Monday, September 2, 2013

Sabbatarianism Refuted


I intentionally state the following as the very first point I want to make. Namely, I have no problem with Christians observing the Sabbath (or for that matter Sunday) as their day of worship. My disagreement is with Sabbatarianism. Sabbatarianism is the teaching that the New Testament Scriptures teach that the New Covenant requires observance of the Sabbath as part of the laws Christians are necessarily under. That is, the laws that every Christian should be obeying and to which Paul referred as "under law toward Christ" (1 Cor. 9:21). In other words, it's the teaching that in order to be fully faithful and committed to Christ one would have to observe the Sabbath.While in theological literature "sabbatarianism" sometimes includes 1st Day sabbath observance, as some of the Puritians interpreted and applied the 4th Commandment under the New Covenant, my focus will be on 7th day sabbatarianism.

I have relatives who are Roman Catholic, Seventh Day Adventist and Evangelicals (like myself). I was raised party Catholic and partly Adventist. I learned many good things from both, but I eventually became an Evangelical (first to convert among my relatives as far as I can tell). I've listed a few good resources responding to Catholicism on this blog and my other blogs but I haven't listed any responding to Adventism. So, here are some good resources. I'll be adding more as I have time.

As always, I don't necessarily agree with everything I link to or the general theology of the people I link to. Nor do I agree with every argument or conclusion made or documentation provided in the resources and websites I link to. Discernment should be exercised (as always). Nevertheless, the links are to resources that sometimes do make good arguments against Sabbatarianism and Seventh Day Adventism.

I'll be focusing on the issue of the Sabbath more than Seventh Day Adventism for two reasons. First of all, if Sabbatarianism is proven false, then all sabbatarian denominations are proven wrong on this topic which they deem highly important. Therefore, their other claims (especially for unique or special teaching/doctrine) will also be suspect. This is why I focused on the issue of the Sabbath when I first became serious about the Bible and living according to true Christianity. Secondly, I don't know enough about Seven Day Adventism to be able to judge how accurately and fairly some websites critique Adventism. I think it dishonors truth whenever people either misrepresent a theological position, or whenever bad or dishonest argumentation is used in defense of the truth. Moreover, it makes it more difficult to convince the person who is in error of their error if errors and erroneous argumentation is used to defend the truth.

Before I post some links, here's an edited version of a facebook discussion I had with one of my relatives. By the very nature of facebook communication, it had to be brief. But it sums up the bottom line when it comes to why I reject Sabbatarianism. Though, there are other arguments that are nearly as good or are subsidiary.

Thank you ___________ for the link. I have no problem with observing the Sabbath. I think Christians can and may continue to do so. I used to observe it (as best I could) in my teens (late 1980s-early 1990s). But upon further study of the Bible and of literature both for and against Sabbatarianism, I concluded (and still conclude) that Christians are no longer required to observe the Sabbath based on passages like Col. 2:16; Rom. 14:5; Gal. 4:10. Unlike past generations, the bests modern day scholars both among Seventh Day Adventists and Evangelicals (like myself) agree that the Greek word "sabbaton" in Col. 2:16 refers to the weekly Sabbath and not to the other annual sabbaths of the Mosaic covenant. For example, the late SDA scholar Samuele Bacchiocchi agreed that it refers to the weekly Sabbath. Though, he still argued that Christians still needed to obey the Sabbath command. But he also concluded that to be consistent with his interpretation of Col. 2:16, he and other Christians would have to observe the other Mosaic holy days as well. Yet, very few SDA have followed his conclusion and practice. The King James Version is wrong in translating it in the plural as "sabbath days" even though the form of the word is plural in Greek. That's because by the time of the writing of the New Testmant, "sabbaton" was used to refer to the weekly sabbath in the singular or the plural. The Septuagint, which is the Greek translation of the Old Testament that the Apostles used, referred to the annual sabbaths always, or nearly always as "Sabbata Sabbaton" ["Sabbath of rest"], not simply "Sabbaton" as in Colossians 2:14-17. The word "sabbaton" is used to refer to the weekly sabbath in Matt. 28:1; Luke 4:16; Acts 16:13. Also in the Septuagint Exo. 20:8; Lev. 23:37-38. Finally, the "yearly, monthly, weekly" pattern Paul used in Col. 2:16 proves he included the weekly sabbath because that's how it's used elsewhere in Scripture (though usually in reverse order). For example, 1 Chron. 23:31; 2 Chron. 2:4; 8:13; 31:3; Neh. 10:33; Isa. 1:13-14; Ezek. 45:17 Ezk 46:1-11; Hos. 2:11; Gal. 4:10. Because I believe the Bible is the highest authority, I'm always willing to change my mind if I encounter arguments that refute my views (which I summarized in this facebook message). Thank you again ___________ for the link. I will watch the video today or tomorrow.
Second Message
...Most (but not all) modern reliable translations translate it [sabbaton] in the singular as "sabbath" or "sabbath day" because there's a general scholarly consensus that Paul is talking about the weekly Sabbath. They include the following English translations ESV, NASB, NIV, RSV, HCSB, WEB, and older ones like the RV and the ASV. The Greek word "sabbaton" is used 60 times in the New Testament. Sabbatarians are usually willing to admit that in 59 of those instances it refers to the weekly Sabbath. It's only the 60th time in Col. 2:16 that Sabbatarians have traditionally denied it refers to the weekly Sabbath.
 
