Pages

Monday, August 27, 2012

7 Reasons to reject Sabbatarianism (Seventh Day Sabbath Keeping)

Sabbatarianism is the movement within Christianity that teaches the Seventh Day of the week (Saturday) is the day of rest, dedicated to the worship of God, and that to disregard this teaching is an abomination. It's strongest appeal is that the Ten Commandments seem to plainly teach that man is to "Keep the Sabbath Day holy," in which the Third Commandment states, "six days you shall labor, but the seventh day is the Sabbath". Though historically in the minority, Sabbatarians (especially the Seventh Day Adventists) have been very vocal and quite often very anti-Catholic. The reason for this is because they (rightly) realize that to boldly disregard one of the Ten Commandments is a grave error, and since the Catholic Church has been very strongly promoting Sunday worship then this can only mean the Catholic Church is some sort of anti-Christ movement set out to "hide" the Ten Commandments from mankind. Since the number 7 is the theme of this post, I will give seven reasons why Christians should reject Sabbatarianism.

(1) Keeping the Sabbath was a commandment given only to Israel, not to mankind in general. Most people don't know this, but the first time men are instructed to "Keep the Sabbath" (i.e. rest on the 7th day of the week) is in Exodus 16:23-30. In that context, it is given by God to Moses, instructing the Israelite to rest on the Seventh Day. There is no mention of men keeping or being commanded to keep the Sabbath anytime from Eden to Egypt. That is a huge span of time in which, of all the types of sins the recorded throughout Genesis, no mention of keeping or breaking the Sabbath is mentioned. All the Sabbatarian can do is assume the great saints like Abel and Abraham "must have kept" the Sabbath, but that's projecting one's assumptions onto Scripture - the very thing Sabbatarians accuse Catholics of doing. Instead, the Scriptures give very clear evidence that the Sabbath is something given only to Israel, not to other nations. Consider the following passages:
Exodus 31: 16 The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant. 17 It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed. ’” 18 When the Lord finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the covenant law, the tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God.
Deuteronomy 5: 1Moses summoned all Israel and said: Hear, Israel, the decrees and laws I declare in your hearing today. Learn them and be sure to follow them. 2 The Lord our God made a covenant with us at Horeb. 3 It was not with our ancestors that the Lord made this covenant, but with us, with all of us who are alive here today. ... 15 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.
Nehemiah 9: 13 “You came down on Mount Sinai; you spoke to them from heaven. You gave them regulations and laws that are just and right, and decrees and commands that are good. 14 You made known to them your holy Sabbath and gave them commands, decrees and laws through your servant Moses.
Clearly, the Sabbath as a legal commandment was revealed only at the time of Moses, to the Israelites, as a sign between them and God. To suggest that all mankind is to keep the Sabbath is to mock these passages of Scripture and degrade the covenant God gave to Israel.

(2) The Ten Commandments are not the greatest commandments. Those who insist on making the Ten Commandments an eternal standard of morality become guilty of cutting and pasting their doctrine from the Bible. Jesus teaches us that there are two great commandments: loving God with all our heart and loving our neighbor as yourself (Mt 22:34-40). Yet these two greatest commandments are taken not from the Ten Commandments, but rather two separate passages from the Torah (Deut 6:5; Lev 19:8). It would be quite ironic to say the Ten Commandments remain eternal while the greatest commandments can be either ignored or appended at will to the Ten Commandments. In reality, Christian tradition has shown the two greatest commandments are the only supreme commandments, and summarize the entire Mosaic Law and Prophets. The Ten Commandments are thus only a very handy guideline summary for the two greatest commandments.

(3) Sabbatarianism is a form of Judaizing. One of the biggest heresies in the Apostolic age was that of Jewish Christians pressuring Gentile Christians to get circumcised and thus live by the Mosaic Law (Acts 15:5). This was especially 'visible' in the avoiding of certain foods and keeping of certain holidays. Yet the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15 demonstrates that keeping the Mosaic Law is not required for Gentile Christians, only Faith in Jesus. In fact, there are two passages where Paul clearly refutes the idea that the Sabbath is still binding. The Epistle to the Galatians was focused upon refuting Judaizing, since many Gentile Christians had fallen prey to the heresy. In Galatians 4:10 Paul rebukes them by saying, “You observe days and months and seasons and years.” It is plain that Paul is not speaking of pagan holidays, so these “days” can only be referring to the weekly Sabbath days, along with the monthly, seasonal, and yearly Jewish holidays. Some Sabbatarians object saying the “days” here are the yearly feast days, but Paul has already covered this in the “seasons and years” category. Notice that Paul is talking from smaller time frames “days” to larger ones “years”. An even more powerful text is Colossians 2:16-17, which says:
16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.
Again, the lesson is plain. The Judaizers were judging and snubbing the Gentile Christians who were not eating kosher and observing certain days. Sabbatarians dislike this passage very much and seek to find all sorts of excuses why the “Sabbath” mentioned here is not the Seventh Day Sabbath. For example, they claim that since the Greek term here has “Sabbath” in plural, sabbaton, that this must be speaking of yearly Sabbath feast days like the Day of Atonement (e.g. Lev 16:31). This fails for two reasons. First, the plural form of Sabbath appears in texts clearly speaking of the Seventh Day, notably the day one reads Scripture in the synagogue (Lk 4:16; Acts 16:13), the day prior to when Jesus resurrected (Mt 28:1), and even in the very laying out of the Third Commandment itself (Ex 20:8; Deut 5:12,15 LXX)! (Also see Numbers 15:32; Jer 17:22; Eze 46:1, which all use the plural form of Sabbath but are clearly speaking of the Seventh Day.) Secondly, as noted in the prior text, the length of time Paul cites is that of year-month-week, and since year is covered in “religious festival,” that means “Sabbath day” must correspond to the week. Just as powerful is Leviticus 23, which is speaking of the Jewish calendar feasts, and includes explicitly the Seventh Day Sabbath as one of the feasts (Lev 23:1-3), meaning it isn't it's own 'moral command' independent of feast days (rather, it is the epitome of all feast days). If all of the Old Testament is a shadow of things to come, fulfilled in Christ, as 2:17 says, then it would be absurd for something as central as the Sabbath to have no fulfillment in Christ.

