Can Protestants observe Lent? From the time of the Reformation, many Protestants have been nervous about the church’s pre-Easter time of fasting and penitence. The problem was not with fasting or penitence as such; rather, it was more specifically with some features of Lenten fast. Protestants, after all, emphasize the idea that our salvation is wholly God’s work, to which we contribute nothing but which we simply receive as a free gift. Practices of fasting and penitence at set times might tempt Christians to see their own works of repentance as in some way contributing to or even earning one’s salvation, contravening this core commitment.

But really, the basis for feasting and fasting is to rightly express two central affections of Christian life, joy and grief.