Archive for the ‘Sabbath’ Category

The Christian Doctrine of the Sabbath

February 14, 2013

The sabbath is a day of celebrating creation and redemption through rest from our ordinary work and worship of God.

Creation and Redemption can respectively be seen in the two versions of the fourth commandment:

Exodus 20:11
For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

Deuteronomy 5:15
And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day.

However, Christ Jesus did a new work of Creation and Redemption and completed that on the first day of the week, when he arose from grave. Accordingly, since that time, believers have fathered for worship on the first of the seven, rather than on the seventh of the seven.

We see this is in the positive example of the apostles:

John 20:19
Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.

Acts 20:7
And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.

1 Corinthians 16:2
Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.

We also see this in the negative example of the apostles, namely that they did outreach to the Jews on the Jewish Sabbath:

Acts 13:14
But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down.

Acts 13:42
And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath.

Acts 16:13
And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither.

Acts 17:2
And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,

Acts 18:4
And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.

In general, the sabbath day is a day of rest. However, the sabbath does not absolutely prohibit all work. For example works of necessity and mercy are lawful on the sabbath:

Matthew 12:1-14
At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, “Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day.”
But he said unto them, “Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him; how he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests? Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless? But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple. But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.”
And when he was departed thence, he went into their synagogue: and, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him.”
And he said unto them, “What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days.” Then saith he to the man, “Stretch forth thine hand.” And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other.
Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him.

Mark 2:23-28
And it came to pass, that he went through the corn fields on the sabbath day; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn. And the Pharisees said unto him, “Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful?”
And he said unto them, “Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungred, he, and they that were with him? How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him?” And he said unto them, “The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.”

Luke 6:1-11
And it came to pass on the second sabbath after the first, that he went through the corn fields; and his disciples plucked the ears of corn, and did eat, rubbing them in their hands. And certain of the Pharisees said unto them, “Why do ye that which is not lawful to do on the sabbath days?”
And Jesus answering them said, “Have ye not read so much as this, what David did, when himself was an hungred, and they which were with him; how he went into the house of God, and did take and eat the shewbread, and gave also to them that were with him; which it is not lawful to eat but for the priests alone?” And he said unto them, that the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.
And it came to pass also on another sabbath, that he entered into the synagogue and taught: and there was a man whose right hand was withered. And the scribes and Pharisees watched him, whether he would heal on the sabbath day; that they might find an accusation against him. But he knew their thoughts, and said to the man which had the withered hand, “Rise up, and stand forth in the midst.” And he arose and stood forth. Then said Jesus unto them, “I will ask you one thing; Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? to save life, or to destroy it?” And looking round about upon them all, he said unto the man, “Stretch forth thy hand.” And he did so: and his hand was restored whole as the other. And they were filled with madness; and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus.

John 5:5-16
And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, “Wilt thou be made whole?”
The impotent man answered him, “Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me.”
Jesus saith unto him, “Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.”
And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath. The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, “It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed.”
He answered them, “He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk.”
Then asked they him, “What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk?”
And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place. Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, “Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.” The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole. And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day.

John 7:21-24
Jesus answered and said unto them, “I have done one work, and ye all marvel. Moses therefore gave unto you circumcision; (not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers;) and ye on the sabbath day circumcise a man. If a man on the sabbath day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are ye angry at me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day? Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.”

John 9:14-16
And it was the sabbath day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes. Then again the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. He said unto them, “He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and do see.”
Therefore said some of the Pharisees, “This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day.”
Others said, “How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles?”
And there was a division among them.

The kind of work that is not appropriate for a day of rest is illustrated in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the post-exilic administration:

Exodus 16:22-25
And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. And he said unto them, This is that which the Lord hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the Lord: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning. And they laid it up till the morning, as Moses bade: and it did not stink, neither was there any worm therein. And Moses said, Eat that to day; for to day is a sabbath unto the Lord: to day ye shall not find it in the field.

Exodus 35:2-3
Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you an holy day, a sabbath of rest to the Lord: whosoever doeth work therein shall be put to death. Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations upon the sabbath day.

Numbers 15:32-36
And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day. And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation. And they put him in ward, because it was not declared what should be done to him. And the Lord said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp. And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the Lord commanded Moses.

Nehemiah 10:31
And if the people of the land bring ware or any victuals on the sabbath day to sell, that we would not buy it of them on the sabbath, or on the holy day: and that we would leave the seventh year, and the exaction of every debt.