(4) The Ten Commandments are the heart of Mosaic Law and abolished as a legal code; they now only serve as guidelines. Many people think the Ten Commandments are an eternal code of laws that only accompanied the Mosaic Law, rather than being at the heart of it. Contrary to this, the fact is the Ten Commandments were the very core of the Mosaic Law, given specifically to the Jews, by which all other laws would be built around (see Ex 34:27-28; Deut 4:10-13; Deut 9:9). So when Jesus ended and fulfilled the Mosaic Law, the Ten Commandments most certainly were abolished along with it! Anything else is a form of Judaizing and denial that Jesus came! And yet Sabbatarians like the Seventh Day Adventists follow the Mosaic law on many points, including Sabbath day regulations and dietary laws. After the Mosaic Law was abolished, Christians only kept the Ten Commandments format to use as guidelines for general morals (e.g. don't kill, steal, lie), but not as a legal code with detailed regulations and legal penalties. A crucial passage to be aware of in this regard is 2 Corinthians 3, which says the Ten Commandments are the “ministry of death” (2 Cor 3:7)! Now Paul is not saying the Ten Commandments are evil, but rather that they being the heart of the Mosaic Law represent a dead-end path to salvation. To treat the Ten Commandments as a law in itself as a rule to follow is saying the Mosaic Law is the path to salvation, which is a great heresy!

(5) The New Testament never commands Sabbath Keeping for Christians. The only time Sabbath keeping is mentioned in the New Testament is in reference to either the Jews keeping the Sabbath or for the Apostles going to preach in the synagogue on the Sabbath (since that's when the Jews assembled). Of all the teachings and commands given, never does Jesus nor the Apostles mention the need to keep the Sabbath. This is quite astonishing if, as Sabbatarians believe, Sabbath breaking was to become one of the most brazen and nearly universal attacks on God's moral teaching. This is why the Seventh Day Adventists must go to embarrassing extremes to try and find any shred of proof from Scripture, settling on the idea that the “Mark of the Beast” must be Sunday worship (despite the fact no such connection can be made).

(6) Sunday is not the Sabbath. One of the biggest mistakes made by Sabbatarians is thinking that the Catholic Church “moved the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday”. The truth is, the Catholic Church never did such a thing, and that's because Sunday worship is not at all the same as the Sabbath. They are two different things. Christians worship on Sunday because Jesus Resurrected on Sunday and began the Church on Pentecost Sunday. In other words, we celebrate new creations on Sunday. On the flip side, Saturday is a day of ceasing from work, and is embodied in Jesus' “resting” in the tomb. The emphasis for Christians on Sunday is to take time off to devote to worshiping the Trinity, while the emphasis for the Sabbath is to take time off to rest from the work week. This is not to say there isn't some sense of overlap in terms of duties, but to suggest the Sabbath was “moved” by Catholics
is a total mistake.

(7) The mention of Sabbath and Marriage in the Garden of Eden each have a fulfillment. Some Sabbatarians will argue that the only two commands given in Eden were the Sabbath and Marriage (Gen 2:24), and that these are perfected in themselves, with no greater fulfillment. The problem here is that not only is this 'rule' made up and not derived from Scripture, but Scripture does indeed recall the passage in Genesis 2:24 about marriage and says this is a deep mystery referring to Christ and the Church (Eph 5:31-32). Thus, it is very possible that the Sabbath has a greater fulfillment, and the New Testament says just that. In Hebrews 4:3-10, it teaches that the “rest” (which is what Sabbath means) that is spoken of in reference to God ceasing from His “work” has a deeper reality in that of man receiving the spiritual “rest” of being in Heaven some day.

32 comments:

Sobieski said...

Nick,

I've enjoyed reading your arguments re: Reformed theology and am in total agreement about the falsity of Seventh Day Adventism, but it seems to me your statements regarding the Decalogue are not entirely correct. Here is what St. Thomas says regarding the Decalogue:

"...Now the precepts of the decalogue contain the very intention of the lawgiver, who is God. For the precepts of the first table, which direct us to God, contain the very order to the common and final good, which is God; while the precepts of the second table contain the order of justice to be observed among men, that nothing undue be done to anyone, and that each one be given his due; for it is in this sense that we are to take the precepts of the decalogue. Consequently the precepts of the decalogue admit of no dispensation whatever." (ST 1-2.100.8c)

The Catechism states: "The Council of Trent teaches that the Ten Commandments are obligatory for Christians and that the justified man is still bound to keep them; the Second Vatican Council confirms: 'The bishops, successors of the apostles, receive from the Lord . . . the mission of teaching all peoples, and of preaching the Gospel to every creature, so that all men may attain salvation through faith, Baptism and the observance of the Commandments.'" (CCC #2068)

Growing up Catholic, I always learned that Commandments 1-3 (tablet 1) fall under first of the two greatest Commandments, whereas Commandments 4-10 (tablet 2) fall under the second. So there is a relation between them and what Jesus teaches. Further, Jesus instructs the rich young man to keep the Commandments (cf. Mt. 19:16-19).

As regards the Sabbath, St. Thomas does note that the aspect of its time is a ceremonial precept and as a result dispensable:

"The precept of the Sabbath observance is moral in one respect, in so far as it commands man to give some time to the things of God, according to Ps. 45:11: 'Be still and see that I am God.' In this respect it is placed among the precepts of the decalogue: but not as to the fixing of the time, in which respect it is a ceremonial precept." (ST 1-2.100.3 ad 2)

This is also reflected in the Catechism: "The celebration of Sunday observes the moral commandment inscribed by nature in the human heart to render to God an outward, visible, public, and regular worship 'as a sign of his universal beneficence to all.' Sunday worship fulfills the moral command of the Old Covenant, taking up its rhythm and spirit in the weekly celebration of the Creator and Redeemer of his people." (CCC #2176)

We are morally obliged to attend Mass on Sundays on pain of mortal sin unless reasonable justification to miss exists (cf. CCC 2192), and this does seem to have some reference to the 3rd commandment. I don't see what is wrong with the explanation that the Church moved the Sabbath observation (now the Lord's Day) to Sunday by virtue of the authority invested in it by Our Lord. Granted, we do not observe the Sabbath as the Jews did under the Law, but as St. Thomas explains the moral aspect to render due worship to God is still obligatory. The CCC seems to imply this: "The sabbath, which represented the completion of the first creation, has been replaced by Sunday which recalls the new creation inaugurated by the Resurrection of Christ." (CCC #2190) Of course the SDAs reject any such replacement because as Protestants they reject the authority of the Church.

God bless.

Nick said...

Hello,

Thank you for your comments. It is true that in a real sense the Ten Commandments are always binding, but only in so far as they pertain to eternal principles. But there is a very real sense in which the Ten Commandments are 'limited' in some sense to a dispensation.

Here is an important thing that the Council of Trent teaches on this very point:
Canon 19.
If anyone says that nothing besides faith is commanded in the Gospel, that other things are indifferent, neither commanded nor forbidden, but free; or that the ten commandments in no way pertain to Christians, let him be anathema.


The key here is the phrase "in now way", since it implies that there is a sense in which the Ten C's do not apply to Christians. Yet since the Ten Commandments do in a very real way pertain to Christians, and I've not denied that, then I believe nothing I have said is unorthodox.

