Of Lent [Roundup: Barcellos, Chantry, Walker, Gill + more]

ash-wednesdayRichard Barcellos from last year:

Recently, The Gospel Coalition (TGC) site posted a blog entry entitled – “Lent Is About Jesus: A Free Devotional Guide.” No, I did not make that up… As I read the post and thought about it a bit, I concluded I would like to respond to it. So, as many of you do on various blogs, I sent a comment to that post. Before sending the comment, however, I sent copies of my response to a few friends, just to make sure I was responding correctly and clearly. They encouraged me to post my thoughts…


This is not helpful to me as an individual or, especially, as a pastor. It creates more work for me.

Read “To Lent or reLent? Thoughts on [last year’s] post at The Gospel Coalition” [4 min. readout]

“Putting the ‘Ent’ Back in ‘Lent.’”
“Putting the ‘Ent’ Back in ‘Lent.’”

Days after that post, Tom Chantry chimed in as well:

It has slowly dawned on me this week that the folks at The Gospel Coalition have reached down from their lofty pinnacle to tell the rest of us that Lent is all about Jesus and that we really ought to consider celebrating it.  Childish practice turns sinister when respected pastors tell me that I ought to engage in it.  How should I respond?

Read “The Lenten Brouhaha” [6 min. readout]

church05In the above post Jeremy Walker’s post, from a year before, was quoted:

“Frankly, it seems odd to me that many of those who have proved very quick to abandon all manner of patterns and habits and convictions of Christians over decades or centuries, retain Lent, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter (Resurrection) Sunday as set in stone in the calendar, one of the high points of the Christian year (which pattern, we are informed, provides the central event in the church year – the climax of worship, expectation, and celebration, an exercise of the church’s discipline). If you’re not sold on Easter, you might be dismissed as one of the “diehard Reformed” for whom “this [Easter] Monday is like every other Monday because Easter Sunday is like every other Sunday.” To say that Easter Sunday is like every other Sunday is not to suggest an upgraded view of Easter Sunday but a downgraded view of every other one.”

Read “This Lent I am giving up . . . reticence” [8 min. readout]

chocolate-truffle-no-4Two years ago Reformed Baptist Fellowship featured this one:

Another unbiblical aspect of Lent is the very public manner in which it is practiced.  Jesus condemned hypocrites for their outward displays of piety (Matt. 6:1-18), revealing the self-righteous nature of such gestures.  Lent is very legalistic as well and Paul warns us against binding the conscience in areas which God has left free (Rom. 14:1-12).  True sanctification involves the recognition that our consciences are liberated by Christ’s teachings (Mark 7:17-18) while also understanding that the corrupt, sinful heart is what separates us from God (vv. 20-23).

Read “Lent and the Sufficient Work of Christ” [3 min. readout]

gill_johnUpdate Mar. 5, 2014: John Gill:

…commanding to abstain from meats: as on Wednesdays and Fridays in every week, and during the quadragesima or Lent, the fast of forty days. And now whereas it is most clearly manifest, that all these characters of antichrist, and all these things predicted of him hundreds of years before his appearance, exactly answers to the Pope of Rome.

Read “Lent, a character of antichrist?” [5 min. readout]

Jeremy WalkerUpdate Mar. 7, 2014: Jeremy Walker chimed in again this year:

So, here’s a thought: how about giving up semi-Roman Catholic dogma, humanly-mandated asceticism, and empty gestures? Rend your heart and not your garments, and do so not because it is a particular time of year, but because you have a particular kind of heart with its particular manifestations of rebellion. Self-control is never out of fashion. Repentance and confession may have their particular seasons in the life of the saints, but it is worth remembering that when our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said “Repent,” he called for the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.

Read “Not relenting”

Any we missed?

38 Replies to “Of Lent [Roundup: Barcellos, Chantry, Walker, Gill + more]”

        1. Hey Jason. Yeah, that distinction is important then. Because you guys certainly post a lot of stuff by non-1689’ers. But, yes, if one pays attention it does seem to be exclusively when they talk about 17th century Baptists.

  1. My fb page has been a flurry of Lentien boasting and I’m already tired of it. I want to hear more about people giving up Lent this Lent, as Christ’s righteousness was perfect and doesn’t need our help with “giving up chocolate”, etc.

