The Confessional Reformed View of the Lord’s Day

Very interesting blog post on the Lord’s Day.

Christian in America

A thoughtful piece by William Evans posted on the Aquila Report got me thinking today. The post is entitled, “Why I am (sort of) a Sabbatarian.” It is worth reading. Evans is a Presbyterian, and his frame of reference is the Westminster Confession. Mine is quite different, and reading Evans’s piece helped me to appreciate what I regard as one of the great strengths of the Reformed tradition in which I was reared.

I grew up in a “Dutch” Reformed community. What that meant was that virtually all of the people in my church and school were of Dutch background, just about everyone in the church over 55 had come from the Netherlands, and all the people that I knew who were Dutch were Christians. My interaction with neighbors who were not Dutch taught me that people who are not Dutch were probably not Christians, and at best they might…

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8 comments

  1. Of course, this has been a point of contention within the Reformed tradition, with English-speaking Presbyterians historically viewing the Mosaic Sabbath as transferred to the Christian Lord’s Day, while Continental Reformed people have often been more flexible in their observance of the Lord’s Day.

    Actually (as I think John Frame notes in Doctrine of God, it is ironic that the Presbyterians have the stricter confession, but it is the Contenentals who typically exhibit stricter observance.

    the Westminster Standards, which present a rigorous view of the Sabbath. … So much for a day of rest!

    I know, right! Also Westminster is devoid of any mention of the eschatological role of the Sabbath.

    Today, it is my distinct impression that even the most ardent of Presbyterian sabbatarians do not observe the Sabbath with anything like the rigor demanded by WLC QQ. 115-121, but no theological explanation or justification for this has been forthcoming.

    Maybe try here?

  2. I do wonder if the actual difference between the two Standards is not a bit overblown, but I do very much appreciate the perceived difference in emphasis.

    And it does seem more than a bit ironic that (at least in our day), the ones with the stricter Standards seem to have (in many cases, at least) the looser adherence to their own view.

    Our own view (that of the Westminster Standards) sometimes does not seem much like a day of rest. It would if our hearts were right, though.

  3. P.S. I still need to make it to a H&S event. And I would love to attend the one in August, but my Dad is flying out here for the first time in almost 5 years (arriving on the 15th). He’s only here for a week, so I just don’t think that I can get away.

    I almost feel sorry for the guy who wants to debate Ron Gleason regarding the death penalty. 🙂

  4. Don Lowe knows what he’s getting into; it’s all in good fun.

    And I can’t think of a better way for a father/son to hang out together than a Hoagies & Stogies. (and even if your dad is not Christian, this is a uniquely accessible topic)

  5. Our own view (that of the Westminster Standards) sometimes does not seem much like a day of rest. It would if our hearts were right, though.

    Maybe if our standards preached the gospel to us on this point, rather than heaping up law, that would help put our hearts in the right state. I know, this is in the ‘commandments’ section of the catechism, but still, I’m just sayin, HC103 is pretty fantastic:

    First, that the ministry of the gospel and the schools be maintained; and that I, especially [i.e. not only] on the sabbath, that is, on the day of rest, diligently frequent the church of God, to hear his word, to use the sacraments, publicly to call upon the Lord, and contribute to the relief of the poor. Secondly, that all the days of my life I cease from my evil works, and yield myself to the Lord, to work by his Holy Spirit in me: and thus begin in this life the eternal sabbath.

    HC ties our Sabbath in this age, to the Sabbath of the age to come, in a way Westminster is completely oblivious to. I.e. HC gets the main point, and Westminster can’t see the forest for the trees.

  6. Well, when the WS were written, I don’t think recreation was much of an issue. People needed to be told to case from work so that they could worship. I do like the emphasis in the Heidelberg, though. (Truth be told, I probably prefer it.)

    These days we have an extra day off (in most cases) on Saturday, but that isn’t enough, so we make Sunday into “Saturday Part II.”

    1. Andy,
      My understanding is that when the WS were written–recreation WAS an issue. I believe about that time or shortly before, churches were required to read from the pulpit “The Book of Sports,” issued by James I on what was allowable for recreation; was re-issued by Charles I.

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