Schreiner and Hubbard on the 4th commandment

Irenaeus

Puritan Board Freshman
In the last couple of weeks, Scott Hubbard and Tom Schreiner have written articles that summarize, in a nutshell, the case for non-sabbatarianism under the New Covenant.

Links: Hubbard; Schreiner

I observe numerous unproven assumptions in these articles - the bald assertion that the sabbath is of a different order than the other commandments, the thin read-between-the-lines reasoning for extrapolating abolition of the sabbath but not of the other commandments, the inconsistent application of an over-realized eschatology. (If eternal sabbath is close enough that we can do away with commandment #4, is the wedding feast of the lamb close enough that we can dispense with the institution of marriage?)

These arguments also seem to entail a dismissal of the OT's treatment of the Sabbath. Israel is condemned for empty ritualism and yet the breaking of the fourth commandment is ranked with all of the social sins and idolatry as part of the reason for God's judgment on them. The Sabbath as a creation ordinance is ignored. The authors also ignore the humanitarian/compassionate aspect of the Sabbath present in the OT. Then, when coming to the NT, Hubbard dismisses the explicit lack of any actual 4th-commandment violations on Jesus' part but then builds a case on implicit hints which he sees, and both authors overlook the debate over what Paul means in Col. 2 et. al. It's one thing to acknowledge the opposing viewpoint and disagree; it's another to just ignore it completely.

That's my :2cents:. I would be edified and blessed by input from others.
 

danekristjan

Puritan Board Freshman
I do not know who the first man is, but Thomas Schreiner is a big name in conservative New Testament studies.
Who are they?
This has to be one of the best exchanges I have seen in a long time. I love that the man who publishes ancient gems to bless the church of Christ with (say for instance, Durham on the 10 commandments, a cherished volume) only says 'who are they', in response to one of the biggest names in New Covenant theology. Bravo. I pray through the reprinting work you do brother, that indeed the whole church would be so solidified in the truth which the old men preached that they also would only ask "who?" in response to the names of those who teach such error. Thank you.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
This has to be one of the best exchanges I have seen in a long time. I love that the man who publishes ancient gems to bless the church of Christ with (say for instance, Durham on the 10 commandments, a cherished volume) only says 'who are they', in response to one of the biggest names in New Covenant theology. Bravo. I pray through the reprinting work you do brother, that indeed the whole church would be so solidified in the truth which the old men preached that they also would only ask "who?" in response to the names of those who teach such error. Thank you.
You are kind; thanks much. I wasn't being cheeky. I genuinely do not know the names. But I wouldn't know or be one to pay attention to leaders of NCT so that explains it.
 

Zach

Puritan Board Junior
I read the articles because I've been thinking more about the Sabbath recently and while I almost always appreciate Tom Schreiner's exegesis and analysis (even when I disagree with his conclusions) I think you're right that there are some major holes in the arguments that they don't bother to address. While you can't address everything in a short blog post, to not mention at all the connection between the Sabbath and creation or deal with the significance of the law being written on the human heart leaves a pretty gaping hole that undermines the entire argument that the Sabbath is no longer binding because it was unique to the Mosaic Covenant. Also, Gaffin's essay "A Sabbath Rest Still Awaits the People of God" is very persuasive that Hebrews 4 demands the exact opposite conclusion than Hubbard's with much stronger and more thorough exegesis.

The benefit of posts like these though is that it does require us to think a little more carefully about elements that we may downplay in our theology. We do need to think about what it means for the Ten Commandments to be given and applied in a particular and unique redemptive-historical context that we are no longer in and we need compelling answers to questions about what to do with the land promises of the Fifth of the change in day for the Fourth commandments. There are just much better answers out there than these.
 

Andres

Puritan Board Doctor
I recently listened to this http://www.tinysa.com/sermon/42021185135519
Candlish notes at the beginning of the book that Christ spoke on the topic of worship and specifically the Sabbath numerous times as recorded in the gospels and yet not once did He mention the Sabbath being abrogated or going to be abrogated. Surely he would have said something regarding this if it were to take place.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
The result you get when you *know* (a priori) that the 10C are "OT" and mean nothing anymore, and especially the 4th is obsolete. So, with that lens firmly in place: how then should we make sense of the evidence? Whatever "Lord of the Sabbath means," whatever "a sabbath-rest remains" means, it can't mean that God the Son gives his NT people a day on which to worship him. "Thanks, Jesus, but no thanks. Stay in your lane. We'll decide that for ourselves."
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Senior
The result you get when you *know* (a priori) ... So, with that lens firmly in place...
And this right here is the crux of the issue: hermeneutics. Presenting biblical evidence to a skewed or hostile hermeneutic does little or nothing to advance the cause of proper worship on the Lord's Day.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
How do NCTers avoid accusing Sabbath keepers as Pharisees and Legalists? And if it is legalism to sanctify one day out of the work week, then don't they have to rebuke their own church members who set aside one day each week for Worship services, Bible studies, and prayer meetings?
 