  2. I am Catholic, and I find it hard to understand how everyone is blasting Lent. I am not boasting about what I am giving up for Lent, and as christians I don’t think anyone has the right to judge, there is only one judge and we will all meet him in time.

    1. To understand why Reformed folk “blast” lent see links to articles above.
      As far as judging, the Christ tells Christians not to judge the world, meaning non-Christians because the Law judges them – but – as Christians we are called to judge those who profess to call themselves Christians, to see whether or not they really are of the faith, because wolves do masquerade as sheep (see Paul’s instructions to the Elders at Ephesus)

          1. I am not judging anyone, just dont understand why different faiths have to blast how people on how the commune with God

          2. There are a variety of faiths. Is there such a thing as a right faith? Is there such a thing as a wrong faith? What are the consequences? What are the authorities?

          3. I believe anyone can get into heaven, regardless of what faith they are, just live a good Christian life, love and praise God, and love their brothers as well as their enemies

          4. I am not judging them, to each his own. God gave us all free will, to do as we see fit, he hopes tha we choose the right path, but does not force us to take that path. As a wise man once told me, “Jesus is being talked about over 2000 years later, we know that he was a good man, so what does it hurt to try to live our lives as close to the path that he walked, even if there isn’t an after life?” If you are a non-Christian, I pray everyday that you find The Lord, but I do not judge you.

          5. Your comment is what I was referring to when I said, “What are the authorities?” Why do you believe this? What informs this belief of yours? What is the source(s)?

          6. I am not a scriptural man, this is just how I was raised, I was raised Pentacostal, it is something I feel with every ounce of my soul. If that makes me a nieve or dumb person then so be it.

          7. I don’t believe you’re dumb and you don’t need to be naive. God has written down his word for you. You are creaated in His image but that image is marred by sin. The fall of Adam affected everyone. No one is able to please God. Nothing we do we do can please God. Why did Christ live? Why did Christ suffer? Why did Christ die? Why did Christ raise from the dead? We need to acknoledge our sinfulness, our inability to please our Creator, turn to the Christ for His life, His death, and His resurreciton. When we do our Creator indwells us and we are able to live as we were made to as His image-bearers as we yield to His Spirit. I pray for you Anthony Grant. I pray you will not take this life nor eternity so lightly. God has given us His word. We are without excuse.

          8. I agree with you 110% I have just came back to Christ and I need all the prayers I can get

  3. Hi,

    I am a firm believer in the doctrines of grace, congregational polity, and credo-baptism. I’m new to the idea of covenant theology from a distinctively Baptist perspective (as opposed to tweaking Westminster covenant theology to allow for believer’s baptism). As I’m discovering covenant theology from a Baptist perspective, I continue to be blessed by this site and the authors mentioned in this post. Over the past couple of months God has been blowing my mind by opening up his Scriptures for me, largely through the ministry of those affiliated with this site. So, thanks! And keep up the good work!

    That being said, I’m confused and concerned about the strong sentiments expressed here about Lent and about TGC. I’d like to ask a couple of questions:

    1. I fully agree that if Lent is perceived as either meritorious or obligatory, then it is unbiblical and should be opposed. However, if Lent is merely an optional exercise for those who wish to spend some time in heightened self-examination and heightened focus on the cross, reminding themselves that they do not live by bread alone, is that something that should be opposed?

    I would suspect that no one writing so strongly about Lent on this blog would contend that it is never beneficial to make a concerted effort over a span of time to re-focus and re-prioritize. If this is all that Lent represents to someone, does it really need to be opposed so strongly? Perhaps the quotations from the reformers and puritans on Lent are phrased so strongly because there was no such thing as “non-meritorious and optional” Lent in their context. Rightfully, they opposed “meritorious and obligatory” Lent. But perhaps now the circumstances have changed, and Lent does not mean what it always meant for Protestants?

    How would these authors respond to this line-of-thinking?

    2. Tom Chantry used very strong language to talk about TGC. I agree that strong language is not always inappropriate. Jesus and the apostles demonstrate that sometimes it is necessary.

    My question is: is TGC, and all that it represents, the type of organization that Reformed Baptists should oppose and undermine? Consider all that we hold in common with our brothers and sisters at TGC. Perhaps we should generally be rejoicing and celebrating the good work that is being done by TGC, rather than criticizing and steering people away from them because of their inevitable imperfections.