I find it interesting that St Thomas says on one hand there is no dispensation and yet on the other that the 3rd C has a dispensable component. I would agree with the gist of what he's saying, but I think it's best expressed by stating that the Ten Commandments as a legal code (with specific regulations and punishments) is abolished, and only a framework remains.

Sobieski said...

St. Thomas distinguishes the Old Law into moral, ceremonial and judicial precepts (cf. ST 1-1.99.4c). In his view, the moral precepts are determinations of the natural law and thus binding always and forever, whereas the ceremonial precepts are no longer binding:

"[T]o worship God, since it is an act of virtue, belongs to a moral precept; but the determination of this precept, namely that He is to be worshiped by such and such sacrifices, and such and such offerings, belongs to the ceremonial precepts. Consequently the ceremonial precepts are distinct from the moral precepts." (ST 1-2.99.3 ad 2)

Based on the other text cited, he also holds the time of the Sabbath to fall under the ceremonial precepts. The reason the ceremonial precepts have passed is because they express a faith and mode of worship that is no longer valid:

"All ceremonies are professions of faith, in which the interior worship of God consists. Now man can make profession of his inward faith, by deeds as well as by words: and in either profession, if he make a false declaration, he sins mortally. Now, though our faith in Christ is the same as that of the fathers of old; yet, since they came before Christ, whereas we come after Him, the same faith is expressed in different words, by us and by them. For by them was it said: 'Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son,' where the verbs are in the future tense: whereas we express the same by means of verbs in the past tense, and say that she 'conceived and bore.' In like manner the ceremonies of the Old Law betokened Christ as having yet to be born and to suffer: whereas our sacraments signify Him as already born and having suffered. Consequently, just as it would be a mortal sin now for anyone, in making a profession of faith, to say that Christ is yet to be born, which the fathers of old said devoutly and truthfully; so too it would be a mortal sin now to observe those ceremonies which the fathers of old fulfilled with devotion and fidelity. Such is the teaching Augustine (Contra Faust. xix, 16), who says: 'It is no longer promised that He shall be born, shall suffer and rise again, truths of which their sacraments were a kind of image: but it is declared that He is already born, has suffered and risen again; of which our sacraments, in which Christians share, are the actual representation.'"

Sobieski said...

On a related note as regards 2 Cor. 3:7, St. Thomas's gloss, following St. Augustine, is that the Old Law is not a cause of sin and death, but an occasion of it:

"As St. Augustine proves (De Spiritu et Litera xiv), even the letter of the law is said to be the occasion of death, as to the moral precepts; in so far as, to wit, it prescribes what is good, without furnishing the aid of grace for its fulfillment." (ST 1-2.99.2 ad 3)

"The reason why the New Testament was given by the Spirit is indicated when he says, for the written code kills, not as a cause but as an occasion. For the written Law only gives knowledge of sin: 'For through the Law comes knowledge of sin' (Rom. 3:20). But as a result of merely knowing sin, two things follow. For the Law, although sin is known by it, does not repress concupiscence, but is the occasion of increasing it, inasmuch as concupiscence is enkindled the more by something forbidden. Hence such knowledge kills, when the cause of concupiscence has not yet been destroyed. As a result it adds to the sin. For it is more grievous to sin against the written and natural law than against the natural law only: 'But sin, finding opportunity in the commandment, wrought in me all kinds of concupiscence' (Rom. 7:8). But although it is the occasion of killing inasmuch as it increases concupiscence and increases the sin, the Law is not evil, because at least it forbids evil; nevertheless, it is imperfect, inasmuch as it does not remove the cause. Therefore, the Law without the Spirit inwardly impressing the Law on the heart is the occasion of death; hence, it was necessary to give the Law of the Spirit, who gives life by producing charity in the heart: 'It is the Spirit that gives life' (Jn. 6:63)." (Super II Epistolam ad Corinthios 3-2, #91)

Nick said...

Hello Sobieski,

From what I see in those quotes, they actually agree with what I'm saying. The Ten Commandments are an instance of the Natural Law being put in concrete terms, but simply being an instance they can/do reflect distinctive marks applicable to only certain circumstances (in this case the Israelite covenant between them and God). So the Christian (or any outsider) can only read the Ten Commandments 'abstractly', otherwise we'd be impeding on the unique relationship the Israelites formed with God by downplaying the context in which the Ten Commandments were given.

Steve "scotju" Dalton said...

I used to be a member of Herbert Armstrong's cult 30 years ago. All of the pro-sabbath arguments (and their refutations) you presented were the same ones I heard while in the cult.
Nick, I know of two more argument against universal sabbath keeping. It's impossible to keep the sabbath near the north and south poles. The days and nights are six months long!
The second argument is that all of the annual sabbaths were tied to the harvest cycles in Israel. It makes no sense to keep festivals that are tied into the local ecology of one land in another one.

Sobieski said...

Hi Nick,

It seems like you are saying that the Commandments are now only abstract guidelines instead of concrete, binding precepts. But I think this is a confused division as regards the status of the Decalogue before and after the coming of Christ.

In the moral sphere, something which is abstract would more correctly said to be a general principle, like "do good and avoid evil," which is applied to concrete circumstances. I grant that "You shall have not strange gods before Me" and "You shall not steal," for example, though not as general as the first principle of moral action, are nonetheless general as regards particular circumstances to which said principles are applied (e.g., "Should I worship Baal or Yahweh?" or "Should I take that piece of jewelry on the counter?") But because moral principles are general does not mean they are not morally obligatory. We are never allowed to do evil or worship false gods or steal in any circumstance. I fail to see how idolatry, proscribed in the context of OT Judaism, is not now similarly proscribed after the coming of Christ. Sure the contexts are different, but that seems incidental to the issue of obligation. The principles are in fact general and obligatory in both contexts.

As for a guidelines, it seems to me that a guideline is something which is suggested or recommended, but not necessarily required or obligatory. Our Lord instructs that the Evangelical Counsels (poverty, chastity and obedience) are a surer path, but not morally obligatory on all Christian believers. A moral principle could be considered a guideline, but is also obligatory at the same time.

The Church says we are obliged to follow the Decalogue; you apparently agree, but it is hard to see how based on your explanation. You say for example:

"Those who insist on making the Ten Commandments an eternal standard of morality become guilty of cutting and pasting their doctrine from the Bible."

"[W]hen Jesus ended and fulfilled the Mosaic Law, the Ten Commandments most certainly were abolished along with it!"

"To treat the Ten Commandments as a law in itself as a rule to follow is saying the Mosaic Law is the path to salvation, which is a great heresy!"

It seems to me this just flatly contradicts Church teaching inasmuch as the moral precepts of the Old Law were never abolished. To be fair, you say the Decalogue still serve as guidelines, and it is true to say that following OT Judaism after the coming of Christ is (objectively) heretical and sinful. So in my view your account is more confused than purely erroneous.

continued...

