- Sabbath in Seventh-day Adventism
The Sabbath is an important part of the belief and practice of
Seventh-day Adventists, and is perhaps the defining characteristic of the denomination. It was introduced to the Adventist pioneers in the mid- 19th centuryby Rachel Oakes Preston, a Seventh Day Baptist. Seventh-day Adventists observe the Sabbath from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset, in similar manner to Judaism. They believe that keeping the seventh-day Sabbath is a moral obligation arising out of the Ten Commandments, which in honoring God as Creator; which was given at the end of Creation in the book of Genesis.
Seventh-day Adventists observe the Sabbath from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset. During this time, Adventists avoid secular work and business, although medical and relief work is accepted. Though there are cultural variations, most Adventists will also avoid activities such as shopping, sport and certain forms of entertainment.
Adventists typically gather for their church services on Saturday morning. Some will also gather on Friday evening to welcome in the Sabbath hours (sometimes called "
Vespers" or "opening Sabbath"), and some will similarly gather at the close of Sabbath, "closing Sabbath".
Theology of the Sabbath
One of the church's official 28 fundamental beliefs states,:20. Sabbath::The beneficent Creator, after the six days of Creation, rested on the seventh day and instituted the Sabbath for all people as a memorial of Creation. The fourth commandment of God's unchangeable law requires the observance of this seventh-day Sabbath as the day of rest, worship, and ministry in harmony with the teaching and practice of Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath. The Sabbath is a day of delightful communion with God and one another. It is a symbol of our redemption in Christ, a sign of our sanctification, a token of our allegiance, and a foretaste of our eternal future in God's kingdom. The Sabbath is God's perpetual sign of His eternal covenant between Him and His people. Joyful observance of this holy time from evening to evening, sunset to sunset, is a celebration of God's creative and redemptive acts. (Gen. 2:1-3; Ex. 20:8-11; Luke 4:16; Isa. 56:5, 6; 58:13, 14; Matt. 12:1-12; Ex. 31:13-17; Eze. 20:12, 20; Deut. 5:12-15; Heb. 4:1-11; Lev. 23:32; Mark 1:32.) [ [http://www.adventist.org/beliefs/fundamental/index.html Fundamental Beliefs ] ]
Law and Sabbath
Traditionally, Seventh-day Adventists hold that the
Ten Commandments(including the fourth commandment concerning the Sabbath) are a part of the moral lawof God, not abrogated by the teachings of Jesus Christ, which apply equally to Christians.
In the past Adventists have distinguished between "moral law" and "ceremonial law", arguing that moral law continues to bind Christians, while ceremonial law was abrogated by Jesus. Many scholars today question the distinction, arguing that it is arbitrary. The distinction was first questioned at the
1888 Minneapolis General ConferenceSession.
1952 Bible Conference, Edward Heppenstall’s presentations on the Two Covenants became the normative interpretation on the topic in the denomination to the present day. Heppenstall emphasized the importance of the heart in obeying the Ten Commandments(a position earlier stated by Ellen G. White, but did not become normative until this point). Early Adventists had emphasized legalism (i.e. “obey and live”) and during the early twentieth-century had wandered into a dispensationalist view of the covenants (old covenant belonged to the Old Testament). Heppenstall taught that the old and New Covenants are part of an everlasting covenant.
Adventists hold that Jesus had a high regard for the Sabbath, pointing to his teaching that the Son of Man is "Lord even of the Sabbath" (
Many of the Bible verses frequently used to attack Sabbath respect (
There has been a general scholarly shift regarding the law and Judaism amongst Christian academic writings since
E. P. Sanders.
The Sabbath and Christian history
Traditionally, the church has taught that the change of the Sabbath to Sunday was part of a
great apostasyinstigated by the Roman Catholic Church. The edict of Constantine I(AD 321) enforcing Sunday worship was seen as a key step in the change. The recovery of the true biblical Sabbath only became possible after the Reformation, and would be a mark of the Remnant church.
Samuele Bacchiocchipublished "From Sabbath to Sunday", documenting the historical transition from the Saturday Sabbath to Sunday in the early Christian church, and also the decline of standards of practice for the Sabbath. It had quite an impact in the academic community and was well received by many. Subsequent to his work, Adventists have emphasized that the move from Sabbath to Sunday was a gradual process, beginning early and still unfinished centuries after Christ, and have relatively downplayed the level of Constantine's impact.
There is also mention in much Adventist material of the role played by sects such as the
Waldenses, Albigensesand Leonists in retaining Sabbath observance in Europe throughout the last few millennia. There is also mention of groups such as the Ti Ping Revolution keeping it alive in China, and the Goa Inquisitionattacking sabbatarian Saint Thomas Christians. The odds they worked against were fairly extreme, which led to many of the recollections of the time being somewhat adventurous.
The Sabbath in the end times
The pioneers of the church taught that the Seventh-day Sabbath will be a test, leading to the sealing of God's people during the end times.
