :-o
Hey, when I'm Orthodox I will fast with the church, but I'm not even really prepared on how to do this.

Wesley said...

Yeah, fasting doesn't really hold a prominent or even a marginal place in many denominations and churches within Protestantism. In my own tradition, and the couple other traditions with which I am somewhat familiar, fasting is almost never mentioned, suggested, or even thought of. I think we simply don't know what it is, what it means, or what it is for. In my own life, I could count on one hand how many times I've fasted. It's just not an important subject for many, many Protestants.

Of course, there are many Protestants and local churches that do teach and practice fasting, but they are most likely in the minority. It wasn't always this way, however. In the past fasting was regularly practiced quite a bit more (though perhaps not for Lent; Calvin spoke on the practice of fasting for Lent and on other occasions in his Institutes 4:12:14-20).

What kind of fasting does the Orthodox Church teach and practice?

Lvka said...

What kind of fasting does the Orthodox Church teach...?

No eating, no drinking, no lovemaking.

...and practice?

You the voice of my dead conscience, kid?... :-\

...and practice?

WHOA! Whoa! Go easy there, kid!... :-|

...and practice?

Oh, come on!... (You can't possibly be serious... right?) I mean... everybody knows it's just for monks and, like, really holy people... right? It's not for us... I mean, yeah, Christ fasted (for forty days, and all), but -hey!- I'm NOT Christ... right? So... You know... (All this Lenten stuff: it's just something we throw at Protestants to make them feel bad 'bout themselves... no one here really means it, or anything... We're all Protestants deep down there, inside -- know what I mean, kid?)...

Uhm... no, actually, I don't "know": So, why don't you just "enlighten" me, then... hmmm?

Hey, wait just a darn minute: that wasn't there in the original question... What's going on here?

[Sorry, there, Wes: my dead conscience just woke up... have to put it back to sleep again... I'll catch up with you again in a minute, OK? (Those darn voices!)]...

Lvka said...

(Whew! Much better! -- Now: where was I?)...

Oh, yeah!... (It's all coming back to me now...) You were asking me about Lent and stuff... How we fast, and all... Uhm, I guess the best three possible answers are these:

(1). With meekness and humility, trying to see our own sins in the light of fasting: you never know how many chains and cage-bars are holding you, nor how strong they are, until you start fasting... just how enslaved we are by our own sins, weaknesses, and passions... And fasting does a simply-splendid job at exposing this here-to-fore unseen spiritual reality to us... maybe just a bit TOO splendid, if you know what I mean... Then, realizing our own weakness and impotence, we put all our faith, hope, and trust in God, begging Him for help and deliverance, while patiently continuing to fast and pray. We neither despair or lose hope, nor put our trust in our own strength: doing either one of these two diametrically-opposed things will only prove spiritually-fatal.

(2). The best way to understand the Orthodox approach to fasting, prayer, and other spiritual or ascetic exercises would be to simply read the Gospel-and-Epistle portions prepared for this particular season. They're the same each year, and, [non-]surprisingly enough, the first one is the Parable of the Publican and the Pharisee:

2Tim 3.10-15; Lk 18.10-14.
1Cor 6.12-20; Lk 15.11-32.
1Cor 8.8-9.2; Mt 25.31-46.
Rom 13.11-14.4; Mt 6.14-21.

Heb 11.24-26, 32-12.2; Jn 1.43-51.
Heb 1.10-2.3; Mk 2.1-12.
Heb 4.14-5.6; Mk 8.34-9.1.
Heb 6.13-20; Mk 9.17-31.
Heb 9.11-14; Mk 10.32-45.
[Heb 12.28-13.8; Jn 11.1-45].
Php 4.4-9; Jn 12.1-18. [Mt 21.1-11, 15-17].

(3). And another way to do that would be to read my articles on Fasting.





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