Regarding that last fact, it seems very ad hoc very convenient on the part of (most) Sabbatarians to conclude that there's only one exception to the translation of "sabbaton" in the New Testament.



Bible.ca is a website run by some group whose theology I have strong disagreements with. The website's theology seems to be Partly Pelagian and partly Semi-Pelagian in its understanding of grace. Something which goes contrary to Historic Protestant Evangelicalism and even historic Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. Clearly this group is ignorant of much of church history. Otherwise, it would know to rejecct Pelagian and Semi-Pelagian views. NEVERTHELESS, some of the materials they have critiquing Sabbatarianism is very good. I'd say higher than 70%  of their arguments are devastating to Sabbatarianism. Meaning, there are some arguments and conclusions I disagree with. But in general, their arguments not only call into question Sabbatarianism, but absolutely refute it. Also, they have resources from other ministries and authors on their website (or links to them) that also demonstrate the impossibility of the Sabbatarian position as being Biblical and/or historical.

Here's a direct link to Bible.ca's page devoted to critiquing Sabbatarianism:
Sabbath Keepers Refuted
This part of the website dedicated to the issue of the Sabbath has many articles on the topic even though it may seem that it doesn't. You just have to keep on clicking. I wish it were organized better. 

Even if some of the allegations Adventists make about D.M. Canright are true, and even if some of his descriptions of Adventism are inaccurate, his arguments against Sabbatarianism are sufficiently valid and sound that they refute the Sabbatarian position. I've heard and read some of the negative things Adventists have said about Canright. Even assuming they are true, Adventists still have to deal with the facts and arguments he has made critiquing Sabbatarianism. Also, other ex-Sabbatarians have come to the same conclusions that Canright made (often independently, without influence or exposure to Canright's literature). Besides all that, there are reasons to question or even doubt some of the allegations made against Canright (e.g. here).

Seventh-day Adventism RENOUNCED by D. M. Canright 
Here are direct links to some chapters dealing with the Sabbath in this book (not in order):
Chapter XV - The Jewish Sabbath Abolished. Colossians 2.
Chapter XXI - Forty-Seven Prominent Texts used by Sabbatarians Examined 
Chapter IX - The Nature of the Sabbath Commandment
Chapter XIII - The Sabbath in the Old Testament

Chapter XIV - The Sabbath in the New Testament 
Chapter XII - Sabbatarian Positions on the History of Sunday Refuted
The Lord's Day From Neither Catholics nor Pagans: An Answer to Seventh-Day Adventism on this Subject by D. M. Canright (or here, here, here)

"Life of Mrs. E.G. White - Her Claims Refuted" by D.M. Canright, 1919





Recommended books:

Sabbath In Christ by Dale Ratzlaff
Cultic Doctrine of Seventh-Day Adventism by Dale Ratzlaff
Truth about Adventist "Truth" by Dale Ratzlaff
Truth Led Me Out by Dale Ratzlaff

Lying for God: What Adventists Knew And When They Knew It!  by Kerry B. Wynne, William H. Hohmann, Robert K. Sanders
(3rd edition here, here)
(6th edition here
(7th edition here) (unfortunately, something is wrong with the font on this version)
(version 12.0 here) (this might be a version that's earlier than the 3rd edition. I'm not sure)

The White Lie by Walter T. Rea



Other Websites Critiquing Seventh Day Adventism 
(In accordance to what I said above, I don't vouch for their accuracy)
Some of these websites I've browsed and they appear to be very well argued and documented. Others I haven't browsed yet. I choose not to rate them so that whoever is reading this blog is forced to use discernment. Some of these websites do a very good job showing plagiarism on the part of E.G. White. They also show that she had to have been a false prophet since often times she claimed she received some of her teaching as revelations directly from God and not merely things she read from other authors and which God showed her was good for her to relay to others.

Truth or Fables
Robert K. Sanders

Proclamation Magazine
By Life Assurance Ministries
Blog, online magazine, studies, and more. 

Bible Studies for Adventists
By Life Assurance Ministries
A Biblical response to the daily Adventist Sabbath School lessons. 

Former Adventist Fellowship
By Richard and Colleen Tinker—former Adventists
Forum, stories, Bible studies, annual Former Adventist Conferences

LAM Publications
By Dale Ratzlaff—former Adventist pastor
Many books about Ellen White and Adventism, some are out of print.

Sabbatismos.com
By Jennifer & Joe Rector—former Adventists


ExAdventist.com
By J. Mark Martin—former Adventist pastor

What Adventists Need to Know
By Janet Brown—former Adventist

GentlyBroken.com
By Cherry Brandstater—former Adventist

One Flock Ministries
By Greg Taylor—former Adventist pastor

MM Oureach
By Keith and Lori McGregor—former Jehovah's Witnessess
Information on Jehovah's Witnessess, Mormons, Adventists, and others

History Overview about the Sabbath day (Online book)
By Rob Chaffart


Adventist Outreach Center  
By  R. J. Chaffart

Seventh-day Adventist Church Profile

One Flock Ministries 
By Greg Taylor

Seventh Day Cult  

 Cult or Christian?
 
The Clear Word
Exposed

 
What Seventh-day Adventists NEED to know
by Janet Brown


UPDATE

In a discussion with Drake Shelton at this BLOG I wrote some comments that Drake chose to delete. It's his blog and that's his prerogative. I just want to post my comments here for the record. His statements are in blue and my responses are in brown.

Don’t ever expect me to read another word you have written.
I have proved exactly what I aimed to prove about you . Don’t expect anymore of your comments to be approved here. You are proved the liar YOU ARE.

I make a distinction between those who knowingly tell falsehoods and those who do so unknowingly. I don’t think I’m a liar in the former sense. You’d have to read my heart to know that. My conscience is clean even if I have unknowingly said something that’s false.

You ignored the festival Sabbaths and the dietary laws. That passage mentions both.
I meant to include the festival sabbaths, the dietary laws and sacrifices. I think Rushdoony may have also affirmed that one could make animal sacrifices at the present time so long as it’s a memorial to/of Christ’s sacrifice and not a replacement or a denial of the all sufficiency of Christ’s. Even dispensationalists believe sacrifices will be made during their conception of the Millennium. As I said in my blog, I have no problem with Christians observing the sabbath (and I should have also included) keeping the dietary laws (even now I minimize my consumption unclean seafood). My disagreement is in the idea that the New Covenant REQUIRES it.

>So then why did Paul in Acts 21 [perform sacrifices]?
1. He did it to be a Jew among Jews to win converts (1 Cor. 9:20). 2. He understood it wasn’t ***necessary*** for him to do so (Acts 13:39). 3. The Old Covenant hadn’t fully passed away yet (Heb. 8:13). It did at the destruction of the temple. 4. Paul and I can affirm Rushdoony’s position.

