It may be quite easily demonstrated that Christians and unbelievers alike recognize the need for certain days to be special. Call it a need to mark time or to break up the monotony if you wish. Is it not equally reasonable – if we start where we should in special revelation – that God, who made the Sabbath holy as soon as he had made man – wrote onto our hearts the need to observe one day in seven as holy to him? And that we, no matter how much we have suppressed that law by non-observance, still bear traces of it in our hearts?
In fact, the argument from conscience, or from the absence of guilt, fails entirely to contradict the Reformed position on law, and specifically on Sabbath. We’re going to need another theory to explain the shamelessness with which the world and even the church ignores the Sabbath. Continue reading
I know you read this in Junior High; are you honestly telling me you thought Sabbath was never a matter of public conscience?
We’ve been addressing the Reformed view of the law this week, particularly as it relates to the issue of Sabbath and the conscience of men. It has been suggested that the absence of any commonly felt guilt over the Sabbath proves that the commandment was never moral. Yesterday I attempted to demonstrate that this is a dangerous way to define morality. Today we will investigate whether the premise is even true. Does the conscience tell us that Sabbath-breaking is wrong?
If your awareness of Christian practice goes back more than one generation, you’ll have to admit that the Sabbath once pricked the conscience of men. We are all familiar with the now-despised “blue laws” which prohibited certain activities on Sunday. Yes, America was once a place in which work on Sunday was not only uncommon, but illegal. Did such a practice have any relationship to the conscience? Continue reading
The Antinomian Sabbath
A small piece of the Reformed understanding of the law is that the conscience demonstrates the universality of God’s moral law. If that is so, antinomians ask why some commands – and specifically the Sabbath – are not communicated in this way. Men who are horrified at the thought of murder feel no pangs at all over Sabbath-breaking. Today I offer the first half of a response. Each of today’s steps helps to identify a problem with how the antinomian defines morality.
For make no mistake; I am convinced that this is what today’s antinomians have done: they have defined morality on the basis of what they feel is right. They don’t think they’ve done this, and they don’t like even being called antinomian. However, if a Christian has rejected the very structure of moral law by which God defines morality, what is he left with? Is there not some validity to the claim that such a person is defining right and wrong merely on the basis of his conscience?
But this is a dangerous way to construct our ethical system, for at least three reasons: Continue reading
Yesterday I wrote about the Reformed view of the moral law. I summarized those points which are salient for our discussion of Sabbath and conscience as follows:
- There is a universal and moral law.
- That law was first written on Adam’s heart.
- That law is universally applicable and is summarized in the Ten Commandments.
- The existence of a “conscience” in man is cited by Paul as evidence of the existence of a universal moral law.
Right, that kind.
I wrote a post about the Sabbath and the conscience. It was long, so – being “that kind of Puritan” – I made it longer. Then I broke it up into a series. Now we have five small installments, none of which should be too much for a day’s musing on the subject.
We’ll begin today with some basic principles for those who are unfamiliar with the structure of the Reformed doctrine of the law. Oddly, that means we won’t actually be talking about the Fourth Commandment at all in today’s post, but rather setting the stage to understand the nature of the question.
My intent this week is not to thoroughly examine the doctrine and practice of Sabbath, nor to defend the same. I have no intention of answering every random question anyone ever wanted to pose to a Sabbatarian. Instead we will be very tightly focused on the questions of conscience: is the Sabbath command “written on the heart” as Paul describes the conscience, and to the degree that it is not, what does that tell us? So we will start with the Apostle’s definition of “conscience”:
Indisputable Evidence: A Reformed Baptist Sighting!
Do Reformed Baptists exist?
That’s a question I’ve seen again recently – this time from a self-proclaimed Federal Visionist. Consider that: here is someone who denies sola fide yet worries that churches like mine which don’t baptize babies might self-identify as “Reformed Somethings.” We live in a strange world, don’t we! It is one thing to hear a strictly confessional Presbyterian or Reformed pastor arguing that we are outside the proper definition of “Reformed,” but it is quite another to hear it from those who – by any sane definition – are much further outside that circle.
Before we can answer whether Reformed Baptists exist, we must first identify what that designation means. “Reformed Baptist” is a term – albeit a compound term – with a definition and a history. Understanding that history is necessary if anyone is going to understand what the first word in the term means. While a number of useful brief definitions exist, I intend to address the question from the standpoint of history. Continue reading
In my earliest days in the ministry I had the pleasure to attend the Founders National Conference in Birmingham. This excellent conference then met on the campus of Samford University, home to Beeson Divinity School. Initially the meetings were held in Samford’s lovely Reid Chapel. Our host – and the reason the conference had located at Samford – was Beeson’s dean Timothy George.
George was a part of the Calvinism fad before Calvinism was a fad. By that I mean that he recognized the vapidity of evangelical doctrine and espoused a more tenable theology built around a sovereign God, yet he clearly never embraced the heart of reformation theology. In no sense whatsoever can be called “Reformed,” nor even a “Reformed Baptist.” Continue reading