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Comparative Theology, book by H. H. Pope Shenouda III
49- The disagreements between us Orthodox and the Protestants regarding Fasting
It is quite obvious that fasting was not a symbol but a commandment in the Old Testament and New Testament. Our Protestant brethren do not utterly deny fasting but they have practically cancelled it. Here, I will not discuss the subject of fasting in general with its importance, benefits and spirituality because all these can be read about in our book entitled The Spirituality of Fasting.
Points of variance:
(1) Our Protestant brethren say that fasting should be practised secretly between man and God, following the Lord's commandment in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt.6: 17,18).
(2) Our Protestant brethren do not have fixed fasts for all the believers at set times and on certain occasions, but most of their fasts are individual practices. The individual fasts whenever he likes, in the manner he likes, and the Church has no authority over him and does not interfere in his fast.
(3) Our Protestant brethren depend on a misinterpretation of the verse: "Therefore let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ" (Col.2: 16,17).
(4) Our Protestant brethren disagree with vegetarian fasting and with abstaining from foods of animal produce. They accuse us that in doing so, at least the second part of the following verse applies to us: "…. in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons... forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving" (ITim.4: 1,3).
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