continental and puritan views of sabbath

Discussion in 'The Law of God' started by Myshkin, Apr 13, 2005.

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  1. Myshkin

    Myshkin Puritan Board Freshman

    1. Could someone please very briefly explain to someone who is new to this issue and wanting to submit to God's laws, namely me (I come from an antinomian background), what exactly the differences and similarities are between the continental view and the puritan view of the sabbath?

    2. is the continental view not allowed as an exception to the WCF? the puritan view not allowed as an exception to the 3 Forms of Unity?

    3. when we use the term "continental", are we referring strictly to the Dutch?

    4. when we use the term "puritan" are we referring strictly to the british?

    5. how much room for disagreement over these 2 views is there in regards to fellowship with each other?

    I'm looking for clarity on my questions before I delve into the arguments pro and con for each respective view.

    My intentions are to learn how to glorify God in keeping the fourth commandment, at this point I am much less concerned about being able to debate and defend. Sorry if I am demanding more milk than meat, but I'd like to grow up healthy rather than choke on too much too soon. Thanks and please be gentle with me.:pray2:

    [Edited on 4-14-2005 by RAS]
     
  2. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    There are doctrinal differences in Calvin's (the real continental view) and that of the Puritans, but the practical application is about the same: close the shops and devote the day to worship. This was made very clear by the writings of John Primus who was Reformed and not Presbyterian. This is covered to some degree in an article I wrote: Calvin in the Hands of the Philistines: Or, Did Calvin Bowl on the Sabbath? Reading some of the books referenced early in the article may be helpful.
    See http://www.fpcr.org/blue_banner_articles/Calvin_Bowls.htm
     
  3. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    We don't know it is a lie; it is simply unsubstantiated and as I try to show in the article noted above, unlikely. Someone who knows Sproul well should bring this to his attention as it really is not a story that bears repeating as fact; particularly to justify golfing on Lord's days if that is not simply a rumor like the Calvin story.
     
  4. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    You may wish to read some Dutch theologians as well on the Sabbath to gain understand. A'Brakel is the only one that comes to mind at the moments but if I remember others who wrote on this topic I'll post them.
     
  5. Myshkin

    Myshkin Puritan Board Freshman

    NaphtaliPress-

    I am hoping that I have misread your post, when it seems like I have touched a personal nerve. That was not my intention at all. I only mentioned the Calvin and Sproul thing as a sidebar to my original intent of the post which was the questions I have. That is the context in which I am asking and pursuing these questions because it is all I know at this time in my life. If need be I will edit out the Sproul/Calvin stuff so as to not distract from my original intent of the post. I am not an ordained officer of the church, just a layman desiring to know God and His word. I do not have as strong an educational background in theology as most everyone else on the PB. So please forgive me if what I am asking is to basic for the PB. I am only seeking to learn. If I have misread you, I apologize for that also.

    I guess to simplify parts of what I am asking, I'll request this instead: I am looking for a concise point by point summary of what the similarities and differences are between the two views. Similar to the format I saw elsewhere in the theonomy forum where a list was given of what theonomy is actually defined as and holds to.
     
  6. Poimen

    Poimen Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    This is the confessional stance of the (Dutch) Reformed Churches:

    Heidelberg Catechism
    Q103: What does God require in the fourth Commandment?
    A103: In the first place, God wills that the ministry of the Gospel and schools be maintained, and that I, especially on the day of rest, diligently attend church to learn the Word of God, to use the holy sacraments, to call publicly upon the Lord, and to give Christian alms. In the second place, that all the days of my life I rest from my evil works, allow the Lord to work in me by His Spirit, and thus begin in this life the everlasting sabbath.

    Though most Reformed churches would follow the Presbyterian/Puritan view of the Sabbath our official confessional stance is rather weak. It rightly expresses our duties before the Lord but it does not forbid working on the Sabbath (though implied by calling it a day of rest).

    Why? If you read Ursinus' Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism you will see that he, like Calvin, believed that there was no special day in which to worship, and that one could be used as well as another as long as it was kept without superstition.

    However it seems clear that their position must have changed over time:
    http://www.reformed.com/pub/jc_sab_1.htm
    http://www.reformed.com/pub/jc_sab_2.htm

    At the time of Synod of Dordrecht a compromising position was hammered out that leaned towards the Puritan view but did not embrace it fully. Theologians such as Voetius and Cocceius had argued for quite some time about the nature of the Sabbath, and thus the Reformed churches were still divided.

    Yet, by the Nadere Reformatie (Second Reformation - associated with such names as A Brakel, Van Maastricht, Witsius etc.), the Dutch and the Puritans were much closer in practice and from that time on the Dutch have been Sabbath keepers as much as if not more then their Puritan brothers. :)
     
  7. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    No offense taken RAS. I simply have no time to do any more but cut and paste jobs right now. Here is a section of my paper on Calvin´s view for what it is worth.
    [Edited on 4-14-2005 by NaphtaliPress]
     
  8. Myshkin

    Myshkin Puritan Board Freshman

    I have searched and have found what I am looking for in a recent "tape of the month" from Ligonier about the 4th commandment. When I am done listening to it and pondering it, I will post the notes/outline I write down and seek some comments in response.

    Also, thank you for the copies of Calvin's sermon on Deut. 34.
     
  9. Myshkin

    Myshkin Puritan Board Freshman

    These are my notes from a Ligonier 'tape of the month':

    There are 2 General Questions-
    1. Is the 4th commandment still in effect for today?
    2. If so, how is it to be observed properly?


    As to question #1:
    - there are those throughout the history of the church who have held that the sabbath was part of the ceremonial law, not the moral law and therefore is abrogated
    - Augustine held that the 4th commandment was done away with in Christ
    - Calvin didn't differ that much with Augustine

    The heart of this question is essentially this subquestion:
    Was the sabbath instituted at creation or at Mt. Sinai?
    -Those who say creation, believe the 4th commandment is a
    universal/natural law for all men/creation
    -Those who say Mt. Sinai, say it is a ceremonial/covenant law for OT Israel

    Arguments for Sinai view:
    1. There isn't an explicit institution of the sabbath in the creation account

    Arguments for Creation view:
    1. when God sanctifies something it is usually for the benefit of His
    creatures
    2. Christ said the sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath
    3. the institution of the sabbath at Sinai is based an an appeal to creation

    As to question #2:
    - Apostolic practice switched the sabbath from Saturday to Sunday(this has historically been the universal majority view)

    Agreed essential general principles:
    1. rest on 1 day, work on 6
    a) primarily a physical emphasis which involves:
    - rest from unneccesary labor
    - rest from unneccesary commerce
    b) this applies to us, our employees, our livestock, and the land (i.e. the
    entire creation)
    2. the corporate assembly of the body of Christ

    Debated Principles:
    - Is it appropriate, after worship, as we are resting to be engaged in recreation?