Sobieski said...

It seems to me the problem is in treating all the precepts of the Old Law as being of the same type and nature. On your account, they must all pass away with the coming of Christ. St. Thomas, however, distinguishes the Old Law into moral, ceremonial and judicial precepts. So he has no problem explaining how some precepts persist, while others do not.

I also see why you want to argue the way that you do because it makes easy work of dismissing the SDA assertion that we are bound to keep Saturday Sabbath worship. But it seems to me St. Thomas can make the same argument as regards the time of the Sabbath (or weekly worship) which has indeed passed away, without needing to abolish the moral precepts of the Old Law or the obligation to weekly worship. He can still consistently hold that the moral precepts of the Old Law, whether it be the Decalogue or the two greatest commandments, are still morally binding. The latter, in fact, are coextensive rather than opposed or exclusive, and as I cited, Christ tells the rich young man to keep the Commandments.

Nick said...

Sobieski,

You are correct, I should have been more careful in using terms like "abstract" and "guidelines," since that can give the idea the Ten Commandments don't exist in a more 'concrete' form (as you said "do good, avoid evil" is not specific as "don't steal," which is a level of detail man needs to follow). I should have used something like "general principles".

Someone pointed out to me the wording of the Catechism, which I think uses a better term:

"2072 Since they express man's fundamental duties towards God and towards his neighbor, the Ten Commandments reveal, in their primordial content, grave obligations. They are fundamentally immutable, and they oblige always and everywhere. No one can dispense from them. The Ten Commandments are engraved by God in the human heart."

The key words of "primordial content" indicate the principles that have always been binding, and thus the Ten Commandments read without the Israelite specific language strung throughout (e.g. not coveting a slave or an ox).

I want to emphasize that there is a very strong obligation in Christians (and all men) being aware of and keeping specific commands like don't steal, don't kill, don't lie, don't make idols, etc, etc.

I am not saying OT morality was 'abolished', but rather the legal-framework in which it was given was abolished. A Jew who wanted to be faithful to the Torah had to obey all 613 Mitzvot, and could not simply carve out of them the Ten Commandments as a stand-alone set of Mitzvot to obey and neglect the rest. Similarly, a Christian cannot say "I follow the Ten Commandments as they are strictly stated in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5," since these are addressed specifically to the Jews and are to be kept within the Jewish Covenant as a whole. This is why I think it's weak and wrong to divide the 613 Mitzvot into categories of moral, ceremonial, and civil, since it suggests one can pick and choose which of the 613 Mitzvot one wants to obey rather than seeing them as a complete all-or-nothing covenant. The argument gets even less convincing to SDAs when we say the Sabbath Commandment is partly moral and partly ceremonial, since they would see that as arbitrary and not ruling out the Seventh Day at all.

Nick said...

I believe my approach also saves one from having to say at the end of the day that 9 of the 10 Commandments are still binding. It should not sit well with someone that says 9 of the 10 Commandments are still binding, for that sounds not only a bit arbitrary but also kind of embarassing since it makes calling them the Ten Commandments a 'misnumeration'. This is, in fact, where Sabbatarians make their biggest advances, when they can trick Christians into admitting only 9 of the 10 are to be kept. My argument gets around that by showing we are not keeping the Ten Commandments PER SE, but rather using the ten examples of sins/obligations as a reference sheet of what grave sins/obligations are.

Sobieski said...

Hi Nick,

My argument gets around that [saying only 9 of 10 Commandments are to be kept] by showing we are not keeping the Ten Commandments PER SE, but rather using the ten examples of sins/obligations as a reference sheet of what grave sins/obligations are.

That is not what the Catechism says; it does not qualify the obligation of the Ten Commandments in any way as you do. As you quoted, #2072 states: "They are fundamentally immutable, and they oblige always and everywhere. No one can dispense from them. The Ten Commandments are engraved by God in the human heart." This flatly contradicts your account, but is the exact teaching of St. Thomas. The Decalogue:

- express man's fundamental duty towards God and neighbor (cf. two greatest Commandments)
- are serious obligations
- are immutable
- oblige always and everywhere
- are indispensable
- are written on the human heart (i.e., are of natural law)

You say that it is not essential (per se) that they be followed as these precepts under the label "Ten Commandments" were only applicable to a certain context, time and people. If that is so, then how can they always oblige or be written on the human heart (i.e., be of human nature which has never changed) as the Catechism plainly states? Again no qualification is made with respect to "ten examples" or decoupling context. The prohibition of idolatry is the same always and everywhere. We must never worship false gods, just as we may never steal, fornicate, murder, lie, etc. without sin. These precepts are not provisional like the prohibition to eat pork. The fact that they are interspersed with other provisional precepts is not relevant.

"As is evident from what we have stated above [ST 1-2.95.2c; 99.4c], in every law, some precepts derive their binding force from the dictate of reason itself, because natural reason dictates that something ought to be done or to be avoided. These are called 'moral' precepts: since human morals are based on reason. At the same time there are other precepts which derive their binding force, not from the very dictate of reason (because, considered in themselves, they do not imply an obligation of something due or undue); but from some institution, Divine or human: and such are certain determinations of the moral precepts. When therefore the moral precepts are fixed by Divine institution in matters relating to man's subordination to God, they are called 'ceremonial' precepts: but when they refer to man's relations to other men, they are called 'judicial' precepts. Hence there are two conditions attached to the judicial precepts: viz. first, that they refer to man's relations to other men; secondly, that they derive their binding force not from reason alone, but in virtue of their institution." (ST 1-2.104.1c)

The Jews were obligated to follow the entirety of the Old Law, but it is plainly evident that the precepts of which it consisted were not all of the same nature. St. Thomas explains his division; it is not arbitrary or merely picking and choosing. The moral precepts are of the natural law and human nature, which has never changed, whereas the ceremonial and judicial precepts are Divine institutions only, which with the coming of Christ have passed away. For you, it's the whole shootin' match. To be consistent, it seems to me you should apply your interpretation to the two greatest Commandments as well as they are found in the Old Law. Our Lord says, however, that we are to observe both the two greatest Commandments and the Decalogue, which as St. Thomas explains are mutually inclusive and related as principles to conclusions.

continued...

Sobieski said...

