The Wanderer

As I walked through the wilderness of this world …

Leaning on Lent

with 9 comments

But when we are told that this is the time of year when Christians begin to think again about the death and resurrection of Christ, does it not prompt the question of what we are supposed to be doing for the rest of the year? When men speak after their so-called Holy Week of the abating euphoria of the resurrection, surely they are explaining why a merely annual remembrance is insufficient? Christ Jesus is the risen Lord for 365 days of every year (plus the extra one when required), and we have a weekly opportunity for the distinct recollection of his death in an atmosphere conditioned by his resurrection. To flatten the whole year, perhaps rising only to a few unnatural annual peaks, is to miss so much, to lose so many things, to gain so little.

Christ died to set us free from empty things. Men died to liberate us from the rigamarole of unscriptural traditions and man-made routines and performances of religiosity. I hope that you will hear a voice from the blood-washed streets of the Old World, where those battles and the cost of their victory are ground into our consciousness, where the issues and enemies are neither distant nor tame, and where the lines remain clearly drawn in the collective memory of some of the Lord’s people, and consider whether or not the prizes so hardly won ought to be so quickly abandoned.

The conclusion of a heartfelt plea at Reformation21.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Tuesday 13 March 2012 at 17:15

9 Responses

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  1. Tbh, to start with I thought “group blogging on an American forum” spelled “going over to the dark side”, but if you keep going at this rate, I might be forced to revise that opinion.

    cath

    Tuesday 13 March 2012 at 20:25

    • I shall do my best to persuade you that I remain true to my roots, Cath. To be honest, I sometimes feel a little like a privateer sailing under a letter of marque among the king’s ships, but I find that they let me do my raiding as I have been accustomed (and may, indeed, have called upon me for that reason).

      Jeremy Walker

      Tuesday 13 March 2012 at 22:46

  2. Much enjoyed – came here to comment! Reading the opening lines, and then the rest of it did this old world covenanter much good! I almost thought you were one of us…

    Mark Loughridge

    Tuesday 13 March 2012 at 22:01

    • Greetings, fellow Old Worlder! I consider myself in good company, and thanks for the encouragement.

      Jeremy Walker

      Tuesday 13 March 2012 at 22:47

  3. My highest commendation for this one – Truemanesque!

    JP Wallace

    Tuesday 13 March 2012 at 22:46

  4. Appreciated the article, and thanks for the encouraging truths that are greatly needed here in the “New World”.

    Doug

    Wednesday 14 March 2012 at 11:49

  5. I am also giving up reticence but it cuts both ways. As far as the Ref21 post goes, perhaps something more nuanced would be advisable as there is surely a difference between a rather mystical approach to Lent and Holy Week by many as opposed to a good and spiritually useful concentration on the events of Christ’s death and resurrection on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
    But as you have included them all into one belligerent and somewhat self-righteous polemic, claiming along the way the highly tendentious revision of historical reality that as a Baptist you are heir to a tradition of those who were expelled in 1662, perhaps you could explain (and I’m aware Baptists are rumoured to occasionally struggle to adequately do justice to the continuity between the old and the new testaments) why Christ observed the passover and chose it as precisely the symbolic moment to initiate the new covenant and the sequence of events that would lead to his voluntary death and resurrection? Was God’s purpose for Israel to forget about its deliverance for the rest of the year and only remember it at passover? There is indeed a sense now that it is ‘forever Easter’ but surely that is precisely one of the important things that a specific rememberence at Easter is to remind us of? We are feeble and weak human beings and apt to forget both the reality and the significance of things. It’s why some of us (!) also have wedding anniversaries to which I assume you have no objection although, despite the impression given by some wives, they are not mandated in the Bible. We’re still married the rest of the year, love our spouse just as much etc. but there is value in annually remembering a specific past event at a specific present time.
    There are other weaknesses too. When you say,’…their forefathers…never quite got round to that corner of the attic themselves’ you are on distinctly dodgy ground and I also am at a loss to see what the emphasis on ‘Old World’ is supposed to achieve apart from the alienation of our American brothers and sisters. This last point is something that quite often appears on Ref21 among certain contributors and it does none of us (‘Old World’ if you must) any credit.