    Continental View says: Yes, because it is re-creation, and so long as it does not interefere with or violate the agreed upon essential principles of corporate worship, unneccesary commerce, and unneccesary labor

    Puritan View says: No, based on Isaiah 58:13 in which the Puritans took "pleasure" to be synonymous with "recreation"

    The Puritan view also requires works of mercy on the sabbath.
    The Continental view says works of mercy aren't required, but are allowed.

    In Summary:
    1. The 4th commandment is perpetual
    2. The 4th commandment is a creation ordinance
    3. The Sabbath is to be observed on Sunday not Saturday
    4. The 4th commandment requires corporate assembly for worship
    5. The 4th commandment requires cessation from unneccesary labor
    6. The 4th commandment requires cessation from unneccesary commerce
    7. The Continental view holds to all the above, plus allows for recreation
    8. The Puritan view holds to all the above, but does not allow for recreation and also requires that works of mercy be done

    The problem with the church today is that NEITHER view is held to.

    [end of notes]


    Any comments?

    [Edited on 4-18-2005 by RAS]
     
  10. wsw201

    wsw201 Puritan Board Senior

    RAS,

    I heard that tape too. I agree with Sproul. Niether view is really held to today. Richard Gaffin has a book out (hopefully still in print) that discusses Calvins view of the Sabbath.
     
  11. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    You may find F. Nigel Lee's The Covenantal Sabbath to be of interest in your studies. I personally adhere to the Puritan view.
     
  12. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Gaffin's book is available at Amazon


    [Edited on 4-18-2005 by NaphtaliPress]

    [Edited on 4-18-2005 by NaphtaliPress]

    [Edited on 5/20/2005 by fredtgreco]
     
  13. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    Gaffin does a very good job at demonstrating Calvin's mistake of spiritualizing one commandment at the expense of the other 9.
     
  14. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Also, as it bears repeating again and agin (I don't recall if Gaffin goes much into it) Calvin's practice was better than his theory as his view was the day should be set aside strictly for worship activities; no laboring, shops closed, no recreations, per the previously mentioned Deut sermons.
     
  15. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    Yes, that's true. He was a bit inconsistent in that. However, becuase of his view, he pressed the need to keep the Sabbath all week, every day. Its an intersting dilemma he placed himself into.
     
  16. Myshkin

    Myshkin Puritan Board Freshman

    I once read a joke (at least I think it was meant to be a joke) somewhere that the continentalists don't believe in the sabbath but they practice it, while the puritanists believe in the sabbath but don't practice it.


    Which leads me to ask, not to stir up anything, but I am seriously curious, of those who hold the puritan view on the PB, how many actually obey the WCF when it says "...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." (WCF XXI.8)

    I am probably reading this wrong by reading it in a very absolute way, but this seems to mean that unless I am praying, reading my bible, singing praise, and visiting the sick EVERY moment of the day (unless interrupted by things of neccesary labor and commerce), I am breaking the 4th commandment. The phrase "whole time" seems very black-and-white to me.

    And who of the puritan view actually observes the duty of mercy every Sunday? (Again, not attempting a challenge or to offend, just honestly wondering and wrestling inwardly)
     
  17. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    I can laugh at the joke, but I have yet to meet anyone who keeps the Lord's Day perfectly holy.

    I think the emphasis on the whole day is in opposition to other views which maintain that church-going is the only duty required for the Lord's Day and once church is over it's time for recreation. Remember, only a couple of decades before, King James wrote the Book of Sports encouraging recreation on that day. Also, the Puritans were in opposition to the frivolity of Catholics and Anglicans who "kept" saints' days and the Lord's Day by turning them into days of personal pleasure (cf. Isa. 58.13-14). Thus, the Puritans emphasized morning and evening worship services, noting that Paul preached until midnight (cf. Acts 20.7) on the first day of the week. The Puritans saw the day not as a day of leisure, but as a day of rest in the Lord. Thus, private, family and public worship made up the bulk of a Puritan Sabbath day. Do I personally think its unlawful to take a nap on a Sabbath afternoon? No, I don't. The body needs rest too. However, the day belongs to the Lord, not to us. It's His pleasure we should seek above our own.

    I might be mistaken, but I have never understood the provision for allowing duties of mercy on the Lord's Day to mean that one has to go out and look for duties of mercy to fulfill in order to properly keep the Lord's Day. On the other hand, if it is within our power to help others and extend mercy on the Lord's Day, then by all means we should do so to the glory of Him who is the Lord of the Sabbath, which was made for man and not vice-versa.

    [Edited on 4-20-2005 by VirginiaHuguenot]
     
  18. Myshkin

    Myshkin Puritan Board Freshman


    This gets to the heart of what I am trying to understand. Does the WCF mean by duties of mercy those that we are required to go out and purposely look for, or does it mean as you have defined above, that duties of mercy are allowed and not to be neglected if one should arise? If it is the latter, then I have trouble seeing how the puritan view and the continental view are any different on this point (in reference to my outline on 4th commandment posted above); and if this is so then it seems to me that the only real practical difference between the two views is the concept of "recreation".

    This seems to be a mischaracterization of the continental view. This makes it sound as if they view Sunday worship as something to get over with quickly so that they can devote themselves to recreational activities the rest of the day. Just as I don't think it is fair for me to think that the puritan view teaches that duties of mercy are required in a sense of them being sought out all day long (which I wrongly assumed by a misreading of WCF), I don't think it is fair to think that the continental view teaches recreation to be our primary focus or even a focus at all. It is my understanding that allowing recreation is quite different from focusing on it, just as I misunderstood the WCF to be saying that duties of mercy are to be focused on and not just allowed. If the allowing leads to a focusing then I see that as a misunderstanding of the view and not the view itself.


    VirginiaHuguenot-

    Sidebar questions: as one who holds the puritan view, is the continental view then considered "liberalism" (i.e. being liberal or loose with the truth), an isolated error, sytematic error, or heresy? I know by some its probably considered antinomianism (which is heresy isn't it?)

