The Greatest Myths About Lent

The Greatest Myths About Lent

Candida MossCANDIDA MOSS  02.26.17 12:15 AM ET
Lent officially begins this Wednesday, March 1. To outsiders, this period of penance and reflection can seem like one of the most austere and “medieval” of Christian practices. But while Lent’s roots are ancient (the regulations about Lent date back to 325 CE) there’s more than a little misinformation surrounding it. It’s not just the religious equivalent of a New Year’s diet.Myth 1: 1. All Christians Celebrate LentWhile in excess of a billion Christians observe Lent each year, not all Christians do. It is observed by Anglicans, Roman Catholics, Easter Orthodox, Lutherans, and Methodists. Whole swathes of Protestants don’t observe Lent  — Baptists, Evangelicals, Pentecostals, Latter Day Saints. Many other Protestant denominations recognize Lent.Myth 2: Lent Commemorates the Death of Jesus

This is, in fact, incorrect. Lent is a period of preparation in which Christians remember the life of Jesus through prayer and penance, but it is more directly related to his ministry than his death.

The scriptural impetus for Lent is the forty days that Jesus spent in the wilderness after his baptism. The three earliest Gospels – Matthew, Mark, and Luke – all state that after his encounter with John the Baptist at the river Jordan, Jesus was led out into the desert by the Spirit (in the Gospel of Mark the Greek reads that Jesus was “kicked out” or “driven” into the desert by the Spirit). There he spent 40 days and night being tempted by Satan before calling the disciples in Galilee.

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