Overture 7: Study WCF on Sabbath: Many take exception to recreation language

The North Texas Presbytery has submitted an overture to the 41st General Assembly (GA) calling for a study committee to examine the language in the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF) regarding the observance of the Sabbath. WCF chapter 21-8 currently states that “(t)his Sabbath is to be kept holy unto the Lord when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering of their common affairs beforehand, do not only observe an holy rest all the day from their own works, words, and thoughts about their worldly employments and recreations . …”

Presently, a number of ordained officers in the PCA have taken a stated exception to the language about recreation.

“The term recreation is the biggest issue in the Westminster Confession. What does it mean: watching NFL football on Sunday? Playing football at youth group? What did it mean in 1647, and what does it mean today?” asks teaching elder (TE) David Frierson, Northwest Texas stated clerk.

The study committee would investigate whether there are necessary amendments to be made to the WCF on the issue of the Sabbath — changes that would be true to the Scriptures and not unduly restrictive nor overly permissive.

“By-and-large the ordained officers of the PCA, by virtue of their practices, have said they do not believe the Scriptures teach what the Standards require in observing the Sabbath,” said TE David Clelland. “Stated differences have become so common it is time to seriously examine our Scriptural position on the matter. There should be basic agreement in our conduct and confession.”

Should a change to the WCF be recommended, it would mark the PCA’s first attempt to make such a revision. According to the Book of Church Order 26-3, an amendment to the Confession of Faith requires the approval of three-fourths of those present and voting in the General Assembly; it requires the consent of three-fourths of the denomination’s presbyteries, and the approval of three-fourths of those present and voting at a subsequent GA.

To read the overture, please click here.

55 Responses to Overture 7: Study WCF on Sabbath

  1. John Knox says:

    For years I have believed there is a huge gap between what we profess in our creed and how we live, particularly in regard to observing the Sabbath. If we have no intention of changing our lifestyle in order to conform to our creed, then it makes sense to change the creed. To do otherwise perpetuates a situation which appears hypocritical.

  2. Brandon Welch says:

    I think it is a slippery slope once you begin to modify age-old creeds, confessions, and standards. Although I have a continental view on Sabbath keeping as well, I’d rather not modify the standards–we all hold the Scriptures as the ultimate arbiter of doctrine, and there are established means to take exceptions. I might dare even to say that the process of thinking through the catechism’s view may provide a positive corrective to the saints of today living in an entertainment and recreation obsessed culture.

    • Tom Mirabella says:

      Seeking to improve and perfect the Confession is not a slippery slope. The implication of slippery slope is that you are falling away from an ideal (like when the President says his views on homosexuality have “evolved”, the implication is that the old position was primitive). To me the slippery slope would be in making our confessions untouchable. What will be the next fallible tradition of the church that we will make off limits? It causes my Protestant heart to shudder.

      • Brandon Welch says:

        Tom, a slippery slope implies movement in a dangerous direction that becomes more perilous the further it is followed. Most of us, myself included, hold a different position on Sabbath keeping that happily conforms to the spirit of the age (this makes me at least a little suspicious). When once we start the process of improving and perfecting the Confession when it treads on our corns, what will be the final end? Forty years from now what else will be changed (WCF 24.1? God forbid) to accommodate the culture using our example?

    • Sam DeSocio says:

      Brandon – I think the challenge is that elders in the PCA do not hold to the standards because they are old but because we believe they are a adequate summary of Scripture.

    • Brandon Welch says:

      No one is claiming that the Standards are sacred or infallible, but that they are a venerable work written by wise and godly men that has stood the test of over 350 years. Also, I do have to admit to some nuance on my part to reconcile my position with what seems to be the clear teaching of Isa 58.13. I am sure that I ought to repent more over the amount of time that I spend in recreation, not unlike most American Christians I suppose, which does not always comport with a servant who is redeeming the time in evil days. It chills me to think those living in probably the most entertainment-obsessed society since the Roman Empire, could think they could see clearly enough on this issue to take the mote out of the Westminster Assembly’s eye.