    I know of two prominent elders who hold/held the continental view and subscribe to the WCF. Are they denying the WCF? Is it considered an exception to the WCF? I have been told (probably wrongly?) that the OPC does not ordain those who hold the continental view, while the PCA does? I have heard some say that the WCF does not assert the continental view or puritan view, but allows for both in that they agree on the essential principles of sabbath keeping and meaning? That the WCF being a confession and not a creed allows for diversity within the reformed world on this point, so long as one of these two views is held and not some other third option? Did all those at the westminster assembly hold the puritan view? What of those who didn't; we're they not considered acceptable within the WCF? Does sctrict subscriptionism to the WCF require adherence to the puritan view, and therefore allowance of one holding the continental view is considered "loose" subscription?

    I know I have bogged you down with alot of questions, so please feel no hurry to answer. I am trying to take this all in as slowly as I can for a healthier understanding. Thanks:handshake:
     
  19. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    I think I'd agree with that assessment in general if we are strictly speaking about the Lord's Day alone. However, the subject of holidays falls under the purview of the Fourth Commandment, I believe, and in that respect the continental tradition allows for keeping of holy days besides the Lord's Day, while the Puritan tradition does not.

    My comment here was not directed at the continental view of Sabbath-keeping. It was directed at the Anglo-Catholic view of Sabbath-keeping. However, as you mentioned, the continental view is more permissive with respect to recreation during the day after worship services.


    Yes, that is a lot of (excellent) questions and I'm afraid I don't have time to give complete answers right now. I would defer to present officers in the PCA or OPC to give their perspectives on Sabbath-keeping views that are tolerated in their denominations. I've been a member of the PCA and have seen a huge spectrum of beliefs and practices with regards to Sabbath-keeping and other issues (ranging from very strict to very loose subscription). My own present denomination holds to the strict Puritan view/practice. Regarding the Assembly, I have not researched whether specific Divines held to a continental view, but I am certain that the majority if not consensus held to the Puritan view. I believe this is what is taught by the Confession and that it does not permit sports on the Lord's Day, for example. If someone were to assert that the Confession permits sports on the Lord's Day, I'd challenge that. The Confession is very clear, In my humble opinion, that the whole day is to be taken up in worship or works of necessity or mercy. I think what happens sometimes is that words get defined loosely and so the practice follows likewise. Someone wonders, If necessity or mercy allows for walking why not biking or surfing, etc., etc.? The slope can get slippery or at least seem to be so.

    Although I have said that I am strict Sabbath-keeper, I'd like to emphasize that I don't go sitting in judgment of others though I might not partake of their activities. Nor do I wish to address hypothetical situations such as a 3 year-old boy rolling a ball vs. a 10 year-old boy rolling a ball on the Lord's Day. True Sabbath-keeping is about the motives of the heart, not a list of do's and dont's, as important as they may be. The day belongs to the Lord and our activities should reflect that.

    [Edited on 4-26-2005 by VirginiaHuguenot]
     
  20. Myshkin

    Myshkin Puritan Board Freshman

    Does the PV then say that Christmas, easter, veterans, memorial day, etc. are not allowed? Or are you referring to holy days on the church calendar such as lent, ascension, etc.?

    :amen:

    VH-
    I have a question I have been mulling over: Would it be safe to say that the PV focuses more on the spiritual/redemption motif, while the CV tries to incorporate the physical/creation motif equally with the spiritual/redemption motif. Not saying either way is right or wrong, just that this seems to be a distinction between the two. It also seems that the CV focuses on the fact that the sabbath is a creation ordinance, before the fall and therefore before redemption, while the PV focuses more on the practices of the redeemed covenant community of Israel.

    Regardless of which view one holds within the reformed community, should the church be disciplining our elders when they don't hold to either view in practice? Before I came to these convictions, and I was out eating at restaurants on Sundays, I noticed several times elders from churches in the area were there too. I shouldn't have been doing this myself, so I don't want to be a hypocrite, but shouldn't this be even more true of elders who are to lead not just in teaching but also in example? I am shocked by this, so maybe I should just chalk it up to my new awareness of how much the fourth commandment really is desecrated by the church today. Any thoughts?

    I am enjoying our friendly conversation:) I hope I have caused you to think as much as you have caused me to.

    [Edited on 4-29-2005 by RAS]
     
  21. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    The Puritan view of the Fourth Commandment says that only the day that God has ordained to be kept holy may be kept holy -- the church may not legislate holy days not found in his word. Thus, Christmas, Easter, Lent, etc., having no Biblical warrant, and being the ground of all sorts of superstitious Roman Catholic worship and pagan abuses, may not be kept by the Christian Church. Civil holidays (much like Purim) are a completely different matter and at the discretion of the civil magistrate. The Puritan view also allows for occasional days of thanksgiving or fasting.

    That is perhaps a valid distinction between the two views. However, the Puritan view certainly bases the moral perpetually binding nature of the Sabbath in the creation ordinance. God rested on the seventh day and so must we. But there is a strong Puritan emphasis on what that means in the covenant community and that is interpreted to suggest that the Christian Sabbath is meant to be kept as strictly as was the Hebrew Sabbath. Keeping God's day holy is not just about ceasing from our evil works as the HC says, but rather on a positive note, being about the business of our Lord and seeking his pleasure as opposed to our own.

    Sabbath-keeping ought to be the mark of a Christian. Many within the church, even among our leaders, are woefully ignorant of this basic fact. For some reason, the Fourth Commandment is not valued as highly as, say, the Sixth or Seventh in the Christian Church at large. Uncertainly about the change of day from the seventh to the first, the view that Sunday worship is a matter of convenience, not Biblical necessity, rationalizations about fun and pleasure and going out to eat on the Lord's Day, all make for a day that -- except for going to Church -- doesn't seem to be kept much differently between Christians and non-Christians, by and large. The Church needs to repent in many areas, but the Fourth Commandment is a major blind spot for the Church.

    Me too! You are asking great questions, and I appreciate your profoundly evident desire to honor God with respect to his holy day.

    [Edited on 4-29-2005 by VirginiaHuguenot]
     
  22. Myshkin

    Myshkin Puritan Board Freshman

    Agreeing with you that the church may not legislate other "holy" days, does it neccessarily follow then that christians may not observe other "holy" days? This seems like an adiaphora issue to me so long as the "holy" days do not in any way compromise essential christian truth or practice.

    Is it a historical fact that the puritans did not celebrate Christmas, even in a way different from the worldy materialistic way of our day?