To say in effect that St. Thomas holds there are only "Nine Commandments" is unfair because he says nothing of the sort. I have certainly not argued that way. The underlying moral precept of the 3rd commandment is to render due worship and time to God. That is what is per se and obligatory, whereas the determination of time (Saturday or Sunday) is per accidens. That is the claim, not that the 3rd commandment is somehow no longer obligatory while the others are. As St. Thomas explains, the ceremonial and judicial precepts are determinations of the moral precepts, which themselves are derived from the natural law. But the derivation in both cases is not the same. The first is of premise to conclusion (e.g., from "do no evil" and "harm no man" to "do not murder"), whereas the second is of generality applied to particular (e.g., the evil doer should be punished in such and such a way). The latter is thus not universal and as a result changeable:

"[I]t must be noted that something may be derived from the natural law in two ways: first, as a conclusion from premises, secondly, by way of determination of certain generalities. The first way is like to that by which, in sciences, demonstrated conclusions are drawn from the principles: while the second mode is likened to that whereby, in the arts, general forms are particularized as to details: thus the craftsman needs to determine the general form of a house to some particular shape. Some things are therefore derived from the general principles of the natural law, by way of conclusions; e.g. that 'one must not kill' may be derived as a conclusion from the principle that 'one should do harm to no man': while some are derived therefrom by way of determination; e.g. the law of nature has it that the evil-doer should be punished; but that he be punished in this or that way, is a determination of the law of nature.

"Accordingly both modes of derivation are found in the human [and Divine] law. But those things which are derived in the first way, are contained in human [and Divine] law not as emanating therefrom exclusively, but have some force from the natural law also [i.e., moral precepts]. But those things which are derived in the second way, have no other force than that of human [or Divine] law [i.e., ceremonial and judicial precepts]." (ST 1-2.95.2c)

So again in the case of the 3rd Commandment the obligatory moral precept derived from natural law is to render due time and worship to God, whereas the further determination of "on Saturday" is ceremonial and dispensable as it only has the force of Divine institution, which after the coming of Christ has been replaced with the determination "on Sunday." This explanation is clear, consistent and principled. It maintains the obligatory nature of the Decalogue, which is in keeping with the plain statements of the Catechism.

Regardless, I am sure this explanation would be a stretch for SDAs. So would Marian dogma or transubstantiation, but the beliefs and dispositions of heretical sects are not a measure of Catholic truth. We shouldn't base our theology on apologetic pragmatism in an effort to appeal to such groups. It seems to me we have already had enough of that sort of thing in the Church lately and with catastrophic results.

Nick said...

Hi Sobieski,

I have two questions:

(1) How do you interpret the CCC 2072 part that speaks of "primordial content"?

(2) How do you get around the claims that the Ten Commandments were establishing a covenant between Israel and God?...such as passages like:

"2 The Lord our God made a covenant with us at Horeb. 3 It was not with our ancestors that the Lord made this covenant, but with us, with all of us who are alive here today. 4 The Lord spoke to you face to face out of the fire on the mountain."

And claims like:
"Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you"

And:
"15 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day."

These are not general statements of natural law, but rather very specific 'instances' relating directly to Israel and not mankind in general.


(3) I agree with your quote about morals being based upon reason. I just think there is an equivocation going on when the Ten Commandments read VERBATIM are equated with something immutable, for that entails the Mosaic Covenant is immutable, since the text is plainly speaking to Israel. I agree with the notion the ceremonial precepts can pass away, but what I'm trying to show is that this means we have to read the "spirit" of a given law and not the "letter". This is essentially how St Thomas is speaking.

(4) When I spoke of people having to claim to hold to "Nine Commandments," what I am saying is that to argue we are to read *verbatim* from the text where the Decalogue is given means one has to modify the language of the 3rd Commandment (and second half of the 4th Commandment). So while a Christian can turn to Deuteronomy 5 and read the commandments and say "No lying, check; No theft, check; No killing, check; No other Gods, check; Keep the Sabbath, well yeah but not the Seventh Day but rather devote some time to God, which the Church now deems to be Sunday." You see how once we come upon the 3rd Commandment we have to ignore the actual language of the text of Scripture and turn to a philosophical argument?

I'm just trying to grasp how one can logically say the Ten Commandments WORD-FOR-WORD are immutable. I can understand how each specific commandment has an essential and an accidental aspect, with the essential aspect being immutable, but that's no longer WORD-FOR-WORD of the Inspired Text. That's why I feel the teaching of St Thomas is actually in full agreement with what my 'fundamental' point is.

Sobieski said...

Hi Nick,

In response to (1), I would take "primordial" to mean fundamental, basic or elementary in the context of that paragraph.

As for (2), I would say the Ten Commandments were a part of the covenant God established with Moses and the Israelites and were it's most fundamental component. But it seems to me you are saying that they can't be disentangled from their historical context such that when we say we follow the "Ten Commandments" it is misleading or an equivocation as that label in the OT sense only applies to a certain time, place and people. I don't disagree that the Old Covenant was for a certain people and time and that that dispensation has ceased to exist. Further I agree that certain of the precepts found in the Old Law were dispensable, namely, those which solely had the force of Divine institution. The moral precepts entailed in the Old Law, however, are of natural law and human nature, which existed before its institution and exists now after its ceasing to be. As CCC #2072 states, the moral precepts of the Decalogue are obligatory "always and everywhere." So while they may have been revealed by God and applied in that context, they nevertheless preceded it and when that dispensation ceased to exist after many years, they persisted beyond it. I don't see any problem with abstracting them from their historical context. It seems to me the Church speaks of the Decalogue in this sense.

It also seems to me that St. Thomas's explanation of the relationship between faith and reason could be helpful here because God has revealed two kinds of truth to mankind, ones that are accessible to reason and others that are not. Truths like the Trinity and Incarnation are truths that we can only know by Divine Revelation and accept in faith. Truths like the moral precepts of which the Ten Commandments consist are accessible to reason. St. Thomas explains why God profitably revealed the latter truths to mankind in the Summa Contra Gentiles.

So while God originally revealed these truths to the Jews (as part of the Old Law), they were still knowable to varying degrees and obligatory on all human beings. The entirety of the Old Law, which included the ceremonial and judicial precepts, however, was only binding on the Jews. Again, I agree that they were revealed in a historical context, but their moral aspects are also universal precepts of natural law. We are all human beings after all, sharing in the same human nature, so they must be applicable to all and for all time.

"The Ten Commandments belong to God's revelation. At the same time they teach us the true humanity of man. They bring to light the essential duties, and therefore, indirectly, the fundamental rights inherent in the nature of the human person. The Decalogue contains a privileged expression of the natural law:

'From the beginning, God had implanted in the heart of man the precepts of the natural law. Then he was content to remind him of them. This was the Decalogue.' [St. Iraneus, Adv. haeres. 4,15,1:PG 7/l,1012]

"The commandments of the Decalogue, although accessible to reason alone, have been revealed. To attain a complete and certain understanding of the requirements of the natural law, sinful humanity needed this revelation:

'A full explanation of the commandments of the Decalogue became necessary in the state of sin because the light of reason was obscured and the will had gone astray.' [St. Bonaventure, Comm. sent. 4,37,1,3]

"We know God's commandments through the divine revelation proposed to us in the Church, and through the voice of moral conscience." (CCC #2070-1)

The Church's language here refers to the same Decalogue revealed to the Jews, not a new or quasi-Decalogue, but the same one abstracted from its historical circumstances.