Irenaeus

Puritan Board Freshman
The result you get when you *know* (a priori) that the 10C are "OT" and mean nothing anymore, and especially the 4th is obsolete. So, with that lens firmly in place: how then should we make sense of the evidence? Whatever "Lord of the Sabbath means," whatever "a sabbath-rest remains" means, it can't mean that God the Son gives his NT people a day on which to worship him. "Thanks, Jesus, but no thanks. Stay in your lane. We'll decide that for ourselves."
And this right here is the crux of the issue: hermeneutics. Presenting biblical evidence to a skewed or hostile hermeneutic does little or nothing to advance the cause of proper worship on the Lord's Day.
Thank you for these thoughts. Being new here, I hesitated to say anything that might be regarded as an attribution of motive; but it is hard not to read these articles as an attempt, consciously or otherwise, to read Scripture according to a predetermined conclusion.

Zach, thank you for the reference to the Gaffin article. I downloaded it and will try to read it when I have a spot of free time for earnest reading.
 

Jeri Tanner

Moderator
Staff member
I recently listened to this http://www.tinysa.com/sermon/42021185135519
Candlish notes at the beginning of the book that Christ spoke on the topic of worship and specifically the Sabbath numerous times as recorded in the gospels and yet not once did He mention the Sabbath being abrogated or going to be abrogated. Surely he would have said something regarding this if it were to take place.
I just recently listened to this as well!
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
How do NCTers avoid accusing Sabbath keepers as Pharisees and Legalists?
They don't.

And if it is legalism to sanctify one day out of the work week, then don't they have to rebuke their own church members who set aside one day each week for Worship services, Bible studies, and prayer meetings?
They probably get around that by not sanctifying the day....
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
It's one thing to acknowledge the opposing viewpoint and disagree; it's another to just ignore it completely.
Do they deal with Hebrews 4:9 at all?

It is very striking that the author of Hebrews talks about a general sort of rest in verses 8 and 10, but in verse 9 he deliberately uses "sabbatismo" when saying that "there remains a Sabbath rest...."

It can be also be translated as "there remains a sabbath keeping...."

It won't do to just skate over things like this.
 

Stephen L Smith

Moderator
Staff member
Do they deal with Hebrews 4:9 at all?

It is very striking that the author of Hebrews talks about a general sort of rest in verses 8 and 10, but in verse 9 he deliberately uses "sabbatismo" when saying that "there remains a Sabbath rest...."

It can be also be translated as "there remains a sabbath keeping...."

It won't do to just skate over things like this.
I recall Robert Martin discussing this in an old Reformed Baptist magazine nearly 20 years ago.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
But even on a practical level, how can a church congregate together without sanctifying a day for public worship? If they believe it is legalism to sanctify a day for religious activities, then wouldn't they have to rotate their worship services throughout the week to avoid legalism?
 

Irenaeus

Puritan Board Freshman
But even on a practical level, how can a church congregate together without sanctifying a day for public worship? If they believe it is legalism to sanctify a day for religious activities, then wouldn't they have to rotate their worship services throughout the week to avoid legalism?
No. The whole point is that the day is not sanctified from their viewpoint, and having worship services doesn't change that. If you have a lower view of worship it makes perfect sense to just pick a day out of convenience and habit.