    While agreeing heartily that one day in seven is to be set aside for christian worship, is there not another sense in which every day is to be holy before the lord? In my thinking, it seems that the PV unconsciously forgets this and it leads to a strict separation of 1 day from the other 6, while the CV view maintains the distinction between the 1/6 day schema without separating them; or I should say logically guards from separating them. In summary, the PV seems to focus on a distinction of kind, while the CV focuses on a disctinction of degree?

    I am thinking that the CV view is more wholistic of God's entire counsel, while the PV is more narrow (albeit not false though, as far as it goes). In other words what the PV view holds is not false, it just doesn't go far enough.

    I have also been pondering this: Since the WCF is seen as the fullest of confessions, and is also a building on of previous reformed confessions(not a separation from them), is it possible that the continental creeds covered one side of the coin in correcting the Roman abuses, and the WCF covered the other side of the coin for those who abused the continental affirmations? I have to say I see very little if any disagreement between the HC definition of the sabbath and the WCF's definition. If anything they are in complete agreement and the puritans may have gone too far beyond (not against) on this issue. Where is the precedent or fact that the WCF was strictly a puritan document? Was not the assembly made up of continental believers also? If the WCf is the final agreement of all who were involved in that assembly, does that not say that the WCF is not strictly of the puritan view, but allows for the puritan view along with the continental view? Perhaps this is why the term "recreation" is not narrowly defined as the puritan view defines it? It seems to me that "worldly" is the qualifier of "recreations" so as to distinguish between types of recreations and not as to distinguish between recreation vs. non-recreation. If I am understanding this correctly, then I can see why those of the continental view are allowed ordination in WCF denominations.

    I am having trouble seeing how the WCF statement on the sabbath is THE PV. At this time I am seeing (rightly or wrongly) that the PV is an allowable interpretation of the WCF principles, and not the WCF in itself. I am saying this because it is also my understanding that the Puritans were not just of the British variety, but also existed on the continent. So perhaps "puritan" is being defined too narrowly on this issue?

    Just tossing these thoughts around:book2::detective:


    Grace and peace till next time:handshake:
     
  23. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    The Puritans viewed non-circumstantial worship issues, particularly the celebration of holy days, as non-adiaphora, moral issues related to the first table of the law. George Gillespie, David Calderwood and others wrote extensively on this issue, expressing the Puritan view that holidays were not indifferent but in violation of the Second and Fourth Commandments.

    Yes. Christmas and other such Roman Catholic holidays were outlawed during the Commonwealth era as well as Puritan New England. If it fell on a weekday or Saturday, citizens were expected to work as usual. If it fell on the Lord's Day, then it was treated as a normal Christian Sabbath. Abstaining from work on weekdays and the raising up of Christmas trees, singing of Christmas carols, and all other such activities were prohibited not only in the church but in all of society.

    There is a strong distinction in the PV in that six days are given to men to fulfill their responsibilities and seek their own pleasures, but the Sabbath is the Lord's. I don't think though that the PV denies that every day is created by God for his glory and we are accountable to redeem the time. The Fourth Commandment itself makes the 1/6 distinction and the PV adheres to that. "Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy...Six days shalt thou labor..."

    With due respect, I would say it's the other way around.

    The WCF articulates the PV view and it is stricter than the CV. The CV (as expressed in the HC) is inadequate in its articulation of what works are prohibited on the Lord's Day. I do not think that one who adheres to the CV and not the PV is in accord with the WCF.

    I would have to look more closely at the definitions or individuals that you are referring to in order to better understand what you mean. My own understanding is that Puritans in Scotland and England who participated in the Westminster Assembly and adhered to the Sabbatarian principles most faithfully practiced and expounded on the British Isles believed that the Christian Sabbath was to be kept as strictly as the Jewish Sabbath and only the Sabbath (ie., not Roman holidays). Puritans on the Continent tended to view the requirements of Sabbath-keeping in a way that allowed for both recreation activities and the keeping of Roman holidays both of which, in my view, diminish the significance of the Christian Sabbath as the one and only holy day ordained by God.

    Please feel free to elaborate on your definitions or specific references. It's good to explore these distinctions. :handshake:
     
  24. cultureshock

    cultureshock Puritan Board Freshman

    Calvin on the Sabbath

    Calvin's position is strangely inconsistent. In the Institutes, in his section on the Ten Commandments, he sounds anti-sabbatarian. However, in his commentary on Genesis, he sounds pretty sabbatarian to me.

    Brian
     
  25. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

  26. Myshkin

    Myshkin Puritan Board Freshman

    VirginiaHuguenot-
    Let me preface the following by stating that none of the following is meant as a challenge, it is more so me just sharing my reasoning process publicly as I wrestle through this all. Thank you for understanding this from the very beginning of our discussion. It has been very rewarding and encouraging to have a civilized discussion with a brother in the faith. My iron has indeed been sharpened.


    My immediate response to this, in the same order as your statements, is this:
    1. I think we need to distinguish between "may", "must", and "may not"
    2. I would agree with you that the seventh day must be kept holy
    3. I would agree with you that the Church may not legislate "holy" days that aren't found in God's word. (I would go further and add that they may not legislate Jewish ceremonial holy days either even though they are in the bible too)
    4. I would say the ideas of Christmas and Easter do have biblical warrant, namely the birth and death of Christ. I would not say that these should be legislated as proper or improper by the Church. Acceptable, yes. Legislative propriety, no. It's an adiaphora issue I think.
    5. I think that claiming Christmas and easter are wrong because they are the ground of Roman Catholic abuses is a fallacy. With that type of reasoning I could say that the Puritan Board is wrong because it is the ground where some have said something incorrect. We both know that an abuse of a thing does not necessarily determine the inherent quality of that thing. This is the same form of argument baptists use to discount infant baptism. (i.e it's "catholic" therefore it is wrong)
    6. I thought christmas and easter were civil holidays and that's why they are acceptable for christians to observe (so long as they do so biblically) or to not observe as a matter of conscience. I personally have never heard of a church legislating these days as required for observance.
    7. If the Puritans allow for days of thanksgiving (not just Thanksgiving Day), by this I would say that easter and christmas day are then acceptable because they are days of thanksgiving.

    I do not think that the CV would object that the Christian sabbath is to be kept as strictly as the Hebrew sabbath. The difference is not in amount of strictness, but in what that strictness consists of. It is a matter of content, not degree. I do not see how the CV disagrees in any way from your statement here.

