Is the observance of Sunday a matter of Christian Liberty?

Discussion in 'The Pilgrims Progress' started by Semper Fidelis, Nov 26, 2007.

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  1. tdowns

    tdowns Puritan Board Junior

    It's Still Alive!!!!!

    I think, half this thread is a :offtopic: and a third is :soapbox: (with the little marks meaning frustrated words not cuss words), and a lot of watchers are :scratch: while some are:popcorn:, and many are :applause:, while I'm :violin: only with a guitar, singing praises to my King for patience as I figure it all out......

    Seriously, assuming, that, I don't embrace what I understand to be the basic of Non-Sabbath keepers, which is, "I'm keeping the 4th commandment, by, RESTING IN Christ, because HE IS THE SABBATH, so, that is my sabbath" the John Macarthur's, etc....and I do, for now, trust, in the Reformers, and the Confessions, which I am, and hold to the Sabbath view, then the NO WORK FOR ME OR OTHERS, seems obvious.

    What does not seem obvious, is what constitutes,

    “ If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath,
    From doing your pleasure on My holy day,
    And call the Sabbath a delight,
    The holy day of the LORD honorable,
    And shall honor Him, not doing your own ways,
    Nor finding your own pleasure,
    Nor speaking your own words,
    14 Then you shall delight yourself in the LORD;
    And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth,
    And feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father.
    The mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

    First, if this is the only verse for no fun, or no recreation on Sabbath...I don't know context, etc...but seems like the language is not so specific, otherwise, you'd have to not say anything, at all, that was not scripture.

    On a broader note,

    When my son, is having fun, I, as his father, find delight. I'm pleased to see him, use his body, enjoy the fun, and the very, very, very, productive, and useful physical activity; activity, that is SCIENTIFICALLY proven, to not only make his body healthy, but his mind. So, if our body, and soul, are all one, and both are GOOD, then why, would it not be a pleasure, to God, the Father, to see his children, rejoice in the Lord, using their bodies, with more focus, on the Sabbath, on God, in these things. Not professional...but for enjoyment. Taking delight (especially on the Sabbath, as well as in other days) in God, and what he has given us, in health, and mind, and creation.

    I would argue, that, most great writers, are great readers, and enjoy, for their own pleasure, reading great works, so, to sit back, on a Sunday, and read all day, and fellowship, and maybe, just maybe, put off time with their kids (that possibly, they did not spend time with anyway, due to their very Godly time in their study) is so easy to say, this is what is Godly on the Sabbath.

    I find it hard to believe, in all the time, between Jesus picking wheat in the fields, and our modern society, where only recently, did people even have large houses, and couches, and bibles in hand, that the Sabbath consisted of sitting around, visiting, and napping, and reading the Word.

    It just seems, to me, that God the Father, would delight, in a father and son, or daughter, playing together, in the name of God, with the rejoicing of God on their lips, in the field or in the yard. Along with the study of the word, the sacraments on Sunday morning, etc.

    I think non-physical people, might not quiet understand, that the mind is alive, and the focus can be on God, during physical activity.

    Just some thoughts, on the culture of it all.

    Another thought, on the flip side, most in days past, probably spent their time in physical labor all week, so to rest, for them, would mean, non physical, where those of us, who are stuck, inside, using our minds, all day, being drained, some physical activity, is truly rest for the mind.

    I aim to submit, to the authority of God's word, and the Historic, Reformed Faith has not led me astray, so I'm seeking to understand it, truthfully, so I can submit to God's word, and follow it...I fail daily, and PRAISE GOD, for Christ's righteousness over me...just to give you the tone of where I'm coming from.
  2. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    John Willison takes the same view (see quotation below). I wonder, though, seeing we live in an age where it is rare to find people walking to services, if it might be permissible to take a brief stroll just to refresh oneself so as to be more alert in the public and private exercises of God's worship.

  3. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    This is a very good point about the benefits of getting your heart going. I'm convinced that one of the reasons I've done well academically over the years is AM exercise. I'm never so focused as when I'm moving.

    Even the Pharisees recognized a Sabbath Day's walk could be up to 6 miles long. It's not as if they had cars back then. There's nothing inherently recreational about going on a stroll.
  4. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    Yes, I note that Willison speaks of "idle walking" whereas a'Brakel distinguishes between strolling with a godly purpose in view and vain or sinful walking about:

  5. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritanboard Commissioner

    Again this is an interesting point; however, might not a Continental Sabbath person (especially if he eats such a light breakfast ;)) respond by saying that throwing a ball in the air for ten minutes is done in order to refocus his mind on worship?
  6. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    Well, a'Brakel is a Continental Sabbath person and he specifically wrote against playing ball.