    Of course, that doesn’t mean that criticism is invalid or inappropriate. In fact, I would love to hear more thoughtful criticism of ideas presented by TGC. It would be really helpful and sharpening for me and many others to witness those types of conversations. I realize that Richard Barcellos tried to do that in his comment, and TGC didn’t allow it, but is it the wisest course of action to use this apparently sinful error on TGC’s part as an excuse to divide from them and allow a wedge to come up between generally-like minded brothers? I would suggest that you take a more “fatherly” approach toward TGC, if indeed the views represented here are more matured and well-developed than the views that TGC’s “new calvinism” represents.

    I suspect that young guys like me (I’m 27) would benefit far more from charitable, well-thought-out, well-explained disagreements and corrections offered in a fatherly/brotherly (1 Tim 5:1) tone (such as Richard Barcellos did in his comment), than we benefit from the strong anti-TGC rhetoric that seems to characterize Chantry’s response to this issue.

    How would these authors respond to this line-of-thinking?


    Thanks for taking the time to read and consider these questions. I write this comment as best as I can in the spirit of unity and humility, genuinely wanting to foster a loving attitude among generally like-minded brothers like confessingbaptist.com and TGC, despite disagreements, and to consider whether my initial personal reactions are wrong.

    In Christian Love,


    1. Jon – Over the years I moved from a charismatic Arminian position to Calvinistic, then Covenantal, then Cessationist, then Regulative Principle. I hope in discusions with other Christians we acknowledge that we’re at different points on the “journey” : ) Anyway, when you describe Lent as, “if Lent is merely an optional exercise” I read you as not understanding this is a matter of the Regulative Principle of Worship (RPW). You’ll find some (most?) Puritans/Reformed folk speak the same way about Lent that they do about Christmas and Easter. So I when we talk about Lent, I hope you’ll understand it in our context of the RPW.

    2. Hi Jon,

      I don’t at all observe Lent, but I think you make some good points.

      I think sometimes, among Reformed Baptists and Presbyterians, it’s just become sort of the”cool” thing to do to dump on the Gospel Coalition or modern evangelicalism or John Piper or whoever/whatever. Even though I probably end up sharing some of the same fundamental concerns about some of these broader movements , I think we should be a little bit more guarded about how we treat these brothers and sisters in Christ that we differ with. DOn’t get me wrong.. I am all for engaging issues and dealing with issues over which we differ and even offering a word of correction where needed. However, I think sometimes the potshots just become outright sickening. And of course, people cheer as long as it is against “the other team”. And certain figures bemown the cool, not realizing that they are joining the new cool in confessional circles–which is bashing on the cool :) And, eventually taking potshots at the same people over and over again just becomes, besides a little below the belt, also a little, how shall I say it…. *yawn*.

      I think I have about 5 blog posts in my head on this subject and so maybe I should just get on to writing about it :)

      Again, I am not advocate of Lent, but I found this little post on Richard Baxter’s view on the issue to be sort of interesting: http://calvinistinternational.com/2014/03/07/richard-baxter-lent/

      I found it interesting… Baxter said “It was anciently held a crime to fast on the Lord’s day”. I will take that advice from Mr. Baxter. I will, as far as lieth within me, never fast on the Lord’s day.. only feast–both on the Word and food.. It is truly the market day for the soul and no church calender will stop that :-)

    3. From the author’s posts I see they are concerned for their people in their churches probably because they know and understand how influencial TGC is. Sounds to me like they are writing from a pastoral heart.

      Just on our site we have nearly 1,100 post… of all the ones related to the TGC I find scores of sharing from their site in an encouraging way (sharing their vids, blog post, etc.) Including this post I can only find two that express any disagreement with the thousands of thousands of articles they’ve posted. If they think it is cool to do this sort of stuff then they aren’t doing a very good job at being cool :D

      Either way, you are free to ask the authors of those post on their sites. I am sure most would respond.

      1. Might also point out that several of these were from last year, and one of them was from two years ago… so out of the over 100 blogs that we track only two of them had any new post on Lent this year, and both those didn’t mention TGC. If you feel someone is over the top I would encourage you to not think they they represent all Reformed Baptists. On the flip-side I have never seen a Reformed Baptist pastor or church encouraging Lent in any way.

    4. Thanks Mark, Jason, and Enrique for your responses. You’ve provided some good stuff to think about! I’m thankful for you brothers in Christ.

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