    I also see the seeking pleasure of God and not our own as a self-defeating false dilemma. Isn't there a third option in which we are allowed to seek both? It is God's pleasure that we worship Him in church on Sunday. Is it not our pleasure to be there? It is God's pleasure for us to be restored physically and not just spiritually (we have a bodily resurrection, not just a soul resurrection), so is it not ok to have physical/recreational pleasure as a way to appreciate God's providence for our physical needs? Doesn't God care about the whole man, body and soul, not just the soul? Can we divorce these two when God has stated that what He has joined together let not man separate?

    Back to my point about the two sided coin in my last post, your statement that the HC focuses on ceasing from our evil works (a negative assertion), and the WCF focuses on seeking God's pleasure (a positive assertion); should we not see these as complimentary truths and not as contradictions? Isn't ceasing from our evil works a form of seeking God's pleasure? I think that the HC and the WCF are emphasizing two different sides of the same coin, I do not see them as in disagreement with each other. Considering that the WCF was a building upon prior reformed confessions, not a forming of something in contradiction to them, it seems to me that the WCF is just clarifying the HC not asserting something contradictory. I say this for two reasons: one, not all of the westminster assembly were puritans, and two, not all of the puritans were of the british variety. It therefore seems to me that the WCF is not THE puritan view, but is the REFORMED view, and the puritan view only accepts the WCF assertions while leaving out its agreement with the previous HC which it built upon. Based on this (and these are just my thoughts I'm scrambling through), I see three groups: 1. one group focuses solely on the HC definition, 2. one group focuses solely on the WCF definition, 3. one group acknowledges both definitions as complimentary

    If this understanding of mine is true, then I see how it is that those who hold to the continental view can be considered to subscribe to the WCF.

    One more question-
    Please define pleasure in Isaiah 58:13.
    The disagreement I see between the two views is this:
    1. the CV says recreation is allowable because recreation in itself is not evil or worldly
    2. the PV does not allow recreation because recreation is inherently evil or worldly

    Does pleasure in this verse mean "pleasure in itself", or does it mean "the pleasure of disobeying God"?

    If it is the former than to be perfectly consistent in believing this we must not have pleasure in going to church, enjoying a nice home-cooked meal with family, enjoying a much needed nap, etc. and this seems gnostic to me. I think the pleasure in this verse refers to a kind of pleasure, not to pleasure in itself. (i.e we should not have pleasure in performing unneccesary commerce/labor, nor pleasure in neglecting corporate worship), I don't think it refers to pleasure as a whole, including recreation.

    One last point why I think recreation is allowable (not commanded, but allowable to a point so long as it does not interfere with corporate worship, nor cause unnecessary commerce/labor), is because it is re-creation, symbolizing a re-creating of something. The 4th commandment is a creation ordinance, and it has spiritual significance.
    Our spiritual regeneration is a re-creation of a fallen souls. Our progressive sanctification and ultimately our glorification is partly a re-creation of our bodies. As the 4th commandment is a creation ordinance, symbolizing our re-creation spiritually in Christ, I believe it symbolizes our re-creation bodily in Christ too since creation is material. With this in mind, I think the CV view parallels these truths better than the PV. And I think the PV has a subtle ascetic/gnostic bent to it.

    I think the HC did not go far enough on this issue, and the WCF expanded upon it, but I don't think the WCF went against it. I say this because the WCF does not explicitly say that recreation is not allowed, while the HC does not explicilty deny anything that the WCF affirms. I say it also because as stated other times by others on the PB, Calvin and the puritans were really no different in practice. So maybe the continental vs. puritan view is a misnomer, and is another example of the Calvin vs. the calvinists mentality that seems to be the hobby of some scholars.


    Anyways, that's all for now.:)
    -Allan

    [Edited on 5-10-2005 by RAS]
     
  27. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Holy Days

    FYI For what it's worth On the Presbyterian view of so called holy days, and why they are different than the days of thanksgiving and fasting they did allow for, see:
    The Religious Observance of Christmas and Holy Days in American Presbyterianism
    http://www.fpcr.org/blue_banner_articles/americanxmas.htm
     
  28. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    Thanks, brother. I agree it is good when brethren can discuss these important issues with grace, and I hope that is true of me. It is my intent to glorify the Lord of the Sabbath in this discussion. Your words have been very gracious and I appreciate that very much.

    I'd like to clarify a few things here. Christmas and Easter are not wrong because the Roman Catholic church abused them. They were pagan holidays before Christ was born and the Roman Catholic imported them and "Christianized" them without warrant to do so from the Word of God. Worship is not a matter of adiaphora. If the Church calls for and conducts a Christmas or Easter service, they are calling upon God's people to assemble and worship God for a special occasion. They are saying, we are here to remember Christ's birth or resurrection and to worship God accordingly. Usually, this involves such things as Christmas carols, advent wreaths, Passion plays, Easter bunnies and the like, none of which are Biblical. Churches observe these days differently from one another, but the point is, they are observing a holy day which God has not called holy and told us to celebrate. We don't know the day of Christ's birth. It is presumptuous to try to celebrate his "birthday" without doing so on the correct day and without God's command to do so. We are told to celebrate Christ's death in the Lord's Supper and his resurrection is celebrated every Lord's Day. We are not told to celebrate Easter.

    The Regulative Principle of Worship says that we may not worship God in ways that he has not commanded. That is from the Second Commandment but it is also directly related to the Fourth. There is only one holy day and Christmas and Easter observances are in not accord with Sabbath-keeping. They are not just civil holidays. They most definitely religious. The ACLU has been for years toying with the idea of suing the federal government to stop observing those federal holidays because they are inherently religious. They just don't have the popular support from their own membership to do so.

    To clarify further, I am not saying that those holidays are wrong because they have a connection to and history with the Roman Catholic church or even pagan origins. They are wrong because God has not commanded them. However, those connections simply add to the superstitions and abuses associated with the holidays. The name comes from Christ-mass. The practice was imported into the Protestant Churches via Rome. Rome declared the day to be kept holy is December 25 (Protestant Churches tend to observe Rome's day rather than the Eastern Orthodox Christmas on January 6).

    How does one properly observe Christmas or Easter? What are the rules for proper observance? Is a tree required? Is a sunrise service required? Are these things optional? Why not go with the Eastern Orthodox calendar instead of the Roman? Is it wrong to not celebrate these holidays? Who gets to decide these issues since the Bible does not tell us? Should we not work on these "holy" days when God has said "six days shalt thou labor"?

