Richard Foster identifies 6 traditions of the church:
- Social Justice
Of these, the traditional Lent celebration is most likely to be practiced by Christians who identify with holiness or who pursue "an ever fuller life of sacrificial, self-giving love". According to the gospels, Jesus began his ministry with 40 days of fasting in the desert east of Jerusalem and so Christians began to follow a similar pattern of fasting leading up to their celebration of Easter.
The Catholic and Orthodox branches of Christianity observe regular fasts, including Lent. The Protestant branch is, as always, complicated. Early Reformers argued that fasting does not, in itself, have the power to make people holy. Therefore required and communal fasts, such as Lent, served no purpose but to give the illusion of holiness and unnecessarily burden people.
Perhaps the most striking rejection of the Lenten fast was the Affair of the Sausages. During the 1522 Lent, Christoph Froschauer, a Swiss printer, served smoked sausage to his workers. Huldrych Zwingli argued in a sermon that since eating meat during Lent was not prohibited by the Bible, neither was it a sin. In other areas of church controversy (celibacy of the priesthood, infant baptism, etc.) Zwingli tended to advocate personal freedom of religious practice.
Protestants who are more closely aligned with traditions other than holiness, particularly those who are evangelical, tend to ignore Lent or only observe it individually. To put it another way, a denomination's attitude toward Lent tends to follow their general attitude toward spiritual disciplines.