Ellen G. Whiteinterpreted ]
Also in 1846, a pamphlet written by Bates created widespread interest in the Sabbath. Shortly afterwards Bates, James White, Ellen Harmon (later White), Hiram Edson, Frederick Wheeler and S. W. Rhodes led the promotion of the Sabbath, partly through regular publications. ["Seventh-day Adventists" section (p. 270–273) in Frank S. Mead, Samuel S. Hill and Craig D. Atwood, "Handbook of Denominations in the United States", 12th edn. Nashville: Abingdon Press]
While initially it was believed that the Sabbath started at 6pm, by 1855 it was generally accepted that the Sabbath begins at Friday sunset.Fact|date=March 2007
The " [http://www.adventistarchives.org/documents.asp?CatID=31&SortBy=1&ShowDateOrder=True Present Truth] " magazine was largely devoted to the Sabbath at first. J. N. Andrews was the first Adventist to write a book-length defense of the Sabbath, first published in 1861.
Two of Andrews' books include " [http://www.giveshare.org/HolyDay/firstcenturies/index.html Testimony of the Fathers of the First Three Centuries Concerning the Sabbath and the First Day] " and " [http://www.adventistarchives.org/doc_info.asp?DocID=42638 History of the Sabbath] "DjVulink ( [http://www.giveshare.org/HolyDay/historysabbath/ HTML version] ). The most prominent early critic of the Adventist church was former Adventist
D. M. Canright. Books he wrote include " [http://members.tripod.com/~Help_for_SDAs/Canright-LordsDay The Lord's Day From Neither Catholics nor Pagans: An Answer to Seventh-Day Adventism on this Subject] ", and " [http://members.tripod.com/~Help_for_SDAs/SDAism-RENOUNCED-by-D-M-Canright.html#Chapter9 Seventh-day Adventism Renounced] " which is largely about the Sabbath.
Theology and contemporary developments
Sabbath in Christianityfor the modern Sabbath debate"
Robert Leo Odompublished "The Lord's Day on a Round World" which addresses objections raised about the timing of the seventh day on our spherical Earth.
Samuele Bacchiocchipublished the landmark work " [http://www.biblicalperspectives.com/books/sabbath_to_sunday/ From Sabbath to Sunday] " about the historical decline of Sabbath observance and rise of Sunday in the early church, based on 5 years of research for his doctorate at the Pontifical Gregorian University. An excerpt was titled "Anti-Judaism and the origin of Sunday". The book was well received by many scholars who gave many positive [http://www.biblicalperspectives.com/comments/index.html reviews] .
Bacchiocchi published " [http://www.biblicalperspectives.com/books/rest_restlessness/ Divine Rest for Human Restlessness: A Theological Study of the Good News of the Sabbath for Today] " in 1980.
Robert Brinsmead, a disfellowshipped Adventist, decided against the Sabbath and published " [http://www.quango.net/brinsmead/Sabbatarian.htm Sabbatarianism Re-examined] " [" [http://www.quango.net/brinsmead/Sabbatarian.htm Sabbatarianism Re-examined] " by Robert Brinsmead. "Verdict" 4:4, June 1981] in 1981. This and other writings motivated Desmond Ford(who had himself recently been removed from church employment) to research the matter and subsequently write "The Forgotten Day" (1981) which argues in support of Sabbath observance. [cite journal
last = Ford
first = Desmond
authorlink = Desmond Ford
title = Desmond Ford Asks: Is the Seventh-day Sabbath Christian?
volume = 4
issue = 4
date = July/August 1996
url = http://www.atoday.com/magazine/archive/1996/julaug1996/articles/IsSeventhDay.shtml
issn = 1079-5499
accessdate = 2007-05-14] See review "The Sabbath: Brinsmead’s Polemic" by Desmond Ford.
In 1982 a broad spectrum of prominent Adventist scholars contributed to "The Sabbath in Scripture and History", edited by
Kenneth Strand. In the same year, a number of evangelical scholars contributed to "From Sabbath to Lord's Day", edited by Don Carson.
In 1985, Bacchiocchi published " [http://www.biblicalperspectives.com/books/sabbath_new_testament/ The Sabbath in the New Testament: Answers to Questions] ". In 1998 he published " [http://www.biblicalperspectives.com/books/sabbath_under_xfire/ The Sabbath Under Crossfire: A Biblical analysis of Recent Sabbath/Sunday Developments] " ( [http://sdanet.org/atissue/sabbath/bacchiocchi.htm chapter 7] ), as a response to two events: the pastor letter "
Dies Domini" by the pope, and a debate with Dale Ratzlaff. [ [http://www.biblicalperspectives.com/endtimeissues/eti_02.html Endtime Issues No. 2] by Samuele Bacchiocchi]
Dale Ratzlaffpublished the critical work "Sabbath in Crisis" in 1990 (see [http://www.goodnewsunlimited.org/library/sabbathincrisis/desbookreview.cfm review] by Ford, and the [http://www.goodnewsunlimited.org/library/sabbathincrisis/daleresponse1.cfm response] by Ratzlaff), which was updated and expanded to "Sabbath in Christ" published in 2003. While most former Adventists give up Sabbath observance, [http://ellenwhite.org/archive/testimony.htm Dirk Anderson] , founding editor of [http://ellenwhite.org/ ellenwhite.org] and former Adventist, still worships on the Sabbath and is a member of the Church of God (Seventh Day). [ [http://ellenwhite.org/archive/testimony.htm My Story ] ]
"In Granite or Ingrained?" by Skip MacCarty ( [http://www.andrews.edu/universitypress/catalog.cgi?key=189 publisher's page] ).