Sobieski said...

continued...

(3) I think "letter" vs. "spirit" of the law in the context of the Decalogue makes more sense in terms of its determinations to particular circumstances. So the spirit of the law is to remain free of sin as opposed to say engaging ritual cleaning while committing sin as Our Lord explains in today's Gospel. Nevertheless, in both the old and new dispensations people are to follow the Ten Commandments always as Our Lord instructs, but in a true as opposed to exterior or superficial way. I.e., we are not to strain the gnat and swallow the camel, leaving aside the weighter aspects of the law.

(4) I don't see why we need to read the text verbatim or why we have to say the Decalogue as revealed and applied word-for-word can't be disentangled from that context. The moral precepts found in that text are the same "always and everywhere," while the circumstances or further determinations (Saturday worship) have changed. I think we ultimately do agree in terms of the moral precepts of the Law, but your position seems to be that we can only truly speak of the Ten Commandments in the context of the Mosaic Covenant. But that seems to plainly go against the text of the Catechism and teaching of the Church as no such qualification or distinction like this is made as regards the Commandments. So again I think comments like the following are misleading at best:

"Those who insist on making the Ten Commandments an eternal standard of morality become guilty of cutting and pasting their doctrine from the Bible."

"[W]hen Jesus ended and fulfilled the Mosaic Law, the Ten Commandments most certainly were abolished along with it!"

"To treat the Ten Commandments as a law in itself as a rule to follow is saying the Mosaic Law is the path to salvation, which is a great heresy!"

Nick said...

Hello Sobieski,

Thank you for that link showing the Ten Commandments 'abstracted' from their historical context. That is precisely what I'm getting at! In that sense, yes, the moral precepts preceded and existed beyond the dispensation. But this also means there is a danger of equivocation between the Abstracted Decalogue and the Historical Decalogue, which is what I've been trying to avoid doing.

For the purpose of doing moral theology and philosophy, we would be dealing with the Abstracted Decalogue, but for the purpose of doing historical theology and exegesis, the Historical Decalogue is what is being dealt with.

Icyspark said...

1. SABBATH AS A MEMORIAL
Genesis 2:1-3
Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.
By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

Exodus 20:8-11
“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.


One of the reasons Jesus gives for regularly observing His Sabbath is in reference to the singular monumental event in this world's history—its creation. The Sabbath is a weekly reminder that Jesus created this Earth (John 1:3; Colossians 1:15-17). It is a day to rest from our works just as Jesus rested from His (Hebrews 4:7-10). It is to this very fact of being the Creator that Jesus appeals to over and over in the Scriptures as validation for His claim to being the one and only true God (1 Chronicles 16:23-27; 2 Kings 19:15; 2 Chronicles 2:12; Nehemiah 9:6; Psalm 33:6; 96:5; 102:25-27; 115:15; 121:2; Isaiah 37:16; 40:20; 45:18; Jeremiah 10:12; 27:5; 32:17; 33:2, 3; 51:15; Jonah 1:9; Job 26:7; Acts 4:24; 14:15; 17:24; Revelation 14:7).

Psalm 111:2-4
Great are the works of the LORD; they are pondered by all who delight in them. Glorious and majestic are his deeds, and his righteousness endures forever. He has caused his wonders to be remembered; the LORD is gracious and compassionate.


If Jesus says to "Remember the Sabbath," and this remembering is directly connected to the "wonders" of His creation, why is it that people find this something they wish to forget? If one were to develop a hierarchy of the most important events in human history would not the act of creation rank toward the very top? Aside from the life, death and resurrection of the Creator, what other event do you suppose would be more worthy of remembering? Interestingly, even though Jesus nor His disciples ever hinted at any regularly repeating recognition for His resurrection, there are some who insist that we honor Sunday as a resurrection memorial. So while we have no divine command for a weekly remembering of the resurrection (making it a tradition of men), we likewise have no command overturning the weekly remembering of the creation. About this Jesus asks, "Why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?"

But for the grace of God go I,cyspark

Icyspark said...

2. A DAY FOR OUR BENEFIT
Isaiah 58:13-14
“If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the LORD’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the LORD, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.” The mouth of the LORD has spoken.


Through His prophet Isaiah, Jesus portrays His holy day as something to delight in. If Jesus says to delight in His Sabbath I'm certain that there must be a blessing to be obtained by observing the day He blessed.

Mark 2:27
Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man (444 anthropos; human being), not man for the Sabbath.


Not only is the Sabbath affirmed as something to "delight" in, but Jesus Himself takes the opportunity to make it clear that when He made the Sabbath on the seventh day of creation it was made for the benefit of all humanity. The word for man in this text is "anthropos" which means people. Thus the Sabbath is for men and women, Jews and Gentiles, slaves and those who are free. All humanity can delight in the benefits of having a day off to remember their Creator and to rest from their own works.

I pray this helps.

But for the grace of God go I,cyspark

Icyspark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Icyspark said...

3. JESUS KEPT THE SABBATH
Luke 4:16
[Jesus] went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read.


It was Jesus's regular practice to assemble together with other believers on the Sabbath day. Leviticus 23:3 says that the Sabbath is "a day of sacred assembly." You can certainly worship God on all days of the week, but the Sabbath is the day Jesus set aside for worshipping with other believers in a corporate setting. It is a day set apart—a "holy day"—on which holy people are to rest from their own works and be blessed on the day that Jesus blessed.

1 Peter 2:21
To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.


Jesus is our example in all things and following the things He did should not give anyone cause for concern. On the contrary, it is in doing those things which Jesus never did and never told us to do which we should seriously question the safety of such position. Keeping the Sabbath is in keeping with following Jesus's steps.

1 John 2:6
Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did.


Again, if we are to "walk as Jesus did" it is a simple thing to ascertain that the example He left was to regularly assemble together with believers on the day He personally blessed and continues to make holy.

I pray this helps.

But for the grace of God go I,cyspark

Icyspark said...

4. DISCIPLES KEPT THE SABBATH AFTER THE CROSS
Luke 23:56
Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.


Because Jesus never intended to put an end to the regular seven day cycle He set in motion for humanity's (anthropos) benefit and "delight," Jesus never informed them that it was no longer necessary to observe the Sabbath after His death. This is confirmed by the fact that His closest followers—those who went out of their way to see to His burial preparations—still "rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment." If Jesus did not intend for the Sabbath to be included in His new covenant then He needed to add this to His will before He died. After the death of the Testator nothing can be added or subtracted from that person's will (see Hebrews 9:16-17).

I pray this helps.