Those are fast days not festival Sabbaths. Read from the beginning of the chapter into verse 6.
In light of the more weighty passages of Gal. 4:10, Col. 2:16, I think the context of Rom. 14:5 would include any type of special holy day even if ex hypothesi Paul is specifically talking about fast days. I’m sure you’ve addressed it somewhere, so I assume you believe Rom. 14:14 doesn’t really refer to unclean food, but maybe better translated “common” foods.

Then you have a contradiction between Rom 14 and Gal 4. Rom 14 it’s ok but not required. Gal 4 it’s not ok.
It’s not okay if done with a wrong understanding. Paul circumcised Timothy even though he told the Galatians not to. The difference was in the intention. Paul and Timothy knew that circumcision wasn’t required for justification or for full obedience to God.
[Clarification: What I'm saying is I believe it is okay for Christians (even now) to celebrate the Mosaic holy days. Some Christians do. Those holy days still have salvific significance. Both redemptively and eschatologically. What I'm against is the idea that it's required by the New Covenant or celebrating them in a way that contradicts the Gospel. Same thing with the Biblical dietary laws and most other ceremonial laws in the Mosaic covenant.]
Why is there no example of an animal being put to death for goring a man?
The sabbath commandment by comparison would be much more important as well as more relevant to the living out of the Christian life. There were multiple opportunities for Apostles to instruction the sabbath, yet rather than that we have Paul talking about something as insignificant as women wearing head coverings (btw, I’m open to the possibility that the head covering movement might be correct).

Why not bestiality? Why not usury? etc. Mat 5:17-19, that is why.
Christ fulfilled the law such that we are no longer required to obey the ceremonial laws, though we do the moral laws (if theonomy is right, in some sense the civil laws). I tend to see the OT civil laws as models for national legislation, rather than as still binding theonomically.

Why is there no post-resurrection command to observe Sunday?
I don’t believe Christians are required to observe Sunday either. Btw, I wonder if you’ve read the D.A. Carson edited book From Sabbath to Lord’s Day.

Your interpretation of NC context is denied by Mat 5:17-19. Acts 15:21
My position can account for why Paul could say it’s permissible to eat meat sacrificed to idols even though it apparently contradicts the commands of the council of Jerusalem (Acts. 15:20). Paul could teach in a way that ***seemed*** to contradict the council because he understood that it was okay so long as one did so by understanding the implications of the Gospel and didn’t stumble others. Notice the Council forbade meat tht was strangled and from blood (which is also in the Mosaic code). Yet it always puzzled me as an Armstrongite that they didn’t include the Sabbath or the other Biblical kashrut laws. Saying it was *understood* to include them would prove too much because the prohibition of strangled meat and blood would also superfluous. Therefore, they might as well have mentioned the more important kashrut laws rather than the lesser ones knowing that the weighter commands include the lesser. If the council forbade unclean meats, then it would make senes that strangled meats is included. It would be understood. So there’s no need to address Acts 10:15.

Here we have Gentiles keeping the Sabbath WITH JEWS.
Just because Gentiles kept the sabbath and attempted to worship the God of Israel doesn’t mean it was regarded as true sabbath observance by orthodox Jews. They wouldn’t have been allowed into the synagogue, much less the temple. The Samaritans also believed they worshipped the God of Abraham. Yet Jesus said “Salvation is of the Jews.” God had mercy on Cornelius by His sovereign grace. He was probably regenerate long before Peter shared the Gospel with him.

Wishful thinking can sometimes be confused with hope.
I was answering you at the level of your argument. You were appealing to time when you said, “This should be settled by now…” Aand as you yourself said, “Providence can decree many sins.” There will always be error and imprecision within and without the church.

So what is the necessity of his procession and define the difference between eternal generation and procession.
If we’re trying to live out Sola Scriptura and have our theology circumscribed by Scripture, then the doctrine of the Holy Spirit’s procession is underdetermined by Scripture. The fathers’ speculations about the procession of the Spirit is just that, speculation. Maybe some of what they said is true, but the Scriptures nowhere require one to believe it. We need to be careful not commit the sin of Matt. 15:9.