    Chris

    Wednesday 14 March 2012 at 13:04

    • A few quick thoughts in brief reply:

      If I might suggest it, unless you wish to classify all those who have appreciated my efforts as self-righteous co-belligerents, you seem to have misinterpreted the spirit in which I wrote. My intention was to be rigorously plain concerning a matter in which I think we must give more careful attention to the Word of God. I am willing to receive a response in the same spirit (you seem to assume that I would not, which is a little harsh). I hope you have not mistaken my absence of reticence for an intention to be rude.

      I have no problem with “a good and spiritually useful concentration on the events of Christ’s death and resurrection.” My contention is that it is not necessary to reserve this for Easter, nor to build that particular occasion into an unnatural peak. This has no Biblical warrant.

      I did not contend that I personally am (nor the stream of historic Biblical Christianity to which I belong is) the sole heir of the Non-Conforming response, simply an heir. In that regard, I am not seeking to revise history. I should think that a good number of sane studies of religious developments in the 17th century would demonstrate the truth of that contention, and should be happy to recommend some if you would like.

      I would say that among the reasons why Christ observed the Passover and chose it as the occasion to initiate the remembrance of the New Covenant in his blood, are: his readiness to do what any law-abiding Israelite ought to have done at the time of Passover; his intention to communicate that he was fulfilling the law in another sense, securing the far greater redemption prefigured by the deliverance from Egypt and commemorated in the Passover, himself being “Christ, our Passover” (1Cor 5.7); his wish to shift the point of remembrance off from the typical elements of the Passover to the representative elements of the work he was about to accomplish once and for all; his identification with (his) Israel, both in typical and representative ways; his desire to emphasise the newness of the New Covenant; and possibly, his taking up of other elements of the Passover feast to give some illumination about the typical indications of those elements (e.g. the bitter herbs, the putting away of the leaven, the wave-offering). I would wish to think more carefully before offering much more, which may be indicative of the struggle to which you refer? Is there something particular that you have in mind, and which you would wish to share?

      As to the fact of a more regular remembrance, might that be one of the better things of the New Covenant? Every Lord’s day is the day of resurrection, and some would contend that the Lord’s supper ought to be celebrated weekly also: our remembrance of redemption is, in essence, a weekly occasion. Again, my contention is that we follow Scripture.

      I should be ready to hear what dodgy ground I am on by suggesting that some of the magisterial Reformers and their immediate successors may well – given the time and eventual opportunity – have arrived at the same conclusions, and acted upon them in the same way, as did some of their later successors in the same line.

      The mention of the “Old World” is simply to declare the perspective from which I write, and to offer some insights from an avowedly different vantage point which may offer a distinctive and refreshing outlook. As the husband of an American wife, many of whose truest friends are from the “New World,” I have no vested interest in antagonising my wife or my other friends, and I should not think that they have been antagonised. I cannot speak for the intentions of others at Reformation21, but given that most of those to whom you may be referring have chosen to eat American bread, I should not think that they are sold upon the deliberate, wholesale antagonism of the nation.

      May I take it that you are married? If so, allow me to congratulate you and your wife on what may be an upcoming anniversary. As you can see from my previous point, and if I interpret it correctly, your indignant exclamation mark may be a little redundant, as I too am happily married and very willing to mark the relationship as opportunity provides. The light of nature makes it perfectly reasonable to commemorate the anniversary of a happy marriage; it probably also means that you would wish to communicate your affection for your wife at (many) other times of the year. It is not sufficient to tell us when or how we might worship God acceptably; for that, we need the Word of God to instruct us, which is one of the positive points of my presentation.

      Thank you for dropping by.

      Jeremy Walker

      Thursday 15 March 2012 at 10:44


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