  3. Tom Mirabella says:

    When we ordain people I usually see one of two scenarios. The 1st is that we grant an exception, often calling it “semantic,” though this implies to me that we are following the confession in spirit but not in word, which I don’t believe to be the case. The 2nd is that the candidate says they have no difference with the confession and we are expected to believe that 1 – they are ABLE to “rest all the day from…thoughts about their worldly employments and recreations” (which is why when I meet visitors I don’t ask what they do for a living so as not to cause them to stumble and it’s a good thing no one in my church has ever brought up the score from the previous day’s college football games or we would have to initiate church discipline)…

    • Riley Fraas says:

      To say you agree with the confession’s explanation of what the law of God requires is not to say, “I am able to keep it.” We are Calvinists, not Christian perfectionists!

      • Tom Mirabella says:

        First, I don’t agree with what the Confession requires and see no Biblical warrant. Second, there is a difference between the Law telling us not to hate, which to some extent we all do and we should be continually convicted by. And the Law giving us a list of unmeetable requirements (does that jive with Calvin’s 3rd use of the Law?) – that was typical of the Old Testament ceremonial regulations, not the moral law. In my reading, the Confession makes no distinction between the OT Sabbath and the current practice, save for the day that it is celebrated on. We are Calvinists, not First-Day Adventists.

        • Mark Rooze says:

          The comment that we are not First-Day Adventists is an unfair distortion of orthodox understanding. Historically, Seventh Day Adventists had a distorted and conflated view of the ceremonial and moral law.

          Against this, orthodoxy holds that the moral requirement of the Law was one day in seven; the ceremonial requirement of the Law was the seventh day (i.e., it had to be Saturday).

          We celebrate the Lord’s Day on Sunday because (1) it was the day the risen Christ met with the church (2) God had beforehand set that aside Pentecost – 50, not 49 days after Passover – as the Church’s birthday (3) the early church set this aside as their day to meet with the Lord (Acts 20:7, 1 Cor. 16:1-2) (4) NT Scripture nowhere approves another…

          • Tom Mirabella says:

            “Orthodoxy” holds that, huh? Guess I am a heterodox. I think of orthodoxy as being a little broader than the Puritan view on Sabbath. Perhaps you chose the wrong word.

            As for my unfair use of “first day Adventist”, that is exactly the point I was making. Mr. Fraas suggested that my argument bordered on Christian perfectionism. I disagree and think that the Westminster position on the Sabbath is “a distorted and conflated view of the ceremonial and moral law.”

            I don’t have any problem with celebrating the Lord’s Day on Sunday. I just don’t believe that there is a 1 to 1 ratio between it and the OT Sabbath. Please tell me how the Confession distinguishes the two, other than the day of the week.

  4. tom mi says:

    Cont. and 2 – “are taken up, the WHOLE TIME, in the public and private exercises of [God’s] worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy.” The whole time? Seriously? I don’t see how you can in good conscience subscribe to this and have Sunday night youth group, go for a walk in the park, visit a friend (unless, of course, you are assisting them in pulling their donkey out of a ditch), eat out, watch any TV (cough, Super Bowl party), get on the internet, have a holy nap, have “relations” with your spouse (is that necessity or mercy?) or travel to GA for those Monday morning commissioner meetings (I’m talking to you Overtures committee).

  5. Tom Mirabella says:

    I have a high view of confessional subscription, and to me the Sabbath issues in the Confession and Catechisms constitute an elephant in the room that we shamefully ignore. I just wonder if we as a denomination really believe enough in Sola Scriptura to alter the words of the Westminster divines.

    • Mark Rooze says:

      I don’t get it. Is it really because of Sola Scriptura that you believe we ought to alter the confession? Maybe I missed something, because I only saw you citing practice. and not a word of Scripture.

