Nick is Reading RRC: Keep the Sabbath Wholly

I wish I had thought of that.

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  1. The Reformed seem to be all over the map when it comes to the Sabbath. I remember reading Mike Horton’s book, “The Law of Perfect Freedom,” where he calls the Sabbath a redemption, not a creation ordinance. And I gather, from listening to some RTS lectures, this was the view of Calvin?

  2. Hi Richard,

    1. You should read RRC for yourself to see the trail of evidence.

    2. Mike’s view has changed since LoPC. He has said publicly that the view he published there was wrong.

    3. Calvin’s view of the Sabbath is more complicated and much closer to that of the English Reformed than often said or realized.

    4. No, historically, the Reformed are not “all over the map” on the Sabbath. There’s been a lot of confusion in the modern period on that as on many other issues (e.g. covenant theology, justification, the Trinity, the Creator/creature distinction, revivalism, fundamentalism, and worship). That’s why we need to “recover the Reformed confession.

  3. OK, Dr. Clark, will do. I have been listening to lectures by Dr. Frame on the subject–hence the confusion. I love the RCC by the way–it has, however, caused “issues” with my pastor (not on the Sabbath–but on 24-hr creation).

  4. Dr. Clark

    I had read both RRC and LoPC, and even I’m inclined toward your position, I’m still reluctant to embrace it, especially because I’m not clear how Hebrews 4 should be interpreted. For me it seems that Hebrews 4 is the singular passage of NT where the fourth commandment is reinterpreted in order to allow the change from saturday to sunday.

    In a footnote on page 300 of RRC, you said:

    “Geerhardus Vos is correct to say that Hebrews 4:9 teaches that Christianity itself is a ‘sabbath-keeping, an actual realization of that which the sabbath sinified at the creation. We are now livin in the ae of consummation and attainment'”

    That’s what I’m also seeing in Hebrews 4, nevertheless I’m not sure how in Hebrews 4, as you affirmed in the same footnote, “The writer continues to connect the weekly Sabbath with rest, worship, and consummation”. Can you elaborate at this point?

    I also heard that Michael Horton had a sermon on Hebrews 4 which was available online, which endorses the sabbatarian position. Is this sermon still available online, and where?

    I will like to know what made Michael Horton change his mind. In LoPF he said that he’s not persuaded about sabbath being a creation ordinance, does his change of position has something to do with this, and what are the points that persuaded him?


    • Hi Gabriel,

      As I understand Heb 4, when he says, “therefore there remains a Sabbath rest,” he is speaking of the consummation. So I wouldn’t go to that passage as a direct proof for the weekly Sabbath since that’s not his primary point. It is interesting, however, that he doesn’t reject the Sabbath idea. In other words, for Hebrews, Christ is the fulfillment of the Sabbath as he fulfillment of the temple etc. This doesn’t mean, however, as some conclude, that there is no Sunday Sabbath. He just doesn’t really address that question. That’s not his point. He does teach the necessity of attending to worship services and submission to the elders however!

      I don’t know if there is a recorded sermon by Mike on the Sabbath. You might contact the White Horse Media offices for info. He did change his mind when he was working through the issue some years back when he was teaching the Christian Life (ethics) course here at WSC.

    • Gabriel,

      You ask a lot of questions. I had typed out a long answer and then lost it. Stupid escape key!

      1. Read Witsius he’s the best.

      2. If we have to get rid of the Sunday Sabbath then we have to get rid of marriage too! That’s the effect of the over-realized eschatology that gets rid of the Sunday Sabbath. Just as Jesus fulfilled the Mosaic covenant and re-instituted the creational pattern for marriage so he did for the Sabbath. This is not the consummation.

      3. The sabbath, republication, and natural law are all connected.

      4. Anachronism? So what? I don’t get the point. How else should Yahweh Elohim reveal to Israel that it was he, the Creator God, who delivered them out of Egypt? Is someone proposing to go behind Scripture to tell us that because the revelation about nature was given to Moses that it doesn’t count? We’re not Manicheans. There’s no OT “god” and a NT God. God the Son revealed himself to Israel and he became incarnate and restored the Sabbath.

  5. Thanks, Dr. Clark

    I’m coming from the position of someone who saw in Hebrews 4 the fulfillment of the Sabbath as the fulfillment of the temple and arrived at the conclusion that there is no Sunday Sabbath. Admittedly, I arrived at this conclusion in the context of seeing the Sabbath as originating at Sinai and having a purely ceremonial content. Now I’m slowly moving toward recognizing the Sabbath as creational, but I’m still struggling with questions related to this point. I think that the case for the continuation of the Sabbath after the fulfillment of the Saturday sabbath at the coming of Christ rest on the question regarding the origins of the institution, at creation or at Sinai.

    Do you think that Meredith Kline’s book”Kingdom Prologue” offers a biblical view of creation which is thoroughly convincing regarding the creational institution of the Sabbath?

    On another line of argument, I’m fully persuaded about the republication aspect of the covenant theology. Do you think that this aspect establish the creational origin of the sabbath too? Do you regard people holding this basic covenant aspect but who also reject the creational origin of the Sabbath as being inconsistent? Somebody recommended Witsius’ book on the covenants, do you recommend it also for a study regarding the Sabbath as creational institution?

    Another question: how you will respond to somebody who’s arguing that Genesis 2:2 reference to God’s blessing the seventh-day is an anachronism, since Pentateuch is using anachronisms (Exodus 16:33,34). I’m not persuaded by this argument, still I can’t rule it our by default. I’m just trying to give a fair hearing to all possible explanations.


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