    As has been mentioned, the term 'Continental Sabbath' can be misleading if not put into the proper context. In Joel Beeke's introduction to Willem Teellinck's The Path of True Godliness (p. 27), he says of the spiritual climate in the Netherlands that "Sabbath days were ill-spent by many." The Nadere Reformatie divines pointedly preached and wrote against recreational activities on the Lord's Day, which was a widespread problem for them, just as it is for us. Jacobus Koelman (The Duties of Parents, p. 76) wrote that parents should not allow their children to play in the house or the street. Walking is an act that is, it seems to me, adiaphora. What is the motive for the strolling about? That is the question. And as for tossing a ball around, I do think that allowance may be given for an infant playing with a ball, for example (perhaps then at least one Continental Sabbath person is more strict than I on this point), but honestly, in my opinion, I don't think the example given (tossing a ball around to "refocus for worship") can be justified in light of Isa. 58. It is not my place, however, to judge such a thing. I will leave something like that to another's conscience before God. I would refocus the discussion towards what our duty is on the Lord's Day. When we are fully occupied in duties and works of piety, necessity and mercy, there is no time, I think, for what most of us consider to be recreational activities.

    In general (although it could say more on the subject of recreation), having read much Puritan-minded Sabbath literature (though much more is on my reading list), the best little treatise on the subject (of Biblical Sabbath-keeping) that I can recommend is William Gouge's The Sabbath's Sanctification, reprinted by Matthew Winzer's Presbyterian's Armoury Publications (already quoted by me once in this thread), wherein Gouge notes (p. 6):

  7. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritanboard Commissioner

    I am using "Continental Sabbath" in the sense of being "looser" than Scottish/Puritan.

    My own view, at present, would be that recreation is contrary to Is. 58, but, as you say, it may be best to leave it to another's conscience.
  8. jogri17

    jogri17 Puritan Board Junior

    you know new covenanters have no problem with this
  9. No Longer A Libertine

    No Longer A Libertine Puritan Board Senior

    [ame=]YouTube - Sam the Eagle[/ame]
  10. JohnOwen007

    JohnOwen007 Puritan Board Sophomore

    The continentals had a variety of Sabbath views and cannot be lumped into one party:

    [1] People like Ursinus believed in a 1 in 7 Sabbath but the actual day was negotiable (it was decided by the church).

    [2] The Nadere Reformatie fellas (like Voetius et. al.) believed (like WCF) that the Sabbath was divinely changed in the NT to Sundays (and no other day could be chosen).

    [3] Cocceius and the Cocceians believed that Sabbath (as a ceremony) was completely fulfilled in Christ (and so the Cocceian women would sit knitting on their front porches on Sundays causing the Voetians to get very angry :rant:).

    So there is no "continental view" of the Sabbath.

  11. Amazing Grace

    Amazing Grace Puritan Board Junior

    Brother Martin:

    I must commend you. I enjoy your take on subjects where many use the broadest brush possible to use a label. Yet with some effort, we always find there are distinctions that must be made. Just becasue it walks like a duck, it may bark like a dog, therefore is not a duck..
  12. CalvinandHodges

    CalvinandHodges Puritan Board Junior


    What is remarkable among the "Anti-Sabbatarians" here is that they will answer all of the questions except those that pertain to their "theology."

    JohnOwen007 points out that Ursinus and Voetius had a disagreement concerning when the Sabbath should be observed (I have not checked Ursinus' postion on this as yet, and I see no citations from JOwen007). But the questions on this thread do not directly address this point. Both Ursinus and Voetius were in agreement with what it means to Keep the Sabbath Day Holy unto the Lord. Which is the subject-matter of this thread.

    Cocceius was charged with being an antinomian (which is a synonym for "libertine") in regards to his view of Sabbath keeping. According to some of his biographers - Cocceius was a Sabatarian in practice, but not in theology. This is not all. Cocceius devised a Biblical Theology that placed such a stong emphasis on the differences between the Old and New Testaments that he anticipated Dispensationalism. This led him to believe in two different types of Justification: The Old Testament Saints were "imperfectly" justified because of the ceremonial laws, while the New Testament Saints were "perfectly" justified having the reality set before them,

    All of this should be put aside.