Nehemiah 13:15-21
In those days saw I in Judah some treading wine presses on the sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and lading asses; as also wine, grapes, and figs, and all manner of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the sabbath day: and I testified against them in the day wherein they sold victuals. There dwelt men of Tyre also therein, which brought fish, and all manner of ware, and sold on the sabbath unto the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem. Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said unto them, “What evil thing is this that ye do, and profane the sabbath day? Did not your fathers thus, and did not our God bring all this evil upon us, and upon this city? yet ye bring more wrath upon Israel by profaning the sabbath.”
And it came to pass, that when the gates of Jerusalem began to be dark before the sabbath, I commanded that the gates should be shut, and charged that they should not be opened till after the sabbath: and some of my servants set I at the gates, that there should no burden be brought in on the sabbath day. So the merchants and sellers of all kind of ware lodged without Jerusalem once or twice.
Then I testified against them, and said unto them, “Why lodge ye about the wall? if ye do so again, I will lay hands on you.” From that time forth came they no more on the sabbath.

Jeremiah 17:20-25
And say unto them, Hear ye the word of the Lord, ye kings of Judah, and all Judah, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, that enter in by these gates: thus saith the Lord; Take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem; neither carry forth a burden out of your houses on the sabbath day, neither do ye any work, but hallow ye the sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers. But they obeyed not, neither inclined their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear, nor receive instruction. And it shall come to pass, if ye diligently hearken unto me, saith the Lord, to bring in no burden through the gates of this city on the sabbath day, but hallow the sabbath day, to do no work therein; then shall there enter into the gates of this city kings and princes sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they, and their princes, the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: and this city shall remain for ever.

Nevertheless, these prohibitions should be understood contextually and as a restraint on work, not as fetters. Thus, for example, the Pharisees (and some modern Jews) overly rigidly interpreted the prohibition mentioned in Jeremiah, such as they considered the man carrying his bed to be sinning.

The sabbath rest we have is just a shadow and type of the rest that is to come.

Genesis 2:2-3
And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

Hebrews 3:11
So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.)

Hebrews 3:18
And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not?

Hebrews 4:3-11
For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, “And God did rest the seventh day from all his works.”[Genesis 2:3] And in this place again, “If they shall enter into my rest.” [Psalm 95:11] Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, “To day,” after so long a time; as it is said, “To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” [Psalm 95:7] For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

Revelation 14:13
And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.

By contrast, those who do not follow God will not have this rest, but will instead have eternal torment:

Revelation 14:11
And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.

So let us seek to enter into the ultimate Sabbath, the Lord’s Day.

Revelation 1:10 “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,”

-TurretinFan

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Westminster West and Frame’s Point 27

March 26, 2012

Frame’s point 27 (from this list) of Escondido Theology is this: “The Sabbath pertains only to worship, not to daily work. So worship should occur on the Lord’s Day, but work need not cease.”

Meredith Kline wrote: 

Moreover, since the Sabbath is a sign of sanctification marking that which receives its imprint as belonging to God’s holy kingdom with promise of consummation, the Sabbath will have relevance and application at any given epoch of redemptive history only in the holy dimension(s) of the life of the covenant people. Thus, after the Fall, not only will the Sabbath pertain exclusively to the covenant community as a holy people called out of the profane world, but even for them the Sabbath will find expression, in a nontheocratic situation, only where they are convoked in covenant assembly, as the ekklesia-extension of the heavenly assembly of God’s Sabbath enthronement. That is, Sabbath observance will have to do only with their holy cultic (but not their common cultural) activity.

That seems to pretty clearly correspond to Frame’s accusation.  Kline is not the strongest advocate on this point, although his position does seem to underlie other E2k positions.  For example, Lee Irons argues as follows:

I am in complete agreement with Kline’s interpretation of the function of the Sabbath as a sign of the covenant, thus limiting its observance to the covenant community. I also agree with his theocratic analysis of the Sabbath in the pre-fall and Mosaic economies. But I have reservations about his exclusive application of the new covenant Sabbath sign to the cultic activity of the assembled church. The implication seems to be that our Sabbath duties are exhaustively fulfilled by attending corporate worship. Furthermore, not only are Christians permitted to engage in cultural activity on the Lord’s Day outside of public worship, they are positively required to do so. For to rest from cultural activity on the Lord’s Day would be to place the holy stamp of eschatological consummation upon non-holy cultural activity, thus profaning the Sabbath.

