All Southern Baptists (to my knowledge) would afford me the liberty not to observe Lent. In a development that most of our predecessors would find surprising (bizarre?), however, an increasing number of Southern Baptists embrace the practice of Lent for themselves, or even encourage it in others as a good, spiritually meaningful practice.
I’ll be uncharacteristically brief about this: Lent is not in the Bible, nor anything resembling it. Movement toward Lent is movement away from the idea that the New Testament should give us the pattern for ecclesiastical celebrations or individual spiritual formation.
I’ll fully grant that Lent is not the first item to move us in that direction. It joins a number of other items on the calendar of the generic Southern Baptist church but absent from scripture—Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Independence Day, and Veterans Day come to mind. Nonetheless, I argue that having taken some steps in a bad direction is no good reason to continue further along the path. Also, Lent is alone among these events in claiming for itself that it is of important spiritual value.
Fasting, repentance, and reflection are good Christian pursuits. Some would argue that Lent, if it encourages these things, ought to be embraced, or at the very least, not eschewed. I would counter that whatever benefit may accrue from these activities, one must tote up in the other column the harm done by the presumption that we lost something important—that it was a mistake—when we moved to a more biblical ecclesiology, including a more biblical ecclesiological calendar.