Is Lent Just a Fad?

Aaron Damiani
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It is true that Lent is trending among evangelicals, but that is far different than it being trendy. When something trends, it gains traction and attention. When something is trendy, it usually lacks substance in its nature and is thus dispensable, like a gimmick.

A Part of Evangelical History

The Western church is all too enthralled with trendiness and gimmicks. But Lent is no more a gimmick than gathering for worship is. Lent is no more a fad than expository preaching is. Fog machines are a gimmick, as are movie-based sermon series. As of the writing of this book, it’s trendy to preach from an iPad while wearing skinny jeans. That trend will fade someday, but history indicates that Lent is here to stay.

But is Lent simply an artisanal spiritual practice for people attempting to craft a mystique? One prominent theologian has suggested that evangelicals who observe Ash Wednesday are guilty of a “certain carnality (which desires) to do something which simply looks cool and which has a certain ostentatious spirituality about it.” I’m not sure how he discerned the psychological subtleties motivating people to practice Ash Wednesday. Such an assumption about others’ motives is simply uncharitable.

The Value of Lent

We are not called to cast sweeping, disdainful judgments about people who practice Lent (or not). Yes, some who practice Lent are obnoxious about it. But that is not a sound reason to write off the season. Let us make our decision based on the biblical, theological, and pastoral value of Lenten practices. This side of heaven, none of us have entirely pure motivations. But we can choose a pathway where the Holy Spirit can transform them.

For Further Reading:

The Good of Giving Up

by Aaron Damiani

“Like many evangelicals who love the gospel, I had my doubts about Lent.” It’s true, Lent can often seem like an empty...

book cover for The Good of Giving Up