Ironically, those whose Sabbath practice is more in line with the Puritan approach of resting all the day from “worldly employments and recreations” are the greatest violators of the Sabbath, and are theoretically subject to church discipline. I doubt that Kline would want to see his view implemented in our churches with such unyielding disciplinary rigor. But even if strict Sabbatarians are permitted the freedom to practice the Puritan Sabbath according to the light of their conscience, it still does not ring true to say that resting from cultural activity on the Lord’s Day is sinful. I want to avoid laying heavy burdens upon God’s people – whether it be the intolerable yoke of the strict Sabbatarians who say that we must rest from any and all cultural activity, or an inflexible application of Kline’s exegetical insights in which the church’s freedom from the Mosaic Sabbath is distorted into a new legalism requiring that we engage in cultural activity on the Lord’s Day.

Irons is not just arguing that Kline’s position implies that men may work seven days (without excuse) but that they must!  This position contradicts Scripture (particularly the 4th commandment) and also lies outside the bounds of the Confession.

Note that Jason Stellman (one of Frame’s targets) does not follow Kline or Irons’ extrapolation of Kline, but instead takes a more traditional approach. Stellman quotes (approvingly, with a qualification):

“The other difference between Stellman and some of the other Escondido theologians is that he takes issue with Kline’s view of the Sabbath. Kline believed that Sabbath observance in the new covenant pertains to the Lord’s Day worship service alone. He thought that the Sabbath pertained only to what is ‘holy,’ and in the new covenant holiness pertains only to worship, not to work. Therefore we should not rest weekly from the tasks we pursue on the other six days.

“Stellman, however, argues that since the Lord’s Day is a day, and not just a few hours, we ought to withdraw from cultural tasks on that entire day (pp. 57-59).”

Stellman’s qualification is that he thinks he is not alone amongst E2k advocates. He writes:

… I don’t remember a single professor during my three years at Westminster Seminary California ever agreeing with Kline’s view of the Sabbath, either privately or in class.

I will note, however, that Kline is listed as amongst the Faculty Emeriti in the current academic catalog.  Escondido is not particularly active in distancing themselves from Kline.

I know that Pastor Stellman sometimes stops by this blog.  I wonder whether he would be willing to confirm that he agrees with “Kline’s interpretation of the function of the Sabbath as a sign of the covenant, thus limiting its observance to the covenant community.” (Irons’ description)  If so, then we may be able to at least identify one of the core principles of E2k, with three distinct branches built on that foundation.

-TurretinFan

The Importance of Church Going

July 1, 2009

I recently came across the Youtube video of a user who calls himself BroJustin. Justin (I presume that’s his name) is not a big fan of churches. In fact, at the end of his video he states: “I believe church-going is demonic” (link to video – obviously not recommended).

Considering his video I was struck by a few things. Justin raises a few good points about abuses of church going and then primarily appeals to the segment of discontented folks before unleashing the “church-going is demonic” bomb.

What are Justin’s good points? There are folks out there who are more interested in whether a person goes to church than in what that person actually believes. These folks seem to think that the only folks who are unsaved are atheists and the small (I think) number of anti-church folks like Justin. Such a priority is out of whack. Going to a bad church could leave someone spiritually worse off than staying at home. The externality of going to church is a good thing, but it is merely an external thing.

What’s another good point? Justin raises the problem of unsaved people who feel comfortable in church. There are many churches where this is a real problem. While we do want the unsaved to hear the gospel, the doctrines of God are unpleasant to the unregenerate man.

But these problems with some (perhaps even many or most) churches and church-goers do not negate the fact that church-going is a good thing that is expected of Christians.

What is the Biblical proof?

1) We see it taken for granted in the epistle of James:

James 2:2 For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment;

2) We see it exhorted as a duty not to be forsaken in the epistle to the Hebrews:

Hebrews 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

3) We see it practiced (on the Lord’s Day) from the very beginning of the church:

John 20:19 Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.

4) We see that it was a Jewish practice that Paul continued and that we continue:

Acts 18:4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.

These four proofs should be enough. Christians are to continue the Jewish practice of weekly meeting (assembly) for worship, although we meet on the first day of the week in commemoration of the resurrection of Christ, that great act of redemption that gives us rest from the bondage of sin and the completion of the new creation.

