I would like to state clearly and preemptively that this post will be about an abiblical doctrine. That doctrine is that of the “Christian Sabbath.” In order to wax pugilistic with this all-too-common teaching that dances glibly around the ring, I will list some facts without much explanatory comment. Consider each one a jab, or a hook–or a roundhouse knockout punch.
- “Sabbath” is by definition Saturday, the Seventh Day.
- Neither Father nor Son is ever documented as having rested on Sunday.
- Neither Father nor Son is ever documented as having blessed Sunday.
- No law was ever given to enforce the keeping of Sunday as “Sabbath.” (In fact, no laws of the nature of the Ten Commandments were given, period.)
- The New Testament nowhere forbids work to be done on Sunday; no penalty is provided for Sunday’s “violation”; no blessing is promised for Sunday’s observance; and no regulation is given as to how Sunday ought to be observed.
- Sunday is never in scripture called the Christian “Sabbath”; it is never called a rest day; it is never even unquestionably called the “Lord’s Day.”
- Neither God, Jesus the Messiah, nor inspired men ever said one word in favor of Sunday as a sanctified or holy day. No sacred title is applied to it.
- The Roman Catholic institution transferred the thinking from Saturday to Sunday. According to a catechism document, this occurred because Christ rose from the dead on a Sunday, and the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles on a Sunday. These provide a reasonable basis for moving away from Saturday observance, to be sure, but why did the Catholic Church feel it could or should make this new law that Sunday is now the Sabbath? Because of the “plenitude of that divine power which Jesus Christ bestowed upon her,” it is said.
I would like personally to support the notion that Sunday is indeed a special day in the Christian church. I do believe Sunday should be special. I am no Seventh-Day Adventist or any other kind of Seventh-Day advocate. I believe in Paul’s message to the Galatians, certain messages of Hebrews, etc.: the New Covenant has rendered the Old obsolete and of no current effect. I believe there should be Christian gatherings on Sunday, and on every Sunday except one or two in my entire life, when I wasn’t sick, I have been part of one or two such gatherings. I believe we should remember the Lord Christ’s rising, and I believe that that occurred on Sunday (even though the scriptures aren’t explicit about the exact time). I also believe that the removal of worship gatherings from Saturday to Sunday is entirely appropriate, but this supposition comes more from informed conjecture than from scriptural fiat.
And now, in support of the Sabbath principle (but not of the Jewish law):
We need rest. I need rest. (I worked 70+ hours last week, and it’ll be 60+ this week, when all is said and done.) God wanted the Jews to have a regular rest day. It’s probably a good idea for me to set aside some time these days, too. That is my prerogative, as I believe it’s a good idea during a particular week/day, and Sabbath is not — repeat not — a law God has continued under the New Covenant.
Invite me to consider more, or even more regular, rest if you sense that I need it. But do not tell me that Sunday is the Sabbath. Do not tell me I can’t stack wood or unload the dishwasher or mop the floor or lift my horse out of a ditch or change my oil in the afternoon or (gasp) catch up on a couple hours of work, in order to make my Monday feel a little less crazed.
And do not tell me I can’t offer something meaningful to our Christian community on a Sunday afternoon because it violates some ethereal, legacy-notion of Sabbath — when I was all the while trying to support that very ideal with some good, thoughtful, recreative music and memorial content.
And do not get all sanctimonious, decreeing that we must have our “Sabbath” (meaning Sunday) while you’re loading more work on me, figuring glibly that there’s some human way to accomplish it in five six long days of work, and while you’re not compensating me according to contract, promising to take some of the current compensation away soon, and taking away more of related funding that would make my work life more manageable. Across-the-board social injustice seems more important to address than bogus, legalistic, anachronistic concepts of Sabbath, doesn’t it?
Soon (maybe): tithing by choice, not by law: a couple of individual ideas