In the past Adventists focused on the competition between Saturday and Sunday as the day of worship. Many Adventists such as the moderators of SDAnet believe that this issue is less relevant today, but rather the debate between keeping a day at all versus the present trend of seeing all days as being the same. [ [http://www.sdanet.org/atissue/sabbath/index.htm Sabbath articles] on SDAnet AtIssue]
A seventh-day Sabbath is a minority position in Christendom today.
Influence on other groups
Worldwide Church of God, descended from a 1934 schism in the Seventh-day Church of God, which was a Sabbatarian Adventist group. The Worldwide Church of God was founded as a seventh-day Sabbath-keeping church, but in 1995 renounced sabbatarianism and moved toward the Evangelical "mainstream." The church has claimed three main influences regarding the Sabbath. Former Seventh-day Adventist Robert Brinsmead's writings against the Sabbath were influential in this decision. [http://www.atoday.com/magazine/1999/05/where-robert-brinsmead Where is Robert Brinsmead?] by Larry Pahl; " Adventist Today" [http://www.atoday.com/magazine/1999/05 7:3 (May/June 1999)] ] Another former Adventist Dale Ratzlaffalso claims a role. [ [http://www.atoday.com/magazine/archive/1997/mayjun1997/news/BooksRole.shtml Archive | Adventist Today ] ] Its move from sabbatarianism, and other doctrines, caused more schism, with large groups splitting off to continue to observe the Sabbath as new church organizations. See the list of Sabbath keeping Churches of God. The largest breakaway group is the United Church of Godwhich rejected the 1990s doctrinal changes, and which still keeps the Sabbath. In 2005 its flagship magazine had a circulation of 400,000. Samuele Bacchiocchihas also been involved with the church and its offshoots.
The primarily Chinese
True Jesus Churchsupports a Saturday Sabbath, and has approximately 2 million believers worldwide. Initial founder Ling-Sheng Zhangaccepted the Sabbath after studying Seventh-day Adventist theology, and co-founder Paul Weiwas originally a Seventh-day Adventist. An American missionary named Fendelson, who was from a Sabbath-keeping Church of God, was also influential upon the founders.
Biblical law in Seventh-day Adventism
Sabbath in Christianity
Law in Christianity
Seventh-day Adventist theology
Seventh-day Adventist eschatology
History of the Seventh-day Adventist Church
* SDAnet AtIssue - [http://www.sdanet.org/atissue/sabbath/index.htm Sabbath articles] and [http://www.sdanet.org/atissue/covenants/index.htm Covenants articles]
* [http://www.adventistbiblicalresearch.org/documents.htm#sabbath Sabbath articles from the Biblical Research Institute]
* " [http://www.atsjats.org/publication_file.php?pub_id=148&journal=1&type=pdf Sabbath and the New Covenant] " by Roy Gane
* [http://www.andrews.edu/library/ASDAL/sabbath.html Sabbath articles] in the Seventh-day Adventist Periodical Index (SDAPI)
Adventist Today" 4:4 (July/August 1996), [http://www.atoday.com/magazine/archive/1996/julaug1996/index.html "Revisiting the Sabbath Doctrine"] . Articles by three defrocked ministers - Desmond Ford, Dale Ratzlaff and Jerry Gladson, as well as by Raymond Cottrelland other authors
* " [http://www.sdanet.org/atissue/books/27/27-19.htm The Sabbath] " (chapter 19) and " [http://www.sdanet.org/atissue/books/27/27-18.htm The Law of God] " (chapter 18) in cite book
title = Seventh-day Adventists Believe...
Ministerial Association, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
year = 1988
publisher = Review and Herald
location = Hagerstown, Maryland
url = http://www.sdanet.org/atissue/books/27/index.htm
* "Section V. Questions on the Sabbath, Sunday, and the Mark of the Beast" in " [http://www.sdanet.org/atissue/books/qod/index.htm Questions on Doctrine] "
* " [http://www.andrews.edu/~jonp/colossians2.htm An Exegetical Overview of Col 2:13-17: With Implications for SDA Understanding] " by
* [http://www.bible.ca/7-Bacchiocchi-lewis-debate.htm Samuele Bacchiocchi debate with John Lewis]
* " [http://www.quango.net/brinsmead/Sabbatarian.htm Sabbatarianism Re-Examined] " by former Adventist
Robert Brinsmead, in "Verdict" 4:4, June 1981
* [http://www.adventist.org/beliefs/other_documents/other_doc6.html Guidelines for Sabbath Observance] , document voted by the
General Conference Sessionof 1990
* "Spectrum" [http://spectrummagazine.org/files/archive/archive06-10/index09-1.html 9:1] was a special issue about the Sabbath
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