I am guessing the Hebrew is locked away in the Vatican Library
That’s a possibility. But many Catholic apologist would have the incentive to bring it out since they often argue that the Hebrew or Aramaic of Matt. 16 would conclusively prove that Peter is the rock in a way that would support Papal claims.

Can I see some references on that?
The burden of proof would be on someone claiming that John was originally written in Hebrew or Aramaic. Not me. AFAIK, all the evidence suggests it was written in Greek. Unlike with the evidence for Matthew.

By deity do you mean nature or person?
Again, that’s the Greek mindset requring precision. I’m not sure the answer to the question. All I know is that there are many passages that seem to clearly imply or identify Jesus as the one true God. While admitting, there are other passages which Arians, Semi-Arians, Unitarians, and Nicene Monarchists appeal to which seem to dispute it.

Show me one single scholar who has dealt with thus issue to the depth I have:
I admit you’ve studied these issues deeply. But I think you’re letting systematic theology, historical theology, and philosophical theology overrule Biblical theology (though, those others have their place).

In order for me to make a private judgment, I have to be able to grasp an object with my mind to make a judgement about it.
What do you do when Scripture doesn’t speak on an issue? Or if the data is underdetermined? Or if the Scriptural evidence is paradoxical? Who says that God is obligated to inspired His revelation paradox free? Why assume it’s even possible given our cognative limitations?

If you can pray to three absolutely equal persons, if language means anything that is three gods.
I concede that Scriptural prayers are normatively to the Father, through the Son by or in the Holy Spirit. In the past we’re disagreed about passages where Jesus or the Holy Spirit is prayed to.

Christianity does not believe Mat 5:17-19. Period.
The Law requires many things. For example, circumcision and animal sacrifices. I doubt you perform animal sacrifices or gotten yourself circumcised if were weren’t already. In light Matt. 5:17-19 and of Jam. 2:10, and Gal. 3:10 the question shouldn’t be whether these laws are binding, but in what sense they are “binding”. That’s where i think much of what theonomists say is true. Christ fulfilled the moral, ceremonial and civil laws of the Mosaic Covenant. The moral laws were fulfilled for our justification so that while we’re obligated to obey them for righteousness’ sake and sanctification, we aren’t required to obey them FOR our justification. The ceremonial laws were shadows of Christ’s work such that we no longer need to obey them (though, there’s nothing intrinsically wrong about doing so, so long as it’s in keeping with the Gospel). I mentioned already my view on the civil laws.

The Gentiles were grafted into the same tree. We were not given another tree. Romans 11.
I agree. Christianity is Judaism fulfilled. Rom. 2:28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: 2:29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

The Bible is so exacting about precision and unity in doctrine:
Yet, Sola Scripturarians disagree on the mode and subjects of baptism. Either your definition of Scriptural precision and perspecuity is wrong, or we need to abandon Sola Scriptura and accept the need for infallible Church Tradition. You virtually do so by your requirement to know precisely the right understanding of filiation, generation, spiration and procession. Presumably you know and are dogmatic regarding which eschatological position is true [spoken tongue-in-cheek].

You then list a bunch of passages affirming the importance of doctrinal precision and unity.
But there are also passages dealing acknowledging there’s room for growth in undersanding of orthodoxy and orthopraxy. Also, that there are some truths difficult to understand. E.g. 2 Pet. 3:16; Phil. 3:15-16; Rom. 15:1; 1 Cor. 2:6; 1 Cor. 14:20; Heb. 5:14; Eph. 4:13-16; Jam. 1:5

The scriptures are so exacting about the fact that we can have a perfect understanding of the scriptures.
Yes, regarding the essentials of the faith. filliation and spiration aren’t part of the essentials.
You know the WCF better than I do. “All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all: yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them”

*****For the perfecting of the saints********
You quote Paul saying, ” but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ.” Right, we ARE to. It’s a process.. Thus proving my point that the NT acknowledges that there’s room for growth in understanding. Eph. 5:27 seems to teach that the Church is not yet (at Paul’s time) glorious, without spots, wrinkles. Paul says it “should” (and will be in the future) be holy and [perfectly] without blemish.





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