    Adiaphora things in worship consist of those matters which are circumstantial (ie., what time the service starts, where shall the congregation meet, etc.); worship services designed to fall on a particular day appointed by the church to celebrate some aspect of the church calendar is a legislating of something which is not adiaphora but essentially belongs to God alone to determine. And he has definitely not called us to celebrate Christmas or Easter.

    In contrast, Paul condemns the Galatians for observing holy days besides the Lord's Day (Gal. 4.10-11). We do not have the authority to appoint holy days or celebrate/observe such days without God's specific command to do so. To do otherwise, is "will worship" and returning to "beggarly elements" of worship. I would encourage you to read this article on The Regulative Principle of Worship and Christmas.

    De jure, yes; de facto, no.

    We ought to delight in God and his ways. Going to church and observing the whole day as holy unto him ought to be our pleasure. Being about the business of God ought not to leave room for our own pursuits. The Superbowl is a perfect example of something that is lawful on other days, but not on the Lord's Day (well, maybe not perfect, the cheerleaders and Janet Jackson and self-glory aside). Many things are lawful for ourselves six days a week that are not lawful on the Lord's Day because we are to set aside our own pleasures and conform them to God's pleasure. Personal recreations, while good and healthy at other times, cannot be said to be of the essence of what pleases God on his holy day. That is clear enough from reading the Old Testament and noting how Paul preached until midnight on the Lord's Day, etc., etc.

    Sabbath-keeping as described in the HC is not contrary to the WCF, it is simply insufficient as a well-rounded statement about the duties required and sins forbidden in the Fourth Commandment. The WLC (see #115-121) is a good place to study for further exposition of the Commandment, as are the resources found here.

    Pleasure does not necessarily mean enjoyment of something sinful per se. It can mean that, which is why it is correct to say that we should cease from our evil works on the Lord's Day. But we are to cease from our evil works every day. Pleasure in this context means those idle pursuits which may be lawful but not on a day wherein God calls us to a holy business of worshipping him. We are to find our pleasure in delighting in the duties of Sabbath-keeping and not in desiring to seek out fun and entertainment and recreation instead.

    Recreation is not evil. Recreation may be good. The Puritans were all for recreation. Just not on the Lord's Day. The PV is that there are many activities which are lawful six days a week which are not lawful on the Lord's Day.

    Another point to consider which alluded to below by Matthew Henry is that the opposite of 'holy' is not just 'evil' but that which is 'common.' That which is holy is set apart from the rest. Six days of the week are given to us to attend to matters common; one day is set apart, holy, not for our common affairs, but for a holy calling.

    I like what Matthew Henry says here:

    I agree that rest is an essential part of keeping the Fourth Commandment. A nap is consistent with the principle of rest, but recreation is not rest. Recreation is work.

    The practical differences in Sabbath-keeping between the Puritans and the Continentals were not that great. Not as great probably as those between modern-day Puritans and today's average evangelical Christian whose Sabbath ends as soon as the morning worship service is over. Many if not most Continentals at least had an evening service and did not rush off to the TV.

    It is very easy to justify fun activities as pleasing to God on his holy day. Have you seen the movie "Chariots of Fire"? It is about a noble stand that was taken by Eric Liddell for Sabbath-keeping. He refused to run on the Lord's Day. The contrast between his sermon on Isaiah 40 and the exhausted young men who were racing that day is striking. And yet, in the movie (I don't know if these were Liddell's real words, the movie does take quite a few liberties in telling the story), he says, "When I run, I feel God's pleasure." Running is a lawful activity and honors God, but not on the Sabbath.

    One of the key aspects of Sabbath-keeping, according to the Fourth Commandment, is that we work (work includes all of our normal daily activities, not just renumerative work) six days a week and cease from our usual activities on God's holy day. This is in part why it is wrong for our government and employers to turn religious holidays like Christmas and Easter into civil holidays and close up shops. The Puritans and Pilgrims forbade people to take the day off (unless it fell on the Lord's Day) and spend it in idle pleasures. There are two sides to Sabbath-keeping as noted in our WLC, working six days and resting from our works on the Lord's Day that we might spend it in holy duties unto his glory.

    God bless you in your continued studies, brother. And may he grant us the grace to find our rest and his pleasure on his holy day.


    [Edited on 5-10-2005 by VirginiaHuguenot]
     
  29. Myshkin

    Myshkin Puritan Board Freshman

    We are in complete agreement here as are the CV and PV also.

    But this raises the question in my mind: Where does God command us to do works of mercy on Sunday? I understand that we are commanded to do works of mercy in general, but where is this explicitly commanded as something to be sought out on Sunday? I anticipate that you may respond as this being an argument from silence, and it is implicitly in there. But if this is so, then I could easily say celebrating the birth and resurrection of Christ on days other than just Sunday is implicit also.

    When the pharisees got mad at Christ for doing works of mercy on the sabbath, I do not see where Christ said that works of mercy are commanded on the sabbath. I see Christ responding with a may to the pharisees cannot, not with a must.

    If "must" means "to be sought out" then I disagree with the puritan view, but if it means that as situations of mercy arise we must partake in them, then I agree, because this is true for us at all times and not just on Sunday (but I don't think the PV meant the latter because it should be obvious to us that we should carry out our duties everyday, not just Sunday, so why would they mention this singly over other commands). If it is the latter than there is no difference in the PV or CV on this point. You mentioned in an earlier post that you understood the WCF to teach the latter, but I ask this because I have learned that the PV means the former- (I am getting this from RC Sproul's teaching on the fourth commandment as I outlined in one of my first posts in this thread, and from old church friends who observed the PV)

    So that would leave us with the only other difference, recreation.

    To the first part, as I read my footnotes on this verse in the Reformation Study Bible, I do not see where Paul is condemning the Galatians for observing other days per se, but rather for observing them as an additive work necessary for salvation. And secondly, Paul may be referring to Jewish ceremonial festival days that they thought had to be kept. In context Paul was condemning the Gentiles for thinking that they had to maintain or earn salvation by returning to Jewish ceremonial law. I think using this particular verse as a priniciple for not allowing any observance of any other day besides Sunday is a stretch.

    As for the second part, I agree in that the institution of the church does not have the authority to appoint other days of worship as necessary. But it does not follow from this that we cannot celebrate Christmas, or easter, or birthdays, or Christ's ascension at all.

