April 4, 2011

Sabbath More Fully?

I remember talking to a Seventh day Sabbatarian once about some of the emerging literature on the Sabbath. This Sabbatarian didn’t see the relevance of Sabbath beyond Seventh Day Sabbath Apologetics. By that I mean defense and teaching of the seventh day as the Bible Sabbath. She asked me, “what else do we need to know but that the Seventh day is the Sabbath?”

The question betrays an attitude that will on the one hand promote ecclesial chauvinism and on the other hand promotes a lack of theological sophistication in matters surrounding the Sabbath. First it promotes ecclesial chauvinism as we sit back proud of the fact that we keep the Seventh day while others do not. We “know the day” and they “do not.” But our celebration of that day is not enriched by an understanding of what role Sabbath plays or should play in our daily lives.

Which leads to our next issue of turning the Sabbath into simply a day in which we “go to church and sleep” rather than a day we more fully embrace and live in God’s coming Basilea.

There Are Exceptions

Certainly that is not always the case. There are notable exceptions as some Sabbatarians through the years have struggled theologically with the meaning of Sabbath. I do not wish to minimize them and/or their work. I also do not wish to minimize the importance of the work of many who are struggling with the question of which day. A question that I do think has some validity in being answered. I do not wish to belittle that work.

After having said that, a lot of the work on the theological significance of Sabbath is coming by those who are not seventh day Sabbathkeepers, and they are valuable and compelling. They point to using the Sabbath as a tool for living. They point to using the Sabbath as glasses to understand God’s coming Basilea. They point to the Sabbath as more than “Saturday going to church and then going to sleep.”

I remember Ellen White said once that there would be a revival of Sabbatarianism in the last days where Sabbatarians would “preach the Sabbath more fully.” I am not sure what Ellen White was talking about, but it appears that many are attempting to do just that….

Present Relevance Of Sabbath

Some people are finding relevance for daily living in the Sabbath. Some are seeing personal ethics in the Sabbath’s call for equality and justice. Some see economic ramifications of the Sabbath’s call to leave room for the poor and disadvantaged. Some see a future look into tomorrow by the Sabbath’s call for future living.

Some see a tool to provide a theological critique and even a counter cultural tool to critique the status quo. Some point to the rest of salvation that we have in Jesus Christ. Some see an affront to consumption-based living. Some see a call to spend time with God, family, community, and self. Some see a reminder of the creation and God’s power to create. Etc…and it goes on and on….

You say the Seventh-day is the Sabbath. That is good, but yes there is a lot more to learn and say. I pray that God will be with us seventh day Sabbatarians as we attempt to understand and apply the Sabbath to more questions than just “what day is the Sabbath.”

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shermancox

Vanderbilt Trained Minister (MDiv), Univ. of Alabama Trained Software Developer (MS), Author, Blogger (http://soulpreaching.com ), Husband, Son, Brother, Father.

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