      Come to think of it, so did the advocate in the overture: “By-and-large the ordained officers of the PCA, by virtue of their practices, have said they do not believe the Scriptures teach what the Standards require in observing the Sabbath.” Hmm, citing practice again. Not a bit of exegesis.

      I may not live up to the confession I hold. But that does not mean I don’t believe the Bible teaches it. The Divines set forth their Scripture proofs. Until we can positively prove otherwise, we ought not to alter the Confession.

      • Tom Mirabella says:

        Sorry, I should have been more clear. I am a PCA pastor who has taken exception to the confession in the area of Sabbath regulations. I did not do this because it doesn’t fit my practice. I did it because I see no scriptural warrant for the demands the confession places upon its adherents. I would be happy to make my own arguments to support this, but I’m not sure that this is an adequate or useful forum (the character limit on responses is rather short). If it is true that the majority of pastors take an exception to the confession here, then no doubt each of them does it because of Biblical conviction. A study committee could sift through those arguments and see which ones hold weight.

      • Tom Mirabella says:

        BTW, I have looked at the scriptural citations and I find them shockingly weak.

        My point about Sola Scriptura is that I fear we believe it in theory, but in practice we lift the Confession to the realm of semi-inspiration. If we are truly guided by Scripture alone, then I think it is our duty to bring the Confession into conformity with the Bible (and not require things that go beyond the Scripture’s teaching).

  6. Joe Lowe says:

    I too have a high view of the WCF and associated doctrines and as a result I have made an attempt to render all the documents of the Westminster Divines into modern English – including the Directory of Public Worship

    Here are my thoughts on this issue vis-a-vis the Confession

    This day of rest is to be set aside to God, and not involve the normal everyday pattern of work and relaxation. This does not mean that we may only do religious things such as formal worship; normal duties of social responsibility and mercy are not to be avoided, and the main principle for other duties is that we should not be like the rest of the world chasing after our own desires but are freed to worship and enjoy God, his creation and his people.

  7. Adam Brink says:

    I will believe that we are prepared to understand the Scriptures better than our forefathers when we can logically define terms, demonstrate extensive learning in Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, Latin, Syriac, rhetoric, logic, patristics, theology, and a host of other topics on par with the Westminster Divines. Until then, we should repent of our pride, and acknowledge that we are a gaggle of government educated dults who prefer our lusts to the Law of God.

    • Tom Mirabella says:

      Adam, the implication of your argument is that the Holy Spirit no longer works to lead the church because we don’t read Syriac. Is that really what you believe? The divines were not infallible and it is foolish to enshrine their words in such a way that we can never improve them (actually they said something like that themselves, see WCF 1:10) I get it that some people really do think we need to keep the Sabbath in that way, but that is an extreme minority position of the denomination. I think we can improve the confession is such a way that would not exclude those who believe that, while not forcing most ordinands to take an exception or play loose with their subscription.

      But what do I know? I am a government edumacated dolt.

  8. Steven B Shuman says:

    Two issues trouble me about this staff written report. Some will view them as minor but it is the little foxes that ruin the vineyard. First, just how many ordained officers have taken exceptions to the WCF regarding the Sabbath? “A number” is too vague in my opinion.

    Second, is Frierson correct in his assertion that “recreation” is the biggest issue? If so, let me challenge those who have taken exceptions to be so bold as to overture the Assembly to amend the Standards. Our time, energy and resources would be better spent on such a debate than the debate for or against a study committee that will do little if our adoption of such reports in the past tells us anything.

    • Tom Mirabella says:

      First, anecdotally I would say that is correct, but I couldn’t give you statistics. Historically we did not record every exception granted, it was only recently that this was required of presbyteries, so there is no way to go back and count. You could join the Review of Presbytery Records committee and count current exceptions granted. Perhaps a better task for a study committee.

      Second, the point of the study committee is to bring the best minds together to study the issue and craft a well written amendment, if they deem it necessary. The last thing we need is for every Tom, Dick and Harry to write their own version and send it up to GA. That would fall on the Overtures committee to sort through and would be untenable.