    The final arbiter of all religious disputes is the Holy Spirit speaking through the Scriptures. One must evaluate their Biblical arguments rather than their persons in order to find the truth.

    Grace and Peace on this Lord's Day

  13. JohnOwen007

    JohnOwen007 Puritan Board Sophomore

    Dear CH,

    Here we go mate. Try, Ursinus' Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism q. 103, I (p. 563 in the Williard translation):

    "The old [Sabbath for Israel] was restricted to the seventh day [i.e. Saturday]: its observance was necessary, and constituted the worship of God. The new depends upon the decision and appointment of the church, which for certain reasons has made choice of the first day of the week, which is to be observed for the sake of order, and not from any idea of necessity, as if no other were to be observed by the church [...]

    Amen brother. I'm no Cocceius fan, but some trivia: he knew the entirety of Scripture in the original languages off-by-heart! However his doctrine of the abrogations of the covenant leave a lot to be desired. :(

    Blessings CH.
  14. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritanboard Commissioner

    Strictly speaking, that is probably true, but in popular usage today it is common for people to refer to the "Continental" Sabbath in distinction from the Scottish/Puritan view.

    However, your quotes suggest that this is probably not the best term.
  15. Amazing Grace

    Amazing Grace Puritan Board Junior

    There is nothing I can do to keep it Holy in respect to your faulty definition of Holy. I can "set it apart" as a day of worship with the community of faith. But Christ kept it therefore it is Holy through Him. I set it apart not out of a legal obligation, if I approach it this way, then I am obliged to keep the whole Law according to Paul in Galatians.

    I no longer need the command to set aside one day to rest in the Lord with do's and dont's, as I now am indwelt by His Spirit and have the faith to be resting in Him constantly. Yes, most definately can I watch football, not that I do, in any of the 7 days. It has nothing to do with Christian freedom. I for one am not free, I am Christ's, bought with a price. I do not protest your thought becasue of being free, I am enslaved to Christ by the power of His Spirit.

    The biggest contention I have is the thought that I must do anything alone for my moral benefit. My justification was not dependant upon me approaching God alone, therefore neither is my sanctification.
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2007
  16. Amazing Grace

    Amazing Grace Puritan Board Junior

    Wrongly I will add. This term is thrown around so much, it has no meaning anymore.
  17. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    OK, established that he believed that. I wish we had some more Dutch Reformed guys like Dr. Clark or others who have studied this as well weighing in.

    A few observations worth noting:

    1. I wonder if Ursinus at any point acknowledged that the Church *always* made choice for the first day for the sake of order. Incidentally, it's important to note that it wasn't simply made on Sunday (The Lord's Day) due to a sake of order but also, it just so happened that Christ rose again but I'm sure he would agree with that.

    2. Either way, Ursinus *does* agree with the perpetuity of a 1 day in 7 and the setting apart of that day as holy. It's not as if we're debating over the theoretical member of the PuritanBoard whose Church has set aside Tuesday and so he is doing his own pleasure on Sunday while he needs us to help him on Tuesdays when he's trying to rest from his worldly pursuits. We're all celebrating this 1 day in 7 on the same day (well sort of, you and I are a day ahead of the rest).

    In the final analysis, one of the reasons the actual day of the week is :offtopic: wasn't that this issue isn't interesting but that it's sort of inconsequential to the discussion on the nature of liberty with respect to how God desires that a day of rest be honored.
  18. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    I'm disappointed with Marty's presentation of Ursinus' view because it omits important points which would effectively show there is no substantial difference with the Puritan view. It is simply a difference of emphasis, coming at the subject from a slightly different angle. For the early reformers the issue was discussed in terms of discontinuity, where the moral obligation of it was accepted, but differences between the Christian and Jewish Sabbath needed to be articulated. For the Puritans continuity was central because the moral obligation of it was called into doubt by their opponents, so they needed to show how the Christian Sabbath was now as binding as the Jewish Sabbath had been.

    Marty's post omits two crucial points which Ursinus carefully stated. First, he should have noted the context of the quotation, where Ursinus was only dealing with the ceremonial aspect of the Sabbath. On the same page he speaks about the morality of the Sabbath being the same for Jews and Christians. Secondly, he ought to have stated that for Ursinus the choice of the church to observe the Sabbath on the first day of the week is not post-apostolic, but one which was established in the normative apostolic church. Understanding these two points is crucial for correctly interpreting Ursinus' view, because it means there remains a moral obligation to observe the first day of the week as the Christian Sabbath according to Ursinus, which makes his view substantially the same as the Puritan tradition.
  19. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    First of all, mind your tone. Second, I will remind you that this is a Confessional board and it is un-Confessional to claim that the Scriptures now teach that we're now in the Spirit and constantly resting in Him and so we need not heed what the nature of the command was for.