But for the grace of God go I,cyspark

Icyspark said...

5. PAUL KEPT THE SABBATH
Acts 17:2, 3
As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ,” he said.


After his conversion (recorded in Acts 9) Paul continues his "custom" of going to synagogue on the Sabbath. Not only was this his regular habit but the Bible also records that Paul preached to both Jews and Gentiles on the Sabbath for a year and a half!

Acts 18:4, 11
Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.

So Paul stayed for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.


So, "Every Sabbath" for a "year and a half" Paul reasons in the synagogue with both Jews and Greeks (i.e. Gentiles). That's a biblical record of 76 Sabbaths in which Paul is preaching to Jews and Gentiles.

1 Corinthians 11:1
Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.


As we would expect from an apostle of Christ, Paul acknowledges that he follows "the example of Christ." Paul's actions testify to the fact that "his custom" of Sabbath observance was the same as the custom of Jesus. Paul then goes on to assert that you should not only follow Christ's example but you should also follow his own example. Are you following the examples left for you by both Jesus and Paul?

I pray this helps.

But for the grace of God go I,cyspark

Nick said...

lcyspark,

It seems as if you just cut and pasted rather than interact with my arguments. That doesn't help anyone. Here are my thoughts on what you wrote:

#1, you said the Sabbath is a memorial. That's fine, but you need to recognize that I'm not advocating supplanting the Sabbath with Sunday. Remembering the resting Saturday from creation is a different commemoration from remembering the Resurrection on Sunday. And remember my first argument, which is that never is man told to keep the sabbath between the time of Eden and Egypt. The first time men are commanded to keep the Sabbath is in Exodus 16, given only to the Israelites.

#2, you said the Sabbath was a day for our benefit. That's fine, but it doesn't say anything about the legally-binding nature of the Sabbath after the Resurrection.

#3, you said Jesus kept the Sabbath. This doesn't prove anything about Sabbath keeping in the future. Jesus lived as an observant Jew of all the commands in the Torah.

#4, you said the disciples kept the Sabbath because they went to the tomb to anoint Jesus body late Friday so they could rest on the Sabbath. That's a bad example because the fullness of Revelation had not yet come. They didn't realize a New Covenant was being instituted. They didn't realize that many of their Jewish customs, including dietary restrictions, would be loosed.

#5, you said Paul kept the Sabbath. But the text you cited merely say Paul went into the Synagogue on Saturday in order to preach the Gospel. Paul certainly was not going to the Synagogue to partake in business as usual, as if the Messiah had not come!

Icyspark said...

______________
Nick said...

#1, you said the Sabbath is a memorial. That's fine, but you need to recognize that I'm not advocating supplanting the Sabbath with Sunday. Remembering the resting Saturday from creation is a different commemoration from remembering the Resurrection on Sunday. And remember my first argument, which is that never is man told to keep the sabbath between the time of Eden and Egypt. The first time men are commanded to keep the Sabbath is in Exodus 16, given only to the Israelites.
______________

Hi Nick,

Genesis is a book primarily of origins, not commands. Thus you will not find any commands against murder and adultery, yet Cain was punished by God for his sin of murdering Abel. Much later we read the story of Joseph and his encounter with Potiphar's wife and discover the reason he will not give in to her suggestion to "Come to bed with me!" was because he knew that it was a "wicked thing" and a "sin against God" (see Genesis 39:7). Sin is not left to our own imagination. It is directly related to transgression of the revealed will of God. But we do not see anything previous to this encounter which would indicate how Joseph was aware that adultery was a "sin against God."

Let me just pull out the ingredients that make up the Sabbath in the Exodus account and you can compare for yourself whether the ingredients from Genesis will bake the same cake:

Exodus 20:8-11
Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days (1)the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he (2)rested on the (3)seventh day. Therefore the LORD (4)blessed the Sabbath day and made it (5)holy.


Some people believe that the Sabbath finds its origin in the book of Exodus. They claim that one cannot establish it’s existence any earlier since the term “Sabbath” is not used prior to Exodus 16. But is this position justified? What is it that makes the Sabbath the Sabbath? For the sake of clarity I’ve numbered the various ingredients in the passage above that, when combined, make up the Sabbath.

(1) Creation
(2) Rest
(3) Seventh day
(4) Blessed
(5) Holy


There you see the five ingredients that make up what we know as the Sabbath. Now let’s compare this Exodus passage with the creation account found in Genesis and see if we find those same five ingredients again:

Genesis 2:1-3
So the (1)creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them was completed. On the (3)seventh day, having finished his task, God (2)rested from all his work. And God (4)blessed the seventh day and declared it (5)holy, because it was the day when he rested from his work of creation.


Not only do we find the same five ingredients in both passages of Scripture, but we also find very similar phraseology.

From Genesis:
“... And God (4)blessed the seventh day and declared it (5)holy
From Exodus:
“... the LORD (4)blessed the Sabbath day and made it (5)holy."

So while there is no command revealed in the book of origins, we see do find that the Sabbath is explicitly spelled out. Since Jesus says, "The Sabbath was made for humanity"—and since the only humanity living at this time was Adam and Eve—it is plain to see that He established the Sabbath and it was "made" when things were made, "In the beginning."

I pray this helps.

Icyspark said...

______________
Nick said...
#2, you said the Sabbath was a day for our benefit. That's fine, but it doesn't say anything about the legally-binding nature of the Sabbath after the Resurrection.

______________

Hi Nick,

The Sabbath is a tenth of the Ten Commandment covenant (Deuteronomy 4:13). Most Christians have no problem with the idea that the Ten Commandments are still a binding reflection of God's desire for His people. The problem comes when the commandment that says to "Remember" is brought up amongst people who wish to forget it. For some reason, this singular commandment is isolated as being unnecessary and a burden. But tell me, how is something which Jesus says He "made for humanity" to be considered a burden? How is something which the prophet records God as saying to "call the Sabbath a delight" (Isaiah 58:13) something which became a burden? Why would remembering our Creator once every seventh day as a memorial of His creative act ever be considered unnecessary? Isn't it the very fact that it was our Creator who was crucified and resurrected that makes our salvation possible?

I pray this helps.

But for the grace of God go I,cyspark

Nick said...

The main issue I have with your claim that Genesis is more about origins than commands is the plain fact that nobody is ever accused of breaking the Sabbath. For such a crucial teaching, you'd think that this would be found right along with idolatry and other such sins. But there's no mention of Sabbath keeping until Exodus 16, when God formally institutes it with Moses. And that's the key you're not realizing, that the Sabbath as an event in history and the Sabbath as a formally commanded day of rest are not the same.

Your approach makes nonsense out of Exodus 16 and other texts like Ex31: "The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant. 17 It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed."
Clearly, the Sabbath pertains in a very unique way to the Israelites. To turn this into some universal day of rest is to pervert the purpose of the command and 'sign' of the Sabbath.