      • Steven B Shuman says:

        First, I was ordained in 1978 so I’m pretty up on the timeline of exceptions. I do however object to use anecdotal evidence to support the need to do something.

        Second, Tom, Dick, Harry and even Steve cannot overture the GA unless their court denies their overture. Historically, very few personal, but previously rejected overtures, are adopted by the GA.

        Third, I served on the old Review and Control Committee when a term was three years and we met during the Assembly.

        Fourth, in my opinion, one of the major mistakes made in recent history was the recording of so called exceptions. Space doesn’t permit me to say more.

        Finally, I believe the WCF is correct but I often sin on the Sabbath. Sin doesn’t change the Word of…

        • Tom Mirabella says:

          Anecdotal evidence is the only resort when there are no solid statistics. Would you disagree that a large number of TEs get ordained with an exception on the WCF regarding the Sabbath? It has been common in every presbytery I have spent time in (3).

          You suggested above that those who take an exception should overture the assembly. Whether or not it comes in the form of a personal motion, or is advanced through every Central, Eastern, and Metro you still could end up with multiple overtures that would have to be perfected by an Overtures committee that has little time to do its work. A study committee brings together the best and brightest to craft a worthy amendment that actually reflects and is inclusive of the beliefs of our people.

          • steven b shuman says:

            I prefer to follow the court approach. I don’t really disagree with the premise of your last statement but I prefer broad interaction from lower to higher courts, more voices in the debate thru the O.C. and certainly don’t believe a study committee of limited membership and still more limited funds should drive the debate. Let the lower courts do their work. Could our beliefs be out of accord with the WORD? It seems to me you have already made up your mind. Should not a study comm reflect the WORD and not our beliefs and practices?

          • Tom Mirabella says:

            Steven, sounds like you have made up your mind as well. I would think we all have if we have subscribed to the confession and weighed our need to take an exception at any point. My preference would be to make the language of the confession inclusive of the Continental view of the Sabbath without doing injury to the consciences of those who take the Puritan view (I think a study committee could do this well). If not that, at least they could examine the language of the confession to see if it truly reflects Scripture and does so in a way that is understandable to modern ears. People often tell me that the Confession doesn’t mean what I think it means at some points. Well fine, then fix it.

  9. John Barrs says:

    I find it interesting that we seem more prepared to defend and argue about the WCF than we are to defend the scriptures themselves.
    I never was of the opinion that the WCF was verbally inspired and its own authors did not think so. “All councils of men can and do err” it says.

    I’d also like to point out in this context that you (in the USA) have amended the confession – and in my mind quite rightly – for you do not have the original statements about loyalty to the secular king. The Holy Spirit has worked since then teaching all of us among other things, a different perspective on church and state. The Confession was a document of its day. Carefully defining the words it used (see John Murray on its choice of words for…

    • Andrew Barnes says:

      John,

      Many defend and argue the West. Standards because we have taken vows: “Do you sincerely receive and adopt the Confession of Faith and the Catechisms of this Church, as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures…?” The answer the all PCA ministers have given was yes. Now I’d be willing to be challenged on what the Standards say (as is stated, “all councils of men can and do err.”). However, I’ve taken that vow and no one has convinced me otherwise so I can use it that way. But challenging the Scriptures if a different issue, one which could be considered blasphemy.