    I believe the point was made in a way that naturally caused hackles to go up but we cannot simply take something revealed to be in the nature of God and man and boil it down to "'s all kept in Christ...."

    Everything is kept in Christ. I can't say: "In Christ I'm loving my neighbor constantly because He loves my neighbor perfectly and everyone who says that I should love my neighbor doesn't know the nature of love." It would be facile of me to say that, because I don't love my neighbor the way Christ does, that I am not commanded to love him. It's also facile to make all that love to be boiled into one great Love - the love of God - and that we don't actually do anything specific with respect to loving people.

    One thing you seem to be forgetting as well, with respect to the Sabbath, is that there is a positive command to labor for 6 days. In the process of trying to conflate the Sabbath with every single activity we do, you are actually undermining the Reformed recovery of the idea of vocation. God expects us to labor in the world and be diliegent about it. He expects us to be focused upon others and about providing for the needs of our family. In fact, Paul calls those who will not work those who have denied the faith. One thing that Edersheim points out about the Rabbinical literature is the incredible work ethic that the Rabbis had and how they commended hard work. It is very parallel to the Reformed recovery of vocation which took out of the hands of Roman Catholics the idea that, unless you were constantly engaged in "ministry" and devoted to "Church business" that you really weren't doing anything sanctified. The really holy people were the monks who escaped the world and its "carnality".

    It's said that Luther was once asked what people should do now that would honor God if they weren't working in the monastery. He replied: "Make a good shoe and sell it at an honest price." That is profoundly compact and true.

    Thus, lost in all of this is the fact that 6 out of 7 days God has commanded us to be "in the world" and laboring in it. He then commands us to assemble, rest from that sphere of service to Him, and worship Him and give the day over to focusing especially on the specific things of God because, throughout the week, we are called upon to honor our emploers and focus on the work they have for us or else we're reproved by God for our lack of submission to that authority.

    You cannot simply say: "All life is worship" because, in a facile manner, destroys not only the sense of vocation but it also destroys the sense of what makes the day that God calls us together to worship Him.

    No, it's not all about Do's and Don'ts in the final analysis. Nothing I said ought to be done grudgingly as a slave does who has to try to earn approval from his Master. Rather, it ought to be done with delight as a son does for the Father who adopted Him and exclaims: "Today I get to worship the Lord and be among His people!"
  20. Amazing Grace

    Amazing Grace Puritan Board Junior

    Richard, I intended no malicious tone in my post. In fact as I was writing it, I was actually smiling. I apologize if this is how you understand my post. Therefore I will attempt to be more clear.

    I agree. This is the true antinomian stance. My point being is Law does not compel me, nor did it ever compel anyone to obey rightly. Only the irrisistable grace of God by His Spirit does this. The thunderings of Law, the threatenings only increased condemnation, and Law IS the ministry of death pointing His to Christ.

    Again I agree. This is why I stated:There is nothing I can do to keep it Holy in respect to your faulty definition of Holy. I can "set it apart" as a day of worship with the community of faith. But Christ kept it therefore it is Holy through Him. I set it apart not out of a legal obligation, if I approach it this way, then I am obliged to keep the whole Law according to Paul in Galatians. I do not look at it as a burden at all.

    Again the crux of the issue in the confessions, especially the HC i have contention with is EVERYTHING in the life of the believer has Christ as mediator. Yet when it comes to the puritan view of an aspect of Sanctification, we are to approach it alone, without Christ mediating or work's to the Father.