-TurretinFan

The Christian Sabbath and an Example of the Lexical Fallacy – Acts 20:7

April 10, 2009

I was sad to see someone engaging in a classical lexical fallacy over at the PuritanBoard (link). I don’t know whether the moderators there will leave it up (they have been diligent in the past about eliminating misleading posts), so let me summarize the argument the person posting uses:

1) Acts 20:7 is translated in the KJV as saying that the disciples gathered on the “first day of the week.”

2) Actually, the Greek word used is “sabbath” not “first day of the week”.

3) Therefore, the disciples actually met on the Jewish sabbath, i.e. Saturday, which then spilled over into Sunday when the meeting went long.

End of the argument.

First of all, no lexical fallacy has zero basis, so what is the basis? The basis is the fact that Luke uses the word “σαββατων” (sabbaton) in the verse. Also, this word is frequently translated “sabbath” in the New Testament. These things are true, but the lexical fallacy is to stop there and say “aha, they met on the Jewish Sabbath, i.e. Saturday.”

Luke doesn’t just use the word “σαββατων” by itself he uses the expression “τη μια των σαββατων” (te mia ton sabbaton). What does this expression mean? It means “the first of the week.”

It’s the same expression used in John 20:19:

John 20:19 Then the same day at evening, being the first [day] of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.

It’s the equivalent expression we see early in the same chapter

John 20:1 The first [day] of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.

in Mark 16:9

Mark 16:9 Now when Jesus was risen early the first [day] of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.

and in 1 Corinthians 16:2

1 Corinthians 16:2 Upon the first [day] of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as [God] hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.

But, you might say, that perhaps these are controversial texts. After all, maybe you want to believe that the word also means “Jewish Sabbath” in those passages too. Thankfully, God has provided a couple of more usages that show that this isn’t so:

Mark 16:1-2
1 And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the [mother] of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. 2 And very early in the morning the first [day] of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.

A form of the same word is used twice in those two verses: “σαββατου” in verse 1, when it says that the “sabbath was past” and “της μιας σαββατων” when it says that Mary Magdalene came “the first [day] of the week.” I’m not sure it how it could be much more clear that this is the day after the Jewish sabbath, i.e. Sunday, the first day of the week.

But, in case, someone still doubts that the term usually translated “sabbath” can also mean “week” check out Luke 18:12:

Luke 18:12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.

Does someone really think that the guy means that fasts twice on the sabbath day as opposed to fasting two times in one week? That would be rather like quitting smoking two times in one day, don’t you think? It’s a ridiculous interpretation, just as the argument that the “τη μια των σαββατων” is not the first day of the week is a ridiculous argument relying on a lexical fallacy.

Oh, and how do I confirm that? Well, I confirm it by noting that “των σαββατων” is conjugated as a plural genitive σαββατων, not a singular one σαββατου. This is just one of a myriad of examples that I could give of people employing the lexical fallacy, where they get themselves a copy of Strong’s concordance and figure that if the word usually means “x” it means “x” in this instance.

But, in these instances, Acts 20:7, 1 Corinthians 16:2, and the gospel accounts, we learn that the weekly (sabbath) meeting of the Christians was Sunday, the first day of the week, rather than Saturday, the Jewish sabbath.

-TurretinFan

Wes White on the Sabbath

October 30, 2008

Pastor Wes White has, as usual, provided an excellent well-thought-out blog article, this time on the Sabbath (link). It helps to clear up a number of misconceptions regarding the Sabbath.

-TurretinFan

Sunday is not a Day for Football or Olympics

August 24, 2008
The Westminster Confession states:

Chapter XXI, Section, VIII.

This Sabbath is to be kept holy unto the Lord when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering of their common affairs beforehand, do not only observe an holy rest all the day from their own works, words, and thoughts about their wordly employments and recreations, but also are taken up the whole time in the public and private exercises of His worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy.

The London Baptist Confession (1689) states:

Chapter XXI, Section, VIII.

The sabbath is then kept holy unto the Lord, when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering their common affairs aforehand, do not only observe a holy rest all day, from their own works, words and thoughts, about their worldly employment and recreations, but are also taken up the whole time in the public and private exercises of his worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy.

Even the Baltimore Catechism (a Roman Catholic document) states:

“Not satisfied with doing only what the Church obliges us to do on Sundays and holy days, those who really love God will endeavor to do more than the bare works commanded. Sunday is a day of rest and prayer. While we may take innocent and useful amusement, we should not join in any public or noisy entertainments. We may rest and recreate ourselves, but we should avoid every place where vulgar and sometimes sinful amusements, scenes, or plays are presented.” (source) (cf. also the catechism of Pious X)

I have not included anything from the “Catechism of the Catholic Church,” because it has taken a more liberal attitude toward the Sabbath day.