      • John Barrs says:

        Andrew

        I think that is exactly my point: viz. As Christians we are a people of the book and it should not ever be up for grabs for any of us. As ministers we *also* accept a summary statement (the WCF) as containing the doctrines taught by scripture.
        My point is that we argue more about the summary than about the source of which it is merely a summary: this I find somewhat disturbing. I agree that the one could be heresy but, by definition, any change to the confession in a non scriptural direction isn’t heresy per-se. It is serious because of the confusions it can cause (wasn’t this one of the reasons for the very formation of the PCA back in the ’70s?) but surely it is far more important to hold the line on Scripture itself,…

  10. John Ledden says:

    In the mind of many people today Sunday is no longer the LORD’S Day but a day of activity that one can’t do while working during the week and a day to satisfy my pleasure. Thus the LORD’S Day is desecrated. Probably the greatest form of idol worship today is Sunday football and the super bowl. Is. 58:13 reminds us to turn from doing our pleasure on the LORD’S holy day. The Law, Ex. 20:8-10, says the Day is to kept holy not just 2 hours in the morning. The word ’work’ in the commandment should be considered, as the part for the whole and would include our weekday recreation. To tamper with the WCF that has stood the test of time and its many temptations is unwarranted. For those who have trouble with the word recreation

  11. Jeff Trostle says:

    The presbytery I am a member of commissioned a committee to look at this issue a few years ago. The committee came back after a year’s inquiry supporting the WCF. However, those discussions provided fodder for my doctoral dissertation on the Sabbath. I found during my research that the Fathers and Reformers embraced an allegorical/spiritual position regarding the Sabbath which is at odds with the Puritan Divine’s, who generally did not admit to any ceremonial elements. Calvin and Augustine taught that we are no longer bound to observe one day in seven, but that Christ has broadened the commandment to every day. It signifies a life of holiness. I have since taken an exception.

    • Andrew Barnes says:

      Jeff,

      I’ll have to disagree with you (you know the old Calvin and Sabbath debate). I’d challenge anyone to read Calvin on the 4th commandment, and it is my conviction of any sane man that they would have to say that he holds the same view as the Puritans and the Dutch (see the Synod of Dort for the ACTUAL continental view –> same as Puritan view). His sermons on Gen. 2:1ff should be enough to convince anyone of this (which I might add, were published after Gaffin’s book).

      • Ethan Smith says:

        Andrew,

        I disagree with you on this, especially according to the Geneva Confession (#’s 168-186).

        Also see The Augsburg Confession.

        The question really should be: who started believing Sunday was the “Sabbath”? It certainly isn’t according to the NT.

        • Andrew Barnes says:

          As for the Geneva Catechism, it over and over shows that he is referring primarily there to the ceremonial aspect of the 4th commandment. Which we hopefully all agree is abolished in Christ. So he’s right about that. #183 refers to what remains of the moral aspect. I’d say the catechism is very minimal in its treatment. And again I’d say read his sermons that deal with the 4th comm.

          I’m not concerned with Augustine in what I stated previously.

          As for your last statement, the church gathered on the first day of the week, showing us the example we are to follow as it has to do with the 4th comm. (Acts 20:7, 1 Cor. 16:1-2)

          • Andrew Barnes says:

            Sorry, I got mixed up. I meant to say I am not concerned with a Lutheran Confession (not Augustine). :)

          • Tom Mirabella says:

            Where in the Westminster Confession does it say anything about the ceremonial aspect of the Sabbath being abolished? Seriously, I am open to correction, because this is one of my primary concerns. I see no distinction made in the Confession between the Old Testament Sabbath observance and the current required observance, save for the day of the week.

          • Andrew Barnes says:

            Tom,

            We were discussing the Genevan Catechism and Calvin moreso than the Standards.

            But I would believe it would come under WCF 19.3.

          • Tom Mirabella says:

            I don’t see that language at all reflected in 21.7-8 . And this is why I take exception to the confession on the Sabbath. I believe there are ceremonial aspects that are abrogated in Christ. As I read the Confession, I believe it is mistakenly commanding us to keep the Ceremonial Law. Not just because it is difficult. Jesus calls us to a high standard of keeping the Moral Law- I get that and I believe the continuing moral aspects of the Sabbath are just as unattainable (namely resting from our sin as well as our works of righteousness and resting in Christ’s sacrifice, which I don’t think any of us disagree on). But the strictures imposed by the Puritan view come across to me as Pharisaical and entirely inconsistent with Jesus’…

      • Jeff Trostle says:

        Andrew – that is a common misunderstanding. Calvin maintained there were ceremonial elements of the Sabbath set aside with Christ’s advent, such as the requirement of physical rest and the keeping of a particular day one day in seven. The Puritans, generally speaking, rejected any ceremonial elements to the fourth commandment and therefore maintained what they believed was its morally binding characteristic, along with physical rest. Calvin kept a strict Lord’s Day observance but did not believe it was morally binding to do so.