Icyspark said...

______________
Nick said,


The main issue I have with your claim that Genesis is more about origins than commands is the plain fact that nobody is ever accused of breaking the Sabbath. For such a crucial teaching, you'd think that this would be found right along with idolatry and other such sins. But there's no mention of Sabbath keeping until Exodus 16, when God formally institutes it with Moses. And that's the key you're not realizing, that the Sabbath as an event in history and the Sabbath as a formally commanded day of rest are not the same.

______________

Hi Nick,

So until we see the issue spontaneously pop up in the Genesis narrative then it wasn't previously an issue? According to Scripture, that doesn't fly. After Cain's disapproved sacrifice (on what revealed basis was it disapproved?) God spoke to Cain and said, "You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master." The conversation between God and Cain presupposes that Cain already knows the right thing to DO. He already knows what is right. God didn't arbitrarily punish Cain for murdering Abel. Cain knew that murder was a sin. The Genesis narrative doesn't provide all the nuances of right and wrong. But to suppose that lying was allowable until there's a "mention of it" is not in keeping with an all-knowing God.

The Sabbath is much more readily apparent than the issue of not murdering your brother. Adam and Eve were created on the sixth day and would've been alive when God instituted the Sabbath by resting, blessing and making holy the seventh day.

• Since God is all-powerful and needs no rest, why would He rest on this day if not as an example for His newly created humans?
• Since God is holy, He doesn't need a day to be holy for Himself. It's obvious He made the day holy for His newly created children.
• Since God is the Giver of blessings, there is no reason to bless a day—unless it is for His newly created children.
• The entire creation account pivots around those who would ultimately be placed in charge of the planet—humans.

As Jesus plainly stated, "The Sabbath was made for people, not people for the Sabbath." He used a broadly inclusive word, anthropos, which is not ethnic specific (i.e. Jews). The Sabbath was "made" when things were made. "In the beginning." Since there weren't any Jews at the creation, that means the Sabbath was made for humanity's benefit. That's why Isaiah records that God wants people to call His Sabbath "a delight."

I pray this helps.

But for the grace of God go I,cyspark

Nick said...

That's not quite what I was getting at. There are plenty of sins mentioned in Genesis up through Exodus 15. If Sabbath keeping was so crucial, it would have been mentioned, especially because there should have been people breaking it left and right, especially among Cain's lineage.

God speaking to Cain reveals that God had some kind of intimate communion with the early humans, but what He told them is not fully recorded. Something like murder Cain would have known from Natural Law or from God laying it out plainly. Nothing of this sort is recorded in regards to the Sabbath.

Nobody can 'just know' everything there is to know about the Sabbath. They must get this information from divine revelation and tradition.

Romans 1:28-31 shows many of the sins humanity falls into, and lists virtually every Commandment except the Sabbath. The same can be said for other lists of sins in the NT.

Anonymous said...

You wrote - The New Testament never commands Sabbath Keeping for Christians. The only time Sabbath keeping is mentioned in the New Testament is in reference to either the Jews keeping the Sabbath.....This is called an argument from silence....and is faulty logic....My Catholic bible New Testament including Apocrypha says slavery is quite acceptable and St Paul commands slaves to be obedient. The New Testament is strangely quiet on the issue on bestiality and incest. Can we infer from the silence that God approves?

Could it be that Sabbath was so widespread - so part of their culture and calendar that an alternative was not even considered....considering the roots of the church was primarily based on a some Hebrew scriptures written by a bunch of Hebrew prophets about a Jewish Messiah. He claimed to have been sent to the tribes of Israel? He sent 12 Jewish guys and Jewish Rabbi Paul who wrote the New Testament. Paul said ..."Follow me" as I follow Christ....who just happened to be a Sabbatarian?

I do not know ... So why are we so eager to divorce our 4000 year past and now be planted in a history rooted in Rome not Jerusalem? I do not think Jesus will be too judgmental of me ...If my only justification for a worshiping on Sabbath is ...LORD, I DID WHAT YOU DID AND I FOLLOWED YOUR EXAMPLE.

Nick said...

Anonymous,

It's not a argument from silence when you consider that there are examples of 9 of the 10 Commandments being violated in the NT, but never of the Sabbath being violated. That's strange that in places like Corinth where idolatry, sexual immorality, coveting, abuse of the sacraments of Baptism and Communion, etc, are taking place, that you would assume they were actually very devoutly keeping the Sabbath. The fact is, breaking the Sabbath isn't a sin mentioned even once in the NT, when it was such a common thing in the OT that it's clear it is one of the main things that would be mentioned if it were so central.

The NT is not silent on bestiality and incest, as sexual immorality is condemned repeatedly. It was more than obvious that only sexual relations between husband and wife was allowed. In fact, the argument you're making is effectively saying the 613 Mitzvot are still binding, which is Judaizing plain and simple, and it would be completely inconsistent logically and a serious violation to just cherry pick which of the 613 you feel are still binding. In other words the mitzvot against bestiality would still be binding either because (1) all 613 are still binding, or (2) because you're cherry picking which ones are still binding. Neither of those two options are going to work.

Paul's primary message to the Gentiles is that they didn't have to live like Jews. This cannot be truncated down to 'dont get circumcised'. The whole point of circumcision is that it obligates a person to "keep the whole law".

The fundamental problem with your approach to Christianity is that it isn't Christian at all but rather American. That's dangerous and it wont save you one iota on judgment day. Jesus will ask why you believed in an American Gospel of go-it-alone Christianity where each individual believes what they see fit and having no concern for finding the visible Church that's been around 2000 years.

If you really believe something along the lines of "Everyone besides me got the Gospel wrong" then that is a HORRIBLE defense of your actions when you're standing before the judgment seat.

Humility buddy, humility.

The Church pre-existed you and has survived without you, so you'd best find the Church rather than build a new church around yourself.



Anonymous said...

Hello Nick

You argued the following-
Romans 1:28-31 shows many of the sins humanity falls into, and lists virtually every Commandment except the Sabbath. The same can be said for other lists of sins in the NT.

However within the mentioned verses arise "And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God" by not honoring the Sabbath you would be guilty of such a thing, so your argument has no legs to stand upon.

Thomas Mason said...

I challenge you to find anywhere in scripture where any of the commandments God gave have been taken away or annulled. God is eternal and His Law is eternal as well. Actually, God gave all of His commandments only to Israel. He chose Israel as a nation that He set apart for His purpose and made a covenant with Israel. Through faith in Yeshua (Jesus) we are allowed to come into covenant with Him if we choose. Once in covenant with God through faith, we walk out our faith by keeping Gods commandments; all of them... including the Sabbath. Why wouldn't we keep commandments based on loving God and loving others.