I don't believe it's an accurate representation of their viewpoint to say they're calling the sanctification of the day legalistic. Because, in the viewpoint of these articles, the day is already deemed as not sanctified (a conclusion arrived at by numerous unproven starting assumptions), it's considered legalism to add requirements to it.
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Senior
I don't believe it's an accurate representation of their viewpoint to say they're calling the sanctification of the day legalistic. Because, in the viewpoint of these articles, the day is already deemed as not sanctified (a conclusion arrived at by numerous unproven starting assumptions), it's considered legalism to add requirements to it.
I think the point @KMK is making is that these people are adding requirements to this day, and this day only, by calling (and I hope requiring) their members to worship corporately, thus at least in some sense setting it apart for a holy use (i.e., sanctifying it). If this is the case, then I think the charge of legalism, by their own standards, stands.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
I was working through my own issues with the 4th Commandment while pastoring a church. By default I doubted the applicability of the 4th Commandment, but at the same time I was encouraging my flock to get all of their worldly work done in six days so they could set aside a special day for public worship, private devotions, Christian fellowship, and acts of mercy. This contradiction was one of the things that drove me toward the Reformed Confessions.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
I recall Robert Martin discussing this in an old Reformed Baptist magazine nearly 20 years ago.
I quote a small portion of it at the end of this blog. It is an article that Richard Barcellos wrote.

https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.c...he-sabbath-concerning-colossians-and-hebrews/


Reformed Baptist Theological Review
vl. 1.2 A Sabbath Remains.. The Place of Hebrews 4:9 in the New Testament’s Witness to the Lord’s Day by Robert P. Martin
(Heb 4:9) There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.

In it he notes the Word used here is σαββατισμός and not κατάπαυσις

(rest).

G4520
σαββατισμός
sabbatismos


This is an obscure term evidently that is used in just a few other places outside of the scriptures but used only once in the New Testament. Robert Martin says,

“I think that it is of interest that “in each of these places the term [σαββατισμός] denotes the observance or celebration of the Sabbath,” i.e., not “a Sabbath rest” as a state that is entered into but “a Sabbath-keeping” as a practice that is observed. This, of course, corresponds to the word’s morphology, for the suffix -μός indicates an action and not just a state. see A. T. Robertson, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in Light of Historical Research (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1934), 151.
Reformed Baptist Theological Review Vl. 1;2 p.5

In other words there is still a 1 in 7 where we are still required to observe a Sabbath day.

Obviously the article consists of the surrounding verses but it is a good read and again, the essence of the Sabbath transcends covenantal bounds. Its roots are in creation, not in the Old Covenant alone. It transcends covenants and cultures because the ethics of creation are trans-covenantal and trans-cultural. The Sabbath is part of God‘s moral law.
 

Irenaeus

Puritan Board Freshman
I think the point @KMK is making is that these people are adding requirements to this day, and this day only, by calling (and I hope requiring) their members to worship corporately, thus at least in some sense setting it apart for a holy use (i.e., sanctifying it). If this is the case, then I think the charge of legalism, by their own standards, stands.
Are they requiring their members to worship corporately though? At least here I see the authors trying to make a modern distinction (one I reject) between invitation and command - trying to invite the reader to partake in spiritual rest and corporate worship because that's what the early church did and because it's good for us, while trying to dismiss the perceived legalism of a covenantal/confessional sabbath. It's the same mentality that says "don't tell me I HAVE to read my Bible when I should naturally want to".

I am likely not articulating myself well as I'm endeavoring to think through the "opposition" viewpoint. Following their train of thought logically, I believe these authors, to be consistent, would need a lower view of worship: that the day is not sanctified by public worship anymore than any other day is sanctified by prayer, bible reading, family worship, etc. It's a flattening of the distinction between the sabbath and the other 6 days, and of the distinction between corporate worship and other spiritual activities, based on wrong assumptions about the manner in which our eternal sabbath is present here and now.

Following this train of thought, corporate worship need not be viewed as sanctifying the sabbath, so it's not inconsistent for them to dismiss the 4th commandment and then continue to invite people to corporate worship on that day. Please note that I do not at all agree with this position; I merely don't see it as inconsistent in that one respect.

If someone with this view point does try to enforce church membership and attendance, I would be interested to see how, since this viewpoint leaves one without a sound basis for enforcing that. Certainly I imagine such attempts would be demonstrably legalistic and inconsistent. I personally suspect that a lower view of worship would be paired with a lower or more informal view of church membership and attendance; but as I don't recall either article addressing this issue I would have to see what else these authors have written on the topic.
 
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KMK

Administrator
Staff member
I understand why laypeople in broadly evangelical churches don't see the contradiction. I would like to hear what the smart guys like Shreiner say about this contradiction, but I haven't seen it dealt with.
 
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