  12. Jason Van Bemmel says:

    I believe our current practice reflects our cultural preferences more than any careful exegesis of Scripture. A desire to accomodate cultural norms and avoid being “legalistic” is hardly sufficient grounds for changing the language of the Confession. Our standards set a very high bar for each of the 10 Commandments (like Jesus did). If we intentionally decide to lower the bar on the Fourth Commandmet because none of us can keep it (or want to keep it), then surely we should lower the bar on the other nine. After all, which of us is capable of keeping even one of the 10 Commandments. So let’s go ahead and re-write the standards to be attainable. I’m sure we could all agree on some level of compromise that makes us all comfortable.

    • Tom Mirabella says:

      You should not assume that every person who disagrees with your exegesis (or that of the Westminster divines) is just trying to give into cultural preferences and accommodating societal norms. Brother, that is actually an arrogant thing to say. To suggest that every pastor I know (including myself) who has taken an exception on the confession hasn’t carefully weighed the arguments against Scripture, prayerfully sought conviction through the Holy Spirit, and soberly asked his presbytery to grant it, is a terrible charge to level.

      You act like avoiding being “legalistic” is a throw away concern. I believe that is exactly the problem with the Confession as written because the duty it requires goes beyond the Scriptures.

      • Jason Van Bemmel says:

        I apologize if I seem callous the conscientious objections of my brethren. Not my intention. I find Overture 7 to be lacking in any Scriptural support and to be, on its own terms, driven by practical concerns and present practice and not by Scripture. That’s how I read the overture. Am I perhaps a bit cynical? Yes, I suppose I am. I watched a PCA GA adopt a Strategic Plan prepared by our denominational leaders without a single reference to Scripture, even as they reaffirmed that “Scripture is the only rule for faith and practice.” I guess you could say I’ve been disheartened by the level of debate and discussion I have personally witnessed in the PCA at Presbytery and GA meetings for the past several years. I love the PCA, but I’m sad.

  13. Andrew Barnes says:

    The last part of the language of what their asking is concerning to me: “that are true to the Scriptures, not unduly restrictive nor overly permissive, and are agreeable to men of sound faith and good conscience.”

    Studying the Scriptures at GA would be GREAT. The study committee would be studying these following things concerning the Sabbath:

    1) True to the Scriptures
    2) Not unduly restrictive (like Scripture is)
    3) Not overly permissive
    4) Agreeable to men

    Numbers 2-4 are a contrary to #1.

    So the overture is concerning to me, although if they took out #2-4 I would vote for it. I have no problem with the Church studying the Scriptures. At GA, that is what we are SUPPOSED TO BE DOING! :)

  14. Ethan Smith says:

    This is a great discussion and one I believe the PCA needs to have. I don’t see any Scriptural warrant to believe the Sabbath should (a) be considered to have been moved to Sunday and (b) be observed as it was under the Old Covenant.*

    As I mentioned to Andrew Barnes above, there is no NT proof that the early NT church observed the Sabbath. In contrast, there is proof that the Reformers believed the Sabbath was fulfilled in Christ, and we rest from our works of the law in Him. See the Geneva Confession and the Augsburg Confession.

    * Let me also state that I believe Lord’s Day worship and rest is both good and profitable. But it is not a law that we must obey, nor should we force others to do so.

    • Ethan Smith says:

      “there is no NT proof that the early NT church observed the Sabbath”

      on the first day of the week is what I mean

    • Andrew Barnes says:

      Ethan,

      I believe I have seen you on the PB, and as such I see you are a Pastoral Intern with Mike Ross and attending RTS Charlotte. I’d encourage you to talk to your pastor and professors about these things you are stating before coming here and espousing your views.

