The post by Justin Taylor of Tom Schreiner’s brief critique of the Reformed doctrine of the Christian Sabbath (the language of the Westminster Confession) gives us a good opportunity to gather together some posts on the Sabbath.
By way of autobiographical preface: I did not always have my present convictions about the Christian Sabbath. My initial evangelical instruction did not include anything about the Sabbath. My initial Reformed instruction did not include much about the Sabbath. We talked about it some in seminary but I admit that I was put off the Reformed view of the Sabbath by the obnoxious way it was sometimes presented to me by zealous proponents. I was also put off by the way that some proponents appealed the Mosaic covenant and particularly to the prophets without seeming to account for the discontinuity between the new and old covenants. It seemed as if some of my sabbatarian friends were trying to put me back under Moses, which, as a new covenant believer, I resisted instinctively. So I understand why some folks are not attracted to the Sabbath.
It was only when I began to study the Reformed tradition and confessions that I began to realize the inadequacy of my view of the Sabbath and the inadquacy of some of the arguments some well-meaning folks make for the Sabbath.
Here’s the major points I try to make in Recovering The Reformed Confession and that I hope the reader will grasp: the Sabbath is a divine institution that pointed (and continues to point) forward to glory. It did so in creation and it does so now. The Sabbath is a divine institution for humans. It is for our benefit. It is for rest. If ever there was an age that needed a Sabbath it is our go-go 24/7 culture. Third, the Sabbath is for worship. We cannot give ourselves over to God and to his people if there is no time for it. God has set aside time for just that and it is built into the very fabric of creation. The Sabbath was not instituted under Moses. I don’t know how many years passed between the moment time came into existence and the Mosaic covenant was established but it was a substantial period of time. God declared the Sabbath day/rest “holy” (sacred!) even before the fall, before Adam existed, before Noah, before Abraham, and before Moses. If there was a holy rest day even before the fall, what happened to it? Yes, I’ve read Andrew Lincoln on Hebrews 4. I understand that we have the Sabbath rest in Jesus but as I’ve pointed out recently, does that mean nothing for the way we conduct our lives? Is that a hermeneutic that we want to embrace? I doubt it.
Yes, the Sabbath was given a Mosaic expression but that doesn’t make the Sabbath Mosaic anymore than the Mosaic expression of marriage (polygamy) makes marriage Mosaic. The 1 in 7 pattern is a feature of the creation. To observe the creational pattern is part of being a creature. Observing one day in seven as a day of rest, worship, and looking forward to glory is not Mosaic. It is creational and it is Christian. Jesus inaugurated a new creation. That new creation includes a work/rest pattern. Our existence now is semi-eschatological. We’re in the consummate state. We’re still anticipating a day to come.
- The Synod of Dort on the Christian Sabbath
- Westminster Confession Chapter 21.7 on the Christian Sabbath
- Tim Tebow, Evangelicals, and the Sabbath
- Heidelcast: Chick-Fil-A and the Sabbath
- Eric Liddell Lives!
- Alan Jacobs: A Sabbath for An Outfielder
- I Get Questions: What About the Sabbath?
- Obeying Roger or Jesus? You Make the Call
- Evangelicalism and the Reformed View of the Law
- Are There Two Distinct Reformed Views of the Sabbath?
- Heidelberg 103 on the Christian Sabbath (1)
- Heidelberg 103 on the Christian Sabbath (2)
- Heidelberg 103 on the Christian Sabbath (3)
- Do Reformed Christians Confess the Sabbath?
- Sabbath or Sabbaths in Colossians 2:16–17
- What Passion City Gets Right and Wrong About the Sabbath
- A Rest to Be Resisted
- Audio: With Presbycast on the Sabbath and Intinction
- The Practice of the Sabbath in Calvin’s Geneva
- The Hungarian Reformed Sanctified the Sabbath
- Slouching Toward New Orleans
- Heidelcast 82: the Fourth Commandment
- Is Missing Church A Sin?
- Video: With Chris Coleman On The Grounds, Reason, And Fruit Of The Second Service On The Lord’s Day
- What To Do About Halloween On The Sabbath?
- There Is No Evidence That Calvin Bowled On The Christian Sabbath
- A Guide For Your Devotions On The Christian Sabbath
- On Cancelling Services And Holding Devotions At Home On The Christian Sabbath
- What Passion City Gets Right And Wrong About The Sabbath
- New: Cocceius’s Federal Theology Of The Sabbath
- A “Rest” To Be Resisted: Resting From The Sabbath