    WHoever said "The law points us to Christ, Christ fulfill's the Law for us, then points us back to perform the Law" Was in serious error. I paraphrased it, but I know it exists. Christ NEVER points us back to Moses/Law on our own.
  21. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    What?! That is patently false. You better be careful of your facts before you libel the Puritans so.
  22. Amazing Grace

    Amazing Grace Puritan Board Junior

    Can you or anyone explain it to me then clearly? Who said the quote that I posted? Law>Christ>law? If I am wrong I will publicly recant...
  23. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    To quote Thomas Watson, "the Christian is in a blessed Sabbath-frame, when, like a seraphim, he is burning in love to Christ." Obviously the Puritan view insists no one truly keeps the Sabbath who does not rest in Christ as mediator. There is an unnecessary dichotomy created by the way you state your case. It supposes Jesus' eschaological fulfilment of the Sabbath necessarily abrogates man's duty to fulfil that law morally. But consider marriage. Christ's union with the church perfectly fulfils the ordinance of marriage, and yet marriage continues as a creation ordinance nonetheless.
  24. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    What I *reproved* was your statement that the puritan view of sanctification is that it is to be approached alone without the mediation of Christ. That is scandalous.
  25. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    On the Puritan view of Good Works:

  26. Bygracealone

    Bygracealone Puritan Board Sophomore

    In fact, a Puritan by the name of Walter Marshall wrote what has become one of the "classic" works on the subject of sanctification and in his work ("The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification) he presents a thoroughly monergistic understanding of sanctification which is based upon our union with Christ.
  27. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

  28. JohnOwen007

    JohnOwen007 Puritan Board Sophomore

    Dear Matthew, thanks for your thoughts brother. I always appreciate them.

    In my penultimate post I said that Ursinus adhered to the moral obligation of a Sabbath day (1 in 7).

    Well, I'm not sure I can agree with you on this point. Ursinus certainly argued that the believers of the apostolic period moved their celebration of the Sabbath to Sunday. However, I don't think Ursinus believed that Sunday becomes morally normative for believers (see top of p. 564). It's a matter of order, not necessity. This was the position of other continental divines (e.g. Polanus). I won't pursue this point as it's off limits in this thread.

    However, I do believe the difference is not simply one of emphasis. There is a slight difference of substance.

    We'll probably have to agree to disagree on this one.

    Every blessing Matthew.
  29. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    To follow Rich's posting from the Confession, here is the text of Larger Catechism Q&A 97.

    Q.97 What special use is there of the moral law to the regenerate?
    A. Although they that are regenerate, and believe in Christ, be delivered from the moral law as a covenant of works, (f) so as thereby they are neither justified (g) nor condemned; (h) yet, beside the general uses thereof common to them with all men, it is of special use, to show them how much they are bound to Christ for his fulfilling it, and enduring the curse thereof in their stead, and for their good; (i) and thereby to provoke them to more thankfulness, (k) and to express the same in their greater care to conform themselves thereunto as the rule of their obedience. (l)

    f ROM 6:14; ROM 7:4, 6; GAL 4:4-5 [L&Rab have ROM 16:14 but text is 6:14.
    g ROM 3:20 [MAX: 8:20; not repeated; actual text correct]
    h GAL 5:23; ROM 8:1
    i ROM 7:24-25; GAL 3:13-14; ROM 8:3-4
    k LUK 1:68-69, 74-75; COL 1:12-14

    l ROM 7:22; ROM 12:2; TIT 2:11-14
    1)In Q (1) “there, of”: MSa. (2) “law, to”: FOURTH.
    2)“regenerate and”: Dunlop; L&Rac;* E.Rob. *L&Rb had the comma.
    3)“moral law, as”: MSa.
    4)“as, thereby,”: MSb.
    5)“justified, nor”: MSS; MAX; RothB; THIRD; FOURTH; COX; RP.
    6)(1) “condemned, yet”: THIRD; FOURTH; COX. (2) “condemned: yet”: Dunlop; RP; L&R. E.Rob has the semi-colon.
    7)“yet beside”: MAX; RothB; THIRD; FOURTH; COX; Dunlop.
    8)“besides the general”:
    9)“thereof, common”: MSb.
    10)“all men: it”: MSb.
    11)“use to show”: MSa; RP.
    12)“Christ, for”: MSb.
    13)“fulfilling it and”: MSa.
    14)“thereof, in their”: MSb.
    15)“stead and”: Dunlop; L&R; E.Rob.
    16)“thereunto, as”: MSa; RP; E.Rob.
    17)In “l” ROM 12:2 missing: W1438.
  30. JohnOwen007

    JohnOwen007 Puritan Board Sophomore

    Brother Rich, I can see that you think its "inconsequential" and not of the nature of liberty. However, I know presbyteries (over here in Oz) who won't ordain TE's unless they believe the new covenant Sabbath is divinely ordained to be Sunday and no other day. They won't let people with the Ursinus / Polanus et. al. view (which I hold) to become TE's. In other words, this issue (in my circles) is not one of liberty. Alas. :(

    Every blessing.
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