    Ironically, in the argument that the church cannot bind consciences by forcing us to follow other "holy' days, one is in turn binding consciences by saying that one cannot observe these days also. Nowhere in scripture are we told that we cannot set aside a day specifically focusing on Christ's birth. This is either/or thinking, which if held consistently would mean, we can only worship Christ on Sunday, the rest of the week we only focus on ourselves. I think this issue is adiaphora and not of the essence of the faith or practice. I am interested, if you have any quotes by the puritans at Westminster assembly who said Christmas, and easter, were breaking the command of God. I get the feeling that others who hold the PV do not view it as extreme as what you are portraying here in condemning these other "holy" days. And also, by observing them, it does not mean that they are pronounced "holy" in the same way the sabbath is holy.

    Again, I do not see how anything in this statement contradicts the CV. This implies that you are saying the CV holds that all we have to do is go to church Sunday morning and the rest of the day is ours to do whatever we want. Also, since the sabbath day of rest also symbolizes our eternal rest, do you think that all we will be doing in heaven is worship in the strict sense? Or is heaven also creation restored? Will not in a certain sense everything we do be pleasing worship to the Lord? Did Adam and Eve only please God in the Garden when they stopped to worship him? Or was he pleased also in that His creation was good and that creation included all things that man was able to enjoy? This is why I mentioned earleir that the PV at times seems to downplay the realm of creation as if all that is important is the spiritual worship of God. I think at this point the CV holds in better balance the ideas of creation and redemption without one swallowing the other. Can God not be pleased with our enjoying His creation (through recreation, contemplation, physcal rest, socializing with others, etc.) also, instead of only doing "spiritual" things? After all, even the spiritual worship we give on Sunday is still done in the created realm.

    I am by no means suggesting this as the way it is, but to my incompletely sanctified mind (and that's the key to my statement here), the PV seems to flirt with a gnostic idea of spiritual vs. material. Not saying it does, just that right or wrong my reasoning process leads me to believe this tentatively.


    Back to the other difference, recreation.

    I am not versed in the original languages, so if you are could you translate what "pleasure", "own ways', and "own words" mean in Isaiah 58:13? (NKJV)

    I am reading the footnotes again of my Reformation Study Bible, and it says: "own ways...own words; Their goals were social prestige, financial gain, and political importance." From this Is. 58:13 does not seem to be condemning recreation on the sabbath, it is condemning turning the sabbath in to a day of business (which would include I think recreational activities for money, i.e. pro sports).

    I would also like to add that since the CV allows for recreation, it does not seem to follow that recreation is required or even wise. It just simply means it is allowable. By making it allowable, the church avoids binding consceinces where God has not spoken. (I know you think that God has clearly spoken here) But again, this does not mean it is preferable.

    I must admit, it is this that keeps me from fully embracing the CV. This is an idea I have to wrestle with.

    I have to disagree. I think unproven presuppositions are shown here. To define work as recreation uses a very broad definiton of "work". And I think we should operate with what words actually mean, not what we want them to mean.

    According to Webster: "recreate"- to restore, refresh, create anew; to put fresh life into; refresh or restore in body or mind esp. after work by play, amusement, or relaxation

    "recreation"- refreshment in body or mind, as after work by some form of play, amusement, or relaxation.

    "relax"- to rest from effort, worry, or work, as by lying down, engaging in recreation, etc.

    This is why I think the CV view holds the creation/redemption theme in better balance. Our Sunday rest parallels our eternal rest, and our spiritual rest parallels our bodily rest (and recreation is one form of that bodily rest).

    Agreed 100%. And this is why in my outline I refered to on the 4th commandment that the CV and PV are not that different; they agree on all the essential issues of the sabbath, they disagree on other things that the PV sees as also essential and the CV view sees as adiaphora. Our problem today is not what view is correct, thats secondary I believe since they are fundamentally reformed and of like-mind, but the problem is that neither view is held today. Antinomianism rules our sabbath days today; and I think the statements in Is. 58:13 are parallels to the antinomians of our day, not to those who hold the CV.

    I'll look forward to your response next week as usual when I have time, and I'll say that this is my last post on this thread, I think we have exhausted it as far as possible without getting into too much speculation and I have a lot to think about before I commit fully to which view I am convinced is biblical (and I think both fundamentally are, its the differences beyond that that I have to think upon), so......

    I am aware that there are those who think the WCF is the only true reformed confession, and therefore the CV is unacceptable. I think this is an overly narrow definition of what is reformed and what isn't and shouldn't be an issue to divide over. Thankfully you have not pronounced such a judgment upon me, nor has anyone else, and I thank you for your charity and brotherhood. This discussion has shaped my thinking, and improved my understanding of a lot of things. Most importantly my heart beats faster for honoring God in this commandment more than it ever has. Thank you for your patience in allowing me to reason this out, and not throwing me aside because we disagree. Out of struggle, our convictions change and become concrete; thanks for allowing this to take place between us.

    :ditto::amen:

    [Edited on 5-19-2005 by RAS]

    [Edited on 5-19-2005 by RAS]
     
  30. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    As I said earlier in the thread, the PV does not, I believe, state that one must fulfill works of mercy on the Lord's Day. Only that such are permitted. In other words, works of necessity and mercy are lawful on the Lord's Day, though other works are not. I think we are in agreement on this point, although I don't know where RC Sproul gathers otherwise.

    The PV and CV are close to agreement in a practical sense, as I mentioned earlier, in terms of Sabbath-keeping. But with respect to other holy days besides the Lord's Day, the PV and CV are not in agreement. The regulative principle forbids that which is not commanded in worship. The PV is consistent with this in not celebrating Christmas, et al., because there is no Biblical command to do so. The CV is not consistent because it allows for Christmas-keeping, etc. (I am referring to the historic practice of both views.) The Fourth Commandment falls under the regulative principle of worship because it is part of the first table of the law having to do with worship and therefore holy days that are not commanded by God are not lawful to keep.

    Recreation is another area of disagreement.

    I would not say that Reformation Study Bible is representative of the historical Puritan understanding of the Second and Fourth Commandments.

    Galatians 4.10 has to do with Jewish Christians who observed Jewish holidays because they thought God was pleased therewith. Keeping the regulative principle in mind -- as Brian Schwertley noted in expounding the Puritan view against man-made holidays in the article earlier cited -- how much more should we Christians refrain from observing holy days that were never instituted by God.

    As Samuel Miller said, "We believe that the Scriptures not only do not warrant the observance of such days [i.e., "holy" days], but that they positively discountenance it. Let any one impartially weigh Colossians 2:16, and also, Galatians 4:9-11; and then say whether these passages do not evidently indicate, that the inspired Apostle disapproved of the observance of such days." The Truly Primitive and Apostolic Constitution of the Church of Christ (1836).

