Friday, May 23, 2008

Sabbath For All part 1

“My chief-of-staff, Leo McGarry, insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly says he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself or is it okay to call the police?"

I wanted to deal with Nolans understanding of the Sabbath problem first. The reason being that most people intuitively recognize that the Ten Commandments or the Decalogue seems to be cited in such a way that it is applicable to all men, including his football fans (so pig skins are not their only problem). Many Court Houses throughout our nation still have the Decalogue posted. Coupled with the passage cited from Exodus 35, this seems to cause quite a problem. For the Christian is supposed to be declaring a message of mercy.

Again, my first response is that those who cite passages like this do not have a sound presuppositional framework. They must borrow from the Christian's worldview of ethics, to then attack the Christian faith. When asked for their foundation as to their system of ethics, there isn’t any. Might makes right.

The presuppositions also do not allow for the idea that Scripture can be a coherent system of thought. The Bible is broken down into minute texts, which are then placed on a table like a jigsaw puzzle. There are so many pieces; it literally looks to be irreconcilable.

I do not share these false assumptions. I firmly believe that God is able to speak through men infallibly. God is all-powerful and is able to do anything He desires with his creatures. He is the Potter. We are the clay.

Second, although the Law is taken to be a single whole throughout the Old Testament, it is obvious that there are different aspects of the law. Many have seen three distinctions in the Law, Moral, Judicial and Ceremonial.

Much of American Jurisprudence has borrowed from principles seen throughout the Old Testament, especially from the moral and Judicial facets of the Law. For instance, our form of government has separated powers to the various branches in order to maintain integrity within our system. We also have historically maintained a separation of church and state. However we do not follow the Ceremonial facets of the Law.

Many Evangelicals have relegated the Sabbath to the ceremonial department. Since the New Testament has abrogated the Ceremonial aspects of the law, Evangelicals have avoided the argument altogether. Uncle Paul once told me, “The Sabbath is the one Law we probably break every week.”

I do believe theology matters. I am not willing to relegate the Sabbath as being a Ceremonial law that Christians may ignore. Historically, Baptists have agreed with their Presbyterian brothers. The New Hampshire Confession briefly summarizes the meaning of the Sabbath.

We believe that the first day of the week is the Lord's Day, or Christian Sabbath Acts 20:7; Gen. 2:3; Col. 2:16-17; Mark 2:27; John 20:19; 1 Cor. 16:1- 2; and is to be kept sacred to religious purposes Exod. 20:8; Rev. 1:10; Psa. 118:24, by abstaining from all secular labor and sinful recreations Isa. 58:13-14; 56:2-8; by the devout observance of all the means of grace, both private Psa. 119:15 and public Heb. 10:24-25; Acts 11:26; 13:44; Lev. 19:30; Exod. 46:3; Luke 4:16; Acts 17:2, 3; Psa. 26:8; 87:3; and by preparation for that rest that remaineth for the people of God Heb. 4:3-11.

With this foundation being laid, I will continue to defend the Sabbath’s relevance for both the Christian and non-Christian in my next post.

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