May the God of the Sabbath, who has given us rest, bless us,

-TurretinFan

Friday Menu: Rotini with Meat Sauce

February 16, 2008

I recall some years ago visiting a hotel, and encountering a young man wearing a yarmulke. We met in the lobby of the hotel. After we got on the elevator, he asked me for a favor. He asked me if I would unlock the door of his hotel room for him. You see, the hotel has electronic locks, and operating the hotel’s lock was, in the view of this Jewish man, a violation of the Sabbath.

Oddly, he had not the least compunction in asking me to violate the Sabbath for him. I disagreed with the man’s theonomy, and so I agreed to assist. I pressed the elevator button for him, and I unlocked his door for him. I thought it would be pointless to dispute the matter with him.

Later I investigated whether this was normal or not. After all, normally if something is wrong, it is wrong to ask someone else to do that wrong thing for you. One cannot ask a stranger on a train to murder one’s father, nor (thought I) could one ask a stranger in a hotel lobby to violate the Sabbath. It turns out that the standard Jewish response to the latter question is to distinguish.

Apparently, the standard Jewish answer is that the Sabbath is only for the Jews, not for the Gentiles. Thus, it’s perfectly ok for me (who the young man assumed to be a Gentile) to break the Sabbath, but not ok for me to kill (since prohibitions on murder are more universal).

Why do I bring this up now? The reason I bring it up is because I had a tasty dinner of Rotini with Meat Sauce on a Friday during Lent. I’m interested in Catholic opinion on the matter. Do Catholics think that Lent applies to Christians that are not Catholics? What about to formal/material heretics? In other words, is Lent to Catholics as the Sabbath is to Jews?

On the other side of the spectrum, I am aware that Ramadan in some Muslim countries is enforced by the police. It is not a defense to a charge of breaking Ramadan in any public place that you are not a Muslim.

Furthermore, such a view is not entirely outside Catholicism. Recall that the Fourth Lateran Council decreed:

68. Jews appearing in public
A difference of dress distinguishes Jews or Saracens from Christians in some provinces, but in others a certain confusion has developed so that they are indistinguishable. Whence it sometimes happens that by mistake Christians join with Jewish or Saracen women, and Jews or Saracens with christian women. In order that the offence of such a damnable mixing may not spread further, under the excuse of a mistake of this kind, we decree that such persons of either sex, in every christian province and at all times, are to be distinguished in public from other people by the character of their dress — seeing moreover that this was enjoined upon them by Moses himself, as we read. They shall not appear in public at all on the days of lamentation and on passion Sunday; because some of them on such days, as we have heard, do not blush to parade in very ornate dress and are not afraid to mock Christians who are presenting a memorial of the most sacred passion and are displaying signs of grief. What we most strictly forbid however, is that they dare in any way to break out in derision of the Redeemer. We order secular princes to restrain with condign punishment those who do so presume, lest they dare to blaspheme in any way him who was crucified for us, since we ought not to ignore insults against him who blotted out our wrongdoings.

So then, the simple question is: is my consumption of Rotini with meat sauce on Friday during Lent a mortal sin for me, or only for my Catholic neighbors? Is Lent more like Ramadan or the Jewish Sabbath? And if the latter, would you please pass the meatballs?

-Turretinfan

UPDATE: I realize that Orthodox views on Lenten fasting are somewhat diferent. I’d be interested in Orthodox thoughts on whether it is sin for Reformed Christians to violate the various prohibitions on eating, drinking, and sex during that period.

Further Update: Thanks to Reginald for his well-reasoned response from a Catholic perspective here (link). If I may summarize his answer: in his view it is more like the Jewish Sabbath, in that it is permitted for non-Catholics to ignore the fast, because the moral basis of obligation is dependent on the duty of Catholics to obey their church.

Convicting Thoughts on the Lord’s Day

January 25, 2008

This author does not want Pharisaism (nor legalism either), and yet one cannot read accounts of even modern Jewish reverence for the Sabbath without being convicted that we could do more to reverence and sanctify the Lord’s day. More discussion here (link).

May God give us greater respect for the fourth commandment (Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy!),

-Turretinfan


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