    I believe these two thoughts are not consistent. Church services by definition involve either 1) obedience to the regulations of God's Word, or 2) imposition of traditions of men that violate the conscience. The choice is either regulated worship or will-worship. When a church holds a special service to celebrate Christmas the parishioners are bound to obey God and abstain from such idolatrous worship or else participate. There is no middle ground.

    I'm not sure how "birthdays" got in the list. That's a completely different, unrelated issue since birthdays are celebrated outside the church and do not involve religious worship, hence, they are not subject to the regulative principle. Unless you mean celebrating Christ's birthday via Christmas...which would be redundant since you already listed Christmas.

    Binding the conscience in matters of worship happens when the church imposes a form of worship or ceremonial rite that is not commanded in God's Word (remember the regulative principle).

    See the WCF, Chap. XX:

    Thus in matters of worship that are contrary to God's Word or beside it, to impose or obey traditions of men is to violate the conscience.

    The observance of holy days besides the one holy day that God has commanded falls into that category. It is not adiaphora, it is a Second/Fourth Commandment issue. That is the historic PV. The Puritans and Presbyterians made it illegal to celebrate Christmas in the church or in any public, external way. Histories of the Commonwealth of England, or Presbyterian Scotland or Puritan New England will confirm this.

    Here is what the Westminster Assembly said in its Directory for Publick Worship:

    George Gillespie (Assembly Commissioner), William Perkins, David Calderwood, William Bradford, John Knox (see Knox's writings on Deut. 4 and 12 as well as the First Book of Scottish Discipline, 1560, which specifically condemns a list of Roman, man-made holidays) and others from the Puritan age have written specifically against Christmas-keeping and other man-made holy days. Among others who have adhered to the Puritan view contra such holy days since (this is but a partial list) are Charles Spurgeon, A.W. Pink, James Bannerman, Samuel Miller, the 1638 General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the 1899 General Assembly of the PCUS, the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, the Presbyterian Reformed Church and many, many more.

    Again, I will cite Brian Schwertley's study on The Regulative Principle of Worship and Christmas which contains much exegetical and historical support for the Puritan, Westminster Assembly view contra the celebration of holy days besides the Lord's Day. See also Andrew Webb's Why do Presbyterians Observe Holy Days?.

    Observing days like Christmas means not working on those days and instead worshipping God according to a rite that is not commanded in his Word. Those two elements (ceasing from work and worshipping) are Fourth Commandment requirements that apply to the Sabbath-day alone, not to man-made religious holidays. We do not have license to invent religious holidays and treat them like the Lord's Day by calling special worship services and abstaining from work.

    The PV does not downplay the creation ordinance of Sabbath-keeping. It is precisely because it is a creation ordinance that Sabbath-keeping is shown to be part of the moral law of God even before the Decalogue was articulated in Exodus. But it does require worship and rest from our ordinary labors, including recreation.

    We rest from our labors on this day because God rested on the seventh day, and because Christ rose from the dead and conquered sin and death on the first day.

    WLC

    I can assure you that the PV is not gnostic.

    I will differ to others who are acquainted with the original language. Matthew Henry's commentary which I cited earlier is representative of the Puritan understanding of this passage which was also the Hebrew understanding, ie., as Matthew Henry says:

    Again, the conscience is "bound" by men only when things are forbidden which are allowed or commanded which are forbidden. In this case, speaking of recreation on the Lord's Day, God's Word prohibits it; therefore, to allow for it is license that is not given to God's people.

    Recreation is work in the Biblical sense of the word (which may or may not jive with Webster). The WLC as cited above speaks of "an holy resting." This is obviously not recreation because recreation is not rest; it is exercise or activity of some sort. Recreation is a good thing per se because it refreshes the mind and body. But it is involves occupation of the mind and body -- not rest. Think of recreation as "play time." Whether we are speaking of hobbies or sports or something else along those lines, it requires that we put forth energy and attention; it occupies our bodies and minds. That energy and attention, however well spent on other days, is supposed to be directed towards the worship of God and associated activities on the Lord's Day. Just as "creation" involves work, so does "re-creation." "Work" as used in the Fourth Commandment is a broad term that includes all lawful endeavors whether renumerative or not which occupy ourselves six days a week. The Sabbath is a rest from those otherwise lawful endeavors. Recreation or personal pleasurable pursuits are good and part of keeping the Fourth Commandment when done the other six days of the week. But the Sabbath is to be kept holy and holy means set apart or consecrated from the common and ordinary which is the six-day work (broadly understood) that makes up the other half of the Fourth Commandment (Remember the Sabbath-day to keep it holy and six days shalt thou labor). Recreation is lawful but it is not set apart or consecrated as part of Biblical Sabbath-keeping.

    Again, I refer to the example of a man like Eric Liddell who courageously refused to run (Olympics are amateur so it wasn't about professional sports) on the Lord's Day. Running is lawful but sports on the Lord's Day are not.

    Isaiah 58.13 requires a much deeper commitment to refrain from our own ways than I see reflected in the CV. If we are fully engaged in the business that God calls us to on the Lord's Day, then we ought not to have time for recreation and such. I don't deny though the earnest desire of CV-adherents to honor the Lord's Day as opposed to antinomians who deny that the Fourth Commandment is still binding. However, I think the understanding of the moral nature of the Fourth Commandment by historic CV was weak or not fully developed, Calvin included. The Puritans and Presbyterians were stricter (which is quite different than being legalistic).

    The PV is beautifully reflected in the Westminster Standards and in the writings and practices of many Puritans (see Matt's Lord's Day page). To me it is the perfect balance of honoring God on his holy day from the heart and with the body. It involves physical rest from all our labors, including recreation, that we might find our spiritual rest in Christ through worship.

    I certainly don't think the WCF is the only true Reformed confession. I do think it is the best though (along with the associated Standards) because it so thoroughly develops the understanding of Sabbath-keeping and regulative principle issues that are not as fully or Biblically set forth in most other such documents.

    I appreciate very much your sincere and charitable dialogue and if you would like to continue, brother, by all means, let's continue to sharpen one another as iron sharpens iron. I am so glad to hear of your increasing desire to keep God's commandment in this area. Let us truly call the Sabbath a delight!

    [Edited on 5-20-2005 by VirginiaHuguenot]
     
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