In 2009, Ashes to Fire was published and distributed by Nazarene Publishing House. Now Ash Wednesday is ever increasing in popularity in the Church of the Nazarene. While General Superintendents ignore Bible-believing Nazarenes and their concerns, they are clearly on board with the Roman “Catholization” of the church. Just a few readings over at Sacramental Nazarenes Facebook group shows how serious they are in going full steam ahead, including the use of ashes to the forehead Catholic style. To what end? This was not my father’s denomination when he was alive; he was rescued from Roman Catholicism, and now the leadership has no problem becoming more like the RCC. Is it financial motivation? Is it to get more members and show how diverse or welcoming the church is? That would be ironic, since there seems to be very little room for Bible-believers now, unless the remain silent and mind their own business. I wonder how many Nazarene churches across North America, and also around the world, practiced the Catholic rituals last night? Did you, and if so, why? The following by John Henderson is some food for thought.
By John Henderson:
I have seen and heard of some responses to what is called Ash Wednesday. It appears that some Nazarenes now practice the Catholic version of it. There are at least three varieties of Nazarenes these days: Emergent Nazarenes, Sacramental Nazarenes, and Fundamental Nazarenes. I identify with the Fundamental Nazarenes. I respect the Catholics’ right to be Catholic and believe that Nazarenes historically have no practical or spiritual need to identify with Catholicism in fundamental doctrines and practices in a Nazarene setting and context. The practices associated with Ash Wednesday are among them. I am aware of the many, many “reason” given by some Nazarenes to justify the practice, but none are supported by the Scriptures or evangelical tradition. I share the following, written by a Catholic I assume, without further comment:
Ash Wednesday: of pagan origin?
“Ash Wednesday” is a day when Catholics receive a mark of ashes on their forehead, supposedly as a token of penitence.
Ash Wednesday was taken from Roman paganism, which took it from Vedic India. Ashes were called the seed of the fire god Agni, with power to forgive sins. Ashes were said to be a symbol for the purifying blood of Shiva, in which, one could bathe away sins. During Rome’s New Year Feast of Atonement in March, people wore sackcloth and bathed in ashes to atone for their sins. As the dying god of March, Mars took his worshippers sins with him into death. The carnival fell on dies martis, the Day of Mars. In English, this was Tuesday, because Mars was identified with the Saxon god Tiw. In French the carnival day was Mardi Gras, “Fat Tuesday,” the day of merrymaking before Ash Wednesday.(illuminati-news.com)
What do Catholics say about Ash Wednesday? According to americancatholic.org
Although Ash Wednesday is not a Catholic holy day of obligation, it is an important part of the season of Lent. The first clear evidence of Ash Wednesday is around 960, and in the 12th century people began using palm branches from the previous Palm Sunday for ashes.
the use of ashes in the Church left only a few records in the first millennium of Church history. Thomas Talley, an expert on the history of the liturgical year, says that the first clearly datable liturgy for Ash Wednesday that provides for sprinkling ashes is in the Romano-Germanic pontifical of 960. Before that time, ashes had been used as a sign of admission to the Order of Penitents. As early as the sixth century, the Spanish Mozarabic rite calls for signing the forehead with ashes when admitting a gravely ill person to the Order of Penitents. At the beginning of the 11th century, Abbot Aelfric notes that it was customary for all the faithful to take part in a ceremony on the Wednesday before Lent that included the imposition of ashes. Near the end of that century, Pope Urban II called for the general use of ashes on that day. Only later did this day come to be called Ash Wednesday.
At first, clerics and men had ashes sprinkled on their heads, while women had the sign of the cross made with ashes on their foreheads. Eventually, of course, the ritual used with women came to be used for men as well.
In the 12th century the rule developed that the ashes were to be created by burning palm branches from the previous Palm Sunday. Many parishes today invite parishioners to bring such palms to church before Lent begins and have a ritual burning of the palms after Mass. ( source:americancatholic.org)
There is no mention of Ash Wednesday, the practice of it or even a semblance of it in the Bible. This is also true with Lent of which Ash Wednesday is supposed to be a preparation for.
So ask yourself this: if you’re a Christian, a true Christian, would you practice something not taught by Jesus Christ or his Apostles? If so, why?
FOR FURTHER REFERENCE:
The practice of ashes to the forehead: http://reformednazarene.wordpress.com/2010/12/13/nph-endorses-catholic-practice-of-ashes-on-forehead/
Ashes To Fire Book: http://reformednazarene.wordpress.com/2012/02/13/ashes-to-fire-baby-step-to-apostasy-and-spiritual-damage/