      • Ethan Smith says:

        Andrew,

        I am not an intern there any longer, but good memory. I love Dr. Ross and respect him greatly, but we most likely disagree on this point.

        I don’t think my views are any different than what is biblical, as I’ve already stated. The Puritan view of the Sabbath is not what I’ve read from the Fathers throughout the NT era.

        To simply say, “They met on the first day of the week, therefore the Sabbath is changed” is a massive stretch. Again, I have no problem with meeting on the first day of the week, nor do I have a problem with rest. However, there is no evidence that the NT church stopped working on the Lord’s Day. If we are to abide by sola Scriptura, which is this an exception?

        • Ethan Smith says:

          To be specific, please consult Justin Martry and Eusebius. Even the Didache makes no reference to the same Sabbath-keeping as the Old Covenant.

      • Ethan Smith says:

        “I’d encourage you to talk to your pastor and professors about these things you are stating before coming here and espousing your views.”

        Not sure if that’s supposed to be patronizing or not, but I don’t think it’s very charitable.

  15. Rob French says:

    I was about ready, during my interview for installation as a deacon, to take exception to WCF 21.8. But if I recall, one of the proof texts supplied was Isaiah 58:13, with which WCF 21.8 seemed consistent. Sure, more detailed, but consistent. The words of WCF 21.8 may accuse my behavior quite frequently, but that’s no real reason to take exception to it. It takes exception to me!

    Nor do I think that this becomes a question of legalism. Just as in the context of Isaiah 58, it’s a question of true repentance and faith, faith in God’s redemption through Christ, being manifested in obedience.

    • Dale Cutler says:

      Cf. comment time stamped March 1, 2013 at 9:56 am, below. Per Sproul, I do believe the WCF adds to the law in this instance.

  16. Dale Cutler says:

    I don’t think I could be convinced to believe that 1 John 5:3 was intended to be ironic. If D.A. Carson et al. in _From Sabbath to The Lord’s Day_ want explicit recertification for any of the Decalogue to be valid in the New Testament, I would suggest that the aforementioned provides it. “And his commands are not burdensome” sounds more than a little like the “Be careful not to carry a load on the Sabbath day or bring it through the gates of Jerusalem” of Jeremiah 17. That sounds more than a little like it includes commerce. Intended irony? I think not, and the Sabbath still stands. It stands as, among other things, an enduring metaphor for grace and justification by faith: “…to the man _who does not work_ but trusts God…” Rom. 4:5.

    • Dale Cutler says:

      Of course one can continue to work and not rest in one’s thoughts, but you don’t have to feel guilty if something about work occurs to you on Sunday and you “put it to rest” until Monday by writing a note to yourself or an email to yourself at your work address.

  17. Dale Cutler says:

    RC Sproul in _Truths We Confess_ does a good job on the issue. I found him especially liberating where he points out that when the WCF speaks of “their own works, words, and thoughts about their worldly employments and recreations,” being derived from Isaiah 58’s “doing as you please,” that the prophets were reformers and not writing new doctrine. Since there is no injunction against recreation or specific thoughts in the commandment to rest, he demurs to WCF 21.8. It was liberating in that I no longer had to police my thoughts on the Sabbath with respect to the Sabbath. What “doing as you please” refers to is commerce, not playing with your children (something that you definitely should do on the Sabbath).

    • Dale Cutler says:

      A study of and any attempt to amend the WCF would be involved and costly enough in terms of time spent by all and frustration to whomever that wisdom should suggest that there are better ways to expend effort for the Kingdom. The current practice of exception is adequate. (An aside: Sproul’s discussion of preparation is good reading.)

  18. Dale Cutler says:

    A different tack: Does anyone think that they know Father’s heart regarding the Lord’s Day/Sabbath?

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